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Just Before Dawn

Oh, hello there. It’s been a while. Do forgive me. I’m afraid I’ve been pursuing hours in the day that do not exist for some time now, and it’s left me a wee bit…absent.

I’ve spent the last two months with my face buried in paper, up to my neck in ink, and just generally writing until my fingers fall off more days than not. This is a good thing, but it has left my other past times by the wayside. You know. By that side waaaaay over there. It’s just a little speck to me right now. Wave at them.

Words have ever been a giant central gear that my life revolves around. They propel me, fill me, spill out of me. They suck me into other worlds where planets spin through shining colorful galaxies filled with ultraviolet sparkles and dark grimy alleys where something really does want to eat you. They do it, and they do it often. I’ve occupied my imagination so fully lately that I haven’t had the chance to turn it to other things.

I want to sit under an oak tree and feel it live against my back. I want to watch the turning of fiery leaves and run my hands across velvet grass. I want to lay on my back and watch planets and stars appear in a cerulean sky. I want to look into the eyes of an elephant and have her reach out her trunk toward me. I want to soar above oceans again and smell peat and loam and heather. I want to climb up into the branches of a tree and read a book.

It is so easy to get caught up in things. I’m newly married. We both work and have passions and try to eat normal food at our abnormal times. We still haven’t gotten our thank you notes out.

As the world darkens and the sun stretches farther away for the winter months, I feel the return of a new year. I always sort of celebrate the Celtic new year, Samhain. It’s a day of the dead, yes, but it also marks rebirth. It marks the time of year when the earth slows to sleep, where all becomes still, and where hibernation occurs awaiting the return of the light and the burgeoning buds and blossoms. I can’t help but feel like something is…gestating in my life, for lack of a better word. Not in my body; no, there’s no life inside me forming. What I feel is that I’m frantically growing something. That these words I nurture every day are multiplying into something big, something that will soon be born to the world.

The leaves turn and fall to the ground, and the earth slumbers until spring. I will continue to create, to harbor the life of these words until they are ready to be shared. And I believe they will be shared. My husband believes in me. He brings me bright fall roses and dahlias and daisies to add cheer to our home and to comfort me while my body responds to the changing of the seasons. For every winter, there is a spring. So I will keep working, keep writing, keep hoping all through this long night of the earth.

I will write through the darkest hour.

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Bad News Bear

It has been a week of it. I got back from my bridal shower (which was lovely, by the way) to find out that my move-out situation from my old house has hit yet more financial snags, my mother is in the hospital again, and someone close to me is getting a divorce. I guess bad news really does travel in threes. Ugh.

In spite of all of that, I have endeavored to get into my writing some more, and I have succeeded in getting a solid twenty pages of revision done this evening. For more information on that, I suggest you check out my writing blog.

The reason for the late night is an ill-timed three hour nap I took with my fiance. In spite of the poor timing, it ended up working out in my favor. I have been needing and itching to get work done for a while.

Speaking of my fiance, he hunted around to find me some useful Gaelic learning material and downloaded it for me. I get warm fuzzies thinking about it. He also asked me about my desire to learn the language and listened when I prattled on about it for some time. I can’t wait to start working on it more.

The wedding is six weeks away. I cannot believe it is so close now. What a trip. Married. Me. John’s parents are coming into town next weekend to go over some more wedding stuff with us. We’re getting into crunch time now. I’m starting to get the calls about flight times and questions about sleeping arrangements and all of that. John and I definitely need to book some of our tickets for the honeymoon and secure our rental car. So much to do, and an ever-decreasing amount of time to do it in.

Phew.

Okay. I think I am going to see if I can get a few hours of sleep before my double tomorrow. I still have a bit of a long weekend ahead of me.

It’s 3 a.m.; I must be lonely

Well, the former part is true, at least.  Am I lonely?  Not…lonely persay.  Pensive?  A little.  Riddled with self-contemplation?  Somewhat.  Ever-so-slightly shocked at myself?  Yes.  Yes, I am.

I’m having a girlie moment.

Gasp.  Crash.  Hiccup.

I know.  I knooooooooooooow. I’m seldom outright girlie.  The pensive self-contemplation stems primarily from that blatant fact.  In many ways, I defy mainstream, pop-culture girl-dom.  I hate pink.  (Okay, maybe not hate, but I feel it ought to be used in very, very sparing quantities.)  Chick flicks are enormously depressing for me.  I don’t want to be a princess, unless it’s the warrior kind and I get to rampage about killing monsters and saving the world.  Diamonds bore me at best, and I loathe diamond solitaires (this time my adjective is not overstated).  I would be mortally offended if my boyfriend spent two months of income on an engagement ring, and only slightly less so if he spent more than a week’s.  (He knows these things already.)

My momentary bout of girliness is coming from the mere fact that my relationship is progressing.  And it’s filling my head with all sorts of fuzzy shiny happy thoughts.  It makes my tummy feel warm and glowy (and NOT in that pregnant way, so don’t even ask).  I may have even sighed and made goo-goo eyes at Edward the Elephant in my boyfriend’s absence.  *ahem.*

On a more serious note, this feeling is entirely new.  Without going into too much detail, no one has ever been committed to me before.  Me.  I’ve never felt anything like this — the sense that someone truly wants to journey through this life at my side and wants me there at his.

And so I’m being girlie.  I’m looking at pretty colors and imagining future moments.  I’m listening to the conversations we had over and over in my head and reveling in it.

I feel like I got a belated birthday present/early Christmas present.  Because as I’ve tried to wrack my brain for gift ideas for myself (always a precipitous sort of task), I’ve returned only to the simple (if gushy and cliche) sentiment that all I want for Christmas is….well, him.

Before I turn completely into a porcelain dolly with ringlets and ribbons, let me remind you once more:

Warrior.  Swords.  Zombie-slaying, kicker of dragon asses, vampire-loving, princess of general awesomeness — that’s who you’re listening to here.  And don’t you forget it.

Whew.

Five more school days, my friends.  Just five.  And the chances that there will actually be any children there are getting slimmer every day.  I had six for the final (!!!) today.  No joke.  Ugh.

Speaking of getting slimmer…I am too!  I’ve lost five pounds.  I’m ever so proud of myself right now.  Amazing what working out and eating well really does.  Tonight I ate like a queen and logged in my food on my new bestest site, SparkPeople, and lo and behold — I hadn’t even hit the bottom end of my goals for calories, fat, protein, or carbs.  That was a “wtf” moment if I’ve ever had one.  So I ate another half cup of cottage cheese and six more of the most delectable strawberries I’ve ever tasted.  For real; I have no idea  where these bad boys came from.  I suspect somewhere on Mount Olympus.  They are nectar for the very gods.  They taste like they’ve been injected with sugar.  But they are just strawberries. Just delicious, fresh, and beautiful strawberries.  Swoon.  The kiwis are just as good.  Thank you, friendly neighborhood Asian market.  Not only are your strawberries cheaper than Giant (by $2 for two pounds!!!), but…well.  See above, re: god nectar.

Hard to believe I ate so well today.  Protein shake, nectarine, then I made pasta.  It is a multicolored Abetini pasta, which I tossed with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sauteed garlic, some oregano, parsley, and basil (dried) and tomatoes, both sun dried and one fresh plum tomato.  I topped it with some fresh basil (also thank you, Asian market) and a sprinkle of feta.  Amazing.  While I ate that, I also had some ratatouille in the oven, which may be my new favorite veggie dish.  Just layer thin slices of eggplant, yellow squash, red or orange pepper, and zucchini over tomato sauce, sprinkle with your favorite herbs, brush with olive oil, and bake for an hour on 350.  So awesome.  And less than 100 calories per serving.  I am loving eating healthy, dudes and dudettes.  I don’t feel bloated and blah after a big meal, and I am losing weight.  Love it.   I never realized just how many calories are in the average restaurant meal.  No joke, it’s at least 1000.  Probably more.  Definitely more if you get bottomless soda with it.  Yeesh.

Okay, enough about my foodscapades.  It is sleepy time!  (I’ve been sleeping better too!!!)  Happy.

Two More Days

And then Friday!

My fingers are cramped up.  If you know me, you know that my right pinky finger is crooked, forever prohibited from straightening by a wonky tendon that decided not to grow.  I’ve just spent an hour and a half writing, and that little deformity of mine is in serious pain (I’m right handed).  I had an idea last fall, something to do as a gift that never came to fruition.  Now I’ve begun, and it really is beautiful so far.  It’ll take quite a while to finish at this rate, but I do have a few months left before it needs to be done.  The exciting thing about it is that it meshes rather perfectly with both a new development from today and also with another idea I had as well.  I would be more specific, but that would be telling.

After being stuck somewhere in the space-time continuum where there were constantly 6 weeks left of school, suddenly we’ve gone through a wormhole and there are only three.  Words cannot describe my joy at this.  I have a lot to do by the end of the year, and I might get into some trouble because this injury has made me miss so much work, but at this point, I can’t do anything about that.  It’s only been six weeks since the accident, and though I am feeling somewhat better now, by the time I’ve gone through half the day, I am a hot mess of ouch.

Well.  Three more weeks, and it will be over forever.  I just wish I could get rid of this horrible sense of trepidation that has plagued me all year.  I never should have taken this job.  Teaching is the perfect job for those who can give 110%.  I can give that to my writing, but not to teaching.  Maybe that’s selfish.  I don’t think it really is, though, any more than I would think it is selfish for people not to join the volunteer fire department or become a police officer.  Jobs like that require certain kinds of people who are willing to live and breathe their job.  I think that most of us have something we’re willing to do that for, but it varies from person to person, and for me, teaching is not that something.  Are musicians being selfish for making music?  Artists?  Accountants?  My thoughts about careers:  find what you love, and do it well.

That’s all I can ask of anyone.  Work is a huge portion of life — if you’re miserable, that just plain sucks.  And I’m miserable.

Sigh.  Time to try and sleep.

Two more days.

Summer’s Almost Here; I Can Feel It

Summer breeeeeze…

It brings some glorious good news.  For one, cheaper phone bills.  Also, a trip to Bethany Beach this weekend with some awesome people, Splice comes out next week, there are only four weeks left of school, and perhaps best of all:

The Room is coming to Silver Spring, and Tommy Wiseau himself will be there.  “You’re tearin’ me apart, Lisa!”  This will be epic.  I can see the awesomeness hurtling toward me like a football thrown from four feet away.  Public drunkenness and sanctioned spoon-throwing, here we come.

If you haven’t seen this film (and if you have any appreciation for things so bad they actually turn around on the spectrum and end up in “awesome”), you must.  You won’t regret it.  Or you might, but don’t blame me for that.  I’m just the messenger.

You know what else is awesome?  I’m going to Montana in four short weeks.  And I finally get to show John my home.  After knowing him for two years and knowing his family for just as long, as well as all his friends in three states, it’s high time he got to see my world.  So I’m pumped.  Also?  MacKenzie River Pizza Co. is in Montana, and I could pee my pants jump for joy with excitement about that little adventure.  The Athenian, with spinach, fresh basil, tomatoes, olive oil, feta, and mozzarella?  Yes, please.  The Thai Pie with its peanut sauce base, grilled chicken, mandarin orange slices, and more peanuts?  Heaven.  Lodgepole bread sticks so wonderful they once made my mom burst into tears?  (Okay, she’d just had a hysterectomy and wasn’t on hormone replacement…but it makes it sound awesome.) Glorious.  Add to that Montana microbrews and you have yourself one solid, savory meal that could make the gods weep into their ambrosia.

I’m making myself drool, but I can’t stop.  So…much…food…in my future.

Nap’s Grill has one pound burgers.  My friends and I used to use our free periods once a week to send someone to Nap’s to order us all lunch using these “buy one, get one free” that they printed in the Ravalli Republic every day for a while — we raided everyone’s newspapers.  Pretty sure the restaurant hated us, but we couldn’t say no to those juicy, juicy burgers.  Medium rare with pepper jack cheese and a veritable bucket of shoestring fries?  To be honest, it puts Five Guys to shame, and I usually would never speak such a heresy.

In addition to food, there is also the glory of the Bitteroot Mountains, with the Sapphire range to the east.  Lake Como and Trapper Peak, Lost Trail Hot Springs, the Sula wilderness, Painted Rocks.  Not to mention that we’re taking a trip to Glacier National Park — last time I went there, I met a bear.  Well, that’s an exaggeration.  He was busy digging for pikas in the side of the hill, but I did see him.

This summer is going to rule.

I’ll leave you with these quotes from today:

Ms. English to me:  “You walk like a tiger.”

Dr. Phil (my chiro) to John: “You know, you really remind me of someone.”
John:  “God?”

WIN.

Mmm, Sunday

1.  Homemade pico de gallo and guacamole.

2.  Homemade tortillas.

3.  Chicken quesodillas.

4.  Peach ice cream.

5.  Cherry stout beer.

6.  Roast of Bob Saget.

7.  Hanging with the boyo.

8.  Baltimore aquarium tomorrow afternoon?

9.  Awesome Sunday.

Write Until You Can’t See Land

Yes, I’m lazy.  Yes, I am copying this title directly from my other blog.  Am I okay with it?  Yes, yes I am.

I’m okay with it because I have just spent literally ten hours doing virtually nothing but writing.  I have written about 20 pages and well over 11,000 words in one sitting, and so I think that allows me to justify using the same title for two blogs.  So there.

I’m feeling the fire, feeding the desire.  To write, to create, to pursue this dream and follow my bliss.

And after this long night, as the sky brightens and I finish the last seventeen minutes before getting up to go to work on this Friday morning, that’s all I have to say about that.

You Say Financially Questionable, I Say Necessary

Just a quick update to say that I am going to Scotland this summer! It was kind of a snap decision on account of me finding a good fare a solid $400 cheaper than anything else I had found, getting to see Julia, and taking a solid retreat into my favorite place in the world.

I cannot wait.  It’s been three and a half years since I was last there, at Christmas 2006.  So much has changed since then, but one thing’s for certain:  this is exactly what I need.

follow your bliss

This morning, I asked my student to reflect on the following:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.   The heroic life is the individual adventure.   There is no security in following the call to adventure.”  (Joseph Campbell)

I figured that since I am trying to keep up my average of words per day, I would complete my own assignment. (I already hit 1,000 working on my novel today, but a bit more never hurt anyone.)

I’m going to break this down sentence by sentence and see what comes pouring out through the cracks.

The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are…follow your bliss.

I heard once that up until about puberty and a few years after, you spend your life trying to fit in, blend with others, be like everyone else.  In high school and the years after is when people become desperate to delineate what separates them from the rest of the world, to be an individual.  But how far do people really go to do that?  So many people spend their lives doing things that make them unhappy or at the very least, bored.  They spend their lives with people who make them unhappy.  They follow the status quo because they feel some sort of obligation to do so or need security in some way.

It took me a long time in my life to come to terms with who I am, and in a lot of ways, I’m still on that path.  It has taken a lot of failings in order for me to get to where I am now.  I wrote not long ago in a letter to someone that I feel like years ago, I was perched on the edge of a chasm.  I could see where I wanted to be on the other side of it, but I had to make choices to decide how to get there.  The first route was the tried and true slow descent down one side and up the other, maybe on a burro.  I could plod doggedly down and up and eventually get to the other side, but I knew that if I took that route, I might end up miles down from where I was aiming.

The other route was the most direct geometrically.  And it stretched out directly in front of me, a rickety rope bridge with punky boards full of dry rot and tattered ropes holding it together.  I gritted my teeth and stepped out onto the bridge, with nothing but those flimsy boards between me and a long drop with a sudden stop.  Looking down at the well-trodden safer path below, I could see people’s mouths agape as they watched me take my fumbling steps out on that bridge.  Some even yelled up at me, “You’re crazy!  You’re going to fall!”

I haven’t fallen yet.  Granted, there have been a few close calls.  A couple of those boards were rotted through and disintegrated beneath my feet like crumbling clay.  Occasionally, circling vultures would swoop down and attack, seeing I was vulnerable.  But each time, I clung to the most solid things I could find and held on tight.  I’ve made a large number of big decisions in the last few years, and they have all propelled me forward.  And the farther forward I go, the closer I get to the other side.  I can’t see the other side from where I am; I have to focus too much on putting one foot in front of the other and staying alive to get there, but I know it’s there.  I can sense solid ground in the distance, getting closer every day.  I don’t know how many steps remain before I get there, but I know there is even more adventure awaiting me after my feet touch the earth again.  And the only way I’ll get there is if I keep following my bliss.  This journey truly has been amazing, and making the choices I have made really are the privilege of my lifetime.

The heroic life is living the individual adventure.

I feel like it would be way too arrogant to call my life heroic.  I could say resilient or bold and maybe go as far as intrepid, but regardless, I feel that my life has been full of adventure.  In spite of all the moves (or maybe because of them), I’ve managed to hold onto some semblance of cohesion within myself.  Sometimes I feel stuck within the confines of what society deems normal, namely the need for money (ew), but I have still managed to get where I needed to go, regardless of how rough the road got.  For that I am both proud and thankful.  Proud that I haven’t completely had a nervous breakdown yet (although I’ve gotten close this year…sorry, John) and thankful for the people who have been there along the way to hold out their hands and help me along.  I wouldn’t be here without them.

I’m certainly not done with this adventure yet.  In fact, I might be setting out on another leg of it shortly, depending on what I decide in the next 24 hours.  There is a big wide world out there, and I haven’t seen enough of it yet.

When I think about it, I often tell my friends that they are heroic for following their bliss and doing their thing, so perhaps I ought to do myself the same courtesy and bestow the label upon myself as well.  I do have a tendency to be much harder on myself than others are.   I should be more mindful of that and stop Emmie-bashing.

There is no security in following the call to adventure.

This one rings so true — I think about the people I know who are pursuing the things they truly love, and very few are actually making any money.  Of course, money isn’t the only way to measure security, but I think that is sort of what Joseph Campbell was referring to.  That and the fact that the term “starving artist” did not evolve without some sort of precedent.  I’m okay with being poor.  I’ve never really had any money, so I actually tend to just give it away when I do have it.

Anyway, all in all, I think it’s clear that I have to do some things for myself. Dolly Parton said to find out who you are and do it on purpose.  I’m not one who usually looks to Dollywood for wisdom, but I won’t turn it away when I come across it.  I know a lot about who I am, but I need to make some purposeful strides into really letting that person shine through.

On that note, kiddies, sleep tight.  Bite the bedbugs and smile at your neighbor.