Monday, December 22, 2014

THE AFTERLIFE - Billy Collins

While you are preparing for sleep, brushing your teeth,
or riffling through a magazine in bed,
the dead of the day are setting out on their journey.

They're moving off in all imaginable directions,
each according to his own private belief,
and this is the secret that silent Lazarus would not reveal:
that everyone is right, as it turns out.
you go to the place you always thought you would go,
The place you kept lit in an alcove in your head.

Some are being shot into a funnel of flashing colors
into a zone of light, white as a January sun.
Others are standing naked before a forbidding judge who sits
with a golden ladder on one side, a coal chute on the other.

Some have already joined the celestial choir
and are singing as if they have been doing this forever,
while the less inventive find themselves stuck
in a big air conditioned room full of food and chorus girls.

Some are approaching the apartment of the female God,
a woman in her forties with short wiry hair
and glasses hanging from her neck by a string.
With one eye she regards the dead through a hole in her door.

There are those who are squeezing into the bodies
of animals--eagles and leopards--and one trying on
the skin of a monkey like a tight suit,
ready to begin another life in a more simple key,

while others float off into some benign vagueness,
little units of energy heading for the ultimate elsewhere.

There are even a few classicists being led to an underworld
by a mythological creature with a beard and hooves.
He will bring them to the mouth of the furious cave
guarded over by Edith Hamilton and her three-headed dog.

The rest just lie on their backs in their coffins
wishing they could return so they could learn Italian
or see the pyramids, or play some golf in a light rain.
They wish they could wake in the morning like you
and stand at a window examining the winter trees,
every branch traced with the ghost writing of snow.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Run before Dawn - William Stafford

Most mornings I get away, slip out
the door before light, set forth on the dim gray
road, letting my feet find a cadence
that softly carries me on. Nobody
is up-all alone my journey begins.

Some days it's escape: the city is burning
behind me, cars have stalled in their tracks,
and everybody is fleeing like me but some other direction.
My stride is for life, a far place.

Other days it is hunting: maybe some game will cross
my path and my stride will follow for hours, matching
all turns. My breathing has caught the right beat
for endurance; familiar trancelike scenes glide by.

And sometimes it's a dream of motion, streetlights coming near,
passing, shadows that lean before me, lengthened
then fading, and a sound from a tree: a soul, or an owl.

These journeys are quiet. They mark my days with adventure
too precious for anyone else to share, little gems
of darkness, the world going by, and my breath, and the road.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Expanse Cast Graphic Edition!

And because I couldn't resist, here's one more graphic, from one fan to another...

The Expanse - James A. Corey

I admit I read the books because I was college roommates with one of the authors.

But I loved them for the awesome!

And now, I'm highly anticipating the SyFy tv series and obsessively watching for news like this...

But nowhere has a cast list with pictures, so ... for my own edification.  Here's the list such as it's public to date.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The range of attachment... what explains my relationships

And from this article:

Attachment StyleParental StyleResulting Adult Characteristics
Aligned with the child; in tune with the child’s emotions
Able to create meaningful relationships; empathetic; able to set appropriate boundaries
Unavailable or rejecting
Avoids closeness or emotional connection; distant; critical; rigid; intolerant
Inconsistent and sometimes intrusive parent communication
Anxious and insecure; controlling; blaming; erratic; unpredictable; sometimes charming
Ignored or didn’t see child’s needs; parental behavior was frightening/traumatizing
Chaotic; insensitive; explosive; abusive; untrusting even while craving security
Extremely unattached or malfunctioning
Cannot establish positive relationships; often misdiagnosed

A Ritual to Read to Each Other - William Stafford

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider--
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give--yes or no, or maybe--
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

The Three Goals - David Budbill

The first goal is to see the thing in itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.

The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

The third goal is to grasp the first and the second goals,
to see the universal in the particular,
Regarding this one, call me when you get it.

"Tired of Speaking Sweetly" - Hafiz

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,

Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it

Out of town.

Carry on, Warrior - Glennon Doyle Melton

I loved this book.  Even when she annoyed me, she had me.  She's at her best on the edges, and boy does she have a lot of edges.

She's a bad mom's best friend.

Evidence:  The kickoff quote

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  - Rev. John Watson

"Including you." - Glennon

"if you are thin and smile a lot, people tend to believe that you have the universe's secrets in your pocket and that a raindrop has never fallen on your head."

"Since brokenness is the way of folks, the only way to live peacefully is to forgive everyone constantly, including yourself."

"Life is hard--not because we're doing it wrong, just because it's hard."

"You can hide from the sun, but it won't take that personally. It'll never, ever punish you for hiding.  You can stay in the dark for years or decades, and when you finally step outside, it'll be there, steady and bright as ever, just waiting for you to notice, to come out, to be warmed. ... The sunrise was my daily invitation ... to come back to life."

"[W]riting, reading, water, walks, forgiving myself every other minute, practicing easy yoga, taking deep breaths, and petting my dogs ... don't fill me up completely, but they remind me that it is not my job to fill myself. It's just my job to notice my emptiness and find gradeful ways to live as a broken, unfilled human."

"My experience has been that even with God, life is hard.  It's hard just because it's hard being holey.  We have to live with that.  If there's a silver lining to the hole, here it is: the unfillable, God-sized hole is what brings people together.  It've never made a friend by bragging about my strengths, but I've made countless by sharing my weakness, my emptiness, and my  life-as-a-wild-goose-chase-to-find-the-unfindable.  Holes are good for making friends, and friends are the best fillers I've found yet. Maybe because other people are the closest we get to God on this side. So when we use them to find God in each other, we become holy."

"Writing is about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice. When you write your truth, it is a lover offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone."

"As Kathleen Norris reminds us, the Greek root of the word crisis is 'to sift,' as in shake out the excesses and leave only what's important. That's what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away."

"Friend, we need you. The world has suffered while you've been hiding. You are already forgiven. You are loved. All there is left to do is step into your life.

"We had helped each other grow up together. Together is good. Not easy, but good."

"It's really hard to distinguish between a chute and a ladder. Maybe all my days are filled with little miracles, but I'm too distracted by what I think is my life to notice them.  Sometimes bad news is the best way to see all the good quickly and clearly.  Bad news has a way of waking us up, sort of life a glass of cold water in the face. We might prefer waking in a gentler way, but we can't argue with the efficiency of the cold-water method."

Joanna Macy:  "the heart that breaks open can contain the universe."

"Grief is not something to be fixed. It's something to be borne, together.  And when the time is right, there is always something that is born from it. After real grief, we are reborn as people with wider and deeper vision and greater compassion for the pain of others. We know that. So through our friend's grief, we maintain in our hears the hope that in the end, good will come out of it. But we don't say that to our friend.  We let our friend discover that on her own. Hope is a door each one must open for herself."

"Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale. If I am not reading and writing regularly, I begin to suffocate and tend to climb the nearest person like a frantic cat, clawing at the person's eyeballs and perching on his head, desperate to find a breath of air."

"I pray and pray for God to help me feel some peace and stillness in the midst of my mommy life instead of feeling constantly like a dormant volcano likely to erupt at any given moment and burn my entire family alive.  And God says: Well, G, here's the thing. Peace isn't the absence of distraction or annoyance or pain. It's finding ME, finding peace and calm, in the midst of those distractions and annoyances and pains."

And you have to go read the ENTIRE "Initiation" chapter. I laughed until I cried.  The description of her direction-challenged relatives and their misadventures in cooking are priceless.

"Repentence is the magical moment when a sliver of light finds its way into a place of darkness in my heart, and I'm able to see clearly how my jerkiness is keeping me from peace and joy in a specific area of my life.

The chapter on "Sucker - On Vacumming" is also hilarious in its entirety.

"I stopped sharing important things with [my husband] Craig. I stopped offering him special gifts because the offerings felf like a waste of my time and breath.  Like each day we were building sand castles that were washed away each night. So now we go through the motions, doing what a husband and wife are 'supposed' to do... I save my real stuff--my hard stories and worries and thoughts--for Sister, my parents, my girlfriends, and the blank page...  Is wanting more too demanding? Am I asking my husband to communicate like a woman? Or is it sexist to suggest that a man can't get as deep and true as a woman can?  ...

[H]ere's what happens: I recoil from Craig's touch often.  He hugs me, and I politely endure, looking over his shoulder at the unfinished dishes and the toys on the floor lying in wait to break my ankle... Sometimes the anger is mild, like annoyance. I'm so tired after a long day with the kids, so used up, so saturated by need and touch already, why must you be needy too? Can't we just be grown-ups and do something practical? There's so much still to do: the laundry needs to be folded, the lunches packed, forms signed... miles to go before sleep. Is there really time for something so unproductive? And really, we haven't talked, really talked  for weeks.

Anais Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."

"Look. I know it's hard. It's all so damn hard and confusing and complicated and things get wound up so tight you can't even find the ends sometimes.  All I'm saying is that somebody's got to pour that first glass of wine. Because love is not something for which to search or wait or hope or dream.  It's simply something to do."

"When Dorothy Parker was asked if she loved writing, she replied, 'No. But I love having written.'  What I want to say to the sweet women [who tell me to enjoy every minute of raising my small children because it goes so fast, and oh, they just loved every minute of being a parent], 'Are you sure?  Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"

"There are two different types of time.  Chronos time is what we live in.  It's regular time.  It's one minute at a time, staring down the clock until bedtime time.  It's ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, four screaming minutes in time-out time, two hours until Dady gets home time.  Chronos is the hard, slow-passing time we parents often live in.

Then there's Kairos time.  Kairos is God's time.  It's time outside of time.  It's metaphysical time.  Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still.  I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them.

These Kairos moments leave as fast as they come, but I mark them.  I say the word Kairos in my head each time I leave Chronos. And at the end of the day, I don't remember exactly what my Kairos moments were, but I remember I had them.  That makes the pain of daily parenting climb worth it."

"what I do when I make a big or little parenting mistake, which is several hundred times a day, I try to remember two things:  #1 Who I am / #2 My most important parenting job

human beings make mistakes. Almos tconstantly.  We fall short of what we aim for, always.  ... That's okay. It's just the way it is.  We're human. Can't fight it... Then I remember what my most important parenting job is, and that is to teach my children how to deal with being human.  Because most likely, that's where they're headed.  No matter what I do, they're headed toward being messed-up humans faster than three brakeless railroad cars.

There is really only one way to deal gracefully with being human, and that is this:  Forgive yourself.

It's not once-and-for-all thing, self-forgivenss.  It's more like a constant attitude. It's just being hopeful.  It's refusing to hold your breath. It's loving yourself enough to offer yourself a million more tries.  It's what we want our kids to do every day for their whole lives, right?  We want them to embrace being human instead of fighting against it.  We want them to offer themselves grace.  Forgiveness and grace are like oxygen: we can't offer it to tohers unless we put our masks on first. We have to put our grace masks on and breathe in deep. We have to show them how it's done. We need to love ourselve sif wea want our kids to love themselves.We don't necesssarily have to love them more; we have to love ourselves more. We have to gentle with ourselves.  We have to forgive ourselves an then ... oh my goodness ... find ourselves sort of awesome, actually, considering the freaking circumstances."

"we don't love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer.  Loving people and animals makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die, they leave us better. So we keep loving, even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us."

And then the Transcendentalist chapter.  Fall on the floor funny.  Followed by Office Superhero.  A true parenting parable.

"At the August's family meeting, I smiled pretty and announced to the children that I was officially done with the following:  Smiling when people spill things.  I am past the mommy point of no return. Which means that I can no longer pretend that I'm not mad at you when you spill your cereal, water, or entire dinner plate fifteen seconds after I put it in front of you.  I know I've been acting calm and saying, 'It's okay, sweetie' through clenched teeth for a few years now.  That's all over. It's not okay, actually.  If you spill, expect the wrath. Prepare for it, take a deep breath, 'cause it's a-coming'.  Oh yes, I know it was an accident, Mom! and i"m sure your future therapist will be happy to talk to you about how this injustice made you feel. Please know that I have forgiven myself unequivocally for my unfairness, random rage, and unforgiveness, and I can only hope that this will bring you comfort."

"Writing, painting, acting, creating, living out loud: Are they acts of humility or confidence?  Yes. They're both.  That's what I've decided. Confidence and humilty are two sides of the same coin. They are character traits that stem from the two beliefs I hold most dear. I think most of our character traits are simply manifestations of what we believe to be true.

I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is, too.

They go hand in hand. They've got to.  If I am humble but lack confidence, it is because I haven't accepted that there is a divine spark inside me.  It means that I don't believe in the miracle that I was made by God for a purpose all my own, and so I am worthy of the space that I occupy on this earth. And that as a child of God, no deserves more respect, joy, or peace than I.  As a child of God, I have the right to speak, to feel, to think, and to believe what I believe. ...

And If I am confident but not humble, it is because I have not fully accepted that everyone has won the lottery.  Because everyone has the same amount of God in her.  If I am in the habit of turning my back on others, it is beause I haven't learned that God approaches us in the disguise of other people.  If I am confident but not humble, my mind is closed. If my mind is closed, my heart is closed. A closed heart is so sad. It is the ned.  A heart cannot grow any larger if it decides to let no more God in. There is always room for more. A heart expands exactly as much a her owner allows."

Howard Thurman:  "Don't ask what the world needs. As what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

"I have a sign in my house that says, 'WE CAN DO THE HARD THINGS,' and sometimes I think I should add a second one below it that says, 'BUT WE CANNOT DO THE EASY THINGS."


Thursday, October 09, 2014

The Onion nails it exactly

oh the horror of how spot-on this is...

I’m Sorry, But You’re Just Not The Man I Hoped You Would Become When We Got Married

Today, it’s evident that you’re simply not the nonexistent, purely hypothetical person I always wanted to grow old with. Just last week, for example, when you didn’t so much as look up from your laptop after I came home from work, even though you knew I was supposed to hear about my promotion that day, I realized that you aren’t even capable of magically changing into what I need in a husband. When I look at you now, all I see is a workaholic with intimacy issues who has persisted unchanging for the past decade and a half—no longer the ideal husband I convinced myself you would morph into through some miracle.


Honestly, it’s almost as if you’re the exact same man I married.

It hurts to admit this, but after watching your behavior and personality remain constant day in and day out since we first fell in love in 1999, I’m left to wonder if there’s even anything left of the attentive, interesting man I repeatedly told myself you would someday be.


So, I guess I’m just going to have to accept that the partner that only ever existed in my frequent delusions doesn’t exist anymore. And come to terms with the fact that I won’t be living out my days beside the perfect man that you, in all of my endless cycles of denial, willful self-deception, and refusal to engage with reality, were supposed to become. Because that figment of my imagination that I married is gone. Gone forever.

Unless, maybe, you’re willing to let me project onto you a sense of determination to work things out.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Here's to good women

May we know them.
May we be them.
May we raise them.

-- Seen out and about. What a perfect prayer.

Monday, July 07, 2014


I've sought out counseling maybe a handful of times in my life.  Usually, it only lasts about three sessions, when I can tell that the therapist is so into the stories I'm telling, he (almost always a he) has nothing helpful to offer.

This time, I'm pleasantly surprised that throughout our 45-minute sessions, there are usually at least 2 moments of NEW insight or learning FROM the therapist, not just from stream of consciousness conversation.  Totally great.

Last week, she recommended the work of Daniel Siegel, author of Mindsight, Parenting from the Inside Out, and the Mindful Therapist. He offers the "hand model" of the brain: Imagine the base of your palm is the oldest brain - ruled by fight or flight for survival; the thumb curled into the palm is the emotional brain - triggered by old traumas, overwhelmed moment by moment; and your fingers curled over your thumb is your neo-cortex, the newest part of the brain -- logical, reasonable, and intermittently overruled by the older brains.  These also map to the "gut" brain, "heart" brain, and "thinking" brain.

And he also talks about the vertical and horizontal integration of your brain - old/newer/newest brains and the left/right hemispheres.  He recommends meditation, of course, for all of this.  Meditation, the thing I know I should do that I just can't bring myself to do.  The thing that I can recognize would be good medicine for all that ails me.

So until I do that, I'm to notice what path I'm on - how upset I'm getting in any moment, especially when it's disproportionate to the "trigger."  Why so mad so fast? Who am I really angry at?  What does my emotional brain need?  Where is the need coming from?  Even if it's irrational, what part of me needs it?  And then you figure out how to reassure that childish self, like mom never did. Hence the parenting from the inside out.  I like it.

And then this little doozy: I'd heard of "good enough parenting," but did you know they quantified it?  33% of your kid's needs.  Or 1 out of every 3 interactions.  Isn't that ... a pressure-reliever?

My ongoing task is to figure out why I avoid having hard conversations to the point of thinking about divorce, even though I know that in the past, once we have a conversation, everything goes really well. There's the basic fear of confrontation.  Wanting to pace out my criticisms so as not to be a nag. Not trusting my never-ending judgmental nature. (Yes, I judge my judging.) Not believing I'm worth listening to. Not trusting him to want to listen. Not trusting him to stay and change.  Because growing up, I couldn't bother Mom with my needs, since she was overwhelmed and just barely hanging on. And Dad wasn't around long enough to ask.

So there was no modeling of healthy requests.  Just passive aggressiveness everywhere.

I'm doing better than my parents did, and I'm proud of the gains I've made. But oh, so very far to go.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ego Refinement

A very wise friend talked with me about the dichotomy of ego.

In the negative, we identify with our work and the things we DO.  We assume it's our brilliance and not luck or grace or the wave of right place/right time/right positioning.  We think it's about us, that the universe needs ME to make things happen.

In the positive, we are self-actualized. We understand the balance between effort and grace, practice and luck, positioning and the wave.  We surf.  We glory in meeting the universe in the crest between our skill and its momentum.

Of course, this is also the Tao.  And Toy Story. And Hermes. All who know how to ride the wave of luck and power and momentum toward a goal that's aligned with the way things are, or could be with nudging.

(Hermes the trickster, the companion, the lucky, the guide to the underworld, when you are most who you are because you no longer DO.)

Connection Paradox

Something that I've been turning over in my little brain for a while now...

I believe meaning in this life is all about connection.  It's the push and pull of cosmic forces - the Big Bang blows apart after everything comes together too closely. Then the explosion sends everything speeding outward, yet molecules connect. Matter forms.  Gravity works.

And from the perspective of our perception, time is continuous, yet moments that matter come in chunks.  It's the space between seconds and minutes and hours and days that make up our memories and our decisions, which make us who we are.

And from another vantage point, it's our boundaries that make healthy lives possible - balancing our need to connect with our need to operate as independent, self-motivated agents.

So everything's connected, yet separation makes meaning.

And then you fold in Xeno's Paradox.  If you separate all things by half, close the distance by half, do this over and over, you are infinitely disconnected from all things.  Maybe what he describes is the physics of healthy living.

And there's one more piece that fits somehow.  Complexity happens at the edge of chaos and can generally be described as order that arises as more of the sum of constituent parts.  Maybe complexity is what makes the leap over Xeno's chasm.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rilke - I live my life in widening circles...

Joanna Macy reads her translation of Rilke's poem from the Book of Hours:

I live my life in widening circlesthat reach out across the world.I may not complete this last onebut I give myself to it.

Fierce Leadership - Susan Scott
An Excerpt:
“Congratulations. You are a leader. It’s a heavy load, but someone has to do it. The primary focus of your organization is growth. To help in this regard, it is your duty to lead change, manage, and motivate a multi-generational workforce and execute initiatives that impact the top line and bottom line simultaneously, while delivery short-term results.  You must demonstrate agility, speed, inclusiveness and risk, and mitigate the impacts of globalization, off-shoring, a recession, global warming, and the price of oil, et cetera, et cetera.
Some time ago, the beloved founders, who kept balance between order and chaos, cashed out, either by dying or by cashing in their chips.  Since then, forces of darkness have been vying for the top spot.  You are all that stands between them and the destruction of the collective organizational soul.  If you fail, darkness will cover the earth, the stock value will plummet, and chaos will reign.  Hence, a few suggestions;
1.  In order to hold off the Forces of Darkness, you will need to stay awake and locate your body parts.
2.  Names and ideas will come to you.  The ideas you should write down and act on immediately, or, if you don’t have the authority, fight for.  The names are of people you will need to make available to industry because they are sucking the joy and life out of everyone and everything they touch, or they are people you should promote and to whom you should give heaping handfuls of freedom and encouragement to break the rules.
3.  You will not single-handedly cause or prevent success.  Surround yourself with people who model accountability, ferocious integrity, personal authenticity, the capacity to connect with others at a deep level, sheer courage, and a commitment to champion the common good over narrow self-interest.
4.  Your central function is to engineer intelligent, spirited conversations that provide the basis for high levels of alignment, collaboration, and partnership at all levels throughout your organization and the healthier outcomes that go with them.
5.  People may not wish you well, so pay attention to your emotional wake. You are not invincible. Be kind. Everyone is carrying a heavy load.
6.  On the other hand, don’t suck up to anyone, ever, or you will turn into lickspittle and you soul will refuse to accompany you into the building.  Just keep describing reality from your perspective without laying blame and you’ll be fine.
7.  Don’t even consider recommending a reorganization.  Anyone who requires more than one reorganization over the life of his or her career will forfeit a year’s income (including bonuses and stock options) and possibly serve jail time.
8.  Do not, under any circumstances, tell a lie—of either commission or omission.  Do not stretch the truth, exaggerate, or make shit up to get out of trouble or make yourself look good, not only because that would be bad on many levels, but also because it will come back to bite you in the butt when you’re least expecting it, at the worst possible moment, with the biggest price tag attached, and possibly appear on YouTube.
9. Do not attempt to project different images depending on whom you’re with.  People can spot authenticity from fifty paces.  Show up as yourself consistently. Unless, of course, you are a jackass.
10. Bear in mind that while no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can.  Take it one conversation at a time.
Good luck!”

Thursday, June 05, 2014

THE SIMPLE TRUTH - Philip Levine

I bought a dollar and a half’s worth of small red potatoes,
took them home, boiled them in their jackets
and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt.
Then I walked through the dried fields
on the edge of town. In middle June the light
hung on in the dark furrows at my feet,
and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds
were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers
squawking back and forth, the finches still darting
into the dusty light. The woman who sold me
the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone
out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses
praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables
at the road-side stand and urging me to taste
even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way,
she swore, from New Jersey. “Eat, eat,” she said,
“Even if you don’t I’ll say you did.”
Some things
you know all your life. They are so simple and true
they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme,
they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker,
the glass of water, the absence of light gathering
in the shadows of picture frames, they must be
naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.
My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965
before I went away, before he began to kill himself,
and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste
what I’m saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch
of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious,
it stays in the back of your throat like a truth
you never uttered because the time was always wrong,
it stays here for the rest of your life, unspoken,
made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt,
in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Just keep being

A wise thought from my brain today, wise in the way that seemingly obtuse statements are actually pretty deep:
  • Be in the relationship you want.
Lately, I've been too scared or tired or gun shy or broken to speak my truth.

But it's just as tiring to close yourself down as it is to open up and remain open.  How others react is not my responsibility. I cannot and should not rob them of the opportunity for growth just because I don't know or trust that they can handle what I have to say.

There's a movie I love that probably five people in the world saw and remembered: The Secret Lives of Dentists.  Beautiful screenplay, devastatingly simple plot, gorgeous acting.

The Shakespearean flaw of the main character, played by Campbell Scott, is that he won't confront his wife, who he suspects is having an affair, or even let her confess to him.  He says to his imagined doppelganger, played with devilishly wry comedic effect by the incomparable Dennis Leary, "If I let her tell me... we'll have to act. The whole machinery will shift into gear."

If he can just hang on, then maybe she'll work it out on her own, and their life together can continue.

There's a flip side of this strategy to pretending nothing's wrong until it's true: let there be nothing wrong until there isn't.

What's the worst that would happen if I communicated like I want to be able to communicate after we're better at it?  The only way that goes wrong is if I place attachment or expectation on what others' capabilities will be in response.

In the workplace, a colleague reminded me that the overachievers shouldn't judge others by our own standards, since the world certainly doesn't.

And the same should be true of my relationships.  I shouldn't hold myself to going 25 miles per hour just because that's what others are capable of traveling, from an emotional capacity standpoint.

And the line from Iyanla Vanzant's "In the Meantime":  

Usually two people start out together.  One pulls ahead, the other drops to the rear.  In some cases, the one in the lead can reach back and pull the other up to speed.  In most cases, the one who reaches back gets slowed down, sometimes to a halt.  Find your center and stay grounded in it.  Know that you can still love a person who is running behind you, but if he/she starts walking, it is your responsibility to yourself to keep running.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Chaos - V.B. Price

The space-flinging, time-singing
Goddess First-Of-All,
Chaos the Free:
She casts the stars,
the comets, moons, the dust of light,
casts the flocks and flowers, any way they go.
She needs
no control.
She strolls,
cloud flowing,
at her own pace,
fearless as motion
being what happens
just as it does.
She's so unlike us
in Her essence,
so unlike us
She can stand
the freedom
of everything else,
stand it
and give it,
and praise it
as it follows itself
back to her.
That's the migration
we can't resist:
Our best is Hers
when we become
so unlike ourselves,
so free,
that we can stand
not to know
where we're going,
can stand
not to make safe
the freedom
of those we love,
always ripening in ourselves
the peace that is
where it's going.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

True, terrifying, and so embarrassing...

"Your body keeps an accurate journal regardless of what you write down" 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Real Work - Wendell Berry

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

The Secret - Denise Levertov

Two girls discover   
the secret of life   
in a sudden line of   

I who don’t know the   
secret wrote   
the line. They   
told me

(through a third person)   
they had found it
but not what it was   
not even

what line it was. No doubt   
by now, more than a week   
later, they have forgotten   
the secret,

the line, the name of   
the poem. I love them   
for finding what   
I can’t find,

and for loving me   
for the line I wrote,   
and for forgetting it   
so that

a thousand times, till death   
finds them, they may   
discover it again, in other   

in other   
happenings. And for   
wanting to know it,   

assuming there is   
such a secret, yes,   
for that   
most of all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quotes from E.B. White

"It's hard to know when to respond to the seductiveness of the world and when to respond to its challenge. If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem.  But I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day."


"The thought of writing hangs over our mind like an ugly cloud, making us apprehensive and depressed, as before a summer storm, so that we begin the day by subsiding after breakfast, or by going away, often to seedy and inconclusive destinations: the nearest zoo, or a branch post office to buy a few stamped envelopes.  Our professional life has been a long shameless exercise in avoidance."

Monday, March 10, 2014

To Have Without Holding - Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can't do it, you say it's killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor's button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Eve, After - Danusha Laméris

Did she know
there was more to life
than lions licking the furred
ears of lambs,
fruit trees dropping
their fat bounty,
the years droning on
without argument?
Too much quiet
is never a good sign.
Isn’t there always
something itching
beneath the surface?
But what could she say?
The larder was full
and they were beautiful,
their bodies new
as the day they were made.
Each morning the same
flowers broke through
the rich soil, the birds sang,
again, in perfect pitch.
It was only at night
when they lay together in the dark
that it was almost palpable—
the vague sadness, unnamed.
Foolishness, betrayal,
—call it what you will. What a relief
to feel the weight
fall into her palm. And after,
not to pretend anymore
that the terrible calm
was Paradise.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


It must be transition time again, because here I am, feeling the need to show up again on the page.

And finding myself here, finding so many words that I found important enough to want to keep them here, the way some people collect rocks, or sea shells, or other pretty fragments of a bigger world that will fit in our kitchens or the fraction of shelves we allot them to remind ourselves of what we love about being part of this gorgeous oneness that blows us over with its variety and endless fractal depths, I find myself making a mistake.

I think - oh my - all the latest posts are from 2011 and 2012 - and here it is a whole year later!  Good thing I have time to sneak in one post from 2013.

And the wrench twist correction:  I missed it. 2014 has already begun.  2013 happened without my active participation.

Except that it was a whole year filled with new things:  a son.  Two young children.  A new family.  A death of my second-ever dog.  A new dog.

And work. Lots of work.  Lots of growing into my capabilities, feeling them wear to fit me, like the best jeans.

Life is moving so fast now, I don't know what I think about it.  I discover life doesn't care what I make of it, or whether I do.  It happens, it passes, it's over, like too many dinners home in front of the tv.  Comfortable, mostly.  Thoughtless in a way that hurts no one but wastes far too much that is precious if you stop to think about it.

A year with a new baby proves how short a year is -- and how long.  From utterly helpless to walking and feeding himself.  From shadows of passing glimpses of personality to whole days of sparkling being.

And my own journey?  Perhaps I learned as much.  But the results are not nearly as visible or startling or praise-calling.

Where I am feels a lot like a crucible.  Can I change enough to find a path toward a happier place in me?  Is the change worth more than the fear of doing what's not comfortable, what makes me vulnerable, what forces me to hope for change in others that may never come?

I'm always waiting to be rescued, not like Rapunzel in her tower or Cinderella from her own home, but like Tam Lin.  He got stuck.  He was himself but stuck in a forest that grew too small for him.  And it took his love to dare to hold him long enough for 20 heartbeats to pass. To hold him even when he tried everything to make her let go - transforming into monsters, then fire, then ice.  Confronting her with everything that made her afraid, and hurt, and burned, and iced out.  But it was worth it to her to hold on.  He was worth it.  Change was worth it.  Growth.  Intimacy.  And it worked.  He could trust her afterward.  She stayed.  He could relax into his best self, could grow into a bigger self, having been freed from his forest constraints.  And I imagine him relieved. So grateful to be retrieved.  Grateful that she knows now that he is monsters and fire and ice.  Overwhelmed to know she is capable of holding and loving all of him.

I used to talk about it as wanting to find someone whose lap was big enough to crawl into and just cry.  I've actually gotten that since even the thought of it made me weep with longing.  It only got me so far, healed so much.

Now I want the daily partner who signs up for the cycles -- from human to monster to fire to ice and back again.  Sometimes hourly.  But I wonder how realistic that is (1) how healthy that is (2) and how inadvisable for anyone I'd trust to do it (3).

I'm starting to long for the endless afternoon intimacies of my high school romance or my first college friends.  The way lunch turned into lounging philosophy gossip gabs that led to movies and dinner and debriefs and drinks and late night confessions and indulgent dark of night extensions and barely regretful early morning breathless goodbyes before racing straight to work.  Where there was no space to question who you were or what you wanted because you never needed or wanted or noticed distance because it was all so fun, so easy, so boundary smudged.

In comparison, I feel prickly, all sharp edges. More urchin than porcupine.

What's the right balance for me in between?  Never been good at balance.  I used to intentionally roll off the balance beam because I was afraid to fall off.  It's why I was more scared to dangle 3 feet off the ground on my first and only attempt at rock climbing than to jump out of an airplane, which I'd do regularly if the probability of dying didn't ... well ... skyrocket each time.

Maybe I just miss friends.  Maybe our world has moved past friendships and the time they take.  The investment.  The wine-soaked nights that air out every last strand of relationship in each person's life braid.

How redeemable is your life at any one point?  How bad does it have to get to try?