Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fungal Omissions

One of the things my soon-to-be-ex has said to me several times is that he doesn’t know how many lies I’ve told him. My answer is always that if I was lying to anyone, it was myself. Anything I told him wrongly was an unfortunate side effect of my own self-delusion.

However, today as I was getting ready to go home from work, thinking about what I wanted for dinner, I realize that I did lie to him once—or at least, I omitted the full truth.

One of the meals I used to cook for us was chicken stroganoff. It’s really a very simple thing. Sauté some chicken pieces, let them simmer in the mix of water and sauce powder, add some sour cream at the end, and serve the whole thing over egg noodles. Very tasty! It’s one of my favorites, and he also seemed fond of it, which I considered fortunate because he is a very picky eater. He’s allergic to shellfish, so I certainly don’t blame him for avoiding that, but he also hates anything spicy, anything with mayonnaise, almost all fruits and vegetables, and most especially mushrooms. Oh, how he would gripe if I wanted mushrooms on anything! We had to order separate pizzas if I wanted veggie pizza—we couldn’t just get a medium with his toppings on one half and mine on the other, we had to get two smalls, because he didn’t want the mushrooms “corrupting” his pizza. Never have I seen a more burning hatred for any food item.

When my mom used to make stroganoff when I was a kid, she’d always include mushrooms in the sauce, but out of respect for my husband’s preferences I never did, even though I always kind of felt it was lacking without them. Not really a big deal.

Well, one day, I happened to look at the ingredient list on the sauce packet while the sauce was cooking. Powdered mushrooms???? Yes, the mushrooms were built right in to the sauce. Hmm. What to do? Should I tell him or not? He’d eaten it before and not noticed them, and if I did tell him he’d probably refuse to ever eat it again. So I never did tell him. I always felt a slight twinge of guilt about it, but I never told him.

They say that confession is good for the soul, and you know what? They’re right. I do feel better after getting that out. Thanks for reading.

A Change to my Blog

A note to my readers:

Some assclown with no life took it upon him/herself to anonymously make completely random and semi-obscene comments on every single one of my posts yesterday. I deleted them, because they had nothing whatsoever to do with what was being discussed. I thought it may have been some 'bot let loose on the internet, some scripter's puerile idea of fun, so I changed the settings so that anyone wishing to post would have to do word verification before posting. (You know, when there's a word printed on the screen in a bizarre font, and the user has to retype it before being allowed to comment.) I figured this would prevent a 'bot from doing further damage, but wouldn't affect actual human readers.

Unfortunately, the Anonymous Coward struck again this morning, so I had to change things up again to allow it so that only registered blog users can leave comments here. I didn't want to have to do this, but I also don't want to go through and be continuously deleting comments of nastiness. I'm all about the free exchange of ideas, but this is my blog and I prefer that the freely exchanged ideas have at least something to do with what has come before. Anyone who doesn't like this has my blessing to get their own blog and abuse it as they see fit.

I have no idea who the person is, whether it's some person who randomly happened upon the blog and just doesn't like my writing, or someone who genuinely doesn't like me. Either way, though, it's pretty pathetic that someone has nothing better to do than leave me comments about pee.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Soul Friends

A completely fictional and hypothetical account of Creation, souls, and why sometimes you feel like you already know someone you've just met.

As the Creator forged the Universe, protons and electrons forming their stately dance of order, cosmic dust coalescing to form all that is seen and unseen, it was all neatly packed away into one tiny infinitesimal speck. The speck quivered with anticipation; infinite potential and infinite beauty in that impossibly small point of Being, waiting.

Upon this speck, at last, the Creator breathed, and the speck lived. Outward, rushing, everything beyond everything, carried outward and brought at last into full Being by the force of the Creator's breath.

Now, within that speck of infinity, the Creator had also placed souls. These were droplets of the Creator's own self: some in pairs, some in groups, some alone, but all connected to each other and all connected to the Creator. When the speck burst into the full bloom of its life, the souls also rushed outward, with all the matter and energy, the Creator's eyes upon the created Universe.

The souls split apart in that headlong rush into Being, and ever since, they have traveled the Paths of Shadow, dancing between matter, beyond energy. They dance in that outward spiral, ever questing for the way Home to the Creator, and ever seeking those other souls with whom they were born.

They do not wish to travel alone as they dance the hidden spiral, these souls, and so age after age, life after life, they seek out their mates, over and over again. The Creator loves these souls, these children created, and so they are blessed that eventually, they do find the one they seek. Ages, millennia, countless lives it may take, but what is time to a soul? Decades might pass in the blink of a soul's eye, and they are cut loose from life once again. Yet once they find that One, the soul with whom they were created so carefully, they are not separated again. They go on, age after age, life after life, on the Spiral Path where souls might walk, hand-in-hand dancing their way Home.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ready to Go

Ten years ago this week, I started college.

It was such a strange feeling. I was seven hours away from home, but it felt like an entirely different world. I’d gone from the flatlands of southeastern Michigan, the crowded suburbs south of Detroit, to the high hills and brilliant green trees of West Virginia. The entire campus was on top of a mountain, and the little town was in the valley below. Such a view we had from the back patio of the administration building! The town had two stoplights, three gas stations, and approximately ten churches, not counting the chapel up on campus. There were two grocery stores, one drug store, a one-screen movie theatre which cost $3 for admission, and a covered bridge. For comparison’s sake, the nearest mall was 30 minutes away. Back home, there were malls of great size within 10 minutes.

So into this alien world I came, fresh from high school and the minor triumphs I’d had there, missing my mom and my baby brother, wondering whatever had possessed me to go so far away. I’d never seen anything like this little town in the valley or the little campus on the hill above. Seven hours is not really that long of a drive, when you think about it, but it was much more than mere distance which separated Detroit from small town WV.

Looking back, I’m surprised that I wasn’t terrified. I have problems meeting new people, and these were not only new people, but a new TYPE of people from what I was used to. I was facing a cultural divide, and I knew it.

Yet I was not afraid. Shy and quiet at first, yes, but not truly afraid. I had an odd sense that first morning of classes, a sense that I was on the threshold of something which would be vitally important to me, something that would shape me for all the days left to come. I can see myself as I was that morning, standing on the porch of my residence hall in that sun-warmed, green-scented air, my hair clipped short, in t-shirt, faded denim shorts, and well-worn sneakers. My backpack was slung over both shoulders—not over just one, the way high schoolers carry them—and my new class schedule was in my hand. It was a threshold, a crossroads, the very beginning of something I didn’t yet understand, but something I knew would matter. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I was on my way.

Ten years later, I’m at another crossroads. My road goes on from here, but it’s going to be very different from what I had ever planned or imagined. These next few years will be strange ones, ones that will shape me and guide my life as surely as those four years on College Hill did. It’s a new beginning, and here I stand in my baggy jeans and faded purple t-shirt, my backpack full of strange and beautiful things I might need or want, ready to bound up the path in my well-worn sneakers.

I don’t know where I’m going, but at least I’m on my way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I had a highly interesting dream last night.

In this dream, I stood somewhere outside, having an argument with my soon-to-be-ex husband. He was accusing me of many things I hadn’t done. At the beginning of the argument, things were reasonable enough; they were things I hadn’t done, but I could see how he might think I had.

As things went on, the accusations became more and more ridiculous. I don’t actually remember what any of them were, unfortunately, because that could reveal quite a bit about what my subconscious is churning up, but the last few had a high level of absurdity. We’re talking about things like it being my fault that the Detroit River is polluted and my fault that Elvis died in 1977—things that were THAT off-the-wall.

Finally, I got disgusted with the whole thing and flew away.

Yes, flew. My dream-self turned into a large bird and flew away.

I think I was a swan. (My viewpoint was in my own body, so I couldn’t exactly see myself, but I’m pretty sure it was a swan my dream-self became.)

I know that Celtic mythology is full of stories of magical swans, so I went to look up some details. On one website I found, “A mystical bird who finds its way into several Celtic stories. Its feathers were often used in the ritual cloak of the Bards. Swans are connected with music and song. Swans also help with the interpretation of dream symbols, transitions, and spiritual evolution.” On another I found the tale of the faerie maiden Caer, who could transform from swan to human form. The god of love, Aengus, fell in love with her in her human form, and won her heart by identifying her as a swan amongst a crowd of swans on a lake. Swans were sacred to the god of love in Ireland, and it was said that Aengus and Caer would often travel in swan form.

Dream dictionaries indicate that swans are signs of change and transformation, of transition, and of lifelong love.

I think my subconscious is trying to tell me that I am in the process of becoming something brand new.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

....but now am found.

Woodland Adventure, part 4

The horrible buzzing flies kept surrounding me as I made my tired way back down the path, and no amount of swatting with my floppy hat would keep them away. The path/streambed sloped downward most of the way, which should have made my walk easier, but as weary as I was, it instead made it harder. I’m less sure of my footing on a down slope, more afraid of falling, and by this point my legs were feeling more than a little wobbly.

But I hurried as best I could, wondering which turn to take, counting on some sense of internal mapping to help me. Usually, if I’ve seen a place once, I can find my way back. Here, though, the particular turns and trees looked vaguely familiar, but what if they were just similar to ones I’d seen before?

Through all of this, I was containing a sense of panic. I’d been gone so long. It shouldn’t have taken me this long to bring back water. What might have happened to my friend while I was lost? Had he passed right through heat exhaustion and into heatstroke? And if he had, how would I ever get him out of those woods by myself?

I have the ability to contain my panic during a crisis. I kept going, knowing that if I could just find the high ground above the river and railroad tracks again, I could find my way back to him.

In choir at church, we have one particular anthem we’re likely to sing at a Baptismal service, called “Down to the River to Pray.” My desperation to find the river brought the song to mind. I was far too out of breath and dry-mouthed to sing, but I ran it through in my head, managed to hum a little so I’d feel less alone:
I went down to the River to pray,
studying about that good old way,
and who shall wear the starry crown;
Good Lord, show me the way!

I heard a motor coming up the path. A few steps further, and I saw the woman with the ATV riding towards me. She stopped a few feet from me.

“My husband is with your friend,” she told me. “We gave him water from the stream. It's safe to drink from.”

“I couldn’t find the way back,” I said softly. “I couldn’t find the way.”

She turned the ATV around, scooted forward and invited me to climb on the back. I did, holding on tightly to the seat.

That path that seemed so long on weary feet seemed like nothing on an ATV, with a cool breeze blowing in my face. It was only a few minutes before we came around a curve and saw my friend and the woman’s husband walking towards us, and pulled up beside them.

We thanked the couple profusely. I think my heat-addled brain was still trying to process the sudden change in my fortunes, but such kindness to strangers deserves much gratefulness, even when the strangers are heat-addled. They rode away, the ATV motor roaring into the distance. Surely the help they gave us will be stars in their starry crowns?

My friend and I looked at each other for a moment. It was over 90 degrees where we stood in the sunlight. I was drenched in sweat, filthy, bleeding from bramble scratches. He was soaked from the stream, muddy, partially covered in debris from dead leaves. But it didn’t matter. We moved into each other’s arms and held each other tightly for a long sweet moment.

He told me he had started to revive just from resting in the cool breeze and was wondering if he should try to find me, by the time the ATV couple found him. When they told him I’d gone deeper into the woods, he begged them to go find me.

“All the trails back there were dead ends,” I told him. “I couldn’t find the way.”

“But you found help, and you did the best you could,” he said. “How could I ask more of you?”

We made our weary way down the steep valley towards the railroad tracks, and went down the drop-off at the end the classic flatlander way, sliding on our bottoms. It’s easy enough to find a way down when you don’t have to worry that you’ll also need to find a way back.

It was a longer walk than I’d expected to get back to the park, but it was easy enough to walk the railroad tracks, the river flowing happily on our right. I told my friend of the dead end paths, the dry streambeds, the bramble scratches, and all the other things I’d seen, and of my fear for him, and how hard it had been to leave him there alone. He told me of how worried he’d been when he realized how long I’d been gone.

Down the tracks and finally back into the park, shade trees above and carefully clipped grass under our tired feet. We were safe again, and so I could finally collapse.

I did so, sitting heavily on a picnic bench and resting my head down in my hands.

The vending machine had no bottled water, no Gatorade or anything which would have been very useful and good for us, but the Sprite we got instead may well have been the best drink I have ever had in my life. It was nectar itself.

We rested for awhile, went down to the smooth flat stones by the river and dangled our feet in the rapid flow. How cool that rush of water felt on my feet, how incredibly good!

There’s a particular boulder there which is shaped like a large hand. I always called it the Hand of God. We rested on that stone for awhile. My friend was well, I had been found, and day was fading softly into evening. It was time to head back along the twisty mountain roads, away from the swift cooling river and the bright summer trees, following the leafy winding highways to make our way home.

The End

I once was lost....

Woodland Adventure, part 3

As I headed into the woods, I realized I’d lost my sense of direction in the climb. Which way was the park? I could have found it so easily had we gone back the way we’d come, but how could I make that climb again? Oh, sure, I could get back down the hill. The flatlander’s way of going down a steep slope: sit on my bottom and pretend it’s a slide. But I’d never have been able to get back up, carrying bottles of water!

**Note to self: Design hiking belt from which things like water bottles can hang without getting in the way.

I hurried down the dirt trail towards the direction I believed the railroad tracks would be. I was going at jogging pace, but realized quickly that if I kept that up in that heat when I was also a potential victim of dehydration, I would also collapse, and then where would we be? As I crossed a muddy streambed and rounded a curve I thought would take me towards the tracks, a tiny part of my brain kept wondering, ‘Wait a minute! He’s stronger than I am and in better shape than I am! How come HE’S the one who collapsed?’ For the first time in quite awhile, I had cause to be grateful for my thin, Florida-raised blood. I freeze all winter, but if I have to climb hills and run for help on hot humid August days, apparently I can keep going long after native Northerners have collapsed.

Around another curve, and the railroad tracks and river were before me. Sort of. Actually, they were below me. To reach them, I’d have to make my way down a semi-steep valley – not a problem, except that it looked like it dropped off sharply before reaching the tracks. Well, this path seemed to run parallel to the tracks. I could follow it and hope to find an easier way down. I set off.

There was a problem. On our way down the Rhododendron Trail, the tracks and river had been off to our left. On my way down THIS trail, the tracks and river were STILL to my left. I was going further away! I groaned, exasperated, hot, frustrated, and extremely worried about my friend.

I heard a noisy motor and looked up to see a couple on an ATV coming towards me from a side trail. I flagged them down. “How do you get back into the Valley Falls Park from here?” I asked. “My friend collapsed back there—he has sun poisoning, I mean, heat poisoning, I mean, heat exhaustion. I need to get him some water.” If I’d been able to pay attention, I probably would have realized that my lack of ability to speak coherently was likely an early warning sign of my own pending heat exhaustion, but it wouldn’t have mattered. I was the one up and functional, and I had to find help and water.

The man and woman didn’t know for sure. They knew the railroad tracks would take me back to the park, and they thought *maybe* the split off the trail I was on would do. I didn’t dare drop down to the tracks, so I thanked them and backtracked. The trail split; one side, the darker and more mysterious side which I would have preferred to have taken under ordinary circumstances, led back to my friend. I looked longingly that direction as I took the other path.
This new path was very rough and rock-strewn. It was also damp and full of tiny buzzing flies. I swatted at them with my hat as I hurried.

A few more splits in the trail. Well, now what? I was completely out of sight of the railroad tracks and river. I knew I was going in the right direction, but the trails kept dead ending, and I kept having to backtrack and try again.

(In retrospect, I don’t think they were trails at all. I think they were dry streambeds disguising themselves as trails. You know, just to cause me trouble.)

I turned my ankle on one of the stones—no damage to me. Or to the stone.

I squeezed through a particularly thick bunch of brambles and realized I could go no further. The trail/streambed/whatever it was ended. I was surrounded by trees. It was passable, but I knew I’d quickly lose my sense of direction in there and wind up more lost than ever.

I had to go back. I was NOT giving up, but I had to find my way back to my friend and check on him before trying again. I’d check on him, then take the steep drop to the railroad tracks.

Was it sweat stinging my eyes, or tears? Tears of frustration, tears of pain, tears of worry for the friend I’d left lying on the dirt. It didn’t matter. I had no idea where I was or how long I’d been trying to find a way through. I just knew that I had to find my way back.

Woodland Adventure to continue.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Upward Mobility"

Woodland adventure, part 2

By the time my friend and I reached the edge of the rock pool, we’d come a fair distance across those wobbly stones and mossy boulders, and he was having a bit of trouble. I felt bad that he’d followed me out so far, but he hadn’t wanted me to climb alone. We sat for a moment on a couple of logs near the pool, trying to figure the best way to get back. The stream was in a narrow valley with steep sides. We’d come in from the far end, along a side which was nearly sheer rock. The other side was a steeply sloping hillside with plenty of trees and saplings growing. (Climbing up the waterfall was, of course, right out of the question.) It was hot and I was thirsty. I looked longingly at the waterfall. What pollutants might be in it, what nasty microorganisms would infect me if I drank of it? It was beautiful, but this is 2005 and I don’t dare trust any water I don’t know. I may be a city girl, but even I know that.

I thought it would be best to go back the way we had come in. To me, it looked the easiest, but I guess I didn’t understand fully the problems my friend had had crossing the rocks to get out to the pool in the first place. “Why don’t we climb up that hill?” he said, indicating the tree-covered slope. “Then we can cut back to the railroad tracks and get back into the park that way.”

I looked at my friend in slight disbelief. To me, the hill looked extremely steep. Not impossibly so, but very, very difficult—and I don’t even have leg problems. I looked at the hill again. “But we don’t even know there’s a path at the top,” I pointed out. As hot and humid as it was that day, and as thirsty as I already was, I didn’t even know for sure if I could make that climb. “Are you sure you can do it?” I asked.

“Oh, sure. There are trees we can grab onto,” he said. He started making his way across the few remaining rocks to the far shore. I sighed and followed, stood at the base of the hill and looked up at what we’d be facing. “Are you absolutely sure?” I asked. “We can go back the other way easily enough.” But I saw the look of determination on his face. This was a personal battle, I realized. This was between him and his fear of heights and of falling.

Personal battles, the facing of fears, this I understand. When it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Maybe if I’d insisted, he’d have turned and gone the other way with me. But after seeing the look in his eyes, I did not have it in me to deny him this. I remember learning in high school literature class that one of the classic types of conflict for a story is “man vs. nature,” and I realized I was about to see a conflict of just that sort. I was there to witness and to guide.

This was a challenge facing me, as well. Even in the four years I’d lived in WV for school, I’d never climbed a hill of this steepness and height. I’m a flatlander. Michigan is flat and Florida is flatter. I did not grow up scrambling over rocks and hills—I adapted to it some, but it never became my nature. So here was my challenge, to lead the way up this hill, finding the safest path I could, that my friend might face his deeply set fear.

“All right,” I said. “It looks like it’s a little less steep over there on the other side of this tree, and we can follow that water path up. Follow me.” I stuffed my camera into the pocket of my shorts, jammed my hat down securely on my head, and stepped away from the trickling stream. I ducked under a partially fallen log, then started to climb. Up, up, and up I went, glancing frequently back. My friend was only a few steps behind me. I would call out encouragement, and tell him where I’d be heading next. Up, up, and up some more.

It’s a tough thing to climb a hill which is so steep that I couldn’t really even rest because I’d start sliding back down. About halfway up, I managed to maneuver to the far side of a sturdy oak tree and lean against it. I used my hat to wipe the sweat away from my face and tried to get my bearings. I did NOT look back down. Heights are not exactly easy for me, either.

My friend was right with me. He’d slipped a couple of times on the dried leaves covering the hillside, but he stubbornly kept going.

Up, up, and up. Near the top, my friend started climbing at a different angle than I was, but the hillside here was so steep I didn’t dare try to change my course. My head came up high enough to see that there was indeed a path along the ridge of the hill, a nice wide dirt path. My heart began to swell with pride for my friend. He had done it! He’d faced his fear and his difficulty and scrambled right up the hill!

He slipped once more, then stepped up onto the ridge. I followed, just a few steps behind, ready to congratulate him.

He did not look well. He usually has a nice pinkish tan in the summer from working outdoors, but at that moment he was paler even than I am—ghostly pale. “I need to rest,” he whispered as he lay down on the dirt.

Memories of First Aid class jumped around in my suddenly panicky mind. Heat exhaustion, I thought. I crouched down next to him, took his hand. “Talk to me, hon. Tell me what’s wrong.”

He was still conscious, which was an excellent sign. “Leave me here. Go back into the park and get water and bring it back,” he said. I sighed. This is classic First Aid training—don’t ever leave the person if you can possibly help it, but this is one of those times when you have to leave. There was no other way.

I squeezed his hand. “All right,” I told him. “I’ll be back soon.” I left, looking for water, looking for help. And leaving him lying on that path alone is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

Woodland Adventure to be continued, soon!

Finding the Secret Ways

To my great joy, I had a chance over the weekend to go wandering with a friend in the far away green hills of WV. We started out in a state park I was somewhat familiar with. I'd never hiked the trails there before, though, only gone to the main section of the park and the lovely waterfalls there.

This time, we took the trail. The Rhododendron Trail, according to the sign. It was a rocky trail, but wide and easy to follow, at least for awhile. But then we came to a fork in the trail, and then another and another. We chose our direction at these points as we usually do: whichever trail looks narrower, darker, more mysterious, is the one we take. The secret ways, the ones which might lead us out of the ordinary world and into song or story. This one led us right out of the park, I believe; the path was rockier and rougher, and the trees were closer and thicker. The woods were stately and full of wonder, full of dark, shadowy beauty.

Before long, though, we reached a seeming dead-end on our non-path-- a mostly-dry streambed filled with mossy rocks and boulders. The summer has been a dry one. We thought of turning back, but I wanted to push on just a little further. I climbed up on a few of the rocks, wandered out into the middle of the streambed. My friend has a few small problems with his sense of balance, for various reasons, meaning he has problems with heights and climbing. He waited on the shore patiently while I clambered about. From this new vantage point, I could see a beautiful thing-- just a little further upstream, was a small torrent of water pouring down from a high rock face and into the stream. A secret waterfall!

"Can you make it out here?" I called back. "I want you to see this!" And I told him about the waterfall and its beauty. He made his way out to me, carefully, and we stood and watched the beauty of that clear falling water.

I couldn't leave without snapping a few pictures, of course. I climbed a little closer, up the boulders, over the wobbly little rocks. My friend followed me, uncomfortable. I told him he could wait, and I'd just get a few pictures and come right back, but he came with me anyway. As we crept closer to the little waterfall, we noticed that the water was in a deep pool at the base of the falls, and the water glistened on the dark rocks dappled by the sun.

It was truly a beautiful place, secret and quiet, hidden in the green woods. It is a shame one must go so far from home to find these secret paths, for they are the ones I most like to walk.

Woodland adventure to be continued.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

100 Things About Me

I got this idea from Clew's blog. Clew kindly leaves me comments now and again. It seemed like a good idea, so I thought I would try it, this lengthy list of 100 things about myself. I've been working on it off and on for a few days-- I didn't sit down and do it all at once! So, for your reading enjoyment, I present 100 Random Things About Me.

1. I think I knew pretty much everything I needed to know about God when I was 4.
2. Every bit of theology and religion I’ve studied since then has been an attempt to regain that instinctive knowledge I used to have.
3. Both of my pinky fingers are crooked.
4. As far as I know, this is the only way in which I resemble my father.
5. Sometimes when I see my younger brother, I am surprised that he is not tiny anymore.
6. I was glad to have a brother so much younger because it gave me an excuse to play with dinosaurs and read kids’ books.
7. The day before my parents were sending me from Florida to Michigan to live with my aunt and uncle until they could move themselves up north, I rode my bike to the beach. I had to tell the ocean goodbye.
8. Sometimes the wind off Lake Erie on a hot day will have a water and salt smell very close to what the ocean wind had. It’s not quite there, but it’s close.
9. I really don’t like to cook, except for sweets.
10. I was always a little jealous because I think my cousins are prettier than I am.
11. I’m terrible at doing “girl” things like shopping for clothes or putting on makeup. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me a little that it doesn’t bother me.
12. When I was in middle school, there was a guy who would constantly try to touch me and say lewd things to me, even after I told him to stop.
13. The last day of 8th grade, I punched him in the gut and kicked him in the knee. He cried.
14. I was ashamed of how good it felt to make him cry.
15. I’m a little nervous to listen to my MP3 player at work, because I might forget that no one else can hear this music and start randomly singing.
16. In college, a lot of my friends were music majors. They would start randomly singing without the aid of MP3 players.
17. For years, I have had occasional dreams of a baby boy with brown hair and green eyes. I think he is a dream of the baby I might have one day.
18. During the 9 months from my marriage day to the day I moved out, I did not dream of that baby boy even once. Two nights after I was on my own, I dreamed of him.
19. I did not get my first kiss until I was 19. I’m still good friends with the guy I kissed.
20. I sometimes wonder why I am still held responsible for college and career decisions I made when I was only 18.
21. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.
22. Even today, if I was given that chance, I would jump at it.
23. I believe in reincarnation. One life is not enough to learn all that we need to know or create the soul bonds we need to create.
24. I used to be so jealous of the way my mom could talk to people and make friends so easily.
25. I have a small scar on my arm. I put it there myself many years ago. I wasn’t trying to kill myself; I just needed to make sure I was still alive.
26. Usually if I dream of something twice, it’s something I need to pay attention to symbolically. If I dream of it three times, it’s something I need to look out for literally.
27. When I said I didn’t go to the dances in high school just because I didn’t want to, I really didn’t mean it.
28. I wish, just once, I could play a lead character in a play instead of playing the “wacky friend” type.
29. One of the hardest parts of writing a story is picking out the characters’ names.
30. When I have to deal with a stressful situation, I panic afterwards. During the crisis I’m fine, but afterwards I will shake or cry.
31. I never have adapted to living in cold weather. I still bundle up like a pre-schooler if I have to go outside in the winter.
32. I’m really bad at keeping happy secrets. Bad ones I can sit on for years and never breathe a word of, but the happy ones bubble up inside until I wind up revealing too much.
33. I have a happy secret now.
34. I’m trying not to tell it to the whole world.
35. I have peace stickers on my car. One has a stylized US flag with doves instead of stars, and it says “Peace is Patriotic.” The other is a white dove on a blue background with “peace” written in different languages around the outside edge.
36. This sometimes makes me nervous that my windows will be bashed out.
37. I know all the words to all the songs from The Lion King.
38. All through elementary school, I was the tallest kid in the class, and some of the others would call me “beanpole” or “giraffe.” Now my wee brother is taller than I am, and he calls me “shrimp puff.”
39. I wish I didn’t have to wear glasses.
40. When my cousin and I would play with Barbies when we were little, we didn’t do the normal sort of “house” or “shopping” games. We would make up truly bizarre stories and have the Barbies act them out.
41. I never knew my father, so I imagined many things about him when I was growing up. Sometimes I still do.
42. One bright spring day, I didn’t want to go to work, but I didn’t want to stay home with my then-fiance either, so instead I called in from my cell phone and just drove and drove for hours. I wound up somewhere in the middle of Ohio before I turned around and went home. He never knew.
43. People seem to think it’s okay to ask how old I am. I am not sure why, but a lot of people do. I don’t mind telling them.
44. I miss being a college student. I wish I could take a class this fall; I was hoping I’d be able to.
45. I have a deep and burning dislike of those teachers and guidance counselors who told me I’d be wasting myself if I majored in writing. I never respected them again after they said that.
46. I wound up majoring in speech communications anyway. But they’d probably consider that a waste too.
47. I really hate when I have to explain my jokes.
48. I’m a speedreader. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence reading.
49. I probably missed out on a lot of good books because I was so intent on reading fantasy and science fiction.
50. I went on my first date when I was 16. We went to the movies and saw Jurassic Park. I was the one who picked it. This confused my date.
51. I really dislike most chick flicks. I’d prefer the dinosaurs. Or well-choreographed sword battles, those are always good.
52. I think I may spend too much time looking at the castle picture I have on my calendar at my desk and wishing I was there instead of here.
53. I want to go parasailing someday. Never mind that I’m afraid of heights.
54. I’m usually very glad I was born when I was. Childhood seems to end sooner these days, and adolescence seems to last longer. Both of these are very bad things, in my opinion.
55. I’m not the girliest of girls, clearly, but I am very proud of being able to do cross-stitch embroidery.
56. When I have my midlife crisis, I plan on getting either a motorcycle or a horse. Right now I’m leaning more towards the horse.
57. I absolutely can not walk correctly in high heeled shoes. It just doesn’t work.
58. The temptation for ice cream is the most perilous part of any diet I have ever tried.
59. I seem to have a “thing” for geek guys. I think it’s because most other guys can’t even come close to carrying on a conversation.
60. I love to travel. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or how I’m going, I just love to go. It’s always an adventure. Seeing new places is the important part.
61. I have seen woodlands and rivers which are far more sacred than anything I have ever encountered in church.
62. There’s a 5-year-old boy at my church who absolutely adores me and comes running up to hug me when he sees me. It makes my week!
63. When I was in college, I would watch “Sightings” late at night before I went to bed. It would usually give me the creeps and then I couldn’t sleep. Yes, I know it was cheesy. It gave me the creeps anyway. But I kept watching it.
64. In spite of the bit of inconvenience, I think I am glad my apartment is small and has thin walls. My neighbors are pretty quiet, and this way it sort of reminds me of my dorm room on a subconscious level. I think I’d be scared to live by myself otherwise.
65. When I was on the speech and debate team in college, we would have a contest amongst ourselves to see which of us could get the most phone numbers from other competitors. I was always too shy to ask anyone.
66. With help from teammates, I managed to convince many freshmen that our speech coach’s long hair was actually a wig.
67. I think I was once accidentally pregnant and miscarried the child very early in the pregnancy. But I have never confirmed this. I think I’d rather not know for sure.
68. The main reason I picked the college I did is that it was far enough south from home that when I went there, it was spring. It was still winter here. Five hours east and two hours south, but that was enough.
69. I’ve always wanted to ride a raft down a river, like Huck Finn.
70. One of the best feelings in the world is when I’m telling some sort of complicated but important-to-me story about some implausible-but-true thing, and I look up and realize that the listener actually understands.
71. Most of my friends my own age are guys. I do seem to be able to befriend women my mom’s age (give or take a few years) without much problem, though.
72. I’ve never done any illegal drugs, but if I were going to, it would have to be a hallucinogen. If I’m going to do something illegal, I’d better get some poetry or visions out of it.
73. I don’t believe in my horoscope, but I read it every morning anyway.
74. Sometimes being as shy and socially inept as I am causes me problems with things I have to do at work.
75. I need to exercise more.
76. I always dream in color. Bright vivid color, more bright than anything I see in waking life.
77. I was very surprised when I learned that some people dream in black and white.
78. When it’s my turn to help serve at the altar during a Communion service, and I have to drink some of the wine at the end (if there was too much in the chalice), I have to try very hard not to make a sour face when I taste it.
79. Sometimes I talk in my sleep. Usually a tiny part of me is awake, and will yell at my mouth to shut up, but my mouth just keeps talking and might say any sort of embarrassing or random thing.
80. If I’m feeling insecure or ill, I will cuddle with my old stuffed animals when I go to sleep.
81. I think part of the reason I’ve had writer’s block for five years and can’t finish writing a story is that I’m afraid it will never be good enough to be published.
82. September 11, 2001 is very much a blur to me. However, I remember almost every detail of what I did on September 10, 2001.
83. I have a slight irrational phobia about making phone calls.
84. When I was on psychotropic medications for a few months, I felt like I was being turned into a zombie, and I hated the psychiatrist. So I stopped taking the meds. I have never regretted it.
85. A few years ago, I took my brother and his friend trick-or-treating. I was also in costume (I went as a murdered referee), and I also asked for treats. Not a single person questioned it. I was 26.
86. I have yet to meet a dog who did not want to be my friend.
87. When I was in high school, I would read certain classic literary books even though they weren’t assigned. I’m embarrassed to say that this started mainly because I wanted to show off.
88. I had cable installed in June and have watched TV maybe 3 times since then, but I don’t want to get rid of it because I want to be able to watch hockey when the season starts in October.
89. My eyes seem to have the ability to change color, from brown to green and various hazel combinations in-between.
90. When I was a young teenager, I read about unicorns and how only virgins could come near them. I promised myself then that when the time came, I would be sure that the person to whom I gave my virginity would be worth losing the ability to touch a unicorn.
91. I did not keep this promise I made to myself.
92. I hate wearing shoes. I avoid shoes whenever I can.
93. When I graduated from college, I tried to join the Navy. They wouldn’t accept me because I have a slight curve of scoliosis. Now I am very, very glad for that.
94. Even if such things were possible, I would not be a teenager again for a billion dollars.
95. I very much believe that there is intelligent life on other planets. I like the idea. However, if I were suddenly faced with a UFO or gray alien, I would probably be so scared that I would pee myself.
96. I want to learn how to bellydance.
97. I also want to learn kendo and/or tae kwon do.
98. Even with all the fancy-schmancy video games out these days, I kind of miss the old Nintendo with the little rectangular controllers. Legend of Zelda was the best game ever.
99. Sometimes I am almost half convinced that I must have been left here as a changeling by elves or aliens.
100. I have no idea who would play me if someone made a movie about my life. I think I would just have to play myself.

Monday, August 08, 2005

"To love is to live."

“To love is to live. I am still alive.”

This was graffiti on the side of a boxcar—upside down, no less. I sat in my car waiting impatiently for the train to pass, this southbound train creeping away from Metro Detroit to points unknown. Most boxcar graffiti I see is unreadable, fake gang signs or phrases of random words that don’t make sense to me, but this one struck me like a bolt of lightning.

Since the day I realized I would have to leave my soon-to-be-ex husband, something inside me has felt a little numb, a little dead. Something has been cold and empty, even in spite of all that goes on around me and the life I have been creating for myself. I have been going in the hope that this will heal in time.

It will do so, with time. Of this I am sure.

For I am still alive, and I still love. My heart did not die when my marriage did.

Whoever you are who felt this so strongly that you had to paint this on the highest part of a boxcar door, you unknown brother or sister of my soul, you are not alone. I also still love, and I am also still alive. I am with you. And I thank you.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The "Ideal" Partner?

When my soon-to-be-ex and I separated, he and I had agreed to attend therapy in an attempt to patch things up. It didn’t work, but I saw the therapist on my own a few more times. She didn’t know why I’d want to, if I’d decided that the marriage should be over, so I finally had to explain it. I’ve had these patterns in my life and my relationships—downward spiral patterns. I keep winding up with guys who are just plain not right for me. I don’t want to be single for the rest of my life, but I need to know how to identify these patterns and break out of them before I get seriously involved with anyone else. Isn’t that the point of most talk therapy anyway? To break old patterns and find new ways of being?

Well, the therapist and I have since parted ways. She wasn’t keen on doing this, and an assignment I had to do for a class I’m taking through my church helped me more in identifying the patterns of my past than any thing any therapist has ever said to me. The most helpful thing my therapist did was to give me an assignment to make a list of the traits I would like in an ideal mate, and how my previous partners matched or didn’t match those traits.

I’m not going to share the ways my previous partners matched up to my list. Even though each guy matched in some ways and not in others, it’s right out of the question—far too private! But the list itself is rather telling, and that I will share.

Appearance (the easy one, so I did it first): I’m not too picky here. I’ve been at least vaguely attracted to all kinds. But I do want there to be a “spark”. There has to be something, some undefinable thing in the smile or in the eyes that indicates to me that yes, there is or will be attraction between us.

Must be a good conversationalist. This includes both thinking-talk and feeling-talk.

Must be adventurous.

Must understand my sense of humor. (It’s kind of unusual, and not many people get it.)

Must have a sense of humor of his own, which is not solely based on bad or weird things happening to other people.

Must have a strong spiritual sense. I don’t insist that the person have the same shape of faith I have. I do strongly prefer that he believe in some form of Higher Power, and that this relation is important to him. My spirituality is a vital thing in my life, as odd a form as it may take at times, and if I can’t share this with the person I’m closest to and have him share in return, it hurts. A lot.

Must not mind if I have male friends. (Most of the friends are gay, anyway.)

And on that line, must not have a problem with my gay friends. Or my black friends. Really, let’s put this as “Must relate to people based on their own merit rather than their appearance, at least as much as is possible.”

Must have some ambition and drive. Not too much; I don’t want to be involved with a workaholic. But I do want someone who is willing to make himself and his life better, and willing to work for it.

Must be creative. Not necessarily an artist or poet, but someone who has ideas and isn’t shy about sharing them with me.
(Corollary: Must also be interested in my creative ideas.)

Must have an appreciation for Nature, animals, and life.

Must not blame others for problems he does have control over. This is something I’m trying to work my way out of, so being around someone else who does it could cause setbacks.

Must have some common interests with me. After all, we have to start somewhere.

Must be able to be social with my friends and family. Don’t have to be best good pals with them, but at least be friendly. (And I will do my best to reciprocate.)

Must have a desire and drive to make the world a better place.

Must be kind and compassionate.

Must not fear spontaneity.

Must be willing to share his dreams with me. And I will share mine with him, and great things may come of this. :-)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Study in "Adventuring"

If we’re going to be technical about things, we can say that I’m the older of two children. My brother is 13. Of course, for all practical intents and purposes, it works out that I’m the oldest of four children. I was also raised with two cousins, who are 26 and 18, and who may as well be my sisters. So there are four of us who share what we might call a sibling bond.

That being established, I have a question for the universe. WHY, of the four of us, am I the one who has all the misadventures? I’m the one who falls out of trees, slips on rocks, sprains knees while rollerblading. I’m the one who got chased out of the park by a demonic rabbit, got chased out of a camp by an evil badger, and had to jump off a footpath to avoid stampeding geese. I have bumps, bruises, and scratches from tearing around outdoors and fingernails stained just slightly pinkish from the juice of the wild blackberries I found on Sunday. I have more freckles this summer than I’ve had in any summer in years.

But shouldn’t these things be spread at least somewhat evenly amongst all four of us? I mean, demographically, the 13-year-old boy should have more of these misadventures than the 28-year-old woman, wouldn’t you think? But no, I have all of them. Apparently Fate finds me to be an amusing plaything.

But you know what? I am having a blast.

Bring on the bumps, the bruises, the scratches from the blackberry thorns. Bring on the dirty feet and the grass stains. I will take all of it! Bring on the stampeding geese flopping their feet at breakneck speed, bring on the growly badger, even! I can run away! Bring it all, bring the sun that gives me freckles and the wind that turns my hair into a mess. I want all of it.

It’s summertime and I’m going out to play.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Moving Onward

Last night I had to do something very difficult. I had to see my soon-to-be-ex one last time—quite possibly for the very last time—to return a few things and have him sign one last set of papers.

It was difficult to see him.

He looks different; he seems to be growing a beard, and I’m not sure what I think of this on him. There’s something different about his eyes as well, though it’s not something I could put my finger on.

We were quite civil in person; complained briefly about the arrogance of the lawyer who had explained the paperwork to me, asked about superficial things, procedural things. I commented on a new DVD rack in the living room; he told me it had been on sale at Meijer.

We sat there on that green couch which had so recently been our couch, not just his, and went over papers. How many naps have I taken on that couch? How many bad sci-fi movies and how many hockey games have I watched curled up in that one particular corner where I always sat?

And then it was done, and I tossed out the little scrap papers from one of the carbon copies. I looked once more into his eyes as I was leaving. For just one brief second, I thought I saw through to that soul I thought I had known, and in that second I opened myself again, just one brief second of shared grief, one tiny piece of longing for what might have been. Then a shift of some sort, a change, and he was closed off to me as had become so common in our last months together. It was done, and I withdrew.

I thanked him for being cooperative with signing the papers. I told him to take care of himself. Then out the door of that house we might have shared, out into the warm air and bright evening. Down the street and back to the freeway, windows down, my hair blowing back, singing softly with the radio as I drove southward to my own small home, where I’d have a friend waiting to check on me and my guinea pig would be squeaking for a second serving of dinner, my new life and my old life beginning at last to settle into some new thing which is wholly my own.