growing up · joy · marriage

Without a Net.

5.23.19.jpgIn the midst of wedding preparation, training to be a part-time fitness instructor, and finishing up school-year projects and grading, I’m also in a phase of planning that feels to overlay, underlay, highlight, heighten, and dwarf everything else in its wake:

Pregnancy.

The certain madness that a person so in-and-out of a relationship with her partner would commit on such a grand and irrevocable scale is both ludicrous and … natural.

J and I have had “the kid talk” many times in our being together, and while his worries (time and money) haven’t lessened, his anticipation and (could it be?) hope have increased.

For my part, I’ve gone through a bipolar vortex of “Don’t add more consumption to the world; What world is it you’re bringing new life into anyway,” followed immediately on its heels by “I cannot picture living out my life without experiencing this; I cannot picture not sharing this extraordinary existence with new life.”

It’s been a roller coaster, for me and for him!  He’ll ask every week or so: “‘Anthrax and Permafrost’, or ‘Rainbows and Lollipops’?”  It’s hard to know which answer will pop forth!

In truth, it’s both.  But, then, isn’t life?

I texted a girlfriend yesterday about a wedding DJ (because, yes, 6 weeks out, we have no music set!), and she gave a “squee, so exciting!” reply.  Which developed into an exchange that included: “Yes, it’s not a fairy tale” and “Relationships are f*cking work, dude!”

Because there’s also the nuts and bolts, the scales that fall from whatever vision of pure bliss we’ve all been conditioned to hold.

When J and I met, he said that he was looking for a “no-maintenance relationship.” Bah HAHAHA.  Oh, did my girlfriends and I have a good laugh over that;)  He even looked it up online when I protested its existence and when a result came up from a male blogger, he said, “See?!”

Then … he read the article,

wherein the author related, “There’s no such thing as a ‘no-maintenance relationship.'” J was deeply thrown:)

As I say about my work, my relationship is “good, and it’s hard, and it’s good, and it’s hard.”

I’m reading Michelle Obama’s memoir and have been so heartened to read how she and her husband have had to work repeatedly at maintaining, strengthening, and fostering their relationship.  The Golden Couple works at it!  I’m delighted to know this because it means: I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG.  It means that we all, up and down the ranks of humanity, are showing up daily to make a go of this great experiment.

The joy and fervor of laughter that is shared between us, the deep trust and faith in one another, the steadying foundation of love is coexisting with our frustrations, disappointments, and repeated calls to the table.

In what feels like a telescoping smack of my utopian vision, I am growing up.  Scales are falling, but what’s revealed isn’t bad or wrong.  It’s reality; it’s truth.

And the only way to build a shared (or individual) life is from the foundation of that truth.

 

Advertisements
journey · relationships · vacation

What Happened at Sea Ranch

Ring with Coffee 1He holds out his arm to me, hand outstretched, palm up, a playful invitation.  I clasp my own into his and spin an arc toward him, thinking, He wants to dance with me!  So rare!  So great!  Pressed against him now, his eyes peer up—just a few centimeters—into my own.  He says, “Come sit with me,” and begins to lead me the few feet toward the nook of the window.

The window seat is wide enough for us to sit cross-legged facing one another, and long enough for all three portrait windows to frame the vista of the Pacific beyond.  The sky is a mottled storm grey, clouds low and pale against a wash of deeper steel. The field between this window and that horizon is stuttered with beach and reed-grass, stunted cypress listing back from years’ of ocean gusts.  

We only sit, two humans on a bench, but my adrenaline is coursing a heady pulse.  I place my hands on his criss-crossed knees as he presses his own to my cheeks. I lean into his hold, breath coming shallow.  He’s quiet, intense in his gaze, and the air around has come to an electrified halt.

“You challenge me—”

I exhale a laugh through my nose and smile a tight, try-not-to-bust-out grin.

“—in a good way,” he continues. “You challenge me in a good way.  You’ve taught me that life is a journey, and I want to experience that journey with you.”

He speaks several more sentences—leaning in, cupping my face, a gentle and holy gesture—but they are already lost in the swell of the whole.  They’re earnest, and loving, and grand.  My eyes pool hot don’t-lose-it tears, a tight grin holding it all back.  The sound of his voice is sonorous and material between us—heavy, as if their meaning has the weight that authors strive to invoke.

Releasing my cheeks, his own eyes bright of withheld tears, he twists and reaches behind, searching under the nestle of pillows there.  From which he retrieves a box.  A small, ecru cube with silver lettering scripted across its top. He unfurls his legs and scooches off the bench-seat to kneel on one knee.  I unfurl my own and dangle them over the edge, vibrant and pulsing with anticipation, amazement, and delighted little-girl giggles.

“Molly,” he begins, flipping open the lid of the box.  Beads of perspiration have sprouted on his temples, a flop-sweat, sudden and scorching and radiant.  

“Will you be my wife?”

I push the syllable out of my mouth, and it rides on the crest of all we together have weathered.  It sails on the heights of our laughter and camaraderie, that goofy spirit pulled forth by one another.  It careens in the nadir of our sorrow and frustration caused to one another. One puff of air suspended between his query and my reply, pregnant with thirty months of torrent and swell and grace and awe.  Sourced from heart and faith and resilience and curiosity, I breathe into the stillness between us:

“Yes!”  

 

fiction · poetry · work

Jim, the Reeky Alchemist.

There was nothing glorious about the work Jim was doing.  Face shadowed by a red bandana stained with years of exhalation, he chipped at the pipe above him, scraping off the sediment of years of town sewage. Jim hadn’t intended to become a shit scraper—or “sewer technician” as Lacey preferred him to say—but when she’d gotten pregnant at 19, Jim knew this work would get him what he needed.

One unforeseen advantage of this solitary, odiferous work was that Jim could spend his hours in the company of his headlamp’s focused beam, illuminating and unearthing his words until they were as crisp and tangible as the steel around him.  Emerging from the mole’s life, Jim would slug his gear into the bed of his truck and dive for his pocket-spiral in the glove compartment. In terse, methodic hand-letters, Jim would lay down the flora of his mind, a pastoral epic elevating his small-town’s quotidian to the sublime.

 

fiction · inspiration · speculative fiction

Storytime: Feb 20

2.20.19.jpgIt was easy enough to imagine how it had all begun, looking over the vast crumbling waste. Gertie hoisted her pack higher on her shoulder and squoze her little brother’s sweating hand. Addie turned bleary, out-of-focus eyes up toward her, a mess of dark hair matted against his feverish forehead.

I have to get him somewhere cool, she thought, not for the first time.  From where they stood, she could make out the glint of a snaking stream off to the north, what she knew was north because of the dense, curling moss on that side of the trees they’d just come through.  Between their woods and that stream was a groundswell of tumult, and silence.

It was one of the eeriest pieces of this disaster: the one lonely caw of a raven, maybe returned in hopeful camaraderie, maybe echoing out like fingers grasping in the dark for a friend no longer there.

Adam sniveled a little, bringing Gertie back from her reverie.  It was difficult to stay focused when the dim, umber air clung so close.

“You feelin’ a swim, l’il bro?” she asked more cheerfully than she felt.

“Water,” he nodded, solemnly.

Gertie swung her eyes over the dirt-to-gravel-to-pavement path before them, into the hulk of what was once “the city.”  She inhaled deeply, steeling herself, and that nasty, sour air twisted in her lungs, but she held in her cough and breathed it out slowly, slowly to keep from making the same racking sounds Addie’d been making for the last hour.

One foot out, she began to lead him down.

 

addiction · deprivation · effort

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

2.15.19.jpgIt’s been quite the run this past week, and I bring myself to my computer by the strictest of force.  I’d really like to start on grading the 55 papers I have waiting for me.  Or, I’d really like to take a long luxurious shower, instead of my quickies on the blogging mornings.  I’d really like to avoid the page right now.

When I get out of my habit of sitting at this page, I rebel.  I am much the same with other healthy habits, and as I’ve heard, “[We’re] the kind of people who find something that works and stop doing it”!  And I very much fit that assessment.

My week has legitimately been packed with actions related a significant upcoming work assignment for which I’m the point-person.  I spent the majority of Sunday working on the presentation I’d lead about it Monday morning, and thus spent little of Sunday night sleeping.  In fact, since Sunday night’s fitful rest, I haven’t slept one night through.

And the only action I’ve yet found to counter my brand of insomnia is regular (read: near-daily) exercise.

But. With the “exhaustion” on Monday after school, I didn’t go to the gym.  On Tuesday, I was “too tired,” too.  Wednesday, they don’t have my workout class at a “good” time for me, and yesterday, I told J (to no convincing at all) that the road back from class might be flooded and since we were going out in the evening, I didn’t want to risk not being back in time.  (eye roll)

On Sunday night, I shared some of my story of recovering from my cycle of financial distress, and found myself admitting that “deprivation” is still a way I undermine (and torture) myself.  No matter my level of earning, I can find ways to feel deprived (e.g. putting it all into savings so that my spending cash feels like pennies I have to hoard).

I reflect on my habit of “avoiding” my writing and my physical health (because you can be SURE that between the not sleeping, no gym, and malaise around creativity, I have mindlessly gorged on the trays of pastries set out at work).  There is surely no “gain” from denying myself the activities that (only afterward!!!) give me self-esteem, pleasure, groundedness and sanity.

But perhaps it is the “only afterward” piece that is the hurdle.

Waking up at 5am and “using”/”spending” 30 minutes typing a blog that, well, may or may not be significant to the world…  Rushing to the gym after a long day of teaching to spend/use another hour of “on” time…

None of these activities really benefits anybody except me.  And none of them “take” anything from anybody except me.  It’s this self-contained little circle of output and intake.  I am the engine that expels, and I am the gas tank that is refilled.

The only piece that makes any of this at all worthwhile is my deciding that it is.  For my own benefit, for my own life, for my own soul.

And for a person with a quasi addiction to deprivation of the soul, you can imagine that I fight multiple demons on my way to this page.

Though, on this morning, they can go fuck themselves.

 

authenticity · goals · theater

How to talk so the Universe will listen & listen so the Universe will talk.

2.6.19In a bout of manifesty goodness (or plain coincidence, if you’re feeling cranky), performance has been floating to the top of my experience again.  Last Thursday morning, my blog was about how I was feeling itchy for performance, feeling isolated in my creative endeavors, and that I wanted more engagement in the theater or music realms.

On my drive in that morning, after having told you all about that, I was on the phone with a friend and told her the same.  So: I spoke my intention in writing, then I spoke it aloud.

That afternoon, I received an email from a theater company I’d auditioned for several years ago inviting me to participate in their audition workshop.  Eeek.  Um. Well, I don’t have anything prepared right now!  I haven’t auditioned in years, and I certainly don’t have a piece ready to go.  “So,” I replied, “could I come to audit the workshop?”  It would be great for me to be around theater again, the language again, to glean what I could–and I’m happy to pay the cost;)

And he replied, Yes.

Later on Thursday, in preparation for an upcoming trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my 7th graders, my boss reminded me that we have an in-house Shakespeare expert in our drama teacher!  And while she’ll be instrumental in helping me form ideas for my curriculum and our trip… “Well,” I asked the drama teacher, “do you ever do audition coaching?”

And she said, Yes.

I am humbled and reminded that when I am specific and intentional about my goals, they repeatedly rise to the top of my experience.  I forget that sometimes it’s as simple as letting people know that I have such dreams and goals.  There’s a host of helpers, seen and unseen, just waiting for me to take ownership of them.

Even if it feels silly or embarrassing or I’m not ready or I’m good enough, that’s none of my business, frankly!  My only role is to tell the truth.  Show up.  And play this ongoing game of Fluxx.

 

faith · light · nihilism

The Scientific Philosopher

IMG-5463.JPGA quote attributed to Albert Einstein (that the internet calls unconfirmed) is as follows: “There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other is as if everything is.”

While I’ve been dallying in the realm of nihilism, contemplating the ineffectuality of all our toils, I’ve felt pretty unenthused.  hashtag surprise.

I’m reminded of several years ago when I sat in a circle of women sharing about their spiritual journeys and one older woman said that sometimes she felt that as she prayed, she was talking into a phone that wasn’t connected to anything.  She didn’t know if her prayers were heard, if they mattered.

But.

She said that she felt better inside herself when she did that act of praying anyway.  Whether it was “received” or not, whether there were any “thing” on the other end of her prayer, she felt better.

So it begins to dawn on me that whether or not the seas are rising, the permafrost is melting, and swaths of earth are prey to fire, famine, drought, and flood…

If I believe in nothing, that nothing is a miracle, it feels too burdensome.

Perhaps religion is the opiate of the masses, but if the alternative is to see that squarely and soberly the world is an inevitable plane of demise, then I’ll take a hit of faith!

If to make meaning out of life means that I feel more engaged in it, then I moreso feel that I’m not wasting the time I do have on this planet.  If to make it all meaningless and a hollow marking of time means that I feel less engaged in life, then I really do feel that I miss the mark.

Whatever the result of the “kids/no kids” decision, I know that I have to come to the light again, for my own heart and also for the impact I have (actually or energetically) on those around me.

Whether or not there is someone on the other end of the phone, I must allow myself to believe in connection.  Whether or not there are indeed miracles in the world… well, I saw a double rainbow on the drive to work yesterday, and I can call that whatever I want, but calling it awe-inspiring and a gift of this life, brings levity to my soul.