Thursday, November 30, 2006

buried treasure

I know I promised a map when I finally went in and back-posted...but, well, the reason I back-post is that I am sharing many emotions that are scary for me... so, I am not keeping that promise.

This is your hint that there are and will be some back posting ... dig and you will find

your treasure map comes with only this hint:
this lady of leisure has been on some bumpy rides since she joined the ranks of the happily unemployed living on a shoe-string

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stray and Meandering Thoughts/Feelings

Relief -- yesterday, I took the GRE. It took nearly all day to realize what it meant for it to be done: no more days full of studying math or finding ways to avoid studying math.

Stress -- it took me half the day to realize that I didn't need to plan anymore weeks or days of study. It took me half the day to realize that my scores were plenty good. That exceeding the goal you set for yourself was indeed not only good enough, rather it was better. Oh, and my stomach stopped complaining.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


dad's bday 159
There are many things in my life for which I have to be thankful. Today, though, my heart and mind are full of my Tia Jenny. I am thankful that she will not have one more painful minute. You see, she lost her battle with cancer last week.
dad's bday 155
I am thankful for a family that still believes in giving their parents the care, love and attention they were given. My cousins took turns over the past few years, staying with my Tia Jenny night and day. The pain and frustration of seeing their mother battle in agony is unimaginable, but they never wavered. It is a rare and special gift to even see that kind of dedication anymore. You can only imagine the love and care she gave her children by what is reflected back with this act.

I am forever grateful to my Tia Jenny for keeping track of all of our families. She was the family tree builder in many ways. Not only was she always trying to ferret out more information about her grandfather (my great-grandfather), she was forever bringing new generations and lost cousins into the fold. Her love of family and connections is incomparable in my mind to anyone else.
dad's bday 154
I have been filled with thoughts of her for several weeks after my mom described her last visit with her. It was too much for me to go and see her, again, in so much pain. I lack the strength her daughters have shown so faithfully. I said to myself, I will be there for her funeral, to see her in peace. But, unfortunately, I am not able to get down there on that day. It makes the mourning more difficult to be far away.

My Tia Jenny was a wonderful person who never deserved any of this horrible suffering. I am so pleased that she will not feel any more pain and I am so sad that she will no longer walk this earth with us. We are a poorer world without her and her love.

Rest in peace, Tia Jenny. I'll be home soon to visit you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

who says?

If you didn't catch the story on NPR yesterday morning on how history as it is written in history textbook has changed over time, take a moment to listen to it.

History, always presented as fact-based, like so many of the subjects students are taught in school are too often not viewed critically. It is important not only from the standpoint of the value of learning critical thinking skills. I have long believed that our children would do better to be taught skills and not "facts" or "content," but that's another post altogether.

Political views have long been part of the development of curricular tools such as textbooks. Thus, these tools must be viewed critically by both teachers and students in order to get the best out of them. But, even more importantly, the history of public education in this country is largely unknown.

We tout ourselves as the country that provides the most universal compulsory public education in the world. Well that may be true, we fail to mention that we took that step in an effort to "Americanize" immigrants who we feared would change our country too much if we didn't co-opt them. Not teach them, assimilate them. Hear that difference carefully. Public education was created to engender sheep-like mentality to droves of immigrants, at that time mostly Germanic and Nordic (not the ones we fear and hate so much now, we could really care less if they ever become "Americanized").

So, when we bemoan the fact that our children are so desperately uneducated/undereducated and can't achieve well on tests, as has been again in the news of late, let's remember that public education was never meant to educate. It puts the school boards in Pennsylvania and Kansas in a slightly different perspective. They are not as crazy as we may think. They realize and acknowledge that public school is for telling the people what you want them know and how you want them to know it. And, majority, not truth, rules.

If we want true educational reform, we need to realign our goals and think completely outside of the box in creating anew our tools, teaching methods and expectations. It will take bold changes that reflect a respect for investigation, critical thinking, exposition and meaningful exchange at a very early age and throughout the educational pipeline. That kind of educational reform won't be measured by tests where you mark the appropriate bubble. But the changes would be dramatic, and, incidentally, exactly what we need if we want to avoid the fall of the Roman Empire syndrome (another interesting story you might want to listen to from NPR this week).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Million Bucks

Not truly sure why these thoughts have been rolling around my head; maybe just because I have time to consider life at a slower pace.

I probably could name that which is most important to me; that is, what I care about, but lately, it comes to me more in the form of things that don't matter to me.

If I had a million bucks, I would still not buy clothing at full price, though I might buy a pair of full price comfy shoes.

I would definitely not invest in make up or cosmetic surgery. And though I have been known to say that I don't color my hair because it's too much trouble and money to maintain, I don't believe I would color my hair even if I had two million bucks.

These are things that are just of no interest to me.

That is not to say that there aren't things that I wouldn't mind having...that I wouldn't mind having disposable income for going out to dinner or as many movies as I could squeeze into my schedule, etc. I just can't see myself buying a purse that cost in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

There are just too many more things that are of interest to me and most of them don't have anything to do with vanity.

It has got me thinking, though I am not to the point of truly drawing conclusions.

Vanity. It strikes me as a terribly negative thing. And that is not to imply that I don't care what how I look or that I don't spend time brushing my hair or buying fancy potions. But the time and intensity that so many people, some of them people who I care for and admire, scares me.

Is that it is all about? I want to ask them, but I don't want to offend.

I can only imagine what they think about me.

It is probably true that I don't care much about appearance, mine that is, because I don't think it is my defining feature. That's a fancy way to say that I don't think I am gorgeous. I may be pretty, in my own way, but beauty has never defined me. So, I have little to lose, in my own mind, if I go out with no makeup or don't color my hair.

But, my lack of interest in vanity doesn't necessarily make me deep or transcendent. It might just make me ugly or shabby or rasquache, as my mother is wont to say.

What would I buy with a million bucks?? I haven't thought about it in a long time because the dream of winning the lottery has long passed for me.

I still dream of big, beautifully shabby, old houses. Victorian, preferably. Lately, to the dream, I have added a pomegranate tree. I would like some built in bookshelves and a porch swing (technically, I already have one if it is still in my friend's basement).

I am sure there are many other things I would want to buy with my million bucks, but those are the things that come to mind at the moment.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What's Next?

Recently, a friend asked if I what I had learned during my "sabbatical" so far. At the moment, I thought, NOTHING! Seeing as how three months into this time off, I feel no more closer to knowing what I want to do with my life than I did before I quit my job, and I still don't really know how to enjoy free time effectively. I mean, I am good at finding things to do. I am still a planner, despite my best efforts to be carefree. But, I am not really good at doing nothing. Though, I am getting better.

I determinedly searched my mind for something to say. I figured I had to have something to say for these months. I admitted to knowing some of what I didn't want to do. I could point to the fact that I enjoy the simple life I am living and would happily continue with this spartan existence if I knew it meant I could dabble in many things and have free time. I struggle to imagine where I want to be in one year much less five years. This made me feel wholly unaccomplished in my efforts to figure out life. But, then, I remembered that the one thing I definitely took away from my retreat was the fact that I don't need to make any decisions about the "rest of my life." I can make decisions for today and tomorrow and next week and one year and only if I want to, for more than that.

Life is not meant to be figured out. It is meant to be lived.

So, it turns out, I have learned a fair amount.

Having time to work things out, jumble them back together and then untangle them again is useful.

I used to make great snap decisions... they appeared so sound, so cogent, no one ever argued with me. [Maybe they don't care enough to argue.] But those decisions were not always the best decisions.

Life is more complicated and simpler than all that.

I have been privy to a lot of very interesting debates going on in my head. They have not come to any decisions; neither have I.

For now, continue to explore my options, though somewhat more concretely, by applying for jobs...all jobs that I have never done before. I can hold on to the sure things for another little while...

Friday, November 10, 2006

things you can't fix with glue




no kind of glue can bring back together things that are shattered into tiny pieces...

it's ok

build new

trying to make old, broken, tattered, shattered or bruised into shiny and new doesn't work

you have to build new

not re-build

it's dangerous to recycle materials
keep the memories
throw out the degraded pieces

build new

Monday, November 06, 2006

the battle rages

It's only a matter of time before I will be an expert at complicated East African languages and, yet, still not be able to do 8th grade math as presented by ETS.
I invited a group of four folks to join me on the couch at Starbucks tonight...they didn't want to disturb me. But I assured them it was NO problem. I wasn't sure how to break it to them that if they gabbed on in a language I didn't know it was just like listening to classical music to me. As long as I can stand to feel safe, I just hear it as the calming melody that keeps me trudging through the problems.As soon as the fear that is mathophobia (I'm sure there is a technical term but my obsession has not deepened to the point that I need to know it now) grips me, I turn my attention more to the conversation that I can't understand than to the numbers, letters and gibberish trying to pass itself of as English in my book. I imagine that I am catching phrases here and there, building an internal vocabulary list. I believe that I can make out parts of words and begin to build complicated language maps in my is this related to French, Spanish or Italian, maybe ancient Greek? I start to convince myself that I really need to listen to the conversation more carefully and stare less intensely at the garbled mess on my paper.
When the young man asked me what I was studying this evening, he couldn't help himself...the craziness in my book was as appealing to him as his unknown language was to me, I showed him the book and asked him what language they were speaking. After two tries, I still can only say that it is some East African language with hints of Hebrew (his explanation not my crazy musings I assure you). I had to admit I was pretty sure I would be learning to speak his language soon as the math thing really wasn't going well. He allowed as the book reminded him of painful college days.Our conversation made his pregnant wife I returned to my terrible book of torture called GRE review.

But it really is only a matter of time...thankfully, the course ends November 16th and I must take the damn test very soon afterwards.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unconventional M&M's

Not feeling terribly well, physically, I turned off the alarm clock and slept until I couldn't anymore. I highly recommend this strategy if you don't feel well and can swing it.

I turned on the tv and was confronted with Martha Stewart making margaritas with Mo'Nique. I was startled and intrigued, so I kept watching. My favorite part was when Mo'Nique told Martha that the crucial step in making Strawberry Margaritas was to take a shot of Jose Cuervo (Mo'Nique's tequila of choice) ala tasting your soup for salt. Martha picked up the bottle and took a swig. Martha and Mo'Nique. Priceless.

Other unusual M&M's

My favorite, of course, was the story about the man on death row making art with pigment he leaches from M&Ms.

Another bunch of unconventional M&M's are the dark chocolate candies. I haven't worked up the courage to order personalized M&M's, but I have been trying to imagine who is the person I know that most needs personalized M&M's. As soon as I figure it out, I am definitely going to order them!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge

I'm trying not to lose my head...

Imagine that song running through your head endlessly.

I don't own an I-POD or any other mp3 playing device, my cd player stays in the car and rarely is in use, so I can't blame my own playlist.

I listen to the radio, usually NPR, and otherwise, I flip the stations til I find something amenable, but only in the car.

I know it came from somewhere inside me and how I am feeling because I haven't actually heard the song on the radio, just in my head.

I like to try to trace back emotionally when I have a recurrent song or thought; it's like getting inside the supposed randomized playlist where you can SEE how the next song is chosen. It's a game to see if I can figure out where and how the song popped into my mind.

All I know for sure was that as I walked to my study hall, aka Starbucks, I kept hearing a menacing voice singing:
Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head

Here's a sample (thanks, wikipedia; it will only work if you have JAVA enabled)...of course, I was only hearing the chorus.

Apparently, I am not the only one whose mind has lingered over these lyrics. And, some are both musing over the meaning of the lyrics as well as exhorting others to muse as well:

What does Grandmaster Flash mean by
Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
What is he possibly referring to?

There is plenty more out there...folks analyzing the lyrics, the statement on poverty in the US, black folks lives and expressions of frustration in general.

For me, at least, the chorus is more about determination and resilience than it is about frustration. Yes, times may be hard, and it may feel like people and systems are working against you; maybe you can't catch a break or maybe you born under the sign of murphy's law, but no matter what hardships, troubles, complications or annoyances...
YOU are the master of your own destiny.

That's what I heard. That's how I am using these words:

Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head