It is 430 in the morning.  My body is aching for cuddling, for warmth, for touch.  Since none is forthcoming I get up and do yoga.  A sun salutation, triangle pose, a few limited hip openers.  I am sore from walking nearly six miles yesterday.  Stiff.  Yearning.  I sit in meditation.  Trying with very limited success to block out the strength of desire that is coursing through me, I recall telling a student that mediation isn’t prayer, because I am not asking God for anything, nor am I thanking God for anything.  I am just sitting with God, in the presence of God.  I breathe, until my feet are asleep.  I hold my beating bleeding heart up, and say here please take this, because I really cannot stand to hang onto it anymore.  I imagine myself back on that life raft not the rickety broken one that I dragged myself onto when my marriage ended, but onto a more sturdy craft.  I think I at least know how to manage it in the storms.  But then I say no.  I am a sea worthy vessel, and I still carry that treasure chest with the luminescent pearl.  Back to one.  Back to one.  Yes here it is.  I take that pearl the whole damn strand of precious gems and let them drop into the still waters of this hidden cove where I am moored.  They plunk as they drift into the abyss.  Back to one.  Or none.  For a half a second my mind is quiet and still.  I can feel the breeze blowing in my windows.  I can feel my body.  I am thinking only of my breath, the wind, and the tingling in my feet.  But that moment is fleeting.  I bow.

I throw on my cutoff shorts and head down stairs.  My Mom is up already, but I just want to walk the dog.  It looks like rain.  I bring my umbrella.  My legs feel strong.  It is good to be out in the cool breeze and grey skies.  About halfway the dog stops and puts his head on my leg, smiling up at me.  You are welcome buddy I say.  I needed to get out, I needed this walk.  I see the walking guy in the neighborhood.  How many miles do you walk a day?  4.   This is why I have been walking so much this spring, and now summer.  Forget the number on the scale, I just want to be more lean and strong like he is.  Stupid ego.  I want to be lean and strong because I want male attention.  But no it is also because I want to be aesthetically pleasing to my own artist eye.  The ratio of ankle to calf.  The way a muscled leg flexes as it walks.  A flashy spot to show off the tattoo on my leg.  An ornate skeleton key, with a smoke dragon wrapped around it.

skeleton key tatttoo, smoke dragon tattoo

Two miles.

I get into work and it is clear that only myself and the custodians are here today.  And I have forgotten my book.  It will be a long day.  But I have done yoga, meditated and walked.  I think it started out pretty well.

Lavender Flower

“Go to your fields and your gardens, and you shall learn that it is the pleasure of the bee to gather honey of the flower, But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee.  For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.”  Khalil Gibran

I sit and watch as my Mom, my sister and my daughter look through a book of photos.  My phone rings and when I see who it is I grin with pleasure.  Hello I say, and he is there his voice so familiar.  The last time we spoke he called me tempered steel.  Today he tells me that I am fragile.  I say it is by design.  I behave like I am not strong so I can earn more kindness, which makes him laugh.  The last time I saw him it was with a copy of The Prophet in his hands, standing both proud and teary eyed in front of the congregation.  We spoke of it, how favored this book has been in our libraries.  I step outside into the brilliant hot pink flowers, the cascading white flowers, the daisies, the bushes heavy with raspberries and the tall stalks of the lavender.  He teases me and I tease him back, we make each other laugh, tell our troubles just a little, and our joys. I pick the stems of lavender as he tells me he is watching this movie called Secondhand Lions, I know this movie and suddenly feel compelled to watch it, as I remember I thought when I first saw it that it reminded me of my uncles.  I pick lavender blossoms and hold them to my face, breathing in their masculine scent, warm and homey.  He makes me laugh aloud and then somehow in the next breath, I say you are making me cry.  The way only family can do, switching tears to laughter, laughter to tears.  As we say goodbye, I think I hear his voice crack, and I step into the house and I am now crying.  Whats wrong is the exclamation why are you crying.  I cannot help it I say through my tears and my own cracking voice.  I love my family so much.  My tears flow for a minute more.  Later I tell my Mom that I am nostalgic as hell.  I cannot help it.

It is not just my Uncle today, but my dear cousin too.  He texts me and tells me he loves me, that he thinks I am beautiful.  And I tell him he is making me cry too.  He doesn’t know why.  But it is because he always thinks of me, even when I neglect to text him.  And I love him for his teasing, for his sharing his life with me.  For laughing when I tease him back.  Later my Mom asks, what did he want.  Just to be in touch I say.  It is nice to know you are loved.

I walk four miles in the damp evening.  With friends and with family and finally alone.  Quietly contemplative, the way I like it best.  My heart feels heavy as though it is made of lead.  And I do not know why. Perhaps if I opened that curio cabinet of my chest cavity this night I would see a heart not made of flesh or of lead but with the alchemy of love is made of polished gold.

Crazy

Crazy Blue Clouds before a storm

But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Khalil Gibran

I want to write fiction
to tell the tale of my truth.
I want to express what is inside me
without fear of  anyone seeing it.
But I am compelled to tell the story
of how swept is my heart.
To prevent your loss of face.
I tell things that later I should regret.
But only because I don’t want you to know
how true this vein of solid silver runs.
But you too tell a tale
things you try to recover from
a verbal malfunction
that is its own true story.
But I hear it.  I see it.
But do I trust it?

No.

I no longer trust my ability to know truth.
and yet somehow.
i believe.

Which I more or less confess to you.
How  it all scares the shit out of me.

But I do so want to be that muse to you.

I tell you it is like a book
that I do not want to skip ahead to the last chapter.
I do not want to know the story ahead of time.

But that I want to take it page by page.

Later I think,
nor do I want to put the book down.
The story compels me.
I see your open face.
And I love you for it.

I want you to see straight through me.
 

 

You are home to me.

Your smiling face that is so like mine.
The way you tease me as a sign of affection
The jokes you make that make me smile
Your brilliant eyes as they gaze at me.
Your attention, your time, your kindness
the shared memories both old and new
the way you wrap your arms around me
and kiss me.
The way you let me squeeze your butt.
The way you step in and protect me from my demons
both the eight legged and the two legged variety
The way you accept me as I am
The way you see the same things I do
The comfort I feel in your presence.
The way you seek me out
when I am not there,
The way you draw me towards you
with that animal spirit.
The way you make me laugh out loud.
The way you know just what to say to make me cry with happiness.
The way you know how to make me laugh when I cry with sorrow.
The way I feel giddy when my phone rings
The way I feel calm about your position in my life.
The way you come to me with your hopes, your fears and your dreams
The way you trust me with your sorrows.
The way you make even the long boring moments of life more interesting.
You are the people I love
My daughter,
my family,
my friends.

You are home to me.

You must check out this woman’s blog.  The beautiful art she posts and the gems of quotes are just touching and perfect, serendipitous little pearls.

She is marvelous.

By the Sea

It must be those brief moments
when nothing has happened – nor is going to.
Tiny moments, like islands in the ocean
beyond the grey continent of our ordinary days.

There, sometimes, you meet your own heart
like someone you’ve never known.

~ Hans Børli
(Happiness…?)

Insomnia

I wake instantly.  It is 330 in the morning.  I am in a creative slump.  I have made nothing new nor noteworthy in months.  I have read many books.  I have walked over 50 miles in just over two weeks.  But drawing?  Painting?  Sewing?  No I am afraid not.  The dog has taken to sleeping with my daughter and I resent him for it, but as I stir dear Sadie has come to purr at my feet, which are curled under me, laptop on one knee.  I love how cats put one paw out to touch you.  My dreams are thick and opaque.  And as I write those words I realize even my writing is not fresh or new.  I love that line from the Adele song, only for her the air is thiCK and opaQUE (and the annunciation).  I suppose I could try to sleep now for one more hour.  I suppose I could get up and greet the Solstice dawn.  I suppose I could read all the blogs I have not caught up with in a while.  I suppose I could get up and walk some more.  I am torn.  I already know the day will be long.  And I will tell the 1st graders after lunch.  I am sorry I am so cranky today.  Which brings me to my dream.  A dream that someone was yelling WHAT in a strained and cranky manner.  And that I was sitting on a park bench in Clark Reservation crying my eyes out.

I am open to the mystery.  But wish that part of the mystery included sleeping just a bit better.

My heart skips a beat

He won’t look at me, he walks by me and again.  Hey, I say what is going on are you mad at me for some reason.  He comes and sits by me, he is hanging his head.  What’s up?  I ask him.  You don’t have the book for me huh?  No, he says I don’t, I thought YOU would be mad at me!  Oh honey I say, so what if I were mad at you.  You always can come and talk to me.  It’s okay if I am mad at you, I still want to hear from you, I still want you to say hello and to answer me when I call you.  Okay he says, I will.  And he puts his arm over my shoulder.  You know I am your Mom at school so you cannot walk by me and act like you don’t see me.  No matter what I will stand by you.  And if I am mad, I am mad.  Its all okay.  Okay Ms. G. he says.  I will remember.

Later that same day my friend the Armenian comes in and checks the kiln, she has been kind enough to show me how to use it.  I once knew but it has been over 10 years since I actually had a kiln to work with.  She walks out and then walks back in, I am so sorry to bother you but can I borrow a dollar.  No I say, you cannot borrow a dollar, its just a dollar I will give you a dollar, you don’t have to pay me back.

This group of kids I have on Monday and Friday afternoons are wonderful.  The young man whose dad passed away was in the class today.  He told me at least twice that he thought I was a bad teacher and he didn’t like me.  Okay I say, I guess I deserve that.  I know he doesn’t mean it because he has a big grin on his face when he says it.  He teases me they all start to actually in the line trying to steal my cola, and horsing around.  The sub sticks her head in wide eyed.  Its my fault I say, I got them riled.  On my desk are several pages of scrap paper with messages to me, I will miss you.  I love you Ms. Gregory and other messages along the same lines.  My heart flips in my chest.

I begin reading a book about pottery techniques during my planning period.  I am having a hard time concentrating on it because I am thinking about my pirate. My phone buzzes in my pocket and I take it out to set it on the table.  It is my pirate.  My heart flips in my chest. I answer him.  I go back to my book.  I really cannot concentrate now.  I give thanks.

 

Pirates

He and I work side by side to set up our campsite, he has brought everything really, despite my many camping items, I have  brought basically nothing but myself and a sleeping bag.  And after just a little while we are relaxing together by a campfire.  We watch fireflies dance in the darkness.  And later in the tent we are looking up listening to the rain, we exclaim together in wonder as we realize one firefly has been trapped in there with us.  We watch together waiting for it to flash.  The day dawns with a heavy mist, which burns off into a warm sunny day.  There are periodic flurries of cottonwood across the grounds of the festival throughout the day.  Later after the music is done and the vendors have gone away, we walked down with his homemade rum and hung out with the band.  They sing baudy tunes they could not sing in the daytime, while the children ran around with their wooden or plastic swords and plastic guns that popped with the coolest sound.  After a while the singing has ended and we walk back to the tent my arm linked with his as we cross the uneven terrain in the dark.  In the morning he gets up first to make the coffee and I am lazy in my sleeping bag.  I tell him I feel awkward because he is doing all the work of the campsite, providing everything.  There is a certain pleasure or pirates treasure in being treated with such regard. The early morning mist quickly burns off to a hot day.  A mother asks if she can take a picture of us with her small little boy, dressed as a pirate, my friend, myself and several other pirates from the band.  The little boy looks scared to death.  I gently take his hand, come on sweetheart I say, come on over here with me, he is smiling and saying ARRR and in a moment the pictures are taken!  A small group of us stage a pirate raid near our campsite, the pirate shoots off a flintlock pistol filled with gunpowder and small caps, it makes a big noise, we stop the hayride wagons and demand that they give us their loot.  We throw them candy.  Various players from the band, and from another pirate troupe help us throughout the day.  At the end of the day we work side by side taking down the tents, there is a natural comfort in it, I cannot describe.  I am bruised, and sunburned, and tired to the bone.  But this my dear friends, makes the pain of my divorce so very very inconsequential.  I feel amazing.  And after having pirate men flirt with me all weekend, I feel absolutely beautiful.  But best of all is the treasure of having a pirate for a friend.

Pirate Festival, Marathon NY, early morning mist on the campground

Still in Mountain Pose.

I am one of those people in real life that is very frank and honest.  This issue came up in school yesterday when a student was having a tantrum because he didn’t like his picture, the thing is it was not exactly what I had drawn, and was not like what the other kids at his table had drawn, but nonetheless it was really creatively outstanding.  I made him take it back to his seat to work on it.  After a minute I noticed the throwing himself about in his chair, arms crossed, lip sticking out, you know the look if you have ever spent time around kids.  This is where honesty plays out the best for me as a teacher.  I will tell a kid here have another paper, try that again, or you know you can do better than that, take it back to your seat and add more details, and take the time to draw better.  I know what they can and cannot do after years of working with the same children.  I do not do this with kindergarteners, I actually say very little to them except in specific praise, and in first grade I may challenge them to add more, but as they get older I do not hesitate to speak the truth about their art.  So I said hey listen, I don’t lie.  Ask your classmates, if I think your picture is not good I will tell you.  But I am telling you I love your picture, it is different from everyone else’s picture, but that doesn’t mean its bad, in my book it may mean it is good.  Your picture is very creative and interesting and I cannot wait to see where it takes you.  At this point the other children at his table agreed, Ms. Gregory would tell you if it wasn’t good.  And then after a few minutes I went to check on him, he was smiling in a self conscious kind of way but he had carried on.  Yes.

Another person in the same class was sitting off to the side with two naughty children.  One just has poor impulse control, and we were avoiding not one but two arguments with two alpha male boys in the class who were admonishing him to behave, and the second is a special ed child who has a long hard road ahead of him in this life.  The third person whom I handed a paper, was hunched over his work.  I walked up and looked over his shoulder.  And was surprised to see some pretty good drawing going on.  Mr. B. I said that you were hiding your secret talent.  He looked up at me with his rather handsome face, made more handsome by his good as gold attitude, and my affection for him after he told me I was alright in that inner city speak that said he found me to be a good girl and attractive but he is married happily.  He was a bit embarrassed and exclaimed that it really wasn’t any good and he shouldn’t have even tried.  Then I had to give him hell because just a couple weeks ago he stood and listened as I counselled A. a very very talented kid in the same class because she is always putting down her outstanding work.  I walked over to her and looked at her drawing, and said, Mr. B. sounds just like you.  He came over too and I said yep Mr. B. her drawing is definitely better than yours, but yours is still good.  He was laughing, but you could tell he was pleased.

My other friend at work has self esteem issues.  She is going through a very nasty divorce and has been verbally abused for many years.  She is gorgeous, drop dead gorgeous, and dresses to the nines every single day.  She will come to me from time to time.  Ms. G. she will say, tell me honestly do you like this, is this skirt too short, is my hair color okay, what do you think of _____…whatever.  And I tell her I like this, I don’t like that, that is not a flattering fit.  And so on.  She values my honesty.  She seeks it out.  She knows that I won’t just tell her what she wants to hear.I have a very acerbic sense of humor, acerbic defined as sharp and forthright.  I can be quite sarcastic (see previous posting on this topic), some people can take it, others cannot.  One of my students generally can, he teases me, and at times I tease him back.  One day his teacher asked me to keep an eye on the class while she went to the bathroom, I did but when she came back and asked how they were I said they were all good except for J., she looked aghast but he burst out laughing.  He got it.  J.’s dad died a few months ago, and for the last week or so he seemed really down.  He came over to me yesterday about something.  I asked him if he was ok.  He said yeah, blinking, but I knew better.  You seem down, I said.  His eyes suddenly had tears in them.  I just hugged him.  He was crying on my shoulder.  After a minute I said go to the bathroom wash your face, and then gestured to P. whose dad died a couple years ago.  They have formed a fast friendship over baseball and well…. mutual grief.  After five minutes or so they came back and all was well, or mostly.  But this is it.  I teased him that day in a sharp manner.  But I also know, that he has opened up to no one.  My heart is there, wide open.  My students and those that love me best know this.

The problem with an open heart is that it is vulnerable to attack.  And I have been attacked twice this year.  Once by a co worker, who didn’t like my sense of humor.  Once by a woman I have never met and do not know.  She presumed to be in a position in our family to attack me on a joke I made to my cousin’s son.  A joke taken as a joke and laughed at in good humor.  She didn’t take it that way.  But something fundamental has changed, because although I checked what she said to make sure I was perceiving myself correctly, her comments did not change my fundamental attitude nor my day to day demeanor.  This is a break through for me.  It just didn’t effect me with deep hurt.  I was mad as hell at her coming after me when she knows nothing about me, or about the people I love that she is only just getting to know, but it was like a lumbering horse fly, annoying as hell but just horse fly.  I like this strength I have gained.  I like it alot.  I also am really in this place where I no longer feel a need to be liked by everyone I meet.  Because frankly I don’t like everyone I meet either.  I try really hard and sometimes fail at being compassion, kind, understanding, but I know that I am firm and strong and good.  It is a great feeling.

My Lover

You have abandoned me my darling.
And I wait for your return.
I long for the soft caress of your hands upon my forearms.
I ache for your tender kiss on my closed eyelids.
I yearn for the warm embrace of your body entwined with my own.
My beloved, My beloved?
I beckon you but you do not come.
And finally in the last hour of the long night you are there.
You take me on a journey
to a sacred spring
atop a high cliff
you wink at me my darling
as you take my hand
to lead me down
the long steps
to the altar
laid in brick far far below.
You tease me,
my laughter echoes on these ancient walls.
And I can hear a sacred hymn of the angels
as I am filled with joy and praise.
But before we have reached this deep
pool into which the crystal sparkling water pours
and before I have even had a drink.
You are pulled away from me
In the light of dawn.

Now when I need you to
You do not leave me.
I long for my eyes to open
unkissed.

And for your hand on my backside
urging me out of my bed.