Sunday, June 2, 2013

endings and beginnings

endings and beginnings - what charged things! and the poignant thing is that endings and beginnings are almost always paired. even endings that you want are often accompanied by some sorrow because whatever you are leaving served some purpose for you. and beginnings are mostly accompanied by anxiety.
i have been thinking of this a lot lately because i have to leave my job that i have had for the last 6 school years. i am excited and anxious to do my student teaching and then get my license and teach my own kindergarten - but i also am truly sad to leave my school where my dream to teach kindergarten was born. i have been able to watch my kinders grow (this year my first kinders "graduate" from elementary) - and it makes me sad to leave, because i won't get to see my other kiddos grow. and i know i will fall in love with a whole new class of kinders next year - but i won't get to see them after....
so, in my life right now i am in a nexus of happy/sad/anxious/excited  because an important phase of my life is ending and new one beginning

Saturday, November 24, 2012

and if we knew our deaths, in our land...

tonight i was reading aloud to kevin from a fantasy book by phillip pullman (like i do) and i read this part tonight and it really struck me. i had read this book on my own about 4 years ago, but i have some things going on in my brain especially right now about death because my mother is not doing well and may be moving far away again.

i will edit out the plot stuff that isn't as relevant but i feel like sharing this piece of writing that gave me an interesting perspective. the back story (to this part of the novel) is that the characters, lyra and will, are trying to reach the land of the dead on a quest and end up in a waiting area for people who came to edge of the land of the dead accidentally while they are still alive.

from the amber spy glass (with things left out):

"you're the first people we ever saw without a death," said the man, whose name, they learned, was peter. "since we come here, that is. we're like you, we come here before we was dead, some by chance or accident. we got to wait till our deaths tell us it's time."
"your death tells you?" said lyra
"yes. what we found out when we come here, oh, long time ago for most of us, we found out we all brought our deaths here with us. this is where we found out. we had 'em all the time, and we never knew. see, everyone has a death. it goes everywhere with 'em, all their life long, right close by. our  deaths, they're outside, taking the air; they'll come in by and by. granny's death, he's with her, he's close to her, very close."
"doesn't it scare you, having your death close by all the time?" said lyra.
"why ever would it? if he's there, you can keep an eye on him. i'd be a lot more nervous not knowing where he was."
"and everyone has their own death?" said will, marveling.
"why, yes, the moment you're born, your death comes into the world with you, and it's your death that takes you out...your death taps you on the shoulder, or says 'come along o' me, it's time.' it might happen when you're sick with a fever, or when you choke on a piece of dry bread, or when you fall off a high building; in the middle of your pain and travail, your death comes to you kindly and says, "easy now, easy, child, you come along o' me," and you go with 'em.
the woman told a child to call the deaths in, and he scrambled to the door and spoke to them. they watched as the deaths - one for each of the family - came in through the door: pale unremarkable figures.
"these are your deaths?"
"indeed, sir!" said peter
(skip skip skip some stuff where the main characters ask if they can cross to the land of the dead while they are alive)
then came a voice that hadn't spoken before. from the depths of the bedclothes in the corner came a dry-cracked-nasal tone - not a woman's voice - not a living voice; it was the voice of the grandmother's death.
"the only way you'll cross  the lake and go to the land of the dead," he said, and he was leaning up on his elbow, pointing with a skinny finger at lyra, "is with your own deaths. you must call up you own death. i have heard of people like you, who keep their deaths at bay. you don't like them, and out of courtesy they stay out of sight. but they're not far off. whenever you turn your head, your deaths dodge behind you. whenever you look, they hide...not like me and old magda here," he said and he pinched her withered cheek, and she pushed his hand away. "we live together in kindness and friendship"
(skip skip - lyra confronts her death and asks to be escorted to the land of the dead while alive and then return)
"eventually, child, you will come to the land of the dead with no effort, no risk, a safe, calm journey, in the company of your own death, who's been beside you every moment of your life, who knows you better than yourself - "

i found this reading oddly comforting in my current state of dealing with possibilities of death. not in the same way that religious people find comfort in heaven, because i know this is a story. i think most of religion stems from our fear of death. and i do fear death - both mine and my loved ones'. but this story puts what i believe happens in a more tender way, i guess for me. i don't believe there is a land of the dead of any kind. but i like how the author transforms the usual "grim reaper" death character into a benign companion that accompanies us from birth to passing - who hides out of respect for our fear. our "death" doesn't choose the time or happenstance of how we die - they are just there all along waiting to guide us to our final resting.  however we treat our "death" - he/she are all we have in the end.

i see it as metaphor for how we decide to accept death. death comes to all of us (i.e. our constant companion). we can turn from it, but when it's our time - it's our time - and nobody knows when that is.
i am not trying to trivialize death - in fact, it is because death has been on my mind so much lately that i write this. i honestly think that death is only painful for the living (dying can certainly be painful - i am not saying that - but death - is painless for the dead) . i don't believe in heaven or hell - i believe death is just peace. but this little reading tonight helped me re-come to terms with the fact that we never know when death will come for ANYONE.
so my take home message is LOVE and APPRECIATE what you have - because you never know...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

fierce love

i am rethinking my thoughts about my teenager :) my daughter was my shadow, my playmate, at times my reason to keep going. she was a book worm (just like me), she was my shy violet. then....came 7th grade...

my little partner suddenly became a social butterfly. and quiet evenings with mom suddenly became a scarcity - and friends took on an urgency that i wasn't used to!...or was i?

several things in my recent past have made me wax nostalgic (the most recent of which is attending my cousin's wedding) and whenever i revisit my past, i realize how much i LOVE the characters who starred in my adolescence. to this day!!!! i carry a strong affection for the players in my adolescent drama. from friends to boyfriends - i still carry affection for them.

in my "older wisdom" i caution my daughter - your first love probably won't be your last. and that's likely true - but i warn her because i don't want her to be too attached - but i don't tell her how much i still love my first love because he was my first love. i think about my friends too - how much i loved them - how much i still do. and it is friends who have made the deepest imprint. my first (and second) true loves were my friends at the heart of it!

high school is such a strange thing. it is where we test who we want to be. and the people (male or female/ friends or lovers) who we love in HS we love FIERCELY because that's the only setting we have! and i love that i am 35 now and i can still feel the traces of the fierce love that i had for my friends.

and so i have to give my daughter a break. when her friends seem to be her world to the exclusion of the "real world" concerns i bring up - i have to remember the fierce love that accompanies teenage relationships/friendships and that that love can actually transcend time and place.
i have FIERCE love for my adolescent friends :)  which means i love you to this day! so - cass - i acknowledge your teen craziness - because i still retain some of mine :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Wendover Project

so 5 or 6 years ago my friend danielle invited me to be painted by an artist. this was not a gig to merely pose - this was a gig to actually have my (and others) naked body have paint applied to it. the artist (paul butler) was an accomplished painter and architect who had something nagging the back of his mind - why must we (humans) associate nakedness with sexuality? so he conceived an art where bodies were used as a canvas to explore the human body as shapes - with no judgement as to what shapes were "good" or "bad" (is a triangle good or bad? is a curve good or bad? is a square good or bad? - it sounds silly when you say it this way, but we judge our bodies'  shapes to be good or bad all the time).

so i have done numerous sessions with him over the past years. (almost) every year paul does something called the wendover project. the wendover project is where as many models as will consent to it go out to the salt flats (if you aren't familiar with utah - look up the salt flats) and are painted all together in one composition.

if you know me, then you know i am a pretty "free spirit" - but will admit i have issues with my body. so driving out to the salt flats you are in this like alien landscape. then all the models strip down - and it's surreal. because even the open-minded feel exposed - but we all do - and we all are. today there were 27 models. so there were 27 female bodies. and at first some of us are more or less shy. but we all get to see the amazing variety of bodies - and how we all have our own unique beauty - you see skinny, chubby, big boobs, tiny boobs, tattoos, piercings, cellulite, stretch marks... and then we have to stand there in the blistering sun having paint applied to our bodies. and as we stand there in the sun, with the paint drying and cracking,your habit of "holding in your tummy" or whatever  dissolves and you just become sisters with all the women who are there with you "letting it all hang out." it's pretty brutal standing on the (reflective) white salt in the heat - your vanity is really laid bare - and you don't even have time for obsessing about the things you dislike about your body. it is eye-opening and empowering to push past your personal insecurities about your body. and the funny thing is - you hear women talking about their insecurities!! it's like - because we are all out there, we can come clean with our secret dislikes about our bodies - and find out that we all have them.

it is a really amazing experience and i wish it (or a similar one) on all my lady friends. there is really nothing in the world like standing naked with 27 women (mostly strangers) on public land to create art

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reasons do not Equal Excuses

my 13 year old daughter and i had a confrontation today. the details are unimportant - but i will say today was the third incident of the same thing in less than a week. it's not a "big deal" thing - it's the repeat that pisses me off. so she gives me the whole "it wasn't my fault" along with "it won't happen again".

so my question to her was - if it really wasn't your fault - then how can you tell me that it won't happen again? the two claims are pretty much mutually exclusive. either you have no control over it happening - in which case you have no control over it happening again OR it WAS your fault because of choices that you made and so it theoretically could happen again (like how it has happened three times in less than a week despite your assurances the previous two times that it would not).

i told her during her pleading to not be grounded for TWO WHOLE DAYS that one of the things that made me more angry was her refusal to take responsibility for it. we all screw up. we all screw up unintentionally - in fact - i think probably most of our screw ups are unintentional. she went on and on about how it wasn't her fault because of all these reasons that led up to her repeating this particular violation. i was trying to get across to her that reasons are not excuses. everyone has reasons for the choices they make - for better or worse - but your reasons do not give you an EXCUSE. as she was protesting the unfairness of being grounded for two days she asked me what the big deal was. and for me  - a lot of the "big deal" has to do with taking responsibility. i hope to teach her how to take responsibility. it took me a really long time to learn the difference between reasons and excuses - and i hope that she learns it earlier than me (or at the very least that she learns it at all! - said every parent ever!). i have found a certain freedom that comes with accepting responsibility for your  life and stopping assigning blame outside yourself for your decisions. don't get me wrong - i still fall into the blame trap once in a while (who doesn't?) but today clarified for me one of my parenting missions - help daughter know that reasons are not excuses.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

going gray

so - in contrast  to what i am "supposed" to want - i COVET gray hair - i always have. and now i have two gray hairs - and they are the most beautiful silver!!! i just worry that i am destined to do the "salt and pepper" thing.
i want a head of beautiful silver hair!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Some camus for your ass

My friend Ash posted something earlier this evening that made me want to read Camus' "Youthful Writings" again - not all of it - just my favorite bits :) i began with the piece entitled "intuitions" and then revisited other favorite parts. i just love a favorite book! how you can go back and read it again and just cherish it all over again. mostly i wish i could just somehow beam the contents of this wonderful book into your head - but i will settle for relating a poem from the book...

That the gift is sad and grave, I know it, child of
   those who believe.
Flowers and streams, shadows and foliage in the
   dark of the present, all stretch forth and entwine.
I would have liked to leave in order to be bound,
   I see the sky too high.
Seeing how desires that look behind them die,
   who can be born again?
No. No. May all be astonished - at each thing
   at each birth and at each death.
Life with its regrets and desires is too short; alas!
   I believe in Love, and what use are my roots.
I know that everything happens and that the instant
   of communion is not awaited - but is won.
And when night falls, it's dawn
   that one must reach for.