Maude

When I am – not to get morbid here but I guess I will – laying on my deathbed, there will be two memories that stand out. One is, the day I discovered Natalie Goldberg.

I was visiting this older lady named Maude. She was very small, very old, and she had a beautiful horse and she lived alone in a tiny studio apartment and she drank a shot of tequila every afternoon. She had lived with an abusive husband for years, but she eventually divorced him. She had a nice son. And she was happy with her life as it was with her horse. I don’t know how it came up but she handed me this book Writing down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and it was one of those books in my life that I couldn’t put down until I finished it. Like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

I loved it for many reasons but mainly because it finally gave me permission to write. Write my drivel. Write whatever came out of my brain. But write. Up until that point I knew that writing could lead me in positive directions. I had intuited this on my own. But to hear this come from another writer was spectacular. And writing has become such a huge healing part of my life since then that I would not be who I am if it weren’t for that day.

The other memory is an exercise she wrote about in her book where she asked a classroom full of kids to each unwrap one Hershey’s chocolate kiss and put it in their mouth and close their eyes and only open their eyes to write down the sensations and thoughts and feelings that came over them as they let the chocolate melt (don’t bite it!) in their mouth. I loved that image and I use it from time to time with my students.

Savoring the little moments since that’s all we really have. Knowing what you love. That’s all that really matters.

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Pointless Passions

Even at the age of 13, I was obsessed with cats. And a lot of other things, too.

At this age, I was way into dieting, Scott Baio, and being preppie. My cousin and I attempted the Scarsdale Diet. It was awful. Like you only got 750 calories a day. I remember lasting about one day. All I remember eating was boiled chicken, unbuttered toast, and plain grapefruit. About a day and a half of self-imposed starvation later, I dramatically lay immobile on the couch. I was convinced I was going to die. Barely able to lift my head, I was determined to last more than a day, but I just couldn’t so I remember crawling on my arms and legs to the kitchen to make myself a bowl of forbidden oatmeal and break the fast.

Scott Baio was my next passion. I used to peruse my cousin’s collection of Tiger Beat magazines and see his angelic cheeks (face!!! Face cheeks!) glisten across the glossy pages. His sweet grin would send waves of happy zings in my belly as I gazed into his eyes and melted to Air Supply’s “All out of love” tantalizing my eardrums. If I had a new picture of Scott (or if I hadn’t looked at him for a long time) and I had the music timed just right, I could close my eyes and literally feel Scott Baio holding me in his arms. Not a harmful passion per se, just a tad unrealistic.

And being preppie. I discovered the Preppie Handbook with the help of my friend, Margaret, in Connecticut. I had to have the khaki pants in order to complete my outfit one day, so I remember giving my dad the cold shoulder treatment in the car for a long time until he agreed to buy me a pair. I must have acted morose until he pulled the truth out of me.

“What is it, Lara?” Silence. “Come on – what’s going on?”

Finally, I replied, “Oh, I don’t know. It’s just that… well… nevermind.” (sigh).

“Come on, now.”

“It doesn’t matter. Don’t worry about it…. It’s just… oh, you’ll never buy me these so it doesn’t matter…” I got the pants, but I also got a good dose of guilt since I still remember that fateful day I lorded it over my poor dad.

One thing I’ve realized now that I have teens: the teen years are all about passion. Highs and lows. Extremes. I’m kinda glad I’m not there anymore. The drama is a bit much. Passion is fun but I think the trick is figuring out how to be passionate about healthier stuff. Like it’s probably better to be passionate about exercise versus snorting cocaine. Or being vegan versus gambling. I guess Scott Baio and Preppiedom weren’t all that bad. Scarsdale and his diet though can suck it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bubbles in my stomach

I hold my cat usually every morning. Lately I play Putomayo world music and she lays there with her fur in my face as I pet her head and her head falls back relaxed. They say that petting cats and dogs lowers your stress level. I believe it. I feel the bubbles of tension in my stomach slowly soften like when a massage therapist works on those little nodules in your neck and shoulders, pressing on them until they pop and melt away.

18740583_1658519430854938_1897522485596615668_nIt’s not bad tension really. There’s a bit of excitement mixed in. Not knowing what will come my way. When I start moving around and dissipate the energy, it goes away and I care less about what curveballs come. Being immobile and overthinking is what doesn’t work. That’s why I type. At least my fingers are moving, dissipating the energy. When I was a kid, I was excited every night for what was to come the next day. In the morning, I bolted out of bed ready to jump into the day. I am ready to get back to that kind of excitement.

little things

My cat

Is laying here with her head curled upside down and hidden under a paw. When I lift the covers, she crawls right in and nestles next to me, head laying on my arm. She knows what makes me happy. And somehow it makes her happy, too. That’s a cool thing.

My fingers

Know how to type and my mind knows which direction to get home. I know how to get there. All it takes is savoring the little things. Remembering the beauty. Making more beauty as I go.

Sisyphus’ anus

I was reading about intense emotions and you can either express, suppress, or transform them. One way to transform them is to turn them into a metaphor. I think that’s why I came up with this metaphor the other day when I was really frustrated. Instead of relying on the ole humdrum Sisyphus myth of feeling like I was being “forced to push a boulder up a hill,” I realized I felt more like I was trying to lift an elephant with one finger which ends up sliding into the animal’s anus.

freeeeeeee

I finally feel free.

The wind is lightly blowing, the air smells sweet—

 

The clouds are dotted and smeared across the sky—

I think the reason that poetry is so often about nature

 

Is because when your mind is finally free

then you can tune in and NOTICE beauty again.

 

I learned how to breathe today.

I saw my therapist. That helped.

 

I learned that it’s ok to be me. No need to define myself

in relation to anyone else, except my kids. Even they will grow up, and soon it will be just me.

 

Letting go of expectations, extrapolations, permutations

Letting go of the need to be needed.

Letting go of the need to need.

 

Breathing.

 

And letting a calmer mind lead me through the muck

And learn to see the muck as a beautiful thing in its own way.

I’m free.

Look away

target-kind-cashier-today-160119_43b87714bde3c4e300e79126f3ade9f9.jpgThere is only one thing that can get me outside myself – besides sex – and that’s writing. Ok there is one more thing: talking to people. So yeah, in order of importance? I guess it’s sex, writing, then talking.

With sex, it’s pretty self-explanatory why it’s easy to get outside yourself. Or rather, out of your way. Stop thinking so much and just start doing. Same with writing (for me). Talking with people? It’s a little easier to get distracted. Somebody can be yammering on and I can drift away if I’m not careful, but even with that I’m getting better at noticing when I’m not paying attention or if I am monologuing it and not even noticing whether the other person is listening or not. I’m getting better at checking in and staying connected (get it? ‘Connected?’ Sex? Hahaha).

So yeah, aside from sex, it’s writing. Writing for me is like talking to this imaginary other person. This all-knowing, all-understanding other person who just ‘gets’ me. That’s why I like writing. It’s like my best friend is sitting there, listening, hanging on every word, and they have all the patience in the world. Maybe it’s because they know that I will be enraptured when they speak next. That’s what writing is for me.

It makes time go away because for a moment I am connected not only to the universe of being but to all of the minds down the road who might read these words… who might follow this train of thought and not jump off the train out of fear or boredom. It’s not necessarily that I write for posterity – although that is a plus – it’s more the idea that my mind can somehow time travel into someone else. Ok, so maybe it is about ‘living on’ but not because I need to be famous. I just like the idea of popping into somebody else’s mind and bopping around and seeing if maybe an idea or two that I have might help them out.

Like this idea. Look people in the eye. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Or, try the opposite and don’t look people in the eye. Either way, do what’s unexpected. Sometimes when I go through the checkout lane at the grocery store, I deliberately give the cashier very little attention. Not because I’m ignoring her or him but because I want to take the pressure off so they don’t feel obliged to ask the same ole boring questions. I notice that if they feel attended to but not stared at, then they start opening up and telling me things. Like this lady the other day who told me how the previous guy had just tried to hit on her and she was glad she escaped his clutches. Or like this other store clerk who told me how much he hated the whole Monopoly marketing campaign but he had to do it and what a fucking waste of time it was and how employees at other companies like McDonald’s were often fired over it because the staff would collude and try to scam the company and save the tickets and win the big bucks. I love it when people share things because you’re not putting pressure on them to share.

But I also like putting the pressure on. I like looking at people just to let them know that I’m aware, and I’ve noticed that when people are being watched that they don’t really want to escape. I’ve noticed that if you don’t look away upon first meeting someone (in a natural, non-weirdo sort of way), then people are not tempted to look down at their phones. But if you allow yourself to get shy and look away for too long, virtually everyone begins the self-preservation tactic of grabbing their phone and hiding, too. Stop hiding, I say. Stop!!!! Myself included!!!!

So there’s an idea. Don’t hide. Stay connected. Writing. Sex. Talking. It’s all the same thing really.

When I was a kid…

downloadWhen I was a kid, I used to walk down this dirt road next to our log cabin in White Rock, British Columbia. This was the same dirt road on which I learned how to ride a bike. All I remember being instructed to do was…. NOTHING! I was just put on this bike and pushed down a hill. A bit melodramatic I know. Probably wasn’t even much of a hill. More like a gentle slope but it felt like I was falling into oblivion. It was the same feeling I had when I was learning how to drive and my dad said, ‘Hey! Let’s leave the safety of this little park where you can just drive slowly around the outskirts and let’s instead go hit the hustle and bustle of a busy intersection.’ (Ok he didn’t really say it like THAT – my dad is not THAT crazy. I love my dad. But he is a drama king and I know he enjoys these tributes to our family’s insanity).

So there I was trying to maneuver a stick shift when the reality that I was entering an intersection with cars coming from all directions freaked me out and I didn’t see the bicyclist and next thing I knew I was plowing into him, squishing the guy’s bike in half but somehow luckily he came out unscathed. So, I guess the moral of these two stories is: when learning new things, at least in my family, expect to be traumatized?

But I do have nice memories from childhood…because the same dirt road also took me to the wide expanse of a special hay field. It felt huge to me at the time. If I saw it now it would probably be no bigger than my smallish front yard but back then it was endless. It was like traversing the Alaska hinterland, the fjords of Norway (not that I knew what a fjord was at 7 but it sounds good to me now… well now that I’ve looked up ‘fjord,’ it couldn’t have been that either. More like a ‘prairie’ I guess, but that doesn’t fit. ‘Grasslands?’ That’s more like it.

I would go out into the GRASSLANDS and just listen to the wisps of tall, wavy grass twisting and crisscrossing in the wind. I would hide easily if someone were to come down and look for me. It didn’t take much to crouch down and instantly disappear. I could see bears coming out of the woods to feed on critters scurrying around if I lingered long enough in my imagination. It felt quiet and I felt free. No one could touch me out there in the wilderness (not that I was molested as a child or anything – I just realized that sounded weird).

It was the same kind of anonymity I loved in the living room. I used to fall asleep on the couch in the afternoon. Everyone was busy doing their thing and I might watch some afternoon cartoons or read a book and then just drift off (or not) on the couch. If someone walked in, I would just keep on pretending to be asleep, thrilled at the thought that THEY would think I can’t hear them talk about me (if they’re going to talk about me) or do something weird like pick their nose and eat it. ‘Oh look at her there! So peaceful! Ohh, I can’t disturb such a sweet little angel’ (goober tossed).

My childhood: the good and the not-so-good. Doesn’t matter now. I’m just glad that I’m here and my mind is still intact enough to remember them.

More FB rants/raves/ramblings

Rambling-DriveHow did someone come up with the phrase…’Be the bigger person?’ Like, is it impossible for smaller people to be big- hearted, generous folk? i call that small-ism and i’m not going to stand for it. i’m going to sit down, in fact, and show my support for smallness.

Be yourself. If you’re changing yourself to suit someone else too much? You’ll know it. So don’t do it. Be yourself.

that’s it!!! i’m getting out of this house!!! no more no more no more no more looking at a screen. no more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! at least for 10 minutes.

Sometimes you have to ham it up… in order to egg people on [cue audience groan].

my life consists of doing a lot of repetitive tasks differently more and more each time. not complaining. just observing.

Don’t normally like cloudy skies that are toooo cloudy but this one is special. It feels like a literal blanket that I’m playing hide and go seek under but it feels even more like when you’re swimming in a pool and you look up at the sky through the surface of the wavy water.

cheesy moment #478924578249857409: be a leader of positivity rather than a follower of negativity.

i cannot do it all. i can’t even do part of it. in fact, the only thing i can do really really well is WHINE!. yes i’d say that is one of my best skills. letting it out. yup, that’s what i do. wooohooooo i can do something!!!!!!

i like clothes that don’t make me think so hard when i put them on.

A day of meetings. Woooohoooooo. Ok now where did I put my positive spin on things soapbox? Darn. I used it as firewood.

The world would be such an easier place to live in if we all just said ‘sorry’ more often (including myself) and stopped pretending that we weren’t little shits to each other sometimes.

Sometimes a little space and a lot of coffee is all I need. Sometimes a lot of space and a little coffee. Sometimes it’s a lot of space and a lot of coffee but it’s never little space with little coffee.

 

 

What are you in love with?

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We’re all in love with something or someone. But if I had to pick something because someones sometimes come and go… I would say writing/dancing in my kitchen.

What are you in love with?

I know someone in love with talking on the phone. Another person in love with working out in the gym. Someone else in love with dirty memes. And then there’s the person in love with…

  • Being constantly on the move
  • Taking a dip in the pool
  • Walking and talking
  • Quiet moments with close friends
  • Being boldly honest and raw and direct
  • Being alone
  • Slowing down time to its minutest parts
  • Talking to strangers
  • Drama and gossip
  • Being on the cutting edge
  • Reading
  • Music
  • Handwriting
  • helping kids stay kids at heart even when they’re adults
  • and so on….
  • and what about you?