Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's late.

I've been doing my angsty-boy-problems thing. Feeling whiny about problems that, in a broader context, aren't really problems. Wishing for jobs and looking for apartments. Watching the skies.

The night skies have been cloudy and overcast, and I don't mind the rain, but I don't love the humidity and I miss the stars. Fall has been approaching with tantalizing slowness--it still feels like summer half the time, and a handful of the leaves began to change and then seemed to stop in their tracks. The air is as muggy as August's. Two nights ago the sky was grey when I knelt to the ground and pressed my face to the blacktop, and when I struggled to my feet the clouds had moved away, revealing stars for the first time in days. I felt very grateful. It seemed symbolic.

Some of the books I've been reading in the past six months:

the Mistborn trilogy (Brandon Sanderson, fantasy)
BAM (Best American) Science Writing 2010 (various, essay)
At Home: A History of Private Life (B. Bryson's brand of research)
Sandman (vol. 1) (Neil Gaiman, graphic novel)
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail (David Miller, memoir)
A Hat Full of Sky (Terry Pratchett, fantasy)
The Hunger Games (don't you already know?)
I started something by Charles DeLint tonight, but I can't remember the title.

I have begun and (for the time being) abandoned several more, including a book about leafcutter ants, and another of Bryson's amateur researcher books, and probably several others.

Elsewhere I wrote about a conversation I'd like to have, and produced a train metaphor. Then I typed up a short, one-draft poem about it:

Life runs on ahead, and we jump
from train to train, moving too fast
to read destination signs, packing away
our lives into hankerchiefs on staffs, tied up,
minding the gaps and wondering what lies

Monday, September 26, 2011


On the night after the one that found me kneeling and weeping with my face to the pavement at 3 am (I don't really have much to say about it*), I want to post something borrowed from a quiet and wonderful and dogged cancer-fighter blog-friend named Iikka:

"A Quiet Asana."

I will not be frustrated by lack of "progress."

I will take comfort and draw strength from the knowledge that I am well enough to maintain.

I will not hold myself to any standard, schedule, or expectations--my own or otherwise.

I will lean in, do the work, give to receive.

I will not counter pain with tension, anger, or fear.

I will accept the signals my body sends as it works to repair with kindness, peace, and understanding.

I will not complain, doubt, or question.

I will project patience, faith, serenity, and above all, gratitude.

I will not forget the gifts I have been given.

I will remember, every breath I take, that I.am.lucky.to.be.here.

No matter where here is: it is a gift, a blessing, and it is so much more than good enough.

*I really don't. But just so no one goes jumping to conclusions about random muggings or anything else crazy, I feel like I should specify that it had a lot more to do with hormones and fatigue and frustration with the difficulty and the pain and the holy-hell-so-GD-confusedness of life than with anything else.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Moon

The first slivers of fall are starting to seep through into the air. I am told that tonight is the first night of the harvest moon, and when I walked out with Miley I swear I felt a nip in the air. I felt the same on the ride home as I halfheartedly tried to sleep in the passenger's seat--I curled up against the wide open window under my folded comforter with the early fall wind blaring against my face and eardrums, and I thought about fall festivals and apple orchards and wood smoke and cider and cool soft winds. The leaves are beginning to change. I can't wait.


I walked Miley and then felt that I just absolutely had to come back and write about it. That's a sure sign of approaching winter, right there. It starts.

To begin: we live on a hill, not far down from the main road--so when I walk, more than ninety percent of the time I walk down the hill, and deeper into the trees.

This means that on nights like tonight, when I walk up the hill, I am astonished by the broad, magnificent stretches of sky that hang over the higher parts of the road. I stepped out and watched, mouth wide open, as the cottony clouds drifted inexorably over the moon like obscuring leaves in a slow stream. The air is crystal clear tonight, the stars like diamonds, and the full moon threw a soft rainbow onto the surrounding clouds and lit them up with a shine that was the color of frozen lightning.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I am at a point in my life where I really value silence.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Notes on medicine, honesty, weather, and unnecessarily profound observations.

Prednisone is not tasty, but I am still worried about having just taken my last dose. I still itch. Shouldn't I have stopped itching by now?
 (The poison ivy has improved--drastically, in some places. But it isn't gone. My itching hands and shins still contributed to my poor sleep last night.)

I just had to (or felt that I had to) admit to a guy I've been talking to that I might have met somebody cool and thus might not be around on the site much longer. So now I feel pretty bad. Great. (Cry me a river, I know. Watch it not work out, anyway. How often do these things work out? So far: 1-3 times in 25 years, that's how often.)

It has been raining a lot over in this part of the world. It's kind of nice, aside from the part where I don't get to do the outdoor work with Rick that I was supposed to do earlier in the week, and thus do not get paid for it. A particularly close bolt of lightning (and crash of thunder) shook the house quite hard this morning.

And when it is raining, I love hearing the birds still singing--even through the lighting and thunder sometimes. I guess I don't have much else to say about it. I just love those sounds together, and the symbolism that I can make up and put in there.

And here is a quote from Style Rookie, which I rarely read but which often amuses me when I do, despite my almost complete disinterest in style: "The thought of summer and its nearing end is causing me to make unnecessarily profound observations about the way the light is hitting all the crap on my desk while the sun sets."

This reminds me so much of myself, except that I make unnecessarily profound observations about the way the light is hitting all the crap on my desk (and so on) almost literally all the time.

About the dorky and distastefulness

--Seriously, thinking about the whole setup makes me feel like a loser in a sea of losers, but I know that that's my own nonsensical bias and that I should get over it. I just haven't quite managed to do so yet.

But there are a bunch of people I've been emailing, several of whom seem really cool. And I mean, that's cool. But I met one on Friday that I like a lot and will be seeing again tomorrow (and probably Thursday), and now I've got this worry/guilt complex thing about all of the other people I've been talking to that haven't been really given a fair chance yet, and whom I might be about to ditch. But meeting up with them when I really mostly just want to talk to Mark isn't any better than cutting off contact. And cutting off contact with them only to find that it isn't going to work with Mark sounds like a pretty terrible idea as well.

And there's my personal, whiny, Marie-nobody-wants-to-hear-this-ish business.

Love me anyway? And wish me luck at bar trivia, if you don't mind.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Notes from Northstar (church)

The point was raised today that in today's church, there is often a focus on the giving of "testimonies," and that the testimonies are expected to go like this:

"I once was lost, but now I'm found...and now I'm fine."

But life doesn't work that way. And so those of us who hear such testimonies and believe them and put stock in them find ourselves trying to match them--and failing. And when we fail we hide, and when we feel the need to hide, we feel ashamed. So there has been created, rather than a culture of love and hope, a culture of falsehood and dishonesty. It isn't good.

So here was the point:

It was never about perfection. It was always about relationship. When will we stop making it about perfection?

She said that when she was young, she heard a preacher say that "God helps those who help themselves." And at the time, being young, and "not knowing Genesis from Revelation," she thought, "well, it must be true, because he's old." But then when she grew older and studied for herself, she realized that there's no Biblical basis for that kind of thinking at all. Instead, there is a common theme of God helping those who are unable to help themselves--and that's all of us.

This reminded me of a whitewater rafting trip I took a long time ago, when I was seventeen. There was a flash flood on the river, and I and several others were thrown from the raft and nearly drowned. So here I'll start copying from what I wrote down in my notebook toward the end of church. (Excuse the melodrama. It happens more when I'm writing by hand and am feeling emotional at the time. Reliving this rafting thing brings back the residual PTSD stuff that I've still got going on sometimes.)

This reminds me of the rafting trip: this "God doesn't help those who help themselves! He doesn't make us pick ourselves up and climb, swim, crawl back! He helps those who cannot help themselves: all of us. So, the rafting: I fell out of the boat, off the wagon, into the dirty raging water, and I sank and I let it pull me down into its tumultuous, dark depths. I did not call out for help. I did not cry out to God. I did not even think to. I tried to swim against it on my own, and I could not. I could make no progress. I could not avoid the hidden snags and currents that repeatedly pulled me under. I did not know where I was or where I was headed or whether I would ever be able to snatch another breath of clean air again.

Still, in my stubborn and fearful silence, I was protected. In the midst of the flash-flooded, filthy, debris-filled torrent into which I had fallen, I was protected. I was not driven into an inescapable crevice [as commonly happens in such scenarios]. I did not dash my foot against a stone. [The whole time, the only things I touched were the things I was holding and the raft.] I did not run out of air, or time.

And when I finally realized my utter powerlessness and lack of direction, and when I finally saw that my death was literally inches and moments away, and I accepted it and asked for help, for breath, for direction, they were given to me. Instantly. I knew where to go and kicked up into the air with all my strength. And at the surface, still in the river, I was on the edge of the exact thing I needed: an eddy in the current, and a rock to which I could--just barely--cling.

And here it comes in again: help when we cannot help ourselves. No more than we can handle.

Treading water there, barely clinging to a sheer cliff face, I saw no help coming. I saw only rafts rescuing others--all too far out of range to help me. I was quite literally steadying my breath and mentally preparing myself to swim out to the only help I could see--which would certainly have meant my death--when a raft--the last raft--sailed around the bend in the river and pulled me in, and carried me to safety.

Of the four of us that fell in on a river that was so flooded that it was no longer legal to raft, in a rapid that, though it should have been a class 3, was now above a class 5, in water that looked like chocolate milk and ran full of propane tanks and tree limbs and coolers and, further down the river, power lines, none of us was injured. Though we all suffered from PTSD, not one of us was trapped beneath an undercut rock. Not one of us suffered a scratch. Though we were warned that we probably would, not one of us contracted a single disease from that filthy, sixty-degree water.

People die on the Gauley river fairly regularly, even under normal conditions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Just pretend this is in a normal font and size. I reserve the right to write elsewhere and copy/paste from undisclosed locations.

Camp is over, three friends came and stayed and are now gone. My resume has been (probably poorly) updated, and I'm looking for jobs in a meandering sort of way, doing little odd jobs for people that need them, chewing on the idea of grad school.

Still doing this weird "online dating" thing, which in large part I find distasteful and dorky, but which I continue to use as a way to get myself the hell out of the house. Thus far nothing goes anywhere, but there have been some interesting emails, some decent movies, and whatever. I am pretty excellent at going on lots of first dates and never really talking to any of these guys again. Usually this is more a function of my apathy/laziness than of any strong negativity. And I mean, I guess that's alright. Still hoping to run across somebody awesome, on there or in real life. Preferably in real life, obviously.

I have a truly terrible case of poison ivy, contracted while I was running siphons out into the backyard during the hurricane in a (thankfully successful) attempt to keep the basement from flooding. Nothing I was doing was helping at all, so yesterday I broke down and went in for a cortisone shot. I think it has helped, but the stuff definitely isn't gone. Time to call in the prescription for prednizone, I guess. I'm tired of being unable to sleep through the night, and waking up scratching the skin off my forearms, fingers, ankle, face, etc. It shouldn't be able to spread once the oil has been washed off, but I swear it's still spreading, six days later. Good times.

I've been working with my neighbor Hartley, helping with storm cleanup while he fixes the roof of a house that was smashed in during the storm. So many long-established trees were blown down, and now are being cut up and loaded into trailers and hauled off for mulch. It's a sad thing. But the wood smells like fall to me, and I've been catching whiffs of fall more and more frequently in recent days. The temperature is dropping just slightly, and the leaves are beginning to fall and accumulate along the side of the road. It's time.