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.

 

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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.

 

meditation · nature · procreation

Asking Mother Nature the Question.

2.4.19.jpgin middle earth

she plants.

a sphere of molten darkness

she walks hunched continuously

planting step, planting step

But what if none of your seeds bloom?

The earth, the temperature, the noxious?

but this is her job, to plant

to lay the seeds and leave

nature fate eventuality

do its own work

she’s unconcerned for the future

because her part is

to plant them.

not judge or

maneuver or fret:

Seeds must be sown

simply

because they must.

And she is content.

 

meaning · nihilism · philosophy

Rainbows & Permafrost, Anthrax and Lollipops

2.1.19.gif“I’m having a mini-existential crisis… Erm, No, make that a full-blown existential crisis.”

Anthrax reindeer?

“Anthrax reindeer.  And, you know, I’m kind of excited about it; I’ve never had an existential crisis before.”

The end result of questioning what I want my legacy to be—and therefore what I want my life to be—in concert with the dawning awareness of the inevitable degradation of our planet is leading me into my first true existential crisis.

While surely there have been points in my life when the chips were terribly down and I questioned the point of putting myself through any further days, mainly those were of the stereotypical, “Life is awful, may as well end it,” crisis.  Whereas this is more of a, “Life is perfectly fine, if not really good, but so what?”

I’ve never had a ‘Life is Good’ existential crisis before.  I’m pretty curious about it!

I never studied philosophy; never read Man’s Search for Meaning; never read Sartre or Goethe or James.  What did they have to say about all this “sound and fury”?

I begin to apprehend Macbeth’s meaning when he intones after his wife’s suicide:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Whatever the “meaning” of the life we make now, whatever the legacy, whatever the impact (positive, negative, or neutral) we have on the world and those around us, in a few millennia or sooner, it’s all a dust bin anyway.

So, why bother?

Just the very human search for meaning is meaningless.  The narcissism of humans to think that it “means” anything at all!

I can be and am curious, I can be and am grateful.  I can laugh and love and enjoy and squee… but there is no “point” except the doing of it.

In the Deepak/Oprah meditation today, they said there is no beauty or awe or wonder until we create it.  A sunset is meaningless unless my consciousness gives it meaning.  They further underlined the “centering thought” for the day: My being embraces life with gratitude.  And I agree that there is merit to the idea that simply by being alive we are impelled to find the goodness in it, that by my being alive I am impelled to improve my own life, the lives of those around me, and the future humans of this planet by making choices that align with my moral and ethical values.

Yes, making positive choices since I’m here anyway is fine.  But.

Short of self-harm, let’s see what else I can discover in this nihilistic chapter that I’ve opened.

 

collaboration · dissatisfaction · performance

“And suddenly solitude fell across his heart like a dusty reflection…”

10348598_10204752582560629_6563317244555255994_n
2014.  Way too long ago. 

He closed his eyes. The dark doors within him opened and he entered. The next performance in the theater of Grenouille’s soul was beginning. ~ Patrick Süskind

Maybe it’s the staid nature of the neighborhood around here, the increasing pressure on some time-sensitive projects at work, or the subtle undercurrent of the kids question, but I’ve been feeling itchy.

Since I began at this school two school years ago, I haven’t participated in any theater.  I had to give up my folk duo’s monthly performance because it’s staged late on Sunday evenings, which also meant giving up my weekly practice sessions with my music partner.  My piano buddy and I haven’t met since I moved up north.  And my own piano stand is in Oakland, while the keyboard is in the attic.

While writing is a creative outlet—and when I blog regularly, it surely helps to calm the brain gremlins—I’ve realized that writing is a pretty solo and solitary venture.  When I’ve felt most engaged, I’ve also been a part of something performative or collaborative.  Something where I get to create with other people.

And I feel kinda itchy and lonely for that.

What happens when I neglect those social, collaborative arenas is that I begin to pick out the flaws in everything else.  And, if you’re living with me, you’re probably going to get the lion’s share of that!  And that’s not fair, because it’s also not reality; it’s a microscoped circle of vision about an aspect of my life since others are atrophied.

My energy gets low, my irritation gets high, and it’s easy to lummox into a myopic spiral.

It’s unclear to me at present the exact action steps to take toward broadening my creative and productive vivacity, but noticing that I’m teetering on the edge of Limited Perspective is a start.