by thea marie
What's on my mind....
|It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009|
|Just got finished writing a letter to myself. It was for a writing contest, but it was an excellent exercise in self-examination and resetting priorities.
For once, I actually wrote down some committments (I hate the word "goals") for myself. As a rule, I don't believe in that sort of thing; up to now, it seemed kind of anal, at least for me. But I really do need to get out of this drought I've been in with my writing. I think it's become a habit more than it is any sort of Writer's Block.
I tried to keep the commitments reasonable and attainable. I also tried to focus on things that even if I wasn't trying to get back into my writing, they'd be helpful to my personal growth in general. The next step is to condense the letter into just the commitments themselves, type them up, and put them where I can regularly see them.
I wrote letter on Sunday and I've been trying to keep to what I said in it. So far, so good.
|Ennui and melancholy, I am suffering from both tonight. Cannot for the life of me get my motor started. I sat in front of the laptop for at least two hours, trying to write, but it wouldn't come. Instead, I read news articles, surfed the net, and perused some pieces on this site. I rated one poem, but wasn't moved enough by it to make an expanded comment.
I switched from electronic reading to tradtional, reading a couple of chapters in my current novel, an engaging book about real estate in Manhattan, NY, and the inner workings of the hoi-polloi. Very interesting stuff.
But that engagement only lasted so long. The words started running together. I'd get to the bottom of a page and realize I didn't remember anything I'd read, so I left off of that. Seemed like a lost cause.
I don't think I'm sick, but I really don't feel like myself tonight. Despite my best efforts to get out from under it, the gray has enveloped me in its soft folds. I
think I'm going to give into it and call it a night.
|Anomie, a word I ran across today as I was skimming through The Writer's Guide to Fiction, a supplement to my subscription to The Writer magazine. It's been lying around in my bedroom for a while, but it wasn't until today that I actually picked it up and looked through it.
According to the definition given in the guide, it means "a condition in an individual or society characterized by a breaking down of social norms. I had never seen the word in that form, but I was familiar with the term anomaly, which roughly means the same thing.
The word stuck out to me because it applies so well to things that have been on my mind about events that have been going on in our world. I've been telling myself that I need to stop watching and reading the news because of the seemingly never-ending, increasingly awful stream of bizarre incidents that have made the headlines.
Pregnant women reported missing and then later found out to have been done away with by their mates. Mothers and fathers taking the lives of their children- not one or two, but three, four, five kids at a time; smothering them, hanging them, slitting their throats, throwing them from bridges. Wars with no winners, politicians with no scruples, negligent adults, apathetic kids, corrupt law enforcement, teachers with questionable judgment in their relationships with studetns, conspicuous consumption, the absence of ideals, it just goes on and on and every day seems to get worse and worse.
One has to wonder when or if it will ever get better. Where will it end? I am awfully afraid that things won't get better because it has been my experience that negatives in society tend to worsen, not improve. Lines of acceptablility get crossed, the "norms" break down, and it's easier and easier to push the envelope in terms of beasty, unscrupulous behavior. The more we are presented with, the more we become desensitized to what should be outrageous.
I think more of the children absorbing all of this mess. For them, these things are the "norm", just something that happened in the news. They have no idea that maybe even as recently as ten, fifteen years ago times were a lot more innocent than they are now. If these incidents are the norm for them, then what do we have to look forward to when they are adults? Sometimes I'm glad to be the age that I am. I don't think I would want to be a teenager or a very young person coming up in the world right now.
I watch my students sometimes, and I am appalled by the shallowness, the materialism. Although it is middle school, the overt sexuality and the acting out on the part of some kids is disheartening. I'm teaching, and they're text-messaging. A couple of times kids were found to be transmitting porn images to each other once they were caught with the phones in their lap during class time. It used to be the random profane or obscene note.
How poorly read many of my students are is scary, but then what else is there to expect from children who have been "plugged in" or "plopped down" since infancy? It is becoming harder and harder to keep the attention of young people who are accustomed to colors and animations rather than straight, on-the-page text. Last Friday I went off on the kids because I am sick of them coming to class in the latest fashions, expensive gym shoes, designer purses, cell phones, etc., but have their hands in the air asking to borrow a pen when it's time to take a test that they have known about for a week, and on top ot that, a pen is a daily class requirement.
Teachers get in trouble for "giving" too many bad grades, assigning "too much" homework, penalizing kids for not following the guidelines they were given to complete an assignment or for passing a class. Adults get angry and the conflict resolution strategy is to in some way get rid of the other party. I could go on and on, but I won't. It scares and depresses me too much.
I told myself that I need to stop watching the news and reading it. That would help me, but it wouldn't, in actuality, change anything. I would just be uninformed about matters and about people for whom I might need to watch out. It's all an anomie/ anomaly as far as I'm concerned, but what can I do about any of it?
Maybe the things that I am seeing and that I'm reading about are not really deviations from the norm. Rather, perhaps it has all become the norm, and I haven't been paying enough attention to notice that.
|2008, starting a new year, continuing a decent life.
No resolutions. Don't make 'em. Resolutions become undue pressure that have the potential to turn into lies resulting in feelings of failure. So why do it?
No promises to write here every day because it won't happen. Stuff gets in the way, a couple of days get missed, and then it's too hard to start again. The last two years have proven that. It's not fun if it's something I make myself do. And it doesn't help that I have a tendency to not do things I feel I'm being compelled to do, even if I'm the one doing the compelling.
There are; however some things I want to use this starting point to do. Like stop dreaming and start doing.
There are some things I hope to accomplish, like not only write for fun, but to finally get serious and get published.
There is one very important thing to which I need to better aspire; avoid dwelling in and with the constantly negative. That's an aspect of my life over which I have a great measure of control, and one in which my efforts may benefit someone else.
Doing it like me, but doing it better in 2008!
I didn't feel like blogging for a while. The routine got to me, and I started feeling pressured to do it, so it wasn't fun at all for a while. I'm better noe, so I'm giving it another try.
I was in the car today, on the way to meet the girls for lunch. The sun was shining, the day was warm, I didn't have any immediate cares. I've been off work since school let out in May, and I haven't done a lot of anything other than enjoying each day as it comes. Today was no different. I felt good, and it was a wonderful thing to be alive and healthy and happy.
Tooling along the busy road, singing along with Cissy Houston who was elooquently crooning the 23rd Psalm, (I'm not particulary religious, but I do love the words of that psalm and her rendition of it.) I ended up stuck behind one of those people who insist upon doing the speed limit in the left lane rather than going with the flow of traffic or moving to the right. In middle of "He resotoreth my soul, he restoreth my so-o-o-oul" I yelled at the truck in front of me, "Will you drive the F&@* up!", and went right back to singing.
The irony of my incongruent actions struck me a few minutes later.
I really need to do better.
Church Holds Services After Leader is Ousted
Let me start by saying that I have to be one of the most jaded people in the world when it comes to organized religion. That is not to say that I don't have a personal belief system that sustains me. Having been born female and raised within the Catholic religion, I couldn't wait to turn eighteen and convert to Baptist, which I felt was better suited to me.
When that didn't work out- one Sunday, during services, the preacher loudly denounced two openly gay men from the pulpit, told them they weren't welcome, and sent them packing- I decided to go my own way, forgoing the church thing. I'm not gay, I don't think being gay should be promoted as a life choice. Gay marriage is an issue I don't care to touch. But I do believe that some people are born that way, and as such their inclinations aren't something they can help. I was told that The Almighty said, "Come to me as you are". I think I also read somewhere, "Judge not lest thee, too, shall be judged." Like I said, I'm not all that religious, but some stuff does make sense to me.
I have always taken it that God, or whomever is in charge of all of this, knows my heart, no matter what I might be hiding from the rest of the world. I figure it doesn't take belonging to this exclusive "club" or that one to prove it to the One who matters. In my book, oganized religion and faith have become two totally separate things.
I usually stay away from addressing topics that deal with either religion or politics as I consider them to be highly subjective areas and not worth debating. It is unlikely that any discourse to the contrary of what one already holds true is going to change the minds of either party, so it's usually not worth risking revealing my own positions or insulting the beliefs of another.
This time, however, the cup runneth over. I've had enough. I can remain silent no longer. A married-with-children Evangelical leader, founder of what's come to be termed a "mega-church", who fervently preaches against gay marriage and the gay lifestyle, was at the same time, allegedly engaging in gay activities- and meth- on the down low. Then when he's caught at it, he wants to say, "I had it, got close to it, but I never inhaled." Tell that to someone who might believe it. I'm not the one.
Due to the power of advanced tecnology, it is now possible to delve into areas of people's lives that were once inaccessible to the general public. It seems every day, this icon or that one, has had his or her personal life sliced into and splayed open for the rest of the world to see. The still-warm entrails quiver and pulsate grotesquely before us as the host desperately struggles to hold onto the dear life they had before the gutting. It's sad to see anyone put out there like that, but the supreme hypocrisy that is revealed is even sadder.
Do what you want to do in life. Live how you want to live, but be honest about it. That's what I think is expected of us. Don't do harm to others, respect people for what they are and who they are. Accept, enjoy, or at least tolerate the differences in people. But don't get up there and publicly denigrate other people's choices and/or lifestyles, holding one religion, lifestyle, or whatever as the ultimate, while at the same time you're doing the very things you say you despise. It happens all the time, and that's what's despicable.
I'm glad that services proceeded today for the dismissed Evangelical leader's congregation. Faith is about forgiving, moving the bad or harmful stuff out of the way, and moving on with what and in the manner that you believe to be right for you.
Now he's come back and confessed that he DID do the things he swore up and down that he didn't do.
He was a religious leader, a builder of a huge congregation, had thousands of followers believing in what he preached- but underneath all of that was a human being. It's important to keep that in mind.
|I did what I said I wasn't going to do. I stopped writing. I started feeling pressed to do it, so I did the thing I do when I feel pressed; I quit doing it.
I think I have ODD. That's yet another one of the tags doctors and schools hang on kids things these days. It stands for Oppositional Defiance Disorder and it is applied to those individuals who buck authority and defy being mandated to do things. That's me all the way. I'm fine with doing a thing until somebody tells me, or I start to feel that I have to do it. At that point all bets are off.
Self-defeating, I know, but it is what it is.
It's already October. The older one gets, the faster the days seem to go by. One minute, you're celebrating the New Year, and the next thing you know you're putting up the Christmas tree again.
But the year has been good. I made it through some major challenges on the job. I traveled to Germany for the first time. It was great. My health is good, although I still need to lose some weight. My children are gainfully employed and living independent lives. With the nest finally empty, my husband and I have found an amicable rhythm for getting along, orbiting each other's universes, dropping in on occasion for a pleasant, satisfying visit.
I'm sorting myself out, and life itself is good.
|I was sitting at the computer this afternoon, working on a story, and eating some Mayfield strawberry ice cream. I like that brand because it freezes extremely hard, and I don't have to race to eat it to keep it from getting all mushy. I eat very slowly.
As I worked on the story and the bowl of ice cream before me, the memory came to me of eating ice cream at my grandmother's house when I was a kid. She didn't eat ice cream, but she always had some in her freezer. When I asked her once why she didn't eat it, she told me, "I like ice cream, but it certainly doesn't like me". I thought that was so funny. I didn't realize then that she was using personification to tell me that ice cream gave her bad gas.
Being at the place I am in life right now, I can sympathize with that sentiment. I like ice cream, too, but it doesn't always like me. I am lactose-intolerant to the max, and will be probably be paying dearly for this indulgence later on. The only difference in Big Mom and me is that I don't care about what or who doesn't like me. I get what I want or need out of the situation, deal with the consequences and repercussions if there are to be any, and I move on.
Big Mom usually kept neopolitan (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry) ice cream in her fridge for her grandkids. She wanted us to have a choice of flavors. Since she and my step-grandfather didn't eat it, it stayed in there for a while. When we came over, and she gave us some, it always tasted of freezer. It wasn't very good, but you ate it anyway because it was ice cream and because Big Mom gave it to you.
She also always had cones, which she would purchase strictly for us kids. Most of the time, they would be stale and kind of soft, but we ate them, too. We didn't get cones at home. We were lucky if we got ice cream. That was a delicacy, a non-essential to our blue-collar, trying-to-make-ends-meet parents. Cones were completely out.
We ate Big Mom's freezer/frost flavored ice cream and the spongy cones because they were there, and we never complained. It wouldn't have been polite to do so, and it really wasn't that big a deal at the time. Ice cream was ice cream, and on a cone, it was even better.
Now, decades later, sitting in front of this computer, I realize that what made it so memorable for me was that Big Mom gave it to me.
I can still taste its sweetness and hers.
|Yesterday morning I skipped work in favor of a scheduled MRI. I was in the tube, chillin' (or possibly fryin') for about thirty minutes while two fifteen minute tests were run on me. I told my husband at dinner last night that with all the tests I've had lately, he probably won't need to turn on any lamps at night if I'm anywhere around.
Anyway, I got finished with the MRI around 9:30, and I didn't have to be at work until 11:30, so I decided that instead of going all the way back home only to have to come back, out, I would treat myself to breakfast at I-Hop.
This time I was seated in one of the smaller rear dining rooms instead of the large dining room. I started to ask for another location because the little room was full of people. I wanted to journal, and it wasn't going to be as easy tuning out conversations in there as it would be when they're floating around in the larger space, but I decided to stay and give tuning out a shot.
Across from me, two tables had been pushed together and there were about ten people seated there, talking and laughing together. it appeared that they all enjoyed each other's company. They were all senior citizens, looking to be beyond their sixties.
They spoke of their children, taking care of their yards, their health, the ladies discussed quilting and sewing. What tickled me most, though, was that they were an interracial group, three black men, one black woman, three white women, and two white men. And I wondered to myself at the way times have changed. In their lifetimes, there was a point at which what they were doing yesterday morning would never have taken place in a restaurant in the state of Georgia.
I thought I wanted to tune people out yesterday morning, but I'm glad that I didn't. It was a beautiful thing.
|Yesterday, a friend asked me, "If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?" It was a good question, one I hadn't ever thought about like that.
Until yesterday, I when I thought along those lines, I always focused upon how I would live if I could choose to do so, not where. I dreamed of having a bigger, finer house in a better neighborhood, or maybe not in a neighborhood at all, but somehwere out in the country. I've thought about what my life would be like if I made more money, had chosen a different career path, or had married someone else; things like that, but I hadn't ever had it put to me WHERE in the world I would choose to live.
You know, after I thought about it, I realized that I am where I want to be. Despite our problems, I love living in the USA, and I love living in the state of Georgia.
The weather down here is conducive to my spirit and to my creativity. No matter the time of year, there is going to be some greenery. For me, that's important. Naked trees and bushes, brown lawns, and bitter cold are depressing and equivalent to death to me.
Springtime is heaven. All manner of flowering trees, bushes, and perennials come back to glorious life filling the air with thier assorted fragrances. Pine pollen coats everything it touches and makes people like me sneeze and cry, but I consider that a small price to pay for the world of good the rest of it does for my disposition.
In the summer, from June to early August, the heat can be nearly unbearable, so we resort to turning on the air conditioner, which, as opposed to fresh air and cool natural breezes, I loathe. But that balances out with the abundance of lakes, parks, and beaches to be found here, as well as all the interesting places in driving distance to which we can travel for diversion.
Winters in Georgia, compared to what I'm used to as a native Michigander, are a joke.It doesn't snow much here, and when it does, we don't get a lot. Since it rarely gets freezing cold, that little bit of snow melts quickly. None of that nasty gray ice and slush gets left behind.
The overall atmosphere, for the most part is laid back and friendly. For the most part, I feel safe in my home and in my neighborhood. The only exception to that is on the freeways, where all of what I just said changes completely. The term 'defensive driving' takes on a whole new meaning in Georgia. You can almost hear the collective, "Yee Haw!" as soon as you turn onto the entrance ramp. It is truly every car for itself.
I love the state, I love the house we chose, and I am fond of the location. If I could change anything about where I live now, I'd have more land around me- some acres so that I could walk around on what's mine and not have to be bothered with other people's dogs crapping on my lawn, their unruly kids cutting my corner lot, overhearing their conversations or their arguments, or even seeing anyone if I didn't choose to do so. Not that it's a big deal now. It's pretty quiet here in the subdivision aside from that one disfunctional household behind me who cause most the aforementioned problems, but even they can be tuned out.
I didn't realize that I was where I want to be until I was made to think about it. I didn't realize I had arrived.