so here are the top searches that landed strangers at my door this week:
1. time interruptions by spirits
2. benediction retirement
3. austin hail storm march 25 2005 warning
5. the song your not here by heather a site by ddr
6. sufjan gay
amazing how you can broaden your audience by using key words.
i'll bet my daily hits would soar if i would only mention terri shiavo, gay marriage amendment, brad pitt and angelina jolie, american idol scandals, and demi moore's pregnancy.
last night, after i left the boatyard, i decided to go out in search of don miller's searching for God knows what. and so i drove over to bookpeople, the bookstore that keeps me from missing davis-kidd too much. as i was searching for a parking space, i read on the marquee: jonathan safran foer, april 27, 7:00.
my clock read 7:05. i parked and ran in, checking my bag at the door. he was reading from his new book, extremely loud and incredibly close, as well as answering the audience's questions. the place was packed with students and writers with notepads. we filled the aisles, and leaned on bookshelves in the women's issues section. i stood on a stool.
mr. foer is my age, and incredibly handsome. he's funny and gently self-deprecating. what's more, he's conversational, and encouraging. and, he is well-versed on the writing process.
joyce carol oates wrote him a letter once, he said, warning him about the need for energy when writing. at the time, he wasn't sure what she meant, as his first novel sort of came to him; he simply took dictation from a cosmic muse. but. with subsequent writing attempts, he has found it extremely hard to open the laptop every day, and find the energy to commit himself to a work that constantly challenges his sense of self-worth. he wants to write with discipline, not merely momentum.
i needed to hear that last night. as i mentioned, i have committed myself recently to the actual process of writing. i am working on a specific story with specific demands. my first day of work went well: i sat all afternoon at the green muse, and wrote feverishly. line after line came. with every indentation of a new paragraph, i knew where i was in the story, and had a vague idea of where i was headed. days two and three went similarly.
by day three, the magic had worn off. i felt a little like i had just embarked on a new diet plan. you fly out of the gate, armed with meal plans and idealism, and by day three, you are hating yourself for lack of change. you're still you. your love handles are still looking up at you. and you long for chocolate.
so here i am, day 6, with about 3000 words written, and no original momentum left over. can i keep going? am i committed enough to the vision that brought on momentum in the first place? can i still stand behind what i am trying to say?
listening to a peer--who happens to have two novels under his belt at age 27--tell his truth about the writing process is encouraging. i think that i care enough about what i'm doing to continue. progress is progress, even if only a few words come today. this is no time for idealism or perfectionism. kindness and determination are more necessary. these are the things that carry you through, restore the momentum. they are the steps that sustain the vision.
so, it's a new day, and i am attempting to switch out of badmind into one of slow wonder.
i came home from work last night to two presents from helen: a mint plant for homegrown mojitos, and beer. new belgian trappist ale to be exact. i drank the spirit of merton. i burped.
[new belgian ale, specifically fat tire, reminds me to ask out loud in brackets, flibbityflu, are you reading? and, will i see you on saturday? please call.]
today is a hazy memory. i went on a work field trip on a bus. we drove around to some of the work sites. i got to wear a hard hat and safety glasses at one of our plants out in bastrop. i had no idea turbines could be so big. i got to watch a butterfly pollenating a daisy out at mckinney roughs. finally, i was privy to the f-2 tornado secure service center, the company's power hub, where a bazillion megawatts of power are monitored. and then i returned to the cushiness of my desk job, where i ate a piece of cake.
what i learned: all men in hardhats wear wranglers.
it was a beautiful day away from the daily fidelities, but i was the only girl in a bus full of men. they were all cowboy types, and quiet. so i looked out the window a lot, and napped.
and now, after alllll that hard work, i'm sat once again at the boatyard, squinting from the brilliant sun on the water. i'm enjoying a mojito, and jack johnson is singing over the speakers.
it's a perfect place to sit and talk for hours. i wish you were here with me to pull up a chair. i'd buy you a cocktail.
take two. my first attempt at this entry was somehow erased. perfect.
anyway, what i said was something like this:
once again, i am stealing from someone else's blog, this time from jude. i cried when i saw this photo just now, because it is belfast, and because helen said those same words to me not 5 minutes previous:
i am downright drained right now, from over a week of the sick, followed by girly hormones. and i am writing again, really writing. all of my focus is going toward that act, and i'm tired.
all this to say, my favorite green shirt, which used to fit so very nicely, will no longer button properly. i over-reacted this morning, mumbling obscenities at the shirt and my belly, which has grown just a tiny bit since my ankle sent me to the couch with a bag of cheetos.
as a former anorexic girl (my drug of choice in high school), i don't do so well with weight gain. but, i threw on a baggy linen shirt, and sped off to work, angry. the fucking austin drivers were worse than usual today, and i spilled my coffee.
i am not a happy bananie.
i am currently in utter contempt of every phonecall and email i must deal with this morning. i have no people skills.
but. as kim thomas once taught me as mantra: i am not my mood.
so, for now, i will stare at jude's photo, and hope that nice thoughts toward myself will soon descend like a dove.
i just got off work a few minutes ago, and on a whim decided to saunter over to the boatyard for a glass of wine on the water. the air is humid enough for smoke to hang in the air around my face, and my hair is decidedly flat and ugly.
and the birds are grackles today, dive bombing me, and begging for cigarette butts, while the swans wag their tails a few feet ahead.
today i am a hormonal force to be reckoned with: i fluctuate back and forth between calm and raging. the calm is the water under the humidity diffused sun. and the rage is politics. anyone who has read my blog since day one (three years ago now!) knows that it is rare that i wax political, mostly because it's simply not my nature. on the blog, especially, i long for more unity than debate, but i must say that i am outraged by the state of texas' overhaul of child protective services.
it's all about saving money, they say, rerouting the funds to best benefit the welfare of foster children. yet, at the last minute, an amendment was made, one that would prohibit gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from fostering children at all. not only does this amendment cross the line of privacy by making it mandatory to ask about one's private life, but it also bans thousands of foster parents who are dedicated to texas' children. AND, this amendment erodes further the line between church and state, as it is made on the premise of God's perceived will, and that children will become gay themselves if exposed to "the gay lifestyle".
here is a quote from the amendment's author, Rep. Robert Talton:
â€œItâ€™s a learned behavior, and I think a child . . . ought to have the opportunity to be presented to a traditional family as such,â€? (Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena ) said. â€œAnd if they choose to be homosexual or lesbian, then thatâ€™s their choice when they turn 18.â€?
you can read the whole article here.
i don't know where you stand on all the divisive issues surrounding homosexuality, and i certainly don't wish to indoctrinate anyone with my beliefs, but i can't help but be angry and a little afraid of all the political issues that are being thrust upon our country in the name of Christ. the gay marriage amendment is one thing, and bad enough a divisive issue, but to deny children a home because it does not consist of mommy, daddy, fido and the picket fence? are you kidding me?
*stepping off soapbox now*
lighting another smoke.
drinking water. waiting for a sierra nevada, 50 cents off, to arrive.
i suppose that if i call myself a christian, i must pray for wisdom. wisdom for the state legislature to do what is right and good for the children of the state. and as a citizen, i must raise my voice in dissent.
i can't let this reactionary amendment send me to bed for 13 hours of troubled sleep.
the sun is out now, bright and uncomfortably in my eyes. i am remembering a movie that helen and i watched from the bed of the pullout couch last night. it was a documentary called sunset, about the friendship between two elderly women in an assisted living home in LA, ages 95 and 82. the home is a place for retired radicals, and one of the ladies, irja, goes in her wheelchair to demonstrations often. she wheels around registering voters. she says of her life that she must take causes to the street, join the voices.
so i wonder, dear readers, what causes, what issues, take you to the street?
what an idyllic sunday it is. we awoke this morning without an alarm clock, and began the day lazily, with french toast, scrambled eggs, and rutamaya coffee. (nashville: you are missing out on this delicacy.)
we took our breakfast on the patio, as the stereo played a fantastic ibook playlist through the windows. rolling stones, kings of leon, kanye west, air, sufjan stevens, and the flaming lips: this was our church music.
helen soon took to repotting plants, as i did a little research for a short story i'm about to write. of course, i soon grew weary of that, and took the dogs out to play.
in our complex, we have a daily social gathering called "the dog meeting". it is, as its name suggests, a meeting of the dogs. and we've got so many now. i bring my charley and helen's lucy (the australian shepherd/dachsund mix). dottie brings her poodle, noelle. always by her side is tom, a tall gay man, with his lab mix, skeeter. skeeter and charley chase sticks together, while lucy watches from the sidelines. maureen comes by in her sunglasses and pink lipstick, with her old britney spaniel, beau. and red-headed patrick arrives soon after, dragged by his golden retriever pup, jordan. the dogs frollick together like a motley dog race, charley leading the pack around the little fields. the humans watch, like we've all placed bets, and we gossip.
drunk jim, as we call him, has recently decided to join the dog meeting, by adopting an indistinguishable mix of a mutt, moe. he's a loud old man, who perpetually carries a black traveler mug full of some sort of alcohol. sporting a nearly full set of teeth, jim mumbles loudly in a jovial sort of way. he calls me tinkerbell. i have no idea why. he often asks tom what kind of dog skeeter is, and tom replies, with his black lab at his feet, "oh, he's a standard poodle." this satisfies jim. "great disposition, them poodles," he says in garbled words.
jim adopted moe out of loneliness, i think. you can often see him sitting outside on a bench, waiting patiently--sometimes for hours--for the dog meeting to begin. he has yet to buy his dog a leash; moe sits at his feet with a brown extension cord tied around his shelter-issued collar. yesterday, i caught jim on the bench with a dog's worth of moe fur piled around him. "i justa brushed'em," he mumbled, requisite cackled laugh following. "he sure gotsalotta hair on'em. yep!" i nodded. jim continued to brush moe diligently, puffy red hand gripping a woman's round brush.
the gossip surrounding drunk jim is legendary. some say he is rich, having recently sold some property in hyde park: THE place to live in austin if you're cool. our nextdoor neighbor rachel says that he has cancer, and is undergoing chemo, which is hard to tell, considering his naturally fuzzy bald head. jim himself tells stories about living in reno when he was young, chasing the ladies back when he had a full head of red hair.
none of us know what to make of drunk jim. one minute, he seems like a dirty old man, or an old crazy, but then he surprises you with kindness. tom said that jim flagged him down in the parking lot the other day, and shoved a wad of three sweaty dollar bills into his hand. "it's treat money," jim told him. "yer always givin them dogs treats, an i wanted to share in the cost."
then, the other day when we were under storm warnings, jim knocked on the doors of everyone of his building, alerting them to the imminent hail storm. "get yer cars under cover," he mumbled. immediately, i watched people frantically parallel-parking their cars under trees. and then the hail came.
grooving to jill scott this morning, i feel like an african queen. deep down, under this pasty skin tinged with just a touch of vitaligo, i am a sista. really. ask my sister, eileen. she'll tell you.
i was on a james baldwin kick recently, thanks to heather. i think i've read about 10 of his books now. while i was reading just above my head, i dreamt every night that i was a black woman. really. in an otherwise ordinary dream--you know: go to the store, run into madonna on the way, trip over a crack in the sidewalk and suddenly you can fly--i'd look down at my arms, and find that they glowed a dark bronze. "and to think, all this time i thought i was white," was my response every time. and then i'd flap my dark arms, and fly all the way to mcdonalds for a coke. like you do.
the thoughts you think when you're home sick in bed are scattered, yet fluid. the turtle tank sits on the bookshelf to the left of the bed, and so i often look up to see my turtle staring down at me. tino is gigantic these days, his shell the size of a kaiser roll, and his grass green eyes often meet mine. he knows me well, and eats tuna and carrots from my fingers. i pet his head when i clean his shell, and it feels like a finger in a rubber glove.
the tank is a tiny wild kingdom. i brought tino five feeder fish recently, to hone his hunting skills, should he ever have to be relinquished to the wild. one died immediately: suicide by the power of suggestion, i suppose. i believe he ate two, as they haven't been seen for weeks. however, two fish remain, one big and one small, and fish and turtle seem to have created their own little ecosystem. tino eats his pellets, and the fish eat the crumbs. oftentimes, they hide underneath his belly, and he enjoys watching them swim furiously, a school of two, around the tank. i suppose they are pets now, and so i've named them: rudolph and herbie.
turtle-tank watching makes a sniffly girl sleepy, and so i try to sleep, a difficult task when one nostril is plugged, and the other one is overworked. i close my eyes and breathe through my mouth. i think sleepy thoughts of 21st street when i was 12 on a bicycle. i can remember every square of sidewalk from cherry to poplar streets. i ride my blue tenspeed over the stony, the smooth, building momentum, accelerating for my moment with the tree-root lifted concrete of a bike ramp. my front wheel jumps: i am airborne. i land. i skid to a stop and look back at the long rubber line behind me. i am pleased. i abandon sidewalk for street and do figure eights awhile, humming songs to myself, thinking of the day i'll drive a car. and then i abandon my bicycle altogether, and sleep.
friday afternoon, and i'm sucking down my second lime bar. mucus is dripping down the back of my throat, and it's nasty. i have finally succumbed to the oak: i've got a sinus infection.
however, i've also got an ibook. i tracked it via fedex today, and saw that it was just sitting there all alone at the fedex hub, not to be delivered until tomorrow. so. i drove up and got it.
this sweet little computer is a girl's dream, complete with 8 gigs worth of itunes. i've listened to abba, the postal service, the white stripes, the shins, dr dre, johnny cash, and now billie holiday just on a happy little shuffle.
i can't think of a better way to be home sick from work with a fever and two sleepy dogs.
now for the real writing to begin...
stolen from cary's blog:
it's sunday afternoon with sweet sarah singing her 1999 demos. the memories flood back instantly. i was living with sarah jahn in green hills, jude had come to town on holiday for three weeks, and i found a best friend, a sister. how could i have known, at 20 and so shy, that we would travel the atlantic this many times for the sake of community and endless laughter?
oh, and here is sarah's "we are a beginning", the song she wrote for her own wedding, and julie sang, all those years ago, on the day that i met her. a year later, i sang it at my shannon's wedding. i stood in a navy blue dress, as her maid of honor and sang with all my heart:
may our standing ask permission
to be a kind of benediction
to a love we know is bigger
does it really get any better than these sorts of cohesive memories to know that, at 26, you've already lived so much? loved so fiercely?
this weekend is an ebenezer of sorts: stones of memories stacked humbly as an altar. an ebenezer that says i am very much alive. i am making my decisions, proclaiming my truths, as testament to the unconditional love of God. in my heart, two years ago, i made a deeply intimate decision to live in a balanced authenticity. with it came a shaky foundation, and the accompanying existential depression. [you all read my words through it.]
here i am now in texas of all places, walking on my path, committed to a mindful existence. no one ever said it would be easy.
i never knew it could be so wonderful.
life is spring and i am 26.
I BOUGHT AN IBOOK!
specs for the geeks:
Operating System: Mac OS X
Included Devices: AC Adapter
Battery Life: 6 hour(s)
Input Devices: Keyboard, Touchpad
Interface Type: Firewire 400 port, USB - Universal Serial Bus 2.0, Video - 15 pin High-Density D-shell (VGA)
Resolution: 1024 x 768 (XGA), 800 x 600 (SVGA)
Video Chipset: ATI RADEON 9200
Display Size: 12 in
Display Type: Active Matrix LCD (TFT)
Video Bus: AGP 4X
Video Integration: Motherboard
Sound Support: 3D Audio
CD Rewrite Speed: 10 X (CD,CD-R)
CD Write Speed: 24 X (CD,CD-R)
CD-ROM Read Speed: 24 X (CD,CD-R)
Drive Controllers: IDE (ATA/EIDE/ATAPI)
DVD-ROM Read Speed: 8 X (DVD, DVD-R)
Hard Drive Capacity: 30 GB
Included Drives: DVD/CD-RW Combo, Hard Drive
Bus Speed: 800 MHz
Cache Size: 256 kB
Installed Memory: 640 MB
Installed Video Memory: 32 MB
Maximum Memory: 640 MB
Memory Technology: DDR-SDRAM (DDRRAM)
Processor Class: PowerPC G4
Processor Speed: 800 MHz
Wireless Communications: Optional AirPort Extreme Card Installed
Installed Software OS X 10.3 Panther, Office X, Toast Titanium, iLife '05, Huge collection of iTunes MP3 files
new computers make for happy bananies.
I've lost my steam this week. With laptop # 2 on the fritz, I haven't been able to write at home, and writing while working is frowned upon. So. I've spent more time reading than writing, and endlessly searching for yet another laptop. I am done with Dell. Finished. In fact, I plan to abandon Microsoft altogether.
Thatï¿½s right. Very soon, Iï¿½ll have my own bananie iBook. Yessir.
Good readers, itï¿½s been quite a week:
Friday night, Helen and I saw Sin City with my friend Ginger and Helenï¿½s friend Greg (yes, a sort of set upï¿½hopefully), and afterward, I had one too many (and Iï¿½d only had 3). I went to bed with cotton mouth. But seeing that violent beautiful movie at the Alamo was great, even if we were forced to sit in the front row. I firmly believe that all movie theaters should serve you beer at your seat. Furthermore, all movie theaters should show Kung Fu and 70s movie trailers before previews. People of the world, are you with me?
Saturday, before we drove to Houston, I had a muffin and coffee with Don Miller. It was a lovely conversation, if not a bit awkward. Itï¿½s always awkward when two strangers with mutual friends meet for the first timeï¿½by themselves. After a few minutes of my social stuttering and accidental interruptions (ï¿½oh sorry, what were you saying? No, you go. Really. I forgot what I was going to say anywayï¿½), we hit our stride, and were giggling like friends. My initial impression of him remains: he is a gentle, humorous guy. And way smarter than he says he is. I am excited about the prospects of being involved with what he is doing in the literary world.
I end off here for now, as there are reports to be run and job ads to be placed, but next time, tune in for the adventures of my accidental pressing of the panic button, and the ensuing hilarityï¿½
from sojourners sojoke email:
The Sedentary Prayer
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know when the best I can do is to stay up watching X-Files reruns with a bucket of KFC, a pint of Haagen Dazs, and a carton of Marlboros.