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When I was a kid, I could bounce a ball for hours. There was a satisfaction, an addictive satisfaction, in just keeping the movement going. The ball was a "Spalding," a soft, pink rubber ball about the same size as a baseball. It was designed for bouncing. Thwap, thwap, up and down. Fit just right in the palm of your hand. Cost about a quarter. We used to make up songs to structure our bouncing. A my name is Anna and my husband's name is Adam, we live in Alabama and we sell apples. And on and on and on.
Richard is wearing his tie dyed shirt today. He's seventy one years young. Wears his hair swept back, blue jeans and worn out Doc Martens. I finally convinced him to get rid of the old eyeglass frames that were too big for his face. He looks better now with new thin ones. He does have a pot belly, and I guess the Doc is after him about his cholesterol. But all things being equal, he's in terrific shape. Like me, he has cabin fever. Hits us every year about this time. Just two more weeks and we get to escape.
When the music started, we were sitting in folding chairs lined up along one wall. All the girls, in our crinolines, bobby sox and penny loafers, hairpins holding the curls back from faces too young for make-up. The boys lined up similarly on the opposite wall, arms folded or hands in their pockets, trying to look casual in their first sport jackets over button down collars. A few of them were even wearing ties. The dance floor spread out before us, an abyss. No one dared to cross it. We averted our eyes. Somebody started to tap their foot.
When Steven asked me to dance, I felt my face flush. It was the moment I had been dreading. Looking down I whispered, "I don't know how to dance." He didn't answer, just put his hand out for me to take it. I took an involuntary deep breath and raised up. I took his hand, and he turned and led me onto the dance floor. My breath going in and out was all fluttery and broken up. I hoped nobody was looking at us. He put one hand on my waist and started dancing. I looked down at his feet.
I LOVE THE EDUCATION AND I FIND I SEE A LOT AND BREAK THROUGH A LOT OF THINKING AND BEHAVIOR THAT GETS IN THE WAY OF WHAT I AM UP TO AND SETS ME FREE WITHIN MYSELF TO SUCCEED AT THE PROJECTS THAT I AM UP TO. ONLY THING IS THAT I DON'T FEEL IT IS MY MISSION TO PROSELYTIZE FOR LANDMARK.I DON'T FEEL COMFORTABLE INVITING STRANGERS AND CASUAL ACQUAINTANCES TO COME TO AN INTRODUCTION AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO TAKE THE FORUM. I GUESS I JUST DON'T SEE IT AS ONE OF MY BIG GOALS TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD.
What is it that is so infuriating about being "sold" something. When somebody tries to sell me something, be it an idea or an object, my throat tightens up and a scream starts to build up in my chest. I feel like I'm going to explode. It makes me so angry, I have to terminate the conversation. The more someone tries to sell me something, the less likely I am to buy it. My resistance is in inverse proportion to the sales pitch intensity. I mean, it could be something I want, but if you push me I won't buy.
It reminds me of being raped. That feeling of enormous pressure in my chest, the almost uncontrollable urge to scream at the top of my lungs. The feeling of being held down against my will. Of having no choice. Being stuck with what's happening whether I like it or not. The wave of anger. The words, "Fuck you" are on the tip of my tongue. The urgency to get away from there, to just be someplace else. There are times during a Landmark seminar when I feel exactly that way. And I wonder what the hell am I doing here?
It's a new dance. In this dance, you enroll your partner. They are touched, moved and inspired as you transform before their eyes. They are mesmerized. They want to know how you did it, so they can try it for themselves. Follow me, you say. In just three days, you too could be dancing the Landmark Shuffle. Sign up here. It's guaranteed to boggle your mind, silence your noisy little brain, upset your rotten apple cart and show you the way. Oh, no it's not magic. But it is a trick. It's not slight of hand, it's slight of mind.
In a strict sense our every reaction is altogether our personal responsibility. It is never about "them" and it is always about "us." But, and I hate to say but...but we are also responsible for what we send out into the world, and to some extent it is irresponsible not to be accountable for how our words and actions are received, how they land on the other side. But that is exactly how Landmark deals with criticism of their programs. They point out that your reaction is not about them. By making it all about you, they aren't accountable.
I don't know what it is about February in Spokane, but everybody gets a little weird. Maybe it's the full moon. All night last night, it was like a dreamy version of daytime outside. The world never really settled down. Tre and I stayed up late, reading books in our sleeping bags by flashlight. This morning we were tired. The sky clouded over and a few snowflakes fell. Even Tre, who is five years old said, "I can't wait for Spring." This afternoon we visited the crocodile at the pet store. He never even blinked his eye. He's waiting too.
Why do I go to self-improvement seminars? Is it because I don't go to church, or therapy and there is something missing in my life as a result? Is it because I think I need to be fixed, and that I am the one to do it? Is it because I believe life can be better than it is? Is it because I believe we are supposed to figure life out? Is it because I think somebody else has answers? Is it because I like school? Is it because I think too much? I seems to me inherently ridiculous!
In any normal day, some tune gets stuck in my brain. My toes and my fingers, and even my teeth tap out the rhythm. The melody plays across my mind. Maybe I know the words, but even if I don't, the rhythm and the melody run inside me like a clock ticking, persistent and irritating. Like an itch you can never quite scratch. I turn on the radio, just to switch the song. Pretty soon some other tune takes over. But after a while, it too becomes annoyingly familiar, repetitive, unnerving. To escape from this is my reason for meditation.
Some people who are still living don't need to worry that I am going to tell the world what they did. Some other people who are still alive can just suck it up. Your comfort or discomfort just doesn't figure into the equation. What matters is that it's purgative for me to say what happened, in plain English, right there on my blog...to "tell the truth and shame the devil" as Emily says in "Our Town." And I should know what Emily says, since I've played the role. I know the lines. And I know exactly what you did.
Well, Valentine's Day arrived, and for all my humbuggery, I am pleased to have a dozen red roses gracing the table. And he also got me a card that sings a love song by Elton John. Just to check out my skewed interpretation of what this holiday is all about for men (sex, sex and only sex), I asked him last night what he wanted for Valentine's Day. He didn't know. Well, I suggested, how about candy? Yuck! Okay, jewelry then? No, definitely not! Flowers? Well... Okay then, how about sex? Do you want sex? Absolutely! I rest my case.
I have this feeling, a suspicion really that life would work out if you could just live with Brother David Steindl-Rast. Watching his videos at the www.gratefulness.org website is like taking a light appetizer and then having the main course cancelled. You're left inspired but hungry. What would I give to be in his presence, to enroll in one of his workshops....Ahh, I would give a lot. And I hope this day will come. But in the meantime, I am reading his book. Common Sense Spirituality. I recommend it to all seekers of the truth.
I grew up in Brooklyn. I was born at Bushwick Hospital, which was torn down two years later. The first place I remember living was an apartment on Atlantic Avenue. My father was a milkman during the day, and at night he set pins in a bowling alley. My mother stayed home with us, the three of us, my older brother, me and my younger sister. The dog biscuit club, we called ourselves: Eggie, Chickie and Ducky. Meetings were held under the dining room table, with Rexie our mutt. We had to give up Rexie, because he bit people.
I have three blogs now. One is for my writing (stories, scripts, poems) at http://www.stillwalkn.blogspot.com. One is for my ranting, it is http://www.thedailydiscovery. blogspot.com. And one is for my childhood memories, what some would rather I kept secret, at http://www.badnewsinbrooklyn.blogspot.com. Between these three sites and 100 words a day, and my writing class assignments, it keeps me pretty busy. Sometimes there is a bit of an overlap. Some days the muse loves me, and inspiration blossoms like a firework, lighting up the skies inside my addled mind.
I'll be gone for a week. So here's my commitment. Every day I will write 100 words in my notebook and enter them all when I get home next week. I am hoping to warm up a little, taking a break from the ice berms and cold nights of the northwest. I'm also hoping that I will relax. A week isn't much time, but hopefully it will be enough for me to unwind. I have some goals, to see an alligator from our canoe in the refuge, the snorkel in the Bahamas. To rest and rest and rest. And tan.
Leaving the northwest behind, we dressed too lightly for the weather. Didn't want to carry a heavy coat to Florida. Scraped ice from the windshield in the pre-dawn cold, too early even to get a cup of coffee. Grabbed a Wall Street Journal from the airport check-in and boarded at dawn. Three flights later, we touched down in Ft. Lauderdale. The air warmer by fifty degrees, and humid. Our luggage met us and we stepped out onto the curb in the dark, again. Stumbled and fumbled our way to the rental car lot and onto the freeway. Tired.
Never ever buy a vacation as a package deal over the telephone. What was I thinking? Oh right, I wasn't thinking. Woke up in a second rate hotel to a buffet breakfast that was adequate but not interesting, pretty much like the hotel itself. Barely adequate, nothing special, less by far than we would have liked. Clean sheets but a dirty rug. Pretty much sums it up. Part of the "package" was to "listen to an offer." This turns out to be several hours at a resort where they stand on their heads trying to sell us a time share.
An identical and equally uninspiring breakfast greets us this morning. We are off to Pompano Beach to take Sal to the beach. The day is brilliant and warm, the sand is white and soft, the water is turquoise, and all things considered we are very much cheered up. Sal is recovering from his long bout with pancreatitis. Richard and I lather on the sunscreen and get a sunburn anyway. Sal sits on the beach in a long-sleeved flannel shirt. The water seems to be a bit cold for swimming. Richard sees a Portuguese Man Of War in the surf.
The same crappy breakfast. We head north to a wildlife refuge and rent a canoe. Lather on sunscreen and paddle into the swamp. Alligators lay sunning themselves on the banks. We see twenty five. But who's counting? At one point the channel is narrow and a gator is laying crossways blocking the way. We look at it. It looks at us. Finally it decides to move downstream beside us. Richard threatens to touch it. His paddle brushes beside it, and it bolts away nearly toppling the canoe. I'm afraid of them, but they seem to be uniformly fat and lazy.
While waiting to eat the same boring breakfast as yesterday, some passengers from the most recent cruise return to the hotel. They are livid. The exhort us not to get on the boat. The ship is a relic built in 1947. The bathrooms don't work. The food is lousy and the bedding is nasty. Everybody's seasick and there's nothing to do. We drive down to the dock and take a look. It's the fucking African Queen. It has to be the oldest cruise ship still in service, and today it is leaving on its last cruise. Ever. We drive out of there and head south for Key West. Outa here.
This is the day the whole vacation is for. We wake up in a clean and well-appointed room with the ocean outside the window. Hop in our rental and head for Old Town Key West. Which apparently is Paradise. The day is nonstop gorgeous. We go dolphin watching. The dolphins swim around the boat posing, but I don't get any really good pictures. Later we go snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico. It's a long time before Richard gets out of the water. When the sun goes down we find our way to Duval Street. Night of a perfect day.
At Everglades National Park, we step into a special on the National Geographic Channel. Wildlife are massed together around a fresh water pond that is literally teeming with life. Fish jumping out of the water all over the place, alligators everywhere both on the shore lines and in the water. And birds beyond number, in the trees, in the water, on the banks. And these huge yellow bellied turtles sunning themselves on the rocks. We walk on an elevated boardwalk just inches from the animals, all of whom are so engrossed in what they are doing that they virtually ignore us.
It's seventy five degrees and sunny when we check in at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale for our trip back home. When we change planes in Dallas, it is still a warm and sunny day, but by the time we get to Salt Lake City, we are looking at snow covered mountains and watching a winter storm roll in. We have time to kill, so we walk all over the airport and I buy myself a new book to read. We eat, we drink, we visit with strangers. When we get off the plane in Spokane, it is twenty.
It takes us all day to unpack. We are exhausted, but we still get ourselves to writing class in the morning. The only complaint I have about the class is there is no constructive criticism. The feedback is all positive. After a while it's hard to take it seriously. I mean, let's face it, not everything we write is wonderful. People in the class talk about how it feels safe. I have to wonder if safety is always worth the price. When I read a story I know isn't particularly good and get nothing but positive feedback, it's just weird. Sigh.
Today was a busy day. Started out with a little boy who is sick with a nasty chesty cough. After taking him home, we went to the chili feed, where we had a really great time. I helped make sopapillas, and our friends came and ate chili and bought bowls, some of which I had made. We visited until I was so tired I thought my head would just drop onto the table top. So then we headed home and I took a nice long nap until it was time for rehearsal for Our Town. Then got home at midnight.
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