a public service announcement (i’m announcing something publicly that will hopefully be of service to others in some weird, unforeseen way)

I am setting myself the following achievable tasks:

  1. each week I will post at least something on my blog.
  2. i’m going to aim for it appearing on Mondays but I can’t always promise that (i’m a mom and that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it)
  3. i’m going to try to edit things before I post them. this doesn’t mean I care a jot about capitalization and punctuation though. I still believe in the virtue of undecorated, dressed down prose (because i’m lazy but also because it encourages other people to let their hair down and write rather than thinking everything has to be picture perfect all the time) but yes sometimes I will clean it up as well.
  4. this is my reward to myself for having done something I didn’t want to do (like grading – sorry but I just don’t – I know some people love it, but I simply detest it even though, yes, often the things I am grading are pretty dang exciting and good in their own right).
  5. i’m rewarding myself by writing and posting stuff because if left to my own devices I will only do things I want to do and never do anything that actually pays the bills. one day maybe writing will pay the bills but it’s not right now so there ya go.
  6. thanks for listening. they say that making vows or setting goals is more useful if you don’t tell anyone well… oh well! fuck it! it feels good and i’m doing it.
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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?

My life story: the stone, cold facts

[Disclaimer: Why do I feel compelled to archive the memories of my childhood? Is it because someday I may not remember them at all so when I’m old and doddering in a nursing home, potentially living through Alzheimer’s, maybe someday someone will read them to me, and I’ll be sane again for a moment?]
I was born in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I was born on my sister’s birthday. All I know about my birth is that there is a picture of her holding me and she looks like she’s crying. For a long time, I thought they were tears of joy until one day I figured maybe they were tears of sadness because from then on out she had to share her birthday with me. I don’t know. I’d like to think the former. It’s probably a mix of the two.
[Sidenote: I was going to catalogue every single memory I could recall and then I realized how boring that would be so I’m trying to hit the highlights of the last 48 years. You don’t have to read on. This is an exercise in avoiding memory loss, remember? It’s nice of you to come with, if you don’t mind.]
When I was about 5, we lived in Horseshoe Bay. And I remember we had this very proper British neighbor who was always correcting my sister and I whenever we said, ‘Can I have some milk?’ She’d say, ‘I don’t know. “CAN” you?’ I also remember my sister stepping on a needle and getting rushed to the hospital although I didn’t go with her. Oopsie!
When I was about 5 we moved from Horseshoe Bay to White Rock, a small town that was more inland. It was a log cabin on an S-curve. It was an idyllic childhood in many ways. Cats, dogs, goats, chickens, a mum who stayed home (not that moms have to stay home but it’s nice when someone is home. It could be a dad. In fact, it was a dad later when I was growing up. Go figure.). We had a German shepherd named Igor who would one day bite a girl’s head because she was chasing me in the yard and he thought she was attacking me. On another occasion, Igor was forced to wear a ring of dead geese around his neck for killing the Dutch neighbor’s animals. Igor was really a nice dog. We didn’t train him to kill. It was just in his genes. We also had a Samoyed. A couple in fact. I think one of them got hit by a car? I know, it’s sad. But sometimes that is what sticks out from childhood. The trauma. There were good memories too. Sasha, the Samoyed, was beautiful. All white and fluffy. Igor was very loyal and we felt safe. Sorry but I remember the dramatic details of death and carnage first. I’ll try to remember more positive ones from now on.
We had goats. My mum used to go down and milk them and make cheese. I don’t remember liking the taste of it but I loved the idea of milking goats. And gathering eggs! I got to help carry the eggs in the house sometimes. One time my mum told me to hold on tightly to the egg as I walked with it. Well, I held on so tight I crushed the egg! Oops, sorry. More trauma. Poor egg.
My sister and I played piano growing up. We each were given lessons and when guests came over we would perform our little songs. One time, when we had guests over I remember taking a bath when my sister decided to play a trick on me. I think she knew I had forgotten we had guests over and so she told me that my grandparents from England were on the phone in the kitchen so I ran through the living room with just a towel barely around me, half naked in front of the guests. I used to cry a lot to get my sister in trouble. I’m sure I cried a lot that time. (to be continued… whether anyone is reading or not…)

Tiptoeing around in my brain

There are two regular parts of the day that I can write. In the morning after the kids go to school, and late at night when everyone is quiet, doing homework, or in bed. It’s tricky because at both times I really should be doing more responsible things like grading papers or getting ready to teach. And I DO do those things. But at the same time, this overwhelming urge to write creative things, naughty things, silly and philosophical things takes over and I can’t be responsible anymore! No more! No more!

But I have to be…. So my compromise is that I time myself. Right now I’m letting myself spooge all over the page for ten minutes.

I have two favorite places to sit. In the kitchen at the table or on the ground next to the heater in the living room. I like the kitchen because it’s expansive and I don’t have to sit on the floor. Sitting on the floor isn’t SO bad. I sit on pillows and prop the laptop up on a small settee. But it’s kind of cramped down there. So in a way I prefer the open space of the kitchen.

I love the quiet. Just my thoughts tiptoeing around in my brain and my fingers relaying them into words on the screen and then…quiet. Finally, peace. No more interruptions, pleadings, beggings, grievances, disputes to settle, last minute trips to the store, whining cats or dogs, nada. Just me and my thoughts.

I remember things. Like living near Aztec, New Mexico and discovering Natalie Goldberg for the first time and eating New Mexican food that was so hot that it felt like flaming turds were flying outta me in the middle of the night. When I was a kid (I know: I’m always rattling on about ‘being a kid’), I used to do this all the time. I liked to recount things. My day, my week, the year. I was always sifting through, remembering, organizing memories. Now my life is so busy that there barely are moments when I can finally catch my breath and make some kind of meaning out of it all. It’s just “run run run til your daddy takes your t-bird away.’

It’s the quiet. The breathing. Just realizing that time can move very slowly or very fast depending on how awake and aware you are. Sometimes I look at the clock at 6:30pm and think, ‘What the hell are we going to do all evening?’ And then next thing I know it’s 9:42pm and I’m barely squeezing by anticipating another late night where I vow to go to bed by 11pm but end up still puttering around by 12:30am. What have I been doing all this time? God knows.

When you realize that the world is your oyster and it’s up to you whether you sautee it with garlic, white wine, and butter,  or eat it raw with a little homemade cocktail sauce, then your mind moves at a different pace. Time is irrelevant. You don’t check your watch very much at all. But it’s when you feel oppressed by the endless To-Do list imposed by yourself ON yourself and which you’ve convinced yourself was foisted on you by outside forces that you begin to feel sucked in by the quicksand of Time.

I’m running out of time. Nope, I’m OUT of time. I have to stop and go be responsible now. Shit.

A…void to avoid

i do but i don’t. i care but i don’t. i have spent too much of my life caring too much what other people, so now i have to learn how to not care so much. sure, care a bit but not so much since i have spent the MAJORITY OF MY LIFE WORRYING TOO MUCH ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.

yup i was a people pleaser. i was that little girl who was so good at making her parents proud… which was fine. no harm done until that one day i realized that i didn’t know what i wanted. i knew what everyone else wanted though, really well.

and then i took that same ability that i had honed so well as a young person and applied it to adulthood. i got really good at making everyone happy. significant others. bosses. friends. whoever it was. but what did i want? i didn’t know. and that’s why i started to write.

writing is sometimes pretty much the only guaranteed way back to myself.

when the rest of the world pulls on me, my heartstrings, my purse strings, and everything else… writing ties all the loose threads back together and makes it all make sense again.

there’s a buddhist monk who talks about how we are all drawn to distraction. drawn to addictions. drawn to anything that will fill the void. writing fills my void because it helps me remember that i don’t have to see myself as a void in the first place. i can keep gushing forth just as long as anyone will listen. even if nobody listens. i can listen to myself and make sense of the cacophony in my head.

 

 

Writing is like making love.

When you’re writing, you get to be close to your own mind. Super close. You notice your thoughts microscopically. You come to terms with them. Maybe at first glance they seem strange and embarrassing but then with more thoughtfulness comes understanding and perhaps acceptance. You tease out any knot in your brain eventually just by writing about it. Or talking aloud about it. But stifling it in your head doesn’t work.

Just like making love. You can’t just make love to someone in your head. Well, you can but it’s not that satisfying. Ok, well it’s a teensy bit satisfying but what’s really satisfying and unforgettable are the moments, the snapshots of closeness that never fade once the event is over. You don’t realize how important those moments are until they’re over. You can smell them in your mind. Taste them. Touch them.

Just like writing. Once I’ve written something, it’s almost like I never have to go back. Like watching a movie and not needing to watch it again. I remember practically every sentence. I remember where I am when I’m writing it down. Especially if it’s a thought that hit me while driving or walking. Writing is like making love because I adore every word. Every word comes out and my brain feels a little less cloudy. It makes me happy knowing that it will travel into someone else’s fatty flesh in their head. And what makes me even happier is knowing that some tiny, weird thought that hit me might make someone else smile or laugh or feel some kind of emotion that I’m feeling.

It’s like sex. Writing is a reminder that we’re not alone. That we trust someone enough to take it all off and let them see how we really are. Weird sounds, cellulite, awkward grimaces and all. We reach across the empty space and feel.

sloppy and barely sorry

if all the world had someone to sit there and listen and sympathize and let you figure your shit out on your own, the world would be a healthier place. that’s (one of the main reasons) why we pay counselors and therapists, in my opinion. why can’t we be therapists for each other more often? mental health. we all need more of it. and it comes from purging that nonsense. somewhere. we all need an enema (not an enemy) of the body/mind/soul.

that’s why i write this (often but not always) barely edited drivel. i believe it’s better to get shit out than to worry about it being perfect. of course, some effort has to be made but i think many of us (myself included) worry so much about things coming out perfect that we often never get it out at all. i honestly blame this as the cause for the ending of some big relationships in my life. shit that was shoved under carpets for so long that it just ended up being too dirty and messed up to ever deal with and face. insurmountable shit.

so i would much rather get this out in its imperfect state than worry so much about being grammatically, capitalization wise, and punctuation wise perfect. yes, i’m even a teacher but i still say it. more as a psychology loving teacher really. GET IT OUT!

like right now. i’m sitting in my house and typing this and i think about the number of times i’ve hesitated going outside because i didn’t feel good enough. like i hadn’t done enough to organize my house or clean myself up or tidy up the whatever in the house and so i stayed and tidied and organized trying to achieve perfection and meanwhile the perfectly imperfect world outside waited for me. i’m done with perfection.

today i don’t care. i don’t care if the cellulite is showing because my underwear are too tight in my jeans. i don’t care if my bangs are greasy. i don’t care if my bills aren’t looked at for another day. i don’t care if the fence still isn’t painted because i can’t be bothered to get more paint. i don’t care i don’t care i don’t care.

i just care about getting out. and getting it out.

 

 

Sorry but I’m a bit…aghghghghghghghghghghgh

Oh god here I go again. I’m back home. I don’t want to be back home. I can’t help it. There is always this nagging feeling I have when I get home that there is a whole world out there that I need to be exploring and I’m fucking sick and tired of looking at this same fucking street and this same fucking house. I want to go somewhere. I want to see new things. I don’t want to fucking walk down the same fucking streets and see the same fucking houses.

But I also don’t want to fucking drive. I hate fucking driving all the time to get some place new. I know. It’s the reality of living on a fucking peninsula. But I’m fucking sick and tired of this shit.

It’s not that I don’t love my life. My house. My family. My job. My friends. I love it all. Don’t get me wrong.

But I also am fucking tired of the same same same same same same same same same same shit.

I WANT A FUCKING CHANGE!!!!!!!!!

I know it’s up to me. ‘School of life’ videos tell me what I believe to be the truth which is…. You can fucking run away from your shit, but it’s just going to show up somewhere else. I know it. You can fucking go on a fucking vacation, but eventually you will still face your fucking self. I know that. I know it’s the truth.

But I still want some fucking new experiences.

I want to fucking drive to Seattle today and see something new, but I don’t want to drive and I don’t want to worry about my dogs. Ok, I could take my dogs. And I should. And maybe I will. Oh god. I just need to see something new. I need to do something new. That is what anger is good for. It forces changes. Pushes it into being. I need a fucking change.

It’s Tuesday. I’ve got several more days in which I could pretty much fucking do whatever the hell I fucking want. I need to fucking do it.

But I don’t want to drive. And I don’t want to spend a ton of money. I can do this. I can do it cheaply.

And I also like to write. And I like to be a hermit sometimes.

Ok the other thing about sitting in a car is that eventually it hurts. It hurts to sit that long for me. I think it’s because I sleep on my right side. A lot. (Ok, yes, AND I’m getting older. But I’m in denial of that right now so let me be in denial.) I have a deviated septum (I know this is fascinating stuff, right?) and so I breathe better at night if I sleep on my right side. But… that means that my right hip gets more pressure all the time which translates into more discomfort in my right hip when I’m sitting too long…. Anywhere! So I fucking hate driving, too. Ugh. Ok I know I could just get out of the car every once in a while. Shit will take longer to get to but I can still do it. I know it. I know I can do this. I should do this. Today I should do this. I should drive to Storm King, the mountain I’ve been on a thousand times and do it again. Can I bring my dogs? Probably not. Well, there’s got to be someplace I can bring my dogs.

NOW my dogs won’t sit still long enough for me to write. They want to go now!!! I want to write now!!!! Ugh ugh ugh. Listen to my dogs or listen to my calling inside. For the love of god!!! Let me finish something I want to do. That is the story of my life. Can I just please finish this thought?

Ok so yes I am feeling very angry and frustrated and pissy at the moment. I’m not all that. I really am grateful for a lot of things, too. I’m grateful that I know what I love to do. Which is writing and venting. And I know why I like to do it and I feel less and less guilty about doing it. And… I know why I don’t spend as much time turning this writing into performance material. Long story short but basically – I adore standup comedians. I think they’re marvelous. I adore actors and acting. I love it. But there is a huge part of me that became a director more of an actor because I’m a teacher and when you teach anywhere in a drama department you are often also the resident director and it’s hard to direct and act at the same time. I don’t care what anyone says… it is. Why, you may ask? Well, (sorry if you’re not asking) number one, it’s kinda presumptuous to cast yourself in your own play. And number two, well there really is no number two other than it’s very hard to find time to memorize things when you’re busy being a mom. If I can ever steal away time for myself, I need to vent things that need to get out before I go berserk and memorizing lines doesn’t give me that kind of venting satisfaction). So there you have it. Not that you wanted it, but there it is. The answers to everything: get outside more, go see something new, take your dogs with you if you can to avoid worrying about them being at home, and do what makes you happy even if you don’t know where the hell it is leading you to (I have no fucking clue what I will ever do with all this blogging bullshit (and I say ‘bullshit’ with love in my heart) but I have to do it. I am called to it for various known and unknown reasons so I’m just going to see where this voice inside leads me. Right now it is leading me to ending this blogging session and getting outside as my own prescription dictates. Asta

Write it down

There are so many kinds of writing out there but part of me keeps holding myself up to some expectation that I need to be writing a certain kind of novel or play. That I can’t write too much memoir. It’s self indulgent. That I can’t write about certain topics too much. That I can’t do this and I can’t do that. So many fucking can’ts in one’s mind. Pretty soon you can’t go anywhere or do anything. I’m fucking done with it. Sure I appreciate knowing what other people think about my writing but during the act of creation itself you can’t take all those people along for the ride.

That’s the lonely but also the exhilarating part of writing. You are alone with your mind. But the fun part is you get to trust where it will take you. It’s like lucid dreaming. You’re both in control of where you want to go and yet something inside you propels you and gives you ideas about where to go. Which is, of course, like life. We all want to think we know where we are going, but really… what drives and pushes and pulls us? Nobody  knows.

I’ll never forget how, when I was in fourth grade, I began to slowly grasp the concept of what writing a letter was all about. Writing a letter was, to me, like talking on the phone. Why would you do it? What’s the point? What are you supposed to say? It baffled me. What is so urgent that I have to put it in a letter and wait for it to get to them? Why can’t I just wait until I see them? It made no sense. I’m still not sure I get it, but… I sorta do. I think writing, like a monologue, is just a way for us to make sense of our world. And when we are lucky, we have some people in our life who are patient and kind and maybe even love us enough to stop and listen and care about what comes out. There is something magical about putting that shit out into the world. Something final and concrete about it. We’re a little less crazy for it. That’s all therapy is, I think. Someone being paid to listen to your babble to help you make sense of it. And that’s a good thing. But you can do it for yourself as well. Or with a friend.

I don’t understand, for instance, why people read my stuff on facebook. I mean, I am super grateful, for one thing. But when people respond and encourage me to write more, I am completely dumbfounded. I don’t get it. I really don’t understand or can hardly accept that people want more of my stuff. It feels so vain and self-indulgent to post things sometimes, but then to actually hear that people want more of it? it makes me feel dirty. Yup, dirty because I am actually relishing in the fact that they’re enjoying it. I know! So weird, but true. Vanity is a weird thing for me. I am always deathly afraid of ever becoming arrogant and vain and yet, I know, I need to somehow accept that what I do brings joy and silliness to people and whatever else people get out of it. But it’s hard to accept (let alone type) it. It feels stupid. But it shouldn’t be that way. Why is sharing who you are a ‘sin?’ There it is. SIN. The word that I grew up with in the ole Catholic schools. God love ‘em those Catholics. I learned a lot but they also infested my mind with some pretty fucked up ideas (sorry friends who are religious). Vanity…is… sinful. Ok, yes it can be. Sure. Anything taken to excess can be a sin. Drinking too much Mountain Dew can be a sin. Watching too much porn. Sitting on your ass too much. Spending too much money when people are poor. All of that can be a sin..[Sin (in my definition) meaning causing harm to somebody, including yourself.] But what is ‘excess?’ is it excessive when you are simply stating what needs to be said and what might bring healing or joy or laughter or stupid fun to somebody else? I think the only time writing is truly excessive is when there is no longer a thought in your head in even the remotest sense that what you are doing is destined to be in anyone else’s hands or mind. When you are truly solipsistic. And even then… it’s ok to write. You just should probably not put it out there until it’s been looked at a few more times and considered with an audience in mind. I think the sad thing about our world is that there is a whole lot of chatter and nonsense every day, but we still so often don’t share what REALLY needs to be said to the people who REALLY matter. We are afraid. Afraid to tell them the truth about how we feel, good or bad. Afraid that what we say might embarrass us, or hurt someone too much and so we hurt ourselves in the process holding it in. But there is another option. Write it down. Fictionalize it if you have to but get it out. Don’t let what you want to say be squashed so deep inside you that you end up in the grave someday never saying the things that are dying to get out. Get them out. They will benefit someone somewhere who might also be inspired not to live a half-awake life either.