Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Monday, February 28, 2005

State of Mind #4: Voiceless and Grateful

I’m at the end of my worst cold in ages. A really really bad one. Just didn't stop it in time like the ones I've written about in here so far. I even went to a walk-in clinic yesterday just to make sure I was OK. (My worst fears were already void since I had a routine follow-up chest x-ray last week and it showed no problems.)

But as this cold ends, I’ve lost my voice! Yesterday I refused to acknowledge it. I kept thinking I was really faking it. But on doctor’s orders got a substitute for today. Sure enough… almost no voice at all today…

and I’m loving it.

I don’t really have time to sit and meditate on it as I’d like to. I’ve got report cards to finish and this extra day to work on them is a blessing I can’t miss. (Report cards and the anxiety that goes with them are probably part of the reason I got sick in the first place!) But even when I can talk, I’m choosing not to as much as possible. I just got back from a walk in which I walked 4 blocks out of my way to avoid a petition guy standing on the corner. (All I could have told him is that I can’t sign it because I’m a U.S. citizen just living in Canada for the present. But I didn’t want to have to interact at all beyond a smile.)

Something about being quiet today is opening up some other… thing… for me. I can’t describe it. But I want more days like this now. I want to go away and just be silent somewhere where I won’t worry the phone will ring, or that I’ll run into someone who will catch me and ask why I’m not at work.

I read an article last week on called Torah with Morrie about silence. It was a nicely written article except that the last part cracked me up. It asked why we aren’t willing to have silence and suggested that the next time you get in your car, instead of turning on the radio, ask yourself “What are my goals in life? Am I on the path to fulfilling them?” “Am I trying to improve my character? Do I have a plan for improvement?” “Am I better person today than I was yesterday?” “Do I feel connected to God? What have I done today to connect myself to God?”

Again, back to that question… why do we avoid silence. Those questions are a darn good reason why! I ask myself those questions too often, and instead of building myself up from them, just feel overwhelmed and worried.

Today I’m even skipping the questions. Just being, and noticing how it feels to be.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Blog #4: Fame!

At last! In shul this weekend I was approached by someone I only sort of know. He said, "I found your blog." I think he said he got there from the Mishkaneer website which I would link to if I knew how. I still need to learn that. Help please! I was so excited that someone that is not necessarily a close friend is enjoying what I have to say. Once before he heard me read aloud a story in a coffeehouse Melave Malka. When I reached a point I was uncomfortable reading he said, "Don't edit!" He said that again during our conversation about the blog and I want to take it as a new carefully applied mantra. I have to edit carefully when I speak to avoid saying things that could cause harm etc., but the thought of someone wanting to hear what I have to say on this blog gives me a new confidence in my words. Maybe I don't need to hide myself.

I heard on my clock radio as I was waking up on Friday that this weekend there is a big blogger convention in Vancouver. Hearing them discuss blogging on the radio made me ask what I value in another person's blog. The truth is, I don't have much time or patience to read too many others, but lately I've been wishing that certain friends had blogs. I love to hear them think and talk, because they are my friends, and I'd love to know just what is happening in their heads on a given day. I'd like to have discourse with them even when we aren't together. I also am interested in occassionally finding strangers out there that intrigue me. And sometimes I am home, and in-between things, and alone, and I just want to read what someone else is thinking. It doesn't have to be a big and consuming hobby. Just a better link to click on than a game or whatever else I might click on.

One more note about fame. This morning I was trying out a new aerobics class, and the instructor told us that in her store yeesterday (I guess she sells clothing), Sarah McLachlan came shopping. I was so excited to hear it! I was excited to hear about her temperament and how many bags she had with her etc. Why? Why do I care?! I guess because being famous means that people sort of know you, that you don't know at all. So I sort of know her and really like the work she does. So of course I'm excited for that brush of fame, even if it really just means that this woman never has the privacy I so appreciate for myself.

At the same time, there's this idea of people watching you that's appealing. Paul Auster is a favorite author of mine, not that his books are my favorite, but because as an author he fascinates me. He has this obsession that runs through many of his books of "being watched." His characters will sometimes even hire people to spy on themselves, just to feel that sensation that someone knows what they are doing at all times.

Somehow I think this is a spiritual message. I think G-d wants to be known too. Sure, G-d is everything, and doesn't actually need anything from us. But if G-d is known by us, then G-d is more real. It's obvious because in a way G-d can't fully exist without us knowing that G-d is an entity at all. When a person knows G-d, she also is more aware of everything around and therefore exists more fully in G-dself and the world that that G-d has created. Mindfulness it's called. Well, people emulate G-d in this way with this desire to be known. At least I do. I may want my privacy, but I want to be known. I want to be seen for who I am, good and bad, and to be honored for simply being. Everyone deserves that and we should try to treat people with that honor and respect.

Think here of "Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card. In this book, the speaker for the dead does not eulogize people by saying only their positive points. He tells the story of their lives in entirety. And it is beautiful.

Am I ready to be seen that way? Are any of us? Is it safe for us to be known for who we are? Will others be kind when they know us? Are we kind when we know others?

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Thursday, February 17, 2005

Fridge Poem #6: Summons

Tonight when I "checked in" with myself I discovered I really needed to spend a few minutes creating something before bed. Only a few minutes. So out came the random poetry magnets again. I was a little disturbed at the words I pulled out. But this is what I came up with. I have not added any words or even letters except for the title (summons). All I deleted were “these” “hole” and “s.”


Drink moist bug life

Better speak
more need.
Come bleed here.


Monday, February 07, 2005

The Blog #3: Freedom

My biggest struggle lately has come from getting what I most desparately wanted… the chance to teach again.

The last time I had a class I could call my own, I had to leave 2/3 of the way into the year to fight for my life against cancer. One of biggest griefs I suffered was having to leave the school year unfinished.

One of the gains, though, of that year, was the fact that I finally began to write again.

After I was cured I came back to the classroom, but I was really just partner teaching with the teacher who had taken over for me. It was in what had once been my room, but they were not my students and I depended on my partner for many things I would have otherwise have done myself. I was still in recovery.

Sometimes during both periods, (when I was sick, and when I was starting back to work) I debated the possibility of never returning to the classroom. If I could prove that I could make a living from writing, why not do that instead?

But besides the fact that it’s really really hard to make money writing, I didn’t want to do it that way. I love to write so much. It’s part of my soul. But writing in a lonely room, even though I’m producing a concrete product of which I can be proud, is dead compared to the rush I get from teaching… the creativity that goes into every lesson and every interaction, the chance to love so much, the challenges, however frustrating, that teaching offers.

So now I’m teaching again, in a new school, in a new city, and I’ve no time left for my regular writing. I go home exhausted, and don’t want to write, even if it relaxes me. Because for me, writing is another job. I have things I want to finish writing and to publish and that involves work.

This blog has offered me a new chance to write. I relax when I do this because I will not dramatically revise it. And no one depends on the work I do here. I do it for me, though I hope others will engage in it. Sometimes I visit my own blog just to smile at it. I don’t even read it. I just feel proud that I posted something. And I hope that someone I care about is reading it and thinking of me. Or I boggle at the idea that maybe a stranger will find it, although I wonder under what pretext.

The same with the magnetic poetry. Playing with words with no expectations.

How strange that the written pieces that I labor over hard may never see the light of day, and yet these sporadic thoughts do.

How grateful I am that I have this. It is just one choice of something I can turn to at the end of the day instead of making more work for myself.

And yet I also have room in my heart to look forward to writing again, some night when I find I have my bearings. Some night when I choose to do it.

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The Prisoner and the Angel: Fridge Poem #5

Today my husband shot a film in our apartment. They had to take all my magnetic poetry off the fridge. (One of the people on crew was so sweet as to try to preserve my poems, but they finally gave up and put them in a plastic bag.)

Tonight's poem is created entirely by pulling words out of the bag. No editing at all. I only rearranged words and added punctuation. Then I tacked on the title as shown below.

The Prisoner Calls Upon the Speaking Angel

Neuter away, wise prisoner.

    Linger personality.
    Open are
    my obnoxious steel window.

Explore milk magic.

    Question it, angel.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Conflicting languages

I had a fun experience tonight.

(By the way, I'm all better from that cold. Probably one of the shortest lived colds I've ever had. 2 days. Cayenne pepper in chicken soup may or may not have done the trick, but either way, it tasted great.)

My husband is in film school and recently wrote a script for a short movie that was made into a film. The film includes a crucial scene with a woman playing a flute.

Now, my mom has a music background. As such, I learned piano at a learn age (have totally forgotten it now) and then took up flute in 6th grade and played it diligently for about 6 years. Even though I worked very hard at it and took private lessons, I abandoned it when I became disillusioned after school budget cuts sent our band director to a competing district. As time went on I have missed it very much but knew I could not take on more "arts" and simply would never have time to practice.

So, goodbye flute...

But now with this film, I was called in to be technical advisor to show the actress how to pick up and hold a flute. (She had it backwards until I corrected her.) She also used MY flute. And then a few days ago I was asked to actually be recorded playing it for the film.

I panicked a little. On one hand I got very elitist about how the score wasn't written with appropriate phrasing etc., and on the other hand became very anxious listening to just how much I had forgotten, and ashamed to have to print out a finger chart from online.

But when I actually went in, I had a great time. There are other instruments in the background of the movie, so I got to feel like I was in an ensemble again. And though my playing was choppy, the experience was beautiful.

(They're going to edit together my good moments and chuck the bad ones. But also, the character in the film hasn't played in a long time either, so it doesn't have to sound perfect.)

But this entry is titled "conflicting languages." Here's why:

I was a little nervous working with these two tech guys who were recording me. They knew all kinds of stuff about their equipment and machinery that I just wouldn't get. And here they would be listening to how bad I was. But then it kind of hit me that we were all amateurs -- they're new at what they're doing, and I'm old and behind and what I was doing -- and neither of us was really in a place to judge the other.

Because they would say things like, "How are the levels?" and "I'm making a new track for you." And "Sorry, I just accidentally blijewlijslrh,b the sliclvjoleirw,ej into the slidfjlsdopiwrl." In short, I only sort of understood what they were talking about.

I, in turn, had to say things like, "I think this is in the wrong key," or " do you want me to tongue these notes?" and "I'm not sure how you want this phrasing to sound." Sometimes I felt I had to translate. Sometimes we just stared at each other to say, "What?"

Now we just have to wait and see how it turns out. It should be okay. We did quite a few "takes" and they think they can "sync it up" and "adjust the levels" appropriately.

So we will lskmiojh how it alksjflsi out.