Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Toothpaste of Honesty. and the Fire

Drawing is one of my favorite things, but I have to make time to do it.
I sit down early in the morning with a blank page and then 'see' what appears in the white.

But sometimes it feels like a wave and I am a panicky surfer.

Reasons why:

The contractual deal between the drawings and me is that I accept what comes through. And it's probably good for me, but it's not always awesome. It's like some delicious Detox Tea that sometimes makes me feel better, and sometimes not.

And once I've drawn something, and acknowledged a truth I may have peripherally or begrudgingly known, it now exists.  No unknowing it now...

* * *

So the toothpaste? (Stay with me as I switch metaphors) The toothpaste from the truth tube is out now. I can either throw it away or I can use it. I choose to use it, and explore a bit more. I toss it onto the fire from whence the toothpaste (?) originally came. 

And just when the fire is getting exciting.....

It's time to blend into situations that aren't about the toothpaste of honesty. But the fire continues to simmer, whether I like it or not.


Okay. I'll just acknowledge the obvious in date stamps. It's been almost a year.

Without sounding navel-gazey or self-important, my drawings in the last year have been more personal, which is kind of my shtick, but there's a fine line between personal (interesting! relatable!) and self-indulgent (my own personal problems are so interesting). Don't get me wrong, I am filling up journals like crazy with drawings that make sense to me, and help me make sense of things. But I feel like in order to cross the chasm from I-get-it to You-get-it-too, there's some forging I need to do. And I haven't felt like forging.

But in the last week, a couple of you have written and asked 'what's up with the blog?' I appreciate it. I'm taking it as a kick in the ass to start posting again (I didn't realize it until today but I kind of missed it). So let's see if there's anything to forge...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Join Hands

 In Kenya, we stayed in the Ngong hills, outside Nairobi. Our job while we were there was to teach at the local public school. We were staying on a small farm, surrounded by other small farms. So we saw lots of goats, cows, sheep and shepherds. The shepherds often had the tribal ear plug earrings (note to hipsters: when you don't have the huge ear bolts in, you can wrap your ear lobes around your upper cartilage. Clever), walking sticks and cell phones. 

It was a 45-minute hike to school each day. The only thing is, all the cattle paths looked the same. Even if you knew the general vicinity you were heading, one wrong cow path and you'd add 20 minutes to your trip. 

Luckily, the local kids were happy to escort us. Apparently, two white ladies huffing across the hills was unusual enough that the kids from school tracked down where we were staying. Kids would hide in the bushes and giggle and watch us. If they were brave, they would answer back 'How are YOU?'

Because clocks were in short supply this was handy in the morning.

A steady stream of kids meant we were probably late to take a 'shower' (aka sponge bath al fresco). 

We did a homestay with a local family. One night the six-year-old grandson Alex spontaneously busted out a Maasai song and dance for us while we waited for dinner. We were so floored, we tried to think of a song to sing for him. We couldn't think of anything to capture the essence of America, of our spirit. So we sang 'If you're happy and you know it...' Which was even a little bit disappointing to the kids.  

* * *

The hikes to school became such a beautiful part of the day - being outside and saying hello to cows and goats and birds and shepherds and flowers and trees. And the kid crowds began to swell, fighting over who got to hold our hands. 

The first time it happened, I hoped that no one would look at me because I'd started to cry. 

The kids would usually carry walking sticks to school, just like the men. 
One morning, we noticed one little dude carrying a little plug of a stump. 'Oahhh' we said, 'he got stuck with a bad walking stick,'
No no, one of our hosts explained.  It's polite to bring firewood to someone's house if they are going to feed you. Since the kids got fed at lunch, they were bringing wood for the fire. So little dude was sharper than we were.

There was one little guy, Paul, couldn't have been more than a first grader. 

The kids would use the English words they knew with us. So we'd go through 'eyes', 'nose', 'mouth'. After saying 'mouth' I'd make a 'mwah!' noise for exaggeration.
I felt like the most gifted comedienne ever to walk the planet, the way that Paul would laugh. And we'd do it over and over, his grubby, lunchy hand in mine as we sweated our way home. 

A few days after the 'Happy and You Know It' misfire, I thought of the right song to sing on the walk to school. And this video (while grainy) sums up the feeling beautifully.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A travel update. Truly.

I've been planning a trip to Kenya for the last few months. Much to my chagrin, I've been dwelling on it and getting organized about it. I told everyone that I was doing a 'practice pack' this weekend (Nerd. I know).

Next week, after a few sweet days in Amsterdam, my friend Molly and I will be headed to Nairobi.

We'll be volunteering for two weeks in a remote village. No electricity or running water.
I've got my vaccinations (yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A&B, meningitis, tetanus, dip-tet, polio booster) and my anti-malaria medication.

When people ask why I'm going, I've haven't been able to put my finger on it. But one morning I drew this picture, which articulated it for me.
I'm hungry to look into a different world that seems wild to me. Even if it's only a threat to my email addiction.
I'm grateful for the opportunity of adventure - going somewhere unpredictable and unknown and seeing what I can learn.
(Right now) I look forward to finding comfort outside my zone.
I'll be back in a few weeks. Hopefully with a few tales to tell.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I am selfish

I went to the gym to go swimming. 
The need to exercise had been building for days.

So much so, that when I saw a friend I wanted to talk to, I kept one eye on the clock; I had a finite window before my next commitment.

When I got to the locker room, I overheard that someone had passed out, so paramedics were coming. 

The locker room is atwitter about the woman who's passed out. She'd apparently been in the hot tub for about an hour. 

Suit on. No paramedic sightings. I shower and stride towards the pool. Two lifeguards are beside an older woman on a stretcher with an oxygen mask.

A little background: another friend who belongs to the same gym told me she'd been horrified when she'd gotten faint when trying to sweat out a cold, because when someone saw that she was feeling unwell, they called 911. 

So yeah, maybe I was a bit brazen about the woman who'd passed out. 

Since I wasn't able to wait with a runner's block for the pool to open, I stomped into the sauna. I could tell that my impatience was putting people off. 
And then the tears came. 

The other woman left and then tears turned into sobs. 

There's something freeing about throwing a temper tantrum - you've already gone to the worst place, may as well crack it open. 
What I found were deep cries from my belly. I'd been pushing through everything without even talking to myself. 

Once I was able to purge all the piled up frustrations, I could be a person again. 

When I got out of the pool, I saw the woman who'd passed out. Her daughter was helping her bathe. This moving gesture and my hot shame for not seeing her in a human situation made my tears brim again. 

I was about to inquire after the woman when I heard the daughter say...

 It's an ongoing lesson. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Goodnight Danny

On Wednesday, I had to say goodbye to my dog Danny.
You may have seen him in a few posts...

we walked the neighborhood twice a day so he was usually my companion during my observations...

Working at home, we were together almost all the time.

So I could always pop in for a pet or a dog mindmeld. 

I'm getting used to his absence. No one bays when an ambulance goes by. There's no jingle of metal tags when I open the back door.

While I have lots of memories, I believe he'd most like me to keep intact the circle of love between our hearts, so that I can share with others. 

Good boy.

Danny aka Bubbas, Pally Panda, Danny Boy
2005 - 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Birthday Measures

Every year before my birthday, like clockwork, I get sad.

It's not because I'm getting older.

It's more looking at what I've accomplished, and then reevaluating what's really important to me. And if I'm closer to bringing that to fruition.  Existential stuff.

I hadn't noticed the effect of this pattern until my friend was talking about his birthday parties (which precede my birthday by a week)

I'd been voluntarily grounding myself before my birthday, feeling sad.

It's funny that I tend to be so measureful about time and accomplishment. 
I've never said 'You only go around once.' 
If I did, I would feel guilty watching Bravo docudramas. 

I do believe down time is underrated

My next birthday is near. 
But this year I was hip to the pattern. Since I saw it coming I could anticipate and avoid the voluntary grounding.
I was among the living. And I went to my friend's birthday party. 
Instead of holing up, I was showing up.
Instead of feeling paralyzed about the past and the future, I hung out in the present.
The measureful sad was still there but it wasn't the only focus.  I simply folded it up and packed it into my purse before I went out - one piece but not the whole picture.