11 November 2013

On Not Going With the Flow

The rough, uneven, illogical course of my life has taken me through ups and downs. I have gone in directions that seemed counter-intuitive. Strange or indirect. My path has not been clearly linear. Plans have held little weight in the end. I have gone one direction then another. I have changed my mind and gone in circles. But I have always directed the path. Choices have taken me this way and that. I have faced the unknown, the logic-less, the uncertain. Yet, I have chosen those unsure corners of the future. Each and every one.

Until lately. I find myself seemingly motionless. Or perhaps adrift.The course of my life going onward as it must necessarily do. But with no determination. With so little decisiveness. Rather it seems my days have been filled with little trifles--social engagements, work obligations, appointments and entertainments. Schedules and chores and busy-ness. The consciousness, the purposefulness has faded. Introspection lost amid the "stuff to do". I find myself like a pebble in a river bottom. The days rushing over me like great currents. Waters bury me under the incessant strength of their flow. Carrying me indifferently in whatever direction they may go. And rather than push my way through; rather than swim; rather than flounder, even, in some direction of my own, I find myself being swept away passively, submissively--unresistant--into those uncaring waves of passing time. Going where, if, when the days will send me. Moving of necessity. Living for the sake of living.

Thoughts cross my mind. Where do I want to be? Where do I want to go?What do I need to do? But they reach me as if in a fog. Blurred by the rushing waves that are each day and it's busy obligations. They reach me as if through the film of sleep that clouds the mind. Sleepy, hazy. Nothing urgent. Nothing impending. Only flowing in the ease of the path of least resistance.

The path of least resistance: The job you have. The place you live. The locales you frequent. The schedule you keep. They are here. They require no new decisions. No choices. No disturbances to the great sleep of indifference. But in the unconscious flow of time the lose meaning. They offer so little growth.

I feel myself restless in my sleep. Ready to press through the haze into wakefulness. Prepared to rise out to the flow that pushes me carelessly forward. The strength to break out of this mindless passivity is awakening, resurfacing. It is time to reclaim my course. Set my path.

I am afraid. Making choices means making mistakes. It means taking risks. Getting hurt and even sometimes hurting others. It means doing what is difficult and exhausting and sometimes not entirely enjoyable. Of your own free will.

But I somehow feel.... it ends beautifully.

And at least it is mine.

02 May 2013

Film going: To the Wonder

Last night I saw the film To the Wonder.

I am still in awe.

This film follows the love and lives of an American man, Niel, and a French woman, Marina, who meet in France and move together to a small town in Oklahoma. We catch glimpses of their lives as their love waxes and wanes through time. The film weaves through the changes they face as a couple and as individuals. Beautiful moments and troubled times. Discontent and sublime happiness. Confidence and doubt. Tied into the tale are a love story between Niel and his childhood sweetheart, Jane, and the quiet struggles of a Spanish ex-patriot priest, Father Quintanna serving his parish in this small Oklahoma town. In much the way our characters seek to find, keep and understand their love, Quintana is reaching out for faith and for Christ, whom he has seemingly lost among the all too real lives of his congregants and the seeming lack of divinity around him. Though the characters overlap and their lives intersect, the stories remain separate and individual. Each unique.

The film is raw. Emotional. Narrated, vaguely, in turn by the various characters as they move through the phases in their lives and loves. As they struggle and question and seek and yearn for that which they cannot find or cannot hold on to.

It is also beautiful. Not just emotionally, but visually as well. The scenes are simple, yet at times take on an almost fairy-tale-like quality. Whimsical and flowing. The lighting and angles are gorgeous. Stark. Brilliant. Elegant. Dreamy. It is we, the audience, are half in a dream. In fact, the entirety of the film might be described as dreamlike. Hazy. The fragments one remembers after waking up. Unfinished and even, in parts, incoherent. Yet the moments are still surprisingly potent; the emotions inexplicably strong.

I recommend it highly...but know that this will be dreamy, emotional, abstract.. and the narrative sparse and elusive. I like that I guess. It was powerful enough to make me weep. So who knows, maybe you will love it too.

01 April 2013

What might have been

Yesterday I found an old note from a boy I once loved. Still love, really. Differently.

It wasn't a love letter. It wasn't spectacular or awesome or particularly poetic. It was a simple note from a friend. About a friendship; a shared experience.

And it made me bawl.

Just for 30 seconds. But it was so sudden I was taken completely by surprise at my own emotions. Why did this strike me so powerfully? Why was I so overwhelmed in that moment? Was I sad? Nostalgic? Happy? I think it was all of those things really. But not quite any of them. Reading that note in simple black ink on plain sheets of lined yellow paper, I was completely engulfed, for those few seconds, in the possibilities that existed then that have since passed me by. I was suddenly back in a place that I have left. A time that is completely gone. And with it have disappeared moments and opportunities and potential that were very real for me then. Things that once could have been, but now will never be.

It's not sad, really. It's not a bad thing that life moves forward and some possibilities fade from view. There are always others that move in to take their place. The old cliche, one door closes and another door opens. True enough. Usually. A forgone opportunity is not the end. Some other hopeful potential will find its way into your life.

But still.

Not all doors are the same. Not every possibility is comparable. It would be ridiculous to weigh the un-happened of the past to the not-yet-occurred of the present. The hypothetical can only be imagined and predictions are dangerously unreliable. Yet, while knowing the reality of those possibilities is beyond our reach, it is easy enough to see that the outcomes would have been different. For good or bad. Better or worse. Every "might have been" is an unknown road into a life you will never lead. And while it is important to embrace the present and the opportunities we do have, here and now, perhaps there is nothing wrong with mourning, for a moment, from time to time, the little things that have slipped away. That have moved from the realm of potential into that of unreality.

And sometimes, it's just good to really cry.

17 March 2013

magic man

Saturday night was the very definition of gorgeousness. Beautiful music. Lovely people. The unity of so many different people in moments of pure delight. Just pure joy.

I've loved Josh Ritter for a long time (thanks to my friend Doug!). But at his concert, I suddenly felt a new connection to the man behind the music. The man whose music could fill a room with awe and wonder. Whose joyous love of his craft was apparent in every aspect of his performance. Whose gratitude for his listeners and whose enjoyment of being in that moment, on that stage was palpable. Who brought every voice in the room together in a chorus that filled the Rialto Theater with a little piece of love. Because no one there could have helped but love this incredible music man. It felt a little bit like magic. Or heaven.

So enjoy....

a new one,

and another new one,

and an oldy, but a goody :)

The opening band was also breathtaking. The lead singer's voice is out of this world powerful!
Have a listen to Lake Street Dive:

14 March 2013


Today my students celebrated Pi Day by writing "Pi-ku" (found here). They tried writing both about Pi in a normal 17 syllable haiku and writing one with lines of 3, 1 and 4. Clever, right?! (Well.. the idea wasn't mine. But the kids still enjoyed it!)

This is the example I came up with:

Goes on forever
but the only part I know
is three point one four

And the Pi-ku version:

Solve for pi?
rather eat pie!

What would your Pi Day haiku be??

12 March 2013

small steps

I'm not much of a video game lover. In fact, rather the contrary. But I still find a great deal of joy in this:
"When Mike Mika saw the disappointment on his daughter's face when she realized Pauline wasn't a playable character in Donkey Kong, he felt a call to action. Thankfully Mika happens to be a competent developer, and after a few late-night hours spent hacking the NES version of Nintendo's classic, he accomplished the role reversal his daughter had wished for. Mario was now under Donkey Kong's control, and Pauline was tasked with rescuing the plumber in distress.
You can read the rest here.

Honestly, that is one awesome Dad! If all men cared that much about the effects of inequality (no matter how seemingly small or insignificant) on the lives of the women they love, the world would be a pretty amazing place! Seriously.

09 March 2013


Years ago, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, I was standing on a street corner with my friend Jean, waiting for some people to join us. As we stood there, we noticed a girl alone on the other side of the street. And nearby, two young men. There was something odd about the situation. Or at least, it seemed odd to us as we observed the three. Suddenly, one of the boys went up to the girl and she seemed to be trying to get him to leave her alone. Then, the other one started running up. Not knowing what to do, I instinctively started moving towards them and yelling something.

But before I could see what happened, Jean grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away. She was terrified. And suddenly, so was I. Maybe it was because we had just been robbed a day or two before by four young men with a gun. Maybe it was because I had no idea what I would have done if there was some sort of trouble. Maybe it was because in reality, I wasn't sure if anything was going on and maybe I was just making a scene. But as we ran the other way down the street I was overwhelmed by a horrifying sense of helplessness.

I was useless.

Last night, I was left with a similar feeling.

While some friends and I were eating dinner in a restaurant, a man came by pulling a woman aggressively by the arm. She pulled her arm away and walked out in front of him. As everyone at my table exchanged confused glances, I saw them walk by the window. Again, he was violently dragging her along. I mentioned this to my friends and decided to go outside and see what was going on. They were arguing on the street. I stood there for a minute and then... went inside.

I wanted to intervene somehow. I wanted to say something. But I didn't. I went back to the table and sat down again with my friends and we all went on almost as if nothing had happened.

Something did happen though. And I regret my lack of action. I don't know if it was because I was a little frightened. Or embarrassed. Or feeling silly since no one else seemed to think it was a big deal (and I am, to my shame, really sensitive about being considered an "over reactor"). Or maybe because I just had no idea what I could or should do. Whatever the reason, I should have done more than just stand on the street for a moment staring at them and feeling unsettled and awkward. I should have acted.

This morning, still feeling upset over the incident from last night, I started to consider the problem. Mostly, I feel like I need more information (and probably courage too). I need to know what the right thing to do is. Can you just go up to someone and say, "Is everything alright?" Is that too weird and invasive? Or is that the right thing to do when you are concerned about a situation? So I did a little research. I am attaching a few articles (here and here and here) in case anyone else is interested in some advice on dealing with abusive situations in public. I feel much more confident to act now. And though I still feel guilty for doing nothing, I think if I see something like that again, I will know what to do.

Also, in honor of International Women's Day yesterday (coincidence??), while I am proud of the great strides women have made in our country an around the world, there is still so much work to be done if we want true equality and justice for all people. Just the fact alone that I was the only person in the restaurant who even got out of my chair when a woman was being dragged out by her arm (and still did absolutely nothing useful), reminds me that physical (and emotion and mental) abuse is still far too commonplace in our society. We ALL have work to do if this is ever going to change. I love this article about the need for men and women to work together to end violence and promote equality. This is a conversation that needs to be front and center in our lives. And luckily, there are some great people and organizations that are facilitating discussion and awareness and making incredible strides in our communities! This list of things you can do from ONE is a great place to start.

Because the truth is, we don't have to be helpless!

20 February 2013

That thing I said in class just now ....

"I think somebody needs to kill Michael!"

Even in context while Michael was playing Montezuma being killed by Cortes and the Spanish explorers in their class play, it seemed like an awkward thing to say.

Almost as awkward as my student pronouncing the missionaries in our history book "Cath-oholics."

Welcome to life in the Fourth Grade!

06 February 2013

mix 'n' match

what do you get when you combine one of your favorite singers with lyrics about your favorite home town?

must be losing my mind...

i love this too

and this

and everything brett dennen sings.
i'm obsessed.

30 January 2013

An elementary course on making friends

Today when I got to school one of my students looked up at me and excitedly shrieked, "Messy hair!!!"

After feeling embarrassed for a few moments, I decided she actually must have just felt a special connection to me, since her pretty blond hair is regularly a bit of a rat's nest. And it made me a little more okay with her pointing out that I am sporting a slightly more disheveled look today.

Only second to the enjoyment my students get when my hair is a disaster is how pleased they are when I flip out and jump "5 feet in the air" when the fire alarm goes off. They could laugh about that for hours!

And they did.

Actually.... they still are.

29 January 2013

Demonstrations in liberty

These days there seems to be plenty of room to doubt the "Of the people, by the people, for the people" ideal that has historically been, at least in theory, the backbone of our nation. How much does your voice really matter? How often is the average person heard? Aren't our questionable politicians and big businesses really running the show these days? If you don't make millions, does your citizenship even count?

I know I sound like a pessimist, and there are certainly times when I feel that way. I seriously question at times how much of a difference I can make. And I don't think I'm the only one. That is one factor, I believe, in the increasingly whinny, but persistently inactive political discussions that I hear coming from all directions most of the time. And even if it isn't exactly excusable, it is certainly understandable. Many of us don't feel like there is much we can actually do to make a difference.

But in reality, I don't think it's true. We, all of us, individuals, can actually have a great impact on our nation, our communities and even the world. We just have to know where to look and do the things we really can do. Just as one important, if slightly odd, example are online petitions.

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking. Those lame emails and Facebook promptings we all get to "sign your support" and "join the petition" to change the world. Can those possibly be more than some cheesy gimmick? Can typing your name on a list actually make a difference? And isn't that a pretty silly and even lazy way to "make a difference"?

Maybe. Yet I still think that, in some ways, these online petitions are actually a beacon of hope and an updated nod to a past of political and social activism that can appeal to many people living in today's digital world. Pledging your support on a petition can make the difference necessary to sway political decisions and show where public opinion really lies on important issues. There are many sites these days like Change.org that allow people to make online petitions and rally for support from unknown strangers who commiserate with the originator's concerns. And together, they actually do change things. From legislation to store policies to justice for the falsely accused or support for causes from around the world, many of the petitions get enough signatures to get noticed at least. And sometimes they even succeed in making an important change! Rather often.

So, is it worth it to sign an online petition? I think so. At least, I think it is if you care about the issue being petitioned and you are someone who think wants to be involved in righting wrongs and affecting change.

Now, I don't pretend that signing petitions, even if you did it all day everyday, would amount to being actively involved in making the world a better place or would suffice in doing our civic duties. There are far too many people who need our help and far too many projects that need hands and brains and hearts invested in making them work. We can and should be involved in every way we can.

Yet, there is something very beautiful about the power of people coming together, even it is just online. Because we do have a say. We do make a difference. And the things you sign your name to do say something about who you are and what you stand for. It is important to make those things known.

By the way, this all came up because of this petition to help save wolves. I signed it and you might want to too. Or not. All I'm saying is, don't discount the small things. In the end, they do all add up. Sometimes I think it is in the small things that we will find the greatest hope.

17 January 2013


Birdie and I finished a marathon!

Last weekend my sister and I flew to Orlando to run a marathon with our aunt at Disney World. It was fun/hard/rewarding/painful/long/awesome/FINISHED! It was especially wonderful running and training with my sister and being there with my aunt. Plus, if you're going to run 26 miles, I suppose Disney World isn't the worst place to do it!!

I have to confess though, I don't think I'll do it again. Too hard on the old body for me! So, after marathon #1, I am officially retiring from my marathoning career. But I'm glad I did it once. Now at least I know I can. And that is something to be pretty amazingly grateful for!

My sister, aunt and I all done!

The whole running crew with our medals!
My aunt's running group let us wear their team shirts..
"Will Run For Food!"
Right up my ally.

06 January 2013

once upon a time it was the year 2012

and in that year I did not die. Though perhaps I went into hiding for a bit. Maybe I haven't come out yet completely. But I can't move on without saying something.

Last year was... not really a year. It was not one. A whole. A unified entity.

I think of last year and I feel I lived so many lives in so little time. It is a little scary. And a little hard to explain--being many people. And yet only one.

2012 started smack dab in the middle of my life in Spain. I rang in the new year with my Spain family in the living room of that house where I lived that part of my life. We celebrated with food and dancing and music and joy. Just a year later and it feels like an eternity ago.
The women of my Spain family!

A reason to go home.  (photo by Spencer Boerup)
A month later, in February, I was home. I was celebrating again. This time, the marriage of a dear best amazing darling friend. It was like being picked up and dropped, for a few days, right into the middle of a life I hadn't lived for years--my friends and family together again for the first time in more than a year for some of us. It was magical. And hard. And wonderful and frightening and short.

Within a week, I was back in my Spain life. Teaching. Traveling. Hanging out with friends and alone and living as if it was all normal and real. Dating and breaking up. Laughing and crying and just being. Until it was done. And there were goodbyes and endings and unanswerable questions about futures. As there usually are.

Half way through 2012. Just turned 25.
Florence, Italy.
I left Spain on my own. I spent my 25th birthday as a tourist somewhere in Tuscan Italy, in the middle of a new adventure that was, for the first time, mine alone. Post-Spain. Pre-NewTucson. I wandered through Italy and fell in love with the beautiful landscapes and churches and paintings and history. I drifted through Paris and was enchanted with everything, even though it was sometimes cold, even in July. I ate the best falafel of my life and entered the homes of great artists and felt like the very air there made the world and people and myself lovelier somehow. I decided that my next language would be French.
(I'm not joking, but I should be.) 

Dad and me at The Alhambra.
Granada, Spain.
Days later, in mid-July, I was traipsing through southern Spain with my Dad. Driving on back roads through beautiful countryside. Hiking through otherworldly rock formations. Floating in the salty sea waters of the Mediterranean. Trying to take it all in. But already being pulled into what was next.

When I arrived in Tucson at 11:30 pm on July 29, I was already scheduled to attend training for my new job at 8 am the next morning. In the most unlikely turn of events, I was already a teacher. A 4th grade teacher at a little charter school. And the next unbearably new part of my life had started.   right at the end of July. Without pomp or ceremony. Without time to wrap anything up or become (re)acquainted with this new home. What was had ended and what would be was already bulldozing a new path I hardly had time to consider before launching myself into it.

The last 5 months of 2012 were a blur. A terrifying, glorious mess. An education and a re-education. A new beginning. A return to the past. I still hardly know what to do with those months. They disappeared faster than my brain could take them in. I was home for the first time in 6 months or 7 years, depending on how you look at in. But really, I was in a new life and a new place, not even knowing the street names (anymore). There was no time to think or process, there was barely time to breathe. Luckily, I had my family. My friends. Such good friends! And zumba classes and running and great co-workers and funny moments and busy-good weekends. I even went rock climbing--a new love!

Then it was over.

Well, sort of. Because the year and the phase are not the same thing.

I still don't know what to make of 2012. Except that it is all a blessing. One more piece of my life. Of my heart. Of my soul. Of who I am and will be. Whoever that is.

With that, I wish you all an abundance of peace and love, wherever this crazy life takes you!