Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Today was one of those days I wish I could capture in a jar and save. It started with a very enlightening conversation about life paths. I often think that life is like a maze where we must find the best path to the end. Along there way there are a million places where we can get stuck, lost, or turned around but we should strive to find that ideal path. I had never thought of it as a book where we select our own ending. This comparison really shifted my perspective. Rather than a predetermined path, we make choices every day that come with positives and negatives, These choices define our path but one is not necessarily better than another. I found this rather comforting and freeing. You don't have to search for the perfect path because there isn't one. Funny how you don't realize where your thinking is sometimes stuck on a faulty notion.
During my lunch break I was able to sit in on my first Zen meditation session. After my stimulating morning, this was a wonderfully relaxing experience. For someone like myself who can't stand being quiet, it was amazing to just sit silently in a room with 6 other people and simply "be". Five minutes passed by like a minute. My brain started thinking about all the work waiting for me on my desk, and I immediately pushed the thought away. All my stress dissolved. I just sat there quietly breathing. Between short meditations we talked about Buddhist thought and religion. I can't wait to see where this goes next week. I am grateful I stumbled upon these sessions and am able to attend.
And then came the farmers market! I had been waiting all month for this particular market because one of my favorite craft vendors was going to be there. Earlier in the year I won a $30 gift certificate to her booth and couldn't wait to use it. I don't think I left an item unturned at her booth, carefully deciding how to spend my certificate and then some. When it came time to check out, I was informed I should pick out another item for my bag. And there was no charge for any of my items. What a delightful surprise!
I feel truly blessed for these sometimes simple and sometimes unexpected gifts. I forget that every day is filled with them if I just remember to look. Namaste.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Leaving work just before dusk on a Friday night late in summer, I see a black cat outside the University Library. While I am admittedly a tad superstitious, this cat is very unsettling, not because of her coloring but because of her placement. Just days earlier, a boy jumped from this very building, dying on the cement where this cat now rests. This event has been haunting me for days. I cannot rid myself of the images burned into my memory. I wish I could erase them. I wish I could press the rewind button and change the events of that day. But life doesn’t have a master control and I am left with the uneasy task of coping with what I have witnessed.
What is odd about this cat is my sighting of her. In the twelve years I have worked at this University, I have never seen a cat on the grounds, much less so close to the building. She eyes me cautiously. She is a young cat, less than a year old judging by her size. After a few moments of watching each other, she slowly walks away from me, looking back every so often to see where I am. I feel compelled to follow her. I talk to her in a low and calm voice, “Kitty, come here kitty. I just want to pet you.” She quickens her pace. I continue to follow her around the building. Although we are surrounded by trees and small bushes, she never leaves the cement. I try to get close enough to touch her but she runs away. She reminds me of this boy, lost in his own sadness, too scared and untrusting to allow anyone to share whatever burden he must have been carrying.
The cat is obviously hungry. She finds what looks like peanuts scattered on the cement and begins to eat. I tell her I can get her food if she will just trust me, but I get one step too close and she runs off. We circle each other on the cement for a quarter of an hour. She looks tired. I wish she would simply give in and let me pick her up. I want to bring her home with me, give her a warm place to sleep and plenty of food. I slowly inch my way toward her. When I get close enough, I grab for her. She scrambles away quickly, terrified of my sudden movement. I watch her hide under a bush. I wait patiently and eventually she slowly emerges from her hiding spot. She cautiously makes her way back onto the cement, only feet away from me. I pour some water from my water bottle into the top of the container and leave it for her. I back away from it to let her drink, which she does, guardedly.
After an hour of chasing her back and forth across the cement, I begin to realize that I won’t be able to catch her. She doesn’t want to be caught. She once again retreats under a bush. As I turn to leave, she gradually comes back out, watchful of my every movement. I must accept her decision to stay in this unpredictable and unsafe environment. I know her chances of survival when winter comes will be questionable, but I must let her go. Life is fragile. There are times when no one can help because the help isn’t wanted. We must find a way to cope with our own best intentions. Sometimes they just don’t work.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I often tell people that John Lennon’s death is one of my first childhood memories. I claim to recall this event quite vividly but my family often disputes my childhood memories, and I won’t be a bit surprised if they also dispute this one. I used to tell people how I remembered being at my parents wedding, which took place 5 years before I was born. The memory is in black and white in my mind. I can recall my mother in a simple white dress, my father in a black suit with a flower in his lapel. I was only a toddler so when the music started, they handed me to someone in one of the front pews of the church and then together, walked toward the altar. The odd thing is that I can’t bring to mind my older sister being there. My parents laugh this off, dismissing the scandal this would surely create if I were correct.
Friday, May 23, 2008
I sit next to you in your blue Topaz
as we drive out past the airport
to a place where you say the airplanes
slide up into the sky over head
leaving the runway behind.
Sitting on the hood we wait, surrounded
by the stars and the trees and
a light wind that tickles my arms.
Instead of the planes that you promised
we watch an unlit field.
Around 3am rain spots the windshield
and I wonder why we haven’t gone home
but you kiss me again, your hand on my thigh.
I cannot stop the thoughts of Jonathan
asleep alone, waiting naively for me.
I won’t say it’s guilt I feel, but
an odd loneliness growing between you and I,
I can taste boredom in our kisses.
You ask me what is wrong and I lie.
I say it is the rain and I am tired.
You drive me home in silence.
I try to forget this night happened.
All I want is to lie next to Jonathan
and pretend he is still mine.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I doubt the fish have read it.
They swim aimlessly from front to back,
side to side,
with bright colored scales exposed.
The only camouflage is the green plastic plants
swaying here and there.
A house stands in the purple and blue gravel
with the door wide open.
I doubt there is a closet to hold any wardrobe
a fish might own.
if there was one, the snails have slid their way inside
and stolen all its contents,
hiding the clothes
in their giant houses on their backs.
So the fish swim naked, displayed for us
in their 20 gallon tank,
disobeying the sign,
which I suspect
the snails posted anyway.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Visiting a liquor store at 2 in the afternoon, John and I select a couple bottles of wine. John chooses a Shiraz because of the kangaroo on the bottle. I go with my old standby, Firesteed Pinot Noir. I notice the liquor store has that stale smell of hops and cardboard. When we first walked in I was so disoriented by the stark walls and large windows that I didn’t even notice the door leading into the wine room. We run into Raul, stocking white wines. John met Raul a few months back when John first moved to town. Occasionally, after his shift at Barnes & Noble, John likes to stop in and look over the selection. He likes to learn about the various high end bourbons, scotches, and tequilas.
I still feel a little uncomfortable shopping for alcohol with John. When I met him he had never drank. He talked a lot about his father’s addictions and how he vowed to not become like him. While I supported his decision, this was always a point of contention between us. I love to go out for a margarita with friends once a week. According to John, this made me a borderline alcoholic. It was only this past New Year’s that John decided he was ready to enter the world of beer pong, bars, and middle of the afternoon wine runs.
Raul adjusts bottles of Riesling and Gewurztraminer while he tells us how the store was robbed just last week. He says he wasn’t really scared, just a bit shaken by the events. I stare at them both wide eyed, feeling so out of place. They talk about robberies like they happen all the time. Me, I live in a small suburb of a small city covered in snow this time of year. Daily crime for us involves someone stealing a yard gnome. Raul gives John a few recommendations before we take our selections to the cashier.
As we near the front of the store an old man stumbles in, rambling in Spanglish. He is wearing a red and white winter jacket. Although it is December, it is inappropriate for the 80 degree weather in San Antonio. He asks the cashier for a fifth of whisky and pulls out a pocket full of change. It is obvious he is a regular by the good natured joking of both clerks as one of them counts out the assortment of nickels, dimes, pennies, and quarters. They laugh and make comments on the road work being done out front. The man looks around and makes eye contact with us as we turn the corner where the other clerk is ready to ring us up. Although he looks friendly, I pretend to not notice and make myself busy by inspecting a tequila display.
I don’t fit in here, a pale white northern in this sea of tan Texans. I worry that at any minute someone will point to me and say, “Wait a minute, she isn’t from here” and I will be promptly driven and deposited at the border of Texas and Oklahoma.
The old man looks at John. He smiles and then his brow furrows as he notices something. He points to John and says, “Hey man you got something on your back.” Immediately intrigued, I turn to look at what he is pointing to. There nestled between John’s shoulder blades on the back of his red periodical table t-shirt is an H-E-B sticker.
H-E-B is a chain of grocery stores. The initials stand for Here Everything’s Better. It makes me laugh because they are located throughout Texas and one cannot help but notice the amount of pride Texans have in their state. On our first date, two years earlier in Wisconsin, John told me he was a sixth generation Texan. He planned on being married, having children, and dying in Texas. He also professed his admiration for our Texan president, George W. Bush. Being a liberal who voted for Nader back in 2000 without any hopes that he would win, I was unprepared for this conservative loyalty to one’s state and everything in it. John often spoke of going to H-E-B on his breaks from work. Heb, I would think in my head with a smile.
Earlier in the day, John took me to H-E-B to buy some groceries. In an apartment of 20-something year old boys, I was ensured there were not many vegetarian options available. It was at the checkout cxt line that I spotted the H-E-B stickers. They were hanging near the bagging area. It was obviously a ploy to keep children and 32 year old Wisconsin visitors occupied while the adults paid for the groceries. I couldn’t resist taking one. I put it on John’s back, knowing it would irritate him. I thought back to a conversation we had on the phone one night shortly after John had moved back to Texas. He told me that whenever he buys something, like a shirt or sweater, he inspects the entire item for any loose strings, tiny tears, or flaws in the fabric. He won’t purchase something if it isn’t perfect. I had laughed at this story because I couldn’t be more flawed. If I were a shirt on a rack, I would have mismatched fabric and a missing sleeve. John tried to put the sticker on me but I simply stuck it on the back of his shirt where it would be hard for him to reach. Defeated by my childish antics, he left the sticker there.
Without missing a beat, John looks over at the old man, shrugs and with a gesture my way, says, “It’s her.” He says it like they are conspirators in a plot I am not allowed to know. The old man smiles wide, exposing a mouth full of rotting teeth and gaps. He laughs in a sympathetic way and looks at me knowingly.
For a second I am confused. I take John’s statement literal. I wonder, am I on his back? I look at the sticker and suddenly feel sheepish by his meaning. Maybe I should take the sticker off. Before I can do anything, John grabs my hand and we walk out into the warm Texas sun. I wonder if I have embarrassed him but I look over at him and he is smiling at me the whole time.