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How I love the reminders of the good 100words does to florid style. How leaner, punchier style becomes a thing of awareness. How refreshing to find a new novel's acknowledgments with one word per person thanked! How stupendous to read a first novel without a wasted word. Or to read blogging advice about stomping wordiness and multi-syllabic tics into the mud. Or to gorge on the article with mysterious flow from one image to another, making a story that can’t be put down. I suppose it all goes back to “Know Thyself,” know what you want to say.
Pitted against each other, “the way things work” and “the system is broken” create a stand-off. Take education. The way things are means classes of over 30 students with vastly differing ability, background, skills and knowledge. It means paperwork to document the smallest thing about each of these students, and the whole multiplied by five. It means a culture of freedom for youth, endless mantras of praise and a moratorium on criticism. All this butts its aching head against the edict to pass students based on whatever they turn in, be it incomplete, copied or wrong. Education is broken.
What is the real cure for burnout? Unlike the remedy for grief, time, just plain old time passing, is not the answer. Time to live in a healing resort is the answer, I am certain. The obstacles are too great. They are rooted in burnout. Burnout makes it impossible to sort through a lifetime of the things that make me tangible in the world, to keep only the minimal, put those away, and take off. Time thus speeds into nothingness, with busywork filling the days. Live now, the wise say, but if now is corrosive and burnout rules, what next?
Teaching high school and middle school students to learn things from a textbook, from the written word, from memorization is easy for me because that is how I learn and have always taught. It fails them, though, for the most part, and they only do it because they are made to. It dawned on me that the way they are forced to learn has nothing to do with the way they relate to and interface with the world. Putting them at tables and having them work in groups doesn't succeed since the work is still printed word, pencil, paper, regurgitate.
Terminal insomnia, aka late insomnia, is a frustrating condition. I can always fall asleep within two minutes of going to bed, sleep like a log, and wake up four-to-five hours later, unable to get back to sleep. That means being wide awake and ready to roll way too early in the morning, leaving me exhausted, foggy and cranky when I roll out of bed to start my real day. It sounds ominous, but terminal insomnia won't kill anybody, it just ruins one's quality of life. It's like my body says, "OK, you've had a great nap, now go!"
Found four new books at the library, each more promising than the next. "Virtually Dead" is set in Second Life as well as Real Life--think I won't be able to put it down. "Murder in the Latin Quarter" will have me yearning for Paris even more. "Generosity" by Richard Powers, whose "The Echo Maker" mesmerized me, draws me strongly. "A Reliable Wife" looks to be just what I need when I think I don't. So does " Keeping the Feast" --these last two because they are about marriages and I so lack anything close. Reading orgy for days to come!
An incoming Tweet says
that the ideal glass from which to drink Champagne is tulip shaped. Isn't it fun to discover obscure reasons for things and the obscure "right way" to do things? It gives a bit of a boost towards being part of the right tribe, the tribe that knows what to do and how to do it. Sometimes it feels like just knowing that stuff will guarantee a place at all the right tables. When it doesn't, the realization comes that all this acquired knowledge should never appear, just be quietly done in each smooth and savvy action.
Getting fingerprinted and asking for a criminal history check for the second time, in order to work for the Immigration Justice project (the first time it was to work as a substitute teacher for the local school district) is still a bit of a strange, new experience. It has to be done for each job application, so this gets to be pricey! I am sure it is necessary, and I do not object, but it is odd. After all, in Japan, we foreigners had to carry an Alien Registration card with our fingerprint on it, and there was often outcry.
Do not like the change to 100words in this, my 9th month of writing every day. We can now write the whole month on one day. Just write 3000 words, which many writers can do in a day, post them, and the month is done. No more discipline of writing exactly 100 words each day. We must police ourselves, and temptation is really too great. Defeats the purpose of the site and the project. There is no way to know why they have done this, and there is so much I wish they would fix I'm sorry they tweaked this.
Regrets for broken promise to carry a journal around and write the ideas that spring forth in glory shadow the writing, since the great ideas and perfect images are lost. I come to the coffee shop to feel French, since that is the remedy for the blues, for lack of inspiration of need of sociality. Some others are regulars, too, and the barista knows my name. Uprooting from this web and replanting anew, starting over, is no longer exciting. What would make it so? Purpose. A reason to move, even if that reason were to enjoy life more, to explore.
There is a coffee shop nearby that is salvation from the endless grayness of winter in the magnetic north. Its surround windows frame the grayness of that winter, yes, but the picture is a chain of mountains, near enough to touch, powerful enough to rejuvenate. This will be the best place to see the most of the pale green buds when they finally start appearing in about another month. Meanwhile, it is a place that can expand the spirit when it has shrunken to a tiny gray ball. It's fun to come her at different times of day--different clientele!
My horoscope today told me I create worlds with my words, to paint a vivid picture of what I want to build, as opposed to clinging to, talking and writing about all I really do not like in life or even want. Supposedly I have the confidence and the eloquence to inspire people to believe in my vision, even if it is far from being made into actual life. The zinger was that global partnerships were spinning with promise so geography was not to be the obstacle. The shock of the closeness of this to my dreams transfixed me. Move!
Getting tired too fast, too soon is a hard one to accept. Accept what is, live in the now, do what you can with what you have where you are. Wise? Supposedly. When loss, that gnarled vine twisted around the heart, creates a selective blindness to the lovely now, all fails me. Sit in the greenhouse and listen to the birds, the fountain splashing; look at the creamy flowers, the lightly lilac-tinged flowers, the bursting orange flowers, the red hibiscus that enchants so totally. The gnarled vine is like the black dog, and alas it has taken up residence.
The message was like a blizzard of cherry blossoms: in response to my black mood today, my friend said she wanted to call me up that very minute, set up drinks in a classy place, order a limo to take us home after a lovely lunch (surely in the best place in town). The mood was black enough for such radical response, and I had to smile, because even the thought of a day like this had to bring the whole helium balloon of possibility flying through my day. I could take myself for a glass of champagne and appetizers!
Sadness today. Finally searched out the death date of my 94-year-old friend, last seen in Hawaii before giving in to inevitability, moving to a home for the aged in Pennsylvania. I talked to her frequently, last on New Year’s Day; she was barely coherent, surely from strong drugs. Making sense through slurred words, she said, “They have called in hospice.” I told her I loved her and never called back, still smarting from the shuttered attitude of her family at her leave-Hawaii crisis. She died three weeks later, and now, finally, I have the date. Tears.
Again, I grab my horoscope for today, grateful that it will help me get past the absence of mental energy that keeps me from writing 100words, even when I have something to say. Mercury is going retrograde; this means I’ll be on a deeper search for truth. I have a message to share with the world (I do?), and possibly an inspiring entrepreneurial vision (really?). Apparently, writing, blogging, podcasting, filming, and media production in general are calling my name. I’m to use technology to send out my message to the world, at least for the next three weeks.
Little signs, tiny omens drifting across the day are real messages, I believe, messages about directions, about actions, about perseverance. The trouble bubbles when something devoutly wanted is slowed to a standstill by a constant seine of signals that say “stop.” Are the signals saying “stop,” really, or “persevere”? Are they saying, “No, not this road, try another”? Or “best ditch this altogether”? The desire for the thing so derailed stays strong, so the question is how to get the universe to be clearer. OK, the solution will be to pause, see what happens, figure if a redirect is right.
Unable to stand the gray-white spread of sky over gray-white mountains, punctuated by the sere brown branches of brown trees another minute, I took myself to the Municipal Greenhouse where I feasted on yellow candles of flowers in a hanging basket, my beloved pale orange bougainvillea, hibiscus, a spread of color covering floor to ceiling in a corner, green everywhere, warm humid air, colored birds twittering and brook babbling. Sat on a bench with little violet flowers a blanket at my feet and worked on my computer, pausing every few minutes to look up and around, listening, feasting.
A day out and about does nothing for paperwork backlogs, but great good for the spirit. Rich coffee with apricot/fennel scone and Sunday papers at lovely coffee shop, followed by a couple of hours in the tropical greenhouse working on the computer, then on to another coffee shop for salad and uploading to the Web, over to the theater for “A Doll’s House” in an outstanding production, and the finale, dinner with three friends for my first visit to TGIF. Ah yes, then home to “Desperate Housewives.” What a day of treats! Guilt over no “work” done begone!
Gray Tuesday, still sere, brown, gray, overcast. But energy holdover from great Sunday doing its magic; back in coffee shop doing computer work, formidable To Do list in the offing. Mocha on special, toasted croissant, read the paper, get on to work, or what passes for work. What will be accomplished by evening? The stars tell me to stop navel-gazing and blast into action. Spontaneity is the catchword, cross-cultural still the watchword. Why is none of this resonating in the inner world? Why does the deer frozen before headlights still rule the roost. Why do clichés pour forth?
My tummy has been broken for about two weeks now; not sick, like my friend who lost 3 pounds in two days from a worse bout, but just broken. Cannot figure out what's breaking it. So uncomfortable and a bit worrying. Also have begun to really dislike my new habit of using 100words like a journal of daily activities rather than a real writing exercise and a place to let imagination live. Is it just taking the easy road out? Cannot imagine anyone wanting to read these what-I-did-or-felt today rants. Must get onto creative posts here!
Welcome back, rain, nearly forgotten friend. I love you because you are not snow! You have freshened the world, damped the dust and driven me to clichés again, wet friend. I guess this fervid prose comes from watching The IT Crowd, all three seasons. Season Three being the best and funniest of them all, it is also the most catching, sort of like the flu. That is a poor joke because readers will see the virus pun. But, back to you, rain, why didn't you wash the sky, too? You left it as gray and dirty as before!
It wasn't the mere five hours sleep, and there was no haste or tension in getting the vacuuming done and the hall closet empty for the handyman to access the crawl space where the central water main for the whole complex is, and which he has to turn off by 8 a.m. in order to replace a hot water heater next door, but in simply turning on a light at 5:22 a.m., my hand brushed my beloved etched iris wine glass and it fell and shattered. A gift, gone. No gritting of teeth, a calm vacuuming. Breath.
What is it about old stuff that makes us feel so alive? Watching a movie I took a bullet train to see 35 years ago and crying over the story again and remembering the friend who went all those miles with me to see it. Changing my profile picture from a current avatar my kids don't like to one of when I was two years old. It stabs deeply, we catch our breath, but we get down in the feelings and roll around, trying to soak the layers together enough to make the "now" into the "us" we keep completing.
Sentences and stone work spring from the same seed? Possibly, says an article in the local "Press" that muses on the slipperiness of language and its shaping in the way flint was first knapped. In a marvel of smooth segues, the point emerges: the spoken word is usually not crafted but garbled, and this, far from being a weakness, is part of the Zeitgeist. The argument convinces, and then comes the punch. It is alright to be garbled if you respect the language and use it accurately rather than as a sledgehammer of false meaning that paints a biased opinion.
"Terminal" and "virtual" are funky balls, easy to grab, seeming to fit, but, well, funky. Pulling out the dictionary to be sure of what funky is, we find: "modern and stylish in an unconventional or striking way." "Terminal insomnia," then, is not a life-threatening diagnosis, but a premature end of a sleep cycle, a condition of transport that takes us too soon to the railroad station where we end our trip through Slumberland. "Virtual," on the other hand, blasts us into deep space these days, and rather than an almost-ran for the real thing, delivers the really real.
When I write I work in a laboratory, a white-coated analyst battling the lava flow of ideas churning under the surface of a vast beaker of foamy gray-white liquid that I shake to make the crystals of what I want to write dissolve, forcing the foam into meringue over thick multi-colored threads of viscous yet thorny liquid that nourishes the kernels of the crystals and blooms them into night ivory jasmine, transparent mulled mint, crushed maraschino cherries, indigo veils of gossamer, silver shot silk, coffee bean sludge and peach blossom draped over crimson bougainvillea dripping with honeysuckle.
Such long, tall heels, worn down to the steel, sharpened to the stiletto, to the very essence of the shoes, and stinking of too much flesh forced into them too long in the humid sunshine, without dancing, having danced the vermilion leather into a darkly mossy mass showing up the sharp steel spike impaled in the center of this viscous, leathery, soupy memory of young and dancing days in fresh squeaky leathery steps that ended so sharply even while mushing the crimson into the fleshy parts, the leather returning to the animal meat where it began, taking dreams with it.
Louis took a long time returning from the toilet to his window seat. He seemed to have an invisible chart of all the flight attendants and a compulsion to mark the number of minutes he talked to each one. Finally back where he belonged, Louis pulled a penny from his jeans pocket and held it out to his seatmate: "A penny for them," he clichéd. Dropping the penny in her hand, he waited until she stood up, and then eased himself past her, face forward, so that they breathed moistly on each other for a moment in the passing.
Sparkle is different in spring, and champagne tastes different at Christmas. Something in the liquid melt of winter gets into the air when the world warms up and something of the sharp clarity of the frozen air gets into the wet bubbles at the turn of the year. Spirit is something the same; a quick infusion of a minty idea opens the inner pores and a chilly glance can close them, and make them ache. None of these variables can be plucked and used when we want them, we stay suspended until one drops by and etches something worth keeping.
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