Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Can Hear

Silence is safety
If you don't say anything, no one can get you on anything.
They can think all they want, but they got nothing.
You can hide.  You can be as invisible as you need to be.

I have been silent in this warm world of bloggers.
It is nothing about any of my strong and supportive blogger friends.
It is me, digging deep and coming up short.
It is me, lost and preferring to stay lost.
When you are lost, you are in survival mode
and I am lost.
I am in survival mode.

It's not about work, although work can suffocate me.
I don't know what it is about but I am hoping summer will reveal secrets.
I crave safety right now.
Not the physical safety.  That has never been my issue.
I crave what? emotional safety?
What the hell is that?
And how do you find it?

Sounds so trite.
Sounds so weak.
Nope.  Not me.

I just want you all to know that I am still here.  I am practicing silence and listening to the fish
so that I can hear.
I want to hear what it means to be the salt of the earth.
I want to hear what is ordinary.
I want to hear about predictability and safeness and
what does it sound like to take risks.
Does courage have a voice?
If yes, I want to hear that voice.

I want to hear what it feels like to be alive.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Do The Fish See?

Pools deep and dark
smooth steel with an edge
of broken glass

Sand drifting
covering voices and bodies
soft shadow hides

Stillness and silence
close to the ground
with eyes on the sky

Do the fish see?
Shimmering screams
What do they want?

Monday, May 7, 2012


Big blue sky, warm breeze,
and May
flutter my job.
I can do this.

Long day's end
discouragement takes up
I am buried.

I can't do this.
I can't be this.
I don't care.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

     I have enjoyed several of author Anna Quindlen's novels.  She wrote  One True Thing which is  one of my all time favorite books.  She also wrote another very compelling novel entitled Black and Blue.  She was a columnist for the NY Times and has written several collections of essays, all of which I have read.  I was delighted to discover that she was coming out with a memoir and was on the pre-order list for Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.

      My copy arrived last Wednesday and I dove right into it.  In some ways it resonated with me.  This is a woman about my age with whom I share a cultural history.  We came of age when the second feminist movement was being born and we have lived with the confusions of that time.  As she so nicely put it, "We were the heiresses to a woman's movement that had broken the world wide open.  But we were completely making it up as we went along, at work, at home, in our own minds, trying to be both our mothers and our fathers simultaneously.  That wasn't easy."  From where I sit now in life, I know that struggle.  I am happy, however,  to have had the benefit of a changing culture and it all seems so normal now.

     The book is really a collection of essays, each of which could stand on its own, about what it means to be in the second half of life.  Quindlen tackles many of the expected issues:  marriage, girlfriends, acquisition of stuff, bodies, parenting, changing perspectives, and more.  Although I admire her writing style, I found the book somewhat disappointing.  For one thing, it seemed repetitious.  It dragged at places and it seemed as if she was putting words on the page just to add to the page number.  The second criticism is my own bias but Quindlen is a woman of privilege.  She was raised in a wealthy family and she is a woman of personal wealth now.  I have a tough time relating to her life of relative ease.  Additionally, Quindlen is a reporter and her book reads like a newspaper article.  It lacks humanity and warmth and that actually surprised me.  So, I got this just released book on Wednesday, finished it by today, and sold it back on Amazon already.  Off in the mail it goes tomorrow.  It will be leaving me with a few things about which to think and write but without much misgiving.

One word review:  Meh

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Clothing as Art

      In a recent post I wrote the worn out rag on why why why the big deal about appearance for women - why is there such a focus on what a woman looks like on the outside, on how she shapes up (as it were), particularly in comparison to others?  The finger keeps getting pointed at the media and the desire to sell products.  Fair enough

    The comments made on that post were thought provoking for me.  It occurred to me that I actually like clothing.  I see getting dressed most mornings as an artistic endeavor.  My sweet daughter has been instrumental in helping me develop an eye for clothing and now I like putting stuff together.  I will never wear anything in which I do not feel comfortable.  I won't wear shoes that hurt, or underwear that won't allow me to breathe, or a top that is more revealing than I care to be.  I do, however, like to dress in a way that suggests that I can have fun, that I still like to flirt and play, that I care about how I look.  I don't have a lot of time or money so I make do with what I do have.  My Sissy Girl goes through my closet with me periodically and helps me see different combinations.  She will go shopping with me once every four or five months.  She is especially good at helping me find shoes that I like, that are eye-catching,  and that fit well.  She is amazing.

      And this is all good.  I do get my hair cut about every six weeks and play with the color about every three months.  I have very little gray (thank you, Papa) but my natural color is now kind of a mousey brown so I enjoy sparking it up with some darker shades and some dark red - or something.  Whatever the stylist wants to go do.  It;s fun to experiment and it's just hair - it grows and fast.  I like my skin.  It surely shows my age and I am okay with that.  I still like to apply some foundation, little powder, a brushing of mascara, and a little lip color.  Voila! Less than five minutes and I don't look at it for the rest of the day.

      It's funny.  I work at a middle school.  I am always surprised at how much the kids are watching the adults.  Just about every day, a student (girl or boy) will comment on something that I am wearing - anything from shoes (my recently acquired Carpe Diem Toms are quite popular as are my leopard flats), my earrings (the more sparkly the better), my shift in hair color (I have many of them convinced that the salon will not do blue streaks if you over 30..... my way of avoiding that one), my skirts , or just about anything I wear.  I do notice what they wear and comment often to kids (just another way to let them know I see them).  I guess what I am saying is that clothing can be fun.  Clothing is personal expression. It is art in the world.  It can connect people and it can define people.  My boots and a cool jackiet can take a gray day and turn it into something more fun.  It's the little things, you know?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Time, Money, and Energy. For What?

      Melanie  over at Is This The Middle  wrote a reflective post the other day in which she considered her  "Ashley Judd Moment".  She included a request that people make an effort not to reconsider how they talk about women.  Her point was that "pervasive negativity about women and their looks has got to stop".  I thought that the blog piece was insightful and honest.  The comments were too, especially this one  from by blogger friend  Word Nerd:

       "As a young mom, I was overly-critical of my "I've had babies" belly. Pretty much all of the women I knew at that time saw themselves in much that same way. Focused on the flaws...... We need to cut other women a break. We need to cut ourselves a break. And we need to stop believing somewhere deep inside that how we look matters in any real way."

    This observation is not news to any thinking woman out there but it stopped me dead in my tracks.  What is it about the whole appearance thing that makes so many women put so much time, money, and energy into how they look?  I care enough about myself to always want to appear (in public anyway) in presentable clothing with my hair at least brushed.  I am not necessarily dressed in up to date and put together in fashionable style but you won't find me at the store in my flannel pj pants and a too large tee shirt.  

      The issue, for me, is why is appearance so important?  What are we going for here?  Woman spend millions of dollars on "makeup solutions" and designer clothes.  They spend hours at beauty salons and nail centers.  They spend countless amounts of personal energy worrying about weight gain and wrinkles.  Imagine what positive changes could be wrought world wide if that money, time, and personal energy were put in the service some cause that is important to that woman: animal cruelty, environmental issues, social justice issues, whatever.

       I look back on photos of me in my late teens and wow! What a gorgeous smile and beautiful young woman.  But, I can assure you, I NEVER saw that young woman then.  I only saw a flawed female - and I am embarrassed now to say that.  And, the even sadder truth is that, until just a few years ago, I always found myself physically flawed - too this, not enough that.   Why is it different now?  I don't know.  I just dont' think about it much anymore.  I still want to look presentable but, for the most part, I spend my time, money, and energy on more valuable pursuits. Maybe it's because I am growing into the truly invisible years - the years when it is almost impossible to be seen. 

        This post is wandering all over the place.  Too many themes going on here but it is all jumbled in my head.

So think about answering any of these questions:

Why do women focus on appearance?  Do you?
I love what Word Nerd says about how is it that we believe that how we look matters in any real way?  What do you think?
The thing that attracts me the most in other people is the sparkle in their eyes and their smile.  How about you?  What do you notice in other people?

       I would love to hear your thoughts.