Nope. Got some blank looks and "okay, I'm talking to my real friend now, so nice talking with you, but we're done here," attitude. Whatever, still a great writer, I though, still have mutual interests, we'll see one another now and then at cons, and it's cool.
At the last con I attended, which was also the last place I saw my mom alive, this writer totally shut me down in a panel, when I made an on-topic comment, basically seeking to put me in my place and re-establish writer's self as the one who knows things about the topic.
I attended no more panels at that con. I've attended no other cons since then -- not because of writer, but bc reasons.
but whenever writer reappears, and says something cool, or does something nifty, for a moment I have that, "Hey, neat! Writer did a thing!" feeling, and then the thought comes back, "yup, and writer basically told you you are stupid and should shut up."
this upsets me. I don't write people off much, I cut people a lot of slack, but I still feel so damned attacked, and in front of other people, and in front of writers whose work I also really liked, and WHOSE POINTS I WAS ACTUALLY ADDRESSING.
All this predicated by seeing a post from writer in my feed. off to change that now.
The first night, we stayed in a student-rate hotel in Belgravia or something like that, and I don't think either of us slept a wink. We saw Cirque du Soleil in the Albert Hall. She got to hear me sing in the chorus for Mozart's Requiem at St. Martin in the Fields. We toured the Tower.
A dear friend was in England, visiting family, and had extra days left on her BritRail pass. When she headed home, she gave us the pass. What does one do with free time, some inherited cash, and free rail travel? One goes to Scotland, to Glasgow.
It was my mother's second trip to Scotland, my first. We arrived at night, but it could have been late afternoon. It's dark in January in Scotland. We found a hotel, settled in for the night, and planned our adventure. We had a few days before I had to be back for the start of term, when she'd meet my friends and choir mates and drink with us in the college bar and endear herself to everyone.
I can see our visit in flashes -- the extravagant meal in a beautiful restaurant, rose pouchong tea surrounded by Charles Rennie Mackintosh design, the dark stone of the cathedral -- but what came back to me full force this weekend as I listened to the Battlefield Band on Prairie Home Companion, was that we attended a concert with bagpipes and fiddles and a full orchestra. I think it was Phil Cunningham's Highlands and Islands Suite, maybe? I don't know for sure. All I know is that the moment when the band fell away and the pipes took over, that characteristic change of rhythm from skipping to skirling, sounding through my car's stereo on Saturday made me break down in sobs, as January, 1997, slammed back into my mind. Funny, though, that it was that memory, and not the dozens of other times we listened to the pipes together. Mom loved bagpipes; we shared that love. I was glad to find a piper for her funeral last spring. How could we send her onto the Low Road, without the sound of mourning and battle and victory and longing that the pipes have?
My mother's birthday is this Saturday. My stepdad is hosting a dinner in her honor, and some of us who loved her will gather and eat and drink and laugh and cry. She was loved by, and loved, so many -- there were not enough chairs in the funeral chapel for everyone who came to her funeral -- and I wish I could call her and ask about that concert. Instead, I guess I'll buy a recording of the Highlands and Islands Suite, and let the music carry me back again to the darkness of midwinter Glasgow, and to the brilliant light and warmth of my mother's love.
Mine is on all the time, folks. I was beginning to get pain in my right shoulder, from looking at it so much. Facebook, mostly, but also reading books and articles and websites. I have become used to having all the information at my fingertips, all the time. Weather? Definitions of odd words? Directions to the school? Done. Done. Done. No need to wonder, figure out, observe, speculate. Even my son expects me to ask Siri or just look it up, for everything. What was that teaching him about wonder? It's an amazing tool, a library and tricorder in my pocket. But something makes me feel crazy. And there is the fact that I need to check all the time. All. The. Time.
Then I read this post by Chandelle. And although I'd read other interesting posts by other writers over the last couple of years, like this one, Chandelle's post really hit me. Perhaps it was her acknowledgment that she planned to keep using her phone, her desire for a middle way.
I tend toward perfectionism and procrastination. If I can't do it perfectly right away, I have a hard time sticking with it. I know this about myself. It's not a point of pride; it's a challenge. And I am working on finding a middle way that works for me. So I'm taking some time away from facebook each day, checking in once or twice, and trying to let it go the rest of the day.
Yesterday, I forgot my phone at home when A and I set out to visit M at the coffee shop and then to go to the Wildflower Garden and park. At first, I thought, ugh! I'll have to go back! But then, I decided to go on. It was fine! At the wildflower garden, I didn't take pictures. At the park, I chatted with the man sitting on the bench near me and watched A playing. I drove us home when we were ready to go. There were no missed calls or texts. I hadn't really missed anything.
I've also been letting A watch a few hours or tv on the weekends. This has been okay, mostly, except he won't stop asking for another movie. I'm trying to draw the line clearly, but sometimes, I jsut don't have enough conviction to say no again and again and again. I choose half an hour of peace. There is a little guilt, but not much. We watched three episodes of Wild Kratts yesterday, an new show for us, and A had a lot of processing to do -- he drew a picture of the characters, and wanted to pretend to be them. It's nice to have a break from Ninjas. So very nice. The Wild Kratts are about protecting and loving the natural world, not about hitting and kicking and sarcasm. So tired of hearing an adolescent voice in my five-year-old's mouth.
Finding our own way. It's good.
There used to be this thing called "real life" where I had friends who called on the phone, and wrote letters, and sent long emails.
And there was LJ, where I found community sometimes, and people awake in the middle of the night. Where I met amazing folks like annablume and sequoianne and csecooney and sdn and wiredferret and ottermoo and bellaunbound and so many, many others. Where I kept in touch with friends from college and from my still-kicking mailing list...
And then facebook happened, and slowly, real life and online life merged into one soup, and I can't find myself in either any more.
Facebook has been useful to me in many ways, but I find myself at even more of a loss for words than ever before. I have missed the long-form entries, the detail, the secrets. And I so miss finding letters in my mailbox, and talking on the phone for hours, not that I can even make a phone call without A wanting to talk and needing things.
Can you believe he's 5, and in kindergarten?
So, where does all this lead us? I've got deep questions about life and faith and work, and this is where they most likely should go. I tried starting a professional blog, but honestly, I don't like it. I've written some okay things for it, but I hate it being public, and it's just too stilted...
Want to bring LJ back? Maybe we can stage some kind of revolution?
This summer was so different for me, from anything that came before. This is the first summer since I was three-years-old, save one, where September didn't see me heading off to school as either a student or a teacher. Our little boy, now 4 1/2, went back to school this morning. I dropped him off, and I came home. Now what?
I do have a new part-time position at the sweet little shop where I did some storytelling events last winter and spring. I'm excited about the possibilities in this. Mostly, I'll be helping customers select and purchase crafting supplies, toys, and home goods, and teaching children and adults to make beautiful hand-crafted toys and decorations. There will also be some story-telling, because there must be storytelling.
Over the summer, I have become more tentative and cautious about presenting myself as a storyteller. Partly, this has been because I have not had a lot of opportunities to tell stories, aside from a few little ones for my son. Lately, he has wanted to read a storybook at bedtime, rather than hear me tell Boy and Cat stories, and I'm not fighting it. I think we were both feeling a little tired of our dear, familiar story-friends, and while they are resting in storyland, perhaps some new adventures can arise. Partly, too, I have felt humbled by the real storytellers I know of, people who are stretching the story mantle to cover more and more topics and to reach more and more people. My own impulse has been one of retreat, of nesting and settling in, rather than outreach. It has been a time of contraction, rather than expansion.
So here I am, on September 5, writing for you, and I feel a little lost, a little adrift on a very smooth, quiet sea. Where shall I sail? Each island in the distance is lovely; each has its own dangers and its own treasures buried in the sand.
What am I going to do here, in my little boat? I'm going to study my map. I'm going to trust the sea and the winds. I'm going to let my boat bump onto the shores of those islands, wander around a bit, nibble sweet fruits and splash in the sea. And I am going to work.
Some of the work is going to look like work: tutoring, shop-keeping, home-making, writing. Some of the work will look a little more like play, and like puttering. And some of the work needs must be the search for work itself-- networking (ugh, that word), applications, study... That is what is allowing me the time to let my boat go where the wind takes it: this ongoing search for work. Because, you see, if I don't look for work, I don't get unemployment, and if I don't get unemployment, then the search for work gets more desperate and less focused on finding right work and more focused on getting any work.
I am toying with the idea of coaching. When I mentioned it to someone dear, she laughed a little, saying, "I don't think either of us is in a position to coach anyone," but perhaps that is a good place to start. Honesty. Authenticity. But what would I coach anyone in? Even coaching in parenting and Waldorf sometimes feels a little hubristic. But I do it. I do it, because the kind, kind women I meet with have told me that it is helpful. And I want to offer that container to others, that space of storytelling and sharing and striving.
*Kindergarten, in the Waldorf schools, is used in more than one way. As the word is used by some, my son has already been in Kindergarten for two years, as he has been in a Waldorf early childhood program, separate from his parents. He will be 5 in December, and this is his first year in the "Kindergarten" at his school; before this, he was in preschool. He'll stay in this class for two years, entering first grade in 2015.
I don't even know where to start. I have fallen out of writing. I am lost a little in these woods. It's hot here, steamy, and humid, with stinging mosquitos. And yet, such lush beauty...
Summer came, and all my dreams of being a real writer, of being a work-at-home, or -from-home, or -and-sometimes-at-home mom seemed to fall apart like a dress sewn of paper and worn in a rainstorm. Little bits of it clung to me, but I couldn't quite reassemble it. My son doesn't have preschool in the summer. I got a part time job teaching at an amazing summer camp. I'm still tutoring.
While shopping with me last weekend for khaki shorts or skirts (camp uniform), my son became teary. "I don't want the clothes to fit!" he said as I flung aside another dud; "I want you to stay home! I want you to just be a storyteller!" Oh, little one, I know.
I mentioned to my partner that I wanted to find the magic key, the one that would fill our pockets and bank account with enough cash to live on, and would allow me to be at home. "That's everyone's dream," she said, or something like it. It's my dream, too.
There is another possibility on the horizon, still very, very hazy, and I am afraid to want it too much. But oh, how perfect it would be, if it would just pay enough...
In the meantime, the camp is great fun, and I am enjoying the process of learning on the fly. It's pretty magical at the awesome place where the camp is, and there are opportunities for soul-deep wonder every other minute.
So, despite all the cheering voices, all the helpful advice, and even the beautiful opportunity to write for Kind Over Matter (look for a link late next week!), I am full of self-doubt, and I feel those flakes of my paper dress drying a fluttering away. I feel so vulnerable in this desperate need for work, for the right work, for the ability to make it through everything. Kelly Diels sent out a post this week in which she talked about the slippery links between misogyny and perfectionism, and I wanted to jump around shouting and curl up and cry at the same time. Didn't help that I sneaked reading the email while sitting in church. Church is a pretty vulnerable place for me. I was afraid that someone would see me LOOKING AT MY PHONE. IN CHURCH. What is she doing??
It's been there all the time, the voice, the one that whispers, "If you do it right, they'll love you." Don't blame my parents; they let me know over and over how loved I was, and am, how special, how brilliant, how pretty... But see, somehow, I got the idea that all that love was based on the other stuff, the brilliance and prettiness and well-mannered politeness, and I was so afraid to let the plates I was spinning fall and shatter. I was afraid to step out of the role I had in my smallish town; if I tried to be anything else, I would lose my place, and then I'd likely have NOTHING, because I was sure I'd fail at being whatever-it-was. Better to be who I was known to be.
I'm living right now, feeling like a failure. I have a Master's degree in Waldorf education, and I failed to be The Best Waldorf Teacher Ever. There'a fair amount of arrogance in that statement. I honestly thought I was really, really good at teaching, and that that fact -- coupled with my sincere love for the students and my colleagues -- would be enough. And it wasn't. And while not all of it is my fault, I feel that I have failed everyone. My students, my colleagues, my family, my parents, my teachers, even my dog. Big, big load of failure right on my head.
A coach, who was leading a lovely program I was doing this spring, pointed out that I seem to beat myself up a lot. actually, I think I don't beat myself up enough, because if I did, I would be doing a lot better in the world than I am.
Part of the problem is, that I am kind of lazy. I get easily overwrought and overwhelmed, and I retreat to doing what feels easy, like refreshing FaceBook over and over and over, like reading YA fantasy (not going to stop that one), like eating junk all the time rather than actually allowing myself to eat nice meals with my family... And I stop doing anything that I know will move me forward. I stop writing, I stop making any effort to connect with friends, I stop trying to move myself at all. I just sit there. And then I wonder why I'm not making progress. Why my book isn't getting written, why Magical Bedtime fell apart, why my son is so whiny and tantrum-y. He's that way, because I am that way.
Also, there are a lot of goodbyes around here these days. My 18-year-old cat passed away at home last week. My friend Kornel, whom I was really meaning to visit, passed away in hospice Monday night. My best friend from high school is moving away on Friday. Let go, let go, let go, everything is saying, and I just want to hang on tighter.
So, here you go, reader. A post. Disclosure -- perhaps not full, but at least a glimpse of why what I said would happen didn't happen, and why I'm so lost. I'm still getting up, and loving my family, and working hard at work-type-places. It's just trying to move my own dreams forward that is getting stuck in the perfectionism-fear trap. Carry on.
There's a lot of haze in the air, from the fires out west, they say. There's still a lot of haze in here, in me.
So I have this other blog, where I write stuff that is more stuff-like. It's my professional face, I guess, but a new pro-face that I am trying to develop, Sara the storyteller, parent coach, writer. No longer Sara the class teacher, and I think that can be okay.
So, have at it, folks. Today's post is about being 12.
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.
in other news, I have removed a big bin of toys from A's room, along with all the Xmas-themed books, and am hoping this will cause him to actually play with the stuff that's there.