Goodbye to You(s)


As they say in Jersey, see you(s) around. The term is over! I always feel a flood of relief when classes conclude. I no longer have all these groups of people depending on me to be energetic and helpful. Of course, I still have permanent people fixtures, known and loved, who require those qualities of me, but at least I don’t have to pour it out to strangers, for now.

This has been one of my best terms, honestly. I stayed on top of the workload, most of my students were engaged and hard-working (there are always a few who aggravate, wheedle and cheat), and I enjoyed my time with them. However, it’s incredibly draining for me, and a distraction from what I want to be doing. I’m glad to be done.

The truly excellent part of the fun is I have no plans to teach for the rest of the year. Summer is Clarion West, and fall is the time when I use all that knowledge I’ve hopefully gathered to make some magic happen. I also have a homeschooling responsibility that needs ramping up. Mr. B finally starting reading and writing independently this year, and he’s primed for big advances now that those building blocks are in place. Double excitement.

On Skimpy Blogging, and Cabbage


Not been much going on here lately, huh? I’ve been keeping super-busy with end-of-term preparations, homeschooling, Clarion fixations (such as ever-expanding reading and packing lists), and gardening.

I do love digging in the dirt. My black thumb syndrome has dramatically improved this past year, but I was beginning to think the spring window was going to zoom right by, and I wasn’t going to get enough new planting done.

However, last weekend I cleared out a lot of old growth and this weekend, I have been working to replant. One exciting aspect of this is the opportunity to eat up remaining foodstuffs that were grown by the earth in my front yard and cultivated by my own hands. It’s a thrill, if you’ve never done it.

Here, three heads of cabbage that came straight from the garden into the pot. It was peppery and delicious. I have a couple more to go before that particular bed can be replanted, but I put out a bunch of bell pepper seedlings and I’ll probably put in the hot pepper ones tomorrow. Yum!

Of course, I should be writing.

In Which the SIlence is Lifted

At least, the Clarion West “radio silence” is over. I can officially announce my acceptance, not that I’ve been as quiet as I should have been (it’s really difficult). Shout it from the rooftops! Except I still can’t talk above a whisper without strain. Argh! Oh, wait. I can’t even say “argh.”

When I applied last year to the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I took two “bathroom mirror” photos of myself, one with the Acceptance Face that can be seen here, and the Rejection Face, which I was too deflated to use in my 2009 rejection post. Don’t ask why. If you’ve played the Clarion waiting game, you probably know that it has serious side effects on your sanity. The photo’s a little myspace-ish, but what the heck.
The stupified expression I’m sporting in the photo is appropriate, as it turns out. When I got the call, my brain turned to mush and made me incoherent. I’d gone for a walk and left my phone at home, and there was a voicemail waiting from Seattle when I returned. I called back immediately without collecting my thoughts, which may not have helped matters anyway. Enter the gibbering idiot. I probably said “wow” and “thank you” about ten times each and failed to process much of what was being said on the other end, except the part about acceptance. Yikes! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this instant moron reaction, as a few of my future classmates have expressed the same.
While waiting to share the news, I have to say that my overall response to this turn of events has not been quite what I expected. Instead of triumph and elation, I think the word for what I’m feeling comes somewhere between anticipation and terror. Kinda like I felt right before walking down the aisle at my wedding. Attending the workshop involves sacrifice, not just a financial one and not just on my part; plus, it’s an opportunity that, I think, comes with a certain kinda price tag, an obligation to live up to the faith being placed in me, both during and after. Most importantly after. I hope I can, more than anything.
Needless to say, I’m already planning what to pack.
EDIT: Oops. I didn’t apply to Clarion West in 2009. Rather, I applied to Clarion (San Diego), which is a whole different workshop. Maybe I am a little giddy after all.

Alive and Humming

Back from FPG, and as usual, humming with extraordinary amounts of energy to DO something, almost to the point of being pained by it. I attended some amazing workshops and went to sleep at decent times, foregoing the crazy all-night pleasures of drum circle, at least for this festival. I enjoyed lots of intelligent conversation around the campfire, and I let my cellphone die (even while others were using theirs to obssess over Facebook and incessently check email). We roasted marshmallows (a lot), I unplugged! Except for the little bit (wah) of writing I did on the laptop, I didn’t miss being plugged in.

I didn’t take any pictures because attendees are really not allowed to, but you can see the photos the camp photographer took in Spring at the website; the ones for this past weekend should be up soon. Click the left scroll to see my ugly mug. That picture in the slide show is not the worst ever taken of me, but it ranks up there for my menfolk. That’s the joy of dancing all night, sleeping on the ground and walking around with bedhead (uh, sleeping-bag-head) because you left your hairbrush at home.

Part of the reason I enjoy this festival so much is the escape it provides from daily responsibilities. I can think better, more clearly, I can just BE, for hours on end. This always leads to some change in my thinking and my life, which can probably be seen in the posts related to the Spring festival. This time, I came back with a strange desire to attend seminary (really!), a more grounded sense of what it means to be a parent, and more insight into how I can better serve the pagan community. Makes me wonder what insanity/brilliance I could get up to if I had more opportunity for solitude/reflection.

Anyhow, I wrote something like 240 words the entire weekend; in spite of all the personal progress and relaxation I experienced, this sucks. I knew it would be tough to miss that many days during NanNoWriMo, but I thought I’d write more at camp. Wednesday through Sunday night was shot as far as NaNoWriMo goes. Strangely, I don’t feel too freaked by that, though. I spent some time working on the book last night and easily wrote over 400 words in about 45 minutes. It’s a passage I feel good about, so it’s not completely an issue of quantity over quality. For me, some words are better than no words.

At least I rounded the 3K mark! 47, 000 more to go. I’m doubling up this week to catch up.

Making the Cut

This post is not about writing, and really, it’s a rant about my inner life. But it could make my writing life better, so maybe it is about writing.

With me, it takes a crisis point to realize something’s wrong. Or better stated, “nature has a way of restoring balance.” Usually, I stress so hard that I make myself sick and have to spend a week in bed with a cold or something worse. Then, I realize that the world doesn’t stop turning if I take a break from all my responsibilities.

Well, I got a big shove in that direction on Sunday. I was nearly frantic trying to fulfill all my obligations, and I just broke. I know my life is out of balance: the things I most want to devote my time to (writing, spirituality, family) are the ones I give the least to, in favor of activities that satisfy the least and best serve others. SO, I’m done!

A little prayer, to the Goddess: “Mother, help me. Mother, heal me. Please release me from all things worldly that do not serve me.”

I know what needs to be cut. I need to be at peace in myself to do the work I most desire.

So mote it be!

Proud Pagan

I’ve spent the better part of the week trying to hold onto the sense of peace and purpose I gained from attending Florida Pagan Gathering this past weekend. It’s a twice-annual festival which always inspires me to better my life and take action.

I attended great workshops with cool presenters. I learned some absolutely beautiful songs for groups from Margot Adler (yes, the journalist from NPR). With my family, I learned about incorporating spiritual practice into daily life as a “family coven” with Lydia Crabtree. I gathered a good amount of perspective on the future of paganism as a growing world-wide religious movement, with folks like Gavin and Yvonne Frost (who are, BTW, very anti-Christian while I am not) and T. Thorn Coyle. Best of all, I watched my husband and child jump the Beltane fires and dance around at the fire/drum circle. Amazing levels of joy.

It’s hard to come home after that, although finding ticks in your clothes and scorpions in your campsite are enough encouragement to leave! I have a refreshed appreciation for creature comforts and a renewed spiritual bond with both family and friends who attended with us.

Go, go, gadget optimism!



I am occupied by other thoughts, and I am not, not, not freaking out! I am taking stupid pictures of myself (which I will have to add later because Blogger is acting stupid and won’t let me upload).

I am harvesting collards that I grew with my own two black-thumbed hands, and cooking them for my pagan group’s potluck (photo).

I am making out with my husband in the driveway in full view of my neighbors (no photo).

I am thankful to other people for their support and good wishes. I am not complaining.

Edit: Sorry the pics are sloppy, I really don’t get what is going on with Blogger right now. But there they are, anyhow.

Progress

At last! Well, in one area, at least, at the expense of others.

You see, I haven’t had a working kitchen since sometime in February. My dishwasher leaked water everywhere, resulting in a parade, in and out of my house, by insurance adjusters and contractors. All the cabinets were ripped out, and the appliances had to be moved into the dining room. The floor was dried out and refinished by tough-looking men with noisy machines. This was all uncomfortably smelly and stressful. Then the Doing Nothing began, and that seemed worse.

Not being able to cook or do dishes is sort of novel at first, but then one gets tired of trying to figure out meals that the microwave can produce or that are electricity-free. And washing dishes in a dishpan on the dining table is not all that much fun. It’s a little like camping, without the good parts. So, we started using paper plates and plastic utensils (gasp!) and eating out a lot (which also sounds like a good time, at first).

The Doing Nothing phase meant lots of wistful staring into the empty kitchen but no actual painting or remodeling or anything. We’d decided to do it ourselves (haha) to save money. Paint was purchased and even a new sink cabinet and other kitchen-remodeling goodies. But Nothing happened. I felt too confused and crazed by all the other things going on (once again, ladies and gentlemen and other non-existent readers, the Main Point), so not much happened after that. More wistful staring and some fantasizing with IKEA catalog in hand, mostly while choking down yet another frozen Lean Cuisine or an instant something-or-other. Meanwhile, my child whines that there’s never anything good to eat and gets constipated from eating too much instant something-or-other (mostly generic Easy Mac), and I get depressed (more).

But today, there is progress! Happy day! The kitchen is almost entirely painted, and all systems are go for the sink and stove to be put in SOON. It may be that I am euphoric from inhaling paint fumes all day, but I’m so thrilled at the prospect of having a working kitchen. I’m not even especially worried about the fact that I didn’t spend any time at all today on the research project that’s due in three days.