May I?

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Photo courtesy of Flickr: Creative Commons. Aunt Owwee’s Photos:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/aunto/

May, I?

It’s May first.  How can I resist this title served up to me on the platter of time and circumstance?  May 1st is a gift.

My empty feeling has passed.  Instead, I feel filled up to my eyeballs with stuff and clutter that I don’t want to claim anymore.  I’d rather open the windows of my mind and start tossing things out to the street below.  Children, looking like the cast from Oliver, fight over the stuff I’m tossing down.  (Do commas really go there?  I toss the question down with all the other things.)  When I was a child, I thought like the children below do.  I fought to hold on to everything that came my way.  That was only yesterday.  The boundary between adult and child is constantly shifting and changing moment to moment, day to day.  In this moment, there are poor, ragged children fighting over my poor hand-me-downs.

This has been one of the hardest things: the holding on of these poor hand-me-downs that mark where and who I’ve been.  So many of these things don’t do a very good job.  They weren’t me at all but rather someone I thought I was or who someone else thought I was.  It’s easy to get lost and confused.  No wonder I want to clear out some space.  I’m too full of all that I am not.  It’s just too crowded in here.  Some things have got to go.

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Mutiny

Last Saturday, our family reenacted our own version of  The Caine Mutiny.  No strawberries, no ball bearings only a trip to the recycling center.  That trip became the focal point of much drama.

Earlier in the day, we’d worked the fine crew of the USS Sturgeon at the reverse vending machines over in Portland.  The lure of the return deposit offered in Oregon found our ship of intrepid adventurers sailing across the river driven by the promise of monetary return.  Sadly, return deposit isn’t what it used to be.

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My Rules

 (A January 2011 happy snap.  The photo has nothing to do with the entry.  It is provided here as mere “eye candy.”)

Today, in a freshman English class, the students were supposed to draft a set of rules they live by similar to the rules Sherman Alexie lists in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian.  (Alexie’s website can be found here: http://www.fallsapart.com/index)  Of course, I couldn’t resist doing the assignment as well.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.  (Lest, you think this self depreciating, I actually celebrate my nerdyness!)

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Wrestling with a Story

After my recent  bout of “Wrestlemania” with problems that often defy solution, I’ve taken a mental vacation.  While a major case of disassociation in which I assume a new identity and new life in some vague and mysterious fit of amnesia tempts me more than I can express.  It simply is not that easy to lose my marbles that completely.  I’ve tried.  Not easy. Been there.  Done that.

I spent an evening with a especially vigorous case of the “grumpies.”  That word is such an understatement it’s ridiculous.  Please, substitute a stronger more colorful expression and you’ll just begin to get a glimpse of the horrible harridan I channeled.   I shudder with the memory of it and blush to admit that I could be so unpleasant.  (My harridan self is not as bad as it feels.  This, I’m sure but please indulge me just this once. I’m experimenting with humorous hyperbole.)

har·ri·dan

[hahr-i-dn]  

noun

a scolding, vicious woman; hag; shrew.

hy·per·bo·le

[hahy-pur-buh-lee]

noun Rhetoric .

1.obvious and intentional exaggeration.
2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intendedto be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”
A thank you to the folks at dictionary.com for the definitions.

After, I chased that horrible harridan’s spirit back in the closet, I focused my energies more constructively.  I wrote and not my usual stream of consciousness jibber jabber, I worked on a short story.  I’m still working on it.  It keeps changing but the process and the work itself has been soothing and healing.   I just might have to publish it here soon.

While, problems continue to compound and confound, it is possible to wrap them up in a bundle of words and sit them on a shelf for another day.  The creativity of the human mind never ceases to amaze me.  In my case, it provides me with many bright moments in a life that can sometimes feel overshadowed by problems.

Isn’t there a song about putting one’s troubles in an old knapsack and moving on?  Maybe, I can work that into a short story soon.

Am I a Bigot?

Yesterday, a freshman English class was listening to Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier.”  The class is focusing on poetry right now and song lyrics seem to be one of the best ways of presenting poetry to today’s 14-year-old students.  Some song lyrics are great poetry. . . but most of them. . .not so much.  Of course that is just my opinion.

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What?

“Who doesn’t like death metal?”

Student One asks student Two.  Student One wears a hoodie with the words, “the Profitt” applied to the back.  Student Two, a tall student wearing horned-rim glasses seeks out “the Profitt” for a quick high-five.

The teacher asks both, “Are you done with the assignment?”

They both say, “Yes.”

I have my doubts.  Might this prophet be false?

The questions they pose each other join all the questions I secretly carry.  I can’t get a hold of any of them long enough to find an answer.  Today, this pile of questions seems to be the only thing holding me up.  In the eye of a hurricane, I stand.  All the unanswered pieces of my life whirl around me.  They move too quickly.  I close my eyes to keep from getting dizzy.  With my eyes closed in the eye of the hurricane, I begin to see.

I jump up to help hand out math worksheets.  Sadly, there is often a lot of down time in my job.  Teachers have to wait for enough of the noise and chatter to stop to go on to the next thing.  Some students need more time.  Some never use the time to do the work.  Some times I write a sentence here or there in between the waiting.  I am trying to stay anchored and to keep my brain alive.

As I hand out papers, “the Profitt” changes seats.  With a wry smile, I ask “the Profitt, “Is that really YOUR seat Mr. Profitt?”

“Yes, it is. . . Mrs. . . Mrs. Helper Laaady,” he says.

Now I know “the Profitt” is false.  He is rather charming, though.  He continues to talk quietly in between working math problems to determine probability.  There is some sort of poetic justice here.   I KNOW it but I don’t know what IT is. Math is often shrouded in mystery to me.  Probability is a blank wall of unanswered questions that withstands very high winds, winds of hurricane force.

If I chose “X” than what is the probability of “Y” and/or “Z”?  This problem cuts too close to home.  This question merges with all the others.  They seem mutually exclusive repelling each other as magnets with opposite poles do.  Again, my thoughts leave me feeling dizzy.  I close my eyes and dream of false prophets to avoid facing what I already know.

“You’re the best of the worst.”

A voice says from across the room.  A new false prophet has arisen.  The room is quiet, listening for what this new voice will say.    I have heard the voices that have come and gone before.  They are whispers in the wind and can not last.  I turn my attention to other things.

 

Wake Up and See

A rising sun paints the morning sky a rich red.  Distant mountains stand a sharp silhouette against a fiery curtain.

“Wake up and see,” they say.  “Wake up and see.”

But sleep calls me back.  The morning road is so familiar that for a moment I forget where I am.  I could be in a dozen other cities.  My mind starts playing through the familiar routes in the places I’ve called home.  Finally, I remember. Continue reading

Jennifer Egan

 

This is Jennifer Egan.   Here’s a link to her site: http://jenniferegan.com/

I saw her on a morning news show yesterday.  She was part of a small panel of authors who spoke about their craft.  Jennifer impressed me.  I had never heard of her before which is surprising since she received the National Book Critics Choice award and lately, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  I must have been living under a rock. . .well at least the rock in my own head.  She seemed to harbor an inner intensity that defied verbal description.  People like that intrigue me.

Each of the authors, now well known and receiving some form of acclaim, all spoke about the years of rejection that they had to wade through.  Two of them spoke of how they often questioned whether or not they could write at all.

Jennifer was different.  If she questioned her own ability, that questioning wasn’t mentioned.  Instead, when she spoke of her writing as if she was merely the conduit through which the words flowed.  When she spoke of this my heart beat faster.  I think I know exactly what she means.  When she begins a story she doesn’t know where it will end up.  It simply takes her there.  This seems exactly how it should be if one is writing about real life.  Do any of us know where our stories will end?

Her book:  A Visit from the Goon Squad earned her the Pulitzer Prize.  I hear it’s about growing old in the digital age.  She describes it as more a collection of lateral stories.   Wikipedia (well, it is getting better and often does a pretty good job of providing accurate info)  has this following quote:

“When discussing her inspiration and approach to the work, she said, “I don’t experience time as linear. I experience it in layers that seem to coexist…”

I must track down a copy.  I want to dive in.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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