Monday, September 26, 2016

Writing prompt: I am so sick of

Oh, so many things!

…Racism and bigotry and hatred. It seems rampant. Because of media -social and otherwise- we have more access to it now than we ever did before. Is it worse? Some say no, that it's always been bad and we're just now seeing more of it. Because of technology, some of what we see might not even be a real representation of what is happening. A picture or a quote or even a video might not be entirely real. It might be altered or fictionalised to appear worse than it actually was. Or it might be cleaned up to downplay wrong-doing. Do we really need to compare though? Then versus now, ghetto or uptown, record or no record? Racially motivated violence or discrimination shouldn't be mitigated by whether or not a victim has a criminal record, or by how much better "they" have it. There is no "they" here and I am sickened and saddened by the distinctions being made. There is, however, a "we" and we need to all be on the same side.

…Not having enough time in the day. I am not great at time management, unfortunately. Some days I do wonderfully, and other days I spend all day trying to learn how to get comfortable walking around in my own skin, and there's no time for anything else. Today is a bad-skin day. I overslept by two hours; nothing I need to do today makes sense in my head.

I wrote this a few days or years or heartbeats ago, and it surprises me how up-and-down my emotions are. I'm feeling a bit less wrong-skinned today but I am recognising that it takes very little to throw me out of my element and out of balance with my own spirit. I feel as though there is an outside-me and an inside-me; they spin at the same time, only sometimes they spin in opposite directions. When outside-me is spinning in one direction and inside-me is spinning in the other… like a load of laundry, I'm out of balance and clunky; trying to be my best self but I have an internal wobble that just won't settle.

The Buddha said, "Whatever has the nature of arising has the nature of ceasing." And Paul, from Philippians 4:11, "Not that I speak in respect to want: for I have learned, in in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content." (emphasis is mine).

I find these words of wise men to be inspiring - what helps you when you feel like your spirit is out of balance?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Writing Prompt: Hustle

"Hustle, if you can.”

I'm in Junior High PE class. Each day, my teacher tasks me with turning in the attendance sheet after class. Normally, I don't mind. Having a job to do gives me a purpose, and that helps me feel less awkward, a little less junior high. Today, I mind. It's an unusual day for the pacific Northwest: the sun is shining; it's dry, and only the slightest of breezes lifts the ends of my long, brown ponytail. We're outside, "celebrating" the lack of rain with some sport involving a stick and a ball.

I'm on 1st base, so that means if our guy with stick hits the flying ball that doesn't get caught, I have to run to the next little spot being guarded by some other guy. I don't really know about sports-ball, hence the teacher's instruction to hustle. If I can. It takes all my concentration to do this right. So there I am, one foot on the spot they told me to stand on, fists clenched, staring at our guy with the stick. If he hits the flying ball, I'm going to hustle.

That's when my teacher approaches me with the attendance sheet to turn in. I clench it in my fist, terrified that I'll drop it or lose it, or start reviewing it for accuracy and miss my queue to do running. Now I have two jobs: turn in the sheet and hustle. If I lose the sheet I will have failed in an administrative duty that, even at 13, would have mortified me with myself. If I fail to hustle I will definitively prove to my teacher, my classmates, and God above that I am clumsy and stupid and book-wormy.

So I clench the sheet into a wad in my fist and when I hear the stick and flying ball meet with a low “pop", I am off like a shot. I might not be sporty, but it turns out that I can run. Sweating and red-faced, kicking up dirt and grass, I pass all the spots and end up back at the beginning spot. HOME RUN. We won the Super Bowl! We did winning and I feel like I accomplished all the things.

My teacher looks at the wadded up attendance sheet, mostly illegible now and useless for anything other than to mop at the sweat dripping down my face and says, “Maybe a little less hustle next time."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Featured Post

It's time for my annual blog-resurrection. I never know how long it will last, but I enjoy it while it does. I've been away for some months, so it might not be "news" to the rest of you but I am LOVING the idea of a featured post.

I've chosen to feature my very first post; I originally intended this blog to be a manifestation of my spirituality, which at the time was Wicca. I'm not sure how long that lasted, but it quickly turned into a dumping ground for every random thought, dream, or rage-induced poem that I've ever written.

I thought it would be fun to highlight this post; I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now, and most would feel like that is about as far away from Wicca as one can possibly get. Wicca isn't all goat sacrifice and creepy so it doesn't feel remarkably different in my spirit.

It is quite a different lifestyle for me though, and I got a little giggle out of how incredibly, wonderfully, amazingly different I am these 9 years later. Head over to the Featured Post link and have your own giggle. <3


Reading: a silly novel by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg called The Heist. I like Janet Evanovich; her books are lighthearted and easy to read. They don't take life too seriously and sometimes I need that in a book... I take life very seriously and I read a lot of books about the atrocities that humans enact upon each other, so sometimes a lighthearted, ridiculous book is just what my mind needs to be soothed. The Heist, though... I don't even know what to say about this. It's fun but so very silly. There's a certain quality to it that I can't really wrap my mind around. As much as I read, I don't review a lot of books so I don't have much experience picking apart writing. I can tell you how I feel about it, whether or not I liked it, and what kinds of thoughts it evoked in me, but dissecting the merits of the writing is sort of strange for me. I've always fancied myself a writer and the notion of criticising someone who has actually been commercially published- well, I guess I don't feel worthy of that. I also read a lot of reviews written by other readers and some of them are very clever with their words. I sort of feel like a bumbling idiot compared to them.

I'm also reading Black Dove, White Raven. This one is by an author that I absolutely love, Elizabeth Wein. She wrote Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, two WWII novels that tear my soul open to read. Her writing is superb and heart-wrenching. It also leaves me feeling like I need to read silly novels to scrub away the horror. I'm not too far into this one, and I've had a bit of a hard time getting into the story. The library desperately wants it back, so I might have to put this one aside until I can get my hands on it again.

Listening to:The sounds of my fish tank. I'm working in the kitchen this morning, on account of how I woke up earlier than my husband and didn't think he would appreciate me working in our home office (which is currently about 5 feet from our bed). I've got this fish tank in the living room and thanks to modern day home construction I've got an "open concept" floorplan; this essentially means there is no division whatsoever between the kitchen and the living room so I've one giant room for everything (can you tell how much I dislike this?).

On my blog: I've blown the proverbial dust off my blog and I've been reading through old content. My cousin's death has brought up old family posts, written a few years ago. Re-reading some of those old posts has pointed out to me that I've haven't been very kind to some other family members. At the time, I didn't share my blog with my family and certainly not with anyone who knew them or me personally. It was public, of course, but there was no intersection between my private life and my public blog and I wrote rather bluntly (or rudely, depending on how you're featured) about some family members. I wasn't in touch with them and I let some of my baser feelings show.

Things are different in my family now; we're a bit closer than we used to be, and I've been working to put some of those feelings aside. Reading my old words here has me feeling a bit of shame at my attitude. I don't know if any of my family have seen those unkind things, but if they have - I apologise. Sometimes I'm a jerk, and I'm trying to change that. I welcome any phone calls if you want to call me a jerk with your voice, and I'll make amends as I can.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

It's a dream...

I'm at a party with a childhood friend. The people there are not my friends and I don't really fit in there. I don't remember how I came to be there, and I start to feel a panic in the back of my mind. My friend and I leave, and as soon as we step outside the door we are in a crowded hallway; it's filled with jostling, drunken bodies, pushing us this way and that. Everyone is moving in different directions, causing chaos and confusion. Nobody is in a hurry, but there's an urgency that nags at my mind.

Almost immediately, I lose sight of my friend as she forces her way through the crowd. I try to call after her, but my voice is lost in the din around me. People push her along, moving her through the crowd; but me... they hold me back, stepping in front of me, blocking my way, as though they want to separate us. The panic is back in my mind, making me sweat.

The next moment I'm in an abandoned building. There's something going on - movement around corners and down hallways that I can't quite see: pounding sounds above me; someone giggles in a hidden room, and I hear the sounds of paper being fed into a shredder. Clothing rustles, something shatters, and a door slams. The sounds are secretive. We aren't supposed to be here, any of us.

I creep my way down hallways cluttered with debris until I come to an entirely open floor. There are no doorways or rooms on this floor; the space holds no desks, no evidence that anything is accomplished here. There are windows along one wall - they have no glass, only window shapes cut into the wall. They look down onto a rocky beach. High cliffs on one side block any view. And straight down, through the window-holes, I see sharp rocks jutting up out of the water.

My friend is there, standing at one of the windows. She's going to jump. I distract her, asking what happened to her after the party. She tells me she got high at the party. When I wasn't looking, someone else there gave her cocaine, and she took it. She avoided me after, because she knew I would be upset. I am angry; she's not supposed to do drugs and had promised me that she wouldn't. It brings up the panic and old, hurt feelings.

I start to turn away- I want to leave this place too. It's as bad as the party. My friend jumped then, holding onto my hand. I am terrified; I don't want to go down to the rocks, down where I know we won't come back up.

We landed on the couch at the party. My friend was grinning, bent over a mirror.

I wake up with a greasy feeling in my brain that I haven't had in a long time, and I'm grateful for demons I no longer have.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Saying goodbye

My cousin Michael died yesterday. A few years ago, when I was more coy and secretive on the internet, I gave him a make-believe name and told the story about how he came to be broken; I told it like it happened to someone else and for a long time it didn’t feel like it belonged to me.

His passing wasn't unexpected. In fact, it was planned. Because of his condition he gets sick a lot. Pneumonia and other breathing related problems. I saw updates about his condition from his mom and sister, and requests for prayers. Honestly, I didn't dwell too much on it. It’s not uncommon, and he always gets better (or as good as he can get) and goes home.

This time, he doesn’t get better; he steadily declines and his doctors put him on breathing machines. For weeks, it seems… maybe more, but I haven’t been paying attention. Every day he’s worse, so the family starts saying their goodbyes. My aunt makes a plan: say goodbye, let him go.

So I dutifully include him in my prayers, but I can't think too deeply about him. I seethe with a rage that settles in my bones and I can't roust it once it's taken up residence. It is an old rage; it's familiar and comfortable. It hardens me, inside and out, like a layer of protection. And it feels safe inside that rage. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to wrap myself in it and let it burn.

But I'm trying not to let the natural things of the world take over my core anymore. That rage, more comfortable than my own skin, protects me from the good stuff too. It shields me from seeing the beauty of my family; it blocks me spiritually and denies the comfort I find in the gospel. It prevents me from caring about the hearts and souls of others.

So I smother that burning ember of hatred that loves to live inside me, and I mourn my cousin and the life he never lived. I mourn the broken hearts of my family. For 30 years I've been avoiding thinking about my cousin, but now he's dead and it's catching up to me.

Damn it all to hell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Grandma Candy

I had this grandma once. I only had her for a few years; she wasn't my biological grandma but she treated me like I was her real and true grand-daughter. She was my step-father's mother and her name was Candy. I called her "Grandma Candy" and she called me "sweetheart". I didn't much like her son, but I loved her.

She was killed by a drunk driver on this day... 1990? 1991? I was in juniour high school, so sometime around then. I don't remember exactly what year and it doesn't really matter. What I remember is how kind she was to me, how she treated me like I was family; I remember how she had a little movie store and that she taught me to use a shrink wrapping machine to package the movies in. I remember that we used to have dates, just me and her; she would take me shopping with her and we would talk about life and whatever else was on my mind. I can still hear her voice in my head - I don't recall any particular lesson she taught me, but I remember that she made me feel loved.

As I often do with people in my life who have died, I wonder what she would think of the world now; I wonder who she would vote for and where she would live. Would she be one of those blue-haired grannies who crocheted afghans all day or would she be doing wheelies in her motorised wheelchair? I think she would be having fun, no matter what.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reading challenge

The past few years I have set reading goals for myself. I don't always meet these goals, and that invariably results in some amount of frustration and feelings of failure on my part. This is a recurring theme in my life, one I don't really know how to overcome. It is important to me though, so here we are. I'll tell you about my goals, update periodically (or not, that happens too), and let you know how it's going.

My book club has chosen the next 12 books we will read (or not, that also happens) and I'm also choosing 12 books for this reading challenge. I don't have them all chosen yet but I've already been informed what book my husband will choose for me to read.

Here are the books I'll be reading for book club:

  • The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley
  • Gift From the Sea - Ann Morrow Lindbergh
  • The Lincoln Hypothesis - Time Ballard
  • The Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard
  • These Is My Words - Nancy E. Turner
  • Gameboard of the Gods - Richelle Mead
  • Sold - Patricia McCormick
  • The Man In The High Castle - Philip K. Dick
  • The Mount Vernon Love Story - Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Weight of Feathers - Anna-Marie McLemore
  • The Road - Cormac McCarthy
  • The Lake House - Kate Morton

I'm really excited about a few of these; a got a copy of Gift From the Sea from my mom when I was 15 years old. I never read it, but when I opened it up to start it for next month's meeting I saw a note my mom had written on the front inside cover the day she gave it to me. It wasn't a special day - April 9th, 1993 - but for some reason my mom wanted me to have this book and she chose that day to give it to me. As I read this book, I find my thoughts constantly turned to my mom and what we were experiencing in 1993. Individually and as a family, that was a hard year for us. I don't remember specifics (which I'll count as a tender mercy from God) but I remember that our family was not happy. There was contention in our home, contention between me and my mom, peppered with heartfelt talks and mother-daughter bonding. Being 15 was hard, and being the mom of a troubled and misbehaving 15 year old is no walk in the park. I'm grateful that my mom stuck with me through that time; not all moms do and I know I didn't make it easy on her. So, Gift From The Sea and a gift from my mother.

What are you reading this year? Is anyone else participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy's reading challenge? I'd love to hear what your choices are. I always go back to the same kind of book - thrillers, murder-mysteries, and cop stories are my favourites but I love to branch out as well. Tell me what's on YOUR list.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Seeing the best in others

Church was cancelled after Sacrament meeting today, so we didn't have our normal 2nd and 3rd hour lessons. I was excited to spend the afternoon knitting, but I was also sort of bummed to miss out on those later lessons.

My husband was giving the lesson in High Priest group today, and we decided to spend our afternoon discussing his lesson since we didn't get to experience most of church today. He had a really great lesson on New Year's resolutions, and in it he summarised last General Conference in such a way that we could use the topics as ways to improve ourselves in the coming year.

The item that stood out most to me was "see the best in others". This comes from Dale G. Renlund's talk Through God's Eyes, in which he says:

To effectively serve others, we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes.

Thinking about the person I know who is the best example of this, I'm reminded of my mother. She is best example of seeing the best in others, of seeing past the faults and the sins, and seeing the value of others. I am continually amazed and impressed by her ability to do this. She also has more compassion than any other person I know.

I am so grateful for my mom's example to me, and the things she shows me through her actions. I'm not good at those things like she is, but having her example gives me something to strive for.

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