Saturday, March 27, 2010

I missed God by no more than two days on a flight between Salt Lake and Baltimore. Sometimes I wonder who I would have been if I had found him--planting tomatoes and chasing toddlers, living a life of different struggles, a more rooted but so much less examined life.

As it is I lay awake at night and think of suicide. I'm not sure about anything, but I think there would be no answer no matter what I were to read, no way to transcend absurdity, and such a lack of endgame makes me want to die. This game isn't that much fun, to make it last forever. Still, I wake up in the morning and I do the things I would have done, if there was God, cleaning the dishes and turning the soil, just with my questions echoing in the stillness. I listen, and I try to escape them, and I'm happy for the wind and sky and sunlight through the glass.

People use each other to bury truth. This is why I'm afraid to be alone, why I shouldn't be with people. They're a refuge not an answer, a temporary peace, a short term solution to a long term problem. I'll take it but wonder what's next, and worry how to get there.

Friday, March 26, 2010

bell hooks bell hooks bell hooks bell hooks bell hooks bell hooks bell hooks. . .

On the plus: one hour with just me and my class. And I do tend to contribute to the discussion.

On the wtf: there's some sort of luncheon, to which xendofthelinex (my favorite kitten loving stalinist, who is not even in the class,) was invited, and I was not. (!) :( Pick me, Shannon, pick me! Is this what I get for not adequately sucking up to faculty?

but mostly I am absolutely buzzing. In the flesh. . . I've spent all day reading and re-reading her work. . . I wish I could afford to buy more of it. It's just all so alive, and I've never found another thinker I so closely, deeply, and frequently agree with.

How often do you meet your hero?

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"Today," I announced to my roomate, "I have been TOTALLY self-indulgent."

"Well, what did you do?" she asked.

So I told her about waking up hurting, trying to do homework but taking motrin and going back to sleep; about visiting a friend in the sculpture studio, watching him glaze bowls and helping him make sculptures of fish, then taking an hour of his shift at work (not a sacrifice, trust me) so that he could get things done on time. I told her about visiting my oldest sister's family, taking two of the kids with me on a grocery run, letting them both sit in the cart even though they're way too big; getting stared at in the aisles while I animatedly told them my favorite Asian fairy tale. I told her about having dinner with my sister's family and playing their piano before everyone went to bed, then eating the ALL of the tinned oysters I'd bought myself as a shopping treat.

It was fun.

"I love that this is what totally self-indulgent means to you," she said.

And I've been thinking about that. The things I spent my day on aren't useless; they just aren't the things I more officially need to get done. I didn't do any homework, or housework, or writing, or repairs, or reading, or exercise, or therapy(Bleah). This is apparently how things go when I prioritize social interaction. I don't feel wasted, though; I just feel. . . like. . . happy.


Today continued the trend. I rolled out of bed after six hours of sleep and hastily checked the web to see what homework I'd ditched (none, but not on purpose), sat by my window soaking in morning sunlight, and eventually took the bus to class. If I were a good academic, I'd be putting in the hours to get a solid foundation in early modern, but I only sat through feminism. . . and it was fun--fantastic, actually. I was with people I like, having a long deep informed discussion about things I care about a lot--as I said, fantastic. Then I went home and promptly fell back asleep.

And this is my self-indulgent life. I don't know if I'm ok with it. It can't be ethical, right? People are starving. All this time I'm spending on myself--it's not helping anyone else. Is this what it feels like to be safe and stable and fed? If anyone stopped talking to me, it would not be devastating. I'm not sure if I'm ok with it, but now that I know I can have it, it's nearly impossible to motivate myself to do otherwise.

I think I'm going to go with it, for just awhile; my plan is to take the next year off of school and just. . . do what I want. Just do this--just read and garden and sleep and cry and talk to interesting people pretty much whenever I want. Most people have a life at some point, don't they? Even the ones who then give it up to fight for Truth and God and The American Way?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I miss my feet.

Dancer's feet are important, strong. When you dance you feel your feet, know exactly where they are. Foundation for everything, they can be more expressive than your hands or face. Lately, I've been walking a lot, and I feel them differently, torqued and sore from all directions, jelly, mush. They are overworked to stabilize my unconditioned stride.

Sometime 'round the end of January, a Very Awesome Friend invited me to hike to the Havasupai falls with his family in June. I was pretty thrilled at the chance; it seemed perfect in several ways. First, for all my cavorting about the country, I've never been to the Grand Canyon, and I'd wanted to see it this summer. Second, I've wanted to take up backpacking for half a decade now, but things keep interfering. Third, this particular Very Awesome Friend also has a Very Awesome Family, and who wouldn't jump at the chance to observe such a thing so close to it's natural habitat?

Initially, I was bummed. After the thirty seconds of jubilation, I remembered that I have a mutineer spine, and ten incredibly steep miles with a pack on seemed both unlikely and not bright. After several days of moping, I came to a compromise: I'd set up a training program and at least try. If I got injured along the way, I'd find a shorter more local hike to do and invite friends for a "celebration of failure" party.

Thus it came to pass that I abandoned the cautious exercise program I'd been, with so much self restraint, following for the past month and a half. I traded it in for the aggressive sort that falls somewhere in that gray and shadowed land between "unwise" and "categorically stupid."

It was going really well till Monday. I'd done a 13 miler on Friday at an incline setting of 5 (my commercial grade treadmill goes to 15). Then I'd had a really hard time sleeping for a couple of nights, and woke up hurting on Monday. . . then I planted a tree. And THEN I hiked another six miles. It was after the six miler, doing a careless/stupid forward-bend hamstring stretch, that the moment came.

Have you ever watched a potter use a wire cutter to take a vase off the wheel? It's a bit like that. All the pieces are intact, but something has definitely just shifted a bit sideways. The pain is sharp across that line, but also aching everywhere else. As you try to move a little in the moments afterwards there are hints and flashes that if you do something wrong, it will soon be shattering. You hold yourself up with your arms and you try to breathe, try to tense your core muscles, try to will them into putting whatever it was back.

It turned out not to be too bad. Definitely not another herniated disc; I can walk with ease. Still, the whole incident has been a reminder; dear self, this is what it's like to live in a body that can't be whole. It is more fun to ignore this, to try to forget this body is heavy and slow and weak, the kind that will give out on you indiscriminately, at seven o'clock on a Tuesday or five minutes before the biggest show of your life. Ultimately this is all human bodies, all of us, and it makes us nervous to know this something we'd rather forget. Some days I get lessons in remembering, and this is what I've learned.

It feels way better to get hurt doing something hard than washing your dishes or tying your shoe.

It feels weird to be able to walk thirteen miles up hill, then not to be able to tie your shoe four days later.

It feels weird to walk thirteen miles up hill, and not to dance.

I'm reminded of my college PE teacher, kindred spirit; as he put it, yeah, I know this isn't some kind of promise. Maybe I'll still die young, I could drop dead tomorrow of a heart attack or a stroke. . . but no matter what, I will die running.

I will die running.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's astonishing how often I start considering some problem that I find really interesting, or that otherwise relates to my life, and it immediately turns to, "I've really got to get around to reading ___________ book." From today:

Infantilization of women by otherwise decent guys: The Macho Paradox (Jackson Katz)

The question of whether systemic violence is necessarily the case in a global economy: Empire (Negri and Heart)

What to do about elitism in education: Literacy with an Attitude (Patrick J. Finn)

Whether female sexuality inherently entails victimization: The Second Sex (de Beauvoir, of course. . . though to be clear, whatever she says, I don't expect to believe her)

How to prune my new plum tree: The Backyard Orchardist (Stella Otto)

Whether I should go all out and get micronutrient soil testing (mostly for fun): Introducing soil science (Brady)

Whether capitalism has any merit on a macroeconomic scale: MIT Opencourseware, and the economist. Ok, so that's not a book. Still. . . you get the idea.

Clearly, I am an addict.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

So, blogging balance.

My favorite part is that by telling everyone, I don't have to tell anyone. There's no sitting in awkward silence. There's less of that feeling that I'm trying to knock down a brick wall with every sentence. There's no wondering whose day I've ruined, or which friend thinks I'm trying to use them as a therapist. It's emotionally reckless, but it's also pretty clearly marked, and so far I think no one reads at gunpoint. The writing every day feels good, and the openness also.

There are things I worry about. What not to say? I feel strongly that depression and anxiety, the commonplace messedupnesses, need a louder place. It isn't that they're good--it's that they're so hard to talk about. What are you supposed to do if sad and scared are the larger part of your life? How do you deal with the days when you have nothing to say to anyone because you feel you can't be happy enough for them--like they deserve something better? Even people who want to be supportive don't know how to deal with it. Maybe if we talked about it more often they would.

There's a line to walk. Wallowing is bad. I have no idea how to split the difference between self pity and a healthy, honest recognition of your circumstances--between raising awareness, getting healthy social feedback, and pointless exhibitionism. All good things to learn.