Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Give me a...

I just finished watching three guys grade something like 4,000 assignments in 48 hours.

I know—weird that this would thrill me. I've never had the slightest desire to be a pom squad chick, but I've been cheering.

Seriously, these gentlemen were brilliant to watch.

I lied

I could be happier. At least, I catch myself thinking I could be deliriously delirious. I really need to give up fantasizing, especially when I'm listening to the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. I lose myself, and there's no delusion behind it. It's pure self-indulgence, and it only leads to further angsting myself, even if my imagination is one killer imagination. 

And really, what I'd like to know is: Why do I get all wistful and fantisizational when I'm hiking, or on the treadmill, or the elliptical machine, or when I'm pumping out the reps? Am I somehow subconsciously tapping my testosterone reserves?  Am I bringing this upon myself?

My guy pal, Mat, (English major, Philosophy minor) says I'm like a teenaged boy. He says our Poetry professor was too. And the two of us, my professor and I, together, have tapped the midlife feminine sexual predisposition of a guys' locker room. I guess that means the guys in the locker room are gay.

So while I'm feeling all cat scratch fever and sorts, and since Ethics is finally at an end... I admit. I have this terrible, terrible, raging crush that isn't wrapping itself up nearly as nicely as I thought it would.

*sigh*


*sigh*

L-- wants to hit the Rocks. I guess I'm going to hike; and try not to keep thinking about boys. Boy. 

Mr. PNU

It's my essay and I'll post if I want to

Just came back from grading. I couldn't be happier. And now--Dammit!--after two rewrites, and a perfect score, you'd better believe I'm going to post.

Study of cognitive development in the maturing human brain reveals that Confucius, the great moral teacher, was wrong. Literary education is not necessary for moral training.
A child acquires the foundational moral principles of fairness, self-control, exhibiting respect, sharing, and empathy as early as toddlerhood. This occurs whether she is exposed to literature or not. (Borba, 2001.)
Morality, defined as an individual’s “concept, reasoning, and action pertaining to welfare, rights and fair treatment of persons,” is based solely on human thought and action. While books contain themes and depictions of morally implicated behaviors, they cannot think nor act, and are, therefore, neither moral nor immoral things. (Nucci, 1997)
Oscar Wilde said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” But there are obvious benefits noted in correlating the study of literature with the development of human moral cognition.
Granting the minimal formative level of moral development, a preschool-aged child can be expected to begin making inferences and exhibiting reasoning skills in conjunction with the books read to her. One might imagine the child rapt with Sam I Am and his plate of green food. However, if War and Peace were story-time fare she would likely tantrum before Pierre walks into Anna Pavlovna’s parlor.
This is due to a child’s inability to grasp complex moral themes until she reaches corresponding milestones in her cognitive development. Once these are attained, it is reasonable that the child nurtured in a reading environment will apply her increased critical thinking skills to her comparatively maturing studies.
This window of cognitive development remains open for roughly 18 years until the child reaches 21. During this period, gains are made to include comprehension and value of conflict resolution, empathy, anger management, fair negotiation, and utilizing self-control. Each concept is developed in cognitive increments that mark maturing levels of moral and emotional capacity regardless of literary exposure. (Borba, 2001.)
But the child’s cognitive awareness undergoes intriguing interchange with her literary studies during this growth. As she reads, the developing adolescent’s brain is subjected to scenarios and ideas foreign to context of home or community. These test the brain’s newly emerging concepts of right and wrong, reinforcing cognitive formulation of morality. Thematic elements help her to develop an understanding of her personal moral response to complex situations. Thus, the moral analysis stimulated by literature challenges a child’s awareness of herself and the world without requiring that she leave home.
This demonstrates that while books, themselves, are unnecessary for the child’s cognitive moral development, they do provide safe augmentation of her developing moral construct.
To give Confucius his due, his assertion of a mentor’s role in this interchange is critical. Children left to their own devices might not possess wisdom to make beneficial literary choices. They may require help deciphering what they read. Perhaps most critically, children may need guidance to assimilate difficult moral themes; especially those young persons whose personal lives present elements of abuse, neglect or hardship that may hinder healthy moral perspectives.
Mentors fill this need by assisting in literary selection, but without obstructing pupils’ self-determination. They guide discussion, pose questions, and heighten insight. Mentors reinforce the moral development of pupils by avoiding the didactic, which potentially weakens the child’s feelings of security in making moral judgments on her own. The mentor facilitates establishment of the early partnership between cognitive moral development and literary study; in essence he is the correlating force between books and morality.
Though results will obviously be case-by-case, it is reasonable to anticipate that the literary child, guided by a sensitive, skilled mentor will develop moral skill sets to reason and react fairly in a broad set of circumstances throughout her life. Though her morality will develop regardless of her exposure to literature, the augmenting benefits of its influence in her moral development are significant.

Borba, Michele, Ed. D. “7 Deadly Myths About Raising Moral Kids.” Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids the Right Thing. Jossy Bass Publishers. 2001.
Nucci, Larry. Moral Development and Character Formation. University of Illinois at Chicago. 1997.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ethics and angst

I'm in a state. 

Jell-O. Land o'Happiness minus tattoos and piercings.

I'm in this state so often that I must, MUST visit the coffee shop in town, at least twice a week to get a taste of diversity and authenticity. That coffee shop often harbors a certain guy pal of mine, who also TAs for a certain Ethics class that I walked out of almost two weeks ago in hopes of regaining some sort of blasé existence without it. Today, a grading marathon is going on. So far nine journal entries and one quiz. There are 15 more journal entries to go and my second essay.

And I'm certain the anxiety that I'm experiencing is nothing in comparison to the anxiety of the three gentlemen who are doing the grading, but I'm also certain the four of us are ready for it to all be over. For whatever reason.

I've learned that Mr. PNU is grading my journals AND he's reading them carefully, even though back in February I was told that they would be split up by the grading team and barely skimmed for keywords. I would not have been so openly frustrated nor flip while writing the journals in general had I  known this was the case, but I'm glad I began editing myself, nonetheless. He left me a note, letting me know he was giving my entries a good deal of time. I hope they're enjoyable. I was a basket case this semester. 

When am I not a basket case?

So I got my yerba maté (all the caffeine and temperature of coffee; not on the list of Word of Wisdom no-no's), said hello to my philosopher TA guy pal, and came home to continue stewing over how to get my mind off of ethics. 

I thought this was behind me. I'm a little frantic that I'm living this recap. 

The second TA, Adam, who made a brief appearance here a month and a half ago—he's a tough grader. He's a Rubix Cube I'd like to solve. We'll see who gets my essay this go round. 

Why do I feel like my fists are clenched and I've got everything to prove?

This angst isn't letting up.

I'm going to take myself to Life of Pi. When I get back, I'm going to curl up next to the Toa Te Ching and hope it will hold me till morning.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gaijin girls

Not M— and me

(Although we both have kimonos and next year 
it might be fun to attempt to tie our obis)

M— and me

She ran after me today yelling, "Can I come with you?"






It was only a 2 1/2 hour hike today, on L—'s account. I really don't mind. She has much more sense than the rest of her family when it comes to following trails we don't know, but watching her eyes light up at our new perspective of the forest with each turn—credit card commercial worthy. The talk we had was the best we've had in months, and she has no where near the camera shyness of her sister.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tics in terms of want vs. need

My youngest son, B--, has atypical autism, or PDD-NOS. At first glance, he appears to be like any other child. For the most part, he is. Fortunately, he is very high functioning, but there are certain behaviors and mannerisms that immediately give him away--namely, tics.

That is the first element of this story. The second is the lesson he learned a couple of weeks ago at school about differentiating between needs and wants. This lesson was illustrated by giving the children opportunity to color in red the objects on a coloring sheet that were necessity, and to color in blue the objects that were merely desire. B--'s blue objects were a gaming system and a pair of rollerblades. His red objects were a plate of food, a shirt and a house. The front half of the cat was blue; the back half, red.

Back to the ticks. B-- has a new one. Along with patterned snorts and grunts to clear his throat, he's begun randomly emitting a soft, rhythmic "mhm-mhm-mhm." I first noticed this week as he sat in my lap reading to me. Each time he came to the end of a paragraph or page he would conclude it with the tic. I was amused. 

I asked him, "Do you hear that sound you're making?"

He did it again. Mhm-mhm-mhm.

"Did you hear that?"

He nodded.

"So you know you've started doing that?"

"Uhuh..."

"When did it start?" I ask.

"Today, I think."

I wonder about compulsion. "Is it something you have to do?"

B-- just looks at me. These discussions embarrass him a little, even though I'm careful to be gentle and not push if he's not interested in talking about his symptoms. But still, I want to know what's motivating this new tic, more or less in terms of needs or wants. So I ask again.

"Is it something you have to do or is it extra?"

"Mom," he addressed me with his seven-year-old authoritative voice. "Don't you know that most things are extra?"

We've left discussion of the tic. But it continues. I can hear him even now in the next room, every few seconds; mhm-mhm-mhm. My only worry is how he's treated at school. Kids that age don't understand difference. Kids that age aren't as wise as B--. But for some reason he gets it, and I'm the lucky mom who gets to learn from him: Most things are extra. 

Except cats. Cats are half.

Upon cleaning my room

I am hounded now by reminders of the horror that was the marriage that I've been forgetting by means of schoolwork for the last  three months. In cleaning my room this afternoon I came across a letter I wrote my husband while I was in the hospital. It was a pivotal act. I cry a lot, because I'm still so hurt. Because these hurts will never be made right, at least not by him. Because all I can do is look in the mirror each morning and tell myself everything opposite that my husband told me. How did I ever lose myself in his assertions? How did I ever allow myself to believe them? How long will it take for me to convince myself that he was wrong? How can people be so unkind? How did someone so good get tangled up with someone so evil?

Husband,

I release you from the general expectation to love and protect, to cherish and provide.

Men in bars and at rodeos might be the only ones capable of acknowledging their fortune should consequence lead us together, but at least I will be fortunate in finding companionship that holds me as precious and will still love me in the morning.

It's true--I've been left by people I've loved. And that pain has been great and searing. I've also left many who loved and treated me well, because they somehow didn't match up with who I knew I was and what I was capable of becoming.

Neither of these cases hurts as much as believing I am worthy of great love and devotion, and being told I must settle for being demeaned and emotionally crushed by the man I chose, who promised to protect and shield me from the winds of life.

I am not afraid of being alone. If it means sheltering myself from further dimming and emotionally debilitating words and actions as delivered by my husband, then I choose to be alone. I have much to give this world and the people in it. I will not be repressed by the selfishness and unkindness of one. I'm worth so much more than that.

I release you from the general expectation of love and protect, to cherish and provide.

Gudridur

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One stocking, then the other: a prayer

Layer by layer, she dances 
the ice into water, the ghosts 
of the year past into bend and sway,
in moods the color of shade,
the flavor of suppleness.

She catches your breath with the fervor
of sulphur orgasm
midair, all wings and torso,
blinking your lids, searching for 
fumbling sex in patches of dust and motes
of laughing sunbeam.

She tricks you 
into conversation, shows you an infant
 texture, tells you that you're the first,
and believing, you find yourself breaking
the silence that stands 
between the surface of your knees
and the ears of God.






So that's it

I live the game of replacements. I find one thing to consume my attention for a time and then I give it up for another. I write lists during the lulls to dull the sense of loss, transition to transition. I do this for people who come and go as well, but I call those "poems" and the people who inspire them "muses". Finals are over. I am fairly confident of my grades. I am writing lists, trying to ignore the absence of things. Trying to ignore that I am mid-amusements, so to speak.

I begin filling the gaps with paper. $100 worth of the finest art paper and book-binding supplies I can gather. I may or may not make good on these projects, but the calming texture of the paper between my fingers; that is something.

I spend an hour reading about approaches to the seven mountain peaks that now seem daunting. The snowfall along this spine of range over the last month does not play into my plans to begin the ascent, and since the open wounds on my lower legs have only just healed over from Easter's climb of the Squaw I am feeling resigned to lower altitudes.

I give myself a 5-to-1 ratio rule for poetry--read five, write one--for the entire summer. I feel this is equitable. I tell myself I must read for an hour each day, from a book, that I hold in my hands.

I try to ignore the fact that my husband is ignoring every attempt I make to contact him about signing the stipulation, about getting me the tax info so I can apply for next year's PELL. I try to forget that I am married, and that I'm having nightmares now, and that I have nothing to push away the fact that I am legally bound to a monster. 

I try to forget how much I loved the study of philosophers and their ethics.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Question of the Day

Is it really too much to ask that my divorce just amicably finalize already? 

I can hear the rationale of NOT signing the papers rattling around in his head:

him: She was such a great catch.
(later)
him: She is crazy as hell!
(later)
him: I've always been crazy for the idea of catching hell.
(later)
him: If I sign someone else might catch MY hell...
(later) 
him: Out of benevolent concern for my fellow man I MUST...not...let...go...



This is the problem with having one final left. Now I get to focus on real life.

*sigh*



*sigh*



Is it really too much to ask that it just be over?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Poetry Boys

I feel like some sort of celebrity; 
the boys eager to hand me their chapbooks.


It reminds me of the fourth grade,
when the boys wanted to give me
their duplicate 
Garbage Pail Kids.

I'd say these were more tasteful,
but you know boys
and their poems.

I've been thinking for a while

photography by Mark Gilliland

...how interesting it is, to agree that social media gets in the way of healthy human relationships, and yet, how dependent I am on those connections I maintain by means of cyber-communications.

In three days I'll wind up a very challenging semester; three and a half months of crazy turbulence, upheaval and resettling, made possible by the sweet support of people I rarely see other than as a profile pic and words on a screen.

I started to notice about a month ago, my lack of singularity, the myth of my loneliness. I'm somewhat reclusive; we all know it. But my heart has felt your presence. Those words on the screen remind me, how rich is this world, in all its definitions of human contact. And the delight of actually spending face-to-face with some of you! Yes, I've been thinking. I haven't the fingers nor toes to number my dearest friends.

Three days until everything that's next. I'm already feeling the denouement. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Because I can... Essay Numero Dos (END)


(Wrote this baby three times. That's like giving birth to the same kid three times. It's not even a cute baby. Still debating whether to leave it up after I submit tonight. Not feeling snarky enough to deal with pretending I'm that snarky. I wrote this blasted thing three times. It'd better constitute brilliant. <--That's me being esoteric too.)

Confucius arges that a literary education is necessary for moral training. Without assuming that the need for literary education is this strong, discuss whether you think literary training has value for understanding morality. Is Confucius right to think that literary education is vital to understand morality?


Study of moral cognitive development in the maturing human brain reveals that Confucius, the great moral teacher, was wrong. Literary education is not necessary for moral training.

A child acquires the foundational moral principles of fairness, self-control, exhibiting respect, sharing, and empathy as early as toddlerhood. This occurs whether she is exposed to literature or not. (Borba, 2001.)
But there are obvious benefits noted in correlating the study of literature with the development of human moral cognition.
Morality, defined as an individual’s “concept, reasoning, and action pertaining to welfare, rights and fair treatment of persons,” is based solely on human thought and action. While books contain themes and depictions of morally implicated behaviors, they cannot think nor act, and are, therefore, neither moral nor immoral things. (Nucci, 1997)
Oscar Wilde said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”
If so, how does a beneficial correlation take place?
Granting a minimal formative level of moral cognition, the preschool-aged child can be expected to begin making inferences and developing reasoning skills in conjunction with the books read to her. One might imagine the child rapt with Sam I Am and his plate of green food. However, if War and Peace were story-time fare she would likely tantrum before Pierre walks into Anna Pavlovna’s parlor.
This is due to a child’s inability to grasp complex moral themes until she reaches corresponding milestones in her cognitive development. Once these are attained, it is reasonable that the child nurtured in a reading environment will apply her increased critical thinking skills to her comparatively maturing studies.
The window of moral cognitive development remains open for roughly 18 years until the child reaches 21. During this period, gains are made to include comprehension and value of conflict resolution, empathy, anger management, fair negotiation, and utilizing self-control. Each concept is developed in cognitive increments that mark maturing levels of moral and emotional capacity regardless of literary exposure. (Borba, 2001.)
But the child’s cognitive awareness undergoes intriguing interchange with her literary studies during this growth. As she reads, the developing adolescent’s brain is subjected to scenarios and ideas foreign to context of home or community. These test the brain’s newly emerging concepts of right and wrong, reinforcing cognitive formulation of morality. Thematic elements help her to develop an understanding of her personal moral response to complex situations. Thus, the moral analysis stimulated by literature challenges a child’s awareness of herself and the world without requiring that she leave home.
Though books, themselves, are responsible for instilling the child with neither understanding nor development of morality, they have safely augmented her moral construct.
To give Confucius his due, his assertion of a mentor’s role in this interchange is critical. Children left to their own devices might not possess wisdom to make literary choices. They may require help deciphering what they read. Perhaps most critically, children may need guidance to assimilate difficult moral themes; especially those young persons whose personal lives present elements of abuse, neglect or hardship that may hinder healthy moral perspectives.
Mentors fill this need by assisting in literary selection, but without obstructing pupils’ self-determination. They guide discussion, pose questions, and heighten insight. Mentors reinforce the moral development of pupils by avoiding the didactic, which potentially weakens the child’s feelings of security in making moral judgments on her own. The mentor facilitates establishment of the early partnership between cognitive moral development and literary study; in essence he is the correlating force between books and morality.
Though results will obviously be case-by-case, it is reasonable to anticipate that the literary child, guided by a sensitive, skilled mentor will develop moral skill sets to reason and react fairly in a broad set of circumstances throughout her life. Though her morality will develop regardless of her exposure to literature, the augmenting benefits of its influence in her moral development are significant.

Borba, Michele, Ed. D. “7 Deadly Myths About Raising Moral Kids.” Building Moral Intelligence: The Seven Essential Virtues that Teach Kids the Right Thing. Jossy Bass Publishers. 2001.
Nucci, Larry. Moral Development and Character Formation. University of Illinois at Chicago. 1997.

I'm mid-work on my final Ethics essay; this one on Confucius' claim that literary training is necessary for development of moral understanding. While I have a million thoughts and ideas running through my brain, and a kajillion sources to back up those thoughts and ideas, I'm not too worried about this one. Again, I'm going to kill it. Probably a little deader than the last. And I AM considering being a complete stinker (although I really want to use another word) and posting it here when I'm done.

All that aside, I've been thinking about writing a post of gratitude for my friends for a couple of weeks now, and I think this break I'm taking is the perfect opportunity to make good on those designs. My trepidation is that I'll pull a Jennifer Lawrence and miss the most important people. If you are one of those, you have my permission, if not complete admonition to kick me the next time we see each other. Please kick with sound force!

This is no particular order. I don't rank my love and appreciation.

Ryan—Dear boy! I promise your letter and something more are coming. And I will read the book you sent once this week of tests is over. You are dear to me. Thank you for thinking of me even when your own life is knees mincing forward along a gravel road. Thank you as well for spurring me forward in my own love of these Jell-O Land altitudes. I admire your dedication, especially in the snow.

Kirsten—I know you are there, reading. And I have started a response to your query on my view of circumcision twice, but really we should just talk. Forgive me for not having the wherewithal to pick up my damn phone and pull up your name. Later today. My next break. And this summer, we must get our children together, if only to get their hands in the dirt and their lungs full of the outdoors.

Valerie—Ms. Town, I don't believe I could tell you amply just how I admire you, the strength and clarity of your mind, your kindness. The t-shirts were a huge hit. L—, M— and I are sharing. Thank you for that, but most of all for gently and directly calling me on my ignorance of feminism months back. Obviously, it took me time to understand cultural programming, the misconception instilled by early childhood programming, and then the lovely contextual puzzle of vernacular. But if not for my respect for you, and your willingness to go out on a limb, I might still be curled in a corner of that glass house I left, wondering why giving up self-determination to the patriarchal standard in that home wasn't bringing me happiness, let alone why I wasn't able to maintain mental stability. You, my dear, were the catalyst for so much positive change for me. I am indebted.

Sharon—My sister. Your internet hugs are among my favorite. I'll keep taking them, even from Arizona. So proud of you for moving forward. It's going to be the best thing for both you and K—. Next time we have sushi together, I'm hoping for 90 degree temps. Thank you for all your encouragement and support. You are amazing, girl.

Sondra—Thank you for enrolling E— in my creative movement class! I miss her, but you know I miss you and girl's night more. I spent almost 10 years in the North Country. You were the only person to extend that kind of ongoing social support to me in all those years. You made me feel like a legitimate person in the land of cookie cutter women that I will never be like. You make me feel like a legitimate person today, just by taking the time to post the sweet things you do to my FB wall. That's a gift. I can't tell you how I appreciate that you share it with me.

M—Baby... *pantomimes holding you over my shoulder, patting your back at your 7 lb. size* You know you're at the top of the list.

Carly—I know you read. I miss you. I miss that silly night, sitting with those cheap beers in the station wagon permanently parked on the side of my apartment. You're an hour away. Why do we not see each other, at least once a season? It's been far too long since I saw you dance. That should be remedied.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Things you can't do with a husband

Tonight.
 
I read at the launch of the Spring Semester literary journal.
 
I read well.
 
My submission of one Vegan Princess poem came back from the editor. It was affixed to three pages of notes including very clean, fair revisions from a particular faculty member whom I'd say is one of three leading poets from the Jell-O State.
 
My husband called this poem "pornography".
 
I hate to say it, but this baby's ready to submit nationally. And oh, I am going to submit. Someone's going to eat her up.
 
I am one tickled rutabaga.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Distances


I've barely seen this child in the last three days. (This would be E--, midleap. We don't pretend that this isn't inherently risky. I've been trying to keep him grounded since he was 18-months-old. Parkour is a golden mean, sort of.) 
 
I believe Jimmy John's and a couple of #6's are definitely in order. "Hey mom!" is not adequate for a parent/child relationship.

I miss the days when the only way E-- could fall asleep was if he were curled up, facing me with his tiny hands placed against my cheeks. He would stare into my eyes until his closed. We slept that way all night. I still adore him that way, but boys have to grow up, and moms have to get their degrees
 
(Yes, I'm in the library as I write this post. I'm sucking down another Rockstar. I've been living on Snicker's bars and apples. I'm rewriting my Astrobiology textbook before the final. I've got Bjork and Chemical Brothers on shuffle. I'll probably be here till midnight.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Forensic evidence

I know Boston is a much bigger deal, but in terms of proximity my last 24 hours in Happy Towne have rearranged my sense of reality.

A 14-year-old girl went missing.

It hit Facebook, and by 7 p.m. last night a search was organized. I was alerted to this at 9 p.m. There is no sense in my response, but I had to help. Call it the Kantian in me; I closed up my Astrobiology outline that I've been devoting my every spare hour for the last two weeks and I headed to the missing girl's house where volunteers were meeting for assignment.

I took flyers and went to South Happy Towne where I canvased a neighborhood that I've never before visited until 11 p.m. The search was postponed until this morning at 8 a.m. When they asked who would be available to help I raised my hand. I don't know what prompted me to do this. I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination.

At 7:30 a.m. today I woke, dressed and fed L— and B—, kissed them hard and drove them to school, and then headed back to the west side of town to get my new assignment. I teamed up with two other women, one of them taught the missing girl a year earlier in seventh grade. I did not know these women. We were sent to a section of town, north west, with hilly, treed embankments and various homes and businesses. Our instructions were to ask businesses if we could post flyers, to leave flyers on homes without knocking, and to search the wooded area and the dumpsters near businesses for signs of a body.

I waded through wet, knee-high grass, up and down that hill, turning over anything that wasn't plant or dirt, combing through piles of fallen leaves, pushing thick foliage out of the way to reveal whatever lay beneath. I personally went through three dumpsters.

I prayed the entire time that the girl would be found. God and I reconnected on that hill. But I also prayed that I would not be the one to locate her.

Each garbage bag I hefted, evaluating if it were heavy enough to contain a 68 lb body, or even one or two limbs. I noted that in less than twenty-four hours since her disappearance a body would not begin to smell like anything other than the sticky sweetness of blood. Every time I opened a bag I was prepared for a hand, an arm, a face. One that wouldn't be much different from one of my children's. I was braced and ready.

Shortly before 10 a.m. police notified search volunteers that the girl had been located, alive and well, in a city 20 miles north where she had ridden her bike the day before instead of going to school.

Obviously there are lots of questions remaining, but they aren't mine.

This ordeal took four hours of precious study time, but I can't think of a better way I could have filled them. I'm certain there are those who are angered or annoyed by the volunteer time and massive manpower that was mobilized for this search by social media. I'm not one of them.

After returning to the police search station, drinking a cup of cocoa and listening as the police captain answered media questions at a press conference, I drove home thinking to myself that doing the right thing doesn't mean you will be any sort of hero or even remembered for your contribution. 

I went inside and stripped off my soaked clothing to stand under a scalding shower. Hot never felt so alive. Water never felt so wet. 

The limbs I found today were my own.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lucky

This is as close to a Mormon Mommy Blog post as I hope I will ever get.


Okay, truth is, I didn't have to post before I went to bed. But, you know. I came across this photo, which is a few months old, but definitely one of my faves of my kids' childhood.
M—'s cosplay wig had just arrived, and E— and L— somehow found themselves perfectly framed in the iMac shot.


A neck-to-neck contender would be this photo M— took in 2008.
B— was three; it was his first hike.

As returning to the life of single-parenthood settles over me, I'm realizing just how supernally lucky I am, and how right it would be for me to find happiness, as is.

I struggled through General Conference last week, with all its references to traditional roles and expectations. I expect I've done my best and I'm done trying to gelatinize myself to fit someone else's mold. Is that combative? It shouldn't be. Many paths. One gate. It doesn't seem that difficult a concept, even when I know I'm plotting a path that would never make the cover of the Ensign. And I sure as heck won't be found writing apologist articles about how I'll receive blessings in the long run as long as I remain true to my hope that I can be like everyone else. I'm running long now. I'm counting my blessings, specifically those in terms of my faith in God. He has faith that I'll be okay as a non-conformist. Isn't that why I subscribed to Christianity in the first place? Yes, if you need an answer. It is. Christ took people as they were. He may have been quoted as saying, "Be ye perfect." But Aristotle could have clarified the translation. Leave it to Mormon women to so frequently take the English literal and try to perfect themselves. You can't. You can only find Christ atonement and completion, the way a sponge becomes complete, malleable, purposeful when it is filled by the sea.

But... I run away with myself. Point is, don't feel bad for me.
I'm going to have my rough days, but I'm not lacking for anything.

Dunamis.

Good night, world.

Help me figure this out

I've hand-bound two chapbooks. The cost of supplies for one book covered the supplies for two. Ergo, I made two.





I have to turn one in for my Poetry final, obviously. What to do with the second...? I just can't decide.

I would really like to give one to my Ethics professor, for a myriad of reasons. The first, that his class spurred so many ideas, was the impetus for so much of my work this semester. The second, even with awkward dynamics, his class was my favorite without argument. The third, Kant really did give me the missing gusto to even want to live after my hospitalization, and the continued lectures have kept me going past discharge. The fourth, if it were not Mr. PNU personally, but some other professor, and the situation were pretty much the same I would not hesitate in the least.

There are lots of variables as to why, but this entire semester dynamic with Mr. PNU has remained difficult to define. Teacher/student, friends, enemies? It's never clear. My friend Matt, who is an English major/Philosophy minor, told me that the two most screwed up types of people in this world are 1) Poets, and 2) Philosophers. Not to say that Mr. PNU is screwed up. I'll take full responsibility for screwball status. But that doesn't change that no matter how hard I try, no matter what I think I've figured out I can't read him.

So the reasons I hesitate:

He may think it inappropriate.
He may feel it inappropriate.
He may not have any interest in receiving it.
I can't tell from day to day who he is and what he's really about.

That said, I don't know which I would regret more. Giving the chapbook or keeping it to myself.

I'm in doubt.

Bookends

My first-born ponders 
the parameters of "girl" 
and its fittings. She bound

her chest for the first 
time this morning.
This afternoon, I am binding 

a book for the first 
time. These two acts 
relate only in topography 

of the verb. In the evening
I unwind by nestling 
my youngest son in my lap 

to tell him my recollections 
of his gestation, and how I'm still trying 
to translate the braille I felt 

through the wall that veiled 
his beautiful language, but barely constrained
my stretching definition of love.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cake

Things that must be done:

*Create a chapbook with this semester's compiled poems (edit/revise)
*Write second Ethics essay on the connection between a literary education and morality (ask me about Catcher in the Rye or Hitler's personal library)
*Write a personal evaluation for Poetry
*Write  8   6  2 more chapters to outline for Astrobiology
*Write up a fitness log for the last 12 weeks
*Take the last unit test for Fitness AND the final
*Take the Astrobiology final in a week
*Take the Animals and Ethics quiz after lecture Wednesday
*Read Bonnie Steinbock's rebuttal to John Singer's animal ethics article
*Prepare discrete bio presentation on myself for Women's Lit final (shameless self-promotion, I admit)
*Read the abortion and rape reading selections for Monday's  Wednesday's Women's Lit discussion
*Write up a few words on why Mark Strand's was my favorite book of poetry I read this semester
*Study for fourth Astrobiology exam (NOT the final)
*Write final Ethics journal entry, even though there will be two more I know will be due beyond that because I messed around on a couple
*Try not to completely ignore my four children
*Laundry
*Hang on, with an icepick if necessary (or just drink Monsters and Rockstars until you feel the onset of hypomania <---this hasn't yet happened.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ethics and tears

There seems to be a family spigot. I can't tell who's cranked the handle, but the tears are flowing.
 
M--'s are her business. If you're friends she can tell you about them.
 
Mine are the culminating spillage from a lifetime of assumed unworthiness. Specifically, unworthiness of the suffering of animals subjected to pharmecutical testing for Bipolar medication.
 
Don't give me Genesis. It will come back to bite you. This is about causing others longstanding pain. Obviously I count sentient beings as "others."
 
I sat on the back row in Ethics today an bit my lip until I thought I might draw blood, and still the tears came. I got it under control only to find myself here, in the library, working on final projects, crying. I got it under control. I called my mom and went out into the courtyard between the library and the Liberal Arts building and, wow, floodgates. I got it under control. I came back in to the library to work on this final project, and sure enough...
 
If Mr. PNU had begun the semester with Animal Ethics, I wouldn't have made it to the ER when I admitted myself in January. I'm not in that sort of place now, but dear Lord! This is a painful place to be.
 
While I am passively carnivorous, I do not abdicate animal cruelty. I am sickened by the torturous methods I know that go into proving the efficacy and safety of the medications I take to be a functional, rational human being. A human being steady enough to realize that I live a life indebted not just to a sacrificial God as my Savior, but also to sacrificial animals.
 
I have blood on my hands.

Reading the last words

Family is moving on. Mr. Bassett read for the last time at open mic last night. Genius. I don't use that word lightly; something akin to the name of God. He's headed to Iowa in the fall, Mr. Bassett that is, to the land of corn and Pulitzer Prize-winning poets. Bittersweet. These partings always are, even if I'll bump into him here and there this summer.

Ah! All these boys who are sons and brothers and teachers and fellow harlequins. And the spattering of girls. We need a few more raucous female poets in Happy Towne, to balance out the teeter-totter. A few more philosophical Calypsos. 

Mr. Rice shared this:

Hopefully his words will be around for another year or two before some amazing place snatches him away as well.

I have to live with my words indefinitely, and wherever I decide to find residence.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The men of a Mormon divorcee's dreams


 This is TMI. Consider yourself forewarned.


This post is to clear up any speculation to the contrary about Mormon women and erotic dreams. 

We have them. 

Last night mine was about this guy:


I have nothing against Toby Jones, at least not in waking state. Actually, I think he's brilliant. I also think these men are brilliant and sexy, but they haven't managed to invade my REM sleep:



If anyone has any psychobabble input that might clarify for me why I find these men so delicious, feel free to chirp up. I'm not sure it's a problem I want solved. But deeper self-awareness never hurt anyone.

(And if you could convince Mr. Hoffman to make an appearance in tonight's dream, that too would be greatly appreciated.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bottles on the Water

God’s been drinking again. He’s jotting down his secrets, tossing his bottles onto the water. One contained the best sushi recipe of all time. Another, all the answers that will ever need to be questioned on Jeopardy! That last one contained the Toa Te Ching tightly spiraled on rice paper. God laughs to himself. He is such a clever God. He lobs one, far out, containing hydrogen, helium, and a smidgen of lithium for balance. The angels think about intervening, but everyone’s good for a fireworks display. Something more explosive, at least, than the nights God sits around knitting. They watch the lights whirl like dervishes, except that no one knows what a dervish is. But the angels think it all the same, how poetic all these babbling whirlpools of glimmering thread would be, if they all fell down and began chanting, or maybe humming in the same distinct key signature. In the clamor no one notices the bottle that just drifted by wearing last year’s hottest trend, a little number accessorized with scales and gills. There is a crack in the glass and it’s taking on water fast. No telling how long before it sinks. A little farther out two bottles drift aimlessly together, clinking in uncertain rhythm. One holds the fleshy folds of a lover’s heart and is trying desperately to keep the beat. In the other, scripture sleeps soundly, scrolled up alongside philosophy. The bottles ride the current far out to sea. God grows tired of drinking. He sits back in his rocking chair and resumes his knitting. But the angels keep their eyes on the bottles as they drift. One has feet, the other lungs. They just might make it to shore.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's the way she slips from one outfit to another...

So that you get
a momentary glimpse
of what's underneath.







Meet Dirk

M—'s latest digital painting. 
Yeah, I'm not sure why she doesn't understand 
that so many people think she's amazing. 
I want to wear those pants.

My day and a little self-talk in (duh) second person

We're up. Still. By "we" I mean M—, E— and myself. We're on our own this weekend, and it's been pretty chill. I left them to their video games and tumblr accounts for a couple of hours and explored the East Canyon, (for all the time I spend in solitude you'd wonder why I ever think this is an issue) then came back and took them to one of my favorite restaurants on Center St. for dinner. Much vegetarian fare; it helps when feeding E—. Then we motored up to Barnes & Noble for Housekeeping for me, a new sketchbook for M—, and CDs, Arcade Fire for E— and two for myself, both film scores, of course. 

So here we are, listening to Alexandre Desplat's Moonrise Kingdom and if I'm feeling really adventurous we'll break open Hans Zimmer's Rise of the Dark Knight when that's over. 

What am I waiting for? Why do I insist on telling myself there's anything to figure out?

You are 38. You've been married three times. You can't keep a relationship together, or perhaps more fairly, you couldn't choose a decent man if you had the chance. You are mentally ill and no amount of claiming "I'm stable" is going to change that. It's a lifetime thing, hun. So yes, you're smart as sin. You could pull off 28 if need be. You can be a real dazzler. But you're a scalding mess, babe. 

Hold on to these babies while they're around, while they like you. Because once they've flown the coop, you WILL be alone. And it's going to be that way for a long, long time. Cry it out now, because I will not put up with your wussy namby-pamby weakling wantingness. It's unbecoming. And while you may be an emotional basket case of relationship wreckage, unbecoming YOU ARE NOT!

Now that all that's straightened out, go read a few more passages from Tao Te Ching and go to sleep.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

That's it. Take yourself more seriously.

Okay, I can't keep this to myself any longer. M— and I have been laughing over this for days. Tonight we watched it again and she nearly choked on her own uvula. Or was that about the random cosplaying Homestuck fan Andrew Hussie used as a biopic at the back of his book (which, incidentally, M— says is a complete waste of paper)? It really doesn't matter. Just watch. If you don't get it, you're trying too hard:


Mark Leidner might like it if you check out his book of poetry while you're at it.
Some days, I'm quite certain more art of this sort 
would have what it takes to replace duct tape.

Powerful.

Confused at the grace...

1800s Actor costumed as the Mad Hatter

I slept well and sleep always helps. The dreams are tolerable.

I woke and listened to General Conference on the iMac while I copied and pasted my Ethics Journal from its original home on the class website to a permanent file on my desktop. Thirty-six pages

I re-read all of it, my rambling summation of the last four months carried along by philosophical awareness and an ethical catalyst for metabolizing the stresses I faced.

I'm going to say again, I do not believe in coincidence. 

When I first applied to school in September, my husband threw a tantrum that I hadn't consulted him first. Because, my dears, I guess in his world a woman who does nothing but sit at home cleaning the same carpets repeatedly is too valuable a commodity to allow her to acquire an education without getting a man's permission. So I dropped the whole idea. We all know how those fights turned out; the argument wasn't worth it.

And then November came, and I finally left. Blessing after priesthood blessing said the same thing: Take care of your children and get your education. And in the mad dash to register I had what I felt were very limited options to fill my schedule. I was happy with the courses I chose, pleased that I could fit them together as I did, but in the process of making those selections I didn't feel I had much say. I ended up at the mercy of class availability and times. 

I contemplate enrollment now and I can only shake my head at the beautifully interlaced concepts and supporting curricula. These professors have no idea how they've worked together to save me these four months, but these courses have done nothing less. And I choose to believe as well that the professors who are teaching them are just as instrumental in that saving as was their course material.

Granted, secular education isn't the gospel of Christ, but it does support it. Especially when you've lived beneath controlling forces that threaten the integrity of your spiritual belief to the point that that control begins to damage your belief of the world around you. Sometimes, before God can repair your heart, He must start by providing you with improved sight.

I have no way of conveying this gratitude to those to whom its reception is deserved. Not anywhere near adequately enough. But I am so grateful. To see. To feel. To choose to believe. To live. 

We have our will. When we choose to be lead, or even just live humbly enough that life begins to present us with the notion of "coincidence," mercy peaks through. Today the blinds are completely drawn.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Questioning belief

Photography by Madeline Masarik gallery HERE

I don't believe in the things I don't believe in. I'm just twidling round, waiting for the universe to unknit itself, unfurrow its brow, pull the string taught so I can make sense of origins and place and all of the coincidences I refuse to both acknowledge and believe in.

I would climb if it weren't nearly dark. (I might stick to the neighborhood and climb anyway.)

Two weeks left. Fourteen days. And a sinking suspicion this agnosticism will prevail. Beyond and beyond. Last night B— told me, "Sometimes when you feel like you want to cry it's just time to go to bed."

So what are you going to believe, girl? Go ahead. Choose. I'll see you in the morning.

*I shouldn't have to tell you that this is both metaphorical and esoteric. But I will, in case, like my FB pal who sent me a personal invite to General Conference you really think my resolution in faith base is shifting. Mormons are such well-meaning creatures.

Costuming


If language were visual, this would be the form a poem would take in the air when you read it aloud.