Wednesday, May 31, 2006

tree shall stay and stay

tree won't pack his back and go
tree won't go away
in his first and favorite home
tree shall stay and stay.

first i loved one home.
then i loved another.
i've waved good-bye to seven homes--
and so have pops and mother.

but tree shall stay, so stout and straight
and never have to move
as i, as pops, as mother
from land he learned to love.

i don't know who wrote this, maybe langston hughes? i read it a long time ago and it has stayed with me ever since. it feels true for me today.

Monday, May 29, 2006


la·con·ic adj. Using or marked by the use of few words; terse or concise.

"Crake had a thing about him even then, thinks Snowman. Not that he was popular, exactly, but people felt flattered by his regard. Not just the kids, the teachers too. He'd look at them as if he was listening, as if what they were talking about was worth of his full attention, though he would never say so exactly. He generated awe -- not an overwhelming amount of it, but enough. He exuded potential, but potential for what? Nobody knew, and so people were wary of him. All of this in his dark laconic clothing."
from p. 75 of "Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood.

i get annoyed at stories in books where there are a pair of characters, and one of them is clearly the alpha-figure, the cooler one, the leader, the strong silent one. the other one is just a little clumsier, a little chubbier, and when the leader says, "let's do this", it goes without saying they will. i guess i just have always felt like i was the one who was fatter, more clueless, not really knowing what the socially acceptable thing was to do. so i'd follow my cooler, more confident sidekick along, but slightly resentful, wishing i could be the cool one for once.

i'm prepared to like this book, however. debbie, have you read this one?


this pencil cost me 75 cents at an art museum in austin. i've been thinking about it quite a bit. i liked the message immediately (there were lots of different "art is" pencils), but the more i stare at it the more profound it seems.

as i was scribbling in my journal on the plane, the pencil flipped out of my hand and into a very awkward place between the seat and the wall of the cabin. after a couple of unsuccessful lunges, i realized i would probably not get it back without getting down on my hands and knees, preferably after the people beside me left their seats. eventually i wrangled it back.

so--what is my art, what is my struggle?

life is my medium. life is difficult. living well requires focus, mindfulness, and a vision of what i want to create. no wasted brushstrokes. simplicity, passion, vivid colors. inspired, free, but with care underlying each choice. love in every act.

the consciousness, focus, living-each-moment is my struggle. tiny brushstrokes--no sweeping acts or proclamations. just painting a little more beauty every day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


to discover austin, texas (by way of an educator's conference). i'll be back in a while :)

this photo is stolen from the internet. isn't it intense?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

eva cassidy makes this magical. i don't know much about music--but this strikes a chord.

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.
From glen to glen and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the flowers dying.
'Tis you, 'tis you must go, and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
or when the valley's hushed and white with snow.
'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow.
Oh Danny Boy, oh Danny Boy, I love you so.

But when ye come and all the roses falling,
and I am dead, as dead I well may be,
Go out and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.

And I will hear tho' soft your tread above me,
and then my grave will warm and sweeter be.
For you shall bend and tell me that you love me,
And I will sleep in peace until you come to me.

Monday, May 22, 2006


the night before last, i suffered a very new type of insomnia. it's the type that happens when:
  • you spend the night at a friend's house
  • this friend is very attached to her son, a dog whose qualities i must admit are outstanding
  • the dog sleeps on the floor by the bed
  • the dog unfortunately ate something strange while visiting friends
  • the dog's intestinal track reacts by emitting, from the lower end, stink bombs of the most overpowering strength.
  • you try to press the blanket to your nose, and only partly succeed in hiding from the all-reaching power of the poopy-scented molecules invading all corners of the room.
  • you are too tired to think of the very rational thought of sleeping in the bathtub, with the door closed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006



my body is not very happy. i don't exercise or get sleep as regularly as i need. i think a major focus of the next month will be to keep my body healthy and well. the ribs are complaining about my posture and how much i sit. at least i eat fairly well. i'm eating much less sugar, much less meat.

here's to the discipline to put my body's needs onto, if not at the top, of the priority list.

Friday, May 19, 2006

rain in the forecast

i am sitting here, enjoying a beer, and the weather says some rain tomorrow. that's good. perhaps i shall go for a hike.

i have nothing to say. perhaps it is time for a poem.

The Rain by Robert Creeley

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


here are the pictures i took. favorite moment: inside the cathedral of st. john the divine.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

spoiled rotten II

i found a ticket for a 7 pm cruise around new york that someone gave me when they moved away. i decided that today would be the perfect day to use it. it's a slightly rainy day; i think this will make for great photographs.

Monday, May 15, 2006

spoiled rotten

you know those days when you just are overwhelmed by the prospect of getting yourself through a day of work--and you'd give anything to be able to just stay in bed till noon?

today i did stay in bed till noon. it's gloomy out, luxuriously gloomy. i slept pretty late and then got up & made breakfast and am now wasting time. not even feeling too guilty about it, either.

the only bad thing is that i'm out of coffee. must go get some of the good stuff.

luxuriously lazy. and i'm trying to enjoy it for all of you who are working today.

Friday, May 12, 2006

new passport photos

what do you call the expression on this face?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


think of a person in your life who gave you a new idea--large or small--that you really cherish and remember. what is that idea? why does it stay with you? how has it changed your thinking?

father lancelot--when i thanked him for paying for the meal, he said i was making too much over the money, and thanked me instead for my company and conversation.

another nugget i gained from him was when he urged me to keep my heart's garden free of the weeds of anger and resentment.

sharon gave me an interesting idea once: i was complaining about arrogance, and she suggested that some people who are truly brilliant have a right to be a little bit arrogant, and it's not as obnoxious as stupid people who are arrogant. i'm not sure about this, but...

anson's blog is titled Hopeful Expectation. i like the sentiment expressed in his choice of title. especially since i know it's a meaningful choice.

one of mike's pet points is right vs. good. it took him a while, but i think i finally get it. it's influenced the way i talk. i choose my words differently now.

diditi chose to remain friends with me after a really awkward, bizarre confrontation. it brought our friendship to a whole new level.

once, michelle told me that i have a problem with honesty. i really appreciated her being able to tell me that. in that moment, she established herself as a friend of worth.

dad told me once that i should marry someone that i respect. i remember exactly where we were when he said that to me. (driving into bridgeport, just before you cross the railroad tracks.)

mom was a real mommy to me. i'll always have that. she gave me her time and these moments were filled with love. this is truly a gift.

there are many, many more. what gifts do you carry in your pockets?

dedication to the truth

the conversation below under this post about lying and the truth has been stirring my thoughts the last few days. while grinding coffee this morning, i realized that the heart of the matter might be something (surprise, surprise) written by one of my heroes.

all of this is particularly vivid to me in the context of a flurry of emails and a meeting we had at work yesterday (union & contract issues) that were very disturbing to me. whenever an event disturbs me at a gut level, i know there is something interesting to be learned there. part of the knotted stomach phenomenon is not being entirely sure what is at the heart of my discomfort.

i talked to various people who i respect about how it was the way things were done rather than the content of the proposed agreement that disturbed me most. it's funny: we all prefer honesty. cut-through-the-b.s. and give me scoop. doesn't it seem like the most effective way to
1)spend people's time
2)build trust
3)keep it simple
4)not get caught with your pants down

but these guys seem to have a knack for taking a carefully thought out direct question and muddling the issue until the asker is utterly baffled and literally can't remember what it was they were asking.

is this a consciously chosen, effective strategy for keeping the power to themselves? perhaps so. these guys apparently have had control of the union for about 20 years. union leaders are elected. i'm dumbfounded as to how a body of intelligent, articulate, critical thinkers (such as we believe our faculty are) can be brought to a halt by fuzzy language, vague allusions, out right lies, and wasting our time with irrelevant anecdotes. they stand before us, taking up our lunch hours with no visible sign of having prepared, and cavalierly discuss issues that are very important to us as if it were just no big deal. "leave it to us--we've got it under control--blah blah blah."

it fascinates me. i'm reduced to emailing my union rep to ask "how long till these guys retire"?

slimy is the only word that seems to apply. slimy slimy slimy. impossible to grab and shake.

anyway, i was getting to a point. what does M. Scott Peck say about dedication to the truth? here's a long exerpt:

So the expression of opinions, feelings, ideas, and even knowledge must be supressed from time to time in these an many other circumstances in the course of human affairs. What rules, then, can one follow if one is dedicated to the truth? [I added bullets for readability.]
  • First, never speak falsehood.
  • Second, bear in mind that the act of withholding the truth is always potentially a lie, and that in each instance in which the truth is withheld a significant moral decision is required.
  • Third, the decision to withhold the truth should never be based on personal needs, such as a need for power, a need to be liked or a need to protect one's map from challenge.
  • Fourth, and conversely, the decision to withhold the truth must always be based entirely upon the needs of the person or people from whom the truth is being withheld.
  • Fifth, the assessment of another's needs is an act of responsibility which is so complex that it can only be executed wisely when one operates with genuine love for the other.
  • Sixth, the primary factor in the assessment of another's needs is the assessment of that person's capacity to utilize the truth for his or her own spiritual growth.
  • Finally, in assessing the capacity of another to utilize the truth for personal spiritual growth, it should be borne in mind that our tendency is generally to underestimate rather than overestimate this capacity.
All of this might seem like an extraordinary task, impossible to ever perfectly complete, a chronic and never-ending burden, a real drag. And it is indeed a never-ending burden of self-discipline, which is why most people opt for a life of very limited honesty and openness and relative closedness, hiding themselves and their maps from the world. It is easier that way. Yet the rewards of the difficult life of honesty and dedication to the truth are more than commensurate with the demands.
  • By virtue of the fact that their maps are continually being challenged, open people are continually growing people.
  • Through their openness they can establish and maintain intimate relationships far more effectively than more closed people.
  • Because they never speak falsely, they can be secure and proud in the knowledge that they have done nothing to contribute to the confusion of the world, but have served as sources of illumination and clarification.
  • Finally, they are totally free to be. They are not burdened by any need to hide. They do not have to slink around in the shadows. They do not have to construct new lies to hide old ones. They need waste no effort overing tracks or maintaing disguises. And ultimately they find that the energy required for the self-discipline of honesty is far less than the energy required for secretiveness. The more honest one is, the easier it is to continue being honest, just as the more lies one has told, the more necessary it is to lie again. By their openness, people decidated to the truth live in the open, and through the exercise of their coursage to live in the open, they become free from fear.

(from pages 62 and 63 of The Road Less Travelled)

I love how the emphasis shifts to discipline, love, and freedom. The focus becomes the well-being of others, not our own personal comfort. I think the second-to-last bullet above encapsulates my feelings about honesty in our world. There is so little of it, and the world sadly lacks clarity, simplicity, directness that has its roots in genuine love for each other.

So should I write the professor and tell him the real reason we declined him? Could he use it for spiritual growth? Who knows. Do I feel like going and telling the leadership of our union about their foggy, opaque leadership style and what I think of it? Heck yeah. Could they use it for growth? I don't know.

Ultimately, the person most in need of my honesty, though, is me. And the honest truth of this particular moment is that this is the first day of my vacation and I slept REALLY late (the movie last night was good, but very late) and haven't showered or made progress in the direction I'd planned. It's time to get up and go get some passport photos taken.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

good things:

ahhh! time to celebrate:

  • we found a good person (we think) to sublease the apartment for the summer. this will save me about $1300 or so.
  • i finally bit the bullet and bought tickets to go to peru for a's so freaking hard to optimize, given so many different variables: price, but also airports, times, duration of stay, # stops, whether the flight includes sitting in mexico city airport for 5 hours in the middle of the night. the ticket i bought was a little more but it's non stop, and from newark, not jfk. i'm content.
  • i finished grading ALL the exams. amazing! also--
  • had lunch with a great kid who i met on the new orleans trip. it was very good to chat with him and compare notes about how life develops and what we want.
  • while the students were testing i was reading this book--which is really good. well the writing could be a little tighter, but the ideas in it make me so happy--about finding purpose in our life, and letting that purpose fill each small daily event with meaning and joy--if we can be mindful--and live deliberately. this requires discipline, focus. it requires us to edit out distractions, time-wasters, and meaningless 'noise'. i like that idea. i will blog more about it--i was underlining all over.
  • i filled up the tank with gas, and came home to stella's wonderful supper. italian meatballs, mashed potatoes, delicious bread, and merlot (don't know what nationality--if any--merlot is supposed to be). top it off with conversation...
  • i am really tired. i think we are going to go see a movie....perhaps spike lee's inside man.

p.s. i just opened my inbox and there was an email from Matt Damon!!!! bewilder-bafflement? is this a prank from a sibling who knows of my weakness for only this particular movie star? no, it's actually real.'s because M.D. is using his celebrity (like others do) to support The ONE Campaign. but email from Matt Damon... wow.

Monday, May 08, 2006

i found this blog that is reliably beautiful: whiskey river. i added a link to the right. anyway, today's poem was lovely. like many of my favorite poems, i'm not sure exactly what it means, but it evokes a feeling of recognition. it reminds me of a feeling i'd never named.

on truth: roommate and i are attempting to sub-lease our apartment for the summer. we wanted to meet the people to see if we felt comfortable with them. this guy emails us regarding the ad we had online--he's a professor, going through a divorce. when he comes over to see the place (and get screened by me) he lets it drop that he has a girlfriend.

roomie and i hope to be married one day, and the fact that this dood has a girlfriend while he's going through a divorce annoys us. so while he seems to be a good guy in all other respects, we decide we don't want him living in our place. and yet--here's the part where the truth comes in--when i write him to turn him down, i don't tell him the truth. i tell him "the apartment is no longer available".

polite society seems to require these small lies of us--less than the truth--to avoid awkwardness...

i didn't want to get into an argument with this guy. i didn't want to confront him about his morality...none of your business--he'd say. i didn't want to stress out a man who's clearly already got enough to worry about.

what do you think?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

inchoate \in-KOH-it\, adjective:
1. In an initial or early stage; just begun.
2. Imperfectly formed or developed.


...has a clue. i'm increasingly convinced of this. especially when we disagree...and's fascinating. we all are so different, and so opinionated...and when we have to come to a's painfully one knows what they are talking about.

this helps me to be a bit more confident in taking a stand. my opinion is as valid as anyone else's, perhaps. (the perhaps lingers...)

i still believe in an ultimate reality...but we're so clueless...hovering at the fringes of it, barely touching or experiencing its surface...

still...thank god we have each other to clash and disagree with...alone, i think we'd lose it completely...

the scoop

so, what was the deal with closing the other blog and opening this one?


my style has purpose has shifted. and i wanted to set aside my archives and start fresh. it's unfortunate that i lost my old address. it was the underscore in it which is no longer allowed by blogger.

i guess i could say more...regarding the fact that the blog was linked to my last name, which i'm not really comfortable with.

but before i forget--i realized last night that i thought cinderella's dancing was far more beautiful when she was barefoot--there was such grace to it, such childlike simplicity. when she put on her magical slippers, i thought something was lost.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

a sparkling afternoon

this afternoon i felt that the world might be celebrating. perhaps there was joy in the air, in the wind, in the trees, in the sun lighting up the glass hanging and twirling and winking at me. i watched, delighted, but hesitating.

are there moments when all is right with the world? peace on earth, goodwill toward men? i know that anson passed his bar exam. my summer freedom is imminent. angie called me and read her words to me, sad, but rich with insights, powerful descriptions. then i went to see a ballet...and cinderella danced with joy, shining on all around her. i think this time of year--summer coming, vacation so close you can almost touch's full of expectation and new things. i keep expecting everyone to have a story, to radiate excitement.

i'm happy to be blogging again. i'm celebrating that too. rejoice with me.