Monday, June 28, 2010

A Ginger Day

So, today was a Ginger day, meaning that I took Jack to daycare so that I could have some one-on-one time with myself. I spend a lot of time avoiding me as is evidenced by the fact that when I truly have time for meditation and reflection, I have no idea what to do with myself so I work. I spent the morning doing that. I began building my new class website, I updated my interactive summer assignment, sent messages to all the students participating in said assignment, answered the questions that were submitted in response to updating and messaging about the summer assignment, and then noticed that I was tense - that I hadn't done anything that wasn't work related and I was squandering away my free time.

That's when I decided to go see a movie - a good chick flick. There was a 12:55 showing of Sex and the City 2 at the Studio Movie Grill and I thought, "Lunch and a movie! Perfect!" So I went.

Before you poo poo the idea of A.) Seeing a movie by yourself or B.) Seeing this particular movie, you should note that actually it was a very enlightening, pleasant experience. I'm probably outing my hardcore, tattooed exterior by admitting that I am a Sex in the City fan (wink), but I also have to remind everyone that the series and the movies are about more than shopping and sex. Actually, this one in particular was more about the definition of marriage and, more importantly, what it means to be a woman and have a voice. There is no better place to highlight the conflict between being a woman (and all that comes with that, including motherhood or choosing not to be a mom) and having a voice in a male dominated society. It turns out that Abu Dhabi, the place where most of the film is set, is not so different than the US in that the female voice is suppressed. Also, though, it reminded us that no matter what society declares, women of all cultures and ages, are sisters. We hear each other.

It may sound odd to say that I felt empowered by Sex and the City, but I am. I cried actual tears when Miranda and Charlotte talked about being moms and the constraints of that full-time, thankless, wonderful job.

Charlotte: "How do the moms who have no help do it?"

Miranda: "I have no fucking idea."

Charlotte: "My first thought when I heard Samantha say Harry might cheat on me with Erin was, "Oh my god, I can't lose the nanny!"

Substitute "the nanny" for "daycare" and I hear you, sister. I lift my glass to that, and I did because I ordered a glass of wine with my lunch. What boldness! Screw you, patriarchy! I'm having wine with lunch AND I'm picking up the baby later.. by myself! I am woman!

After I left the theater it was raining outside - my favorite!

I came home to a quiet house on a rainy afternoon, and I'm loving my Ginger day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup: Ghana v. US

DSC01189a
Four years ago Rich and I went on one of the best - if not THE best - tours of our lives. Before there was a Baby Jack, there was travel. Lots of it. We had been in Italy for two weeks with our students and sent them home with a chaperon while we continued our sojourn through Austria and Germany. DSC01197a
The trip happened to coincide with the World Cup in Germany, and our best friends, Christine and Jamie, happened to be in Germany for the World Cup. We met up with them. I could go on about how amazing the time was - how much fun Rich and I had in Nuremberg at the viewing party (That's where you go when you don't have tickets to the game..), how we met new friends, drank too much beer, and cheered on our team. But that's not what this post is about. It's about this:

Four years ago we played Ghana in the World Cup. Four years ago, they beat us, knocking us out of the tournament. It was a sad loss, yet I was elated for the Ghanans. Today we play them again and there is a lot at stake for both of our teams. For one of us this will be our last game in the tournament, so it is sure to be played with lots of heart, the emotional factor being at its highest.
DSC01198a

Go USA!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The In(essential) Items that I've Collected

Dolls, rocks, plush character house shoes, stickers, coins.
Letters, poems, pictures, passport stamps.
Bumper stickers, concert t- shirts, "flair".
Pens, warm fuzzies, bad poetry.
Love notes.
Mismatched drinking glasses and coffee mugs, hand-me-down furniture.
Clothes that used to fit.
Cats.
Beer steins, mascara, stilettos, classics.
Confidence.
Tattoos.
Fridge Magnets.
Blogs.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (The Inessential Items We Collect, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Talk is Cheap

A year or so ago, I was inspired. I had just come home from the new release of In the Margins and had an incredibly cool art piece that had been showcased at the magazine's release party sitting on my hearth for the week end until I could cart it back to school.

The art was odd, the subject questionable. The medium was collage - a ginormous canvas modge podged with square magazine cut-outs, the abstract face of Woody Allen outlined over the collage in black paint. For some reason, I fell in love with it, probably because it was so freaking weird. Even though I have no real connection to Woody Allen, his movies, nor his choice in spouses/children, I had to admit that it was a perfect conversation piece. I mean, who in her right mind would have a blown up, stylized portrait of Woody Allen in her living room?

"Me! Me!! Please? Let it be meeeeeee!"

The following Monday I reluctantly returned the art to school (damned integrity) and inquired about purchasing the piece. I was told that it was already sold. My heart sank. I shuffled away crestfallen.

That's when I had the idea: Surely I could create my own masterpiece! Surely I could make up for my utterly devastating lack of artistic talent with modern technology - tools such as a school-issued, 1980's manufactured overhead projector and some duct tape! I went to the hobby store, bought a ginormous canvas, some Modge Podge and spray-on glue. I spent the next three hours cutting out interesting squares from Conde-Nast, The New Yorker, and House Beautiful. I began spray-gluing them to the canvas. I would, after having made the collage, go to school, project the face of whomever I chose (not Woody Allen, for that had been done already) and paint.

After about 5 hours of intense (ahem) artistry, I collapsed in the living room floor, distraught. My masterpiece was a ridiculous sham. It looked like an ill-behaved puppy had dug through the trash, the contents of which had landed on my canvass. There would be no conversational mantel piece for me- no unusual weirdness for my living room. That, accompanied by the re-realization that I was not talented at all artistically, stung something fierce.

I quit. Thus the canvass sat in the guest bedroom for over a year. Until yesterday.

Yes, friends. I dug it out. I removed all of the "collage" and vowed to begin anew. Damn-it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

paraNormal

I used to fervently pray that God wouldn't send me an angel. That's why She must have chuckled to herself on the day She actually sent one and I didn't mind so much. In fact, I was grateful. God has a sense of humor like that.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The study session had gone as well as can be expected. My history final was the next day and for the first time in all of my college history classes, I liked the professor and the class. The class was small - only 30 people or so - as opposed to the huge auditorium classes that seated 250 students, the ones where teaching assistants are assigned to and responsible for students numbers 28385 - 28523 and are supposed to take roll and grade exams while the fat professor stands at his podium and drolls on about American baseball, Roosevelt being the best president, and what a disaster it was when women got the right to vote.

My small class was fun. The professor lectured, yes, but he also welcomed discussion. I was hooked. Oh, and there was a cute boy in the class who sat by me and happened to be my study buddy. In fact the night before the exam, we had been studying together in my dorm room. I noticed my friend was not feeling well. Even though he smiled and flirted, trying his best to come across as "fine", it was clear that he needed to wrap up the study session and go home. We did. I went over my notes one last time, and fell asleep confident that the test would be, at the very least, manageable.
_______________________________________________________

I don't remember much of the next day. I remember sitting in the test room, the walls spinning. My friend was absent. I knew if he felt half of what I was feeling - nauseous, hot, delirious, like my head was a boulder balancing precariously on a flimsy twig - there was no way he should be there. Half-way through the exam I was struck with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. This was my last exam of the semester. I couldn't make my pen move. I had put my head down on the desk and couldn't seem to pick it up. I may have been crying. I remember closing my eyes and opening them, not knowing how much time had passed.

Somehow, I stood up and handed in my test, most of it blank paper, mostly unfinished. I remember standing in front of the professor,seeing only his glasses and eyes, hearing him mumble a question, something about me being ok. I don't recall if I answered. The next thing I remember was standing outside of the lecture hall. I couldn't remember where I lived. I didn't know in what direction I should walk. It was getting dark outside.

That's when I met an angel.
_________________________________________________________
There are so many interpretations of what angels are. Some believe that angels are glorious beings - warriors and messengers - light shining around them, the boldness of the Spirit coursing through them. They are immaculate, bearers of fanfare and majesty. Some believe that angels are beings that kneel prostrate to Man. They might have been first drafts of humankind, but were not given free will and are, therefore, more like servants. In any case, they can come in any form - cherubim, seraphim, burning bushes, lightning, dreams.

Mine came in the form of a young female voice.
__________________________________________________________
As I stood outside of the lecture hall helpless, a girl my age addressed me. She said, "Hey, I think we live in the same dorm. Coleman Hall, right?" I assume I nodded. She said, "I'll walk with you."

I remember feeling a little less distraught in that moment. I do not recall speaking to her, nor do I remember the path we took to get home. I don't remember her form, other than I recognized that it was similar to mine. I had obviously never met her, but I trusted her. She did not glow or carry armour. I'm not sure she was truly physically there.
___________________________________________________________
My fever was 105 - dangerous. There was talk of going to the hospital. For three days I was confined to my bed. A nasty virus was going around we learned later.

I ended up making a B in the history class; the professor obviously had mercy on me. I have no idea who the girl was that led me home. Whether truly a messenger of God or no, I can say with some certainty that she was heaven sent.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Paranormal, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

You asked for it..

Before:


After:

Gorgeous work, Lobsta. Seriously. I love it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solitude.

Solitude is and has always been a bit elusive for me. When I think about the times of solitude in my life they come in the form of journal and pen, the practice of reflection and writing being my form of meditation since I was a little kid. Rarely, however, have I intentionally spent time in solitude.

A few years ago I began reading books by Thich Nhat Hanh, and I would retreat to my back porch with book, journal, and pen to meditate and reflect. These were lovely times, and I applauded my dedication. I felt really good, and these reflective times helped my to change my outlook on my mental state, my physical state, my relationships, and my connection to the world around me.

The second I got pregnant the first time the meditation waned. My attention was elsewhere - mommy books, mommy worries, expectations, redefinitions, finances, etc. There was no time for Ginger because Ginger no longer existed as she had before. My body was different, too. In hosting life to another being, I was transformed, and nothing was about me any more. Thich Nhat Hanh would've been disappointed that his student didn't heed his words of wisdom - that the practice of meditation doesn't have to be in silence or in stillness, it is not contingent upon immutability, and it doesn't have to be devoid of anxieties. Actually, he wouldn't be disappointed. He is patient..

After I miscarried, I stopped my meditations all together.

What I found was that solitude was dangerous, predatory, an invitation to self loathing, and I couldn't possibly subject myself to it. Self preservation.

A month after I lost the baby, I traveled to London by myself. The trip had been planned long before I was pregnant. The plan had been altered slightly because I was pregnant, and then it became a personal mile stone - a mountain to climb to prove that I could do it - a month before I left. The trip became my life's exodus. In London, I was forced into solitude. I had tons of reflection time - on the plane, on the train, on the Underground, at meal times, in the park, everywhere, all the time. Instead of taking time to heal, I distracted myself - happily - making new friends, roaming around the city, visiting new places, pubs, punting.. I wrote about these things. I blogged about them. I had an incredible time being someone else - no more personal stuff - no more Ginger.

I got back home and turned around and went to Alaska a few days later. Same story, different place. I came home and promptly flew to New York for work. I had an incredible time! I was being very successful at distracting myself. I was happy!

And then work started, I got pregnant again and had the baby - Jack . He turns two today!

I haven't stopped running.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Solitude, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Manic Post-Graduation

So, the kids are all grad-gi-ated and such - And I was elected to read their names! - which means that summer has officially begun. This also means that I am now coming down off my high, the kind where you shiver in a corner, rock back and forth, eyes glazed over, and beg for someone to please, please, for the love of god, please just knock you out.

Summer is a weird transition.

I know it's not the same for all teachers, but to go from working 12 hour days for ten months to having to "find something to do" is a kind of withdrawal, or is at least an excusable life change. My brain which is used to making 100 thousand decisions per second - "Class, here's what were doing today; no, you may not use the restroom, please don't interrupt; I just received a pass for so and so from the office, no you may not go now, or yes you can; If I could just recap..; last class you didn't understand __________. I'll talk about it after the announcements are over; no you can't see your grade right now, I'm trying to teach; Are you crying? Do you need to go to the hall?; As I was saying..; Another pass; So, Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter; Wake up, you in the back; Stop talking; No you still may not use the restroom; The play Macbeth is cursed; You're tardy? Nice of you to join us. Where's you pass? Go back to the office; It is a Scottish play which means that you have to pay extra close attention to inflection; Stop throwing things; Another stray announcement; AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!; Yes, I'm fine. Only 89 minutes of class to go. As I was saying..

And so we've been doing some work around the house to cope with the de-tox:

The house is extremely clean and organized.
The fence is mended.
New curtains are purchased and hung.
Flowers are planted.
The dishes are clean.
Pictures have been framed and hung.
New furniture - a bench with cubbies and a shelving unit - for the baby's room is put together.
Baby's toys are all organized on new furniture.
Old furniture has been moved to the garage.
Baby's winter clothes have been boxed and moved to the garage.
Three boxes of books are removed from guest room and sold.
Laundry is clean.
Lawn is mowed.
Wii is played.
Bills are paid.

This all happened in two days and there was still time to watch a little TV!

I'm trying to will my body and mind to be idle for just a few days so that I don't die of exhaustion. Americans are really good at that. At the same time, sitting makes me itchy.. I have to go and do!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Speechless

So, until people are one or two years old, they are quite literally speechless. Watching a baby learn language is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of parenthood. That is until something like this happens..

video

And then you're the speechless one.

Sorry Ahh Shit.. I mean.. Aunt Shugs!! We love both you and Uh Oh.. er.. Uncle Dutch!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Ginger Day

So, today was a Ginger day, meaning that I took Jack to daycare so that I could have some one-on-one time with myself. I spend a lot of time avoiding me as is evidenced by the fact that when I truly have time for meditation and reflection, I have no idea what to do with myself so I work. I spent the morning doing that. I began building my new class website, I updated my interactive summer assignment, sent messages to all the students participating in said assignment, answered the questions that were submitted in response to updating and messaging about the summer assignment, and then noticed that I was tense - that I hadn't done anything that wasn't work related and I was squandering away my free time.

That's when I decided to go see a movie - a good chick flick. There was a 12:55 showing of Sex and the City 2 at the Studio Movie Grill and I thought, "Lunch and a movie! Perfect!" So I went.

Before you poo poo the idea of A.) Seeing a movie by yourself or B.) Seeing this particular movie, you should note that actually it was a very enlightening, pleasant experience. I'm probably outing my hardcore, tattooed exterior by admitting that I am a Sex in the City fan (wink), but I also have to remind everyone that the series and the movies are about more than shopping and sex. Actually, this one in particular was more about the definition of marriage and, more importantly, what it means to be a woman and have a voice. There is no better place to highlight the conflict between being a woman (and all that comes with that, including motherhood or choosing not to be a mom) and having a voice in a male dominated society. It turns out that Abu Dhabi, the place where most of the film is set, is not so different than the US in that the female voice is suppressed. Also, though, it reminded us that no matter what society declares, women of all cultures and ages, are sisters. We hear each other.

It may sound odd to say that I felt empowered by Sex and the City, but I am. I cried actual tears when Miranda and Charlotte talked about being moms and the constraints of that full-time, thankless, wonderful job.

Charlotte: "How do the moms who have no help do it?"

Miranda: "I have no fucking idea."

Charlotte: "My first thought when I heard Samantha say Harry might cheat on me with Erin was, "Oh my god, I can't lose the nanny!"

Substitute "the nanny" for "daycare" and I hear you, sister. I lift my glass to that, and I did because I ordered a glass of wine with my lunch. What boldness! Screw you, patriarchy! I'm having wine with lunch AND I'm picking up the baby later.. by myself! I am woman!

After I left the theater it was raining outside - my favorite!

I came home to a quiet house on a rainy afternoon, and I'm loving my Ginger day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

World Cup: Ghana v. US

DSC01189a
Four years ago Rich and I went on one of the best - if not THE best - tours of our lives. Before there was a Baby Jack, there was travel. Lots of it. We had been in Italy for two weeks with our students and sent them home with a chaperon while we continued our sojourn through Austria and Germany. DSC01197a
The trip happened to coincide with the World Cup in Germany, and our best friends, Christine and Jamie, happened to be in Germany for the World Cup. We met up with them. I could go on about how amazing the time was - how much fun Rich and I had in Nuremberg at the viewing party (That's where you go when you don't have tickets to the game..), how we met new friends, drank too much beer, and cheered on our team. But that's not what this post is about. It's about this:

Four years ago we played Ghana in the World Cup. Four years ago, they beat us, knocking us out of the tournament. It was a sad loss, yet I was elated for the Ghanans. Today we play them again and there is a lot at stake for both of our teams. For one of us this will be our last game in the tournament, so it is sure to be played with lots of heart, the emotional factor being at its highest.
DSC01198a

Go USA!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The In(essential) Items that I've Collected

Dolls, rocks, plush character house shoes, stickers, coins.
Letters, poems, pictures, passport stamps.
Bumper stickers, concert t- shirts, "flair".
Pens, warm fuzzies, bad poetry.
Love notes.
Mismatched drinking glasses and coffee mugs, hand-me-down furniture.
Clothes that used to fit.
Cats.
Beer steins, mascara, stilettos, classics.
Confidence.
Tattoos.
Fridge Magnets.
Blogs.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (The Inessential Items We Collect, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Talk is Cheap

A year or so ago, I was inspired. I had just come home from the new release of In the Margins and had an incredibly cool art piece that had been showcased at the magazine's release party sitting on my hearth for the week end until I could cart it back to school.

The art was odd, the subject questionable. The medium was collage - a ginormous canvas modge podged with square magazine cut-outs, the abstract face of Woody Allen outlined over the collage in black paint. For some reason, I fell in love with it, probably because it was so freaking weird. Even though I have no real connection to Woody Allen, his movies, nor his choice in spouses/children, I had to admit that it was a perfect conversation piece. I mean, who in her right mind would have a blown up, stylized portrait of Woody Allen in her living room?

"Me! Me!! Please? Let it be meeeeeee!"

The following Monday I reluctantly returned the art to school (damned integrity) and inquired about purchasing the piece. I was told that it was already sold. My heart sank. I shuffled away crestfallen.

That's when I had the idea: Surely I could create my own masterpiece! Surely I could make up for my utterly devastating lack of artistic talent with modern technology - tools such as a school-issued, 1980's manufactured overhead projector and some duct tape! I went to the hobby store, bought a ginormous canvas, some Modge Podge and spray-on glue. I spent the next three hours cutting out interesting squares from Conde-Nast, The New Yorker, and House Beautiful. I began spray-gluing them to the canvas. I would, after having made the collage, go to school, project the face of whomever I chose (not Woody Allen, for that had been done already) and paint.

After about 5 hours of intense (ahem) artistry, I collapsed in the living room floor, distraught. My masterpiece was a ridiculous sham. It looked like an ill-behaved puppy had dug through the trash, the contents of which had landed on my canvass. There would be no conversational mantel piece for me- no unusual weirdness for my living room. That, accompanied by the re-realization that I was not talented at all artistically, stung something fierce.

I quit. Thus the canvass sat in the guest bedroom for over a year. Until yesterday.

Yes, friends. I dug it out. I removed all of the "collage" and vowed to begin anew. Damn-it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

paraNormal

I used to fervently pray that God wouldn't send me an angel. That's why She must have chuckled to herself on the day She actually sent one and I didn't mind so much. In fact, I was grateful. God has a sense of humor like that.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The study session had gone as well as can be expected. My history final was the next day and for the first time in all of my college history classes, I liked the professor and the class. The class was small - only 30 people or so - as opposed to the huge auditorium classes that seated 250 students, the ones where teaching assistants are assigned to and responsible for students numbers 28385 - 28523 and are supposed to take roll and grade exams while the fat professor stands at his podium and drolls on about American baseball, Roosevelt being the best president, and what a disaster it was when women got the right to vote.

My small class was fun. The professor lectured, yes, but he also welcomed discussion. I was hooked. Oh, and there was a cute boy in the class who sat by me and happened to be my study buddy. In fact the night before the exam, we had been studying together in my dorm room. I noticed my friend was not feeling well. Even though he smiled and flirted, trying his best to come across as "fine", it was clear that he needed to wrap up the study session and go home. We did. I went over my notes one last time, and fell asleep confident that the test would be, at the very least, manageable.
_______________________________________________________

I don't remember much of the next day. I remember sitting in the test room, the walls spinning. My friend was absent. I knew if he felt half of what I was feeling - nauseous, hot, delirious, like my head was a boulder balancing precariously on a flimsy twig - there was no way he should be there. Half-way through the exam I was struck with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. This was my last exam of the semester. I couldn't make my pen move. I had put my head down on the desk and couldn't seem to pick it up. I may have been crying. I remember closing my eyes and opening them, not knowing how much time had passed.

Somehow, I stood up and handed in my test, most of it blank paper, mostly unfinished. I remember standing in front of the professor,seeing only his glasses and eyes, hearing him mumble a question, something about me being ok. I don't recall if I answered. The next thing I remember was standing outside of the lecture hall. I couldn't remember where I lived. I didn't know in what direction I should walk. It was getting dark outside.

That's when I met an angel.
_________________________________________________________
There are so many interpretations of what angels are. Some believe that angels are glorious beings - warriors and messengers - light shining around them, the boldness of the Spirit coursing through them. They are immaculate, bearers of fanfare and majesty. Some believe that angels are beings that kneel prostrate to Man. They might have been first drafts of humankind, but were not given free will and are, therefore, more like servants. In any case, they can come in any form - cherubim, seraphim, burning bushes, lightning, dreams.

Mine came in the form of a young female voice.
__________________________________________________________
As I stood outside of the lecture hall helpless, a girl my age addressed me. She said, "Hey, I think we live in the same dorm. Coleman Hall, right?" I assume I nodded. She said, "I'll walk with you."

I remember feeling a little less distraught in that moment. I do not recall speaking to her, nor do I remember the path we took to get home. I don't remember her form, other than I recognized that it was similar to mine. I had obviously never met her, but I trusted her. She did not glow or carry armour. I'm not sure she was truly physically there.
___________________________________________________________
My fever was 105 - dangerous. There was talk of going to the hospital. For three days I was confined to my bed. A nasty virus was going around we learned later.

I ended up making a B in the history class; the professor obviously had mercy on me. I have no idea who the girl was that led me home. Whether truly a messenger of God or no, I can say with some certainty that she was heaven sent.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Paranormal, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

You asked for it..

Before:


After:

Gorgeous work, Lobsta. Seriously. I love it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Solitude.

Solitude is and has always been a bit elusive for me. When I think about the times of solitude in my life they come in the form of journal and pen, the practice of reflection and writing being my form of meditation since I was a little kid. Rarely, however, have I intentionally spent time in solitude.

A few years ago I began reading books by Thich Nhat Hanh, and I would retreat to my back porch with book, journal, and pen to meditate and reflect. These were lovely times, and I applauded my dedication. I felt really good, and these reflective times helped my to change my outlook on my mental state, my physical state, my relationships, and my connection to the world around me.

The second I got pregnant the first time the meditation waned. My attention was elsewhere - mommy books, mommy worries, expectations, redefinitions, finances, etc. There was no time for Ginger because Ginger no longer existed as she had before. My body was different, too. In hosting life to another being, I was transformed, and nothing was about me any more. Thich Nhat Hanh would've been disappointed that his student didn't heed his words of wisdom - that the practice of meditation doesn't have to be in silence or in stillness, it is not contingent upon immutability, and it doesn't have to be devoid of anxieties. Actually, he wouldn't be disappointed. He is patient..

After I miscarried, I stopped my meditations all together.

What I found was that solitude was dangerous, predatory, an invitation to self loathing, and I couldn't possibly subject myself to it. Self preservation.

A month after I lost the baby, I traveled to London by myself. The trip had been planned long before I was pregnant. The plan had been altered slightly because I was pregnant, and then it became a personal mile stone - a mountain to climb to prove that I could do it - a month before I left. The trip became my life's exodus. In London, I was forced into solitude. I had tons of reflection time - on the plane, on the train, on the Underground, at meal times, in the park, everywhere, all the time. Instead of taking time to heal, I distracted myself - happily - making new friends, roaming around the city, visiting new places, pubs, punting.. I wrote about these things. I blogged about them. I had an incredible time being someone else - no more personal stuff - no more Ginger.

I got back home and turned around and went to Alaska a few days later. Same story, different place. I came home and promptly flew to New York for work. I had an incredible time! I was being very successful at distracting myself. I was happy!

And then work started, I got pregnant again and had the baby - Jack . He turns two today!

I haven't stopped running.

This post was inspired by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a small and feisty(!) global community. We write weekly on a common topic (Solitude, this week) and post responses - all of us together, simultaneously, from all over the world. (Lovely!) Please visit Anu, Ashok, Conrad, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria and Ramana for other wonderful posts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Manic Post-Graduation

So, the kids are all grad-gi-ated and such - And I was elected to read their names! - which means that summer has officially begun. This also means that I am now coming down off my high, the kind where you shiver in a corner, rock back and forth, eyes glazed over, and beg for someone to please, please, for the love of god, please just knock you out.

Summer is a weird transition.

I know it's not the same for all teachers, but to go from working 12 hour days for ten months to having to "find something to do" is a kind of withdrawal, or is at least an excusable life change. My brain which is used to making 100 thousand decisions per second - "Class, here's what were doing today; no, you may not use the restroom, please don't interrupt; I just received a pass for so and so from the office, no you may not go now, or yes you can; If I could just recap..; last class you didn't understand __________. I'll talk about it after the announcements are over; no you can't see your grade right now, I'm trying to teach; Are you crying? Do you need to go to the hall?; As I was saying..; Another pass; So, Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter; Wake up, you in the back; Stop talking; No you still may not use the restroom; The play Macbeth is cursed; You're tardy? Nice of you to join us. Where's you pass? Go back to the office; It is a Scottish play which means that you have to pay extra close attention to inflection; Stop throwing things; Another stray announcement; AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!; Yes, I'm fine. Only 89 minutes of class to go. As I was saying..

And so we've been doing some work around the house to cope with the de-tox:

The house is extremely clean and organized.
The fence is mended.
New curtains are purchased and hung.
Flowers are planted.
The dishes are clean.
Pictures have been framed and hung.
New furniture - a bench with cubbies and a shelving unit - for the baby's room is put together.
Baby's toys are all organized on new furniture.
Old furniture has been moved to the garage.
Baby's winter clothes have been boxed and moved to the garage.
Three boxes of books are removed from guest room and sold.
Laundry is clean.
Lawn is mowed.
Wii is played.
Bills are paid.

This all happened in two days and there was still time to watch a little TV!

I'm trying to will my body and mind to be idle for just a few days so that I don't die of exhaustion. Americans are really good at that. At the same time, sitting makes me itchy.. I have to go and do!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Speechless

So, until people are one or two years old, they are quite literally speechless. Watching a baby learn language is, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of parenthood. That is until something like this happens..

video

And then you're the speechless one.

Sorry Ahh Shit.. I mean.. Aunt Shugs!! We love both you and Uh Oh.. er.. Uncle Dutch!