Finding my Way in the Dark

It’s the dark of the moon, sunlight is waning, and my mood is dark. For four years now I’ve not ventured into politics in this blog—I figure we all get plenty of that elsewhere—but it’s been a hard week and I’m struggling. I can only imagine how the many women who have been raped or assaulted are feeling. Yet even without that experience myself, my rage has been triggered, based on a lifetime of being ignored, discounted, and unheard as a woman. Decades (and lifetimes) of this, even as a privileged white woman amongst educated and privileged men. A few days ago I felt encouraged, as new information and support for women was continuously spilling forth in the news. Secrets revealing the misogynist culture at Yale. Dr. Ford’s courage, and her story validated by stories from women all over the country. Unprecedented letters written by the American Bar Association and hundreds of law professors. Yet on Friday and Saturday we learned it made no difference. (Apparently the majority of the Judiciary Committee were so intent on getting what they wanted that they couldn’t hear, or wouldn’t listen to, all those voices crying “no.” Kind of like a man intent on rape who is unable or unwilling to hear “no”?) How to channel my rage and sense of helplessness? I spent two days writing a fiery poem about it all. That helped, a little. On several days, including today, I tried to swim it off in an extra-vigorous workout. Helped some. But now I’m cranky all over again reading an article in the Sunday Star Tribune (from the Washington Post)...

Incredibly Out of Touch

Had an embarrassing “old and clueless” moment at the movies awhile back. We loved Incredibles back in 2004 when we saw it with our teenaged kids, so we were eager to see Incredibles 2. The plan was supper and the movie. The first red flag was when I looked up the show times. I was startled to see that we had five choices: in addition to standard and 3D, the film was in IMAX 2D, Dolby, and Prime. We didn’t know what most of them were, but since the only one we knew we wanted to avoid was 3D, we went off to dinner, figuring there would be plenty of showings to choose from when we were ready to watch. Later, when we got to the theater the next show was in Dolby. Enhanced sound? Probably too loud, but ok. Dolby was as expensive as 3D. And all the rest. Except standard. Sigh. Oh well, we’re here now. Select your reserved seat. That was new at this theater. To us anyway. Passing an expanded snack bar and an actual liquor bar—when did that happen?—we found our seats, large cushy recliners, and settled in. (Ok, before I go on I have to say: we do go to movies, even theaters that have reclining seats and a full bar. But mostly to theaters with very basic amenities. Probably hadn’t been to this one in about a year.) After a few minutes of an expected loud and frenetic pre-movie show, the previews began. As this was an animated kids movie, all the previews were for kids movies, all of them animated. All but one of them were...

Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Don’t Bore the Gods!

I had a humbling Aha! moment the other day. Humbling but also freeing. Tom and I have been reading a series of young adult novels, The Lost Years of Merlin. The five book series, which imagine Merlin from about age 9 to adulthood, are fun, full of enchanted forests, haunted marshland, fanciful and magical creatures, and resourceful humans (including females!). Merlin, who has discovered his grandfather was a great wizard, knows he has special abilities (though he doesn’t know much about what they are) and that he is destined to be a wizard also. Yet he struggles with this, alternating between being too cocky about his powers (and then either losing them or misusing them in some way) and angrily declaring he has no powers and will never fulfill his destiny (poor me). Friends tell him how he demonstrates courage and heart, and magical beings declare he has more power than he knows. We the readers know that all this is true, but Merlin, in typical adolescent fashion, moodily brushes it all away. While we were reading the third book, both Tom and I commented that we were getting bored with Merlin’s constant worry about his powers and whether he would fulfill his destiny. We hoped he would wise up soon. The Aha! came the next day while swimming at the health club. With embarrassment I suddenly realized I DO THIS! For years now I have worried aloud about what I am “meant” to do in the world and discounted or minimized what I have done. I fretted that my offerings were “not enough,” because I could do more,...

Fish Out of Water

Several days ago, on a cool rainy afternoon up on the north shore of Lake Superior I sat at a cabin table, enjoying the music of the surf and doodling idly. At one point I looked at my drawing in surprise. When my drawing or painting looks  like a person or animal, I assume it represents some hidden part of myself, so imagine my chagrin when I saw this in my notebook: It looked to me like an angry fish, probably a bottom feeder. I had intended to fill the entire page with doodles, but as soon as I saw this creature I gave up that idea. I was almost afraid to mess with him because he seemed so cranky.   Irritated at how we’ve been trashing the waters of the world perhaps? This guy’s arrival was particularly surprising because I was feeling good when I drew him. Maybe ironically I could only draw such a creature when I was feeling good. Now I try to talk with him, ask him what he wants or why he showed up, but he is intimidating to talk to. And he doesn’t want to talk to me. He won’t negotiate with me. He won’t be appeased because he doesn’t want to interact. He just wants to bully his way through to what he thinks he wants. It makes him look a bit crazed, don’t you think? Well, he certainly feels alive to me, with his anger and his stubbornness. I appreciate the intense energy of his unchecked, inflexible crankiness. I’m not sure he can be simply pushed away, denied, or changed by...

Cranky

I got a big chuckle the other day at Bachman’s. Amidst the decorative garden pots, birdbaths, fountains and plethora of garden statues, a gargoyle captured my imagination. He was cranky. He wasn’t the typical gargoyle, fierce or demonic, not a fearsome gatekeeper guarding the garden door. He just seemed cranky. “Don’t mess with me today!” cranky. Maybe two feet high, ears back, head slung forward, white knuckled, claws digging deeply into his perch, a wonderful rendering of a grumpy gargoyle. The sheer novelty of a grumpy gargoyle was amusingly refreshing. Especially sitting there amongst cheerful garden fairies, gnomes, angels, Buddhas, butterflies, birds and cats. While I’m not sure I’d want to see him in my garden every day, I did notice my breath and belly relaxed as I gazed at this irritated creature amid  the sweet serenity of all the others. And something else made me laugh out loud. He was me. Me, when I’m frustrated or overwhelmed. Me, when I’m ignored or discounted. Me, when I’m tired and need to leave the party. Me, in the deep dark cold of late November? Sometimes crankiness just happens. Seeing myself in him delighted me. I don’t get crabby as often as I used to back in the days of practicing law, mothering young children, and enduring PMS (I don’t think so anyway). Several years ago I realized that when I am crabby, it usually means that I need either to nap or to cry—usually cry. I may be angry, I may be sad, I may even be mostly peaceful, and I need to cry. It’s as though tears build up in...