Saturday, May 21, 2011

To all of those people who mistakenly think it doesn't:

Spelling really does matter. Do you know why? Because every time I ask one of the kids I'm tutoring whether they know the definition of "allusion," and then write it down for them just to be extra helpful, they tell me that it's something you think you see that isn't really there. For "anecdote," I either get "ana-what?" or "the cure if you get poisoned."


I am so lonely today. And yesterday. And possibly the day before, and sometime last week. I am ready to stop being lonely now. Okay? Okay. Ready, go.

It's obnoxious. Being bored and being single are things that happen. Not a big deal. And singleness has been...most of my life. You know? And a solid year and a couple of months, this latest go round. And (excepting previous periods of heartache) it generally hasn't been that big a deal. But sometimes, suddenly, it's everything. It's all that matters. I'm not in love and I never will be. I'm not a mom and I never will be. And while we're at it, I'm not gainfully employed and never will be (picture that in "crypt keeper" style font), and I'm not happy AND DAMMIT, NEVER WILL BE. I mean, obviously. Obviously this isn't due to a routine hormone imbalance and messed-up sleep schedule and horrible diet over the past few days. No. Of course not. Couldn't be that.

Wildlife I have seen and/or rescued whilst house sitting for Sara's family this week:
brown rabbit (seen)
opossum (seen)
orangey-skinned turtle (seen and rescued)

Last night (being Thursday night) was my last tutoring session with Suzanne for the foreseeable future. I wrote down the Einstein quote for her: "Everyone is a genius--but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid." I'm going to miss that girl.

I forgot the other things.


Before going to bed I pulled up my itunes and went to a song that I love: "Table for Two." The lyrics are more apt than I had intended them to be.

Danny and I had another late night over pancakes. We talked about soccer, and how every man's just the same. We made speculation on the whos and the whens of our futures, and how everyone's lonely, but still, we just couldn't complain. And how we just hate being alone. Could I have missed my only chance? And now I'm just wasting my time by looking around.
But you know I know better. I'm not gonna worry about nothing. 'Cause if the birds and the flowers survive, then I'll make it okay. Given a chance and a rock, see which one breaks a window, and see which one keeps me up all night and into the day. 
Because I'm so scared of being alone, that I forget what house I live in. And that it's not my job to wait by the phone for her to call.
This day's been crazy, but everything's happened on schedule: from the rain and the cold to the drink that I spilled on my shirt. 'Cause you knew how you'd save me before I fell dead in the garden, and you knew this day long before you made me out of dirt. And you know the plans that you have for me, and you can't plan the ends, and not plan the means, and so I suppose I just need some peace, just to get me to sleep.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I have too many tabs open.

Weird, I know.

This is a slideshow that looks really excellent, but which I haven't even come close to watching all the way through. Done by the BBC, so it's probably quality.

This is a really great mug that I want to buy. Made in the USA. Please check it out. You will probably laugh, and/or feel smug.

An article from The Onion on the disappearing grown-up.

I want this. Read the description. There's a pretty funny video about it that someone posted on facebook, but I've already closed my facebook tab, so you're sol unless you Youtube it.

Don't believe in evolution? Don't be ridiculous. Open your eyes. (And before you get out your pitchfork, please remember that this sentence is being typed by a Christian type person.) Here are seven animals that are evolving right before our very eyes.

What Spiderman should have been inspired by. I never realized how awesome tarantulas were until just now.

And lastly, the world's smallest stop-motion animation. Now with 3D printing! And quite cute.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The loveliness of metamorphosis

The lanes down which I walked all winter when they were wide and bare and starkly beautiful are now close and warm and lush and full. I've been walking and wondering why I've not been so awestruck by the night sky as I was, and then I realized that it's because I'm so distracted by the glistening arms of the trees reaching out into the road and arching up into the sky, and by the flat lawns and bare forest floor that have suddenly grown up into jungles of tall grass and flowers, and by the tree shadows that have transformed from woodcuts into tissue paper collages, making softly variegated asphalt surfaces each evening. And the loveliest thing about spring and early summer is the puddles--the rain-shined roads and the running ditches, swimming lowlands and storm drains filled to flooding. Tonight I passed a gravel driveway that held a large, still pool, wherein were reflected the dark branches of the trees, and the full moon peering through. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

David used to tease me a little about having so many favorites and so many superlatives, but appreciated, at least somewhat, that I was (often) serious about them. I was, and I am. I say "most beautiful" so often, and I know it sounds silly. But there are so many different kinds of beauty. The beauty of that puddle--of the night reflected in the water--can't be compared to the beauty of even simply the day reflected in the water, much less to the beauty of a flower or a newly molted cicada or a towering roller coaster, a much-needed scientific breakthrough or sweet nephew climbing a tree. They are each different, each precious, each superlative.

Something I've been meaning to say:
Lately I have been slowly coming to realize the meaning of the phrase "live without regrets," or at least the way it can apply to myself. Maybe it's different for others, but I have never liked this idea. I have always felt that those who claimed to live without regrets were either delusional or disgustingly lucky. As I said, though, lately my perspective has been shifting. The other day I was listening to a friend talk about past time wasted, and it wasn't the first time. I was beginning to notice a pattern of wallowing in past regrets, and it occurred to me that the only reason that the time in question was "wasted," in my opinion, was that we were still talking about it, rather than accepting it, learning from it, and moving forward. It was still pulling my friend's life into revolution around itself. It was creating more waste. So I have decided: missteps and mistakes happen to everyone--but the only time wasted is time from which I do not learn and grow.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Greatest of the season


honeysuckle, rain, damp dirt

and peony and gardenia

fresh cut wood and fresh cut grass

campfire (and burnt marshmallow)

pine forest

tomato plant, and warm, vine-ripened tomato fruit

watermelon and honeydew and a charcoal grill

a house with all windows open

washing brought in from the line

thunderstorm, rain and clean river water.


frogs of all sizes

crickets and cicadas

owls calling from tree to tree, and the almost-imperceptible rustle

and silence of their wide, graceful, dangerous glides.

Rain and river water,

ceiling and box fans

and happy birds in the trees,

distant rolling thunder and working bees

and live outdoor music from down the block,

and children laughing outside.

Things I've been forgetting.

Last week when I was tutoring Layla out on the dock, I saw something white bobbing in the water under the walkway. It looked like one of those soft, white, round mushrooms (which don't grow in the water, of course), but turned out to be a goose egg. Despite my best efforts, I failed to effectively convey to her that the watery sound from inside the egg meant that it was dead, that it was rotten, and so on. Anticipating the smell and fearing the view I didn't want to crack it, but I allowed myself to be convinced. I carried it away and downwind from the house, stood back, and cracked the shell with a stick. I would have let Layla, but she lost her nerve at the last moment. It seemed that somehow water had seeped into the shell, so what came out was a terrible smell, a piece of embryonic sac, and half a shell's worth of grey liquid. Layla spent the next ten or fifteen minutes telling me that I should have cracked it more gently, though I tried to explain that "baby goose eggs" need to be kept warm in their mother's nest; that all of the goslings had already hatched and didn't she remember them?; that floating in the water for weeks will never let an egg live. She said that she had hoped that if I cracked the shell gently enough, it would turn back into a baby goose.

I and my father went to pick my sister up from the Greyhound station the other night, and from the parking lot I looked up into the night sky and saw dozens of bats swooping and gliding through the air above the baseball diamond. In my experience, bats don't usually soar and glide, actually--they flutter around and frequently change direction to go after insects. It's also rare to have such a clear view of their motions, though, so perhaps I just haven't been as observant as I might. The lights from the stadium shone straight up into the air, and I can only assume that the air was filled with enough light-loving nocturnal insects that the bats could just soar straight through the beams and get a mouthful on each pass. Good on ye, bats! I love 'em.

Friday, just before the goose egg incident, Sara and Brian and I went to see the VMFA Picasso exhibit in its dying days. I don't love Picasso particularly, but as ours was the only museum on the East Coast to get the exhibit, and as Mr P is super duper famous and influential and all, I felt that I should go. It was good. I mean, he's talented, you know. Also, he really likes boobs. A lot. Just a heads-up, there.

Saturday S and B and I went to an herb farm and took in a talk about beekeeping and met up with Anna and her friend Amy, who seemed pretty cool. Anna and Amy and I accompanied the beekeeper back to his hives and watched him replace the queen and the observation frame and essentially got another lecture lesson about beekeeping, which was really cool. We ate some lavender iced cream and some honey iced cream and some chocolate iced cream, and I (and possibly Brian, but not while I was looking, not that I was looking often) helped Sara pick out a bunch of herbs and tomato plants and suchness for a hopeful new garden for her family. We got variegated basil, among other things. Not elfin thyme, though, despite my rabid support. Sara and I also bought fricking adorable beeswax candles in the shape of a little bear with his arms around a beehive (the stereotypical old beehive shape, rather than the more practical but significantly less cute boxy hives of today) and with a relatively large bee perched on the outside of the hive. They smell like honey of course, thus making me want to consume honey, and they are unreasonably cute, and I can't understand how Sara plans to actually use hers as a candle. I'm pretty sure I could never set that thing on fire.

Also on Saturday with S and B: impromptu (for us) fish fry; Strawberry Fields Festival where were sold unsprayed strawberries, spinach, kale, and no free kittens. Lovely. And buying cookie dough and cooking cookies not-as-long as the wrapping says, thus producing perfect soft, gooey cookies. And Kelly and Junior happening to be near my house, and being convinced to come over, and Sara and Brian leaving to dinner.

Saturday sans Sara and Brian: Hanging out with Kelly and Junior, and retrieving Chloe from the bus stop whilst they take in Picasso in all his slightly obscene glory.

Sunday: church with Chloe and Junior (who opted to stay, possibly partially because he seems to really, really love the couch in our basement. It really is excellent for sleeping), and an afternoon spent with my excellent cousin Sara (not to be confused with the Sara of Saturday), talking and reading magazines and rifling through items destined for the Goodwill.

All in all, quite a nice weekend.

I think there may have been other stuff, but I am not sure. I may have forgotten still.

Song I've been playing on repeat for a couple of days now (I haven't watched all the way through this video, so I apologize if there is any unforeseen weirdness):

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May showers

The longer I live here (and I've nearly always lived here) the more I come to understand the comments of some friends who visited from Arizona, years and years ago: "It's like a jungle." I love the cool wet air of springtime in the evenings, and I love the eternally dripping trees during our month of rain. I love the stereophonic chorus of frogs peeping and croaking happily in the wet. I love the green light that fills the space below the trees, and I love the way the branches of some arch up into a glorious and expansive chlorophyll-ceilinged cathedral. I love the evening sun glowing orange-red through the clouds that gather around the Western horizon, and I love its light shining against those in the East. I love the way solid cloud cover seems to pull the world in close--the way, walking in the evening, the soundscape is suddenly so much richer. Sounds that would float up into a clear sky now swirl through the trees. Frogs sing and birds chatter, car doors close and water bubbles down the creek bed, and thunder rumbles in the distance as I leave the house; cracks and splits the sky open as I make my way back home through the thickening rain. As I pass the creek, church bells chime a mile down the road, and the sweet sound wanders down into the valley to meet me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I just need to vent

and get all of my defensiveness out here.

Today while I was on my way to fetch a child from class for tutoring, I passed a teacher who had wrenched her back, who was in horrible pain, and who was being lowered into a chair. With her were two other teachers--one older and female, one youngish and male. I stopped and expressed my concern, figured out what had happened (she had messed up her back a little bit earlier, and then had tried to push two fighting kids apart and has seriously wrenched it, or it had gone into spasm), and offered to get her some ice from the cafeteria. No one responded, so I waited a moment and offered again. At this point the older woman rounded on me and asked, in an extremely aggressive and malicious fashion, "Do you have a medical degree?" I do not have a medical degree, though I could have done. She also said something about how ice would do nothing in a situation like this and asked something like why I thought I was qualified to offer advice. I, dumbfounded by this wave of disdain, gave the most relevant and least impressive answer--that my mother is a massage therapist. Had she actually been looking for information, she might have realized that massage therapists deal with muscular issues such as this one; but as she was not looking for information, and rather was bullying, she stayed nasty and said "well that's nice," and informed me that I was not a Richmond City Public Schools medical personnel, and thus had nothing to say on the matter.

Now, I am aware of the fact that I look like a student, but no one should be treated in this fashion, particularly if he or she is offering assistance. She could have asked me to leave or told me that the situation was under control. She could have sent me off for ice and then refrained from using it, if she just wanted me to leave. But no. She attacked.

Had I been less stunned and had I thought more carefully, I might have given the more impressive answer, though it probably wouldn't have made a difference in that kind of verbal and emotional assault. "Well, ma'am, I have been trained in advanced first aid in addition to first aid. I am also a lifeguard." (I am also certified in CPRO, AED and WSI, but these are obviously less relevant.) I might have explained that when a person's muscles go into spasm, what they need is to relax, and what a doctor will prescribe is a combination of muscle relaxants, hot compresses, and cold compresses. Hot compresses aren't available in a high school hallway in any case, but ice will at the very least numb the pain and act as a placebo, if nothing else. And in case you aren't aware, the placebo effect can be a very powerful thing. What actually doesn't help is lowering a person into a chair, hovering over them, bitching at anyone who tries to help, and repeatedly telling the injured party that you told her she shouldn't try to do that stuff she just did that fucked up her back. Weird, I know.

I wanted to speak to this woman (I don't know her name) about our little confrontation, but I couldn't think of a way to bring it up that wouldn't lead to immediate escalation and a scene. All I could think of to say was "I don't appreciate your attitude," which would obviously have been unhelpful. I probably won't end up saying anything, but if I do, I think it may be more along the lines of "why would you speak to me that way?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On clarity, and waiting.

This is most excellent, and it needs to be shared. (Shared with me by Anna.)

Frustration, and also wonder.

I am sick and tired of crazy, pushy, stupid, and emotionally stunted men. Parents of* the previous generation--what were you teaching these boys?

Now if a man is literally stupid then that is not his fault; but if a man deliberately chooses not to respect the decisions and wishes of other people, then he has no one to blame but his own self.

Just saying.

Tutoring today:

Layla and I worked for a while on learning about change (coins, I mean), and then down to the water we went. Soon we saw a school of minnows swim right up to the dock, and we watched them for a while. I showed her the way they sense vibrations in the water, the way they swim together and watch out for bigger fish, and jump at shadows. We watched the way they swim up and investigate and taste interesting objects in the water, such as purple bandannas dangled from the dock. It was pretty great.

*"Parents of" here meaning "parents belonging to," rather than "parents who gave birth to."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bone tiredness.

Today's walk with Miley was rife with the hot-dirt smell which I so strongly associate with Camp, which was lovely. And the creek was and is ever gorgeous in every way. I can't wait until I can swim in wild water again, sleek under the sun in the clean dusty water.

As we neared the woods a beautiful bird (one not often seen in our neighborhood) took off from its perch beside the stream in the ditch. Its tail feathers fanned out as it took off, and were all tipped with white. I think it may be some kind of game bird, but I can't remember what and I lack the energy or time for a full-scale Google Images search at the moment. It wasn't quail or pheasant. Possibly grouse (last search I'm doing tonight), but I think it seemed smaller than most of the pictures that are coming up. Anyway, it was a treat.

On the way back up the hill toward the house, I found a perfect grey feather, short and wide and adorned with a few stripes of lighter grey near the base. Though there's always a part of my brain telling me that it's silly and I've nowhere to put it and that it's just a feather/lizard tail/mummified newt/rock/flower/interesting stick*, I can never resist picking these things up and carrying them home with me as treasures.

Tonight I decided to give in to my nature and go watch Glee and Raising Hope with my friend Lael down the street. Usually I see her when I babysit for her, but our schedules haven't worked out in that way for a while. I haven't seen her in at least a month or two I think, and I don't think seen those shows since the fall. Glee was nice, and I really, really love Raising Hope. I'd like to own the seasons. And Lael is always excellent. I am so glad to know her.

I have been tired before, obviously, but I'm not sure I've ever experienced anything like this, or not for a while, and not as the result of something other than depression (which can really mess with a person's sleep cycles). I cannot remember ever having been so consistently weary. I've been coming home and trying to go to sleep before the sun is even down. I still fail, but I try. Of course, here I am on the internet, and it's almost eleven. Bedtime for me.
I may be exhausted, but I love what I'm doing. I love tutoring.

*These are actual items that I have collected and stashed in an undisclosed location at Camp. There they remain, because I am and, I hope, will ever be a six-year-old boy at heart.


You know what's utterly delicious? Leftover Chinese food: beef with broccoli from that takeout place down the street. You know what's really not that delicious? Salad with no chicken in. Just saying.


Also omg fried rice is the best thing ever, ever, ever invented. Ever.

On another note, it totally sucks when people seem really awesome and then you realize that they don't actually, you know, like, understand the concept of boundaries. Or, for example, the idea that the world doesn't revolve around what they want. Or that their problems are not my problems. It's not the most endearing thing in the world.

On yet another note, Sunday was largely really awesome. Jack and our parents and I had 8:30 am "brunch" for mother's day, after which Jack and I each crashed for several hours. Generally I try to get to church on Sunday mornings, but we had been to the funeral for Kelly's grandmother on Saturday, which included a mass. It was (of course) very sad, but the service was beautiful. Being around so many people that I loved was beautiful. So anyway, no church on Sunday. When I woke up there was a distant* cousin stopping in at our house on his way out of town, so we talked and had lunch, and he's an interesting fellow. Possibly an electrical engineer? Or trained as such. I spent most of the rest of the day cleaning my room (relative success!), and at one point took a break to walk Miley. There were several separate points of awesomeness on said walk:

I smelled honeysuckle!
I also smelled cut grass!
I also smelled cigarette smoke, which would normally be not-awesome, except that it was coming from Gina, whom I have not seen in probably eight years. She lives in the Norfolk area, and her mother is a friend of my mom's and her maternal aunt--River's mom--lives behind us. She and her mom and grandmother AND HER DAUGHTER were in town for mother's day. Her daughter is six now! I had never seen her before, but she is so beautiful. It made my day to see them.

*I actually have no idea how we are related, but "Armistead" is a family name, and I'm pretty sure someone referred to him as a cousin at some point. Actually, there are rather a lot of people to whom I am related, but related in some completely obscure (to me) way. So "distant" here really only means that he isn't a first cousin, or (as far as I know) a second.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I would just like to say that working all day every day is rather exhausting. Also, the thought of getting up at 6:30 am AGAIN every day this coming week, and the week after that, and the one after that, doesn't make me very happy. It's really nice to have work, though.

I'd write more, but I'm exhausted. NO TITLES, NO TAGS, NO MORE NEWS FOR YOU.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Well I went to Lafayette (no crawfish boils this time, but plenty of fried catfish and etoufee) and had no internet for nearly a week, and came home and had a birthday party (lots of books and aioli and pound cake... all separately consumed) and haven't felt like writing but now I really absolutely must, because Sara sent me this on facebook:


And it must be shared.

Largely I haven't felt like writing because I just haven't, and I'm lazy, and largely I haven't felt like writing because I don't like writing when large parts of my brain's processing power are consumed by issues regarding which I do not have definite opinions. Current issue of that description: Hunter.