Tuesday, October 26, 2010

addicted and attached

I got into a very satisfying rhythm last week. I was going to bed much earlier than usual, I was forgiving myself for being tired in the evening, I switched my meditation to the morning.

Then two forces came into my life that wrecked it all, The Hunger Games Trilogy and my hot water heater.

I've already talked about The Hunger Games. I enjoyed it a lot. But something happened on Sunday night while I was reading Catching Fire (the second book). I got insanely addicted and was determined to read the whole thing. I read well past midnight. I did the same thing Monday night and finished it. I tweeted something desperate about my head hurting and reading being like drugs. I like dense, slow books that you read a few pages of and then go to bed on time. Books that are like dark chocolate, not Cheetos. I usually steer clear of page turners. The kind of book that shakes you up and dehydrates you. I don't really see how reading a book like this is any different than doing drugs. Now I am reading Mockingjay (the third and final book) and trying really hard to be a moderate book user.

See, the thing is, my hot water heater went out on Sunday. Again. I knew I was going to have a weird, shower-less, miserable morning. So, I simply decided to go off the rails. And I did. I woke up sore, tired, grumpy, dirty.
Yesterday, I woke up to hot water and my morning meditation. My cup of coffee. I folded some laundry and re-loaded the dish washer. (I can do that stuff now that I have hot water.) I'm attached to all of it. This all makes me smile very much. I realize that this might be the best go-around I ever have. I have so much peace and bounty around me. I used to feel so much sadness that things never stayed done. That I was always righting myself, only to have them quickly fall apart again. Right now I am just watching things go from great to not good. Watching things break. Watching me mess up. Picking up and trying again. Without anger. Just starting again. And again.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

losing my religion

It's a matter of faithlessness sometimes, I fear.
But I have felt not just not Buddhist, but not anything. Like a white plate, emptied.
I had a shrine, but I turn away from it. I face the wall.
I say no prayers. nothing happens. But sit. sit, count, try again, and again. I sit every day. Every day. Sometimes short. Sometimes shorter. But I always sit.
No longer at night, because by then I am hating. Now, I just go to bed. and get up early.
And sit.
I am somehow scrubbed of feeling. I am scrubbed of my religion. I have no religion I think.
I have not said a prayer, not dedicated any merit, not sat in a Buddha-field. But I have sat.

This morning after my practice I thought, this is no practice at all. Is this Buddhist? Am I Buddhist? Or am I just a person who sits? Is there any difference?
I don't know anything. But I do wake. I do find myself sitting on my cushion. I do find myself there.
I do find myself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


One of my favorite authors is Kate DiCamillo. She also writes a stunning blog. But it isn't really a blog. It's a monthly journal entry and it always takes my breath away.

My student book club and I are currently reading DiCamillo's first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie. During our author study we came across this little quote from DiCamillo, which has kind of become our group's mantra.

Reading should not be presented to them as a chore, a duty. It should, instead, be offered as a gift: Look, I will help you unwrap this miraculous present. I will show you how to use it for your own satisfaction and education and deep, intense pleasure.

I love this so much. But not for the same reason as my students. They hold it up against me, against all their teachers. As a defense against testing and being looked at as a number. As a call for respect.

I see it differently. I don't see the word reading here at all. I see everything. Tucking my daughter in, washing dishes, teaching my lessons, turning my car left, brushing my hair from my eyes. "Look! I will help you unwrap this miraculous present", Kate says to me, "Look!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

stories from the trail

Brian and I did the impossible. We left the girl and we went on a mini-vacation. We biked about 15-ish miles in the warm autumn sunshine. I didn't embarrass myself out there, so all the practice payed off.

I only fell once. When a ladybug landed on me. I tried to play it cool, but having a bug riding around on my arm freaked me out, so I brushed her off. And immediately crashed.

Here's another story from the trail:
A mom and her kids stopped next to a cliff with water dripping off it. She turns to her kids and says, "look! A natural spring! It's one of God's Wonders! It's God's Bounty!" To which her 13 year old son snarked to himself, "it's more like God's Pee Hole." He was kind of right, because it was just a drainage pipe.

The whole day was like that. Fun and funny. Just out in the air, enjoying the deer, the Missouri river, and the funny children. (I saw a 14 year old boy scout pour about a cup of sugar into his coke and then take a drink of it to impress his friends) We ate fried Okra and corndogs. We drank some beer. We felt a lot more like Nova and Brian, than mama and dada. It was so restful.

The next day, Brian and I went shopping. We got a pumpkin, apples, tomatoes, incense, flowers and yarn. And then we went to get our girl. We missed her very much. But we all did fine, and Brian and I were grateful for time spent together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

marriage, husbands and The Hunger Games

I can't stand that nagging feeling of having not written. I forgive myself though, because October is a notoriously difficult month for teachers. And my house is clean-ish, my baby and husband are well loved, and my laundry is done. I've even been doing a lot of reading.

As geeky as this sounds, as cliche and book-mark slogany as this will come off, books are my light at the end of the tunnel. I smile when people say, "I wish I had time for reading!" I hear that all the time. What does this mean? I wish I had time for reading? We have time for everything. One thing at a time.

I've had a lot of time for Ramona lately. We have fallen securely back into our school life routine. She comes home from daycare, I come home from work, and then we spend time together until bedtime. Being with her brings peace. Looking at a book, building a tower, throwing a ball. Every moment with her feels timeless.

My life has been simple and sweet. Sometimes hard, but always simple.

I have recently become wrapped up in the saga, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. This is a young adult, pop book trilogy. I highly recommend it, because it is easy and fun.
This quote was my favorite part:

Having a partner lightening the load, could even make the arduous task of filling my family's table enjoyable.
I became a much better hunter when I didn't have to look over my shoulder constantly, when someone was watching my back. Being out in the woods with Gale...sometimes I was actually happy.

When I read this, I heard my own life echoing off the page. I don't think marriage is all that romantic. Marriage is about having a partner, someone to lighten the load. Someone who somehow makes sitting in the woods enjoyable. What could be more loving than that? Who else does so much to bring your life comfort and joy? If I were to re-marry Brian, I would put this quote from The Hunger Games on a cocktail napkin, because this, to me, is the essence of why we choose a partner, and why we stay together.