Archives for the month of: December, 2012

Dec 2012

Never let go the reins of the wild colt of the heart
—Buddhist Saying

Bundled up on a winter’s night, off we went in search of a pair of winter boots to sustain the snow, for soon we will experience our first snow trip together.

We passed one of my favorite sculptures in the shopping plaza. I didn’t have my camera and asked my significant other if he could take a photo with his phone. After he took a few shots, I walked up to the dancer, offered my hand, looked into his deep eyes, and then turned to the camera.

I thanked my Love and planted a kiss on his lips.

As I—we—dance into 2013, and as God wills, into the years, I will hold onto those reins—I will feel the flutter of my heart for the experiences—great and small—of this magical adventure called life.

Sending many positive wishes and blessings many times over.

Rebb

Walking back from their meeting, Jan clutches her file folder and notebook to her chest to keep all the warmth inside her down jacket. A cold lingers in her system. She starts coughing a horrible cough and her boss, Nevil, says, “are ya gonna live, Jan?”

“I think so,” she replies.

She’s gotten used to—or rather, she’s tried very hard to ignore some of the oddities of Nevil’s personality. Not oddities exactly, more like the splits in his personality.

Charley, the other office worker, kept quiet on the walk back. It was the three of them in this little office of number crunching.

They still had business to discuss, so they proceeded into Charley’s office to conclude the meeting. They got down to the “RIP List” to keep track of who had passed away, so they could keep watch on when they would need to follow up about paperwork and such. Nevil saw that the list was blank.

“So, no one’s died this year?”

“I guess not. But the year’s not over,” Jan replied matter of factly.

“No, I guess it’s not. Heck, it could be you, Jan. You don’t have to be old to die.” He had a smirk on his face that she would have gladly torn off.

Jan looked up, not surprised at Nevil’s comment. “Yes, that’s true. It could be me. I might not show up tomorrow,” she added with a slight annoyance in her voice.

“Jeez,” said Charley, at the same time giving some sort of a chuckle grunt to imply that this talk was a bit off track.

“I’m used to it.” Jan looked at Charley, then back down at her list.

Nevil seemed taken aback and said, “now, Jan—”

“Ever since I started working here, you’ve made comments about my death. When I used to ride my bike to work, you’d say, ‘don’t get run over’ or ‘watch out crossing the street, you might get hit by a car, and I need you to come in’”

“Well you’ve worried about my death too. She used to worry a lot. She’s worried she won’t get paid.”

“I used to worry about what we would do if it did happen—how would we handle dealing with the clients—your clients—if you’re not here. We can’t work for free, even in a difficult situation like this.”

“Remind me to work on it.”

He had been reminding her and she had followed up, but he only made jokes. He wasn’t taking it seriously. She had a friend that went through the experience and she just wanted to know if there were plans in place so that things could run smooth during a possible transition.

“Ok, anything else?”

There was nothing else. The meeting was over.

But Jan couldn’t stop thinking.

Was this God’s way of saying, “Hey, Jan, you’ve been fighting with yourself for many years: Should I stay; should I leave. You’ve been stuffing things that bother you, talking them out, shouting them out. You’ve never been one to lick someone’s boots. You’ve been loyal. You’ve tried to do a good job. And on the other side: He’s been flexible. He’s been generous in his own way. But—always a but—you sense something that you’re not sure you can keep turning your back on and that’s a sense of true appreciation and respect that’s lacking on his part. And you’ve argued with yourself—and every now and then he offers small praises, shows a little respect.

It’s more than that though. It’s as though he feeds off of the weaknesses that he perceives in you. He knows you’re a worrier. What does he do? He tries to make you worry and he admits it in a roundabout way. “Oh, no, I forgot to call in payroll,” he’ll say. And he did forget once. And you will worry because it doesn’t just affect you, but another employee.

He doesn’t seem to want to find anymore potential in you and seems to want to keep you down. That’s what you tell yourself because you’ve worked for other people where they clearly keep challenging you and helping you grow and it’s reached the point where it’s quite the opposite here. But, you have some of the things that you appreciate: Flexibility like you’ve never had; his sense of humor, which you like when he’s not using it against you; good pay. But, there are lots of buts—you feel like something big is missing and each year you tell yourself, one more year, and now eight years later, the years seem to have gone by fast. The challenge is you leaving—if and when—until you find something promising. You’re not jumping ship just for anything because it’s not all that bad. You wish there were more work. If things go according to the norm, he’ll retire in another five years. You can wait until then, can’t you? And most importantly, you keep telling yourself and thanking God: At least I have a job. I appreciate having work. I’m thankful for the days the boss is in a pleasant mood and says good morning to me and doesn’t use that ugly tone with me.

In any relationship, even if the good outweighs the bad, eventually the bad overshadows the good, especially when it keeps circling back and old wounds get opened.

You tell yourself, there must be a reason, there must be some divine plan that has you—a naturally sensitive person, that at times is moved to tears by the slightest beauty or hurt—there must be a reason for your personality and his personality to have sustained each other this long. In a way, you’re good for each other. You can read him, and on the surface, he can read you. You offer water and fire, where he offers earth and air. Or are you becoming more like ice?

Charley says sometimes you two talk to each other like an old married couple. You can usually stay a couple of moves ahead of Nevil. When he’s lost something, you know where to find it. He has a great sense of humor and a kind heart. He just doesn’t wear his heart on the outside of his sleeve. He’s fantastic with his clients and he’s admitted to you that sometimes when he speaks to you in that ugly tone, it’s not you he’s directing it toward, but you’re there—you’re the backdrop, you’re getting his frustration. Might be client related, might have just been a bad morning.

You tell yourself it’s really not that bad. You know there are assistants out there who are treated really poorly and some who probably don’t stick up for themselves. You don’t want a high stress job.

You ask yourself and wonder what’s on the other side. In a way, working for a small company is like a marriage—well not exactly, but it’s a relationship and there are times when you aren’t sure if it’s working any longer.

And don’t kid yourself. You know you’re not indispensable. You don’t want to be either.

If, and when you leave, you know that you want to leave on good terms. You want to leave on a high note, not when you’ve taken something too personally and internalized it for days.

But until then, keep working on those lessons, keep wondering, try to fight stagnation. Try to do what’s best for you. If an opportunity approaches, seize it. You know he’ll be all right.

I remember skipping down the pathway from kindergarten class to greet my mother singing, “goody, goody, gumdrops.” A friend was by my side, skipping along with me, both of us giggling, as we raced down that path towards our mothers waiting in their cars.

I also remember my teacher, Mrs. F., with such great fondness. If my memory serves me, she was my teacher for first and second grade; first grade at one school and second at another school when she transferred. My mother could have selected a school that was slightly closer to our home; instead she chose the school where Mrs. F. would be teaching. She was bilingual and I have a feeling that she may have spoken to some of us in Spanish at times. I felt safe in her classroom. I remember having fun and learning, and she cared about each and every one of us.

I don’t doubt that it’s difficult to be a teacher. I don’t know if I would be able to juggle so many temperaments and activities by myself. I do think, however, that I would be more in my element as an assistant teacher, possibly in kindergarten through second grade.

Recently when I walked into a second grade classroom the teacher’s back was to me and I was greeted by her words to another student, bending over him, saying, “no, that’s not right,” in a sharp tone. I said, “excuse me,” so that I could get her attention and not risk hearing anymore. I had to say excuse me again. She looked up with a smile on her face. I introduced myself and told her that I was there for one of the students. Oddly enough, it was the student who was being corrected by her.

She seemed nice enough when she didn’t sound so negative with the student, but that scene left a slightly bad taste in my mouth. I felt the words drill into me—not just the words, but the tone in which she said them. I’ve had to tell myself since that time to not be judgmental and remind myself that intuitively I know the teacher’s job is not an easy one and that I only saw a small sliver.

The next time I went to this classroom for the same student, she called the student for me. Just then a young girl second grader got up out of her chair and began moving toward the teacher with a question—pencil and paper in hand—excitement in her voice. “Sit!” the teacher said in an authoritative voice. “Did I say you could get up?” Again the words sliced through me, as the girl turned to go back to her seat. The boy and I left for our reading session.

I wondered to myself if this was typical and if all second grade teachers spoke to their students like this. I also thought of my dear Mrs. F. I do recall that she had to raise her voice a few times, but I don’t know that I remember any scolding that stands out. I’m sure she probably had to be tough with us too. I mostly remember the caring that I felt in her classroom. I can’t remember specific details, just the sound of her voice and the smile on her face.

And about seven to ten years back, I ran into her on two occasions, she was just as I remembered her and didn’t seem to have aged at all. I recognized her immediately, greeted her, and she clearly remembered me and reminisced for a few moments about how she loved her “little angels.”

Something that I had totally forgotten until recently is that the second time that I bumped into her by chance I expressed an interest in teaching. She told me that she was still at the same school where I had gone and to drop by some time and sit in on her class. I have few regrets in life and I try not to make the habit of collecting them. I do wish that I had followed through. I never did. By now she is retired.

But she did make an impression upon me in my childhood and later on in my adulthood when I saw her and spoke very briefly with her. How lucky to bump into your favorite teacher, not once, but twice!

We were her “Little Angels.”

It’s hard to believe that Christmas Eve is upon us. My significant other and I managed to finish our Christmas shopping, all except for one gift certificate that we still need to get, but the hard part is out of the way.

Unfortunately my body has been fighting a cold these past two days and this morning I’m not feeling 100%.

It’s amazing how easy it is to become out of practice and on the other hand how easy it can be to get back into the groove of an activity that used to be second nature.

In some ways, I have felt like this, off and on, with writing. And in truth, if I look back at my journals, I think this has always been present. I don’t look at this as a negative. It really has become a part of my process—the need to keep reflecting on where I am on my writing path; how writing has changed for me. Writing has always been there for me and for that I am thankful. Writing has gotten me through some very emotionally difficult times.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m turning my back on writing—or trying to. I don’t think this is the case; it does come up in my thoughts, though. Up until I started blogging about three years ago, I was a very private person. I would share my private thoughts and pieces of myself with only a select few and my journal, then one day, I landed on a particular blog that moved me and motivated me to sign up for a blog, so that I could tell the writer of the blog how much I enjoyed what they wrote, how it moved me, and how it was the reason I was in blog land.

Not long after that, I posted my first timid blog. I was at a crossroads. I was tired of writing to myself, tired of pouring my heart out to the page for my eyes alone. I was starting to feel the need to share, even if just to push my words out into the universe, so that I could see them—as though pushing my words out there made them come to life. Posting my first blog brought great swirling butterflies and heart palpitations. It was such an odd feeling to expose myself like that.

As time went on, and with certain blog prompts that spoke to me, I became more comfortable with sharing bits about my personal memories, experiences, and thoughts.

I think lately, I have been going back to my private ways, but this wavers as well. This is my attempt to coax the writer out in me—to remind myself that I don’t need to go too deep back into my shell, that I might still like to come out now and again and that it would be good for me to keep pushing forward, to keep that pen moving, keep those eyes open, keep the spark alive.

And on this day, Christmas Eve, I feel grateful for life. I feel grateful for the written word.

Positive light and peaceful thoughts to you—to the world.

Rebb

I’ve walked by this building a million times, and at dusk two days ago, I saw it for the first time.

Today I notice that the glass windows that wrap the brick building look like the Caribbean Sea. How could I have missed it all these years? I stand there and I lose myself in the warmth of that image—of the crystalline waters—as the brisk day gently slaps my face frigid.

And I notice the small leaves that propeller down like tiny moths as cold breath leaves my mouth; and I notice the crows in the distance discussing the days events amongst each other, coordinating where their next meal will come from.

I look up one more time, rest my eyes upon the great pine tree, right as a single crow takes flight and finds a spot within its cozy branches.

And I say goodbye to the stark white beech trees in repose. I say goodbye to these tiny significant simplicities that fill my evening with joy…until tomorrow and the next day…and the next moment…simple gifts to be found each time I go to sleep and each time I wake, grateful for each day of breath.

A good numbers day today: One eleven nested between two twelve’s and tomorrow will be a great numbers day: 12/12/12. Beautiful!

We had a fun time at the Ozomatli concert this past weekend. It was a busy day of errands and then the night brought great music and dancing. It was crowded and the floor vibrated. Most of the audience was somewhere in their twenties to forties, but there was one Latin couple that caught our eyes. They must have been in their 60s and boy could they dance. The man had the rhythm in his bones and his hips and body moved all night. His wife was a bit more reserved, like me, but she couldn’t help but let the music pull her into motion. They weren’t dancing as a couple, as most everyone moved to the rhythms on their own, with the exception of one young man in front of me who danced with a few ladies. A good vibe the whole night, and I was up way past my bedtime and had a few more drinks than usual, which was still not much.

The following morning we went over to help my significant other’s cousin and her husband help prepare for his godson, Little A’s, (my writing nickname for him) third birthday party. It was a Mickey Mouse themed party, so we helped with decorations: cutting Mickey ears for pin the ear on Mickey and other creative decorations that his cousin had planned. Everything turned out really nice. Her husband cooked yummy treats at the barbeque. While I was working on wrapping red and black plastic silverware in cute red napkins with white dots, I was also playing with Little A. He also wanted to help, so I found ways that he could assist me, whether it was taking the ribbon I had cut and placing it on the table or unraveling the ribbon. We had to keep him preoccupied while his parent’s worked on decorating his downstairs playroom without him seeing it.

He wanted to go in there, but then he settled into the family room with me, until he decided that he needed tools. I heard him asking his parents if he could go downstairs to get his tools. They told him now was not a good time and I could hear that he started getting frustrated and his father had told me about an hour back that Little A. was responsive to me, so I instinctively went in the kitchen with a plastic fork and knife in hand and said, “Little A., I think we can use these as tools, look, I think these will work,” and I started to walk toward the other room, while his parents said, “That’s a good idea.” And Little A. seemed to think so too, so we were back to working on decorations and “playing.”

Time went by really fast and we needed every minute of the four hours it took for everyone to get everything in order before the guests would arrive. When Little A. saw his playroom, he was so excited that he let out a scream and was jumping up and down. Mickey Mouse images were everywhere and balloons and presents—all nicely laid out and organized.

In late November I finished the last of the Harry Potter books. I had stopped at a certain point in the last book. I cried at what Harry learned in his final view into the Pensieve and the question that loomed in my mind about this particular professor and the greater truth was answered. I didn’t want the story to end, so after I cried, I set the book aside for several days and possibly a week, not ready for the end. I could have easily continued reading, but all good things must come to an end and so it did and now I am happy to have taken that journey, one that I may not have, but for something pulled me in that direction in this year of 2012 in the month of November.

Because of my experience with the Harry Potter books, I knew that my next book(s) would have to be special, to hold some meaning for me even before embarking on their page’s journey. So that brought me to my favorite author, Hermann Hesse. I have begun The Glass Bead Game several times over the long years. I was not ready each of those times. Now, though, I felt more ready than ever and so I began from the beginning again and I’m almost finished. I actually did finish the story itself and am now reading the last part within this fictional biography, the fictional posthumous writings of Joseph Knecht. It’s a story that I am still contemplating. It’s deep and beautiful and I relate in so many ways as far as the questions, self-discovery, inner/outer knowledge, sense of freedom, and inability to name the nameless.

I also restarted a biography of Hermann Hesse, but have put that aside for the time being. I had also been reading Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno over the years, which I finally finished and am ready to move onto The Purgatorio. What brought me back to Dante is a book that popped into my memory that I had learned about from a schoolmate at least six or seven years ago. The book is called Dante’s Path: A Practical Approach to Achieving Inner Wisdom by Bonney Gulino Schaub, R.N. and Richard Schaub, Ph.D. I’m about halfway through this book and appreciate how the authors shed light on Dante’s works from a practical healing perspective. I am enjoying and benefiting from this book.

I tuned into a lecture series on the iTunesU about death. The course explores death from a philosophical perspective. I listened to the introductory lecture and found the instructor to be quite entertaining. I tried to listen to the second lecture one evening in bed—bad idea. Not only did I fall asleep, but also I was in an awkward position and made a strange breathing noise as thought I was chocking that made my significant other come in and ask if I was alright. I heard the noise I made and it had actually woken me. I looked up and the lecture had stopped. I haven’t listened since, but hope that I can find a pocket of time to tune in because I have always had a fascination with death and was happy to see a course on it—from a purely philosophical perspective.

Along the lines of death…I have also come back to José Saramago’s Death with Interruptions. I picked it up at the library about a year ago or maybe it wasn’t even that long. In any case, I didn’t get a chance to finish it at the time, and the premise caught my imagination: What exactly would happen if everyone stopped dying one day? This is my first José Saramago book and I don’t know if his writing style is the same with regard to punctuation in this book as in his others, but I’ve had to just move ahead and not worry about the fact that there are no quotation marks for dialogue; that there are many many commas and not enough periods for my taste; and I don’t think I’ve spied any semicolons. I’ve found that I have to flow through the words in a way that I’m not used to when reading a novel.

A book that I started several weeks ago, before I started reading the Harry Potters, is The Writing Class: A Novel by Jincy Willet. I thought it sounded fun and it was, but I couldn’t get back into it after HP. It’s a murder mystery. I did enjoy it while I was reading it, so I hope to finish it, since I’m so close.

Another fun book that I found on the new shelves of the library is The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes: Harnessing Our Power to Change the World by Deepak Chopra with Gotham Chopra. I need to get back to this one. It’s always interesting to hear what Chopra is up to in his books.

And so, I am back to dipping in and out of books, and at the same time trying to find one larger work that will hold my attention and pull me through, while also finding others and others finding me, as usual.

I hope that today is a Tasty Tuesday and I do mean that both literally and figuratively.