Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Certified: Four

(I wrote this while I was sick, so please forgive any mistakes or...etc.)

On Monday, the day before I was starting class in Portland, I woke up ill. And I didn't feel any better on Tuesday. I didn't want to skip the class. It only met once a week.

I couldn't believe I was so sick. This felt like one of my unsustainable patterns exerting itself in my life. It went something like this: I worked too hard, I worked too hard, I worked too hard, and I'd get sick. Then I'd have to peel away those things in my life that weren't serving me.

Well, I wasn't going to fall for it this time. I was going to class.

I took a walk around town early afternoon to see if I could actually drive to Portland and walk to class. I was able to do it. I had to stop a lot, but I made it down to the post office and back up again. At 4:30, I got into the car and drove to Portland. I got stuck in rush hour traffic so I didn't make it to campus until just a few minutes before 6:00.

I went to the building where I thought the class was, my favorite building on campus with the atrium and bamboo garden, but there was no classroom 238. Oh man. I got the wrong building? It was 6:00 now. Probably nothing was open on campus for me to find out where the real class was. I was having too much trouble breathing to be running all over campus.

I walked over to my friend Mary's department. If she was there, she could help me out. The door was locked. I couldn't believe I had driven all this way and now I was going to have to drive back home. I felt a little panicky because I felt too sick to actually walk to the other side of campus where the library was--and probably a class schedule.

Then I heard someone call my name. I turned around. Mary was leaning out the door. I was so happy to see her. I couldn't really talk easily because of the laryngitis; I was able to convey that I couldn't find my class.

Fortunately, Mary had a schedule and she figured out the classroom was in the building across from the one I was at. I didn't have far to go. I walked around the building and found 238. I opened the door and went inside.

I couldn't smell anything, because I couldn't smell anything. But it reminded me of my physics lab from high school which always smelled slightly of pipe tobacco. Long tables with computers on them faced the instructor who sat at a table. Behind him was a huge white board. No windows. No air. Ugly green healable plastic on the tables. Cluttered tables and shelves at the back of the room.

The instructor was reading off the names of students. He sat at his table. He worse glasses and had a handlebar mustache.

I sat down and immediately turned off the computer screen in front of me. I listened to my wheezy lungs as I sat breathing, trying to relax and get my bearings.

Then the teacher began talking. He said we would learn how a residential home was built, from the ground up. We would learn about all the different systems and how they functioned within the building.

I wanted to become more knowledgeable about building systems. This would help me evaluate buildings and the environment more intelligently, so that I didn't suggest anything stupid or untenable.

For instance, the instructor talked about someone plugging up air holes in their house to help with the heating bill; this cut off the air flow in the house which then helped grow mold. They had to tear the house down. Things like that.

Soon the teacher started talking about the building codes which he seemed disgusted by. And he talked about energy efficiency and "green" policies with derision. He said that all green ideas were more expensive ideas.

He went on and on about some government policies. In Colorado, he said, the water from your roof does not belong to you and you can't capture it. It's considered to be part of a river or tributary so it must be allowed to continue on its way. In Arizona, on the other hand, you must capture the water from your roof if your building is over 2500 square feet.

He said the government was going to start going door to door talking with people about energy efficiency and forcing them to make changes.

"I call them the green Nazis," he said, "going door to door in their brown shirts."

He followed up that statement with, "As you can probably tell, I don't care much for the government."

I heard nervous giggles in response.

I growled to myself. I was taking this class as part of a sustainable building certificate and the instructor was going to deride any "green" methods for the next twelve weeks? Plus I'd have to sit and listen to him bash "the government" for that same amount of time.

He was the guy in charge so everyone would have to listen to him and perhaps become biased because of his opinions. I suddenly felt like I was in a classroom taught by an older Timothy McVeigh.

I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Hey, I work for the government. So does my husband. We work for the library. My father worked for the government, first in the Air Force and then as a teacher. You work for the government because this school gets funds from taxes."

But I sat quietly. For years before the Oklahoma bombing, I was furious with the "government." Years of Reaganomics had shredded our infrastructure and our manufacturing base. I despised what George Bush had done in Iraq. And then when Bill Clinton got into office, one of the first things he did was "don't ask, don't tell," which I thought of as a complete betrayal.

Then Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrow building. I sat watching that horror on TV and wondering what had happened to us as a nation. McVeigh was anti-government. He hated our government. I decided then and there that I was nothing like him and I didn't want to participate in the kind of rhetoric that would lead to something like that. It was one thing to criticize our policies, which I continue to do, but to feed extremism was irresponsible. I had the creepy feeling as I sat in this classroom that this man was feeding that kind of extremism with his offhand remarks.

Should I raise my hand and say, "I'm a green Nazi according to your definition and I work for the government. You wanna string me up?"

I looked around the room. I didn't have to take this class. I did not have to sit here for weeks listening to this man's opinions. I might learn something, but at what cost? I could barely breathe in this room, and I didn't think it was all because of my cold.

This was not my place, not my journey. He was not my teacher. I didn't want to have this battle or this struggle in this room and this place. I wanted to learn from more evenhanded teachers.

I got up and walked out the door.

I drove home through the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. I felt relieved. Now I wouldn't have to get stuck in traffic one a week.

When I got home, I dropped the class. Then I curled up on the couch and tried to breathe and sleep.

Read more here...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Certified: Three

Technocrap and Other Adventures

A few days after my interview I got paperwork in the mail from the university: a congratulations letter, financial forms, and my student ID number. I could now begin the process of registering.

Easier said than done. It took me an entire day to get signed up onto the three different interfaces needed for this university and then to register. It was so cumbersome and difficult that I started to have doubts about going back to school.

I had to tell someone at the school how awful this process was. I mean, if they knew they would change it, right?

By the end of the day I was very discouraged, and I had a terrible headache.

The next day, when I felt better, I composed a letter to the assistant at my department. I hated to begin a relationship with a complaint. But I'd do it. I figured things couldn't change unless someone talked about what wasn't working.

Unfortunately when I complain about things or point out flaws in processes, the response is usually something like, "Really? You're the only one who has ever mentioned this. You must be really sensitive."

That was usually when I got the invisible badge of troublemaker, or worse, the invisible badge of the overly sensitive troublemaker.

I wrote the letter. I said I was sorry to start out complaining, but I wanted to know why they used three different interfaces for each student at one university. I told her registering was awful. I would need to use these interfaces daily, and it couldn't be torture every day; if it was, I wasn't willing to do it.

I did try to call first, by the way. The person I needed to talk with was out of the office, so I sent off the letter. Once something gets in my head, I need to get it out or else it gets caught in my brain like a hamster on a wheel. I needed to either have the conversation with someone about the problems or I needed to send the email. Only then would I stop thinking about it.

I felt for sure I was going to get the standard reply: "This is the way is it. Get over it."

Fortunately that's not the answer I got. The assistant acknowledged problem. It was something they were working on. She also acknowledged that the registration process was not ideal, and she gave me some hints to make it easier next time. She was amazed that I had accomplished so much without any help.

It wasn't a brush-off which was more than I expected. And never once did she say I was too sensitive.

That felt better.

I decided to keep going forward with this.

I got my financial award letter. They (the federal government) believed we could afford $5,000 a year for my education. This was exactly what Mario and I had figured. They offered to loan us the rest. Actually they offered to loan us about three times more than I needed. Mario and I talked, and we decided we would get a loan for half of the tuition.

I looked up how much interest we would have to pay on this loan and discovered that by the time we paid it off, we would have paid about thirty percent above and beyond the principal. That didn't sound like a low-interest student loan to me; it sounded like usury.

I also found out about what books I'd need for my classes. One of them was $175. That was over half my weekly pay.

I kept wondering how the average person managed to go to school nowadays.

I emailed my advisor some questions about the program, and she emailed me back that I needed to chill out. She didn't use those words, but that was the essence of the email. I needed to get through these first two classes before I made any plans for other semesters.

Live in the now, baby.

At first I was offended. How dare she advise me to stop my incessant planning and figuring. I wasn't some twenty-something person who didn't know what to do with the rest of her life, by god. I was a fifty-something person wondering what to do with the rest of her life. Much wiser than those twenty-somethings.

Yes, well, I quickly realized my advisor was supposed to advise me. That was her job. And she was right. Why look at which classes I'd take next year when I hadn't even started my classes this year? Maybe I'd hate them. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do the work. Maybe I'd quit before I even started.

Yes, I would stop obsessing about my classes in Seattle.

I began looking around for classes I could take closer to home.

Mission accomplished: Obsession diverted.

I looked around for classes about sustainable building.

Toxic building materials had made me sick. Was there something I could do to prevent this from happening to other people? Why didn't people use more sustainable and healthy building methods? It was certainly possible nowadays. Were they ignorant of the dangers, or did they just not care?

Even buildings that were supposedly "green" weren't always healthy. They might be energy efficient, but they didn't necessarily use no-VOC materials. (You know that smell that accompanies paint, carpeting, vinyl? That's outgassing. And what it is outgassing is "volatile organic compounds" or VOC. These compounds can cause all sorts of physical and mental problems and are especially hard on the little nervous systems of children. Some materials outgas for years.)

I should become a sustainability consultant and help people make those kinds of decisions. When the library remodeled, the librarian and the maintenance department didn't know where to go to find carpet, flooring, and paint that were no-VOC. Mario and I did the research for them (and we followed the advice of our friend Steve Rypka). That could be part of what I did in this new world of It's Easy Being Green avec Kim.

I found a certificate program in sustainable building at the community college in Portland. I loved this college. I went to one of the campuses nearly every Friday to help out my friend the anthropology professor with her class. (Not that she needed my help.) The class was usually in the technology building, this gorgeous space with an atrium and bamboo garden in the middle of it.

Every Friday, my friend taught a shamanism class. Spring semester she taught Celtic shamanism. Last year it was Faery Shamanism. Next fall, she would be teaching Norse Shamanism.

I got such a kick out of being a part of this class, sometimes sitting in the middle of the floor of the classroom drumming, sometimes going outside under the old Doug firs where we did ceremony honoring the land and the directions.

It made sense to me that they would have a sustainable building program. I should have thought of it earlier. I filled out an application.

A week or so later, I was accepted. Soon enough, I got my student ID and I logged onto their site. It took me about 30 seconds to get on, and everything was there: classes schedules, registration, financial info, email, bookstore, library. It had all the things I needed on one page after one login. It was such a joy after all my struggles with my university in Seattle. (I sent an email to the assistant in Seattle to urge them to check out this student interface.)

As part of this process, I had to get my transcripts. I hadn't really looked at what classes I'd taken for years. I was startled as I flipped through the transcripts. Most of the time I took five classes a term, but sometimes I took six or seven classes! I also worked twenty to thirty hours or more a week at a job. No wonder I'd been stressed out and burned out most of the time.

As I looked at these classes, I realized something was missing. I had not taken a single science class. I had signed up for an astronomy class, but I'd gotten bored when I realized we would never be outside staring up at the stars, so I dropped out. I took several psychology courses if you count that as science.

Other than that: nothing. Which was strange. I had started high school wanting to be a research biologist. Now I wondered why I hadn't taken any science classes. I was probably afraid. I was always working so much and so hard; I couldn't afford to take courses that were too tough or required lots of homework and risk the chance of flunking or getting a bad grade. Bad grades meant my average would drop and then I'd lose any of my (very small) scholarships.

I was also startled to see that I had taken two Math courses. I had no memory of taking two classes and only a vague memory of one. I had taken it at night and I remembered I had never been so bored in my life, except maybe when I took Logic.

I hated logic. Loathed it. Loathed philosophy too. I didn't understand what use logic would be in my life, yet I was supposed to take this course. With philosophy I felt like I had to read supposed wisdom written by a bunch of white men who sat around trying to figure out how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. What could be more useless? Why weren't they out working a job or cooking a meal or changing a diaper?

I was not impressed with them. I was a practical woman.

Interesting how I would marry a man who majored in Math and Philosophy. Of course when he talked to me about Math or philosophers, I was fascinated. He knows how to tell a story. We have probably had more intense and fascinating conversations about math and philosophy than anything else, except possibly literature.

In any case, I registered for a class in the architecture and design department at the community college. It wasn't science, but it was practical: introduction to building systems.

Later Mario and I went into the city to the campus bookstore to get books for my class. One of the books was $125. I groaned.

Mario said, "It's just the cost of doing business."

I gritted my teeth and bought them.

As I carried the books out of the store, I thought about what I was doing. I was apparently incapable of doing anything slowly. Or doing one thing at a time. In the course of just a few weeks I had decided to totally upend my life. I was not only going to school in Seattle; I was now going to school in Portland. This little country mouse was in for a ride.

I was more than just a little crazy.

Read more here...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Certified: Two


Two days after I found out I was accepted into the program, Mario had to go to the doctor. He'd been having a pain in his arm for several months and it had gotten much much worse the day after he went to the dentist. He needed to see someone to try to fix it.

Part of my anxiety problem revolves around doctors. I was never afraid of doctors or dentists when I was younger. I went to all my check-ups. Got all the exams I needed. Then one day I couldn't do it any more. The idea of going to a doctor sent my blood pressure soaring. I was wracked with fear and loathing. I got this anxiety even if someone else had to go to a doctor.

On Thursday, the day Mario had to go to the doctor, I felt like a basket case. I hadn't been able to sleep the night before. In the morning, I couldn't keep still, couldn't relax. I thought I was going to go insane before he actually went to the doctor.

Only someone who has intense fear can understand what this was like. It wasn't anxiousness. It wasn't butterflies. This was terror. My rational mind said one thing, "This is silly. Everything's all right. They'll figure out something simple to help him." But my body was registering terror with all the accompanying symptoms: Racing heart, nausea, restlessness, sweating. Imagine the most afraid you've ever been, unreasonable or reasonable fear, and then you might know what it felt like. What if always feels like. If you've ever been assaulted, you understand what this fear was like.

Trying to meditate didn't help. It never does. Trying to breathe calmly didn't help. It never does. I had this urge to run away. This is a common instinct when I'm feeling terrorized. I believe it's a primal urge. I want to get away from the danger. Most of the time when I want to run away, I tell myself that my reaction is the problem, and I can't run away from me. That has kept me from spending thousands of dollars on hotels and gasoline as I tried to run away from the problem. If the problem is you, there ain't nowhere to go.

But this time, I felt like I was going to explode. I understand that expression. I used to think, how could someone feel like they were going to explode? But it does feel as though something is going to give if I don't take action.

It wasn't raining so I decided to get in the car and drive the two hundred plus miles to Seattle to look around my new campus. I asked Mario if he wanted me to go to the doctor's with him. He said no. I still don't know if he was trying to spare me or if he didn't really want the company.

I got in the car and drove west on Highway 14. I'd only gotten a few miles when I started to feel better. All the chemicals and hormones pulsing through my body must have started to calm down. I felt like myself again. I began to cry. Was the rest of my life going to be spent like this?

I felt like Marlon Brandon in On the Waterfront. "I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it." This anxiety--this mind terror--was my Rod Steiger, my brother Charley who sold me out.

And I wanted to kill him dead.

I pulled off the road and went into the nearby Doestch Ranch park to call Mario. I sobbed as I told him how much better I felt. All of this reminded me of when I'd gone to visit my dad in Arizona recently.

I'd taken a train for the first leg of the trip to get to my dad. I spent the night in Santa Barbara after I got off the train, and then I rented a car. I drove from Santa Barbara to Phoenix. As I drove along the coast with the radio on, I was happy. I was ecstatic, actually. Joyful. And I was alone. I knew that everyone I loved was safe but far away, so I couldn't see them or sense anything about them. I didn't have to try and fix anything. I hadn't been that happy for decades.

I wondered then if I was only going to be happy and relaxed alone driving in a car. I wondered again this day.

As I sat in the car in that park, the anxiety began to come back. I told Mario I was going to keep going.

When I closed the phone, I stared out at the gorge cliffs across the field and the river from me. They were gorgeous in the morning light, the dark green trees highlighted with the sweet light of morning.

I used to live just a few miles from here. After I'd had to quit my job, we'd moved to Skamania Landing. When we first got there, I was so dizzy and ill, I could barely walk across the room. Gradually I began to get better. I could walk across the room and do laundry. Then I could walk to the bottom of the stairs. Then I could walk to the bridge. Then across the bridge. Then to the turtle pond on the Doetsch property. Finally I was able to walk to these fields, where I now sat in the car in a parking lot.

That was before it was a park. Back then, I walked on a path through the field. To the south, cottonwoods grew along the Columbia River. Across the river, the gorge cliffs rose. Sometimes when I looked at these cliffs, they seemed to be receding, continually moving away without actually going anywhere. I never figured out what caused this optical allusion but other people saw it when they walked with me.

I remembered the first time I made it to this field, I felt like I was getting my life back. After being confined and constrained by illness, I felt free again.

One time I reached this field and I began having trouble breathing. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get back home. I took my inhaler, but I was still having problems.

I walked over to a copse of tall slender evergreens near one end of the field. Something about these little woods always captivated me. I was certain leprechauns romped through it. I don't know why I thought of leprechauns. But on the day when I was having trouble breathing, I asked the leprechauns--or the spirits of that place--if they could help me.

After this plea, I began to breathe more easily, and I made it safely back home.

This field, this place, these trees, these rocks, these beings had been a part of my life for so many years. I was grateful today to have found this place again.

I started the car up and continued on my way to Seattle.

The drive through the Columbia River Gorge was spectacular. It always is. I had lived here since 1987 and I never grew tired of it. But the drive up and down I-5 is an exceedingly boring drive. My permaculture instructor suggested that I look at the landscape differently during my commute so that it would become interesting to me.

I was hoping I could eventually do that. Today I didn't want to think about anything. I listened to XM radio, and I drove. My mind relaxed. My body relaxed. It was the best medicine for me. I acknowledged that this medicine was not very sustainable. I was burning up fossil fuels. At least I was driving a supposedly fuel efficient car.

An hour and a half later I pulled into at a rest stop. As I walked up toward the rest rooms, I felt strangely happy. I already had that road pulse. My body and vision throbbed a bit, as it always did during a long road trip. This felt so familiar. Driving and then stopping, driving and then stopping. Nothing else mattered. I wondered again if I was going to have to spend my life on the road, never at home, in order to be happy.

I thought of all the novels I had written that ended with the word "home." I rarely felt at home and neither did my characters. Many of my books are, at least in part, road trips.

About four hours after I left home, I came over the hill and saw Seattle in the distance. It always looked cozy to me, and a bit elegant, tall buildings rising up from the land, almost like a copse of silvery trees--like the leprechaun evergreens in the field at the Doetsch park.

As soon as I went over the hill, I landed in Seattle traffic, one of the reasons we rarely come up to Seattle. It may be better now, but years ago, it could take four hours or seven hours to drive from our house to Seattle or from Seattle to our house.

I hoped in the next year I would get to know and like Seattle better. Mario and I had great affection for Portland. We didn't know Seattle well enough to like or loathe it, but we were wary of it. We couldn't discern a center to Seattle. In Portland, you can drive downtown, park, and walk around and find lots of things. Often downtown Seattle felt deserted, at least where we went.

And the drivers seemed crazy. Especially at rush hour. One time we were trying to leave Seattle and a semi-truck came close to crushing us. He knew he was doing it. I looked right into his eyes. He was furious and trying to hurt us.

The people we did see in Seattle always looked dressed to the nines. The Pacific Northwest was known for its grunge look. I've always appreciated it. I appreciated that out here you could dress anyway you wanted and people would barely notice your clothes. They noticed you. People were judged by the content of their character, not the content of their pocketbooks and how much moula they could spend on clothes. But the way people dressed in Seattle seemed more like Sex and the City lite than Pacific Northwest casual.

Lately I've noticed some of that in Portland. I'll see some woman dressed like she was on the streets of New York City and I want to yell, "Hey, we don't cotton to your kind here. Dress down or go home." I recognize even as I have these impulses that I am judging someone by the content of her clothes, and I nudge myself toward compassion and tolerance.

It's just that I don't want to live in a place where people are deemed worthy or unworthy based on their clothing. That seems so high school. Who wants to live perpetually in high school?

When my youngest sister moved from Michigan down to Santa Cruz, she was stunned by the way people dressed. She'd call home to her friends and say, "These people leave the house without make-up! They wear sweats!" She had always been known for her style and fashion sense. She felt like she was losing part of her identity in Santa Cruz. She started dressing more casually and not focusing so much on how she looked.

I said, "Isn't that freeing?"

She said, "No! It's awful."

She left Santa Cruz and moved to Scottsdale.

The traffic wasn't too bad today. I got off the expressway and drove downtown Seattle. I noticed the people on the streets seemed to be very well-dressed. I could feel butterflies in my stomach. I was not going to fit in here.

I kept driving until I saw the campus building. Across the street was an empty lot. I took a right and parked alongside the building. I saw a group of people milling around nearby a coffee-shack. Homeless? This was definitely not the most well-heeled part of Seattle. My stomach fluttered again.

Then I laughed at myself.

Homeless or rich. Which do you want, Kim?

Neither. I'd like everyone to have what they need and I'd like no one to be judged.

Like I was judging everyone.

I wanted to go into this educational experience with a clean slate. I wasn't going to withdraw from everything if people didn't act exactly like I wanted them to. I wanted to overcome some of my own character defects and communication flaws.

I told myself to buck up and get with the picture--and a whole bunch of other cliches.

I got out of the car and got a parking ticket and stuck it on the driver side window. I closed the door and locked the car. I glanced all around me--I was in the big city now. Then I walked down the sidewalk and around the building. It was a bright sunny day.

I walked into the building. I saw the front desk immediately, to my right. Next to the door was a statue of a pig. A mosiac pig, all shiny with pieces of colored glass. I wanted to put my hand on her and say hello, but I felt a bit overwhelmed and overstimulated at that moment. (I later learned she is called Pig of the Future formally and Ms. Coco, for Commitment to Change, informally.)

The person at the desk was obviously busy. People lined up to ask her questions, plus she was answering the phone. She looked harried. She looked at me expectantly when it was my turn.

"The sign on the door said to register at the front desk," I said, "so I'm registering. I'm going to be a new student in July."

She still looked at me.

I breathed deeply. What question did I want to ask her? I hadn't made an appointment with anyone.

"I just wanted to walk around," I said. "Get my bearings. Go to the library."

She pointed to her right. "The library is that way."

"Rest rooms?"

She pointed again.

I walked away. I felt disoriented. Why was I here? Oh yes, to escape myself. Darn it. Here I am.

Just past the pig and the front desk was a kind of gathering place. I noticed chairs. And the light was dim and relaxing. I wanted to take in every details, but I didn't. I didn't ground or relax or look around. I felt like a stranger in a strange land who had already had a stressful day. I went into the rest room.

Breathe, breathe.

When I got out, I walked down the corridor past the library until I saw people in an office. I went in and introduced myself. The woman at the desk was very kind. She encouraged me to walk around and go to the library. The admission's adviser was gone for several days. I thanked the woman at the desk.

I went back into the hallway and looked up and down the corridor.

I didn't know where to go or what to do.

Should have had a plan, man.

I went to the library and asked if someone could show me how to use sakai, the online program I'd be using for my classes. I glanced around. It was a small library, probably half the size of the first library I worked at, the one my library mentor at the University of Arizona called a dinky. I think she meant it pejoratively, but I've always had great affection for small libraries.

The librarian came out and introduced herself. We sat together at the computer. The program looked fairly straight-forward. I began to start to feel comfortable again. After she was finished, I left the library and began wandering again. I must have gone past the admission's office again, because the kind woman at the desk leaned out the door and asked me if I'd been upstairs yet.

I said no, I didn't know there was an upstairs. She said, "Well come on, I'll show you!"

She took me up the stairs by Ms. Coco. At the top of the stairs, all the hustle and bustle of downstairs seemed to disappear. I felt myself instantly relax. We walked by an area where several people sat at tables and chairs near a skylight. The light pouring down from the sky felt refreshing and soothing, almost like water coming down to create falls.

I told the kind woman at the desk that I was studying at the Center for Creative Change.

"You've got your own place down here," she said. "Where you can come any time."

We walked down a hallway and she opened a door and we went into the Center for Creative Change. Right near the door were couches and chairs where several people sat talking to one another. The kind woman at the desk showed me where the assistant usually sat, although she was gone today.

Then she asked me if I wanted to meet anyone. I said sure! She introduced me to the director, the one who had interviewed me. Then the kind woman left and I had a nice talk with the director. She then introduced me to the permaculture instructor who sat in his darkened office. She told him that I hadn't decided firmly yet on which certificate I was going to get.

"Yes, I'm fascinated with food," I said. I searched for something intelligent to say. "I'm interested in getting healthy organic food and I love to eat."

I wanted to put my head in my hands. That's all I could think of to say, "I love to eat?" Oh my. It wasn't even true. I didn't think I particularly loved to eat. Any love of food had been whipped out of me over the years by experts telling me what I should and shouldn't be eating. (Remember, you're allergic to the world, kid, and all her bounty.)

I was embarrassed by my inane remark. My only hope was that he would completely forget this conversation.

We left him and I met another instructor. He had lived on the coast of Washington. We commiserated with one another about how tough it was to doing any work on the Washington or Oregon coast. When Mario and I lived in Bandon, we had been called "peace mongers." As if wanting peace was a bad thing.

I looked around. It felt cozy in here. My new place. I could probably fit in here.

Soon after I left and went back outside. I checked my phone. Mario hadn't called yet. It was rush hour, but I decided I wanted to see where I was going to stay during my sojourns to Seattle. I had found a reasonably priced place at a religious establishment that catered to travelers as part of their charity work. It didn't matter that I wasn't religious. It was a kindness on their part.

It took me four tries before I got going on the right road. Everyone was zooming by me at 300 mph. At least. The lanes were so narrow. I couldn't figure out how everyone could go so fast on these narrow lanes.

Soon enough I got off that road and drove under another freeway. When I looked at the huge cement pillars that held up the highway, I was reminded of a dream I had had recently about the end of the world. I had seen a pillar just like this one.

I found the house. It looked like it was in a decent part of town, somewhat isolated, but I hoped it would be safe. I next drove to a nearby vegetarian restaurant, Chaco Canyon, but it was so busy and noisy, I decided to skip it. I had had enough excitement for the day.

I found I-5 and drove into the rush hour fray. Mario called. I did what I usually don't do. I answered the phone. (I had an earplug in so it was hands free.) He was fine. The doctor said he was having trouble with his rotator cuff. She was sending him to physical therapy.

I was relieved. Physical therapy meant he could get some help.

All that anxiety for nothing.

Thank goodness.

I drove on.

Later I called my father. I tried calling my sister, the one in Scottsdale, but she didn't answer. I wanted to talk to someone. Tell them about my day. I missed my best friend. She had died four (or five?) years ago, and I still didn't have anyone I could call a best friend. No one I could commiserate with. No one I could share my deepest darkest secrets with. My youngest sister was the closest I had to that and she wasn't answering her phone lately. She was going back to school, too, plus working two jobs while trying to adjust to life in a concrete city where it was 100 degrees out.

So I called my dad.

I don't even remember what we talked about. I sat in a gas station parking lot just listening to his voice. Hearing about his physical therapy. About the flowers in his garden. About the dinner he would make for company that weekend.

I wished I lived closer.

But it wasn't easy being around people I cared about. Too much anxiety.

I continued homeward. I stopped the Olympia food co-op. We always stopped there on our way to or from Seattle. We stopped at food co-ops and libraries wherever we could find them. I couldn't find anything to eat for dinner there, so I bought gluten-free dairy-free chocolate chip cookies. They weren't sugar-free. Sugar plays havoc with my depression, but I wanted some cookies. If I was a drinker, I probably would have wanted a beer. I bought the cookies.

I ate the quinoa and vegetables I'd brought in the cooler. Then I ate the cookies.

I got on the expressway again. As I was driving, I realized that I had essentially cured myself of the anxiety, at least temporarily, with this expedition to Seattle. Whatever part of my brain that was ill must get occupied when I drive. I had tried other ways of distracting myself over the years and they hadn't worked. But this did. Was it because most of my attention was diverted with driving? Or was it because driving is a mental and a physical process?

This felt huge. Could I figure out what part of my brain was causing me trouble and then work to fix it? I had tried mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for my depression and it had helped a great deal. But it had not assuaged the anxiety. And just trying to distract myself with busy work had never alleviated my anxiety.

Sometimes I wondered if I was just someone who should have a full-time job away from home that occupied my mind most of the time.

But this driving thing. Today. It had worked.

I got more and more excited. Maybe I could get fixed. Maybe I wouldn't be stuck with this demon the rest of my life. I could do research or something. Ask my old therapists. My naturopath.

I looked around at the landscape. Why had I always thought this drive was boring? Deciduous and evergreen trees grew up all around me. I was essentially driving through a forest. The road curved, I curved with it.

Go with the flow...

I remembered Dorothy in the land of Oz, in the Emerald City. All she wanted to do there was find home. That, apparently, was my life's work: to find home on this planet and in my body.

Maybe my travels to Oz would help me find my way home, too, eventually.

For now, I was on my way back to the Columbia River Gorge where I would find my sweetheart waiting for me.

Read more here...

Mario's Interview

You can read a fascinating interview with Mario here. I learn from him every single day, and I learned things from this interview I didn't know. I'm so glad he's in my world!

Read more here...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Certified: Learning to Repair Myself and the World in the Emerald City

(I've decided to write about going back to school, because, well, that's what I do. It is more than you ever wanted to know! My intention is to keep my interactions with other people generally private. Although obviously other people will be important to my experiences, I won't violate anyone's privacy. I'll only include conversations that aren't private, unless I just include my side of the conversation. Those of you who've been reading my posts for years know that I'm pretty good at keeping people anonymous unless they give me permission to write about them. The subtitle of these posts is not reality yet, but my hope is that repair, healing, and much more will come to pass.)


When the Deepwater Drilling rig blew up in the Gulf of Mexico on Earth Day 2010 causing the worst environmental disaster in our country's history, I didn't know what to do. I was angry and depressed. I felt fear and horror as I watched the disaster unfold. No one seemed to know what to do. I wondered, "Where were all the smart people who can fix stuff like this?"

Of course, stuff like this should have never happened. After decades of lax regulations and a kind of legal deification of big corporations, it was happening. We couldn't deny it.

What could I do? I called the President. I called my elected officials. I begged them to do something, to stop relying on information from British Petroleum. I felt like I was watching one of those dystopian novels I had read as a teenager come to life. Like Brave New World or 1984, where the corporations are the government and if you say a lie long enough, it becomes the truth as far as anyone else was concerned.

I suddenly felt as though I had no useful skills. I'm a writer and I'm a librarian. I had written a novel in response to Hurricane Katrina. It was a beautiful novel (Ruby's Imagine) but I couldn't see that it had changed anything.

And I feel like those of us working in public libraries are on the front lines, protecting intellectual freedoms from anyone who would destroy or limit them. Unfortunately, my library wasn't very "green." They remodeled using toxic materials which caused me to become so ill I had to quit my job. I now selected books part-time from home.

Neither my skills as a writer or as a librarian felt useful at this moment. I had also been a social and environmental activist most of my life, starting when I was in elementary school trying to save killdeer nests from marauding boys. But it seemed that any skills I had acquired over the years from my many unsuccessful battles and skirmishes were also useless.

Oil was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of the state where I was born.

What could I do? I asked again and again.

I felt the bell jar of depression and anxiety beginning to fall.

One night I couldn't sleep. I have advocated a sea change in this country for some time. We seemed soullessly consumptive. I remembered recently being at a workshop where the facilitator figuratively shook her finger at us and told us we needed to change how we looked at the world; we needed to change our lives. (The topic isn't important to this discussion.) I grew quite irritated with her. How dare she tell me, a grown woman, how I should live my life? In that moment, I understood how other people probably felt when I began ranting about our consumer culture, the perils of capitalism, our dependence upon fossil fuels, or whatever other lecture I taken out from up my sleeve.

I didn't want to lecture anyone. It wasn't nice and it wasn't effective. I didn't want to battle any more either. It was absolutely ineffective. We couldn't sit around waiting for the government to tell us what to do. We couldn't wait for anyone to tell us what to do.

No more waiting. No more talking. How about some practical skills?

I certainly needed some.

I wanted to learn how people could live on this planet in our cities or out in the country and still be a part of the environment--not a part from it, not pariahs amongst the wild, but a part of the whole ecological community. Then I could help create places that were energy efficient and safe and healthy to human inhabitants and the surrounding environments.

I sat on the couch with my computer in front of me and began looking for places where I could learn these skills. I didn't want to get another Master's degree; I already had two. I didn't want a Ph.D.; I couldn't afford it and I wasn't interested in teaching.

In the middle of the night, I stumbled upon a nine-month certificate program in ecological planning and design in Seattle, Washington, two hundred plus miles north of where I lived. The program included electives in permaculture and food systems, another area of interest for me. (Mario and I had signed up to take a two week permaculture course in California a few months after 9/11 happened. We cancelled, deciding instead to stay closer to home. Now nine and half years later, maybe it was time to try again.)

The next morning I talked it over with Mario. If I took the program over the next year, we could probably afford it if we got a loan, unless something drastic happened to our incomes. As I talked about it, I wondered if I was crazy.

I was famous in our family for having great ideas. I was a visionary! But once I had the vision, I was often ready to move on. I enjoyed planning a party or a class or a ceremony more than I actually enjoyed the event, whatever it was.

I could go onto a work site and figure out what wasn't working or what was working inefficiently. I'd usually know how to fix it, too. But I didn't necessarily want to stay around and keep doing the day to day work.

This was a strength and a weakness with me. I was willing to try new things. Recently I had rented a room in a healing center to do Reiki and shamanic work. I loved the space, and I loved being there by myself. I enjoyed working with clients, too. But I didn't like promoting myself. I didn't like waiting around to have people come see me. I didn't like being stuck in Portland traffic. It was a three month experiment which told me a lot about what I wanted and didn't want. Some people might call that a failure; I called it a learning experience, although I was a little frustrated with myself for not making it more financially successful.

When I was young I knew I was smart; I was sure this meant I could always take care of myself. When I got sick, all that assurance went out the window. Now I knew I could easily be one of those people who ended up homeless and living on the street. Since then, I had been looking for a way to get a more steady income--more steady than intermittent writing income--without changing my beliefs about living and working sustainably.

Maybe going back to school could do that for me. But I didn't want to drain my family--Mario and me--of any more of our finances.

What if going to school was just one more way to educate me uselessly?

Mario encouraged me to go for it.

So that day and for the next couple of days, I made phone calls to the school.

First I talked with an admissions advisor. We talked about the certificates. I told her my concerns about going to school and spending all of this money and then not getting a job or any work out of it. She didn't have a real answer to that. What could she say? "I guarantee you'll find work?"

Next I told her I only want to go to school if it was a green campus. She said it was. They didn't use pesticides and they used green building practices: no-VOC paints and carpets when needed. She told me it was an old building, but they did the best they could despite that.

I then wrote to the permaculture course instructor. I told him my life history in about a page. After I sent the email, I felt embarrassed. How could I so easily tell a stranger about my life and who I was? I wasn't sure why I did it. I wanted these people to know life had not been easy for me. Illness and financial woes had taken a toll. But mostly I wanted them to know I hadn't succeeded at making anything better in the world, despite my efforts.

I didn't tell him everything, of course. I didn't say that I struggled with anxiety and depression. Didn't tell him that sometimes incessant worry possessed me like some demented neurotic demon that I couldn't shake loose no matter what I did.

I didn't usually tell anyone that.

I'd always had a touch of anxiety, even when I was a kid. When I was in my early twenties, I caught a glimpse of my diagnosis in the file on my shrink's desk: chronic depression. When I saw those two words, I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. It sounded like a life sentence: chronic depression. Chronic meant it would never go away, right?

In my mid-twenties, a doctor told me I had something called environmental illness. She told me I was essentially allergic to the world. This was devastating news. I loved the world. Now it was making me sick? I had to change everything about my life. The way I ate, drank, dressed, lived.

I stopped drinking. I began eating organic foods. I tried to lessen my stress and take time to relax, but I was in college, working nearly full time while going to school full time. I didn't know how to relax.

The diagnosis evolved over the years. What I had was now called "multiple chemical sensitivities." (This is essentially what the workers and some residents in the Gulf now have; the doctors call it tilt: toxicant induced loss of tolerance.)

I didn't like any of the diagnoses I'd gotten over the years. They all felt like a curse, a life-sentence. As I tried to protect myself from "the world," my life felt more and more constrained. Less and less joyful.

And my incessant worrying got worse, coming and going until it seemed to settle in good and hard after my mother died two and a half years ago. Maybe that was because I started eating less healthy. Maybe it was because I had also lost two very close friends two years before that. Maybe it was because of the two surgeries I had had, although they had cleared my sinuses so that I could actually breathe through my nose for the first time in nearly fifteen years.

Maybe it was because I was now in my fifties and I felt like half of my life had been spent in illness. More than half.

I didn't know why I had this chronic anxiety. Doctors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, cranio-sacral therapists, all manner of therapists, and shamans had not been able to help. It started to feel as though this unsustainable part of myself was hardwired to me and there was no way to riven it from my real self--because I was sure my real true self did not cower in fear or anxiety because she couldn't get her mind right.

In any case, after the permaculture instructor read my email (where I didn't mention my anxiety), he asked me to call him. So I did.

We talked about his permaculture class and the program at his university. I told him I had worked on many environmental projects. I had also been part of the Sanctuary movement when I lived on the coast of Oregon--on the fringes of it while I was in a peace group there. I had organized and marched against the war in Iraq. I had sued my county after they illegally sprayed pesticides in front of my house. I had fought many battles, and I was tired. He talked about cultivating resilience. With my voice shaking with tears, I said, "I feel as though I have no more resilience."

"I promise you at the end of this," he said, "you will find your resilience again."

Maybe those weren't his exact words. But they were good words. I felt better. Like maybe this was for me.

I felt like I was talking to someone who was like-minded. I realized I wanted to be around people who shared my world view again and who were willing to work for their communities. I didn't want to lead anyone anywhere or teach anyone anything. Not right now. I wanted to learn new skills. I wanted to learn to earn a living doing something meaningful.

After our conversation concluded, I filled out an online application to the graduate certificate program. Part of the application included a five page essay about who I was and why I was drawn to this program.

In the middle of the night, I also filled out a financial aid form called FAFSA. I wasn't eligible for any grants--there weren't many for graduate students--but I might be eligible for a loan.

It was strange filling out all these applications. To see once again where I'd been. Got my Bachelor of Science degree at Eastern Michigan University where my father had gotten his degree. Then my Master of Arts. I'd stayed at EMU because it was comfortable and because I got a gig as a graduate assistant teaching freshman English. I took a writing class at Michigan State University as my very last class for my Master's degree: that was when I met Mario.

I'd worked at a kitchen cabinetry place during my college years. The building used to fill up with deft spray lacquer. I'd run outside to get away from it. I thought it was toxic stuff, but my boss would get angry if I said anything about it. She said that's what they did and if I didn't like it I needed to quit.

I should have quit. I've spent many nights since wondering if working there was what damaged me.

Mario and I moved to the coast of Oregon a year after we met to make our way in the world as freelance writers. I worked at a restaurant and then ran a food co-op for a while. Both of those jobs ended badly. So I became librarian at a tiny library. Two years later, we moved to Arizona where I went to library school.

I developed terrible allergies in Tucson, along with asthma. I remembered students walking across the campus lawns as a man in a hazmat suit rode atop an herbicide spraying machine. I remembered the Catalinas turning red every evening from pollution. I couldn't wait for the year to end so we could get back to the Pacific Northwest.

Where everything got worse.

But I couldn't focus on that. That was all in the past. Going to school was a new direction. Maybe I would finally find a sustainable and healthy way to make a living. Maybe I would actually get well again. Or for the first time.

Soon enough I had an appointment with the director for June 1. She needed to interview me before I was admitted. The weather was so bad I asked if we could change it to a phone appointment. I didn't relish driving in a torrential rainstorm for four and a half hours. It was the first time in the twenty-three years that I've lived here that I've ever cancelled an appointment because of the rain.

At the appointed time, the phone rang and we began our interview. The director wanted to know why I had chosen her school. Then she talked about their view of teaching. Instructors didn't act as "sages on stages" but as "guides on the sides." Part of the purpose of the program was to teach people about effective collaboration. Group work was essential.

I told her I had had bad experiences working in groups. First there was the food co-op in Bandon, Oregon. My bosses had been the co-op board. Twelve of the most dysfunctional people I had ever met. They seemed to believe that because it was a food co-op and they believed in peace and love that everything would turn out. When one of the board members went psycho and threatened me in front of the entire board, with spit spewing, cigarette in one hand and finger poking at me with the other hand, not one of them did a thing to stop him or protest his behavior.

I later had to call the police on him, and I resigned from the co-op.

That was my most infamous experience with group work. But I'd had other experiences. The director said that we could learn as much from those bad experiences as we could from the more successful one. She suggested I write down my group experiences before beginning the program to see what I had learned. I agreed that would be a helpful exercise.

I told her I was quite willing and eager to work in groups. I wanted to learn how to collaborate more effectively. I had become somewhat of a lone wolf. I wrote alone. I did my library work alone. I had come to believe I worked better alone without all that human interaction.

She also said that working on the computer was very important. Since our classes only met once a month, we needed to keep in touch and collaborate via computers. I told her I was quite comfortable with computers and as long as the software worked on a Mac, I'd be fine.

At one point when we were talking, she said that we wouldn't see any cultural changes in our lifetime. This work we did was for the long haul. We needed to realize this to keep our sanity. I didn't argue with her, but I thought, "I don't think we have time to wait." I kept thinking of the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.

When it was time for me to ask questions, I said, "I'm 54 years old and I have white hair. Am I going to be out of place?"

She told me the average student was about 36 years old. I wouldn't be out of place, but I wouldn't be part of the majority.

I could live with that.

When I got off the phone, I realized I had been accepted to the program.

I grinned and called Mario.

I was ready to begin my adventures in the Emerald City.

Read more here...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alchemy & Chocolate Dreams

Starting to get my land legs again, I think. At least I'm not waking up in the morning shaking. Mario seems to be doing better every day, although last night he had trouble sleeping because of the pain. I can't sleep next to Mario yet. When I try, I spend most of the night watching him and wanting to wake him up to see if he's feeling better. So I start out with him, and then I go downstairs to the couch.

I've been having lots of dreams on that couch. Last night, I dreamed a huge pack of dogs was chasing Mario. I told him to run and I ran toward the dogs to save Mario. I was tossing dogs left and right. The night before I had a solution to the Gulf of Mexico disaster. When I woke up, I wondered why they hadn't done it yet.


Mario said to me the other day, "You think this disaster in the Gulf is the end of the world, don't you?"

I nodded.

He said, "No wonder you're so upset."

I often think it's the end of the world.

I feel like cooking again. This is a good sign. Maybe cooking will ground me. It's been raining for so many weeks. I've got to do something. Been too distracted to write as much as I'd like. Been doing lots of library work.

Today I cooked a bunch of stuff using recipes from David Tanis's A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes. I decided on lots of protein, lots more than we usually have, especially all in one meal: salmon, eggs, chicken broth.

I made fried egg soup, wild salmon, and cucumber salad. I used Tanis's recipes as a template. Instead of frying the eggs as he suggested, I baked them sunnyside up. Then I put one each in a white bowl and poured the chicken broth over it. Just lovely! (I made the broth from organic chicken wings, garlic, ginger, and a bit of kale in the end.) It was amazingly simple, lovely, and delicious.

The cucumber salad was supposed to be Vietnamese cucumbers, but I skipped the hot peppers. Instead I cut up a cucumber, poured juice from half a lemon over it, ground black pepper into it and put it in the fridge to chill. When it was time to serve it, I added just a dash of olive oil, a bit of salt, some scallion slices, and then mixed it all up.

I served the baked salmon with lime slices and scallions.

It was all beautiful and delicious. All made from scratch.

Dessert was probably the best part. I heated up some frozen strawberries. Then I made chocolate sauce. I heated up water and some agave syrup. Then I shook in some organic pure dark cocoa powder. I stirred it all until it was melted and had the consistency of syrup. I cut up bananas and put them in a bowl; then I poured strawberries and their juice over the bananas. I poured the chocolate syrup over all that.

When we finished eating it, we stood over the nearly empty chocolate sauce pan and dipped bananas into the chocolate. Mmmmm.

It was a nice normal evening. I loved it.

Time for sleep. I shall have chocolate dreams, no doubt.

Sweet dreams all.

Read more here...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Swallows & Other Lovers

Mario and I went walking after work. We met in-between home and the library. The day was crawling to dusk. We grinned as we caught sight of each other. We waved and hurried toward one another.

The clouds above were shapes and colors I don't know how to describe. It was as if each of them was some kind of sky creature. And of course they were. One cloud seemed to twist a bit as it moved overhead. It was the color of coriander with a sprinkle of gray. Coming up behind it was a giant of a cloud, buffed up and out and bluish. What is that color of blue? Like the blue of swallows, almost like night yet more ethereal if ethereal meant strong and powerful and so beautiful it makes your knees shake.

We stood in the middle of the street, our mouths agape, looking up. Before us was the county jail. Behind us was the wall of holly shielding the elementary school from the jail. Above was beauty. Words failed me. I just thought, this I love.

We walked down to the river near the fairgrounds. We stood on the bridge and watched the swallows. They were careening above the water, doing somersaults in the air and skimming the roiling water, dark boomerang shapes against the white sky just above the gorge cliffs.

When we got home, it was nearly night. The poppies all over our lawn stood up straight, their orange leaves closed up like umbrellas at a resort. We walked up our steps carefully so that we would not to disturb the poppies hanging over the stairs.

Now it is night. Mario's about to go to sleep. I hear him moving upstairs. I think, this I love. I hear something tapping on the living room window and realize it's rain. The clouds have come down to Earth. I think I'll go outside and dance amongst the clouds for a bit before I go to sleep.

Do you suppose they've been waiting for me, whispering, this I love?

Read more here...

Some Whine With My Evening

I almost quit school before I began today. Geez. I have such a headache. First they couldn't find my financial aid info because they had my wrong social security number. Then they sent me information on scholarships that didn't even pertain to me, but I didn't figure that out right away. So there went a couple of hours. (They are all very nice, but I have a feeling I am already a pain in the ass to them.)

Then I signed up to all the stuff I had to sign up for online after I got my packet. I have THREE different accounts that I have to log on to. Which means I have to remember what all these three different accounts do, along with the passwords. Plus I have a new email account. My head is spinning. I'm not kidding.

I can get a loan for the whole thing, which I'm not going to do. I figure I'll get a loan for half, about $5,000. I looked at the interest on this low-interest loan. If I take as long as they say I can take, I'd be paying almost $2,000 in interest! Geez freaking Louise. How do people do this? We have a couple thousand dollars in stocks from ten years ago. It started out as three thousand. I think we did that when I sold a novel. Unfortunately with all the crashes, we lost a lot of it, especially if you count we never got any interest on it. Anyway, we'll cash that out and take out the loan and we should be all right. I'm very grateful I can even think of doing this. But right now I'm exhausted.

Did I mention I have a headache? On top of that, the registration process wasn't pretty. You can't just look at a list of the classes, click on them, and register. You have to search for them and the search process is not good. Why doesn't everyone just follow google on this? I searched for the classes I wanted for an hour. AND I'M ONLY TAKING TWO OF THEM. It kept coming up saying the classes didn't exist even though I knew they did. I was in tears. Man, if I can't do this stuff, maybe I can't do the other stuff. I really don't like being on a computer for this long. I want to do some ecological planning and design on this registration process.

And I didn't get any writing done today.

Oh my. This must be the dullest post you've ever read by me. Thank you for letting me vent.

Read more here...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Recovery & Love

Mario put his arms around me for the first time in a week. Yay! He went to the physical therapist today and then we came home and did the exercises. Well, he did them. I cheered him on. (It's so difficult to see him in pain. Just breaks my heart. So I went to the acupuncturist so that I wouldn't break my heart.) The exercises are really helping. As I said, he could put his arms around me without being in pain. Good for both of us.

And I fell in love with a chair tonight. Yep. I'm ready to buy it wine and bring it flowers. Man. We were looking for ergonomic furniture for Mario, and he mentioned Herman Miller's chairs. We went to the website and found the Embody chair. OMG. Yes, I just typed OMG.

It's beautiful. It's ergonomically correct. They use recycled material. It's environmentally cool. And it's beautiful. (Yes, I said that twice.) It's way expensive, but I still want to date it. That's what good design can do.

Also, I got into school. Yay! I start in July. Now I'll rustle up some money. I'm also going to take a class here in Portland on architectural drawing. A good thing to have to help me with my ecological planning and design courses.

All right. More tomorrow, I hope. I want to get back to writing. Not that I've been a slacker. I revised The Blue Tail this weekend and sent it out again.

Let's keep on movin'!

Read more here...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunshine & Terrorism

I'm looking out at sunshine. Almost unbelievable. It's been raining for so long. Yes, I know people believe it rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest, but it doesn't. In fact, June through August is pretty dry. Yesterday I was supposed to drive up to Seattle for an interview at the university where I'm going to get a graduate certificate, but it was so rainy, I actually changed it to a phone interview. I don't think I've ever cancelled an appointment because of rain.

The poppies and peonies are all squashed down from the rain. Or were. The poppies have rebounded. The peonies are still halfway pressed to the ground. Pink petals are scattered near them, like discarded clothes after a night on the town.


I haven't been sleeping. Mario's been in pain. Whenever he is sick, I don't sleep. Someday I will conquer this incessant and insistent anxiety I have. Conquer is probably not the right work. Terrorism. That's a good word for how this feels. Mind terrorism. And we all know you can't wage a war on terrorism. You can't feed it, either. I've tried that. To eat it away. Sleep it away. Ignore it away. None of that works.

Today Mario goes to the doctor. Crossing my fingers that goes well.

May you see sunshine today!

Read more here...
All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.