What a shameful waste.

Big basket of pencils

I stand at this post every morning.  I try to greet each child as they come up the stairs,  one new child from Iraq gets a Salam wa aleikum which always gets me a big smile.  The girl from Nepal says Namaste to me every morning.  The boy from Burundi says a formal Good Morning Mrs. Octopus.  And the Eritrean girls throw their arms around me and say Dehandalahi.  The Karin girls say no low eh (you are pretty). I get ignored, I get hugged, I get laughed at, people stop to chat with me, people wave as they rush by.   It is a busy post, I miss it when I have a meeting, I feel like I don’t know which kids are in the building.  They miss me too, where were you yesterday, are you feeling better?

Today as I was standing at this post my friend who is an art teacher turned TA came up to me with this basket full of pencils.  Ms. Gregory do you want these.  Of course I said.  What is their story?  The first grade teacher was throwing them away.  What?  Why?  I said incredulous.  They do not have erasers, said the TA with what I know is absolute disbelief.  I rescued as many as I could.   Oh my God are you kidding me?  What was she thinking?  Really.  Wow.  The girls from Burma were there and the little girl from Iran, whose beautiful black braid is at least 3 inches in diameter.  Why would you throw those away said the girl from Iraq quietly.  I have no idea I said.  This is our planet and throwing all these pencils away is a waste, a terrible waste and I think it shows a lack of care and consideration for our planet.  Oh she said softly, it is, I cannot believe anyone would throw them away.  The Karin girl took a pencil out, look I said, it is brand new, but no eraser.  I said, if you really want an eraser you can get a whole box (144) of pencil top erasers for less than one dollar.  The cost of just 12 of these pencils is exactly 96 cents.  That is not right they all said.  I am sure that the people in the refugee camps they came from would be happy as clams to have these pencils, even without the eraser.

As they walk away I find myself wondering how many of these pencils are thrown away each year in schools, just because they have no eraser.  I am filled with disgust.  What  a shameful waste.

I spend my whole planning period sharpening them, not all because my sharpener gets hot and stops working.

Later the 1st graders in my afterschool program, use them to write their names on the dragons we are making.

I stop then and write a note for the bulletin board.  Save us from certain death I say with the pencil taped to the top.  Donate us to the art room.

 

Nuclear Power

Over twenty years ago I worked for Greenpeace for part of a summer.  The job really sucked, honestly, I had dreams of big protests and whales but all it was was door to door marketing.  Sucked.  But I remember distinctly some of the issues we campaigned about, one of which was nuclear power. Which I still to this day do not quite understand why we have allowed these plants to be built, why would we even consider it.

Yes it is initially a cheap source of power, but at what cost?  They talk about how safe it is and yet we have, in just the last 25 years, two disasters of significant proportion.  Oh I know Japan is hanging on by their bloody fingernails scraped down to the quick, but really it is in my opinion a disaster.  Considering that our nuclear plants are now aging and soon will be aged, I cannot imagine that the disasters will go away; I suspect more of them will occur in the near future.   One of the things that scares me the most is that nuclear power is a profit based business, and as with all profit based business, the safety of its workers and infrastructure will be compromised in search of the almighty and sacred dollar bill, the shareholders will insist.  The board of directors will authorize illegal cuts and we will all go “huh, how could this have happened?” scratch our heads while someone who wants to run for office will get up on his soap box and say “there should be congressional oversight!” and then the shit will really hit the F___ing fan.   I have no doubt in my mind that in 100 years as these plants are disintegrating the concrete is becoming brittle and the metal has begun to rust our descendants will all say “what the hell were these morons thinking?  Why did they ever think nuclear power was a good idea?”  Dolphins, whales, overfishing the ocean, pesticides, herbicides, growth hormone, food additives, putting grocery stores several miles from housing, Walmart, and fast food to name just a few things that will earn us disdain and out and out hatred.

I digress.  Who cares what those bastards think anyway, we have to have our cheap ass power now!

We have screwed up people!  Can someone please stop hitting the snooze alarm, and can we start getting our butts out of the lazy and dead asleep bed and start making some changes?  Or are we content to turn on your TVs and listen to Glenn, or Bill or maybe Anne, or Rush.  Those buffoons have it right, ah so blissful, like taking a benedryl, feel yourself drift into obliviousness.  Ah that’s better.  It ain’t your problem.  Sigh.

Or is it?

Good Morning

I wake in the sirocco warmth of a most comfortable bed.  A fan spins and hovers over the bed and I feel the grace of its cool aspiration.  I find myself drifting on a sea of angels wings.  I am still and silent in this place as the feathers entwine and wreathe to my body, I am caught.  You whisper in my ear that you too feel this stillness that stops you and keeps you from moving.   I ask you for coffee which you pour for me, black, and you hand me a banana as I walk out the door.  Before I have gotten far you text me and tell me you miss me.  And I feel it, this missing you before I even leave the sleepy town you live in.  I drive through the brown countryside as big white flakes of snow dance in the brisk wind.  Geese hover still on the strong boreal breath suspended as their wings remain motionless surfing the currents. Leaves skitter like strange arthropods, racing to beat the ever turning wheels as they rush down on them.  Pools of river iced over in the cold, like a lake, as seagulls careen in the wind.  I drive on, a steady course towards home.

I park my car and enter knowing full well that what is coming.  I try to hide from her fake smile and her snooty face but she tells me directions and I check my feelings here at this gateway.  She wears it all like a mink coat, tacky and ridiculous.  I see her falsity like a sheriff’s badge, shining and bright but made of plastic like  the kind you buy for your children at the five and dime.   And I see my own genuine heart like a shining beacon.  This brilliantly lit nucleus is still like the passing eons of the universe and the silent echoing madness of empty space as I thank her.  I walk away I feel it, I stop as I notice that I am no longer afraid, no longer angry, I no longer care and this vastness is completely indifferent.   I realize I have moved away and beyond.  And I am thrilled with it.

The one person whom I know will understand better than anyone grins big and high fives me until our hands are red and hurt.  We shake them and say ow ow ow.  Yay.  Mom. Yay.  You know what this means, I say, I am finally through with all of this.  I am finally done.  And you know she can have him, terrible lover, dispassionate and selfish and hostile as he was.  Lazy and insecure and self absorbed.  Let her have him.  I laugh I cannot speak it.  What have I traded it for, now after all these months of healing and waiting and rejecting those who would not suit me.  The unselfish and unbridled passion, the slow savoring deliciousness of it.  The kiss that makes me feel like my knees will buckle and that I cannot ever take a whole breath again and when I do I am dizzy with the drug of it. I will always do what I can to let you know what you mean to me, lips say against my skin.  I will mark my perfect shoulder with the signature of your kiss I whisper back.  She told us both over dinner that we are two broken halves brought together again.  I don’t know if this is true but when I am with you I feel this.  All of this. And when I am away from you, in a place where hurricane force winds once tore my sails and left me drowning and broken, I am righted and mended and whole.

I text him and tell him it is like I was living in this perfectly serviceable house with a secret mold problem.  Later when I am forced to move out, I realize how very sick I was, but not until the healing had begun.  Months later I find myself in a cozy log cabin, a large fireplace blazing hot, Navajo rugs and blankets, shining beams and polished wood, a great room a big open kitchen dining room and living room, and a giant loft with a huge cozy bed and as I spin and spin and spin in this house, I say to myself, wow. wow. wow.  I almost say that I love him, but when he texts me back he knows I already did. Without saying the words. We both know that words lack substance, and this substance is thick like honey, but rich like gravy, and cool like a mountain breeze and hot like the steady heat of a warm fire.

Oh good morning.  Oh good morning.

 

Poem of my soul.

I open my chest for you to see the millions of stars falling out of me.  Millions of wishes and millions of dreams, falling and falling out of my seams.  I am stuffed with the universe with ten thousand suns, I am stuffed with the wholeness of all things as one.

I open my gut and out comes my eggs, thousands and thousands like fine caviar.  Vermilion, carnelian, scarlet and rose, I pull myself open and out it flows.  I am rife with a passion that is equal to none.

I open my skull and a frothing pour forth, spilling and rilling it splashes and gurgles, bubbles and boils and babbles and baubles.  I crack it wide open and look whats inside.  I am flooded with ideas that burn like the sun.

I hold out one hand and it multiplies ten fold, it is covered with pigment, and pin pricks and pens.  It opens and opens and opens again.  It reaches and draws and paints and sews tight, all of the things my being holds tight.  I am bursting with creations that are shall never be done.

I have no idea where it may go from there or what, it feels like Dr. Seuss.

To look outside you would think it is warm.  The sky is so blue and the sun shines brilliant in the clear sky.  The plants lie in that state between growing and dormancy waiting for the air to be above freezing.  But it is not and a cold arctic wind is blowing strong over the garbage and salt and sand strewn streets.

I am filled with this feeling that is warm though.  My insides feel good.  And I relish it.  I bask in the spring that is blooming inside of me.  I will say nothing of it, just feel it as it fills me.  They tell me my countenance has changed.  I just know I am sleeping better.  And it shows.

I am at a loss for words.  Ideas are spinning in a great power ball basket waiting for that whoosh of air to draw it to the top.  I practice waiting for the next breath to come, as it does.  Again and again until it doesn’t.  I am love.

 

In defense of sarcasm

I wonder why does sarcasm get such a bad rap?  I have heard it said that sarcasm is anger disguised as humor but there an element of it being anger eased by humor.  If something is annoying it sometimes take the edge off of it to make a remark that cuts through to the quick of it.   Some say that sarcasm isn’t humor at all, nor is being sardonic, all considered sneering, contemptuous, bitter, cruel.  It seems as though there may be some level of wit in sarcasm, that comes from being able to see into some deep inner level of a thing.  It is a humor that does not lie on the surface of humanity but digs in deeply and finds itself laughing at our human-ness.   When we mock a thing, deride it, we are examining it, tearing it open and trying to understand it.  You want to know what its meaning is, why is it like this, and why do you ask stupid questions at a time like this, it is funny.

It is odd because it would seem that some people are not able to take any form of mockery and others perhaps can take it and enjoy it at certain levels.  I am not sure it is all bad.  I am thinking of how mocking others, poking fun at their human fallibility  is not necessarily a direct attack on a person or persons.  It may seem to be a direct attack but perhaps it is not.  Perhaps it is in fact a way of looking at things from a different perspective that is why it is cutting.  It opens it up and leaves parts exposed and raw and it can hurt, but it is deep, and it has meaning.  It is quite the opposite of the silly and meaningless antics of say the Three Stooges.  How is it funny to squeeze someone’s nose and whack them in the back of the head?  That kind of humor is very base at least to me.

One defintion says that sarcasm is intended to wound but also that it is ironic.  Irony is also entrenched with opposition.  The sarcasm is cruel irony, being sardonic is derisive irony.  It is all different ways of standing on the opposite side of something and in that way we may find some new gem, some new idea, some new meaning.  I find that the Dumb and Dumber kind of humor is not funny at all.   But do I go around saying that people acting stupid and then other people getting a good laugh at their stupid antics is somehow not funny?  No.  I acknowledge that people may in fact find this to be humorous even though I truly do not.  So why does sarcasm get the hit for not being funny when really it is often quite funny indeed?  If you are not a cruel person but your remarks, meant to be a funny and ironic look at our human selves are you now cruel?   Okay so your Dumb and Dumber is not funny it is downright moronic.  And frankly you are a moron for thinking it is funny, just as I am a big fat meany head for thinking the witticism of sarcasm is quite funny indeed.  Who is right?  And why is that sarcasm takes a hit?

It strikes me that Americans are some of the thinnest skinned bunch of pantywaists on the planet.  You have to fake happy, you have to fake nice, you have to look fake, shave all the hair from your body, fake boobs, fake nails, fake everything, you must not ever say a word that might offend, you must strike offensive language from classic literature, the irony of it all, so brave and strong and true but God forbid you say something that might offend, and God forbid we have the back bone to take it.    You see a person using sarcasm it seems cruel and biting, but do you look at the whole person and each interaction before you make your condemnation of them as being cruel.  Ironically if you teach people to be able to recognize the humor of sarcasm it tends to not offend.   But here in our fair country people cannot handle it.  It is too much.  Ouch that hurts, I cannot go on. You are mean.  I am going to go tell my Mommy.

I don’t know. I have much to think about.  But I am not sure it is really cruelty.  Maybe for some but not for me.  I don’t have a cruel bone in my body.  Rarely do I feel hateful or so angry that I feel a need to hurt others.  I guess I have this stupid belief that anyone who knows me will know my heart is on my sleeve and it loves, and it cares deeply.  That sometimes people like me protect gigantic hearts by snapping a dishcloth at others with our words.  That sometimes a sharp word although seemingly derisive may in fact be an attempt to find the irony in life, in words, in human interaction.  The irony that seems to give it meaning.  I have to stick by this notion that you say it to protect your heart, you say it to find humor in a situation that otherwise is not funny, and just because you do not understand it yourself, doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.  I will continue to think sarcasm is funny.  I will continue to think acting like a dumbass for laughs or saying yuck yuck yuck yuck and whacking someone on the head with a giant rubber fist is maybe not so funny.  But you are welcome to that kind of humor.  If it actually suits you.  Me I will stick with my sardonic side, my sarcastic side, and the side that laughs out loud at how silly we all are sometimes.  Otherwise, sometimes I think I would just sit down on the ground and start bawling.

First Robin of Spring

Yesterday as I looked out the window onto one of the bays of Lake Ontario, I noticed that despite the ice on most of the bay that a blue heron was flying overhead.  The ice chill wind off the lake was cold but the sun was brilliant and the sky was bluer than blue.  The surest sign of spring is not so much the crocus blooming in the warm sun, their golden yellow, pale lavendar and dark purple heads a cheerful sight in the decayed and lifeless grey yard, the surest sign is me, on the front steps with a down blanket wrapped around me, book left lazily in my lap, eyes closed as I bask in the sun.  I am sure some bird out there turns to his bird friend and says “look first human of spring”.

This morning I wake to the sound of a robin singing and a jay making noise in the yard.  There is a heavy crispy lacy frost on all the metal surfaces when I look out into the sun.  I take the dog out back and as he is looking for a place I look up and see the bronze buds on one of the trees.  The sycamore stands tall and proud in the brilliant blue sky as two birds like silver airplanes fly side by side, the light glistening on their white bellies.   I notice the forsythia is budding too, and reach up and touch the little blister on the end of my nose that I get sometimes at this time of year.  I think it is an allergy to forsythia.

I come in the house and change my sheets. I will keep the flannel on for a little while longer but I take off my least favorite blanket and wash it too.  Planning to put it away.  I decide to start changing over my winter clothes too.  Not all of it but at least the heavy wool, my smart wool long underwear and my corduroy jeans and my flannel pj’s.  Winter is hard here, the heavy snow, the cold mornings, the soggy slush and salt grime.  Spring is easy.  It teases, it comes and leaves and comes back again first soft then hard then cold then warm, but steadily onward getting better and better until the summer is unmistakeably imminent.

Morning Sun Afternoon Grey

As I walk outside I turn my face to the east to the rising sun.  Yellow crocus glisten in the long early light.  I breathe and can smell the smell of wet earth just starting, but not yet spring.  I wear on my shoulders the warm mantle of a long lost friend.  Let the day begin.

Morning Sun on Yellow Crocus

Work is both pleasant and difficult, I feel the pleasure of both reward and unexpected vitriol.  When a person you respect calls you awful do you listen?  I feel grey and awful.  But then as the day continues the warmth of my students, that tells me another story.  To what do I listen?  I feel torn and ugly and awful, but am uncertain of the signs.  What is the story.  Why such ugly words.  Why do I always feel so grumpy after lunch?

I walk long and slow at the park.  I head down the flooded trail, warned of flooded path ahead I say it’s okay, I know it is flooded, I just want to look.  I take a long path, and feel the warmth where the snow has melted and the cool air where the snow still stands.  After an hour I emerge, muddy feet.  Heart heavy, anyway.  I am in a confused place today.

Flooded Trail at Clark Reservation

I return home, face turned away from where the sun should be.  I want to be alone.  My thoughts are thick today.  I am so scattered these days.  I need to settle to meditate to chant to focus.  I will not do it.

But I should.

Blackbird Singing

Daffodil Spears with Snow

I don’t know what I want, it is that age old thing the thing of desire and craving and suffering.  I snooze happily on the couch while you talk to your lover on the phone.  Your dog kisses me, and I listen to your words of advice as they echo solemnly in my head.  Don’t accept it if it isn’t what you want.  Remember to watch for the signs, you know what to look for, you know what it is that you are drawn to, be aware, pay attention.

I feel this feeling in my gut.  Yep.  I got it I realize as I am there.  My expectations were based on this premise that I won’t get everything I want and maybe I shouldn’t be too picky.  I hear words echoing in my head, and it is clear as a bell, clear as a bell this truth.  Clear as a bell.

As the truth is ringing in my head I realize something else.  It is in some way exactly what I want, in other ways not at all.  And in this moment I become even more clear.  I know what is on the table.  Am I willing to accept it?  The leftovers?  The remainders of someone else’s meal? Served second or maybe last?

What questions arise in my head.  I always over-think everything.  I never un-think nothing.   But I am left queasy.  And concerned.

The blackbird sings ooobaleee as I take photos of daffodils in the snow.  But the solitary flower of an aconite against the longevity of dark ivy is what draws me.  I am drawn.

Winter Aconite with English Ivy

Spring ah spring

Winter Aconite

I look at the weather report and see warm days, almost night time furnace temperature during the day.  I am rejoicing I am rejoicing that spring is burgeoning.  I get home and scan the yard, looking at grey life that is revealed from under the heavy blanket of snow.  I see a spot of yellow and I cheer.  Running into the house to get my camera.  Winter Aconite first harbinger of spring. Later I walk in the crisp cold night air.  I reenter the hot house, my cheeks cold, but warm from smiling, a walk with a companion, laughter on my lips.  A smile making my cheeks ache.  I feel warm everywhere.  I am warm everywhere.

There is this life inside of me, it is like the bright yellow flower in the yard, it is like the yard right now.  So much hidden under the receding snow, hidden under the decaying leaves, hidden under the muddy half frozen soil, hidden but there waiting to burst forth.  With passion.

The arrival of the spring

For your listening pleasure:

Confession.  I have a gentleman friend.   I spent the morning reading in bed, we texted back and forth a few times when I asked him about the day since I had not gotten up even to make coffee or to use the bathroom yet.   These are his words, printed with his permission:

“The world is grey and cloudy cool and a little snowy but I do not see the grey.  I have seen the daffodils starting to protrude through the earth, reaching and stretching themselves to the glorious sun, wanting to grow strengthen and endure from the sullen winter blanket in which they were sleeping, spreading their beauty for all to see.  So grey is not what I see.  Color and beauty is and is remembered. ”

First fronds of Crocus

As I read those words I was reminded in some ways of my own writing.  I see in some ways a reflection of my own emerging hope.  Hope I dare not trust, hope I dare not believe in with all of my being, but hope that has me leaping out of bed singing and laughing like crazy.  Crazy.

I run outside in my pajamas but my daffodils are still covered in snow.  Instead I see the crocus as they are always diligent, always first.  They are free from snow as they rest against the house, warmth on their backs while the sun warms them on the front.  I imagine it is like a cat resting in a sunny spot by a wood stove.  I find myself recording the new growth of spring, checking the passage of season, taking the time to note our grand and good mother, for the first time since I started blogging three years ago.  I suppose almost to the day….but I deleted the blog,  and cannot check my facts, or my stats or ever get back those years of words, and photos.

Perhaps I lie without meaning to.  Yes I have taken some beautiful photos and noted the weather and the seasons, but today the ordinary caught my eye and captured a moment of my time as I zoomed in and focused.  Yes there it is.  Yes there IT is.  It was a feeling that had left me, I practiced, acted and thought and did, but only now is that little gem crystalline and not muddy.  I know it will pass, it always does, but for ths moment I see spring.  I stop I listen I hear the music of the birds, an oriole cries out in the morning, and the chicadee sings a new song,  two doves coo as they rise up from the bird seed cluttered ground.  The dog stops and jumps in place.  Ah but with spring, with the crocus comes the neglected piles of shit that got left in my slumber, in my relentless quest to avoid the daily practice required to have a clean bare slate on which to plant the herbs and flowers that will grow.  I have slumbered here, in the snow.  Waiting to spread this beauty and color, but still so much shit.

Oh isn’t this life grand?  All of it?  The crocus, the dead leaves, the melting black snow, the bird song, the shit, the dead grass.  All of it.