AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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raining in my head like a tragedy

Reading Ann Patchett’s OpEd piece got me thinking about the rain we had here in Tennessee.  It’s storm season for sure, usually an enjoyable time of year, even with the tornado possibilities.  I like thunderstorms. And Tennessee gets so amazingly, unbelievably, gorgeously green in storm season.

Usually I like a morning storm.  There’s something very pleasant about being curled up in bed and hearing the thunder and the rain outside.
This past Saturday I woke up to thunder and a deluge of rain so hard it drowned out all other ambient sounds. I don’t know why I felt different, maybe because the thunder was so loud.  I woke up already feeling panicked.  I felt uneasy all day.  I watched the local news, listened for the tornado sirens over the sound of the rain.  I watched the water rise up a couple inches on the tires of my car, parked outside the kitchen window. The creek by the house (which always seemed safely on high ground) appeared to have risen 12 or so feet. Impossible!  The roof started leaking. The news started showing washed out roads, water in people houses, people being carried away, a BUILDING floating down the interstate and crashing into a semi truck.

I went to work Saturday night and was amazed to find many people who obviously had noticed the heavy rain, but had no idea the damage it was already causing around the city.  Everyone seemed confident that they were safe, or that they lived on high enough ground.  I went home, checked the weather and went to bed with a growing sense of dread.

Sunday morning around 5am I woke up to use the bathroom and was struck by how calm and quiet it seemed outside.  I looked out all the windows, saw no rising water, no rain.  I took a deep breath and went back to bed. 20 minutes later the tornado sirens started again and the thunder rolled back in and I was up for the day.

The rain never stopped coming. The news showed more and more storms backing up behind the ones already dumping on us.  I don’t feel like I ever relaxed on Sunday.  My back is still knotted with tension today.

By mid-day Sunday almost everyone I knew was reporting water in their basements, or worse in their homes.  People were checking in, and others were worrying about those friends we hadn’t heard from. Interstates were closing, local roads, whole neighborhoods. And the rain just kept coming.  The news just kept showing more storms coming up, not the same storm but a run of new storms over and over.

To put in perspective just how much rain fell, over May 1 & 2, we got around 30% of our annual rainfall.  In the city of Nashville around 14″ of water fell in 48 hours.  Nashville averages about 13″ from May through July.  That is to say that three months worth of rain fell inside of 48 hours.

Last night (Tuesday), I was brushing my teeth and car went by, rumbling loud bass that sounded like thunder.  My heart started racing and I automatically walked to the window to look.  The flooding and devastation is terrible.  It’s hard to even wrap my head around the extent of it and I’m here in Nashville to see it.  But it’s the idea of rain that’s making me jumpy now.  I have for a long time fallen asleep to white noise generator of sorts that plays rain sounds.  Last night I couldn’t even bring myself to turn it on, I had to switch to bird and forest noises.  Nothing about rain seems relaxing to me right now. I wonder how long it will be before I can really enjoy a storm again?


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rainy days and Sundays

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I had the best day at Cheekwood.  It rained, but not too hard, so I dressed in my Seattle gear and was unfazed by it as we stomped through the gardens.  The museum had a superbly curated American Impressionist exhibit.  But the high point was the security guard.  We were going to take a quick pass through the Fabergé exhibit, as I’d seen it before but my companion hadn’t and we stayed because the security guard was giving a long, impromptu history lecture on the exhibit to a bunch of wealthy, 60+ white women.  He was a 40-something black man and his speech patterns and slang indicated sort of an average Southern, probably lower class background.  But.  Oh man, I can barely describe the beauty of the lecture he gave.  He had clearly spent a ton of time researching the history of Fabergé, the Russian Revolution, the Czars and all.  I sat on a bench with my phone and tried to transcribe notes of what he was saying.  All I managed to get down was:

“Yeah, Fabergé don’t make no junk.”
“You on that internet? Get on Netflix and get ‘The Czar’s Eggs.’ It’ll tell you about this. About that Nicholas and his Czarina and that one boy he had with the hemophilia. He was okay, then this knucklehead, Rasputin, comes in and it’s just a shame that People’s Revolution killed all those people.  Just a shame.”
“That artist [Fabergé] you got to give a high five too, the highest of fives.”

He went on about this one particular object , the Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket, and how there were 42 Fabergé eggs in the world but the Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket was the only one.  He told the ladies how the Czarina loved it so much that she took it from room to room with her so she could always admire it.  He knew, in depth, about each object in the Fabergé collection, he spoke how they were made and what they were used for.  Talked about Fabergé using his art to gain favor with the Czar by pleasing the Czarina with gifts.

As we were leaving he was telling about how everyone should come back for the upcoming Chihuly exhibit and demonstrated a fairly extensive about of knowledge on the that subject as well.

It was so pleasing, so wonderful to hear someone who was clearly self taught, speak so eloquently (in his own way), proudly and so knowledgeably about art.  Really, it was joyous and filled me with glee.

Afterwards we walked the water gardens and the Japanese garden in the rain.  Sat for a while under the roofed viewing area in the Japanese garden while it rained harder.

Then I spent too much money in the gift shop.  And had a lovely conversation with the woman who worked there (Mom, I think it was same woman as when you and I went) about art and about how Chihuly is such a marketing maniac that you can’t barely stock a gift shop without his say so (I didn’t get the impression that she cared for him much, heh).

Sometimes I think I could stay in Nashville forever if I could work at Cheekwood.  I wonder if they need a digital archivist?  I could maintain their botany library and the family’s private collections!  Heaven!

Here are some of my favorites of the Impressionist pictures I saw today.

Otto Stark – French Garden

Luther Emerson Van Gorder – Japanese Lanterns

Lilliam Wescott Hale – An Old Cherry Tree

Edith Baretto Parsons – Turtle Baby

Charles Coutney Curran – In the Luxembourg Garden

There was also a William Posey Silva piece that I can’t find a picture of that was called “Garden of Dreams” c. 1925 That was lovely.  Definitely want to see more of his work.

Yes, today was very good day.

Picture taken today with my phone, out the rain-streaked upper window of the Cheekwood mansion.  The window was in the middle of the Impressionists exhibit and I thought it looked Impressionistic too.


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How I spent my winter vacation

Today was a do nothing day.  It snowed and snowed and snowed.  Tons of snow. Okay, well, a little snow in general, but a lot of snow for Nashville.  We just aren’t equipped or prepared for it this far south.  And it was a little layer of ice, a few inches of snow, more ice, more snow and a final topping of ice.  Suffice to say, given the opportunity (and a rare Saturday off work), I stayed in bed.

Which isn’t to say I did nothing.  I managed to some stuff.  I did dress up all warmly this morning to go clear the snow off the porch and steps (for the fourth time), only to discover that after the previous clearings there was nothing left but ice.  Am considering dumping a couple buckets of warm water down it tomorrow.

Since I had pants on already, I took a few pictures, just for the memories.  I confess, I just don’t like snow.  I get it, I mean, I know people like it.  They like snow sports and days off school and the sort of freedom to goof off that Americans get when it’s a rare or major snow.  But I don’t like it.  Yes, it is pretty when it’s freshly fallen.  Yes, it is quiet and pleasant for a romantic walk or an introspective one (if dressed properly).  Still, I don’t like it.  Sledding?  Cold, wet gross and mostly associated with getting snow down the back of my pants. Not fun.  Ditto snowball fights and snow angels. And, after the initial pretty snowfall, urban snow is just gross. Mashed up, dirty, trodden on and weirdly polluted.  Traffic is awful.  Especially in places like Tennessee where almost no one knows how to drive in it, and the few transplants who do either opt not too, or get too cocky and forget that all the other people on the road have no idea what they are doing.  I just don’t like it.  It makes me cranky, crotchety, bitter and unpleasant.

Um, oops, oh yes, I wasn’t ranting, I was detailing my day.  So I went outside.  Then I came back in and hunkered down with my laptop all day.  I installed all the software that had fallen by the wayside when I updated my OS.  I reinstalled all my fonts and lost some time to finding a few pretty new ones (I do love fonts).  I cleaned out my browser bookmarks (backed up first, of course).  5 years of bookmarks.  FIVE YEARS.  Whole folders of hundreds of links I hadn’t even looked at in 2 or 3 or more years.  There’s something oddly satisfying about doing that kind of clean up.  I tided a few folders on my computers.  Organized some photos.  Backed up everything on my external drive.  Managed to clear up 54 gigs of space on my laptop (a lot of stuff had gotten duplicated in the transfer after the OS upgrade, I guess).  Spent a little time tweaking things, as Windows 7 is easy and lovely and light but still new in some ways. I made to-do lists of other things I need to do (which I will start on as soon as I post this). I shopped for and purchased a new bedspread (mine is functional, and in decent shape, it’s just uncomfortable and I kind of hate it). It was a day of nothing and still something of a useful day of clearing up loose ends.

I also watched Twilight.  Now, I haven’t read the books and have no intention of it.  I have very clear idea of the plot through the whole series and I know why some people like it and why others don’t.  I’ve heard critiques of author and of the film.  The whole thing borders on a pop culture joke. Still, I was curious so I watched it.  I admit to liking some pretty lame movies.  I don’t expect my entertainment to always be highbrow or anything.  And overall, for what it was, this movie wasn’t that bad.  It was silly and very cheesy but could have been enjoyable.  However, Edward (or rather the actor playing him) really ruined it for me.  Wow, his BAD BAD BAD overacting and weird pained looks and just bizarreness in how he played the character.  It was painful.  And also, the movie was pretty beautiful in parts (enough to make me really homesick for the West Coast), but I’m unclear on the decision not to have shot it on the Olympic Peninsula, where it takes place.  I recognized a lot of the PNW locations they used (mostly in Oregon and south central Washington).  They were gorgeous locations, but they didn’t look like Forks.  Perhaps the choice was made because there isn’t much picturesque about Forks.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of good memories tied to Forks and the surrounding Reservation and forest land.  Just, you know, it doesn’t look anything like central Washington or Oregon.  And yes, it was a cheesy movie, but aside from Edward’s bad acting, what really pulled me out of it was not at all feeling  like where they filmed it looked right.  Like it was green and grey and wet in all the right ways, but it wasn’t the coast.  It lacked salt air or something. I suspect I’m a minority of viewers who would have such a problem.

I’m actually quite cheerful and pleased with my day, even though I suspect this post comes over all rantypants and insane.

Hi!  What did you all do with your Saturday?


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Let’s get this party started quickly

Libelle and I saw Avatar last night.  It was gorgeous and entirely worth the 3-D experience and price for the visuals. The story lacks, it’s your standard Hero’s Journey with added male-dominated society and offensive Noble Savage (or do I mean Romantic Primativism?) notes.  And yet it was very moving and enjoyable.

Ranking of winter movies I’ve seen, in order of story quality (by my own personal not described standards):
1. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
2. Up in the Air
3. Sherlock Holmes
4. Avatar

Ranking of winter movies I’ve seen, in order of emotional effect on me:
1. Up in the Air
2. Avatar
3. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
4. Sherlock Holmes

When I got home last night I wrote out this long post about the new year and my resolutions. Of course I left it on on open Notepad doc, didn’t save it and closed my computer and now it’s gone gone gone.  You’d think after years of computer use I wouldn’t continuously do things like this.  (It’s also possible that somewhere between when I took the Nyquil last night and when I actually went to bed that I typed over it.)  I’ll try and recreate it here.

Taking as page from a friend of mine (thanks, SH!), I’d like to go into this new decade and say that I am not a writer, not a project manager, a librarian, a waitress or a web developer.  I do not want to tie my identity to my work or to my projects and ventures. I simply want to be and do.  By which I mean I’d like to continue to create and plan and work until I land on what I will be seriously committing myself to for the forseeable future.  So I can be identified, for the sake of clarity as a sewist, or a reviewer, or a waitress, but I will let go of self identification as any of these things and simply do the work I need to get done.

I have in the coming year, approximately 26,000 hours of projects I’d like to complete about about 3,000 hours of time to devote to to those projects.  I am going to have to plan and pick and choose my projects carefully if I want to get anything done at all.  By eliminating self identification I’m hoping to make this process easier. That is to say, if I don’t primarily identify as a writer then I’m not saying to myself, “Well as a writer I must prioritize all writing projects and sideline sewing projects.”

I’m not 100% sure I’m explaining this well.  It might be too abstract, too much my own internal thought process, for public consumption, but I felt the need to put it here for reference in the future.  Overall, I guess my problem is that my focus is so wide that I feel scattered and am not managing to finish individual projects.  I know I need to narrow my focus and buckle down. Rather than say “I’m sewist, I will complete sewing projects.” I am going to let go of what I am and list my individual projects and focus on ones that I can reasonably complete and finish those, rather than tie myself up in the idea of the larger projects.  Hmm, I might be getting more vague the longer I type.  I wonder how often things make perfect sense in my head and I’m still not able to translate them into written words.  Is this a fault of language and communication or have I simply not clarified to myself well enough what my ideas are?  I can say for sure that the lost post I started writing last night was more clear and succinct that what I’ve ended up with here today.

Also I have been trying to include a picture with every post I make here, just for added interest.  This year I am going to try and include a picture I took with every post.  It won’t necessarrily be related to the post, nor have been taken recently.  I just realized I have hundred of pictures on file that I rarely look at and don’t do anything with, so I’ll try and share them here.  Today’s picture was taken in my backyard in Feb 2007.  It isn’t snowy here now, but it’s damned cold and this picture reminds me of how bleak winter is in Tennessee.


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Holidaze

There it is, the extent of my holiday decorating.  It is actually more than I can be bothered to do most years.  The tree is twinkily and sparkly, covered in tiny, tiny lights.  Which, really, what more do you need from a tree than lights?

My cards are 3/4ths done (all addressed, 2/3rds written).  I wish I could say the same about my shopping/making of gifts.  I’m not this last minutes, I swear, just this year the whole season crept up on me.  I blame November for being so warm.


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material girl

Okay, all my nattering on about the Fossil handbag was not an inducement for one of you to buy it for me.  But wow, thank you, thank you, mysterious benefactor.  The only other mystery gift I’ve ever received was some jars of lemon curd .  And while that was fantastic, this is AMAZING.  It smells like heaven.  It’s purple like joy.  I’m thrilled to have it.  I’m over-awed at your generosity.  Wow, everyone, just wow.


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I say tomato

GirlStatue

Had a lovely, lovely weekend.  Went to the Tomato Festival with Queen Mab (Queen of the fairies, who is not so tiny anymore) and her parents henceforth known as the Queen Mother and Haiku King because her mother looks like a fairy queen as well and her father–formerly Chef Daddy–is no longer a chef and won the Tomato haiku contest.  Grand champion, best in show of over 400 hundred entries, so that was pretty exciting.  I managed to only miss one little spot with the sunscreen and didn’t really get burned.  We had surprisingly delicious tomatillo and basil ice cream and ran into lots of neighborhood folks.

I confess that I never got dressed on Sunday.  As evidenced from yesterday’s post I spent the while day watching the first season of True Blood.  I did laundry, cooked, polished some boots, worked on some sewing projects, sorted out jewelry supplies and tidied up a bit (before I messed it all up again).  So the day wasn’t a complete loss.

Today I ran lots of errands, built myself a macro photo studio.  I need to get different lights as the ones I’d planned to use aren’t bright enough.  Kind of sucks because I probably could have found something at Target today, but alas I didn’t know until I’d already gotten home.  I paid bills, made a healthy dinner and went to yoga with the Queen Mother.  Now as a reward for my virtuous living I will spend the night on the couch watching more True Blood and eating chocolate covered dried cherries.

I’d feel bad about “undoing” all my good work, except that on Saturday I put on skirt I haven’t worn in quite a while and it was HUGE.  This is skirt that I let the waist out on by 2 inches before I went to Spain a few years ago.  Now it doesn’t even stay up.  So my choices clearly are to take the skirt back in a couple inches or eat chocolate cherries until it fits. Hmmmm.

Picture taken at the 2003 Chelsea Flower Show.


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it’s all in the details

In case you missed me going on about it everywhere else: my cousin, Miss K, had a sweet little baby girl yesterday, Faith Alma, 6lbs and 12 oz of joy!  Since before Faith was twinkle in her mother’s eye, Miss K and her husband have been working to adopt their two nephews.  Well the judge signed the final papers on that adoption yesterday too!!  They are a family of five now.  Gah, I’m getting teary again just typing it.  Miss K is a very smart, wonderful girl, completely full of love.  She’s diabetic and hadn’t necessarily planned to have children because of the risk pregnancy posed to her health.  Faith was a surprise and something of a miracle.  I just couldn’t be happier about how everything turned out for them.  So HOORAY!  You all take some joy and a second to love on your families too, in light of this new, okay?

Of course this means more sewing for me.  Hopefully I can find some nice projects that I can successfully complete.  I’m kind of frustrated with my sewing skills right now.  I’d really like to take an intermediate sewing class (linings, invisible zippers, structured bodices or yoked blouses, and the like) but I’m having trouble finding one right now.  Some of that in incompetence on the part of the people offering classes and much of it is many cancelled classes, presumably due to the economy–which just seems silly, if there was time when people should be boning up on their sewing skills, it seems like now would be it.

PSA:  I love Bing.com.  I love their hilarious search overload commercials and I love using it to search.  I love it so much they should pay me to tell people about it.  Most the time I don’t care much at all for new search engines or browsers or what have you, but I’m definitely making a switch here.

I was reading some sewing blogs today and someone’s post on refashioning turned to making things for dolls, which led me to this link (all in Czech, but you can see the pictures).  I find this oddly fasinating.  Like what a strange amount of work to go to refashion a Barbie doll.  I’m particularly intrigued by the reshaping of the mouth (and subsequently the whole face structure and expression).  People are very strange.


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time enough

Oh, yeah, baby, I was there for it!!!  Heh.  What amuses me the most is how even really famous music people in Nashville are pretty much ignored but a figure skater?  People FREAK OUT! Hee hee hee.

Had a nice more morning, coffee with a friend a talking about a little of everything, but mostly travel and art and writing and collectives and the state of technology.  Am now full of thinky thoughts but none actually formed enough to share.  I do know that I need ot be much more involved creatively.  Whether with other people or not I need to DO.

Right now I have like 30 tabs open.  Some entertainment some work.  Am doing nothing with any of them.  I have a HCT post I need to make.  And I should make lunch.  And run errands.  And make a work list. And write.  And sew.  And plan. And. And. And. And. AUGH!!!!


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it’s the things we leave behind

It has been PAUL week at our house.  We didn’t plan it (though we did tip the scales in our favor), but we have been watching almost nothing but Paul Bettany and Paul Rudd movies.  So I’m sitting here, finishing up somethings from the day, thinking about going to read in bed until I pass out.  And I idly check the TV listings and, oh look, another Paul Bettany movie, Firewall, which I haven’t seen.  Clearly the universe wants us to have Pauls.

I have cleaned out my closet.  Only have shoes and jewelry left to sort.  This is part of my life simplification plan.  And also, seriously, I just have way too much shit.  Shit I don’t need, shit that makes me feels weighted and in some ways makes my life harder than I need it to to be.  So I am cleaning an sorting.  And even after this round of cleaning out I still have way too much stuff. Before MOPMD left for Europe he whittled his possesions down to (I believe) four suitcases (might even have been three) and two cardboard boxes.  Now I don’t aspire to that level of minimalism, but man, it must be really freeing to have so little stuff. Zen levels of relaxing.  The absence of desire is the end of suffering. And, apparently, the absence of stuff is the end of caring about, uh, stuff.

This morning I got a massage, courtesy my friends, T&R, and it was fantastic. Tomorrow I go to the dentist (again), this time to see how the tooth extraction site is healing, to check the health and stability of the rest of my teeth and to start the process for getting my permanent replacement tooth.  I’ve decided (after much research) on a bonded resin bridge.  Implants are completely horrifying to me (I couldn’t even read about them without shuddering in horror) and a traditional bridge is more invasive than I think is necessary.  I’m not 100% sure my dentist will do this for me, but there are other dentists.  Hopefully I won’t have to shop around for it though, as I do like my dentist and I’d like to get through all this as quickly as possible.  The flipper appliance has been okay, in the sense I can talk to people without feeling awkward about the gap in my mouth, but I’ve never gotten the hang of eating with it in and really, I just don’t like the feeling of it in my mouth.  I’d like to get back to as close to normal as soon as possible.  I am hoping the appointment tomorrow goes okay and doesn’t undo all the good work my massage did this morning.  I probably should have scheduled the appointments in the reverse order.

(Wow, Paul Bettany looks kind of creepy in this movie or rather, he just shouldn’t have his hair like that.  And yet his voice make my knees a little weak.  Man, I could listen to him read the phone book.)


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taking stock with mashed up metaphors

So I got all forward thinking the other day and started making lists of things I want to accomplish in the next three months, the next six months, the next two years.  I feel good about these lists though I haven’t looked at them since I wrote them, as I feel kind of personally paralyzed right now and am afraid if I push it too much I’ll feel defeated by not having done enough of the things on the lists.  I do need a kick in the pants.  Motivation.  I’m definitely mildly (though not to the point of incapacitation) depressed.  I’m trying to pull out of it.  But really the economy sucks, in the last month I’ve had to take more painkillers than I ever have before, I lost a fucking tooth and the guy I’ve been dating for the last six months is moving out of the country, probably permanently.  So if I feel a little down I think I’m completely justified.

Recently I was out walking with a lovely woman I know and we were talking about a friend and I commented that this friend needed to learn to dream as big as possible, to see every possibility for the future and then scale it back to make his own life livable and to find happiness.  Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth I realized that I forgotten how to do this as well.  Oh sure, I can remember how to complain about things I don’t have, things I’ve lost, things that have been destroyed.  I can say, “wouldn’t it be nice if…”  But somewhere along the line I’ve let go of how to imagine to most I know I can do and reach for it, even when whatever I am reaching for continuously morphs and changes.

I’m not exactly sure what happened.  Maybe I set my sites on TN with a plan and everything around me evolved and I never changed my plan and suddenly was left stuck in the mud.  Maybe that’s what depression is at its root: when you lose sight of both the near and far and you discover too late that you are mired in a deep pit of your own making.  And I know sometimes you can climb out of that pit on your own and sometimes you have to ask for a hand to pull you up.  Right now I think I can still claw my way up, but it seems to be getting slipperier.  I just need to pause, settle  to rest on a ledge, take a deep breath and remember that I can actually do anything that I imagine.

Dreaming big is a strange line to walk.  I was born into a generation that was told we could be anything.  Girls can have any job and everyone was equal and loved.  Go to college and anything can happen.  You too can be a Supreme Court Justice or cure cancer or make millions of dollars just working in an office. Sesame Street taught us that we were all special and bound for greatness, especially since we could count to ten!  Every Gen X kid can tell you now that we grew up to a very different world than what we were promised.  The future did not provide hover cars, excellent pay for so little work, or an endlessly growing economy.  But still the place I’ve ended up has taught me a lot.  I can find my comfort zone, define it and stretch it out, change it at will.  I can keep learning.  If I want to move to Spain I can figure out how to do it.  When faced with the prospect of sliding back into the muddy pit of depression, I can reach higher, climb better and eventually lay myself on the green grass, in the sun to rest before I fill that hole so completely that nothing can fall back into it.  I might only be a waitress but I am the best waitress you’ve ever seen.  And when I dream of more than this, I become more than this.  So when you see me, don’t forget to remind me that better things are surely around the corner.  And maybe give me a cookie and hug because right now I’m still sitting on that ledge, halfway up the side of the pit I slipped in to.


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zenshirttooth

I am sort of obsessed with this shirt.  I saw someone wearing it a couple weeks ago and I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for it, or looking for fabric like it.  I can’t wear this shirt without making major alterations to it, which I’m not opposed too and yet I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy it.  Maybe I’m worried I’d wreck it when I altered it.  Maybe deep down I know I don’t really need another shirt.  And yet, I’ve had the tab for it open on my desk top for almost two weeks now.  *sigh*

The dentist went well today.  I got fitted for my new tooth.  I don’t get it for a week or so.  They offered to glue in a temporary one for vanity’s sake.  But I would have had to be very careful with it, with chewing, with making sure no pressure went on it or anything and so I opted not to get it.  I don’t need one more thing to be worried about in my mouth right now. So the next week will be a lesson in humility and overcoming vanity as I will just have no tooth for a while.  I have to get an intensive cleaning and a little other work done before they can do a bridge but in the meantime I’m assured that the tooth I am getting will look like it belongs and no one will know the difference.  Also I can’t stress how nice everyone was at the dentist’s office.  It was completely 1000% times better than the ER experience.

I could really use a massage after all that.  I feel like I’m recovering from tension in places I didn’t even know I could be tense. Ow ow ow ow.  Also not having a tooth is really awkward and uncomfortable (beyond the vanity thing).  I am very much looking forward to my new tooth.


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positive electrical charge

Wow the storms last night were crazy.  It seemed like the thunder was right over my house for hours. It affected my dreams for sure.  Now we are on to noontime storms.  It’s nearly black outside and it feels like everything is underwater: slow, shifting strangely and slightly unreal.  I have been carefully focusing all morning on the the rush of water washing all the negativity of the past away.  On water that makes things grow, that makes me stronger, that brings change and cleanses.  I would, I suspect, be a much diffrent person if I could meditate like this every morning.  And I guess there’s no reason I can’t, though I know myself well enough to know that I won’t.  But today it was good.

The thunder is still rumbling, moving closer again.  I have eaten a healthy lunch.  I have made a simple, reasonable to-do list for the day.  I have A History of Violence on in the background (yes, much like A Walk on the Moon, this is a good movie, but probably most re-watched for the insanely hot Viggo sex scenes). Today will be a good day.  As will tomorrow.  And all the rest of the days.  Even the ones I forget to look for the goodness in.  I will keep in my heart the best parts of the best days and try to remember to that every day has the possibility of those  wonderful moments.


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it hurts, I hear

I am trying very hard to remain cheerfully optimistic today. My biggest stumbling blocks are hormones (nothing like simply being a girl to make one insane) and my ears.  My previous, possibly unrelated, ear problems have cleared up, but my ears still really, really hurt. A doctor’s visit informs me that I have no signs of infection in my ears or my sinuses, but that there is inflammation in my sinuses (and by association my eustachian tubes) and a consequence of this is way too much fluid in my ears.

They gave me a corticosteroid nasal inhaler.  I swear it smells like roses.  Recent conversations with a couple friends seem to indicate that this may not be true, and I may, in fact, be crazy.  But to me it smells like roses. I have taken this as a ‘wake up and smell the roses’ sign, which is very closely related to ‘stop and notice the color purple.’

So I will take a deep breath (to the best of my ability while my head is painfully pressurized), try and relax, take things as they come, and remember to put back out into the universe what I want to get out of it.  I will be stronger and more resolute and not the weepy, tragic mess I have been since Sunday.  Neither hormones nor headaches will get the best of me.

Still, I might go take a nap before I have to go to work.


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[dharma: week 2] taking kindness when it is offered

I might need to take a few days of news media black out. It’s getting very depressing everywhere in the world. Still I can remember that there is goodness in the world as well.

Last night I was out with some friends, including a new friend who was visiting from Germany. When we parted company my German friend pressed something into my hand. When I got inside I discovered it was a tiny angel figurine.

It was a very kind and beautiful gesture. I have been meditating on it all day. Pulled from context it was simply a reminder to that I need to really notice when there is loving kindness and goodness in the world.

This week’s reading: Learning Kindness.

I can, and do, generously and selflessly offer kindness to others. Or at least I try to when it is possible. But maybe I don’t accept kindness as well. Ladybug really helped me out a lot this week. Purely from living kindness. It was hard to accept, because it was asking for help. She told me that asking her for help wasn’t the same as asking for help. And she’s right. She’s right partly because she simply helped me out of the kindness of her heart, and she’s right because sharing both joy and burdens is part of life when you are genuinely connecting with other people.

And so I shall also carry this tiny angel with me to remind me that I am both an angel who watches over others and one needs an angel watching out for her.


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[dharma: week 1] Love

The First of the Four Sublime States: Metta–Love

Love, without desire to possess, knowing well that in the ultimate sense there is no possession and no possessor: this is the highest love.

Love, without speaking and thinking of “I,” knowing well that this so-called “I” is a mere delusion.

Love, without selecting and excluding, knowing well that to do so means to create love’s own contrasts: dislike, aversion and hatred.

Love, embracing all beings: small and great, far and near, be it on earth, in the water or in the air.

Love, embracing impartially all sentient beings, and not only those who are useful, pleasing or amusing to us.

Love, embracing all beings, be they noble-minded or low-minded, good or evil. The noble and the good are embraced because Love is flowing to them spontaneously. The low-minded and evil-minded are included because they are those who are most in need of Love. In many of them the seed of goodness may have died merely because warmth was lacking for its growth, because it perished from cold in a loveless world.

Love, embracing all beings, knowing well that we all are fellow wayfarers through this round of existence — that we all are overcome by the same law of suffering.

Love, but not the sensuous fire that burns, scorches and tortures, that inflicts more wounds than it cures — flaring up now, at the next moment being extinguished, leaving behind more coldness and loneliness than was felt before.

Rather, Love that lies like a soft but firm hand on the ailing beings, ever unchanged in its sympathy, without wavering, unconcerned with any response it meets. Love that is comforting coolness to those who burn with the fire of suffering and passion; that is life-giving warmth to those abandoned in the cold desert of loneliness, to those who are shivering in the frost of a loveless world; to those whose hearts have become as if empty and dry by the repeated calls for help, by deepest despair.

Love, that is a sublime nobility of heart and intellect which knows, understands and is ready to help.

Love, that is strength and gives strength: this is the highest Love.

From here.

—-

Love without the desire to possess.  I have already come very far this but I need work on it still.  I will, someday I hope, let go of jealousy, let go of the desire for certain kinds of attention.  I would rather find joy in the people I love and simply be glad of the time I spend with them.  It is important to me to release from love the kind of desire that causes unhappiness.  I want to have only joy in love.


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Mi dharma es su dharma

I have decided that a weekly commitment is something I can manage in 2009.  Not books or pictures, though.  I don’t know that anyone but Rhi is interested in this, but I am, this year, making a concerted effort to be more spiritual and I have decided that that is what I’ll share here every week.  Of course far be it from me to be too personal, so it won’t be my experiences, rather it’ll be whatever I’m working that week, so it may be selections from the Dhammapada, from Buddhist parables, from whatever book I am reading, etc.

This isn’t intended to influence anyone in their own beliefs.  Rather a way for my community to hold me accountable for continuing to practice, and hopefully to entertain you all.  And maybe inform you, if it is something you are interested in following up on.  Buddhism is something that can be practiced in conjunction with Christian and other faiths.  It is, in it’s simplest form, just a means of achieving inner peace and having selfless compassion for your fellow humans.

And sure, if you do read these posts and are interested I will try and answer questions, or at least direct you to possible answers.  I am merely a student in this and have not at all been practicing in the way I wish for a few years. So bear with me, or learn with me.