Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in." - Arlo Guthrie

Even when we are climbing mountains, every once and a while there will be a meadow, a friendly spot right up there where the gravel ends. A place to rest and remember that there is another truth, and in fact that is why we are climbing in the first place.

People turn 30 all the time. But this is the first and last time my husband turns 30. I think he's about the coolest guy on the planet and I'm thankful for him everyday.

To the next 30, to our dreams, to our one-day home up there in the mountains. We'll get there. I know it. I love you, John.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Among those I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those I love, I can: all of them make me laugh." -Auden

Congratulations to my beautiful sister and new brother-in-law. I hope you always keep each other laughing. Love. 7.12.08

Monday, July 7, 2008

“I have learned to use the word ‘impossible’ with great caution.” – Werner Von Braun

Happy 36th anniversary to my parents – two crazy kids who got this notion about forever and have ridden it out, over a few bumps here and there, trusting God along the way. I wrote this poem last year. It’s mostly about them. I love you, Mom and Dad.

Where I’m From

I am from Genesis 9:1.

I am from highways and rest stops,
from the VW bus with calico curtains and sticky vinyl seats
(I can hear the soft rip of summer skin pulling away from them).

I am from living room forts and stepped-on Legos
from trampolines and flickering porch lights.
It was too late if the streetlamps had come on.

I am from singalongs and family meetings around the butcher block table,
from the corner of each closet where I hastily scribbled
Goodbye, house. Til we meet again.

I am from clapping crowds, shouting for Jesus,
from secrets only sisters can share
on bunkbeds or creekbeds.

I am from laughter-tears and throat lumps,
from squeezed hands and mumbled prayers

from pregnant pauses

and whispered amens

I am from that moving target:


I am that knotted-up family.

The miles run through me
The prayers echo

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

“You probably wouldn’t worry so much what people think of you if you knew how seldom they do.” Olin Miller

I was helping my husband go through some old clothes to find good donations yesterday, and we were just talking and folding and all of a sudden I said (though I can’t remember why, or what prompted me), “Welcome to my life. All day, everyday, I am thinking I could be doing better or that I’m going to be found out as a fraud. I never make a decision without thinking there was so much more I could have done or that I could have done it all in a better, more efficient way.” He looked at me with the same blank stare I’ve seen before, like when I casually asked him in the car one day, “Do you ever just find yourself thinking 10 different things at the exact same moment?” His answer? A mildly incredulous and painfully simple “No.” Once again, his reaction to me was a mirror in which I see myself as the ridiculously unconfident person I am.

How boring and tedious I must be.

In my recent fiction workshop, I brought each draft to class begrudgingly. I felt like I was presenting, to a field of my peers, a worn and tattered blanket of words and images carelessly stitched together to fulfill a requirement, instead of with the love and attention they rightfully deserved. Each time, when the drafts came back and the class discussed a piece I’d written, the mirror was there. Held in front of me as evidence of my personal irony. People responded and related to what I had written. People praised me in ways both general and specific. People saw me as a writer.

After the first workshop class, I slid away from campus, my face burning bright from shame. Why can’t I believe that anything I do is good, or worth reading? It’s not false modesty. I hate false modesty. I decided that day that I have a character flaw. There is no other explanation. My parents were two amazingly supportive, challenging people who, though they expected excellence from us, did everything to encourage and support us in achieving it. And they put value on our effort when the results weren’t always stellar. They were/are great parents. It can’t be a result of pressure from them.

What is the genesis of my perfectionism, then? My lack of confidence? I simply don’t know. I’ve lived 28 years faking it – as I do daily at my job, in my home, with my friends. Maybe the real me is a hybrid of the fake me and the frail me. Maybe that pretend confidence isn’t exactly manufactured. But my wish, always, is to have a real sense of who I am and what I can do. Part of being real with myself is recognizing and owning up to my weaknesses, and working to change the things I need to change. But I truly believe that the other side of that very heavy coin is to recognize and own up to my strengths. To the things I’m good at doing. To the goodness and gifts I’ve been given. To stop cowering from challenges when my confidence is shaky. To give the good away. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

everyone else knows you'll do fine - fortune cookie blessing saved from 2002, found again 6.29.08

Master to-do list for teaching English 101:

Gather writing prompts
Get grade book or work up a spreadsheet for such a purpose
Finalize lesson plans
Be ready to learn when you fail
Believe what everyone else already knows
Practice using peripheral equipment with laptop
Talk to boss about telecommuting on the day job
Tour library on campus; make a librarian friend
Look for a good bag/case/cart for transporting supplies
Organize home office
Find comfortable shoes