Friday, November 28, 2008

night listening

this hour a sweep of the brush in ink
black, and the wind-tunnel of forced air rush
the sound, and all in their beds
and I awake as usual, just unconscious of my limbs
in a hard chair, drink in

not-silence, defined by warm walls here
and the cold outside, the distance north and south
maps of the lives, you in your bed too under
colorless sheets,unknown habits and positions, also silent
the symphony of sleepers' breath
fogs the imagined night air, behind the white noise
of the furnace running; yours too

hushed, halted, gasped or rattling the glass with basso
snores, if I could hear them all in wave-like rhythm
on my shores
if all that presence were a blanket wrapped around me
then perhaps I'd lose myself,
and find my part

got 'im


still digesting...

My husband, disgusted with my YouTube browsing, has gone off to bed and shut the door. It's half-past the end of Thanksgiving, and none of the usual blogs have seen any action. It feels like a Sunday night here, without the Monday to look forward to -- long weekend trapped in the house, Day 2, hath commenced. No excuse not to get the laundry done I suppose...tomorrow I'll make a cheesecake, just to top off the incredible debauchery of the week, and with any luck I can hit the office on Saturday. Lots to do, given the new and improved chaos at church -- about which I won't say much here, in part to avoid problematic indiscretions and in part because my desk is such a snarl as a result that I don't much care to contemplate it. Have avoided the blog for the most part this past week, in favor of SLEEP. Sleep: when you can, you should.

Let's go look for a blog, shall we? Let's see if we can hunt up good ol' Anonymous tonight.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

no more more...

The Bunny song, a Veggie Tales classic about brain-washing at the chocolate bunny factory.

The new and improved Bunny song... a little more about consequences, a little more about over-eating, a little more moralistic in tone (and a crappy recording I'm afraid).

The Gummy Bear song (long version, in English, with jiggling buttocks.)

Crazy Frog, a phenomenon that apparently escaped me, does his Annoying Thing for the 80's. (This isn't strictly a food thing...unless you eat frog.)

Danish Bacon animation...

tryptophan purgatory

Thanksgiving has always been a food holiday. It has so little bearing on the history of the United States, based as it is on the vaguest nationalistic mythologies, that it's easiest just to count our blessings and then chow down. We gave (and received in donations) enough food at the food shelf in the past week to cover 50 or so households for the holidays -- not festive food, in some cases, but decently palatable. So it should be okay just to come home and act the pig.

My gut HURTS, I ate too much, and the funny part is that I probably consumed half of last year's volume. I waited as long as I could before I had anything, saving up my calories; but CW showed up with good bread and great cheese. I haven't seen real cheese in MONTHS. So I overdid that a tiny bit. And the pie -- two pieces. Grunt. Oink. And with the wine besides (a Valpolicelli, a Barolo), time itself has sort of stretched and warped...the day has gone on forever, all thoughts come slow, the lights seem too bright, I need an Advil. But I shouldn't go to bed yet, I'm still too full, and the memory of last night's dreaming still flickers brightly in the back of my mind -- ready to keep me from sleep.

Monday, November 24, 2008

and after

That last dream - it's not unlike a number of others recurring over the years. There have been long stretches of time when the river figured prominently in my dreams as a metaphor for life's journey -- the passage of time, and a powerful mystery; a barrier that could only be crossed successfully at great risk to one's self; and a pathway to be navigated. Broken bridges have been a recurring theme too, long long before the 35W accident -- bridges that fall and have to be crossed anyway, picking your way through the wreckage. The 35W disaster had an especially eerie tinge for me in that regard -- though my dreams weren't ever so terribly destructive in tone -- and of course that bridge is at the heart of my terrain, my landscape of experience with its twin metaphor in the unconscious mind. Each time I cross the river, here in downtown Minneapolis, on the Third Avenue bridge or the Hennepin, or the newly-rebuilt 35W bridge, I'm right on that line -- between physical reality and the realm of meaning. There's no one I love who doesn't relate to that line, the long line of the river and the intersecting cross of a bridge -- though I've only rarely been down there with CW, she doesn't go for long walks -- sooner or later they all come down there with me.

Anyway - running through the woods along the river is therefore an easy dream to parse. I am in the woods these days -- sometimes gladly, sometimes fearfully, but it's difficult to see where I'm headed. There's still the reassuring geography -- I know where I am in relation to the river, after all -- but I fear at times what I used to love, a walk in the woods, the static unknown depth of a thick landscape and the meditative path, one foot in front of the other, no thoughts for what's ahead or behind. In this dream I'm on that happy path of exploration and discovery until the way becomes dark, and a danger appears, and the path becomes a trap. Recuperative solitude becomes vulnerable isolation.

Still, it doesn't end too badly in this case. And generally they don't, these dreams. They're often instructive. And God knows this is a time when I can use some instructions.

dreaming again

I dreamt I was riding a bicycle, and it didn't belong to me. It was the property of CW's mother, who (CW assured me) would probably report it stolen even though she knew it was being used by me. But I decided to take my chances and went for a ride, CW and I parting ways as the sun sank towards 4 o-clock. Peddling up a steep hill towards a bridge that crossed the river, I remembered that CW roomed in a house nearby. (A yellow house with white trim.) "The river is right in my back yard," she was always saying, and I decided to find out whether this was true. I turned left before crossing the river, and coasted down a long drive into a parking lot that adjoined an alleyway. The river was on my right. I left the bike, and began walking up the alley, parallel to the river. The alleyway narrowed to a walking trail, and soon I was climbing through thick brush on the steeply-terraced back yards of the houses on my left. "It's not really in her back yard," I thought, as I looked up toward her house, then down the slope towards the river, noticing the paved alleyway continuing along below me, an alleyway and a fenced barrier between it and the water.

I went exploring. The woodland on the slope was dense, bare of leaves in late autumn, thickets of unkempt twigs and detritus broken by occasional half-hearted attempts at landscaping. There were steep concrete stairways that led from level property down to the path; the path was many yards above the alley, and crept along the face of the slope. The time was late afternoon, getting dark. After marching around in the wilds of the back yards, trespassing, I decided to return the way I'd come before it became too dark to see my way. I began the climb back down, and soon jogged along the walking trail again, still a narrow path hemmed in on both sides and above by branches and dead leaves. Running, in the dark now, I nearly collided with a man who was coming the opposite way. He had a flashlight. As he stepped aside he reached out his hand to stop me, grabbing my shoulder, and I realized I was in danger. He didn't speak. (He looked like the man that offered me a ride at the bus stop last night.)

Then the dream became a story, something I was reading in the newspaper, about a man who tried to rape a woman on the walking trail by the river as she jogged alone there. And then I awoke.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Altered Books and Paperama

A friend asked me a very good question yesterday after lunch: What is an "altered book?" I'd invited her to sit in on a meeting at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, with a group of artists who focus some of their talents on visual journaling, book making and altered books. An Altered Book is a commercially-bound volume (in most cases) which has been physically changed and adapted to contain an artist's vision. Books might have pages removed to create cavities for embedded objects -- you can even create a drawer in the body of a book! Painting and drawing on the pages, stamping and glueing, everything is an option. Change the cover, and use the book as the starting point for something new. That's an altered book.

Last night's meeting started with an in-depth discussion about paper: the qualities different artists look for, ways to shop for and purchase the types of paper you need, basic terminology. Some of the women there (only one man out of perhaps 30 attendees) used only recycled papers, like myself - paper that is "found," not necessarily archival, used for collage and other activities as well as drawing or painting. We scavengers didn't know a great deal about paper-making or terminology, but before the end of the two-hour session we'd absorbed quite a bit.

The meeting concluded with a swap: about ten of us came with altered books already started, and we'll spend the next 8 or 9 months swapping them "round robin" style once per month, after each artist has had a chance to add something to each book - I gave my book to Roxanne, and Brianna gave her book to me, etc - next month we'll each mail the books we've worked on to our contacts, and eventually we'll each have worked on every book started. The volumes will be photographed for documentation, and our original volumes will return to us as collaborative works, signed by each of the 8 participants. I didn't get a chance to photograph my book before I handed it over (darnit!) but I'm looking forward to watching it travel down the line. Meanwhile, I have to get started on the book entrusted to me for this month.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

in the studio

{An update on creative activities}

I love those little brackets.
So my weekend has included lots of time not spent doing laundry or scrubbing the bathroom floor (though I sweep a lot, because I like to sweep and because frequent sweeping keeps the crud from sticking to the soles of your bare feet in the morning.) Instead, I've used all my hoarded moments of relatively guilt-free pleasure on two projects: the first of hopefully three small art quilts I'll sew up before the end of the month; and an altered book that I'll take to my first-ever Altered Book Round Robin at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts tomorrow night.
(This is a Roz project, this Round Robin; learn more here.)

The quilt is as I said first of hopefully three parts, an Advent project that explores the Year B texts from Isaiah (my favorite book of the Bible) and a progression from Darkness to Light. This is the Darkness quilt, and its central image is a painful one - a starving infant in West Darfur. The backdrop is chaos, crazy-quilt-like, and the texts incorporated into the quilt are from Isaiah 64:1, and also the non-seasonal Isaiah 5:20,21,23. Plus a verse from something we recently read at church that I haven't yet sourced, "Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand." The terrible condemnation of being damned to a destiny of our own ignorance and violence. It's depressing, but that's offset by the work of it.

The book to be altered by this group of artists I'll meet tomorrow is a copy of The Ephemerides for 1940 to 1950. One of those odd old books my mother bestows upon me from time to time, full of outdated information but well-bound; a book crying out to be played with and painted on. I don't feel like posting any photos tonight (I'd have to use my phone for the quilt) but will do so soon.

I'm glad I planned this weekend's creative time into my agenda, though my husband probably feels I've been a little lazy around the house. Fortunately H. likes to help me sew, and I can be creative and give him attention at the same time. He also likes to play on my laptop, which is in the sewing room, so we are at least near one another enough to make me feel I'm not totally self-centered and self-indulgant.

And all this means that the studio/sewing room/dressing room that contains darned near all of my worldy goods (notwithstanding books, art and furniture), which I just cleaned up last week, is now adrift in rubber stamps and inkpads, scraps of fabric, various printouts of Bible verses and instructional texts, and all the usual accumulations besides -- utility bills, dirty socks, etc. I'm not actually a pig; I'm a decent housekeeper. But this room isn't for company anyway.

Friday, November 14, 2008

the problem with being in love with one's work

What a week. I've been running in place non-stop, with the exception of a break over breakfast with BC this morning, and I feel like I've accomplished very little. Too much on my plate.

Moreover, and moreover again, I'm starting to feel some serious anxiety about my work. It's secure, which is more than can be said for the jobs of many. But I'm starting to think I should get out, while the getting is good. Not because I'm in imminent danger -- at least not in the same sense as my previous job, and in fact, it's more the opposite. I'm in over my head with love for the place, on multiple levels, and I think this will wind up being a source of hurt for me.

I've been at the church three years, during which time it's been non-stop change, most of it good. I've put myself at the center of the operation, and I've put the church at my center as well, so much so that my physical and emotional commitment to the place is feeling more and more like a liability. Too much potential for heartbreak. Too many ways to wind up disappointed. A commitment that is extraordinarily meaningful to me -- but I'm afraid, because what I'm commited to in the organizational sense will in the end remain defined by the tones of the times and the people in leadership -- there's no emotional safety in that. And perhaps I'm overcommitted, perhaps the relative vocational importance of my position means that I am giving much too much to the church, and to those I work for, and in the end there's no avoiding a certain lack of parity. Their reliance on me (which is considerable) isn't blind - they show their appreciation. But the church, the other staff, my boss, my friends there -- none of that will add up to the level of emotional commitment and attachment I'm at -- and that's nobody's fault but mine. If anything changes, if my boss decides to leave or the congregation suffers some serious setback or the finances become an issue (as they may well, and soon), I am going to get hurt. Something will happen to crack this love affair in two, I just know it. There are some major uncertainties affecting the church now, more than we thought there could be at this stage of growth. I'm worried.

So I lay in bed and cry at nearly-three in the morning, thinking I should start looking for a job, and wondering too if CW could somehow get my job and be able to stay in town instead of moving home indefinitely. Wondering if they'd hire her, if she'd take it. Of course, if all that happened I would have to back away from the church to some significant degree as a member too, at least for a while -- because of my role there, and because I'm too much associated with that role, and because it would be hard not to want to stay in the middle of things. It's a little like the urge to leave a romantic relationship, when you realize that you've put so much at stake that the only way to be safe is to break up before the other person leaves you -- not that they seem to want to, but you never know. You never know when the trap door will open.

It's cowardly of me, but I don't want to be the one standing there with a silly look on my face when, inevitably, something happens that will remind me of the fact that I'm alone in this -- that no one in the church is charged with making sure this job doesn't break my heart except for me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

flash-to-bang time

So I've just had one of the most exhausting experiences with my child on record. And it didn't happen at the doctor's office, or at the dentist's -- it didn't happen in the Target store when he couldn't have something he felt he needed badly -- instead, it happened in the bathroom, at bath time. And I'm reminded, though it hasn't happened in a while, that the potential for my intelligent, anxious child to have a major melt-down over seemingly nothing at all is always there, always a factor.

He never forgets, this kid, and there are a variety of relatively benign, normal but unfortunate experiences that he has carried with him for longer than I can sometimes believe -- a splash of too-hot water on his foot when he was about a year old, a train ride that involved a high-pitched warning noise every time the doors would shut, a doctor visit that involved a somewhat painful procedure to treat a nasty double-ear infection.

So about a week ago when he got in the tub (a place we've seldom had any difficulty), a bug bite on his foot stung a little in the warm water. It was an unpleasant surprise, and he managed it well by keeping his foot elevated out of the water during his bath. It was still a concern for him two nights later, but by Friday everything was fine -- he sat normally for his bath, and the only problem was the lake he created on the bathroom floor by happily sloshing back and forth in the tub.

But tonight was different -- tonight was meltdown night, and he was terrified of the water. It would hurt his foot he said. It's too hot he said. I tested and re-tested it, added cold water simply to reassure him, even got him to briefly rest his "good" foot in the tub. I reminded him of what a brave, smart boy he is -- I comforted him, I did everything I could think of. But it still took fifteen or more minutes to make any progress towards his bath. Fifteen minutes of crying, wailing, me pleading with him and trying to do what's best in the long run.

Backing down was not an option, because I know that if these types of fears are given legitimacy they tend to stick far longer. But I didn't want the kid to be terrified either, wasn't going to force him. And it's a fine line, let me tell you, between getting your kid to prove to himself that he can handle his fears, and forcing him to do something that he's genuinely afraid of, thereby making things worse. I didn't think he was faking, he seldom does that. But he can work himself into a state over something like this pretty easily -- he has a short fuse for anxiety, and the flash-to- bang time for him is almost instantaneous.

In the end, I drained out most of the water after adding cold; and I coaxed him into putting the "good" foot in to rest there. He was very, very upset and afraid, and if I hadn't thought quitting would simply have led to more bathing refusals down the road, I'd have backed off. But it didn't seem wise. So I put a plastic bin, upended, into the bath water where it stuck up over the level of the water and made a platform for his "bad" foot. And there he stood, while I essentially sponge-bathed him, and praised him for being so brave, and so smart. "The box and the washcloth worked!!" He said repeatedly, smiling, reassuring himself. "It worked!" "That's right." I said. "Remember that for every problem, there's an answer. We had a problem with helping you take a bath, but we found the answer together."

Of course I had also tried showing him that the water didn't burn me, and so it wouldn't burn him. But that logic failed. "It doesn't burn Mommy," I said, "and you and I are the same." "But we're NOT the same!" wailed my five year old son, and he was of course right.

I can't stand to see him so afraid, the look on his face saying he's very frightened and worried and he wants to trust me, but he knows I can't always keep things from happening that he doesn't want -- a flu shot, his ear drops, the taste of toothpaste, trips to the doctor -- he knows I don't have quite the same values he has. So he's crying, and trying to get by, and I struggle to keep from crying myself because I'm not convinced I shouldn't just give in and hope that somehow the problem will resolve itself. But the thing is, now and again, we go through this. I know how anxious he is. And when I was a kid, a big part of my life was fear. I was anxious too, and there was always something going on to make life more difficult, to make happiness and a calm night's sleep a thing of uncertainty. I had nightmares from an early age (2 and 3) that I still remember better than any cute little birthday parties or trips to the zoo, or time spent with "mom and dad." And I don't want my boy's life to be about this kind of fear. I know he can master some of these feelings, and that this strength will be important for him as he ages. He needs to know he can be brave, and smart, and that every problem has an answer -- one he can find, one that will resolve his need to spare himself what worries him while accomplishing what needs to be done. To outsmart himself, to maintain a feeling of control -- it takes practice.

He's only five, though.

first snow

Friday marked the first snowfall of the year here in the cities. Harper and I threw on our clothes, and went outside to catch snowflakes on our tongues. He takes apparent delight in this, and I get to experience an important childhood ritual over again. Which is good for me, since I lack recall of so many, many details from that distant past.

Watching the colors fade and bleed gradually from the landscape, and the last of the maple leaves clinging stubbornly to the lower branches, I'm finally touched by the sadness my friends express much earlier in the fall season. It's the departure of the colors that weighs on me, rather than lack of sunlight though. Lack of warmth is also fairly relative to where you are, and how you're dressed. But I'll miss the colors, and it makes the sewing room that much more important to my peace of mind.

I have a project in mind, that I'll need to finish in the next two weeks. I was laying awake imagining it last night (rather than working on it, because my son napped too long yesterday and wound up staying awake deep into my normal productivity period.) I fell asleep thinking about it, and had a dream --

I dreamt that I was dreaming, and in the double dream I was struck by a certain inspiration for some text to use in the work. I remember clapping my hands triumphantly -- ha!-- and then pausing to consider the next step in the work. Some other things then happened that I won't go into just yet -- but I gained insight into another aspect of the work. And in my dream, I awoke from the dream, and realized I couldn't recall the text that had inspired my feeling of triumph. What had it been? Why couldn't I bring the inspiration forward to consciousness? So I scoured my home for information or objects that might trigger the memory, and in the process the dream changed and began to fade...

then I woke for real. I could remember part of the artistic content I'd envisioned, sleeping, but still can't remember the text that came to mind -- I can almost see it....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thick Dignity

"Thick dignity is your key to success" reads the subject line of the topmost email in today's junk pile. Now, I have better sense than to Google a phrase like "thick dignity," but I have to say there's something almost literary there -- even if it is meant to sell Viagra. Thick dignity -- simultaneously virile and righteous. Who opposes dignity, after all? Especially dignity for those previously acquainted with the supreme indignity of a less-than-righteous instrument of justice in our eternal sexual power struggle -- who is frigid, who is impotent, who gets the girl -- the subtext of every American pop radio classic. "Success" here meaning everything from pleasing the wife to scoring the blingy babe at the hotel bar, to securing your position at the company in these economically-uncertain times. "Key" being, of course, a helpful visual clue, the original Freudian allusion. "Thick dignity is the key to your success." I'm sure being female automatically disqualifies me from having any more than a symbolic interest in the product. After all, Viagra doesn't claim to save marriages. If they wanted to promote fidelity and loyalty, the drug manufacturers would perhaps instead invest in products designed to make men more comfortable while they do the things I'd really prefer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Outside the gales of November are finally blowing in earnest, and rain lashes the windows. The weather has been unusually warm (think almost a million comfortable celebrants in Chicago's Grant Park last night), and we even had t-storm warnings up north today. This wind was tossing leaves and litter last night, as we shopped after dinner, and I joked with my husband -- "It's the winds of change, sweetie" -- which got a laugh. We were excited about the election, and weren't disappointed.

In spite of gray skies I waltzed around in a pretty good mood today, feeling very hopeful and pleased with my country for a change. I realized on the bus ride in this morning that my husband and I have been married 11 years, and 8 of these years have been dominated by George W. Bush and all he hath wrought. "Love in the Time of Cholera." Without so much literary value. We drank our way through the last of the Clinton era, and watched helplessly when an academic friend (an expert on genocide) burst into tears after Bush was elected. "People are going to die!" she wailed. War, she meant. Aggression, ignorance, suffering. And she was right, too right and almost immediately. She already knew too much about the American public. We drank and cursed W, and drank some more.

Now, the marriage has aged (sometimes I'll say "matured"), and we give away as much as we dare while clinging to something of a lifestyle. We aren't sure how much of the kid's college we'll pay for. We don't dare take any financial risks in this economy, with our depreciating home and our aging auto. The drinking is more focused, and less recreational (in his case). We are each weary in our way with America and each other, immersed as we generally are in politics and social justice, coping in our different ways with uncertainty and sort of an accumulated societal despond. So Obama should be good for the sex life, right? A shot in the arse, a pepper-upper. Something new to talk about.

The wind was warm and sort of springtime crazy-like this morning, as I walked through the last of the yellowing maple leaves. The streets were damp (no rain yet, just street sweepers in a rush to clear the leaves before they clogged the storm sewers.) The sunlight was hazy, and a low gray sweep of clouds weighted the southwestern horizon. I wore a nice outfit, and marched cheerfully along, whistling some awful Enya tune and feeling generally, irrationally, head-over-heels desperately in love with the idea that Obama could truly be change, hope. A messianic figure, already posing for immortality.

once more united?

I have a friend at church, a white man. He is married, a black woman married him, and they have two children, a boy and a girl. I suppose a part of me wonders how they discussed last night's election, in what terms -- how their relationship spans the history of cultural divide. Do they see things similarly and in comfortably mutual ways? Do they agree to withhold their inherited assumptions about one another, even now? Do they disagree on the significance of Obama's place in history? How do they discuss it with their children?

I have a friend at work, a white woman. She is in a relationship, with a black man, and has two nearly-grown daughters whose father is black. The elder daughter, almost 18, is in a relationship with a black man and expecting her first child. The younger daughter, age 16, has recently broken up with her boyfriend, a young Hispanic man. I did not ask them about the election this morning, though my friend and her girls were in the office. I genuinely felt uncertain as to how an inquiry would be received. I know that sometimes my friend and her boyfriend argue, about family relations and race. He feels his blackness is an issue for her relatives, she feels it is not (and would not care if it was.) How did they talk about the election at home last night? What do her daughters think about it? Is there emotion? Or are they merely pleased, and much more attuned to the impending arrival of the new baby?

Being white, I simply do not see clearly the shifting ground beneath my feet at times. I read an article on about things white people shouldn't do, now that Obama is elected. It's funny, but uncomfortably so. I recognize the truth in it. "Don't congratulate your black friends" it says. OK. I think I get that, but then I know I do not and must simply take the injunction on faith. OK. I won't. But can I talk to them about it?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

YES WE CAN! When I have a moment I'll have to find out who wrote the speech -- the very moving song and sermon delivered by the First Black President of the United States of America, Sen. Barack Obama; a speech I want to excerpt and paste over every flat surface I can get my hands on. I can't quite put into words how much hope I have invested in the abilities of that one human being, Obama; and I hope his life will be preserved, and his wisdom, as he undertakes an even more daunting task than that of getting elected.

Meanwhile, one of the most hotly contested Senate seats is coming down to the vote by vote count here in MN, between Coleman and Franken -- right now they're tied at 42% a piece, and the bottom line will take some time. I won't stay up for it. I'm exhausted. And yet, amazed at how quickly Obama wrapped this up, compared to elections past.

God bless America. This country will never be the same!

postscript (maybe)

Can't be a postscript on a blog, can there? Since it's a letter that never really ends.

I posted some artwork over on True Companion (see the links here at right). The two-page spread I finished last night is titled Now is the Time/A Bird in the Hand. Both are mixed media collages, about 6 by 8 inches in size. I wasn't able to post them as they would be viewed in my sketch journal -- Now is the Time, the leaf piece with the two birds in the center, goes on the left; A Bird in the Hand goes on the right. I'm right-handed, but conversely it's my left hand that is seen in the image -- so each knows what the other is doing, obviously (heh heh, a very small joke there.) Anyway, here's how it happened:

I started with the torn page pieces from a small-sized journal I was keeping in early 2007. I chose two pages that resonate for me now, and still -- one talked about a funeral I attended shortly before Easter 07, which came at the tail end of an alarmingly, crushingly long string of deaths that befell friends, family and acquaintances. The reverse of that page had to do with the metaphysics of NOW -- the moment of reckoning awakened to each day, the call to act, the instant of first perception and the apex of experience. Now. Kairos. Some notes about all that. I spent a late evening tearing them up, rearranging my words a little and glueing them down again. I tried to mix the two texts in order to see what revelations would come from the new juxtapositions. Word-association games, played to unlock other thoughts that might have evolved in the many months since those first words were written down. Then I layered the torn pages with a bit of tissue paper.

I fell upon the word hands, and others like communion bread, laid to rest, comforting, cellist, etc. I thought about the hands and where they factor into the moments of Now -- ritual, music, creation, communion, destruction, etc. And so a hand appeared there.

The rest happened over the next 36 hours, off and on; much of it completed while I was watching TV, talking to my son, entertaining a friend. The birds didn't make their appearance until late in the process, and the leaves were affixed during Sunday's sermon earlier in the day. A bird in the hand (and two in the bush.) The bird in the hand is NOW. It's what we have now, it's all there is. And by comparison, the 2 in the bush (leaf) cannot both be captured -- they're unattainable, what could be or might have been. Alternatives, fleeting and irrelevant.

But I didn't know that until the end -- that's the great thing about adding and reducing, layering a collage -- it's a discernment, not a map, and the message emerges on its own with time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Now is the Time

Or as a friend put it some time ago, perhaps now is always the time, and we only occasionally realize this fact -- that where we are, right now in all its complexity and chaos and uncertainty, is the moment wherein we choose or do not choose (and so, choose anyway).

And, Now is the time for the Lord to act. Kairos et tous pousais Kirios.

Based on my very limited experience of these things, this life, I think he was right -- that every moment of which we are aware is Now, and therefore all that we know collectively, we know Now -- and we know it as one, this humanity, on some level that we will or won't perceive individually. So it is as one that we act, consciously or otherwise, and so we move into one future or the other, or others still, branching off infinitely -- parallel universes of movement or indecision, audacity or apathy.

and change is inevitable, hope is inevitable. But how badly do we want it now? It's not enough to want things to "be better." You have to want it badly, with passion, and you have to act. So, if you're reading this tonight, I hope for everyone's sake that you VOTE tomorrow. It won't matter what you vote for, or against, as long as you act in accordance with your gut and heart, as long as you act out of real love for your fellow humans. Now is the time. We've all agreed to it, here in America -- we've agreed to perceive together this moment of great action, of looking as one into the future. This is it, right this minute. In 24 hours we may already know what now really means. This is one chance in a lifetime, this vote.

Pray that we act as one, to the best of our ability, and to the right end.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

38 Hours

How many minds will be made up in the next 38 hours? How many minds will change? How many voters won't know until they reach the polls which way their vote will be cast? How many have known from the moment the candidate was declared?

When the local primaries were held I took my son, age 5, to the polling place with me. He stood with me in line, watched each step of the process, and was warmly welcomed by the ladies of the voting place. He walked with me to the booth, and I explained the ballot (as best I could). Then I voted. Together, we put the ballot into the tabulator, and before we left the ladies gave him an "I Voted" sticker of his own. "Please come back!" they said, and promised special treats for kids on Election Day. Now he's excited to go back. My kid is participating.

A friend at church mentioned today that he has taken a few days off from work, including Wednesday, to give himself the treat of staying up half the night with the election. And some friends and I arranged (though it's being rescheduled now) to go out for a drink, to celebrate victory or drown our sorrows the day after. Don't worry, I've already made other plans. :-)

38 hours...what world will we live in, 62 hours from now? Which of the parallel universes will we choose?

Fall back

click these images for a larger view.

Ah, good thing I went to bed early - five year olds don't know from Daylight Savings and the extra hour means nothing to them. Here he is, the boy in question, wedged between my knees as I try to type, jabbing my morning tummy-ache with his pointy elbows. Sneezing on my keyboard! Good thing I love him so much. (He's reading over my shoulder now, perfectly understanding each word. He hugs me when he gets to the "I love him" bit.) And now he's off in his room, working on a new "machine" -- an assembly of various toys carefully fitted together to some new imaginary purpose.

I woke up thinking about snow-storms today. I miss thunder and lightning through the long winters, and rain; but sometimes a heavy snowfall makes up for it. Large groups of snowflakes drifting down slowly and steadily, blanketing the world with silence. The kind of silence I love, the kind that is the sole redeeming feature of a bad head-cold: everything muffled, all the distant crowding city noises obscured, leaving the simple nearby sounds to catch at your concentration. I find it immeasurably calming. Perversely, the perfect head-cold leaves me feeling kind of relaxed and optimistic. And so does a really great snow-storm.

On the opposite end of the environmental spectrum, I miss the ocean, the Atlantic, and the way a long vacant horizon draws all complex thought out of consciousness, leaving a similarly vacant space in the mind. A good long sit on the beach is as wonderful as a perfectly timed, uninterrupted nap. No reading, no sketchbooks, no radio. Nothing but waves and seabirds. I pinned up some photos here from my last trip to Cumberland Island, years ago - down in south Georgia, just a few minutes from Jacksonville FL -- Cumberland Island National Seashore and historic site.