Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Inner Teenager

Alaska, 2007
I thought, a while back, that I was ready to give up the inner teenager.

I thought: she's done her part.  It's time to be an adult, to face the world as the grown ass woman I am.

I thought my inner teenager had gone away.

But she knows just when I need her ... to be tough and angry when I am really broken and hurt.  She comes out with a vengeance, taking no prisoners.

I am safe behind her.  No one will ever know we are crying in the corner, laid low by all the hurtful things that people do and say; shattered by the blows from the universe.

She is right to think that this is unfair - even though we all know that *fair* has nothing to do with it.

It is too much.

Sometimes the only way to get out of bed each morning is to come out swinging.  Strike first, ask questions later, much later.

If only she knew how to make sleep come.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NRU, more mish mash

A few pieces from the sat open on my desktop until I finally got around to finishing reading them.

This is one ... about fear and writing.  I started it thinking about the fear I have to write ...not literally about FEAR.  So, it wasn't what I was expecting, but interesting nonetheless.

If nothing else, the tragedy in Connecticut put violence back on the radar for newspapers beyond the mere reporting that this person was shot or that person was killed.  This is a piece on how Chicago has been working on the issue.

I have endured an awful lot of articles on the *uselessness* of college education.  I read them because it is important part of the discourse on education, in general, and because it illuminates what folks think about how we should educate *those people* -- you know, the ones like me. The purported attacks on university-level education always leave out the notion of personal responsibility (when reporting on loans) and fail to disentangle for-profit from non-profit universities.  If you read them without care, you might be inclined to believe that college is only for training for particular occupations, or that only super brainy, over-thinkers need it.  Frankly, many in the media seem to be pushing the notion that college is just unnecessary for so many lines of work.  So, I read with unique interest a story about a university that has consistently produced Tony winners.  I had, indeed, noted from their IMDB biographies how many actors were graduates of Carnegie Mellon, but I hadn't thought about it in terms of college.  Frequently, one does read the story about the actor who left college to pursue acting, making it seems like college was somehow holding him/her back.  This article, probably unwittingly, demonstrates the power and usefulness of good training ... good, college training.  Makes you want to be more critical of those many other articles decrying the state of the college education, doesn't it?  Perhaps there is value in a liberal arts education. Perhaps there is reason to build up a professoriate in even programs such as those preparing for a life of the stage.

Everyone needs a walk around the new neighborhood ... hope he was able to take in some of the sights before he got carted off to the *hospital*!

I agree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The Supreme Court should have never agreed to hear this case let alone tell the lower courts to take another look.  This young woman is saying that people of color don't need special treatment, but she, as a legacy, is entitled to not only special treatment, but a cut in line.  Someone needs to tell this young woman that even if there were no people of color or from lower socioeconomic status, she would not have gotten in because she could not compete with the other white girls without considering her being a legacy -- at least that is what she intimated with the court case in the first place. To say that I am sick of entitled white girls is a tremendous understatement. 

I don't really have words that I can live with right now, but I understand the need to reach out in this way as a result of grief.  I struggle with when and how to share here and in other spaces.  But, I cherish the ability to visit my sister and brother's obituary pages because it is as close as I can get.  It is comforting in a way that I cannot explain.  Therefore, I am not surprised that it is not unique to me ... we do all grieve in our own ways, but finding ways to not be alone is apparently something we all want.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Therapy, part 165

My therapist asked me, "Do you cry every day?"

My instinct answered, "No."

I don't even know what that means.

Do I cry every day? 

No ... because I don't count the tears I catch with my eyelashes.

I don't count the one tear that makes it out and meanders down my cheek.

I don't count the wetness on my chin that I try to avoid while furiously blinking.

Crying... when I remember crying, I am falling to the floor, clutching at the ground, clawing my way to safety, somewhere beneath the floorboards.

Why does the ground feel like the right place to cry?

Crying... my head on my dead brother's chest, tears wetting the cloth covering his body; me, begging him to wake up.

Crying... my hand gripping my sister's hand, grasping it so hard it feels like she is squeezing it back.  My head on her arm, the tears coursing down my cheeks, into the thin sheet covering her body.  I begged her to come back.  I told her I wasn't ready to be the oldest.

Why didn't anyone hear our prayers?

No, I don't cry every day.

I breathe in and out.

I put one foot in front of the other.

I live. 

Sometimes my eyes leak, but I go on living.
Alaska, 2007, Whale in the water...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Movie Summer

Although I am also working and preparing for exams and revising my proposal, I am pledged to make this the summer of the movies.

In short, I want to see movies -- in the theater -- this summer.  During the school year, I want to see movies, but if I get to one every three months, then it is a miracle.  Summer offers the further advantage that I *need* air conditioning -- and movie theaters provide cool spaces.

Now, if only the movies that I would like to see were showing ...

So far, I have seen these movies in the theater:

Star Trek -- great ... just what the die hard Trekkie wants to see... movie critics may feel otherwise, but that is their problem.

After Earth -- it was available during the time I had to see a movie with a friend ... so there you have it. I knew nothing about the movie til I got there -- and saw a million and one apocalypse movie trailers.  I have two words for the film makers obsessed with end of the world themes: get involved.  I mean, seriously, if you are that worried, perhaps spending millions on movies is not the best way to build consciousness about the issue.  This particular movie was interesting because of the Scientology overtones ... makes me want to rent The Master from redbox ... but it doesn't come with air conditioning. [**um... in between drafting this and publishing it, I rented *for free* The Master -- and it was terrible and unenlightening; the only bright spot ... it was free.]

Identity Thief -- caught it at the cheap theater just before it was to be released at redbox, so I am justifying the extra expense on the air conditioning. It was darker than I expected. I still enjoyed it, but I might have *loved* it if I hadn't gone to the theater expecting a *light* and funny experience.

Speaking of Melissa McCarthy, I am hoping to catch the next one with Sandra Bullock -- and hoping it will be more funny and less dark.

Olympus Has Fallen -- had so very many possibilities, and then it started to just blow up things and move the plot in order to fire on more things ... what a waste of talent.

The Stories We Tell -- though this film will also require me to feel like I have some emotional strength reserves ... meaning it might not be this summer.  I guess the universe was listening because the movie only lasted in the theater here for one week.  But I caught it up in Santa Fe. AMAZING... is all I can say, run out and see it. I have felt this strongly about a recommendation since Sugarman.

Upcoming at our local, independent cinema:
Something in the Air
Berberian Sound Studio

I am serious about this summer of movies thing.

Here are some others that I am considering seeing; time, price and air conditioning dependent:

All You Need Is Love because every summer deserves a love story.

Frances Ha -- the reviews have intrigued me ... but I am not sure if this movie will be the *summer light* that I sometimes need ... however the a/c might be enough to entice me in.

Someday I will get around to telling you all about the movies on Netflix and from Redbox...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Poetry Thursday

Wisteria, Sonoma County, 2009

People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,
but when the darkness sets in,
their true beauty is revealed
only if there is a light from within.
 – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Nine months

Nine months and the pain is fresh as though it were yesterday.

And now every nineteen will give way to the twentieth and the awful days in the hospital watching my sister trapped in limbo.

The sense of helplessness and grief is overwhelming ... but to give into the tears feels like it means falling into a well of despair with no ladder to climb to get out.

So, the tears sit perched in my eyes, clouding my vision, clinging to my eyelashes, and my heart breaks into tiny pieces, over and over again.

When is this supposed to get better?

Monday, June 17, 2013

NRU, mishy mashy gooey

Let me say, first, I am confused by the LA Times online rules -- sometimes you can answer a question and still read the article, and sometimes you are just out of luck.  So, I guess, hope for the best with those links.  It means that I have been reading more selectively on the -- a sad development since I really do appreciate the writing.

For those considering marriage (or remarriage) on the writing/feeling of vows.  Truly lovely.

This story seems a little like a fairy tale.  If it could work out, it would be truly amazing.  But the dark creatures waiting in the wings to dismantle this proposal seem formidable.  And there doesn't seem to be a hero/ine that can come in to save the plan.

I don't like musicals (ok, I like select musicals), but I am intrigued by this non-musical musical.  And, I would like to know why John Mellencamp has a black eye in the photo.

I got these ladies' back.  No one should have to wear shoes that hurt one's feet.

This story hits a little too close to home...but I am still glad for the message.

It is too bad that people don't understand how to inject some fruitful (and necessary) debate about the currently proposed immigration reform.  This is the *excuse* for not dealing with it in the new Cesar Chavez movie, according to the Los Angeles Times.  In fact, this movie would have been just the right place to talk about the complex views Mexican-Americans have about immigration -- including the need to put some of the contradictory views to the side in order to get something passed.  It would have been the absolute best place to discuss guest workers and the perils of going with a compromise position for these very vulnerable workers.  Sorry that the film makers missed this opportunity to provide a space for debate and dialogue.  It is not a surprise, however, because the Sunday talk shows still haven't *found* any Latinos to talk about immigration on tv... apparently we are more invisible and incomprehensible than even we thought.

For Father's Day... on redemption, on choosing fatherhood, and life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


 This is what June looks like where I come from...
 Where I come from, you plan your big cookout before Memorial Day, just in case June gloom comes early.
 You dig out your summer sweaters and light weight jackets to layer.
 You look forward to and fully appreciate the sun when it comes out around 2pm.
 You take your sweatshirt with you to the beach.  And, you still have a great time.
 And you layer back up when the sun dips back behind the clouds around 4pm.
You still put on sunscreen, but you are not burning up ... in what feels like hell... like you do here in Albuquerque.

I want to say it is only the beginning of June ... summer does not officially start until June 21st... and it has been nearly 100 too many days already.

I wish I were home ... for more reasons than my beloved summer fog.  I hope they are enjoying it and that global warming hasn't ruined it.

Monday, June 10, 2013


The seeds I planted when I repotted the garden are starting to sprout. 

Young beets and sprouts. 

The cilantro plant is really looking like cilantro now. 
Tiny cilantro sprout!
Chard and red dandelion sprouts. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Trying to heed this advice.

Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are.

- Kristin Armstrong

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Greg's Growing Garden... day 1

When my brother died last September, my sister thought we should encourage those who came to the funeral to plant a garden in Greg's honor.

We made "flags," collected seeds, put the seeds into brightly colored straws, figured out how to keep the seeds from coming out ... and handed them out at the celebration of Greg's life following the burial.

I have been looking at my seeds for a long while, but I hadn't planted them.

I have about the blackest thumb in my family ... so I worried about what might come from my planting them.

I finally got the courage to plant them while my parents were here.  I thought it would be good to have them nearby during the planting as they both can make plants grow just by looking at them.

We were all pleased to see the little shoots poking up from the soil after only a few days.  The red dandelion took off first, with the red beets coming in a quick second.  I worried about the cilantro and hoped for the best for the rest.
Beets, Red Dandelion and Green Chard (in the back)

I left them in the care of a friend while I was away and came back to find them flourishing.
Cilantro, Curly Parsley, Flat Parsley

But, it has been almost a week since I returned, and it was pretty clear that they were about to fall out of their little starter containers.  I was also having a hard time keeping them watered and out of the direct sunlight.

After a little research into gardening supply choices, I decided that I was most likely to find what I needed (and could afford) at BigLots!.

I can't really plant the little guys in the soil outside my apartment.  There isn't really room and the soil is terrible and I am afraid the gardeners would just cover them with bark.  I didn't want to put them in planters that would be too stationary because I am worried the little plants won't be able to withstand the heat.

I found a standing hanger with room for three planters.   I chose one large and two small.

I am not sure it was the right choice, but I put the beets in the large planter, on the theory that they need more depth to grow.
Beets in their hanging planter.

I put the chard and the red dandelion in one of the small planters.  Since both of these are greens, I thought they might like to be together.  I planted more seeds on the sides ... probably too many, but we will just hope for the best.
Chard, left & Red Dandelion, right

In the other small planter, I put all the herbs: two kinds of parsley and cilantro.  If they get too crowded, I guess I can go an buy another one of these hanging planter holders and separate them.
Cilantro looking wilty and the two parsleys

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Greg's Growing Garden

This is what they looked like after all the rearranging and watering.

Fingers crossed they will continue to thrive and enjoy their new surroundings.

Can't wait to harvest, Greg would be so proud.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Grief I Can Touch

The sadness, desolation, emptiness seeps from my eyes, ears, mouth, but with no sound, no tears, just an invisible fog.

What I can touch:  my nephews' and nieces' being orphans; my brother and sister-in-law's loneliness; my mother's desperate grief; my father's silent pain; my younger brother and sister's sense of loss and disorientation.

All of that grief seems real, palpable.

Mine, on the contrary, seems exaggerated, false in some sense...empty.

I lack the belief that I have the right to grieve.

The silent tears gather in my eyes for all the pain that I sense others are suffering, and my pain waits for the *appropriate* time, place, etc.

Monday, June 03, 2013

NRU - mish mash

Not sure what to make of the way this study was presented.  I don't take issue with the different ideas presented, it's a mish mash in itself. Rather, I am concerned that there doesn't seem to be any critical thought given ... when "news" is presented in blog form, it should have a stance, in my opinion. And if  you are going to take a stance on a study, it should require you to do more than just report blythly, in my opinion. But I am a pill.  So, take it for what it's worth. If it were my blogpost (oh, it is!) then I would have pointed out that what is really being studied is not viewpoint but expression.  And it is not too difficult for anyone who has traveled around this country to know that some portions of the country are more known for direct expression that is often read as intolerant.  I also might have wondered about the type of expression ... and hoped that those who conducted the *study* would also have considered this.  Rant complete.

Griner effect -- I have tried to figure out what I want to say about this article for days ... and I can't.  Just read it if you are interested in the way an "out" college player might be able to change climate/culture on conservative campuses.  I am not sure the journalists there have exactly figured it out.

I am seldom interested in seeing theater productions, but every once in a while, I get the bug.  After reading this piece, I thought, "I would like to see this play."

Some women don't get celebrated enough in life, and then we don't learn about them until they are gone.  Here is one ... I had heard of her, and I shared her skepticism of the "pinkwashing" of America.  May the memory of her and her work keep us honestly moving forward to find better ways to cure cancer.

This article would have been much more effective if it included the text of the speech.  I am open to believing the author of the article; I am more interested than ever in this President Johnson.  But I am left with not much more than a cryptic, nostalgic reflection about a Memorial Day speech that might have foreshadowed something... too bad.

In honor of my trip to Nashville, here is an article about a country songwriter with an uncommon personal story ... and a very successful songwriter at that.

I am not sure that I want to read her books, but I was enthralled by the story of her life, the way the author of the article painted their visit, and the light this article, in particular, brings to the notion of acceptance and how one can remake a relationship with a complicated family member.  The author of the article's books might be a better choice for me right at this minute -- maybe ten years from now, with my grief far enough in the past (if that is possible), I could read Ms. Wall's memoir.  I am appreciative, however, of her courage to share her story, perhaps it is her therapy; I admire the relationship she has built with her husband, which seems to be founded in truth-telling.

Fascinating article about Catholic women being ordained as priests.  Yes, you read that right... I had heard about this from a woman at a conference, but this article sets out the issue and its practices pretty thoroughly.

Glad to hear that the demise of independent booksellers was greatly exaggerated.

RIP Jean Stapleton.

I wish there was video to go with this story, and I rarely ever want video attached to a story. I am sorry that Jon Stewart seems to be on vacation or on his leave already because he must be loving this ... oh, FOX NEWS, I knew someday your wicked ways were going to bite you in the ass... I just never guessed it would be your own female anchors and correspondents that would take the first bite.  Hope this new found sense of pride will last with these ladies, though I am doubtful.