Skating

your snow pants whisk as you walk, or rather amble down the slope to the canal, frozen and snowy below, a shovel in one hand, hockey sticks in the the other and a pair of hand-me-down leather skates tied together by their laces, tossed over your shoulder, thunking against your back and chest.  your coat zipped up to your chin and the taste of yarn on your wet mouth, fog going up into the warm lenses of your eyeglasses.   you begin in your felt boots to shovel the snow off the hard ice.  the neighbor kids come too with their shovels, and soon you are sitting on the snow, pulling your woolen socks off with your boots, then setting the boots beside you as you tie your feet into the tightness of the skates.  by now your scarf is stuffed in your boots and your coat half zipped, mittens damp and snowy, you slap your hands together in quick succession to get the clumping snow off.  you play at olympic skater, though wobbly, you can only skate backwards at a clip far slower than your foward skate, which is performed like a distance skater, leaning forward as the skates snick  off to the sides and behind you.  a game of hockey is devised and goals made of clumps of dirt, or sticks jammed into the banks, and newcomers told to avoid skating in the hot spot that is always there under thinner ice.  by the time you come in, your cheeks are pink, and your lips, brittle, cracking as you try to smile, your feet feel awkward again in boots, as though you are still wearing skates, the instep of your feet aching from holding your flat feet upright on a thin blade.  your glasses are so fogged up you can only see out the edges of them, you take off your ass wet pants, and wet dog smelling mittens thick with hard balls of snow stuck fast in the fibers of them, hot chocolate water heating on the stove, you hang your wet snow things by the wood stove and the house smells like melting snow. 

years later, you are making your way across the slick sidewalks to class, from class, to your dorm, to the dining hall,  you skate with your thin boots across the quad, your breath thick and cloudy, your laughter, your joy visible, remembering.  and later still you rent skates and try to skate on the hard ice of a city rink, and it feels fake, like a dollar store version of a tonka truck, like frozen pizza compared to your mom’s homemade, like the person beside you who only pretends to love you, and you with your glasses fogged up so you cannot see.

this is what i think of as i lay in his bed, the feeling of his firm and furry kisses still on my cheeks, the weight of his hand on my hip, feeling the earth sliding underneath me, like skating on some detached chunk of ice, movement on movement.  i realize it is this, this feeling as though you are still wearing skates, even though you are not anymore. 

i think of him, at the end of a short but fierce argument, fumbling with the door, knocking to get back in, finding his keys on his person already, fumbling the lock, fumbling the keys, and telling me, angry like, how i am the best thing that ever happened to him in his whole life, he is mad at me, for sure, but rather than retire from it and nurse it like a grudge, he turns to me and embraces me fiercely, there is no violence in this argument, just egos.  really.  and in the morning we will talk about it, quietly, resolving to be easier on each other, did you notice that i cleaned the house while you were at work, did you notice i cleaned out that drawer for you finally, you know i will never ever be submissive, i know, you know you are the first person i have ever lived with in my whole adult life, i know, but also i don’t want to live alone again, i like you here with me.  and i feel a softening inside me.  that sliding feeling, like i am skidding, like i have no brakes, and that is when i think of skating on the sidewalks.

i still have that feeling as though i am wearing the skates, though i am not, anymore, that feeling that somehow i have forgotten how to skate with my boots on.

Its All About Perspective

I work with a wonderful, creative, kind and thoughtful woman; she is a bit quirky, but that’s one of the things I like best about her.  Today I came outside actually leaving work several minutes after an all call announcement was being made about someone blocking in someone else in the parking lot, please move your car.

My friend was there and  so frustrated and upset, she had someplace to be and could not back out of her space.  She was parked front in towards a snowbank, with another snowbank on the passenger side of her car.  The second car had pulled up behind her as though parallel parking but left a wide 2/3rds car length space behind her.

I asked her if she would let me get her out of the space.  I am a pretty good driver and I felt very confident that I could do it.  So I hopped in and then essentially did a reverse of a parallel park pulling her car along side the other car backing only at a slight angle out of the space she was in.

That is when I saw her problem.  And when she did too.  Oh MY GOD she said, I feel so stupid!  Why? I said, it was no big deal.  I know she said but I was trying to back the car into that space, trying to pull it in between the two cars at a right angle!  Well no wonder you couldn’t, I said, I wouldn’t have been able to back around that much into that space either.  It just never occurred to me to try to pull alongside the other car!, she exclaimed.

Teaching right now is enormously stressful, all the reforms have been thrown at us like a deck of cards in a game of 52 pick up, only every time we start to pick up the cards, they tell us to drop them all and pick them up in a new order, or in a different way.  Its been horrible.  It isn’t just that, she is in a room this year that has been very intense with children who are emotionally disturbed, we educate all children, even the ones who might be better served in a setting equipped to handle the kind of deep mental problems that these sweet, troubled little babies are already carrying.  On top of that our school has also experience a huge transition, new principal, vice principal, reading specialist, math specialist, lead secretary and custodian!  The deep core of the school has completely been altered!

She has mentioned more than once that she is thinking of quitting and finding a job which is less stressful, she is not the only one, one of my art teacher friends has told me the same, that person also called me late the other night, almost on the verge of tears, asking for help in one of the new procedures that they could not figure out.  A long term master teacher in our building said that she is okay if the district fires her via the new evaluation system, she would rather collect unemployment and not have to deal with this tremendous amount of stress.  We are overwhelmed, and the reforms seem at times to be nonsense, to be like a trip through Wonderland, as though a person who has never spent a day in a classroom randomly decided these things without actually considering what a real live teacher might actually find practical, practicable.   Either way, today, my friend was suffering from what so many teachers have suffered this year, complete and utter brain freeze, and mental burn out.

So as I drove away I thought about this notion, that sometimes, when you are stuck, and you are frustrated, and can no longer figure out what to do to get yourself out of that stuck place, all you need is some new perspective, maybe it comes from another person, maybe it comes from walking away and then coming back and re-examining the situation.  At an rate, our frustration may keep us from seeing some new reality, from seeing that our reality may not be the ONLY reality.  Maybe one person’s solution to a problem, is literally not the way to solve the problem at all.

I loved this lesson.  LOVED it!

 

Walking in the Grey

I have now lived here for about six months, and today was the first day that I have finally walked in the neighborhood.  Usually I walk at the park, or to the public library, but not once have I wandered through the the quiet streets and small roads here in this new place.  I have some lame excuse, that for the first two months I was packing and unpacking and cleaning and organizing, physically challenging but all indoors essentially.  Then we had rain pretty frequently, though when the weather was nicer the pirate and I hiked up to our tree, and since Christmas it has snowed considerably more this year than last and all the shoveling, which can take two days of heavy labor to clear out, both our house, his aunts and moms and the back of the house,  but also it was this weird fear of walking in a strange place.  Do other people have this thing, where they have to be sure of their surroundings before they begin to explore them?  The other lame excuse was that sometime around the middle of October, I discovered the meaning of the song lyric “died with a toothache in his heel”, plantars fascitis is a mean bitch. But then today I said, no this is the day, I must walk in this neighborhood, because I have not been exercising enough, and this is the first step, literally, in carving out time to do this thing that I love so much. 

The dog stayed by my side the whole walk, like an old man companion, I will miss him, I know, in the time which is fast approaching when he will no longer be up for these small adventures.  But for now we appreciate, together the quiet streets, the pretty little houses, the heavy cowbell wind chimes, and then as we emerge onto a busy street, we both move more quickly and then slow down again as we take a shortcut across a sycamore lined driveway and big field.  After we trudge up the wooded pathway, he stops in the street and looks at me and smiles.  Not quite two miles, but a whole pile of pink cheeked and furry black faced  pleasure.

We will walk these hidden streets again.

Love without sunshine.

“A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, a man cannot live without love.” ~Max Muller

Image

There is something so freeing about being able to make art in a journal.  I have so many paintings in storage, so much art that no one will ever see.  I love the freedom of being able to make mistakes and have it not matter.  I love the peace of having both internal and external voices criticize my work and have me say, it’s okay its for me, and only me, your voice does not matter, your opinion is not meaningful in this process.  I love that no one can stalk me when my images are posted.  I have not been anywhere, except in the wide open space of my mind.  I can say all I have to say and not be punished for it by the invasion.  It is too cold to blossom here, but I can make art in the beautiful music of my heart.