Pomodoro? You’re ador-able!

Pomodoro-TimerI was listening to a YouTube channel: ‘Big Think,’ and this woman was talking about the Pomodoro Effect. Basically, if you remove all distractions, turn off all notifications in your life, and sequester yourself for 25 minutes you will get past the point of no return. Meaning you will have worked past your brain’s natural tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure (meaning: the tendency to rely on distractions, procrastination, etcetera).

For the Pomodoro to work, you need a 20-minute time period apparently. Scientists don’t know why but 25 seems to be the magic number to get into the groove on whatever project you’re working on. So right now, I am writing and I’m going to do this for 25 minutes.

I’m sitting on a log on a dry hill leading down to a ravine. Old Scrub oak trees everywhere remind me of my mom again. I’m staying at KOA. Beautiful but the most overpriced 4′ by 4′ plot of dirt and a picnic table I’ve ever paid for ($58), but I don’t care. I’m not driving. I’m not staying at an overpriced Motel 6 ($120 last night in Arcata!) and I’ve learned my lesson. Get up early. Drive early. Find a place to camp early before all the spots are taken.

I miss California, having grown up here. I miss the sun. I miss the easy-going nature of most people. But I also appreciate where I live now even more. Pluses and minuses to everything. Much of California is gorgeous but so expensive and so crowded. It’s why I left. If you can find a remote, quiet place more power to ya but it’s tricky. Maybe someday I will find the right town in California. I don’t know. I like the sun though.

I like Oregon maybe even more. Less crowded. Simpler. Unspoiled for the most part. Undiscovered (well… compared to California). The coast is unreal. It’s a spiritual experience. You realize how beautiful this world is and it makes you want to protect it. (I’ve got 15 more minutes to go on this Pomodoro Effect).

I realized on this trip how much time I need to do my thang. Never enough. I like to create. You can’t create when you’ve got too much to do. I need to have less on my plate. Minimize. That’s the key. I think that’s why I know I could never live in LA. It would be very hard to live a minimal lifestyle there.

But that’s ok. I can visit and enjoy. All I know is someday I will only have a laptop, pen, paper, some money, clothes, a camper, and friends. And I will be happy. Oh, and food too. And healthcare. And a cat or dog or both.

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The morning speaks to me

messy-bed-xlI want to know what other people’s morning rituals are, so as an invitation to share yours, here’s mine:

[I should clarify: this only happens when it’s summertime and neither my kids nor I have any real responsibilities (because I’m a teacher and they’re out of school). So, in other words, our true nature is coming out.]

I like to stay up late which means I get out of bed late… although I tend to wake up early. Like 5am but then I put my eyepatches (eyesleep mask? There is no good word for this thing that is so helpful in the early morning after a late night partying with friends) on so I can sleep longer. I sleep maybe another hour and then – sorry, but it’s true – I check my facebook and then go back to sleep. And I do that a few times before actually getting up. Sleeping, facebook, sleeping, facebook. Annnnnnnddddd eventually I’m up.

Then? I really want a cup of coffee in bed but alas there is no one to make it for me but me, but I also don’t want to get up and disturb this Zen state of mind I have so I just give up wanting coffee and get back into bed. I read various things but eventually I pick up my favorite book (now by Amy Krause Rosenthal) and after a few pages of her inimitable writing (that is like reading my own mind at play), I have to write too. And I write and write and get crazy ideas about social experiments or digging up my past for other people’s entertainment and then…. I get up, make coffee and see if my kids need anything.

While I’m making coffee – which lately just involves a pour-over where I have to stand there and wait for the water to sift through the grains —  I do my kegels because making coffee is the only totally predictable part of my day and so since it’s inevitable I figure I should include the kegel ritual for good measure. (I know – that was probably TMI but it gave me a laugh so I figured maybe you’d laugh, too. Plus maybe you’ll start doing your kegels in the morning. Come to think of it, shouldn’t men be doing kegels, too? Why the hell not, right?).

And then after some more writing and coffee drinking on an empty stomach – well, sometimes I grab a potato chip or some nuts but I don’t want to spend time cooking anything – I’m sitting at the kitchen table writing more. The morning is my most creative time. I reserve other parts of the day for random, sporadic meaningless jokes and observations that hit me but I reserve the morning for what my unconscious, inner life beckons me to write down. There. That’s it. What’s yours?

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.

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.

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.

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?

Facebook rantings and ravings

Sometimes when I share a smile with a relative stranger like a cashier at a store, I get a lump in my throat. Not a sad lump. More of a ‘Wow we are all one despite how separate we all think we are’ kind of lump.

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if i’m not kissing my cat’s stomach or wrassling with the dog on the living room carpet or dancing wildly in the kitchen or writing ridiculous nonsense on facebook, then something is wrong. so i am correcting that right now.

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Bc the NY times says that it’s eye contact that promotes more sympathy and empathy between people, I’m just gonna put this right here.

eye

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I just mowed the lawn walking backwards. There is a reason for this. Although … It doesn’t really matter. The neighbors prob still think I’m crazy. Except maybe Faye?… 🙂

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even though the world is imploding and population is skyrocketing and i’m barely doing anything to impact anybody with my little life in a little corner of the world, i need a moment of pointlessness bc it gets me through and here is my question: “when oreo makes doublestuff cookies, what happens to the other side of the cookie that doesn’t get used? it seems like a lonely life for that unsmeared cookie half.” and now back to death and destruction.

willow

willow
fat. very very very fat.
we love her for that. her fat.
she is soft and smells good, but mostly… it’s her fat.
willow
soft and round, plumpy and yummy like fresh ground round.
willow oh willow.
how we love thee.

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I’d rather hear about the zit on your nose than a nytimes magazine slick perfect life.

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I need to get a tattoo on the palm of my hand so when I run into people I can wave and they can read my tattoo which will say: “Even though I may get your name wrong, I still care. I promise.”

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I put on a bit too much patchouli today.

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I realize this is a first world problem but I’m gonna say it anyway. Nothing against my friends who work at walmart but I’m convinced that Walmart hires mystery shoppers whose sole purpose in life is to fuck up whatever checkout lane you’re in so no matter how high falutin and lofty your goals are in refusing to use the self checkout, eventually you cave in and give up your prized place in line and accept the dehumanizing path that will eventually make all human cashier jobs extinct.

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i think i could live on hummus and tomatoes. good tomatoes. not those crappy, mealy ones with no flavor. and i would build my little adobe or possibly tiny house on the hummus/tomato concoction. i might throw in a glutino cracker now and then for variety’s sake but that’s about it. cats and dogs would be essential. possibly a chicken or two but really i could just live on it and i wouldn’t even need internet or a smartphone. nope. just me and the hummus/tomato. i’d take baths in it, brush my teeth with it. wash the floor with it. i’d be very happy.

I’d rather say ‘Goodbye’ than walk away

So I was throwing up last night… yup… gross… and I realized (number one) how much I hate throwing up, but (number two) how it is highly symbolic of my life at the moment. But first let me explain why I was throwing up.

I had had enough of never being able to eat gluten (I have Celiac disease). I was smelling this amazing fresh baguette that had a slightly tangy smell to it and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I cut off three pieces and sliced some butter to put on top and ravished them.

Then, a while later, I made this weird concoction we call ‘Gloop’ in my family. It’s basically yogurt with whipped cream with blueberries and chocolate chips. I ate a little too much of that and given that I seem to have developed a growing lactose intolerance, too, within a half hour I was bloated, distended, uncomfortable, angry, and – if I moved too suddenly – nauseous. I convinced myself that throwing up was the way out of this mess so I decided that moving around more and accepting the inevitability of throwing up was the best route. And it worked.

And when it was all spewed and done, I felt better and I was relieved knowing that I had passed that milestone of stupid choices. But I also was grateful that my body felt good again and it made me appreciate my body for when it does work well.

And still, I had to think about why. How did I get into this mess in the first place? By not listening to my body. By not doing what my body has been telling me all along. No gluten. No dairy. Deal with it. I hit a wall but didn’t want to acknowledge the wall.

But also, life is about making stupid decisions sometimes. Live a little.

So I don’t know. Three steps forward. Two steps back. One step forward. Five steps back. That’s how it feels.

And inevitably it comes to this. 10 o’clock at night. I’m tired and done for the day. All of the peppy zip and optimism is gone and I am left facing a feeling of emptiness. The emptiness you feel after a good deal of throwing up. Relief mixed with pain. Bile. Lack of direction. What do you do after you throw up? There’s not much you can do, except sit still. Or what I usually like to do. Write.

I write because I don’t like walls. I write because I don’t want to live in an empty bubble anymore. I don’t want to live in an empty stomach.

I don’t get why we all live in our little empty bubbles so much. Well I do. Phones. Computers. Screens. These bubbles make you feel full, too full for awhile. But eventually you have to purge.

I’ve experienced it firsthand myself. I’ve communicated with no one except computer screens for too many hours. I’ve limited my social time to those carefully constructed moments where I stand nothing to lose. And you get into this habit to the point where – when I am confronted with a human being whom I know – I don’t know what to say. I’m tongue tied. I get exasperated at the idea of being stuck in a long conversation and not having the finesse to get out. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that – when I spend too much time conversing with them on machines (e.g. work email, personal email, facebook, texting) – I forget the nuances of how to maneuver my way through and around them in real life. And I get it. I think that’s why the world is becoming the way it is. It’s so easy and convenient. People there at your fingertips. Gone when you want them to go. Present if you need them. Delete-able if you don’t.  But in real life, people don’t just disappear when you’re done with them. They’re still there. Conversations go on whether you have time for them or not. And you have to develop other skills like how to gracefully exit a conversation when you really don’t have time to sit down and listen while they show you their favorite song on YouTube (even though you really would stay if you had time but you only have 5 minutes to eat before you have to be at another meeting). In other words, you have to give up control. You may end up being late for that meeting – god forbid! – but at least you remained human and politely came to a close with that conversation, a short but sweet declaration of farewell.

What if we ended real, live conversations the way we ended digital ones? What if we just walked away abruptly without a ‘goodbye’ or a ‘see ya.’ Maybe it really will get to that point eventually. Maybe it will be ok to just turn your back on someone who is mid-sentence and wordlessly strut away. Maybe. Anything is possible.

But I’m still going to try to not do that. So… goodbye… for now. I don’t want to live in a bubble.