Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Toa of Gudri

In which Gudri's sleep is rudely interrupted 
by tacky pop music blaring from the vicinity
 of LDS University of Choice early on a Saturday morning, 
and therefore decides that the best way for some peace and quiet 
is to spend half a day climbing a mountain that is still covered in snow.

My legs belie the lack of wisdom 
in traversing 8+ miles through either 
thigh-deep snow or mud and vicious scrub brush. 
Snowshoes, hiking poles—they might have helped. 
This climb was all about humility. 
The instances that I fell were so numerous 
I couldn't even guess at the number. 

It was also all about religious philosophy. 
Five and a half hours of deep meditative contemplation. 
I'm starting to wonder what will replace this fixation once Spring semester ends. 
I have a lot of climbing to do, 
and that generally means a lot of thinking as well.
Whatever I pick, it'd better be good.

Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm not that crazy

I'm taking the summer off. I need it. My kids need it. 

E— is presently in the ER getting stitches in his right leg. He's been climbing, off-trail, high up, without gear. He slipped on muddy shale and fell 20-30 ft, sustaining a nasty puncture wound just to the left of his shin. When I first looked at it I thought I could see to the bone. Luckily he was with M— and a friend. He called from one canyon as I was about to take L— and B— up the mountain on another trail about two miles away.

I came back down with the two I had with me, sped to the canyon to pick up the other three, and the six of us went straight to the hospital. As we sat waiting for triage B— said to his big brother, "Don't you dare show me that hole of yours."

My heart breaks at how much I love these kids. I'm starting to resent the three weeks I have left of Spring semester.

We all want to climb. I'll never be able to keep myself in the classroom during the summer. So I won't graduate till Fall 2014. So what?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How crazy am I?

I've been working up a Fall Semester. I can't convince myself that I shouldn't push through the summer and pick up 6-7 credits there as well. I could climb at the same time. And maybe maintain sanity. Right?
I really can't decide.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What NOT to say at an open mic night for English majors

"That's the only assignment I'm going to read tonight, but I've got three more pieces to share because I'm not just taking the class. I'm an actual a poet."

Sometimes I wonder where she comes from. She's got bravado. Cojones. Her feet taste like a memory lapse that she doesn't walk on air. She can definitely tell who her real friends are, because they love her regardless. She can tell who respects her, because they introduce themselves even after she's wedged in toes, balls and arches nearly back to her uvula. 

Ghost baldness incident to soon-to-be exes

Is this my space for freedom, or is it not? I need to blow off a little steam.
I'm perplexed, and simultaneously I'm not, at all. I mean, we know the pattern of the perp in domestic violence cases. Without raping, they look to rape, to dismantle your control, to dominate in any way possible, even if it means yoking themselves to a marriage they claim they don't want so they can hurt you...
I'm doing this divorce pro se. I'm smart enough to navigate these issues on my own, but the behavior of the soon-to-be ex is growing repressive. You've all read; I'm doing my best to stay positive and to maintain an air of human decency in this mess. I'm not giving up that fight. But I'm at the point where I'm absolutely befuddled by this kind of behavior.
He's answered everything he can, both the petition for divorce and the request for the 90-day waiver, shooting noxious barbs wherever the opportunity presents itself, even if it isn't legally appropriate. Each rambling, slandering answer is concluded with "give her the divorce" or "grant her the 90-day waiver".
I haven't requested monetary compensation, all assest and possessions have been allocated/divided without dispute, there are no children and therefore no custody arrangements to resolve--our divorce should be cut and dry. But because of the soon-to-be ex's need to air his dirty laundry by filing these answers, the divorce is considered contested. In order to resolve a legal contest, he must sign a Stipulation that states he will drop the answers from record. Because they request no financial or custodial amendments to the divorce, these answers have absolutely no bearing on our case. But he WILL NOT sign. In fact, besides sending my half of the tax returns, he won't respond to my attempts at communication at all.
My next step is to arrange mediation, where they will tell him that if he has no intention to sue for me for financial compensation that there are no grounds for an answer and that the Stipulation needs to be signed and the answers removed. I already know he will not agree to sign, if he even shows up. From there the mediator will write a statement to the court that he is uncooperative, and hopefully the case will go into default.
Come mid-May at the soonest I should be able to procede with the final filing and this whole thing can be wrapped up. But the soon-to-be ex has his emergency brakes on and is doing everything he can to slow the process. Even though he says he wants the divorce.
I'm being bullied and manipulated. It's been that way the whole marriage. Not certain why I'd really expect the divorce process to be any different. I'm guessing that anticipating a mid-May divorce decree is wishful thinking.
I'm staying graceful, remaining calm. But my ghost is pulling out fistfulls of ghost-hair. You can follow the trail, like an invisible line of disappearing patience, wherever I go.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Life surfing, the thick and the sticky

Let's surmise.

Let's imagine that at given time (a) a thing is not possible, and that at given time (b) it may become possible, although given time (b) is not a thing that can be clearly defined from the viewpoint of time (a). 

Let's also imagine that both (a) and (b) are dependent on variables (c) and (d). 

Variables (c) and (d) are each in possession of independent rationale. That rationale may be weighed upon by further variables—for (c) q, r, and s, and for (d) x, y, and z.

I've never been very good with exponents or percentages. 

But I distinctly hear probability say, "Guts, girl! Just take the wave." 

Then under his breath he mutters, "Don't be surprised when you're stuffed in the barrel."

Good thing I like the ocean.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Theorem of the mouth

One might suspect it tastes
akin to the texture

of hunger: fixtures
on vibration: a starvation fruit
bursting. Here, see it plucked.
Plumped, pierced and wanting

survival: like the latch
of a respirator,

or two starfish
grasping at each 

other for anything
solid, for genetic myth

of another half, for the wet
of the wide living Ocean.

My other other son, John

Marjorie Pay Hinckley once said that whenever you can say yes in parenting, 
you should.

Which is why M— and I spent several hours last night putting the finishing touches 
on her cosplay, a Homestuck cross-play (meaning gender-bending) of god tier John,
for the Spring Anime Convention in the Valley of Salt.

Which is why at 7 a.m. this morning I was up to take pictures of my daughter 
proudly sporting a bound chest and a short black guy's scene wig.

Which is why, at 11:30 p.m. tonight I was driving around South Valley of Salt 
trying to locate the on-ramp to the freeway once I'd retrieved her from
a day amongst so many other socially awkward teens.

She was so happy today.

Why wouldn't a parent say yes to that?

Second tadpole in the pool

Love this boy. Took him to lunch on Friday. 
Jimmy Johns #6, because he's still a conscientious
meat objector.

He's telling me a DSLR
is $800.

That's only three more Christmases.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Killing the essay

I was accused of plagiarism on Monday.

I believe I now feel safe enough to explain the whole mess; a debacle which I'm certain most of you guessed at from activity on this blog this week. I feel safe to discuss it because for the first time, in the brief history of my two and one half months at University of Humble Pie, I made it to Ethics on time.

This never happens because I have Astrobiology immediately preceding Ethics in a classroom a mile away. Today, as never happens, I got out of Astrobiology five minutes early because we got our scores back from Monday's exam at the end of class and, I'm sorry to say, we had already been warned that the class average was 70%. I'm about average.

Anyway, I usually reach Ethics at 2:04 p.m. Today I was there at 1:57 p.m.

I've been sitting on the back row the last few weeks. Laying low like. I walked in the door, head down, minding my own when Mr. PNU addresses me:

"Did you get that whole thing figured out with Adam?"

Anyone who reads this blog regularly kinda already knows that Adam found my blog on Monday. He found the blog while he was grading my essay.

"Yeah, it's all good." 

What I should explain is that most of the class is already seated. I'm heading to the back row. Mr. PNU stands at the front so to appear on the camera for the telecourse, which this particular Ethics course is. This conversation is taking place at two ends of the room in front of about fifteenish to twentyish people.

"You know," he continues. "In the whole of my teaching career that has never happened before."

"Yeah," I try not to continue. "It's never happened to me before either."

"See, originally Adam read the essay and thought is was too good for a student to write."

"Really? I apologized to him because I was pretty facetious about that point and he'd denied that was the case."

"No, he had me read it and I agreed it was really good. So I told him to run it through TurnItIn. And when he does, Google pulls up the identical essay, and wouldn't you know, you have a blog."

"Yes, I have a blog."

"I didn't read it."

"Thank you. Please don't."

"I won't."

The rest of the conversation is me trying to explain I'd taken the essay down, that I'd been in panic central for me for about twenty-four hours while I tried to clear myself by divulging my true identity to people I don't really know if I can trust, and that it basically would never happen again. I will only post work AFTER it's been graded from now on. I know Mr. PNU was giving me his input as well during all of this, but it's kind of a blur. This isn't the sort of thing you want to discuss with your professor in front of fifteenish to twentyish fellow students. 

The two redeeming facets of the conversation: (1) The whole reason my essay was checked on Google was because of its quality, even though Adam said it wasn't, and (2) Mr. PNU has not and will not read my blog. I'm going to trust him. I have reason to believe his ethics are sound.

I also believe, however, I will still leave all posts referencing The Baker and like topic in draft mode.

Melissa, you ought to market your editing skills. You are proofer extraordinaire, and you helped to sharpen all the dull edges in my final draft. Thank you, again!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


M-- is following L--'s suit, though not as irrationally, nor vocally. We're in the midst of fallout. At Women's Group they told me this is a good thing, because it means the kids are finally processing the abuse they witnessed during my marriage.

M-- is a tricky case in that she's lost her drive. Until our move she has been self-motivated to the extreme, but that is failing her lately, and she is struggling to complete ordinary coursework. The result is that she feels worthless, as M-- bases her value on her grades. (We've discussed repeatedly that this is untrue, since I couldn't care less what the grade is as long as she's doing her best and is happy.)

But she has wonderful, wonderful friends, who try to cheer her up by passing along the 56 best/worst similes.

In case you need some cheering up, I'm passing them along to you.

And yes, she and I are reading them to each other, laughing as only hysterical women in our gene pool do, like the sort who doggie-paddle furiously as if we were dogs who don't know how to swim.

Iron beneath the tongue, lungs aflame


10 a.m. 
2013 maiden climb.
45 minutes up. 20 down.
Tomorrow, as I hike 
across campus, my quads 
will tell me 
that the running descent
may not have been wise.
But oh, the ideas that flow 
when blood is rich
in the capillaries and the oxygen is thin.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tumbling toward 6,000

I guess this is what happens when Spring Break is over and you didn't really get one. I'm refusing to do homework tonight, or at least just not finding myself doing it as is routine. And I'm spamming my own blog wall, which is permitted as I am all for shameless self-promotion and ridiculous word count when it is done anonymously.

And none of that has to do with this post.

M—'s latest, the Homestuck head cannons, has acquired nearly 6,000 notes on Tumblr in two, maybe three days. I think that's her highest count, and it's a big deal. As it should be as I watched her working, and working, and working to finish this one.

Now I wish she realized that she is a big deal.

Kung Fu Baker

Yup, I'm serious. That's what's up next in Ethics.
And you know what that means...

Have I mentioned the connection between Jack Black and the Baker?
Closer than cousins.

But the good news is, as of Friday 
there are only four weeks left of Spring Semester.
Then I'm going to Dragon Warrior my way 
up the Seven Mountains of Happiness 
where I will find my chi
and sweat great buckets 
of universe juice.

Why the hell am I centering everything?

Choosing Easter

Another HEX essay. This one I submitted gutsily; you'll see why. M— tells me it is beautiful. I'm still trying to convince myself that being this open is alright. I see it as responsibility, but it still scares me. Just a bit. It's featured in next Monday's issue.

My Easter was September 2nd, 2007.
It was the end of four years negotiating and reasoning where and who I wanted to be in the space of my life, and what I was willing to do to get there.
It was releasing my dependence on the twenty-three LDS Sister missionaries who, transfer by transfer, made my home a central stop on their tracting route for three years, even during the months that I wasn’t so glad to see them, and they’d spend their visits listening to me rant on and on about my grievances toward the LDS Church, Joseph Smith, and God.
Easter was releasing anger and bitterness and blame for everyone, including myself. It was the bravery in leaping toward faith when I knew so little, and at the same time more often than not, when I knew far too much.
Easter was lying in my bed in the darkness of the late 2007 spring, and catching myself fantasizing: What hymns will we sing? Who will I ask to speak? Who will stand with me in the water? Who will lay their hands on my wet head?
Easter was that moment I stopped pushing aside all of my reasons to the contrary and allowed belief to take root.
Easter is justice and mercy. Easter is compassion. Easter is a brain and body that function the way I want them to. Easter is the hand that brushes away the tears of those I’ve wronged. Easter is the hand that holds mine every time there is no one to comfort.
Easter is that pot-bellied little girl standing on the edge of the pool without her water-wings waiting for the courage to rise up so that she can finally take that running jump into the outstretched arms of her big brother. Easter is flying through the air, knowing you’re going to be caught, and that you’ll be safe. Easter is that kind of trust.
Easter is the putty that fills the cracks of words spoken and actions made on impulse. It is the humility required to teach my kids that I, too, am human, and that the mistakes I make can sometimes be earth-shattering. So much so that it took not one, but two LDS swimming parties to get my belief right.
Easter is also teaching my kids that the miracle putty is strong enough to put anything back together; not just my drop-kicks—theirs too. Easter is the courage needed to bring up my mistakes and my swimming parties to my children over and over, as often as needed, until they realize that I really did take the plunge. I really do believe this. I really do trust. And I trust so deeply that I can let my kids take their own reigns and make their own choices, because I have given myself entirely to faith in the repair when things in life don’t turn out as we hope.
Easter—be it beneath an olive tree, or nailed to a beam, or speaking the surest love to a weeping woman beside an empty tomb—all of it is a choice. And me, I chose a second immersion.


On the equinox
she stood

on her head
and made sense

The truest friends 

are those
who step on

the brakes
when you are missing

the feet to apply your own 
pressure to the pedal.

This is not a stinking poem.

*Okay, so this sort of is a poem. 
But I need to start using this tag again, 
so we'll let this one apply 
as the first in Second Set's lot of the not-a-poems.

Our Celebratory Mother on the Vernal Equinox

With some hesitation She swirls
a big toe, and pulls out

crocus and daffodil. She shakes
the moths from petticoats, catches Her breath

and exhales against our own rejoicing
skin to bring to memory:

cotton tufted clouds, the crosshatch of linen
branches clothed in green eyelet, and the singular

delight of again donning a bright
yellow sash, if only for the hours

of a day that dances barefoot
with the couplet hours of night.

Nerdery and other non-violent exploits

Poets are queer creatures. Queer like weird, although I know a few of the other persuasion.

I'm piecing together ideas for a poem for HEX about Spring, and because I like to make sure that my factual tidbits in my work are always correct I do a lot of Google surfing. That's where I came up with the idea to play with raw eggs this morning, what with the early Equinox and all. Wouldn't you know I managed to balance one on its end for the first time ever. And, dang, if I'm not feeling rather accomplished about that.

It's still standing. Fifteen minutes and one blog post later.

Happy first day of the end of the Hag's reign to all my winter-weary friends. Bacchanalia! Or at least a good share of revelry and delight. And may your snow abate as quickly as ours.

Okay. On to the rest of my day.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hello Mr. Philosophy...

Briefly, regarding the essay I wrote for your Ethics class, I can attest that it is mine. But I'm flattered that Adam felt he should Google passages to verify authenticity. I must have done well to deserve such attention. That is, frankly, a relief, because I can't recall stressing over writing anything as much as I stressed over that essay. 

No joke.

Now that we've established that this is my blog, may I please have my grade?

Thank you,


(There is safety for victims of domestic violence in anonymity. You know who I am.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mothers, daughters, and waves

You leave. You file. Then you live the aftermath, and it's never just about you, especially if kids are involved. And it's never, ever as simple as you think.

L— is a moody preteen anyway, but dealing with the isolation of months of domestic violence, being subjected to ridicule by her peers for her constant sadness, and as she says, not knowing how to deal with "someone treating my mom that way," has reached a boiling point. The last 24 hours have been a test of resolve and emotional stamina for her parents. L— can't deal with much more stress, and though it's apparent that she needs a break from everything, the school district doesn't take its Spring Break until April 1st. 

My ex (L—'s dad) and I have agreed it's time to look into counseling. (Family is now the people who live together and take care of one another. It's weird and cool all at once.)

In the meantime, I drove her to the wildly tossing greenish-brown syrup that is Happy Valley Lake, where we imagined that if it didn't stink and if it had the attribute of tides, those waves might just have the power to soothe us over for the next fourteen days.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The silent memory of blood

I finished Love Medicine at 1:30 this afternoon and gasped great sobbing tears for the next half hour. Few books have effected me like this. Grapes of Wrath, Poisonwood Bible—I believe that is all. 

This last week I have been overcome by stunned disbelief at the similarities between the book and my family's history, Grandmother Josie and my 1/64th Ojibwe heritage (milked mostly white by the North Europeans that mixed with it), and my own attempt to right the turbulence of the emotional ocean currents that argue for wildness against what scraps of reason I have salvaged from unknown sources. 

I see my marriages in this book, my illness, my addictions, my children, my parents, my grandparents, circles and circles and circles that are the Ojibwe tradition. I also find hope, even if it is invisible from where I stand on the road.

The plan is that my Lit by Women class will discuss this book for at least a week when I return. I don't know if I will be capable of participation. These stories and themes lie just beneath the skin, if not gasping for breath at the surface. The tears I cried for half an hour this afternoon aren't dried up. They stopped because the blood needs time for silence, to absorb truth, to adjust. The salt has to build up again to carry the pain of generations from the current's source to the shore of acceptance and understanding at the water's edge.

Monday, March 11, 2013


(1) Standing in front of the Poetry section at Barnes and Noble, trying to decide between Pablo Neruda, Sharon Olds, Dylan Thomas, and Adrienne Rich. Buying Bulfinch's when you've sworn off anything Greek. You buy the Neruda too, but you feel guilty because you've shut out the ladies, and you are supposed to be championing the ladies. Your Women's Lit professor said so.

(2) Finding out, even after you took the Hume/Aristotle exam, that you still have readings and journal entries due in Ethics for the next week. Then, trying to decide how to best write your first entry when you are under considerable emotional strain and have absolutely no desire to discuss morality as determined by the faithful or the atheistic. Then, letting Mr. PNU have it, especially regarding his flip manner of assigning "homework" to decide the morality of adultery as if no one in his classroom could possibly have a keen frame of reference for that sort of thing. Finally, resigning yourself to a "Whatever!" attitude about the whole thing and telling yourself that you no longer care about Ethics at all, even though you do and you will continue to work your tail off to kill every exam, essay and assignment that will come your way.

(3) Crying. You do it all the time. Sometimes because you are sad and hurt, and the rest of the time because you are so tired you can barely make sense of consciousness. This makes smiling and acting cheerful in spite of trial a difficulty, but you're stubborn and you're dedicated to persist. When you cry and smile at the same time you end up with tears that slip between your teeth and your smile is salty.

(4) Your increased dosage of Lithium has aggravated your acne. This is a little known side-effect of the drug, but it happens, without mercy. Your chin is an Li war zone, and your prescription for Minocycline (the only thing that clears it up) ran out months ago. The last time you went to the doctor it was for that positive prego test, only the labs all came back negative. The NP on duty won't refill the Minocycline unless you go on birth control because she can't read the lab reports that say "negative" and she doesn't want you getting knocked up on this drug. You assure the medical assistant who calls that you've left your husband, you are not sexually active nor anticipate becoming so, at all, ever, in the foreseeable future. And frankly it would take an act of God for you to get pregnant. You're certain God doesn't have that in the cards for you. The medical assistant says she'll relay the info to your NP.

(5) You have six weeks left of school. You're shooting for straight As, but your stress level is about maxed, and this joke of a Spring Break is doing its best to kill you. You'll probably flip out in one or all of your classes when you go back. You're hoping this won't be an issue or cause problems with the Teaching Assistant offer that you've accepted.

(6) It's still cold. There's still a significant snowcap on the mountains. You're certain the only thing that will improve all of this is to start climbing.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Six more weeks

I'm taking a break from Love Medicine, listening to the Romanze op. 11 of Clara Schumann, and dealing with the tiny invisible miners who have invaded my thumper cavity and seem to be in the process of expansion, if not total liquidation.

(c) Astranat

Rilke, the jerk, said, "Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart." Why can't I just pretend I'm fine? What's so wrong with faking it? Rilke, was, afterall, just another jerk. Six more weeks of grinding away at putting all this divorce crap on the back-burner, and then it's new Sauconys, the Book of Isaiah, and the mountains for me. 

(And a likely re-reading of D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, if not a purchase of Bulfinch...hmm.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013


M—'s been at this for the past three days. 
I think only the intellectually lacking might miss the brilliance here.
My pride is beaming all over this one,
because I've known she was capable
and I think she's known too.

Brace yourself

(c) Riccardo Cresido

I'm about to say something I don't think anyone could have anticipated.

I'm so ready to be done with Ethics. It's too, too much. It's infiltration into my thoughts, my kids thoughts, how I see everything—I'm weighed down by it.

I took M— to Zero Dark Thirty last night, and prior to the movie M— and I are discussing details from an earlier Astrobiology lecture regarding evolution and the theory that the rise of early homo sapiens took place on the coastline of Africa where there was an abundance of fish, which supplied their diet with enough Omega 3s to support the development of the growing modern human brain.

M— suddenly interjects: "I wonder if that's why the Greeks where so advanced. There was next to no produce on Greece. All they could eat was fish."

I'm fine with her supposition. But I don't know that I'll ever get around to finding the answer for her. I'm worn out by this gray matter expansion and the strange shift in dynamic I'm noticing with Mr. PNU. 

And then there's the movie in general. I'm watching all of this torture in the beginning, writhing in my chair at the blatant disregard for the Categorical Imperative. Yeah, it's seeped in that deep beneath my skin. 

I can't say I enjoyed the movie. At all. And when I realized this evening, once I'd killed the Hume/Aristotle exam that I have nine more days without either more ethical arguments or the presence of Mr. PNU there was genuine relief.

I also figured out that, should summer end and I want more philosophical enlightenment, I can just join the Philosophy Club and go to their sponsored lectures every so often to get my fix. That too, was a relief.

I think I'll add an extra 1000 mg of Omega 3 this week to my nightly supplement routine. And then I'm going to try and forget about Greece for as long as I can. 

As of yet untitled broken marriage villanelle

There is a life beneath the olive tree
where scent can mask the truth of who we are
and begs us: Who is seashore? Who is sea?

Those blossoms tangle hearts. They paint a ‘he’
and ‘she’ that brush attempt would surely mar—
a trick of light beneath the olive tree.

And in this spell we give our oaths. The free
heart blindly binds itself to moon and stars
that beg us: Who is seashore? Who is sea?

We toss about and grapple endlessly
between the tides, in quest of land afar
with memories of life beneath the olive tree.

The waves wash clean the perfume mask to see
beneath the paint, ourselves, for who we are
and taunts us: Who is seashore? Who is sea?

As oceans churn and sands remain they plea
a final unmasked parting at the bar:
Forget the oaths beneath the olive tree.
Who wants a shore? What's more, who wants a sea?

Friday, March 8, 2013

More incentive for sleep

Still not sleeping. Just...yeah. 
M—'s been posting her sketches again. I love this one.

Now I'm going to sleep, cuz I promised M— Zero Dark Thirty at 10 p.m.,
 and I plan coherence for the event.

SLeeP si th nex ting on da do ck et

In the immortal words of my son, E—, as he holds an empty jerky container: "Holy shiz! This bucket smells like pit sweat. Dad, can I have a real garbage can for my room?"

I'm not going to make it through the evening without some REM. Like now.

How have I been going so long with so little unconsciousness? No wonder I've been a moody shiz hole this week.

(I guess this means that I'm cool with "shiz" usage. If E— ever actually read this blog he'd crucify me for hypocrisy.)

(I love my son.)

(That's all.)

What the next nine days look like:

*Read three chapters covering the biological component of Astrobiology for the 'midterm' which will take place  immediately upon return

*Read and annotate Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine

*Write a villanelle

*(Let me say that again...) Write a villanelle  I may have to try this a couple of times during this break. I'm not satisfied with the result.

*Create a strength training program

*Read Rob Carney's Story Problems and an accompanying review (this will be a joy)

*Take an Ethics exam on Wednesday for readings on Aristotle and Hume 100% on the multiple choice. I feel good about the essay questions as well.

*Revise and resubmit two poems which have been accepted for publication in the university lit journal Changed a crucial line in "Of Angels and Insects," left "What will you call her?" the same, because it was perfect, even if there was one singular line that a few of them thought should be a couplet. Rewrote bio to take out reference to my husband.

*Somewhere in here I'm supposed to catch up on sleep

*And I may or may not have offered editing/proofing skills to help one of my professors catch up in grading (though I think he will decline) I reneged my offer. It was a kind thought, but I also kindly think it's more than I can handle. Grading will go on without me.

*I'm also hoping to catch two or three movies, if possible, and maybe take a few walks so I'm not cooped up in the house the entire time

University of Humble Pie calls this "Spring Break."

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Further exploits in string theory

Add this to your resume

I've been handed a generous position as a teaching assistant for fall semester in both intermediate poetry and an introductory creative writing course. On the cusp of a hellacious Spring Break the offer is completely overwhelming. But I'm not stupid; a letter of recommendation from this professor could be a big shoe in for the grad school of my choice. 

I planned my schedule for fall and then sent an acceptance email.

Now I'm going to go hang with Mavrodes and see if I can further untangle his argument for God and morality.

Then I'm going to meditate on being capable of tackling the Everest of work that needs scaling in the next nine days.

Why does achievement matter so much to me? Don't tell me it's genetic. I'll punch you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Definitions of Love according to Mr. PND

Mr. Philosophy Numero Dos (there are several in "the hall") overheard a conversation between me and my guy pal, J—, today. We were discussing what we are attracted to. J— likes guys who look like Adonis. As we all know, I'm hopelessly weak in the knees for intellect. Mr. PND doubles back and says...

"Excuse me. I couldn't help but hear you mention attraction. Let me ask you. Do you believe in love?"

I actually had to pause and think about this one. I'm not sure why. I sure as heck believe in Bakers, but love? I finally nodded yes. "Yeah, I'm good with love."

Mr. PND then hands me a flier for the Philosophy Club's evening lecture "Love, Luv, Wuv" and invites me and J— to attend. I don't know if he thought we'd actually follow through. Mr. PDN may have overheard me talking in "the hall" before, professing my love for Ethics, but then again, maybe he hasn't.

J— had to go to work. I, on the other hand, don't believe in coincidence, and if a Philosophy professor feels compelled to double back to invite me to a lecture on "Love, Luv, Wuv" I'm going to go, just as a matter of principle.

I dropped off J— at his house and went home to round up M— and L— who needed mom-time. We sat on the back row, and I quietly folded a lily in the dark while I listened to the history of Valentine's Day, ancient courting and marriage customs, the transmutation of "Love" to "Luv" and further bastardized into "Wuv." The conclusion of his presentation was the statement that at one point love was not affixed to trophy expectations or sickening commercial representations of affection in February. The difference between "Love" and "Wuv" is a commitment to reciprocate kindness, fidelity and affection, to keep one's love safe eternally.

I'm certain Mr. PND had no idea, but I needed that reaffirmation. I needed the reminder that what I asked for and didn't get during marriage numero tres was just that—kindness, affection, and safety. 

I love how God uses philosophers to get His messages through. The reminder of those words that were imprinted on my heart in the Celestial Room in November: "He doesn't love you enough."

I left with my girls, surreptitiously wiping my eyes. Tomorrow, I need to be sure to drop a thank you note off to Mr. PND.

Monday, March 4, 2013

300 lb bag of flour

In discussing situationist virtue today in Ethics a study was mentioned involving phone booths, spare change, panhandlers, dumpsters and bakeries. People who checked the change return in a phone booth and found change were significantly more likely to drop those coins into the cup of a beggar if he were near a bakery rather than a dumpster. This study arguably supports the theory that virtuous behavior is not part of a fixed character, but rather based on situations that support ease and pleasure in being virtuous. Like bakeries...

This evening, B--, my seven-year-old, cuddled on my lap before bed and told me about his day. At some point in his first grade recess antics a number of older boys told him to stop whatever it was he was doing with his friends, which prompted and end to his ability to play with his playmates. With B-- frequently details are unclear, but emotion was not. 

"It broke my heart," he told me, and choked back tears.

We discussed hurt feelings. I had him imagine carrying around a large bag of flour that impeded the ease of his activities, play or work. The bag of flour, I explained was all of that hurt. It's okay to acknowledge that something "breaks our hearts"; I think denial serves only to exacerbate the weight of the situation. But once that pain has been verbalized, it no longer serves useful function. 

"We have to let the bag go," I told him. "Sometimes over and over again if we find that we're carrying the bag again."

We practiced a few times before he found himself completely cheered and the topic forgotten. He then reminded me that I had at one time promised him a new stuffed animal, and upon thinking it over he's decided he'd like a Halo 4 stuffed animal most—if I can find one. 

I think our discussion was the best explanation of forgiveness I could have given to a child with PDD-NOS, and maybe the best self-talk I could give a 38-year-old near divorcee whose husband obviously wants to give her the biggest bag of flour he can in parting.

I want out. It's the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do clear back in November when I went to the Temple and God told me with all that electrical force that I mustn't return. But still, I've been trying so hard to be kind about it. I don't think I deserve my husband's critical estimation of my attempts to make the best of this relationship, even though I've made mistakes. No one is more aware of my mistakes than I. No one has tried harder to overcome them. 

And so, my heart is broken. 

Does anyone know a baker? I have a large bag of flour that I want to let go.

*I called the Courthouse. The answer my husband gave to my request for the 90-day waiver will not be part of public record. I'm breathing easier.

Coming to terms with nasty criticism

This is M--'s and E--'s work.
I think it's important to remember your value base.
Even though I know I've made mistakes in parenting, 
I'm doing well enough that my kids are thriving
artistically and intellectually,
and they understand the importance
of compassion.
And I suppose the biggest factor for guaging success:
 their dad has no problem with the job
I've done as their mother.

Still working on forgiving those who would say otherwise...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An open letter of forgiveness to my soon-to-be ex

Dear Mr.—

I forgive you for:

Exaggerations of my behavior and misrepresentation of my character
Unkindnesses and neglect unintended and intended
Perceived contemptuousness
Misunderstanding and not appreciating me
Not loving the way that I need a partner to love
Not protecting me from domestic trauma
Burdening my mind and my heart beyond their capacity to bear

I forgive you and release you from these hurts that I've been carrying. 
I give them to our savior, Jesus Christ, and I trust your life, your heart, your actions, your thoughts to Him. 

I wish you only the best.
I desire for you only happiness.
Thank you for all I have learned from you.

Be well, son of God,

He succeeded

Until 2:30 p.m. I was in a really good place, and then my husband's response to my request for the waiver of the 90-day waiting period arrived. It was brutal. I've been painted as a complete lunatic. Once again, the stigma is being used against me as a weapon. According to his response my moods are completely out of control, I experience frequent rages from abandonment issues, I've refused to "get help," I'm obviously suffering from a personality disorder, a threat to my children, an abuser of my medications, and that I planned my hospitalization to leave him for imagined causes primarily focused around the want for babies. He states that he was never abusive (guess who was) and his therapy has only been geared at teaching him coping skills to deal with my instability, and that I have never taken any responsibility for the problems in our marriage. 

He trashes me every which way imaginable and then he requests that I be granted the 90-day waiver.

I'm praying this thing doesn't become public record. If it is, I'm screwed.

What I don't understand is why he had to include all of the libel if he wasn't opposed to granting the request. I've been aiming at forgiveness and charity. I still am. I wish he hadn't made it such a challenge.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


(I have the most amazing family. Thank you Miss Meliss for the fab edits. If I were in Virginia I'd take your class, even if my Italian sounds more like French. And thank you M— for listening to me read this aloud half a dozen times and also for your stellar recommendations so I could finish the blasted thing.)

In choosing between Kant’s categorical imperative or Mill’s and Bentham’s utilitarian principle as a foundation for morality, the former clearly stands on higher ground.
Utilitarianism accepts as its establishment of morals the principle that behaviors are right as long as they provide for the greatest aggregate happiness and the least aggregate pain. Every possible act must be evaluated for good based on how much happiness it might provide the acting individual as well as any persons potentially affected. The results are weighed against one another to indicate the greatest possibility for pleasure. In instances requiring rapid decision-making, such a formula is troublesome and time-consuming.
Also, while people find happiness pleasurable, the acts that produce the most happiness differ from person to person, lending to a biased, flexible, and inconsistent definition of morality. For instance, in certain situations, the utilitarian principle can be manipulated to justify actions producing a significant amount of aggregate pain, all in the name of “the greater good.” History is fraught with inhumane acts which are no more than imposition of a regime’s standard of ideological happiness, e.g., Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830, Roosevelt’s 1942 Executive Order 9066 to intern 110,000 Japanese Americans, and Truman’s choice to drop the A-bomb in 1945.
These examples bring into question whether under utilitarianism morality is situational. It also questions the claim that right or wrong can be determined based on subjective, non-biased inductions of future outcomes.
In the end, it may be argued that utilitarianism is not concerned with morality so much as it is an overly-complex, self-serving method for providing or reducing select emotions.
The categorical imperative, in direct contrast, is not based on emotion at all. Kant stated that mankind must be prepared for the universality of each maxim used in decision-making. He based this moral standard on the belief that men and women deserve great respect, because by nature, humans are capable of making rational choices contrary to their inclinations or instincts.
In Western societies, a version of the categorical imperative is taught to children as the Golden Rule. Its simplicity lends to ease of adaptation as moral standard, offering presets for behavior needing only simple deduction. The categorical imperative is therefore visibly more easily implemented as a widely held moral standard than is utilitarianism.
Enacted, the categorical imperative allows each individual to reason for or against behaviors that might be potentially injurious to another based on the criteria that the consequences of the same actions might be applied to him. While the acting individual may not be concerned about others’ happiness resulting from his actions, it is almost guaranteed that his choice will at least spare others suffering. One is not likely to choose pain for another when he considers receiving that same pain himself. This fact negates the need for utilitarian principle.
In one application, regarding treatment of criminals, the categorical imperative requires consequences matching crime or misbehavior. This is the noble alternative to utilitarianism, which calls for exacting revenge on offenders for the sake of the pleasure possibly afforded a victim and his family. Kant’s argument that humans be appropriated dignity, even when found in error, supports the continued morality of all people involved, including those exacting punishment on the guilty.
The categorical imperative guarantees that humans be regarded as ends and never means. It grants them dignity and firm morality. As these points have illustrated, it is the obvious choice between the two ethical options because flexible and biased morality is no morality.

I had a friend who said I think too much

Thoughts as I wait for M— to shower so we can get our nails done:

*I hate chick-flicks, except the ones I like.*I hate waiting, unless it's pleasantly assured that the other end of the deal (e.i. the thing I'm waiting for) is going to turn in my favor.*I dislike the work ethic of Happytowne's Fouth District Court judge. How long can it possibly take to sign your name?*I dislike February, cuz she's not a tease. I flirt with March because he is.*I like Saturdays and the challenge of writing something brilliant in only 400-600 words. (I will do this. It will be incredible.)*I like blue skies and caffeine, but I couldn't tell you in which order those fall.*I like dreaming and planning and over-writing, because my readers know they like it and say so, even if they toss out that "you can cut back" modifier because they think...   I haven't figured out what they're thinking yet, except that I dose them up with the well-written and... (My poor Women's Lit/Ethics professors.)*I like manicures as long as the polish is clear.*I'm addicted to texture.*I'm not sure how God stuffed my soul into this casing. It's been squirming at the fit ever since. Phat soul.*I think I'm doing a pretty good job at parenting. But I have short term and sometimes long term memory issues. For everything I've conveniently forgotten I can tell you I like what I've got.*Last night the idea of climbing all seven peaks in Happy Valley in a single summer seemed like a great one. It's amazing the self-confidence I can muster at midnight.*I live with my first ex-husband. Well, on the south side of his house. I must be weird. I'm enjoying it. He's still the same person, with all the same reasons that I didn't want to remain married. But as the guy who insists on methodically cleaning the kitchen in his own computer-programing logical fashion, and still being completely chill about how cluttered the kids get the house, it's working as well as I think a shared living arrangement of this sort can.*Life is doable. Lost expectations and all.*I write poems about and alluding to philosophy, and everything in between; including Bakers and their bread, which have become my favorite personal idiom—almost mantra. Forget the fish, I'll take the loaves, even if I can only dream of eating.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I'm contemplating this.

For the sake of remembering myself.
For the sake of sweating the pain from every pore.
For the sake of space, less between me and God, more between me and temptation.
For the sake of thought and prayer and breath and the ache of the body and soul as they transform.

I know healing can't be set to timetable. But my bones know that right now I'm rushing it.

Which means it's time to start hiking the treadmill after classes three days a week to begin training, at least until the snow retreats.

How this day ends

I want
someone, maybe
you, alright mostly
if not altogether

you to lay
alone in
bed, every single
night and, as best
you can, focus
your thoughts on
Aristotle's Eudaimonia
and all
its requirements
            for your

only, if not
completely and single
in order
to keep from
constantly, hour
for hour, until the surrendering
morning light thinking
and thinking and
            thinking of