Blather · Life · poetry

Research

The following blather is brought to you by “Stream of Consciousness Saturday.” This is the day of the week I give myself permission to write more than 23 words.

Last Saturday, I promised a reverse poem (one that can be read top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top). Good golly, I stared at my scribbles too long. And then, came up with a reverse poem that’s too short and a little awkward. But, oh well. Here you go:

History is boring
Some people actually think that
All those dates and foreign-sounding names matter
And eccentric people worm their way into
Those stories where the world changes
I find history fascinating

Meh — not the best, but I’m going to check the “Done” box and move on.

I spent a few hours yesterday in the research library.

I wrote a post called The Negative Split not too long ago. I think I research in negative-split mode.

I got to the library a few minutes after my scheduled appointment. (Yes, we have to schedule appointments at the research library now. And wear masks.)

I had given myself two hours. For the first 45 minutes or so, I leafed through photographs, not really finding anything I wanted. Or maybe I did. A few new names, therefore a few new rabbit trails. (Side-question for you: What could the nickname “Dell” be short for, for a man in the late 1800s or early 1900s?)

The librarian left to find a few more boxes for me. I feel a little bad. She’s new on the job, and I kept saying Joe (the former librarian) did this or brought me that. Comparison to a predecessor has to be the worst.

Anyway, she brought me some boxes that Joe had never brought me. Suddenly I was lost in old correspondence and organizational reports. I looked at the clock and saw that I had been there well over my two hours.

“Let me just look at one more thing,” I said to the librarian. I was in my groove — researching faster and stronger than I had been at the beginning.

“Do you think you have a photograph of this?” I asked her about a specific place in town. She started hunting.

I kept reading.

And searching.

And wishing time would just stop long enough that I could pursue these many lines of inquiry.

I snapped a photo of a bit of correspondence because it had made me laugh out loud in the quiet of the library.

“Yours till Pancakes are a thing of the past.”

I could have spent the next three weeks looking for the pancake story that inspired that closing sentiment, but I’ll almost bet it’s an inside joke between two men that I will never know. Plus, it was way past time for me to go.

But if I had those three weeks to spend, who knows what other little stories I would have uncovered?

And I would have had great fun doing it.

You can count on it.

23 words · poetry · Writing

23 Words

“Hey, Sally, you’re a writer, aren’t you?”

A guy asked me this at the front desk the other morning. I’m not exactly sure what he had heard about me or where. I hesitated.

“Umm… I’ve done some writing,” I said.

“Do you have a blog? Do you have followers?” he asked.

Is that what makes a person a writer? A blog? Followers?

“I used to write every day,” I told him, “but once I dropped the habit, it was really hard to pick it back up.”

Is that true, or what? I don’t care what the habit is, but once you give yourself permission to break it, it’s all downhill.

Every diet I have ever tried has fallen prey to just-this-once permission.

Habits.

“I have a plan for writing next year,” I told the man. “I’m going to write 23 words every day.”

He looked at me like I had just said I was going to hop on one foot barefoot in the snow every single day. Problem #1: there’s no snow here in July therefore I couldn’t possibly do THAT every day.

“23?” he repeated back to me.

“Yes! I can write 23 words,” I said.

He looked puzzled. “But why 23? Is that like the 23rd Psalm or something?”

I laughed. “No, because it’s 2023. And 23 well-chosen words sounds like a good challenge, and one I can do.”

“Just 23?”

“That’s the challenge — don’t you see? To choose 23 words — just 23 — no more, no less,” I replied.

“What are you going to do with them?” he asked, clearly still bewildered.

“I’ll post them on my blog,” I said.

“You know, some people just write in a journal,” he said.

I sighed.

I DO write in a journal. Every day. Journalling is, for me, a form of remembering and processing. It’s not writing.

Not like 23 words.

Hopefully this will go better for me than my last personal challenge.

Anyone care to join me?


A sample —

23 words I wrote today after a busy, busy day at the gym where I work:

So many visitors!
In that sea of unfamiliar faces
it is nice
to see a familiar one
a smile
a wave
a friend

Uncategorized

Leaning Into Me

1979

Fifteen months ago, I started seeing a therapist.

I remember at Hutchmoot, in one of those first years, a musician/artist talked about his therapist and then said, “Everyone needs a therapist.” There was a smattering of laughter, so he said, “I really mean it. It’s one of the best things I ever did.”

Once, when someone told me they had started therapy, I asked, “What’s it like?”

“It’s like having a paid friend. One that you can say anything to,” was the response.

That’s a pretty apt description.

My therapist’s name is Rachel.

I apologize a lot to her. “I’m sorry that I blather so much,” I say.

“It’s okay,” she replies.

“I forgot where I was going with this,” I say. “I ramble too much, don’t I?”

“Tell me more,” she replies.

One day, she said, “What would you say to young Sally?”

I stopped blathering and rambling and tried to think. Later that evening, I wrote a poem — and promptly forgot about it. That’s how I am these days — scattered and forgetful.

But each morning, I get up and try again. I begin the day with reading. It’s funny how the themes circle around. The same thoughts emerge from vastly different places.

I began the year pondering a quote by Howard Thurman:

I see you where you are, striving and struggling,
and in the light of the highest possibility of personality,
I deal with you there.

This morning, I read this in J. Phillip Newell’s Christ of the Celts:

“Alexander Scott, the nineteenth century Celtic teacher, uses the analogy of a plant suffering from blight. If such a plant were shown to botanists, even if the botanists had never seen that type of plant before, they would define it in terms of its essential life features. They would identify the plant with reference to its healthy properties of height and color and scent. They would not define it in terms of its blight. Rather they would say that the blight is foreign to the plant, that it is attacking the plant.”

I am so blighted. So very blighted.

Who am I in the light of the highest possibility of my personality? Who am I in my healthiest sense of my existence?

I went back and re-read that poem I wrote.

What would I say to young Sally? I would tell her that she is seen — and that even the blights can shape us.

Here’s my poem. Sorry for my blathering. I forgot where I was going with this.


I see you.
I see the dreams you’ve set aside
Over and over
For better dreams
No — for better realities

Because who could have imagined
You would be happy spending
So many years of
Reading
Aloud

And singing silly songs
Not just With Larry
But with Philipowensamhelenjacobkarlmary
(I don’t think Laurel liked to sing
Or read, for that matter)

Of listening
And probing
For children’s dreams
So they might become the realities
That I missed

Once upon a time
I wanted to be a veterinarian
Because dogs and horses
Were so much safer
Than people

Then I wanted to make music
-al instruments
Because everyone knows
You can’t make a living making music

And linguistics –
To study languages
And understand their structures
“Anatomy of Language”
Sounds fascinating to me

But is that even a class?
Human anatomy is a much easier
Class to find
And I would have taken it
In my last dream of being
A physical therapist

But I married
And became a mom

Yes, 
I see that young woman
Who couldn’t stand on her own
And didn’t have someone to say,
Follow
Pursue
Be

Instead I had someone who said, “Come.”

And I went

I see you, and the dreams you’ve set aside
I see the rich reality you’ve lived
I see it all and, yes, I feel some pride —
For what is Christ but to give and give

Up dreams for something better, something good

Life · poetry

Unraveling

In the un-
ravel-
ing
perhaps
a (truer) story
is told
that may
(or may not)
include
roses
and warmth

essentials
remain
untouched

we die
are reborn

pulled apart
re-knit
by the sharp beak
and pointy talons
of a wee bird




Do I blame it on spring and the return of the birds —
These thoughts of “No Roses for Harry” —
Or is it
Simply the way my knowledge of Thomas Merton
Is unraveling —

Looping around
Traveling back
Covering the same themes
From different perspectives
Different times
Different media

Stories retold
Made new

 

poetry

apologies to e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the brownly roasting spirit of turkey
and a scarlet celebration of cranberries; and for everything
which is edible which is edifying which is yum

(we who are scattered gather today,
and this is thanksgiving; this is the wealth
of abundance of family and friends: and of the glad
long table illimitably mirth)

how should smelling tasting touching seeing
consuming any—lifted from the yuck
of all nothing—food becoming Eucharist*
not invoke Gratitude?

(now the tastebuds of my tongue awake and
now the fullness of my heart overflows)

 

(e e cummings original poem)

*The word “Eucharist” is a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word berekah. All three words have the meaning of thanksgiving, or praise for the wonderful works of God. (from: votf.org)

Blogging Challenge · poetry

Thoughts on Education

Short answer: I’m for it.


Slightly longer answer:

Education

thinking
solving
proving
discovery

too much
social
interaction –
recovery

writing
rewriting
citing
recite

reading
researching
finding
delight

learning
questioning
seeking
knowledge

elementary
middle
high school
college

Except not everyone needs to go to college.


Blogging Challenge · Life

What’s in the Bag?

What’s in the bag beside my chair?
I’ll tell you what I keep in there —

Three books
Five journals
Two mechanical pencils
Four loose pens — two black, two blue
A set of six black graphic liner pens
Another set of three in sepia tone
A set of eight Pilot G2 gel pens in varying colors
A recipe for shortbread,
Morning prayers from Laity Lodge,
My portable hard drive
A portable charger,
An I-love-you note
A thank you note
Blank postcards
Advil
Zinc cold remedy
A sticker
A pin
A travel lock
Loose change totalling 86¢
Old shopping lists
Expired coupons
Old grocery store receipts

Clearly I keep too much stuff
So I said, “Enough is enough!”

The last three items on my list
Without much fanfare were dismissed.


Blogging Challenge · poetry

Fears

Fears I don’t have:

  • spiders
  • the dark
  • idle threats

Fears that I do:

  • failure
  • not trying
  • regrets

I made the collage at the top for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge. The background is from Ezra Jack Keats’ Over in the Meadow. The child is from The Silly Sheepdog by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright. The bee (and maybe the spider, but I’m not sure) is(are) from A Trip to the Yard, pictures by Marjorie Hartwell and Rachel Dixon.