Thursday, February 26, 2009
I've been really sick all week and my grandma just died this morning, and this stranger talked to me the entire train ride home, even though I really just felt like zoning out today. At the end, he asked me to be his Facebook friend. I didn't WANT to be Facebook friends because I had only just met him. And I told him that, and then he thought I didn't like him, but truly it had nothing to do with him at all. Truly I neither disliked nor liked him, I just wanted to zone out...
All I want to do is have a good cry, but I just haven't been able to cry in MONTHS.
I feel like an awful person because I can't even shed a tear over my own grandmother's death. She and I didn't ever really like each other that much anyway, or at least never had any very deep connection, but the truth of my situation is that I am here today because of her sacrifices.
And she did sacrifice a lot.
I just want somebody to hold me or smack me across the face or at least tell me what to DO. I've been working so hard at making decisions for myself, but in times like this where the system is stressed, I just want it to be easy.
I just want to glide.
I just want somebody to put some food in front of me and tell me to eat so that I don't even have to think about it.
And now here I go to spend the weekend with sad relatives whom I hardly know, even though I should, and their sorrow will make me ache, but I won't know how to reach out to them. And then there's my sad, sad mother who needs my light and love and support, and I feel like this is the opposite of how everything is supposed to be.
Sigh... what a useless creature. What a pitiful excuse for a human.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
So, for forty days, from tomorrow until Easter, I am dedicating my thoughts and meditations to this journey and, as a symbol and a reminder, am swearing off chocolate, candy, and desserts in all forms. It is by no means a large gesture, but I think the point is to have a small but regular reminder of the process. I figure, I consume sweets a couple times a day. So I think the mild pangs of sugar cravings and subsequent self-denial will serve as a good reminder of this journey.
The main point here is an interiorization. It is so difficult for the Western world to interiorize. In the West we always want to see and touch and weigh and measure. But with these things of the spirit, each one of us must undertake that long journey inward in which he or she will meet the Triune God who dwells within us.
It takes kenosis, a stripping of oneself, a totality of surrender. It takes a total interiorization, in which we recollect all our fantastically scattered thoughts. Because symbolically speaking, we must be naked and follow a naked Christ. We can’t take anything with us except faith, hope, and love.
This means giving up our manipulating of other people. It means giving up thinking that one’s ideas are the center of the universe. It means having a simplicity, a childlikeness, like that which Christ said we have to have to enter heaven.
“Lord, give me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out as an adult.” These are the dispositions with which to enter the bright sadness of Lent.
I do hope and believe this will be a meaningful experience.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Or the misery might have something to do with the fact that I did not anticipate it and, therefore, have not brought an umbrella or worn appropriate attire.
To get to my apartment from Harvard Square I have to take a bus and then transfer to the trolley. As we approach the transfer stop, I see a green line trolley waiting at the intersection. I thank the bus driver and descend the stairs of the bus. All I must do is cross the intersection and I'll be on the final leg of my journey: safe, warm, and dry. I step out part way into the street and peer around the front of the stopped bus. Car after car zooms past, each one hitting the same puddle and sending the same low arc of water across my legs. With each passing auto, I grow more anxious. The light is going to change and the trolley is going to depart without me on it!
Plus I am getting a little bit soaked.
Finally there is a tiny gap in traffic and I dart recklessly across the street. Apparently another person likes this idea and follows directly in my wake. The cars slow just enough to let us pass through, and we make it to the doors of the trolley exactly as the light changes to green.
The conductor in the first car looks at us, a couple of poor, rain-drenched little slobs, shakes his head 'no, sorry' and begins to move the train forward.
"What???" I say out loud.
"What???" my new friend echoes. We are both more than miffed.
I am actually sooooo tired and upset by this point, and I just cannot understand why the operator could not just wait the fifteen seconds to open the doors and let us on - yes I know I know there are schedules and headways to maintain, but, on a cold and rainy afternoon, one might consider that there are some things that are more important than schedules and headways. And this is ME, here. MEEEEEEEE. Did he somehow miss the fact that the focal point of this universe is my momentary happiness and well-being? As the trolley passes, I stick my foot out and kick the side of it with my shoe (and a quiet 'hmph'). I know it is probably not safe, that my shoe laces could become entangled in the ventilation grill and I would be dragged along, my face being ground to a pulp along the ballast or something, but the action itself is remarkably satisfying. Nothing like a little misplaced anger to ease the emotional slights of calloused MBTA employees.
Best part: another trolley followed immediately behind the first one...
Thursday, February 19, 2009
But how can we be more open to the present, more present to the One who is beside or inside of us? I find it happening on its own at times, but I don't know how to train myself more in that direction.
Or perhaps it is the inverse of training. Perhaps a lifetime of training is what prevents presence from quietly creeping in.
How then do you train the release of training?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
There were ice sculptures, human foosball, sledding, a zipline, a crazy parade, an outdoor dance party in the middle of the night, and tons of bundled people of all ages walking around in snow pants and huge boots and mittens. Sooooo much fun to just play play play and be around celebrating people.
The mascot or ambassador for the festival is a fellow called Bonhomme (from the phrase for snowman - bonhomme de neige - or so I am told). Bonhomme is jolly, with a big smile and squinty eyes. He wears a red hat on his head and a multicolored sash around his waist. And for some reason I felt an enormous and instantaneous connection with this character. I cannot even describe it, sort of half fan mania and half déjà vu or something? It was maybe a feeling of long-lost kin?
My friends on the trip knew of my feelings for Bonhomme. Actually, we were going crazy during the outdoor dance party and suddenly a couple of the people in the group were pointing behind me and yelling. Yes, Bonhomme (who had been dancing on stage earlier) was passing through the crowd behind us. "Go go!" they yelled, and one friend even pushed me along through the crowd as I tried to get closer. But I guess I was not the only one. Hordes of people chased after the snowman mascot like he was some sort of celebrity. It was a little surreal. Unfortunately the crowd was too thick, and Bonhomme was quickly packed into his white van by his bodyguards and whisked off to the afterparty - or wherever VIP snowmen go post-winter-carnival.
It is sad, I never got to have my picture taken with him or even touch him, because he was always too far away or surrounded by too many people, but I did end up getting one of those sashes and I think I might treasure it forever.
All these strange feelings left me wondering: why did I react so strongly on such an instinctual level about this character?
After a couple days now, I think I've figured it out. He reflects a part of me that I suspect I may have been neglecting recently. The joy of being alive. Even though life is tough sometimes, even though it often feels we're stuck in a state of perpetual winter, Bonhomme is the part of us that can roar in laughter or jump up and down in delight anyway. I should know myself by now to recognize that I truly do find joy in remarkably simple things, and I think I have been failing to nurture that quiet joyful Katie-child. Bonhomme says No no no, whatever you do, whatever happens, always nurture that joy. Sit in your snowpants on the ground for a moment after you have fallen and just laugh. Go sledding. Smile at a stranger. Find delight in balloons and dancers and maple syrup.
Yes I think that is it.
Thank you, Bonhomme.
Monday, February 16, 2009
An instant friendship was born.
Her father had attended college in the states with the daughter of a prominent local family. This daughter inherited the family's oooooold brick mansion on a wooded estate, and (due to some arrangement which was unimportant to my young mind) my friend's family ended up house-sitting there for several years.
There was a gardener who sculpted the shrubs into exotic shapes; there were two sets of stairs, a balcony running around the great entryway on the second floor, metal windows with diamond matrices of tiny panes, a greenhouse, several bathrooms (the bathtub in one ended up housing the multiplying generations of pet mice who did tightrope tricks and chewed through cardboard oats containers), a DRAWING ROOM for goodness sake... it was everything my house was not. And it was delightful.
As you may or may not imagine, I was wildly imaginative, a trait my own mother probably cherished on some level, but in terms of daily living, she preferred her routine, her order. Everything was very meditated, planned, careful. And so my friend's house, centuries old and crumbling in some places, with endless square-footage, was an escape, an outlet. A wonder and a sanctuary.
(In fact, to this day, when I read fiction books, I will often find myself picturing the events transpiring at her first American address.)
I recently was blessed with the chance to reunite with her for lunch, a brief hour between her stay in Argentina and her round of interviews for PhD programs. It was fun to remember some of our old times. Like making "potions" and Rube Goldberg machines, spinning fantastical stories and poems and crafting pouches with harnesses to bring the guinea pigs up into the tree tops with us. Or the afternoon we pretended to be woodland fairies and live off of the land. We galloped around that garden, picking leaves off of assorted plants and consuming them, pointing out their various magical and medicinal properties to each other. That was really quite dumb of us, we recalled. We could have so easily poisoned ourselves and died.
What were we thinking? Why would we do such a thing?
Why not, I guess? We shrugged. We didn't die. Some people look at eating unknown botanical substances and ask "why?" while others look at it and ask "why not?"
This post is part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment, and Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise. This week's theme: 'Imagination'.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I log in to Facebook and I am always delighted to see somebody has posted on my wall, I am tickled when that little red notification box appears telling me that Mary has also commented on Michael's photo, that Kimberly made a comment on my posted item, that Felix LIKES my status. When people reply to my stupid emails or post comments in response to the things I say in various forums, my spirits are bolstered.
It is dumb. I know. I am such a dork. And so emotionally needy. LOVE ME LOVE ME LOVE MEEEEEEEEE...
And yes, you guessed it - when people make comments on my blog, that also makes me feel so so good.
Maybe it has to do with the feeling that when I post to the internet my thoughts and everything are going to this gaping wide world. Maybe it's like dolphins... if the signal doesn't bounce back, how do I know anything? I should just quit with the online garbage. I never used to think about any of this. I have become sucked in to the dark dark eternal cavity of online affirmation.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Then I checked some of their blogs and saw the victory posts and felt shame shame shame. Not real shame but shame like I didn't do the blog post even though I intended to. Hopefully they don't kick me out of the coordinated content project.
This post was supposed to be part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment, and Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise. This week's theme: 'Victory'.
Monday, February 9, 2009
This is a letter to say thank you.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to blossom. Thank you for seeing the beauty when I glanced within and was repulsed. Thank you for a gift of faith.
Thank you for the small daily glimpses of joy and delight which bathe and wrap me in shimmering gauze. Thank you for endless love as well as for stepping back sometimes to let me learn to balance.
Thank you for balance. For tension. For difficult questions. For shadows, sorrows that stretch me, make me ache. For tenderness through it all. For peace and for strength.
Thank you for ability to recognize grace. Thank you for eternity and infinity but also for this moment right now.
Thank you for now.
Dear friends and family,
Dear strangers who give me a chance,
Thank you. Thanks to everything. For I am truly blossoming. Right here. Right now.
very truly and sincerely yours,
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Joy of Yum
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
10 oz white mushrooms, chopped
5 oz spinach, chopped
red and black pepper
butter or olive oil
1. Sautee garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil/butter with salt and pepper to taste.
2. When they're cooked, add the artichoke hearts (and some of their juice) and spinach and cook a short while longer.
3. Add lemon juice and grated Parmesan.
4. Eat with rice, pasta, quinoa, or toast. Or plain.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
If the elephants have past lives
Yet are destined to always remember
It’s no wonder how they scream
Like you and I they must have some temper
And I am dreaming of them in the plains
Dirtying up their beds
Watching for some sign of rain
To cool their hot heads
And how dare that you send me that card
When I’m doing all that I can do
You are forcing me to remember
When all I want is to just forget you
If the tiger shall protect her young
Then tell me how did you slip by?
Oh my instincts have failed me for once
I must have somehow slept the whole night
And I am dreaming of them with their kill
Tearing it all apart
Blood dripping from their lips
Teeth sinking into heart
And how dare that you say you will call
When you know I need some piece of mind
If you had to take sides with the animals
Won’t you do it with one who is kind
If the hawks in the trees need the dead
If you’re living you don’t stand a chance
For a time though you share the same bed
There are only two ends to this dance
You can flee with your wounds just in time
Or lie there as he feeds
Watching yourself ripped to shreds
Laughing as you bleed
So for those of you falling in love
Keep in kind keep it good keep it right
Throw yourself in the midst of danger
But keep one eye open at night
Those last four lines sort of kill me every time. The Album.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Egg No. 1
to grasp an egg without crushing.
How narrow the window
of force to exert.
How fragile the shell.
These frightened fingers do not know
how to reach out and touch.
Like a panicked child's
they clutch, crush,
and the precious yolk
between - slips
to the earth.
Ghosts of flight.
Egg No. 2
Take it, child. Beloved.
Try it once more.
Kiss these trembling hands.
Dry the hot tears.
Quiet the storm.
Here, feel its form: the shell - smooth, curved.
Touch it. Still warm.
Take it. Try it once more.
These timid fingers reach out.
to reach out and touch once more.
Anyway I waited until morning to post it to be sure it actually made sense (I have to be wary of things that seem insightful or funny in that state between dreaming and wakefulness. Like the time I dreamt about a "hilarious" joke that I wanted to tell my friend. I never saw the friend in the dream, but I did awaken in the middle of the night and write the joke down so I wouldn't forget it the next time I saw him. I sent him an email about it when I awoke, but, needless to say, he did not think it was very funny.)