Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Baby Steps

When I leave yoga class on Wednesday nights, the air on that block is permeated with the smell and humidity of baking brownies and cooking fudge sauce.

When the thunderstorm opened up above us suddenly, the man who lies in bed all day under the El station behind my apartment gathered up his blankets, placed them in the dumpster with a lid and left the mattress to fend for itself while he went to find shelter.

When I was stuck in traffic on my way out to the periodontist in the suburbs yesterday, I was surprised by the smell of lilacs, which drew my visual attention to the midway, which was full of them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thank Goodness - Someone Else's Hubris

TunaGirl and I have very different lives. But I like the way she looks at hers. Today, she better explained the reason why I keep this blog up than I have ever been able to.

To write is to have faith. I know that. Faith that you will once again come up with a funny one-liner. Faith that you will have a story to tell that will draw people in. Faith that you'll touch someone, even if only to make them laugh at you. Faith that the words won't just go away.

I'm keeping the faith. I am. Right now I'm just spewing word vomit in the hope that something interesting will come out.

And I can't even manage the vomit.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A taste of community

Last Thursday, I kicked out of my malaise and had a burst of community interaction.

I've noticed a guy once or twice, sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk outside the Damen El stop, surrounded by little bits of cloth, obviously working on something. He's in his forties, with a long grey ponytail. Looks like he'd be very happy on the island. The first time I walked past him, I was already through the turnstile before I realized that the island girl that I want to be would have sat down on the ground next to him and started a conversation. The second time, I was probably deeply into hatehatehate mode and was trying not to inflict myself on anyone.

So, Thursday, there he was again and I plopped down next to him and asked how he was. He was silkscreening little squares of cloth with stylized peace signs and giving them away. He looked a little taken aback that I sat down; I think people usually just bend down to finger his wares. We talked briefly. His name is Chris and he talked generally about community and peace. I picked four little patches and handed him four of my little quote scrolls.

When I stood up, I was obviously communicating to the world that I was a dupe, because an earnest-looking African American man can up to pitch me his self-produced hip-hop album. This has happened to me once or twice before and the young men involved usually rattle off their pitch in a drone, but this young man must have been in forensics in high school because he had that knack of making a very polished, well-worded spiel sound like he were saying it for the first time for my benefit. I was impressed and so handed over $4 for a CD I'll never listen to. That's pretty cheap for the warm fuzzies I get to feel for believing that I've contributed to someone else's art.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Josh Lyman - He's My Hero

In 50 minutes, I will have spent my entire weekend (aside from two meal get-togethers, a gig of my brother's and church) watching 5 of the six discs of the 6th season of the West Wing that just came out on DVD. I think it is an undersatement to say that I am creating a little protected zone around myself. However, I still can't quite put my finger on why, despite my last post. I've spent so much of my recent life reacting to actual events that logically cause emotional states that a general malaise is foreign to me. I've been doing creating a protected zone since I moved out here and for a little while it was the stress of moving, but that has since worn off and I'm just not engaging or taking advantage of the opportunities that I have to actually experience life outside my apartment. At least, not to its full potential. I have joined the church, made a new friend, started rehearsing and singing on Sundays with the music team. But, most of the time that I don't have something scheduled, I want to hole up with a book or a DVD. Since I can't figure out what is causing it, I can't figure out how long is too long before it becomes lifestyle habit without a cause. That concerns me a little but I'm hoping my support network will tell me when I've gone too far. Will you?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I'll name her Berry

I'm home. Or, I'm back in the apartment that holds all of my stuff. Nope, home is where your mom is, so, I'm home.

Goodness, do I love Orcas Island.

I had a wonderful trip. I got to go to church with the old people who harbored me when I lived there; I got to take a yoga class with my teacher; I got to spend three and half days in a row with Jeffrey, one of my favorite people in the whole world; I didn't cry once; I got to kayak out to Yellow Island and see all the wildflowers in bloom; I got to canoe in a tippy boat with a dog and scare myself witless on the way to Doe Island to lie on a blanket in the sun with only the ocean, the grass around my head and the sky in my line of sight; I got to make junk art T-shirts; I got to package some mint that grew in Jeffrey's garden that I had harvested and hung up to dry before I left; I got to shop at the Exchange; I got to eat huge meals after all activities; I got to drink some of Jeffrey's blackberry and rose petal wine; I got to let my body wake me up in the morning; I got to soak in the new beautiful hot tubs at Doe Bay and steam in the new sauna; this means I got to be naked while outdoors.

A perfect vacation.

I also got to sit with my friend, Tom, who somehow discerned my hidden thoughts when I gave him halting answers to the questions, "How is Illinois?" and "What's it like to be back?" He answered for me: "It's hard that there are so few opportunities here." I was so grateful that he understood the conflict inside of me that I spilled out the rest of the thought that could have just stayed unsaid, "I could live off of the money that I would make here, but I would be bored by the work that I was given to do."

So, the I'll-have-a-beautiful-hippy-baby-and-dress-her-in-mismatched-clothes-from-the-Exchange-and-cloth-diapers-and-settle-into-a-domestic-life-with-a-garden-and-some-chickens-canning-food-for-the-winter-and-quilting fantasy is rearing its little ragamuffin head. A beautiful hippy baby would certainly give me purpose and give resolution to some decisions that I have yet to make. My friend Rachel pulls it off and seems really happy.



It's a fantasy that I can't pursue right now. I sense big things looming out ahead of me and they'll always be there, irritating my peripheral vision if I don't give my journey some time to bring them into clearer view. I need to live in Chicago for awhile and see if I can apply some of the lessons I've learned about community rather than jump back to the safety of being a perpetual student of life.

As much as I hate it a lot of the time. As ugly as my surroundings are. As much as I feel lost, not knowing what direction I'll find a sense of purpose. The good actually overwhelms the bad and only the knowledge that the surface beauty of the island is so tantalizingly close to my life makes the bad stand out so starkly in relief.

It was a great vacation. I'm working now to bring it with me to work tomorrow morning. Last week did not get any better after I had to look deeply into my own arm. I sent out a plea to my face-to-face friends before I left to fill my time when I got back and most of them have responded, for which I'm grateful.

Sarah exhorts us to take the peace of our hearts that we gained in our practice of yoga with us as we use what we have practiced in the rest of life.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Knife of Boxes

I hurt myself today.

The people that donate 90% of the product I distribute for free to teachers were coming by my center today for the first time. Two of those three folks were new to their organization and so it was completely important that the place "shine like the top of the Chrysler building!" We've been working on it for several days and were putting the finishing touches on it when I got stupid and pulled a boxcutter toward me to cut off the top of a box. The box resisted, I pulled a little harder, the box gave up like the underdog team letting go of the rope in an 80's camp movie and I stabbed myself good in the forearm.

I missed the major veins, so I'm very very lucky.

Of course, I couldn't go to the doctor for my tetanus shot or my stitches just then because the bigwigs were coming. We bandaged it up, I called my brother to see if he would bring my car to the restaurant where we would be power-lunching and I held my arm above my heart (it throbbed less that way) for the next couple of hours until I could drive out to see my doctor. I was a little less than my usual charming, but when I apologized for it, my guests assured me they had a great time. Well, their assessment of a great time and mine are probably a little different since they don't know my ulterior motives, but I guess it wasn't a total waste. My boss stepped into the tour briefly and took up a lot of the slack I was leaving. He's a fantastic storyteller. Even preoccupied with whether or not we would get out the door to lunch in time for me to get to the doctor before she closed for the day, I enjoyed listening to him draw them in to our vision for what can be done in the Chicago community. It was fun.

So, I went to the doctor, then went out to see my mom. It's good to see moms after one has been hurt. If I were still a kid, she would let me stay home from school tomorrow. But, since I'm an adult, I'll wait until next week and not go to school, I mean work, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I found cheap tickets to Orcas on Saturday and took advantage of them. So, while I was being given a variety of food to take home with me, I was also borrowing carry-on luggage.

I'm ready.

Last week was probably the toughest week I've had since I moved to Chicago. Work, relationships and moon cycles combined to make me adopt my brother's best friend's mantra: "Hatehatehate."

This week will probably be better, but let's remember that it has started with a wound.