Saturday, October 22, 2016


I learn they gutted
My 1893 house.
I feel gutted too.

It was 101 years old when I bought it.  The style was "Rural Vernacular," which I gather means a farmhouse that's been added to and surrounded by a neighborhood.  That, at least, was its history.  I once looked it up in the old City Directories.  In the 1890s, houses were not indexed by address, but by owner.  My old home's address was "2 blocks n. of Section Line Rd," and the residents were a family with a Dutch-sounding name (Vanderhoven?).  One was a seamstress, which used to be code for prostitute, but in this case was the real deal.  Her brothers seemed to swap ownership, and most of the family worked at the same place, a plumber outfitter, a few miles away near the river, I believe.

All this research is in a folder in a Portland basement, and my memory is clearly at fault, but I remember when my elderly next-door neighbor came inside and told me what it used to be.  My downstairs office was her aunt's sewing room.  The central room/dining area/entry was the living room:  they sat on a bench to the side of the fireplace.  The fireplace was now bricked up, and one of my antique wardrobes filled the space that used to hold the warm bench.  The large opening to the living room used to hold a door, and the living room was the special sitting room for guests.  The downstairs bath was the back porch, off the kitchen pantry.  The back deck off the kitchen covered the sidewalk from her house next door:  she came up that walk every day to visit her aunt and uncles. Upstairs, the large open skylighted room was the main bedroom, and the alcove with the washing machine used to hold a dresser.  There was a hallway to the front room, which used to be divided into her uncle's bedroom and a storage room.  The stairway was just as steep, but it was enclosed, with a curtain of beads at the bottom that they used to swing on.

100 years later, the house was pictured in a book of historic houses.  Because of various remodels, it was not on any historic register:  the value was that it added to the historic character of the neighborhood.  Now that neighborhood is barely recognizable.  When I visited 2 summers ago, 3 years after I moved to Albuquerque, funky old Division Street was lined with steel and glass high rises, and one of the new storefronts housed a specialty ice cream store with trendsters lined up for half a block to get weird ice cream.  (It actually was pretty good, but no ice cream is worth a 30 minute wait.)  I was comforted by the fact that the street was also full of nude bike riders:  at least some of Portland's weirdness was still going strong.

I acquired the house from friends:  it used to be C's party house, but he rented it out to some younger friends when he moved in with AB.  It became a Reed house, and I spent many happy Sundays enjoying brunch and crosswords and companionship.  It became my house through a series of friendship-based events.  AB was driving me and my seriously ill cat home from a homeopathic vet.  The vet had done a psychic hair test and informed me that Yo-cat had leukemia and I was sobbing while I stroked my cat.  As her stress-loosened fur swirled around my hand, AB searched for a conversational distraction...."I don't know what C is going to do with that house, now that R is moving out (she was the principal renter)."  I gulped through my tears, "He should sell it to me."  I wasn't serious:  I was happy in my converted milk barn, and I didn't want the responsibility of home-ownership.

One hour later, I received a call from R:  "C says you could have the house for $100K."  Huh?  "Oh, and he says there's no way Yo-cat has leukemia."  That call was followed by another, this time from C:  "I called my vet friend in St. Louis, and YO-CAT DOES NOT HAVE LEUKEMIA!  And I'd love to sell my house to you."

My loan was $74K, and I pulled another $6K from savings, for the deal of the century.  C put down vapor barrier in the area under the house, AB painted the trim, and I received dispensation regarding the cedar shake siding:  they didn't make me paint it.  One fine April day, a caravan of friends with cars and trucks descended upon my milk barn home and transported my possessions to my urban farmhouse home.  I paid my workers with scones, coffee, and raspberries scavenged from my new yard as they carried my things up the walk.  E stayed to put away my kitchen things, V took charge of the library, M set up stereo and music.  By the end of the day, I was moved in and soaking in M and Ws hot tub:  they now only lived a mile away.

In the course of the next 17 years, I hosted annual pumpkin carving parties, Christmas cookie baking parties (all the best parties happen in the kitchen), Superbowl parties.  When Grandma turned 80, I took over the Thanksgiving dinners. One weekend much later, I kicked D out and invited woman friends to a detox weekend, complete with massage and cleansing foods. Housemates came and went.  So did pets:  Bunji and Yo-Cat were both buried in the yard.   In summer and fall I harvested raspberries and walnuts from my jungle yard.  In winter I made wreaths from the red-brown dogwood cuttings.  In spring I cut pussy willows and filled vases around the house.  I gathered greens and lemony-tasting sorrel from the yard for an Easter omelet.  For every holiday and season, the house provided  space and inspiration for celebration and love.

 And, I made my own changes to the house, refinishing floors, moving doors, adding attic space and closets, releasing a hidden skylight, and opening up the tiny upstairs room, changing it into a library.  The big remodel was the new addition, which took out the hawthorne that the cats used to climb to get onto the porch roof and into my bedroom window.  It also took out the daphne and the hydrangea, but it added a wonderful family/guest room, with a wood-burning fireplace, wall bed, reclaimed-wood kitchen bar, and tiled shower.   The stained-glass window from the old Woodstock Library was imbedded above the fireplace, with a light behind it.  The room was comfortable, filled with music, art, and light. When I lost my PSU job, it paid for itself as an Airbnb room.

Friends were also incorporated.  B's mother took my grandmother's quilt scraps and crafted quilts that graced the guest room.  AB's water colors and oils, and AC's prints and my own photographs filled the walls.  L's roses brightened the jungle garden.  When I thought I'd have to lose my house, MC wrote a check for $4K to keep me afloat.  I found a house-mate and finally realized my dream to change the shed into a guest room.  It had previously morphed from carpenter's shop to printshop to artist's studio, to garden shed, but in my last few months I slept under the skylights, watched the sun rise and illuminate the flower-filled garden, and listened to the rain on the roof.  I was happy in that new space, despite the financial uncertainty, nightmare house-mate, and eroding marriage.

As the house changed, so did the neighborhood.  Indigine closed, but other restaurants opened.  Nature's had a place just a few blocks away.  The neighborhood remained a tad bit funky, with middle-aged hippies, original residents, and gentrifying yuppies making fairly gentle incursions.  New businesses were careful to use the shells of old buildings and homes, and the thrift stores did a thriving business.  The nearby park was leash free, and I walked and biked around, visiting friends and heritage trees and local coffee shops.

In other words, I had a home.  And now it's gone.  But....

At least the friends
And memories have remained.
For the time being.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A rainbow

"There's a beautiful rainbow," she said from the office door.

It took a moment to process it. I'd been sitting with my back to the window, typing away at the notes for the Staff Council meeting I had attended a few hours before.  I was dimly aware of a brisk damp breeze blowing through the window.  I had weighted down my notes with stapler and tape dispenser, but I hadn't turned around to see what was happening.  Now I did turn, and saw a golden light through the slats of the window shades.

I grabbed my cell phone from my pack and walked quickly to the east door of the building, the Library's unofficial entrance.  Facing east, I saw the right leg of brilliant rainbow.  I came further out, and there it was,  a complete bow, arching from the middle of the Taos mountain  range to the north and ending at the southernmost  campus building.  It was immense and perfect, and I couldn't hope to capture it with my little cell phone.  But I tried.  I walked through the spattering of raindrops to the north and west, trying to get a clear view of the mountain with this incredible prism dropping to its peak.  When I got to the point where I could see the peaks clearly, I was also able to see the setting sun.  It was a bright orb at the rim of the earth, with a golden haze above and a few glittering clouds to the side.  Over there, the sky was almost clear.  North, east, and west, the sky was filled with clouds, some dropping rain, some clumping up around a few specks of a cerulean blue.

But the rainbow filling the eastern sky took control, and I could only look away for a short time.  It absorbed the mind and the emotions in a way that could not be analyzed, only felt.  It was so big, so perfect, so semicircular.  In this land of big skies, the rainbow seemed to carve out its territory and make the sky even bigger in the process.  The wind whipped my hair around my face, and the rain spatters became a little stronger.  I was chilled, and I had to go back to work.  But I couldn't focus, so I pulled up my pictures and tried to edit them to show the glory .  It was futile.  All I had was a dim indication of the glorious awe I had experienced.

Later, when I left work, the sun had set, leaving a pale blue streak along the horizon.  A huge bank of clouds covered the southern sky.  It was edged in white, surrounded by the dark blue sky, still clear of stars.  I could tell a full moon sailed behind that cloud bank.  To the east, the clouds lit up with lighting flashes, and as I drove home, I watched similar flashes to the north.  If there was thunder, it was too far away to be heard.  The wind had died down, and all was still.

Still later, I walked out into a silvered landscape:  the moon was clear of the clouds, or the clouds had drifted away, while I was eating dinner and washing dishes.  I strolled down the road, listening to the not-so-distant barking of coyotes and dogs, watching the lightning, which was still outlining the northern and eastern edges of the sky.  I drew a deep breath and wondered again why I ever want to leave this enchanted landscape.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Watching Time

I watch through the doorway as the humped-over woman in the wheelchair grips the arm of another wheelchair-bound woman.  They are facing each other, wheel to wheel, but they are not looking at each other.  She holds the other woman's arm tightly for several seconds, almost a minute, pressing hard enough, it seems, to leave bruises.  The skin on the arm hangs down in white flabby wrinkles. The arm's owner makes grunting noises, but says nothing.  When the first woman finally lets go, the other woman wheels herself backwards and away.  There is no comment from the attendants at the desk, and none at all from the two women.

My guess is that the one woman got in the other woman's personal space.  There may even have been some wheelchair bumper car action.  I had been knitting and looking occasionally at my client as he dozed, so I missed the beginning.  And, it's not for me to do anything:  these are not my clients.

This particular assignment is both easy and difficult. Easy because I don't have much to do, and difficult for the same reason.  Since I began working as a weekend caregiver for a national organization, my assignments have been regular 3-hour stints, and none have required the training I went through in April.  I have not transferred people using the belt, I have neither bathed nor diapered anyone, I have not wiped any butts.  I've only done a few household tasks (emptying the trash, making a meal, washing a dish or two, brushing a cat.). Mainly, I've kept someone company or driven someone to an appointment.  My main KSAs have been the ability to drive, a flexible attitude, and a nice smile.

My current client spends most of his time dozing.  Once in awhile he opens his eyes, looks at me with a puzzled and direct blue-eyed gaze and says, "What are you making?" or "Do you like this place" (he doesn't, he feels "captured"), or "You're a good girl."  I smile and answer ("a hat, yes, thank you") and he closes his eyes, wipes his mouth sideways on his pillow, and falls back into his doze. Yesterday when I left I asked if he needed anything else and he said "Only you."  This made me feel good and depressed me, in pretty equal measure.

The economics of caregiving are interesting.  I get paid $9.25/hour for unskilled work (aka companionship) and another buck if I have to do any Personal Care (aka, wipe a butt.) I think the company charges around $20/hour for my services.  Trained nurses get more, and so they should.

Not all my clients are in their own homes, which I would think is the main purpose of my job:  to keep them out of the nursing homes.  But, some of them need the assistive care, and they want to know someone will visit them regularly.  Family usually cannot do that, so enter the paid caregiver.

Who pays for this?  Not all my clients are wealthy, and health insurance only pays a certain amount for skilled nursing.  My role is not easy to define, and thus not easy to evaluate in financial terms.  In Victorian England I would be the poor relation or the paid companion, and I would not be respected much.  Financially, I'm still not respected much.  In many ways, I consider it a volunteer gig, like the Dove Lewis Therapy animals visiting the hospitals and libraries and assisted living facilities.  Only, I think I'd rather be visited by a dog than a knitting 57-year-old.

These people have pasts, they have the present, but it seems they have no future.  Any conversation, especially with the Alzheimer's and dementia patients, does not cover the future, and it doesn't deal in numbers either (how long have you been here, how old are you, how long were you married to her?). For some odd reason, 5 is the magic number.  I remember E used to say her mother died 5 years ago.  It's a number that conveys a reasonable amount of time, but doesn't put it too far back, because otherwise, why would we be talking about it?   At least, after some pondering, that is what I've finally decided is going on in their brains. I can't fault them:  in many ways 5 is my magic number too.

I took this gig because I wanted to see if I like caregiving, per se, or if I just liked E and the Co-op.  Well, I do like caregiving, in the same way I like my library job:  I'm good at it, and it makes people's lives better.  It's a community service.  Unlike my library job, though, it does not utilize my brain or my creativity.  It just utilizes my time.  As I sit and watch my client, I don't think.  I'm just marking time until the 3 hours have passed.  Then I go back to G's condo, fill out the online record-keeping for my boss, and settle down with my iPad.

It's not a bad use of my time, but it's definitely not a long-term solution to my search for a meaningful existence.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


We met to discuss Joan Didion's essay on keeping a notebook.   I had suggested that it might be good reading for her Slow Travel class.  As it turned out, it was mainly helpful in helping her define the point of Slow Travel journals.  M's reason for journaling is to help her focus on the moment.  Being open to the events of the moment is a main part of Slow Travel.  On the other hand, Didion's  journaling serves as a window to her past self:  what was she noticing, what was interesting her then?  Sometimes those notes make their way into her writing, but that's not the real point.  My recollection is that a factual record was also not the point:  her notes convey the mood, and may not be accurate.  For example, a past participant might say, "It wasn't snowing," but in her memory and her notes, it was.  That was her reality.

An analysis of reality or mood is not M's goal.  She documents the smells, the sights, the sounds, the tastes, the words she overhears, the breezes, the sweat, the senses.  On the way, she might document an emotion, but mainly she is engrossed in experiencing, not analyzing.  In that way, she is like Christopher Isherwood: "I am a camera," shutter open, passively recording.  Later he will fix the images with his words, but for now, he is an observer.   So, in that way she is not like Isherwood, either.  She is an experiencer, not an observer.  The recording is not going to be used later, it is used in the here and now to help her keep her focus sharp.

It's a subtle distinction, but I am slowly figuring it out.  I'm not sure how she will manage to convey it to her Slow Travel attendees, especially because she also doesn't care how and why other people journal.

As we discuss Didion et al, I wonder, not for the first time, what compels me to blog, to post pictures and haiku to Facebook, to record and share the things that fascinate me.  Why do I need a product? Why can't I just use the camera and the word to help me focus on the moment?  It's true that sharing has some huge fringe benefits:  other people share back, and those sharings inform my visions.  We none of us create in a vacuum, right?  And I get great pleasure when other people post their own creations in response.  It's a conversation, opaque and long-distance, but so much more satisfying than a monolog.

The healing part of this blog is over, I think.  I'm tired of whining about the emotional and physical twists in my days.  I'm tired of being tired, and I'm bored with my thoughts.  I'd like to go back to the sharing part, but I seem to have nothing to share.  I work, I watch the sun set, I do the various things that I can do:  make food, music, photos, poems, love.  I can share some of that, I suppose.  But what I want to do is make tracks.  Where and how, I do not know.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Life as a RoomBa

It's my 57th birthday, and I'm sitting at the Rio Grande Nature Center, watching the turtles and hummingbirds and ducks and geese.  The turtles are not just on the log this time, but are humpbacked in the green algae, motionless and subtle. I feel that I should be outside, but this is such a great view, with the water and the cottonwoods and the dusty green of the intrusive Russian olive. I used to come here with E, and I've walked over here from Montgomery along the Rio Grande backwater path, but I've never just sat here and watched, alone. 

If you sit long enough, you'll see the clouds moving, slowly (for once the winds are still), and then you'll hear the trees talking.

It's a nice way to spend a birthday, but I don't think I'm going to be very contemplative.  Too many distractions, too many people wandering in. I can smell the scent of bergamot from the massage oil.  A few hour ago, I was at Betty's Day Spa, nearby, getting a birthday massage from an adorable young man.  The desk staff apologized that they could not offer me the Memorial Day Weekend Specials (well, I did wait until the last moment), and asked, tentatively, if I would mind a male "therapist." No, I didn't mind.  It was short, but good hard pressure and I felt very relaxed, and pain free afterwards. That's a good thing.

Now I'm trying to figure out the "slow travel" concept that M has been espousing.  I think back to last Monday.  I was in Arroyo Secco, eating Taos Cow ice cream and watching the water and the mountain.  I had just delivered the Dia book to the nearby school, and I had the rest of the day to myself.  I thought, I'll sit here and experience this well-loved place.  M says that slow travel is about using the senses, letting the experience unfold.  So, I listened to the sounds of people talking and cars passing.  I noted the smells of water and earth and exhaust and cinnamon, the taste of the ice cream.  I  thought, I will immerse myself, as M suggests.

There's nothing better
Than eating Taos Cow ice cream
By the arroyo.

 A young man with dirty fingernails, wearing a coverall, walked on the other side of the stream and sat under a curled-over clump of grass and brush.  The curled foliage created a perfect circle, and I'd already taken a picture of it, when I first sat down.  Now he sat in the hole and said, "You can take the picture if you want, as long as I'm not looking at you."  I'd had no intention of intruding on him with my camera phone, but I took a few more pictures of him, sitting in the hole:  it seemed expected. Then he said, "You know, people complain about guns, but there's more harm done with cameras and cell phones than any gun."  I thought, oh brother, a Noble Savage.

He walked across the stream and joined me at my picnic table, carefully not sitting directly across from me.  A stilted conversation began, mainly him talking and me watching him and nodding now and then. He said he worked in Oklahoma, and that he had been working on a construction site up north....Colorado?  Oklahoma?  New Mexico?  Not sure where, he was being cagey.  Then he said he made people nervous, because he did such good work and expected the same of others.  Hidden behind the large brown tinted sunglasses, his eyes seemed to be looking straight past me, and he spoke his abrupt sentences, none leading to the other.  He had the social graces of an autistic loner: clearly he wanted to talk to someone, but just as clearly he didn't know how.

I sat there, with my long grey-white hair blowing the the breeze.  I slowly finished my Tao Cow ice cream, savoring the taste and texture.  I wondered what he saw:  a grandmother? A retiree?  Someone without connections?  People my age don't usually travel alone and they don't usually strike up conversations with random young men.  But then, there are people my age who do just that, M for example.

When I left I offered him the $1 day-old pastry that I had purchased on impulse.  "I would like you to take this off my hands. I bought it on a whim, and find that I don't want it." He said, "Gladly," and "I don't have anything to offer in return."  I said,  "Your company was enough," and walked to my car.  As I backed out, I watched him unwrapping the butter croissant.  I don't know if he was hungry or not, but since he'd said he had to scrounge in the car seats for coffee money, I guessed he might be.

I think there are a lot more random people in the world than one would expect.  I don't usually see them, because I'm not often in those in-between interstices like parking lots and rest areas.  When I travel, I'm with fellow travelers who have a destination, a goal, money, home.   I don't travel with nomads, although I have been watching L and G's nomadic adventure with interest and a little envy.

Now, as I sit at the Nature Center, I feel like I may be turning into a nomad.  I don't feel grounded, and I don't have patterns in place. Or rather, the patterns don't seem to support me.  They aren't comfortable.  I have to think about them.  When I wake up thinking I want to sleep a little more, my brain won't let me:  it starts planning the morning, the day, the week.  But it's not a happy plan, it's a compulsive one. "What are you going to do today," G asked this morning, and I didn't know.  I knew I wanted to do something contemplative, something solitary, but what?  In past years I went to Ghost Ranch and walked the labyrinth and climbed Castle Rock.  I had people with me, or I didn't, but I was some place where I could think, where there was no sound other than birds and wind.

Here, I am not in that solitude. People come in and out of the room, talking to their children about the creatures on the other side of the glass:  "Oh look, see the turtle's head sticking out?" "Look at all the hummingbirds.  How fast their wings go!"  "Oooh, ducklings!" When they aren't talking, the clicking of this keyboard is deafening in the silence.  I'm writing as I think and it's very very fast and staccato.  It feels intrusive, and I wonder, what is the point? I'm not watching the screen, but am watching the clouds and the birds and the sunlight glinting on the water. It does not feel contemplative, though.  It doesn't feel like I'm absorbing anything.  I'm just taking up space, breathing up the oxygen, adding the the carbon footprint, munching on mint M&Ms and cashews.  There is nothing healthy about this.  I am not "slow traveling," I am not in the moment, and I am definitely not figuring things out.

I was going to write about right the qi gong healing experience from earlier in the week, but I find I don't have anything to say.  Foreign energies.  check.  Dead soul who had been with me for 11 or 12 years?  Weird.  The need to have some sort of meditative practice that will build up my aura or energy shield so that the foreign energies cannot impact me like a body blow.  Same practise, different explanation.

Actually it makes sense that I should be lacking in the energetic aura:  a lack of energy is what I complain of most often, and a lack of focus comes next.  If I am dealing with all this parasitic energy, no wonder I am distracted and exhausted all the time.  But, is that really what's happening?

Another turtle has come out to the log, algae streaming from his shell.  He pokes out a green tipped head.  So Prehistoric looking.

It's the next day, and I have been thinking for the past 24 hours about where I am, and why I am here, and what I want to do with myself.  I feel static and stale.  I want to just go somewhere, but why and where?  The nomad life is beckoning, but at the same time I think, what about my commitments?  What about earning a living?  I can't just take up and go, I have people depending on me.  These are not new thoughts.  This is a squirrel cage.....I want my own space. I miss having my hammock in Portland, and my dog and cat joining me as I read.  I miss having friends to call and visit and go on walks with.  I miss the life I created back then.  I don't have a life here.   Or rather, I do have a life here.  I just don't have the energy or companionship that I had there.  How do I get them back?

I am on the verge of tears as I type, and I don't know why.  What do I want?

I thought I wanted to walk every day and take pictures and write haiku and then come home and refine them all.  But when I get home and look at all that is written and photographed in the world, I realize that I have nothing to offer, nothing to share.  My work is just as small and boring as the mind that produces it.  I don't know what I want to do, but this is not it.

As I sit on G's bed, keyboard and iPad propped in front of me, I watch the round automatic vacuumer bouncing around from wall to wall. How does it know that it's covering all the territory? How does it decide where to go next? It doesn't seem to be a matter of hitting walls and angling away from them.  It comes into the room, and wanders around, then it leaves again.  Eventually it will decide it's done, and dock itself back in the living room.

I feel a little like the RoomBa, bouncing around my territory until I get tired of it and go home to sleep.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Moon

March, 2016
Tonight I walked outside around 6 pm to check out the skies.  The sun was down, but its light shown as a pale blue, with the outline of the mesa shrubs, one car, and the stair railing etched black against it.  The blue continued up, cloudless, darkening until overhead it was that deep velvety color, not indigo, not royal blue, but some luminous blue in-between.  About halfway up the arc was the clean paring of the new moon, parallel to the ground, cupping the darkening blue within its thin semi-circle.  It was a smile, a handle-less teacup, an offering bowl. 

Sometimes the new moon holds a star at its tip, sometimes the star is an eye, winking above the smile, but I liked the enigmatic Cheshire Cat nature of this moon's smile:  simple and solitary.  Here I am, it said, take it or leave it.  I have nothing to prove.

I wanted to sit, like Jane Eyre on the stile, watching the sky deepen to black, the sliver of moon brighten with the contrast,  as the earth turned and the night came on.  But, I had to go back inside.  I had two more hours of work, in the brightly light small room that we call a library.  There was one student in the computer lab,  another student talking to the work study student at the desk in CASA next door, and the adjunct professor who had been busily working at her laptop.

May, 2016
I wrote that two months ago.  I marvel at the serenity it implies.  I am anything but serene.  I have just turned 57.  I have been talking for years about retiring, and in February I actually penned a letter of resignation.  I was tired of being sick and just working and sleeping and coughing.  I  did not know what I wanted, but I didn't want to keep doing subpar work and being responsible to others.

My boss did not accept the letter and instead talked me into going to a 3-day, 30-hour work week.  I decided she was right:  if I want to figure out my health, it behooves me to have some health care available.  And so I moved out to the llano near campus, out of the suspected mold of my Taos condo, and I found a place to stay in ABQ for the other days off so I could see if the problem was environmental.

Two months later, I'm still second-guessing that decision.  I have a 6-month lease and a one-year FML, and G is fine with me hanging out at his place on the weekends.  I was able to play the spring APO concert (Mahler 2!) and see some ABQ friends, but that is all over now.  I've moved into my new place, which lets me see the skies from my window and listen to the doves and other birds that are nesting in the eaves of the backyard structures.  The vigas and tiles are what I love about southwest architectures, and the rich woods match the Tropical Salvage armoire and Grandpa Shapira's old desk.

This is as close to home as I've gotten, out here in the desert Southwest.  And, I'm still restless and unhappy. G calls it wanderlust, but that's not it.  I am searching, yes, but not for a place.  I'm searching for a life, a meaning. I'm searching for the serenity I felt watching that new moon two months ago.

Still, was I really feeling serene?  The reference to Jane Eyre says otherwise:  she was waiting, unknowingly, for Mr. Rochester to come tramping through the tranquil scene, bringing his harsh masculine worldly presence and changing her life for better or worse.  She had been pacing the halls, longing for a more exciting existence.  She, too, wanted out of her respectable, calm, useful life.

Yet, she returned to Thornfield and re-entered her servitude, just as I returned to the Library that night, and finished out my work day.  The difference is that change came to her.  I am creating change, but it's forced and unsatisfying.  I am beginning my 5th year in New Mexico, and I am as insecure and unhappy as the day I arrived.  T once said, within a year of my divorce I'd have more money and less weight.  That's true, but it's not enough.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Full Moon

Last night I came out of work and saw a gibbous moon, not quite full, but close enough to inscribe a clean circle in the dark blue evening sky. I was alone for the moment. Most of the campus had closed down, and that particular stillness that comes over the mesa at sunset surrounded me. I saw one raven, but even he was still. My footsteps sounded loud as I walked to the car, watching the moon the whole way. I snapped a few pix, and then posted them to Facebook.

Out the back door and
Into a still, bright gloaming.
At last, the weekend.

Because I had no plans, I turned left out of the campus drive and drove to the end of the road to watch the sun set. It was not the most spectacular sunset, but it was a beautiful evening. I watched the colors change to the west and the moon brighten to the east. I thought of the Ansel Adams photograph of the moonrise in Hernandez, NM. I was watching the Taos version, and the sense of isolation, clarity, and beauty was very similar. Of course, I couldn't capture it: I'm not Ansel Adams, and all I had was a cell phone.

Moonrise over Taos
As I drove back to highway, I thought of how I keep refusing to live in the moment.  I go through the motions, but the spirit and connection are equally tenuous.  I wanted to share this moonrise with someone other than the people on Facebook, but what I really wanted was to be able to revel in the freedom to create this moment.  I hadn't needed to coordinate with anyone, I was able to follow my spur of the moment whim, with only my own feelings to consult.  And yet....I wanted to share this with someone.  And there was no one.
Today I am home with an increasingly bad cold.  I remember last year, when I was sick for 3 months and finally wound up with pneumonia.  I was whining about wanting to retire, and my brother said there was no proof that Taos and the job were making me sick.  A year later, here I am, again doing nothing but working, sleeping and coughing.  And yet, I'm now not sure that retirement is the answer.  My sister wrote last month about the difficulty of being retired:  she feels unproductive.  My response:
I hate being back at work, but I don't have anything better to do. Just read an article about finding your passion: it basically said, quit your bitching. You already have found your passion, you're just ignoring it. However you spend your time, that's your passion. Rather reminiscent of the Swedenborg philosophy: God is not hiding, he is very obvious, he's just waiting for you to pay attention.

If that is so, my passion must be listening to Judge Judy and playing online Sudoku. Or making fudge. ;)
Or, in today's case, making brownies.

When I'm sick, I bake
Things I should not eat, such as
Bacon grease brownies.
I should go out and watch the full moon, but I think I'm going to live in this moment:  eat some brownies, drink some tea, and go to bed.