Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Had To Thank My Dog

You wouldn't know this unless I tell you. I had a whole piece written and ready to post and then I veered off, went to check my email, or did I click on another site - see, I can't even remember, and then the whole thing was lost. All my brilliant funny words erased. 

There was something in there about Pamela Anderson from Baywatch which was very funny, so I thought and then, I didn't hit save. It was clearly for the best...

It's all so perfect because I'd been writing about the way we (I) carry on about the smallest things most days, like having to take Chewy out in the morning. Usually no later than 7 am. Chewy doesn't know Saturday from Wednesday, or that my bed feels extra warm and I don't want to get up. I end up having bitch sessions in my head while pulling on my boots and coat, muttering to him about needing a break and all kinds of things. 

Dammit, Chewy! Don't you get that I just need a break?

He doesn't get it.

I put on the kettle and a pair of mittens and we step out the back door into the cold air and all the snow and the sun coming up through the trees 

I had to thank my dog.

Tonight I took him out again, for like the seventeenth time today, and there was the fat moon coming up behind the trees and the air was still and cold and my neighbor let her dog out and we talked about our gardens over the snowbanks. The two dogs rolled over each other in the snow and then did a big loop through the trees.  I thought about the stories I weave, my bitching stories, about the dog, or possibly a cow in my parking space, all the mundane things I can natter on about in my head and I had to laugh. 

Out loud. 

Because it's really funny if you think about the stuff you (I) go on about when you could be soaking up the sun or swallowing the moon instead. 

xo b

Sunday, January 17, 2016

the cow in the parking lot

You are at the grand opening of a new shopping mall on the edge of town. You've been driving around looking for a parking space for ten minutes. At last, right in front of you, a car pulls out of a spot. You hit your turn signal and wait as the car backs out. Suddenly, from the other direction, comes a Jeep that pulls into the space. Not only that, but when you honk, the driver gets out, smirks, and gives you the finger.

Are you angry?

Now change the scene ever so slightly. Instead of a brash Jeep driver, a cow walks into the space from the other direction and settles down in the middle of it. When you honk, she looks up and moos but doesn't budge. 

Are you angry?

- The Cow In The Parking Lot
A Contemporary Zen Parable

I returned most of the books from last week's *list. It was time to clean up, clear out. Clearing your space: bed, fridge, closet, junk drawer, head, is a simple, yet powerful action. 

So is opening windows in the middle of January.  

So is buying tulips. 

xo b

*(see last week's post: little excursions

Sunday, January 10, 2016

little excursions

January 10. 2016

Michael and I were on the phone, talking about his day on the west coast, mine on the east. I was sharing about my library outing - an attempt to get out of the house (where I work most of the time) - see people, get a new perspective, get away from the dog. 

I don't know, I said, I'd tucked my bag of notebooks, a contraband banana and cup of tea in a cubby and walked the shelves. I ended up in the depression aisle. I'm a homing pigeon.

Note: shelves of books for me are like walls of shoes for Imelda Marcos.

remember Imelda?

Anyway, honey, I was standing in the depression/anxiety aisle. 616.8527, and now I've just about finished a slim book called A Hell Of Mercy - a meditation on depression and the dark night of the soul. (Tim Harrington)

It's a beautiful book, I said.

This prompted Michael to say in a kind, yet firm voice -

Have you considered doing some volunteer work, honey?

Which prompted me NOT to tell about the other books I'd checked out:

Thoughts Without A Thinker +
Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart -  Mark Epstein
Listening to Depression - Lara Honos-Webb
The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger - Scheff and Emiston
Zen 24/7: all zen, all the time - Philip Toshio Sudo

There were two on teachers and teaching which is what I'm researching these days:

The Courage To Teach - Parker J. Palmer
A Life In School - What the Teacher Learned - Jane Tompkins

Occasionally, I wonder what the librarians think.

E.B White writes,

There is one thing the essayist cannot do, though - he (me) cannot indulge himself in deceit or in concealment, for he will be found out in no time.

On this dark, rainy Sunday morning - why not snow! 

a few more books crowd the bed - 

a dusty, water-stained copy of Essays of E.B. White
Meditations From the Mat - Rolf Gates
The Little Paris Bookshop - Nina George
Vanessa and Her Sister - Priya Parmar
The Appleseed Journal - Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Revere Beach Elegy: A Memoir of Home and Beyond - Roland Merullo (new favorite writer)


1 New Yorker
1 old copy of Three Penny Review
1 Kripalu catalogue filled with workshops like:

Rejuvenate and Reclaim Life after 40     okay
Unmasking Your Soul                              not sure that's a good idea
An Introduction to PranaDanda Yoga    say that 3x fast, you'll smile

+ a coloring book for grown-ups with a box of markers ~ 

E.B. White pondered this in the forward to his book: 

I think some people find the essay the last resort of the egoist, a much too self-conscious and self-serving form for their taste; they feel that it is presumptuous of a writer to assume that his little excursions or his small observations will interest the reader. 

Maybe it is presumptuous for me to assume that my little excursions or small observations are of interest to readers. to you. 

I read ( too much?) anyway.
Write anyway. 
Share anyway. 

Yesterday I scribbled this:

I've been sitting on my writing, 

like a hen waiting to hatch an egg 
that should've left the nest a long time ago. 
Put the egg in a basket, Betsy, give it away.

xo b

~ When Michael comes home, I clear the bed and make room for my husband's warm body. 
   Books end up at my feet, thumping to the floor in the middle of the night. amen.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

At The River's Edge

January 3. 2016

I know it's Happy New Year.

I'm still working on my review of what the hell happened in 2015:

Great and wonderful things
+ loss and change and letting go,
always more letting go.

Jumping in, I'm changing the title of my blog to align with the url address:

scratching on paper: ________________________

I've yet to come up with a new tag line.  musing on it

I'd like to change the design, to make it so people can click and it will arrive in their inbox. I want more people to read me, to make money from my writing but have yet to figure that out.

(No blinking ads for unsightly belly fat and forbidden foods (bananas?) here.

I'm easily frustrated by change. When the color changes, where do I click for editing the words? My neck aches. I walk away. My plan was to have it perfect before sending out this new year piece.

not even close/ 

Scrolling through past posts, I found some ideas/quotes I've shared. 

 If you could call it perfection, what would it look like? Would you feel it? Wherever you are, call it perfection and know in this moment it really is enough. - Leza Lowitz

And this, about not knowing...

Emily Dickinson didn't learn to tell time until she was fifteen years old because she was afraid to tell her father that she never understood his explanation of clocks. I can so relate, Emily.

And this idea for a bumper sticker:

I have no idea. 
Can you help me? 

Every January 1st we go to the river, (our beloved Delaware) to write wishes and prayers on leaves and bark, launching them into the icy water to take hold where they will. In past years, I've gathered fistfuls of leaves, fervently scratching specific wants, to be published, to travel, to make more money, to work out more, to have my family always happy and thriving, to do what I love, to trust my path...

Specifics are good in writing. The details bring your story to life; help your reader taste the red apple, see the blue veins under the old man's hands, feel the mouth on the inside of the wrist. But to open to mystery, to step away from the need to nail things down, to know anything, to ask for help, to let perfection be the moment I'm in right now - this is where I pray to fully be this year.

Note: I will fail repeatedly.

On this New Year's Day, we were missing our full posse, as Michael was in Los Angeles. Claire and I had promised no river messages until we could all be together. But after our two miles through the woods and standing at the river's edge, I had to write something.

One leaf, I said to Claire, it'll work for the whole family, it'll work for everybody.

xo b

* tree photo by Rob Jackson (beloved brother)