stuck

i got stuck on the 1 train today. but not because of train traffic ahead of me.   i got stuck to someone. well, my scarf did. it got caught, quite perfectly, on a teeny tiny hook of a stranger’s teeny tiny zipper. now i care a lot for this scarf, so i couldn’t just yank it.  i did what i had to do. carefully, for what seemed like a painfully long time, i  took back my scarf from the backpack.( have you ever jumped in the lap of a stranger and started threading a needle with lots of people watching? i imagine it would feel something like this.)

i wasn’t having the kind of day where people would hold the doors for me so it didn’t surprise me when no one did. (jerks.)  and when you can’t get off a train– even with the 30 second grace period that NEVER happens — and when no one around you  attempts to help, you gotta face it: you were meant to ride a little longer. calmness hovers over me in those moments because I kind of always know that it must be happening for a reason.

after talking with my lovely writer friend, KR, i am challenged by her charge to write more fiction. so of course i’m thinking that if fog in a spin class can be a story, so can a scarf that leads a person on adventures…or even saves her.

what if someone got stuck on a train and went all sorts of places she never intended? places she’d never choose to go…     who would she meet? what would she see? what would she be saved from?

 

 

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A List

All I want are two rainy days of solitude.

I’d read and play guitar…maybe cry a bit (so good for the washing away of things…) and then I’d write.

But I don’t have two days. So for now, all I can do is make a list. A list of everything that has made me think or moved me; pierced my heart for better or worse.

1. What is with the stoic, badass 70 year old woman in my spin class? (Let’s call her Mona.) You best not book her bike. And your gym garb will pale in comparison to her skin tight body suit.  one piece body suit. She is serious. My favorite thing about her: Despite the beat, music, or anyone around her, she goes at her own pace. She has one speed. S-L-O-W.  The irony: She’s the skinniest one there and you’d be jealous of her quads.  (I am.)

2. When the windows fog up in my spin class, I can’t look in the mirror. Then, it’s impossible to be self-conscious. What would it be like to manufacture fog for those insecure moments in life?

3. No matter how many times I think I’ve beaten my desperate desire for approval, I’m always surprised to have it sneak up on me again. Really hoping my friend John is right and that we’re not living on a roundabout of bad habits. Rather, we’re living in a slinky-thing-ish.  It feels like we’re in a cycle of _________, (we all have blanks) but we’re not. It only feels familiar, but it’s not the same place. Our learning is deeper. And we have learned. We have.

4. What is it about Patty Griffin’s songs that speaks to my soul every single time it’s climbing back to the surface of life and beauty. It has to be something.

5. After a Sunday that should have ruined my week but didn’t, I’ve been thinking a lot about how what you’re tethered to completely affects the extent to which you are shaken during heartache and disappointment. And what you’re tethered to could be anything. And can change by the minute. The implications are…well, enough to make me want to check in with myself a few times a day.  Oh, identity…

6. Pull and Peel twizzlers…. this love affair has survived two stomach flus. Sweet Potato fries and asparagus, not so much.   Oh you chewy treat. You are this decade’s Dr. Pepper. I will conquer you.

7. To see the kingdom of God ( quick and best definition EVER: peace, healing, restoration, return from exile, justice, forgiveness, joy and celebration) break out in your life, you might have to go to the cracks in the foundation. you might have to return to the broken places.   Me?  I still haven’t reconciled justice and forgiveness. The ideas are beautiful. Then I see faces and it becomes really tough. But, what if I could really forgive ?  That would be a freedom I’m not sure I’d know what to do with…  in a glorious way.

8. What is fate? I don’t know. But I believe in something like it. I was shoving things into the bottom of my closet (something I do when I want to see the bottom of my floor). I basically move mess around. (Um, another metaphor??) Anyway, this means some things go into drawers. Which means me opening drawers and getting sucked into whatever “thing” is there that I haven’t seen in a while. I found a wrinkled piece of paper (i should note there was totally gum wadded into one earmarked corner of it) and kind of loved it.  On it was written Ultimately our gift to the world is hope. Not blind hope that pretends everything is fine and refuses to acknowledge how things are. But the kind of hope that comes from staring pain and suffering right in the eyes and refusing to believe this is all there is.

Refusing to believe that this is all there is.  sigh…     Who’s with me?

9. Spin class is incredible because it reminds me of hope and perseverance. And community.  For 30 minutes you are waiting for “the hill.” You know it’s coming and when it does, it hurts. But I can always hear the break is coming soon, and since I know the pain is almost over, I go go go go go and I keep going because others around me keep going. I keep going because they are doing it and so can I. We’re strangers, but we’re all in it together.  We are all miserable and killing it together. And then there’s Mona. Miss I-go-my-own-speed Mona. Still not cracking a smile or a sweat. Reminding me with her silent loudness that you don’t have to strive. Even in spin class.

10.  I’m tired. I should really edit this. You’d think (I’d think) I would have learned my lesson this week. But I haven’t.

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In the Hands of Giants

Would you mind if I indulged in my 5 year old Jack and the Beanstalk imagination for a bit?

If we lived in the hands of giants, would it matter if we fell or made a wrong turn and got lost?  Would our own confusion or uncertainty even matter? I suppose we could still live, striving to “figure it out” but what does that gain us? Really.  We’ll get to the end of our journey and we’ll get there safe and sound, thanks to our giant.  And our giant knows we’re not lost. Because we can’t be lost if someone knows where we are, right?  And what’s even better is that if we were to live in these great palms, we could sit back and rest and enjoy the beauty of the journey.

After being overwhelmed by a beauty filled weekend, this was my Sunday night pondering. Something about community and a glistening Hudson that will make things all too clear.

 

*I am a believer in free will. Just putting it out there. THIS is not about THAT.
It is, however, about something I’m learning about resting and believing that the same goodness that makes you sigh at sunsets will cause you to sing in uncertainty.

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To all the bridled horses, I’m so sorry. November 23, 2011

every day i’m afraid i’ll never have my own classroom again.

every day i lose a little bit of who i used to be.

every day i doubt even more that i’ll find my way back. and my heart can’t handle that.

because what then?

 

It’s July. And I will have my own classroom again.  

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hide and seek with eyes wide open

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I would find God if I didn’t know him.

Silly right? How can you look for something while pretending it’s not already there? You can’t, can you? It’s like playing Hide and Seek with eyes wide open.

I have officially asked God for this. To let me go on a journey of sorts to find him in the purest of ways. Would I be wooed by the fall leaves, or the waves of the Pacific?  The weave of fiddle and banjo of a Mumford & Sons song?  Would it be the dimples on my students’ cheeks or the laugh of my friend’s baby girl? The peace of a classroom? If I didn’t know him, would I find him here?

I think so. These things are heavy with glory. I see it, feel it, and KNOW it.

I can’t pretend NOT to name it. And yet I want new eyes.

 

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Restored.

 

Quiet Waters of Piermont, NY

 

A softened heart is a miracle. An act of a loving God in fact. An act that seemed so far from me days ago.

But I asked and He answered. Rather immediately in fact. The process has been a beautiful one to reflect on. I realized about 10 minutes ago that I was playing music again; in that passionate trance kind of way that only happens when my heart is in a good place. It was then that I realized my bad days and ill mood were over and my heart had been melted. Sigh.

It began yesterday…

I knew I had to get out of the city. I needed solitude. Time alone to remember. To think. To be.

I was surprised by the company of a friend who I miss so much it hurts. She joined me on my just right trip to nowhere.

We had lunch on the Hudson and walked along the quiet waters in a no named town. I can’t remember the last time I walked that slowly. But it was good and I could feel the thickness of the peace that was around me.

Before returning home, I used the last free hour of my Zip Car to ride back up the Hudson.  Alone this time. I finally figured how to get the top down on the Mini Coop, so I was riding up 9A on the brink of a sunset with the wind blowing through my hair. Whatever had been trapped was released… Bitterness, anger, pride, frustration, defeat. All washed by the wind and the beauty of the water. Every breath brought more freedom and I could feel it.

I should tell you there was music. Music is always present in its own way, but today I settled on Patty Griffin. Moses.  I adore this song. And yet I’ve been awaiting a moment worthy of the beauty and pain the lyrics soothe. Yesterday’s drive was that moment.

http://iLike.com/s/fGB

Fast forward to this morning. I knew today would make or break my heart. Knowing that I have no power over the true reactions of my heart (they are, for the most part impatient and prideful at the core) I asked the only one I knew who could bypass my nature and guide my soul. I think I started out with a Psalm. A Psalm, a lot of honest confession, and celebration.

I think it was 6:00 pm walking around the corner of Broadway and 105th street that I recognized the goodness of my day. And that my bad day streak was officially over. Then came the twirling. Twirling to Patty in my speakers (again). And then Zach Williams (if you don’t know him, know him). Over the next two hours, the vibrations of chords made their way to my own fingers and voice as my own guitar ushered me the rest of the way out of my bitter rut. Before I knew it, I had slipped into a half hour musical trance–trances that, I swear, are spiritual and filled with more passion that I radiate anyplace else. (even the classroom.)

So somewhere between a best friend, a river, and gorgeous chords, I was brought back. . .  restored. And I am twirling with thankfulness. And writing. It is finished.

“Diamonds, roses,I need Moses
To cross this sea of loneliness, Part this red river of pain
I don’t necessarily buy any key to the future or happiness
But I need a little place in the sun sometimes Or I think I will die

Everywhere is somewhere And nowhere is near…”

-Patty Griffin

Listen to it HERE.

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Turning Corners

Preface: I write this reluctantly, but if I wait for beautiful phrases and rhythms, I’ll be waiting until Spring. Or Summer. I write with no words, but still I write. (I totally stole that from a kid. not gonna lie.)

Wednesday 7:21am

Being in community lifts us, whether it is a fellow colleague (who resembles a best friend more each day) who sends notes and 9 year old hugs across the hall on a busy day  or  a friend who simply says “I miss your writing.”  They lift us. Pick us out from where we are and remind us of ourselves.

 

This morning,  I got an email. “I miss your voice,” it said.  I miss your voice.     (Annie, thank you just doesn’t cut it. I’ve been lost. Not in a bad way, but lost just the same.)

I haven’t written lately. I keep saying this to myself as if the saying it will make me write. (It doesn’t.) Behind those words I really wonder if it matters. Wonder what I have to say that anyone would want to listen.

I’m transitioning. New school. New students to love. New people who don’t know me. My heart is simply exhausted. I’m teaching ok. Not great. But ok. And I’m heartbroken over ok. I’m just too tired to turn it into great. I’m not teaching great AND I’m not seeing friends AND I’m not resting. So where is it all going? Where am I?

Somewhere between school and home I realized what it is. I’m overwhelmed and a bit of a mess. The kind of mess that one finds under my bed or in my junk drawer. That’s just how I roll. But being hidden doesn’t decrease the mess. In fact, it probably prolongs it. Anyway, that’s what it is.

No hormonal influence involved- it’s just me. Today was a little cooky. Not bad, but cooky. I left right after school (more hours NOT making the charts and lessons I need) to get  downtown in time to pay a fat fine to the NYC County Clerk for not filling out a 10 question questionnaire. It took me all of 13.5 seconds to cry when the receptionist was less than kind to me. My tears continued through my appointment with the clerk, except he gave me candy and gentle understanding, which I appreciated. But that made me cry more.

Several years ago I wrote about tears being the result of too much- too much joy, sorrow… too much of something. Today I realized I’m overwhelmed because of too much. Could it be newness? Is that the too much? Has it finally caught up with me?(Hmm- the tears that came with those words I just typed say yes.)

I’ll figure it out. I’ll figure out how to  teach with no free time in my room. I’ll figure out how to make my nimble mind plan with new faces and ways. I’ll figure out how to work out of enough rest. And see the friends I miss.  It will come. Life is just full right now.

It’s 5pm on the train and I end my day much how it began- with Andrew Bird in my ears and dear Katherine Bomer’s words in my hands. Not a bad way to end a tough day.

In the mean time, I am grateful for the people who pick me out of this for a brief second and remind me of what matters. And Annie, thank you. Hopefully we’ll both be turning corners soon. And the next time I teach on the power of community, I’m telling this story.

 

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