Archive for August, 2012

Art Hunger

August 29, 2012

Even in the throes of transition, ordinary life asserts its own demands and I found myself wiping off the remains of a finger-painting extravaganza off the coffee table in our living room tonight, and I started singing one of my favorite Dar Williams songs – “Iowa” – and my daughter shrieked from the next room “Mama don’t SING!” (She always hates it when I sing, unless it’s one of her bedtime songs).

I realized not too long ago that I have this hunger in my life for Art. I realized tonight how much I miss listening to my music. My music. The music that feeds my soul-hunger. Not the theme music from kids’ shows on YouTube, not pop music on the radio, the random snatches of song drifting from a passing car or open window. My husband hates background music unless it’s soft jazz, which has never been my thing – not broody enough, perhaps? And now my daughter resists all attempts I make to foist music on her. I can’t listen to music while I work, so there’s a gaping hole where it used to be in my life.

And I miss the Art of Story. Any chance I get – and it’s so very, very rare these days – to see a movie, I just soak it in, the escape into a visual and emotional story arc that takes me out of myself and then puts me back in again. I read when and what fiction I can, but that too is so very constrained by the demands of parenting and work. The past couple months I’ve taken I think two days off just to soak in Story – a movie one day, and a Mary Stewart suspense/romance the other. (I won’t even tell you what movie it was, I’m too embarrassed. Ok. It was Bridesmaids. Yup, high Art. Whatever.)

I’m not sure what to do about it – it’s just something I’ve noticed recently. Sure there’s plenty of Art – some of it gorgeous, when you look at it – in children’s books, but I guess I’m saturated with that genre. And some of your blog posts are definitely Art. But I guess I need to find a way to bring more Art into my life somehow.



August 27, 2012

My body is registering stress, even though I’m not consciously aware of it all the time. I’ve had a chronic headache off and on, and some tummy twinges this morning. We’re just over a week from leaving Albania and my to-do list is ticking along pretty well. My to-do list for our 2 months in the US is filling up frighteningly quickly, too, though. I want to work in at least 20 visits to Barnes & Noble. 🙂 Somewhere between replacing my driver’s license which I lost here, getting our visas for Colombia, working in doctor’s appointments and traveling to NY to meet with my dissertation committee, I hope to find some deep wells of down-time with friends and family. My mind is operating in three spheres at once – living and moving and being here, trying to be fully here as much as I can; dreaming and daydreaming about our 2-month Stateside sojourn; planning and strategizing for the move to Colombia.

Even despite the stress – I like it.

Im/Permanence of Words

August 17, 2012

A weird thing just happened – I don’t know WHY I do this – but I was browsing through my high school boyfriend’s profile pictures on Facebook (we’re not actually FB friends but I can see all his profile pictures) and one had his handwriting on it. I had an immediate and visceral reaction to seeing his handwriting – after all these years (we broke up in 1992) – because for the most part, our relationship was long-distance.

This was before e-mail (well, not technically, I guess, but nobody I knew used it yet) so all our correspondence was hand-written. We used to fill up entire notebook/journals and send them to each other. I think he sent me around nine, over the course of three years, and I sent him a lot more than that – maybe two dozen.

Here’s the part where I invite your judgement. After we broke up, I didn’t know what to do with all those notebooks. For a couple of years I hauled them around in a box between college and my grandma’s house, along with all the paraphernalia/detritus from our relationship (mix tapes – remember those? – a T-shirt with a photo of the 2 of us printed on it, the half-heart necklace pendant). My parents didn’t have a home in the US where it would have been practical to keep them, and we were all trying to reduce the amount of stuff we had in storage at Grandma’s. So finally I decided I was going to read through them all and then get rid of them. I didn’t even make it through one. It was too annoying, somehow. I wrote and asked him if he wanted them back and never got a response. So I buried them in a cardboard box, along with all the other detritus, under an apple tree by the abandoned chicken house on the farm.

A few years later – I think around the time I graduated from college – I sent him a copy of a paper I’d written for my senior seminar class in English Lit because I knew he’d be interested in the subject matter (and because I wanted to show off a little as it was a kick-ass paper) and he and his wife both wrote back very kind, very surprised letters. He offered to send my all my old journal/notebook/letters because he still had them…


Well, I had to tell him I didn’t have his anymore. And I didn’t want mine back. Honestly, I have very little interest in reliving those years through those journals, knowing how entangled everything would be with the drama of our relationship. It’s bad enough reading through my college journals. Gah. But I feel really, really awful about effectively destroying his. I know he valued the little drawings he sent me, for example.

Our correspondence did not continue so I have no idea what he ended up doing with my old journals, and I don’t really care.

I have more thoughts about this but not much more time to write today so I thought I’d just toss out a couple questions – how heinous a sin did I commit by destroying the journals he sent me? Were they mine to do with as I pleased? Or not? And how does this whole thing compare to the implications of deleted blogs?


Top Searches

August 17, 2012

envy of pregnant women even though i have a baby, word for envy for a pregnant person, can’t do an iui cycle due to labor day weekend, 14w1d pregnant, mental hole


August 16, 2012

List of books I boxed up to ship to Colombia:

Box of Books to Ship

  1. Anderson, Benedict – Imagined Communities
  2. Appadurai, Arjun – Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization
  3. Argyris & Schön – Organizational Learning II: Theory, Method, and Practice
  4. Berk-Seligson, Susan – The Bilingual Courtroom: Court Interpreters in the Judicial Process ($23 used)
  5. Chomsky, Noam – Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies ($3 used)
  6. Crawford, James (Ed.) – Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy ($1 used)
  7. Durkheim, Emile – The Division of Labor in Society
  8. Eagleton, Terry – Ideology
  9. Fanon, Frantz – The Wretched of the Earth

10. Foucault, Michel – Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison

11. Freud, Sigmud – Civilization and Its Discontents

12. Gerth and Mills (Eds.) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology

13. Hollaway, John – Change the World Without Taking Power

14. Levitt, Peggy – The Transnational Villagers

15. Li, Tanya Murray – The Will to Improve

16. Lukacs, Georg – History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics

17. Lyotard, Jean-François – The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

18. Mauss, Marcel – The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies

19. Ong, Aiwa – Flexible Citizenship

20. Suarez-Orozco, Suarez-Orozco, Todorova – Learning a New Land

21. Tsing, Anna – Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection

22. Tucker, Robert (Ed.) – The Marx-Engels Reader (Second Edition)

What she wants

August 10, 2012

Throughout our seemingly endless and recursive life-decision-planning discussions, Gimli kept circling back to this question: “But what do you want?” We would talk and talk and then he’d say, “I’m still not getting a clear idea of what you want.” And I would feel so stuck because I couldn’t see why not.

In our life-coaching conversations, my SIL commented more than once “I’m hearing that you don’t know what you want.” And again I’d feel stuck and bewildered because I just couldn’t see why she was saying that.

I just want everybody to be happy.

This is what I say when pressed, more often than not. I want everybody to be happy and content. But does this just mean everybody else? Or am I included in “everybody” too?

There have been times in my life when I was very, very clear what I wanted: where I wanted to go to college (I only sent in one application), my major, my internship program, volunteering afterwards. I knew I wanted to kiss Gimli about a year after we met, and then I knew I wanted to marry him a year after that. I knew I wanted to get a PhD in Anthropology – although I can’t necessarily say I absolutely knew I wanted to go where I ended up going. I knew I wanted to have kids. I knew I wanted us to come to Albania. And now I know I want to go to Colombia.

Gimli keeps asking me if I’m doing a Gift of the Magi thing in postponing the academic career I once said I wanted, and really at a gut level this question makes no sense to me. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me to be going a different route right now. It did feel like a sacrifice – one that I have grieved – to agree not to return to our home in Virginia. But the life itself, and the work – I’m terribly excited about it.

He wrote me this in an e-mail, and I still tear up when I read it:

[During the orientation for the new job] I could see you feeling valued for who you were – feeling that you belonged and had something to contribute – it’s different from when I see you sort of crinkle up in that sort of “I don’t want to bother anyone with my presence” that I see you do here sometimes – such as when I suggest that you ought to have coffee with Zana or Fjoralba.  Or that “I’m faking it so that the evangelicals won’t turn on me” that I’ve also seen at church with the subsequent self-loathing after that.  Or the “I don’t want to spend the time and energy finding real friends” that I’ve seen you sometimes lapse into here.  At the leadership seminar, it felt to me that you felt that you could be real, and that even real that you were worthy of love, and that you belonged and were competent.  Seeing you like that was wonderful emotionally for me.


So my SIL suggested that invite myself to the conversation. Ask myself, Self, what do I want? Because that knowledge is there; I just need to access it.

I love the imaginative work she prompts me into doing. I had no idea what life coaching was going to be about. Her approach, at least, is very right-brained and gestaltic, all about exploring symbols and metaphors as a way of unblocking creativity. I imagine that it’s not unlike what a good tarot reading might accomplish. Or contemplative prayer. It’s powerful stuff.

So after our last conversation, I tried a new approach to my daily to-do list. Instead of writing down tasks, I wrote down the answers to the question “What do I want today?” Things like: to feel rested (so I took a nap this afternoon), a clean floor (I mopped), a new idea (I read several chapters of social theory and almost immediately had an idea of approaching data analysis succinctly). I could see and feel myself in motion, not spinning my wheels all day and then feeling annoyed that I had accomplished nothing of substance.

And I wrote a poem, of sorts, pulling together some of the imagery I’ve been working with as a result of her prompts. Hesitantly, since I know there are actual real poets whose blogs I comment on who might read this, I’m posting it here:


What does this woman want?


Ask the lady in red.

Invite her to the table

With her knitting needles, her books

ablaze in flames that do not consume.

See her serious eyes, set between

Smile lines and worry wrinkles

Strands of silver in her hair.

She is wiser than you know.

She holds wisdom in her womb.

An lotus blossom opens

At the base of her skull,

Behind her neck.

She is a brown-skinned warrior

Spear and fishhook made of bone.

She is clothed in llama wool.


Ask her what this woman wants

Today, this moment, even

In this lifetime.

She will know.

What you wanted

August 9, 2012

“It’s what you wanted.”

Four words. So many possible meanings.

It was the end of the day, I was tired and on the edge of cranky, trying to manage six different things at the same time (pour juice, head off simmering battles between the kids before they erupt, answer Gimli’s question, keep an eye on the clock, listen to Oz’s chatter for discernable words, ignore my headache). I made some comment about what a juggling act it all was, or how glad I was that Monday was coming along with the nanny, or looking forward to the day they’d both be sleeping until noon on weekends, and he said “it’s what you wanted.”

I admit that I flew off the handle a little bit, albeit silently. “It’s what you wanted.” What, exactly, was that supposed to mean?

Try it – say the phrase out loud, at least four different ways.

1. It’s what YOU wanted. Don’t blame ME for this state of affairs, for your fatigue, for your inability to multi-task, for your constant angst about whether you’re doing them irrevocable damage or building them up into whole human beings. It’s what YOU wanted. You pushed for this, you made it happen, I’m an innocent bystander along for the ride. So don’t expect me to do much more than just stand by.

2. (Mocking) It’s what you WANTED. Ha! Look at you now! Be careful what you wish for and all that. You wanted this, and I delight in your misery now that you have it.

3. (Puzzled) It’s what you wanted, isn’t it? Didn’t you ask for this when we threw out the birth control, when we hammered at the inconceivability for 32 months, when we ran the gamut of tests, when you ingested the artificial hormones, when I drove 6 hours with a cold can of Coke on my lap? Didn’t we do all that so you could be a SAHM? Oh, that wasn’t what you wanted?

4. (Quiet delight) It’s what you wanted. Look at this. Look at them. Look how wonderful, how cute, how small and full of life and astonishingly fast at learning things they are. We wanted this for so long, and here it is. Here they are. It’s what you wanted, and now you have it. Bask in the amazing wonder of that truth. Let the other things fade into the background. Look at your beautiful children. Be glad, and be thankful.

He claims that option #4 is the one he meant. All I could hear was 1-3. Sometimes the voices in my head are so loud I can’t hear the ones that come from actual other people.