I’ll Miss Her and She’ll Dreadfully Miss the Cat

Apparently Saunders had described a moment on one of his journeys when he stopped fighting the wind and the cold; when he gave in to the reality of it and felt (not warm, but) a sudden rush of joy.

While I have not crossed the Antarctic – or even braved a bit of it the way you have – I have stood on the top of a mountain above 14,000 feet in biting wind, and experienced that kind of acceptance. And the joy. People say, “suck it up, and get on with it”. But that’s not it. “Bit i det” they say in Norwegian, but that’s not it either. Both of those images involve a kind of bracing, not a relaxing.

A Physical & Metaphysical Sense of Self

When I look down at my hands now I see my grandmother’s hands when I held them during church services. It’s a strange kind of self-comfort, having her incorporated in my life in such an intimate and physical way.

Although a friend was visiting a few months ago; she saw a photo from the wedding and said, “Oh, your hands don’t look that old in reality.” To be honest, what I was uncomfortable with was how thin my hair looked in the photo – but now I have yet another thing to be self-conscious about.

On the Question of What to Say

What I truly miss is letter writing. And I miss the long email exchanges of the mid-90s, when my children were small and napping nearby – I could dig deep, take my time to think things through, but still be in conversation with a real person. Both my boys have left home. They are napping in foreign countries these days. So I’m asking myself, why is it I feel rushed now?

The Push & Pull of a Place of Safety

Being busy, being occupied with the ordering of things gives me an illusion of control. Once that flurry of activity is over, the illusion is broken. I feel vulnerable.

I think that is why, content as a I am in so many ways, I have flashes of envy when you share your experiences of arranging your new life. I want to move house again. Which is absurd. Instead: yesterday I decided on a new bookshelf for the living room. So you see, I need a healthy adventure soon.

Getting Personal. Or Not.

…and there are my students. I’m not concerned about their privacy, but I wonder how much can they know about my personal life and still respect me in the classroom on a daily basis? Forty years ago students would have to put a lot of effort into dragging their butts to the library to dig up dirt on a teacher. Now they can guzzle Red Bull with one hand, google with the other, and link my name to an article on vaginal prolapse. Yay.

Cats & Dogs & the Wisdom to Know the Difference

I think it takes courage to swim against the tide as we begin to do about now. When our own mortality comes slowly seeping into our consciousness as a fact of life, as our bones move with less ease and our skin relaxes, and we can admit to ourselves that we really aren’t the person we tried to be.

The Power of the Object

In regard to casual sexism, “Imagine how you’d feel” is never going to be a persuasive point in this discussion. But I don’t think it’s because of a lack of empathy. It’s because of a lack of perspective.

On both sides.

I believe it’s extraordinarily rare to find a person who doesn’t long to be the object of someone’s desire. (On one’s own terms, of course.)

I’m gonna pass on the Ageism Kool-Aid

I can honestly say I have much less fear and anxiety when it comes to what other people think. (Notice, I did not say “no fear and anxiety”: we all fear the trolls, I think.)

Yes, I’m the only mature adult on the slope with her arms out “like an airplane landing” – but that is not “childish” or “child-like” – it is fearless, make no mistake.

“I’m too old,” is what people say when they haven’t found the courage to say, “I don’t want to.”

I know what I want.

On Becoming Invisible

I am not on my way out of the world. I think I see much more of it now than before. I am also far less concerned with how much of the world sees “me”. I am not any more invisible than I was at 20. In fact, I am probably increasingly visible as an individual, rather than a knock-off of a stereotype for someone’s consumption.

Of Lobsters and Unintential Lies

I find myself nearly every week telling at least one hurting teenager that it does get better. That these are definitely not “the best years of your life” for everyone. I hated high school. Even college was a struggle. But I love my life now. Every year, things got better.

Except that, well, maybe they didn’t.

The Greatest Risk

If a mean, little god were to take me, as I am now, to any time period in my life and drop me there, I would experience shame in regard to my actions. It seems simple to me: if I were the product of those actions, if those actions created my essence, I would not be ashamed of them.

Unless the essence of my being is bound with shame in some way.

The Post Modern Story

If you were to wake tomorrow in a hospital bed and no one claimed you. You would have to begin to forge an identity. To get to know yourself. And, as much as we want to live in the present, we only know how we fit into the larger story when looking at the past. Even if the past is nothing but a single day, or a matter of a split second and a recollection: “I don’t like peas.”

The Sensual Life

She recovers slowly. Then asks about the weather. A single, careful sentence that costs her.

E. tells her that his mother had remarked earlier that afternoon that the day reminded her of apple-picking. His grandmother smiles and nods. She stares at the blue sky through the window. “An autumn day,” she says.

Jimmy Carter and Being Real

She’s well over 15. Over 100 in dog years. She rarely complains. And on walks, she still stops in open spaces and challenges me to a game of tag. And she, still, never takes shit from other dogs.

Vulnerability is not weakness. I see that when I look at her.

Right now, she is the reality that makes real the nearness of death. Not Jimmy Carter. To claim that would be an insult to his family and to the people who do know and love him, to those for whom he is not a symbol, not a background hum.

What frightens me about Jimmy Carter’s illness, about his leaving this world before too long, comes from a selfish and cowardly corner in my spirit:

Because Running is Using the Heart

There is a man in Denmark who lives each day dying well. And, I hate myself for my first thought after listening to him: I need to move to a place where I can dig a pond, like he did; where I can fashion my life like his. I use the word fashion deliberately, for all it is worth. I am even considering his eccentric knit strawberry hat.

A Diary Means Yes Indeed

I have written things.
I have written things that I have lived.

I have written things that I have lived to regret.
My chronology is never explicit.