Sunday, August 30, 2009

today is my day...

"my very last day..." This is a paraphrase of a song my husband's stepfather used to sing to him on the last day before school started in the fall. "Today is your day, your very last day, the very last daaaayyyy of sssssuuuuuuuummmmmmmmeeeer." Which sounds meaner than it really was. But here I am, Sunday night, tired and footsore after a second trip to the Fair (and believe it or not I hope to squeeze in a third solo trip before Labor Day.) Sunday night; today's worship was in some ways much like a Monday, but tomorrow is truly the first day back at work, after a vacation (stay-cation) that was interrupted more than once by work issues. I'm feeling blue.

It could and should be a big week. We expect to hear about the first financing proposal on our real estate project, and we need to have an answer now for our largest prospective tenant. And tomorrow is the last day, the very last day, for my office mate. She wraps it all up tomorrow morning, leaving me alone with the mess. Today was my friend Dean's last day, another coworker and a good friend. His last day at church. I am blue about these changes too. Very sad. And more, it's complicated and confidentiality prevents me from writing much about it here. I'm hopeful about the future, depressed about the present, unsure how I should characterize the past two years of stress and reward and conflict and blessing.

I can picture tomorrow.

If you care, wish us luck. Send your good vibes my way.

Friday, August 28, 2009

the last few moments of peace and quiet

Today is my almost-last day of vacation. Yesterday H and I went to the Fair with friends (pictures soon) and while I had considered going again today, on my own, to sketch -- I was out for the morning, it was 2pm when I returned and by the time I got out there the guys would be on their way home. Guilt set in. Maybe I'll find an afternoon to sneak away next week. So I'm home. Laundry is drying, dishes are soaking, and I'll have to spend time in the office tomorrow to prepare for some obligations due Sunday. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary -- 12 years, or 13, I forget which. So I'll take R to dinner for sushi. I hope we have a nice time.

The afternoon is cool and damp and sunny. Breezy. It's quiet here, a luxury I enjoy richly. I spent three hours with Georgette this morning, talking about life and work and family, death and spirituality, Native Americans and many other topics it seems. (Now the phone is ringing. It's D. He wants answers, I'm sure. Work questions, work issues. His last day is Sunday, and he's preaching. I'm not ready for that right now though.) Georgette has as usual provided an important space in my day, my week, in which to be thinking and talking about everything that matters most. Georgette is my guru, though she probably wouldn't tolerate that characterization. She is, after all, also a normal human being. But older and wiser than I.

Tick tick tick. R called at 3pm to say they'd be on their way shortly. And to ask if I had done the dishes, as though I were a recalcitrant teenager. He's always bugged by my annual week at home -- even though he gets just such a week in early August to himself, during which I do not plague him with chore lists. (The phone is ringing again. This time it's CW, who probably has church questions of her own. Still not ready folks, sorry.)

Heard a car door slam, finished the dishes. Now he can just stick a cork in it!

I can hear cicadas in the trees. Construction noises down the block, birds, kids in yards. R will come home and aggressively assert dominion over the rest of the day. Not that they aren't entitled, but I resent it a little bit just now, because it's the last moment now of the last day before we resume normal scheduling. And whatever else I may be in the minds of those who see me and depend on me, I'm also someone who requires a lot more quiet and privacy than I get. I'm an introvert, really, and I can't always confine all my creativity to the hours of darkness between my child's bedtime and exhaustion. A time my husband wants a piece of from me as well, and again he's entitled. But it's been a good week, though it's gone by quickly. Good for me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Looking Into the Promised Land by Roz Stendahl.

One More DAY!

Going to the Fair tomorrow with my son and a friend who has a son H's age. Hopefully going again Friday afternoon, either alone or with Chillon, to sketch the scene and be a wandering artist for a while. And hopefully will go a THIRD time on Labor Day! Lord I can't get enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One More Week!


This really belongs over on the other blog, but for the sake of someone in particular I want to put it out to the slightly larger world, out there somewhere.

I was just reading elsewhere on someone else's blog about depression, and how there are times when sheer force of will just isn't enough to bring you out from under the weight of what burdens your skull. She has lots of friends, a good relationship, plenty of energy and direction -- but those aren't the answers, she's still at the bottom of the pit and needs to take steps on her own behalf, to see the doctor, to find a pill or new pills that will help ease the burden. I know a few other people who really struggle with this as well, have always, will always, and I know that isolation is dangerous.

So in thinking of my one particular friend, who is having a tough time with church shit right now and has been sort of spiraling into smaller and tighter circles of frustration and hopelessness, but who might not appreciate me addressing this directly -- let me just say, Hey Man: I will help you in any way that I can including going to the doctor with you if you want, or just listening if you want, and it shouldn't matter how or where else we know each other. I'm totally here for you. It might be time to take steps on your own (and your family's) behalf. Just let me know.


Sunday, August 16, 2009


Whew! Just had to get that off my chest. It's still something like ten days though, before the Great Minnesota Get Together gets rolling. Opening Day we'll go as a family; the day after I'm going alone to sketch the Fair, like Roz and a bunch of other folks from the monthly group. (And at this point in my Fair career, there is pleasure to be had in going it alone, with no real plan and no one's interests to tend to.)

Oh yeah, I just got back from the long weekend at Lake Mille Lacs (which I've unaccountably started wanting to spell as "Millacs," as though vacation were costing me IQ points. All that fresh air scrambling my synapses I suppose.)

It was a pretty decent three days; the latter part of Saturday was rainy (darnit) but we worked in quite a lot during the sunny hours. We stayed at Apeldoorn's Sunset Resort in Isle, on the eastern side of the lake. Our cabin had a clear view of the shore and, yes, of the lovely sunset for which the resorts are named. (We only got one sunset though -- weather was coming in on Friday night, obscuring the horizon, and last night it was dark and dreary. Thursday night's sunset was well nigh on perfect, and the three of us watched it from the end of the dock.)

We spent lots of time in Father Hennepin State Park, bird-watching, hunting for crayfish claws and pretty stones, and swimming. H. did lots of swimming, lots and lots. Ron fished a little. I spent my time watching H, beach-combing, drawing, writing, sewing a little while in the cabin, bird-watching, and wading. I don't swim much -- I don't own a suit, and never got around to picking one up before we left town. Oh well. Ron took H out on one of those little paddle boats a couple of times. H played with various kids, at the shore and in the resort's playground. The cabins were very civilized without being condo-like, and the whole thing was generally very pleasant. I'll post pictures.

One unfortunate discovery: My son reacts very strongly to mosquito bites. He gets big swollen welts that take a couple says to go away, even if he doesn't scratch. He got two bites our first day out, in spite of insect repellent, on the front and back of one ankle. His ankle swelled up so much I thought at first he had sprained it somehow. But no. Mosquitoes. Our second day at the state park, we dressed him a little more conservatively, and tried a different repellent. Plus we kept him out of the woods. Seemed to help.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

vacation anxiety?

Well. After literally years of fruitless griping, my husband has at last recognized the signs of incipient nervous breakdown and agreed to take us out of town for a few days. This is my first -- absolute first -- out of town break since my son was born nearly six years ago. I've had one other trip, sans family, for work -- which wasn't bad -- but it wasn't restful. We're going to the lake, renting a cabin for three nights, bringing the boy and a friend whilst another friend stays behind at the house to eat our food and feed our cats. What with this and other events of the week, my mind is a-reelin'.

I'm already a little freaked out by the dent this will put in my workflow, plus the necessary near-absence of Internet. I'll have the Dash, but posting by email is something I don't do much of -- maybe I'll give it a try. The Dash isn't much for webpage navigation, and who knows what kind of signal I'll be getting up at Sunset Bay. I haven't packed for a trip in so long that I know I'm gonna have to make a list. Heck, I don't even own a swimsuit!

The past two weeks at work have been incredibly stress-filled and erratic. Anomie abounds. Things are lifting a bit, and a mini-break will surely help. Last week I came home Thursday night needing to curl up in a ball for about 12 hours, which is more or less what I did, after a chick flick and a glass of wine. Actually, I think I got the 12 on Friday night. And my husband was pretty understanding -- I don't complain much, he looks for other signs of distress I think, though it's pretty unmistakeable when I've hit the wall. Part of my fit had to do with extra work on my desk at the end of the week because 3 out of 4 coworkers were headed out of town. I work 40 hours and get paid for 32 as it is -- with only 15 hours of vacation per year, compared to my supervisor's three or four weeks paid. I pointed out to my spouse that two of these coworkers probably have less money to work with than we do, but THEY find ways to get the hell out of Dodge every year. He relented.

There's an incredible amount of racket coming from the railyard tonight; and a helicopter hovering over the freeway a few miles away. It will be something to escape all this noise for even a short while.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thinking about "Lone Star"

PBS aired John Sayles' "Lone Star" (1996) on Saturday night, and I found myself thinking about it again this evening. It's a great film, and while not well known it is generally well thought-of. Starring Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Pena, Kris Kristofferson and a generally terrific ensemble cast, "Lone Star" is the sort of movie that elegantly explores incredibly complex social issues without attempting to oversimplify or preach a particular moral outcome.

In an interview Sayles briefly explains the intersecting themes of history and borders within the film. In the fictional Texas border town of Frontera, where the film opens on the investigation of a murder that took place 40 years earlier, no one is completely innocent. At the same time, all the major characters (with the possible exception of the dead man) are clearly just trying to find their way -- to find themselves, to understand their "place" in society and finally, to choose whether they will accept the roles assigned them: to know "which side of the line" they are on, and why. All the major moral and social barriers are transgressed here in some degree: interracial relationships, incestuous relationships, family relations, legal prohibitions. A soldier fails a drug test; one young Hispanic man is jailed and another killed for "being in the wrong place at the wrong time;" a sheriff's deputy takes the law into his own hands; immigrants defy the border patrol; blacks and Native Americans engage in both racial violence and intermarriage; a prominent citizen rejects his familial legacy; adultery is committed, and the list goes on. No one is perfect. No one can stay on his or her side of the line for long.

The film shows us the hopelessness of moral absolutism without romanticizing anarchy. The characters who are fairly or unfairly accused of "transgressing" the boundaries have all suffered in some way as a consequence. As they mature, their suffering takes on new meaning for them; they are asked to move past bitterness, or fear, and to embrace the cause of their suffering in a new way. I suppose that is what I find compelling, along with the broader themes.

Some people never mature -- they never escape the role assigned to them by chance, never even find the emotional distance with which to see themselves as having choices, however limited those choices may be. But as Sayles shows us in the film, once we see ourselves outside the social structure, and choose to sidestep social norms, we pay a price in isolation. All of the characters who transgress in this film are lonely people in some degree. They lack loving support, or close family, or intimacy; they live alone with their secrets. Secrets everyone knows, as it turns out, but even outsiders participate in a kind of collusion that allows the society to maintain predictable daily operations. Even those excluded from social acceptance honor the social contract. Until they don't.

I get caught up in the story of the film's romantic protagonists, high school sweethearts struggling to understand what has kept them apart for 20 years or more. "True love" versus a society that wants to keep the lovers apart, for good reason as it turns out. But even the ultimate proscription loses relevance over time, because things change, people change.

I tend towards relationships that kick at societal restrictions. It's not an honorable calling at all times. I've experienced consequences and isolation, and yet I'm still struggling to mature; to figure out who I am and who I want to be. "Lone Star" is full of "pillars of society" -- the cop, the teacher, the successful business person, the mayor, the military officer. None of them are innocent, none of them are quite happy in their roles. There are also parts for the rest of us: the waiters, the kids, the day laborers, the minorities, the private, the Indian, the subordinate. All of them are moving towards fulfillment in a hopeful way, and trying to escape the darkness of oppression and uncertainty. Society advances or regresses along with us.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

more on that

Click the "work in progress" photo to the right to see what I was talking about last night.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

new work

I have something in progress that I want to talk about, but I'm just so freakin tired that it will have to wait. Maybe tomorrow, with pictures.