Solitude

esoteric fraternity

Gene

Julliard composer

ALONE

spoke with him, and he was alone

In the hills  of california s met the last living member of a new-age society started after the Civil War. They had a patch of beautiful land and crumbling buildings. I understand that their beliefs included racists elements, and I never had a chance to explore what any of their faith pillars were.

I knew of it because the father in law from my doomed first marriage would hide out there when his wife would kick him out. She kicked him out because he was a drug addict. She loved him, and if his drugs could have behaved themselves, she probably would have let him stay. She would kick him out after he stole her car or other fence-able items to turn into drugs.

And he’d go to this hide-away. He would do repairs around their campus. He’d also brought his Vietnam buddy to the spot. That guy lived their permanently, because he’d divorced his wife and wanted the seclusion to compose music. He was a Julliard-trained pianist and was working on his next masterpiece.

We went to the community to look for Dad sometimes, and he wasn’t always there. Drug addicts can be hard to pin down. I met the one surviving member of what had once been a thriving community, who did not like to talk with others much.

And I met Mr. Julliard. He talked all day. It was a torrent of conversation. He was fascinating and told me all about his music, with it’s motifs. He talked about his family and his thoughts and said “I haven’t talked to anyone in weeks.”

Then went on to explain in detail about how seldom people actually talk with him.

I think of him every time I find myself realizing I’ve dominated a conversation

I takl to people. My last cell phone bill (which I use mostly for work) had 16 pages of phone call details. Yes, I talk a lot.

But yesterday I had the chance to talk about some stuff i never talk about at work. And there was some pent up energy for sure.

inarticulate

I worked very diligently to learn Russian when I was there.

When I returned to America, I studied Russian in college. But college had to take a backseat, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to.

So. It’s been more than 25 years since I had someone to speak Russian with.

But yesterday, I was swept into a party with Russian people. And they all spoke Russian. And I remembered that I could understand it, and I really wanted to be able to speak it again.

I did…Just enough for them to believe me that I knew a little bit. And my very fond dream came true:

A lovely woman said she would have tea and speak Russian with me.

One on one, that made it a lot more serious. I couldn’t just lurk. It was time to break out the declensions.

I was never good at the declensions.

But there we were, sipping tea from Lomonosov china, and I was stumbling around for words, verbs and prepositions to talk about my life.

My head felt like it was lifting something very heavy.

My tongue felt stiff and unwieldy.

That’s the word for “language” in Russian. Tongue. So I language and my tongue didn’t work.

I had put an obstacle in my way.

I’m very good with language. English.

I am very awkward with Russian.

I don’t even try with any other languages.

Russian is my language of choice to be bad at. And as I gave myself the hurdle of this language to try to talk about myself, I had to come to terms with the fact that i looked really stupid.

I couldn’t express a thought. Every single preposition was wrong.

Have you ever thought about prepositions? They are some of the hardest working words in any language. Where to, What for, beyond that and with whom are basic and necessary concepts I was grappling with.

Have I lost you already? i acknowledge, very few human being find grammar fun. Poets and linguists and not all of them.

That was not the point. After I said goodbye to my speaking partner, I was so happy to have achieved my long desire. I had found someone willing to speak Russian with me! And I was appallingly bad at it.

God bless her, she corrected all my endings. Not everyone has the patience to do that.

And as i walked the dog, I wondered what she thought of me. I stumbled through introducing myself and telling my story.

Did I sound like an idiot? Did my life make any sense?

These questions could have been appropriate even if I had used my native language.

But I realized as hard and humiliating as it was, it was worth it. All new endeavors require a willingness to be bad at what you are attempting.

This is the challenge I want to attempt. But any challenge I tried would have the same cost.

In order to get better at anything, I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m not as good as I’d like to be.

And I might even be a complete inept nincompoop.

It helps to come to terms with that on purpose. Because i stumble into ineptitude on accident all the time. Walking up to it intentionally is pretty badass.

I plan to make a point of being foolish in something for the rest of my life.

 

Know the Territory

I’ve spent a lot of time in my career, talking people through fixing technology that I can’t see.

I’ve had to work with people all over America and in other countries too. China, Japan, South Africa, Dubai.

I had to get all the stuff working together at the same exactly time. I was the one that had to answer the questions of WHY it didn’t do what we needed it to do so that it would all sync and connect.

How was *I* supposed to know what was wrong in all those corners of the world?

I had to know the territory.

Which is to say, I had an inventory of all the equipment in each of those places. And I knew what each of them were supposed to look like, which cables were plugged into what and what color lights were supposed to blink in what sequence.

I had to know that for each and every single system in all the different countries. And I did. And we could make the stuff work.

Because I knew exactly what each person was experiencing in their room across the world when I talked to them on the phone and asked about the colors of the blinking lights.

My husband had a reason to drive across the country last week–from long island back to California. It was a straight shot, meant to cover distance as fast as possible.

He made one stop. As a person interested in American history, he wanted to see the battleground for Shiloh.

“The battle was chaos. Now that I’ve seen the battlefield, I can understand why.”

It wasn’t meant to happen there. The two armies met on accident.

No one would have chosen that spot for a battle. But then it happened anyway.

Both generals did know the territory and wanted nothing to do with it.

When Chris told me about walking the battleground, and how there was nothing distinct–how there were no landmarks and it was very disorienting

When he said that seeing what it was like there, he could understand the histories so much better

I remembered my talks with people from other cities and their technology. How they had to completely trust me about the cables and the lights

And how I had to learn to trust them. How when then described the lights’ colors and what was happening in their room, as crazy as it sounded to me

I had to believe them.

I learned that they were the ones who could see and hear, and I had to learn to trust them as if they were my eyes.

If we worked together, we could always find the answer to get synched.

But if I didn’t believe them, we would waste a lot of time. I had to know their territory through their eyes and their voices.

Which is not the same as walking the ground myself. And seeing how the land lies.

 

 

 

the box for the gift

I’ve learned from improv that every bit of infomation is a gift.

And that the most valuable kind of inforamtion is basic.

Who what when where

AND

the relationship

because who, what when and where I am doesn’t matter unless I know how it matters to you

I am a wife and mother in 2019 in Claremont California

Or

I am a wife and a mother during the rainiest winter of my daughter’s life in Claremont California.

OR

I am a wife and mother in 2019 in the town with the last traditional-style liberal arts college.

Or

I am a wife and mother at the beginning of the twenty first century in America

…I am stretching out each part of the gift and I haven’t even gotten to the part about being a wife and mother

When I am writing, I guess the facts and the relationship are between the words and what they mean to the reader, how the reader starts making relationships between the facts

In improv, the relationship can be between two people.
But the writer is alone, or at least alone until someone comes along to keep the writing company by reading it.

So i guess I’d better be clear in my mind, what relationships i want to present to the reader

once the relationships are established, the rest can ride.

what I’ve read this year

It’s march. Two months into the year

 

I’ve read

The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett

Looking for Alaska by john Green

Skyward

The age of Miracles

A Hat full of Sky

Crazy Rich Asians

An American Marriage

The Sellout

Not Finished Germinal

Warbreaker

Where the Crawdads Sing

Less

Audiobooks

The Proud Tower

A distant Mirror

Two Years before the mast

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt

Executive Presence

Armada

 

The Republic

Common Sense

Snowflower and the Secret Fan

Is everyone Hanging out without me?

Big Pototential

Gentleman in Moscow

 

25  books, not all of them finished (3/24)

 

 

a story- Boss bobbing his head

I’ve accomplished somehting recently.

I lost 33 pounds. I lost it, then i gained some back then I lost what I gained plus a little more.

I’ve been working on losing some number of pounds since I was a teenager. Do this day, the smell of chocolate slim fast brings me right back to my first year of community college.

There was a hashtag a while back #yesallwomen

the hashtag was meant to be the response to this conversation “Not all men are horrible”

No, not all men are horrible. But all women have met those horrible men and have to watch out for them

And #yesallwomen can apply to even more.

Yes, all women have had a number in mind for what they want to weigh.

So much energy spent on that number. so many thoughts and recriminations and self-flagellation.

I will tell you, since I have lost my 33 pounds I have noticed more attention from men. More lingering gazes. More hugs.

Hmm.

Reminds me of a time…

 

I had just had my baby, and i was still nursing. This was not a time when I felt comfortable or beautiful in my body. Post-pregnancy I had a weird shape, with floppy skin on my stomach and piles of extra flesh on my hips.

Yes, making a life and feeding that life with my body was a revelation. But beautiful I was not.

I was stretching to hit presentable.

Right that same time, things were getting weird at my job. I was so happy to be back in my job, with something to occupy my mind and my time. But next thing I knew my boss was being fired.

Wait, what? What did this mean?

And we had a new boss.

Who is this guy? What’s he going to be like? And how ‘Interim” was this?

He worked in a different building, and i had a reason to go over there one day.

This was a day that I felt like I had tried at failed to be presentable.

To be fair, the skirt would have been a comfortable length if my hips weren’t so wide.

Now, it was shorter than I liked. I felt very lopsided and weird.

This too shall pass.

So I went down to the cafeteria and got some lunch.

As I was getting up to finish, I ran into the the boss.

“Hello!” I said.

“hi, how are you?” he responded.

And his eyes did a long peruse of my body.

His head even made a tiny nod, following his eyes.

This was far beyond the usual check-out move. Time stood still.

WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HIM? I was NOT a candidate for this sort of glance. I was not at all at my best, and what kind of terrible taste did this person have to check thisl lumpy body out?

and he was my new boss!

I excused myself, and like the classic female I am, I ran to the bathroom.

I blinked at the mirror. My eyes wide in shock. Emotionally, my jaw was dropped, and remained so for the rest of the day.

What had just happened?

He wasn’t my boss for much longer. And he never did the head bob ogle again. For the rest of the time that he was my boss, though, I had to wonder how seriously he took my contributions.

He seemed to. But who knows what lurks in the hearts of men?

 

 

Create

I want a project. but I don’t really want a project.

 

I want to create, but I am not really inspired by one thing

I used to feel a strong compulsion. I really wanted to complete the project.

but I feel a faint compulsion.

I want to get on the train of a project, to feel the vision of the thing I want to do.

I’ve had a lot of ideas. And I haven’t followed through, just dilletanting.

I have to pick one.

Maybe the thing I can pick is to go back to blogging every day. Or at least several times a week.

I want to start this moving. I have a lot of things rolling around in my head

Eleanor Roosevelt

This woman, as she was first lady of the united states, maintained a daily column.

She was the first mommy blogger.

Really, she wrote about her day, and what was happening in the white house.

Reading her autobiography has been a difference experience than I expected. It’s way more low-key.

Maybe that’s who *she* is. Way more low key that we all expected

There is a way things must be done

A guy yelled at me today.

In a way, he was right. Because there is a way that things need to be done.

We have to do things that way because if we don’t, it just doesn’t work.

And, I hadn’t done it that way.

I know there is a way things need to be done. I completely believe in doing it the way it needs to be done.

And, hard as I try, I don’t always manage to do things they way they need to be done.

My sock drawer will back on me on this.

So, when he wanted felt compelled to repeat to me the way things need to be done, I tried to interrupt and explain what happened.

The tide could not be stemmed. The indignation must be expressed. The standard must be maintained.

We can’t have this. We cannot, and we cannot and we cannot not say so.

He was loudly calling the second foul.

Yes. I probably should have filled out the correct TPS report. It’s IMPORTANT.

I know. I’m trying. My average is getting better.

Me and my sock drawer have our ups and downs.

I am pretty sure yell-y guy has his own sock drawer.

 

Younger every year

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

-Pink Floyd

I like to say I was born a hundred years old and I’m getting younger every day. I was born extremely responsible.

I had so little freedom I was very very very careful how I spent it.

In hindsight I am pretty sure I invested well. But like Tomas says in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the only way to know if it was the best choice is to live one’s life all the way through with that choice and then go back and live it all the way through with the other choice.

And that’s not possible, so we have to make the choice.

I made my choices.

I’m reading Less, about a man who made very few choices in his life. He fell into a long life-sharing relationship with a poet who won the Pulitzer. Arther Less is famous mostly for knowing this famous person. A supporting character in his own life. And now he is struggling with turning 50.

Have you heard of this book? In a terribly unimaginative life-imitating-fiction, the book itself won a Pulitzer.

It’s hard for me to tell what is supposed to be ironic and what is unintentionally so. It seems that it was meant to be absurd.

But the thing about turning 50 is it is intrinsically absurd.

Things that were impossible, inconceivable 25 years before have become commonplace. By this time we’ve learned how to pull the levels of power and can move the earth.

Prime of life, indeed. I know how to get a lot of stuff done.

Now it’s a matter of what do I want to do?

Now that I have pulled these levers, what is worth the effort? The stuff I can do didn’t happen by accident. I know the cost now and I’m a little less willing to pay it for no reason.

But I’m not like Pink Floyd. I was not one to kill time. I’m far more willing to waste it now. Tomas is right. I might have jumped that gun and been running full out for ten years in the wrong direction.

I can’t know now.

The best I can do is pay attention to what I like, and do that enough times in a row to start a trend.