I made a cake for the daughter's birthday. A cake with "a unicorn and an owl being friends. And hearts. Lots and lots of hearts." I used 2 kinds of frosting... a tasty cream cheese frosting to cover the cake and then some semi-edible mini-marshmallow fondant that I could shape into... well, shapes.
The cream cheese stuff was really great until it crusted over. Then it was only kind of okay. And the marshmallow stuff was just always kinda gross and crusted over. Sickly sweet. Frosting isn't my thing. In fact, I far prefer pies. Or steamed chocolate pudding with butter sauce... the holidays are upon us.
I'm not ready. I don't have gifts. The house is a mess. We got a tree. It is plopped in the corner all puffed up like a bird fluffling up its feathers to stay warm in the winter. Or just to proudly announce its presence. I am bigger than I am. Look at me.
I guess I have a few gifts. And yet I am not in a panic.
I have been noticing lately that I am very calm when I think I would have been panicking in the past. And it seems like it should be a good thing. You know, who wants to panic?
The night before the art show where I had my stuff I was completely unprepared and I was a bit nervous, sure. But it didn't feel visceral. Not how I'm used to it feeling.
Now this lack of preparation? Meh. I am not even totally panicked about being officially observed at work. Part of that is probably that my co-teacher is VERY calm about the observation process. "They'll see what they see," she shrugs.
This is not anhedonia. I do feel pleasure in things. I do enjoy and look forward to things like concerts and movies and art shows... I do have the usual amount of dread at family gatherings.
Okay, looking forward to that, too. Just the dread of being over-peopled for several days running. At least I'll have a few weeks to regain my equilibrium.
But I think I miss some of that depth of feeling that came with the panic. Not the panic, mind you. But there is something like being open and feeling deeply and passionately and in a way that is different from this. Except I think that comes with all the crap of being Down or being Up.
Is this like an addict missing what it felt like? That intensity?
Fear not, I am not in any danger of going off my meds just to see if I can chase that "high." I don't want to chase it. Or catch it.
I wouldn't even describe it as a high, per se. Just... depth. A deeper pool of emotion. Higher highs and lower lows even. A fresher, more complete palette. Instead of just... this.
I frosted a cake with whipped cream once. And it was really good as long as you ate it RIGHT AWAY before the whipped cream lost its oomph and soaked into the cake and just became a kind of glorified sour milk. Then it totally sucked.
In meeting today I had a song in my head. It very nearly rose to the level of vocal ministry, but not quite. There's a song by Over The Rhine (who I adore) called "Long Lost Brother." I usually listen to it as a kind of broken-hearted song this woman is singing to/about a person that is not good for her, but that she cannot give up.
So tell me your troubles
Let your pain rain down
I know my job I’ve been around
I invest in the mess
I’m a low cost dumping ground
But today, for some reason, I imagined it as a song being sung to... someone by... for lack of a better term: god.
I thought that we’d be
Further along by now
I can’t remember how
We stumbled to this place
I loved you like a long lost brother
On a bad day maybe I thought why bother
I’ve seldom seen so much anger
In a face
Imagined a deity looking on this mess that we are constantly making of things. And the inability to live together without regular disasters. And the song kind of stayed with me. And the idea.
I don’t mean to laugh out loud
I’m trying to come clean
Trying to shed my doubt
Maybe I should just keep
My big mouth shut
More often than not
When it comes to you
You want whatever’s not in front of you
Deep down I know this includes me too
And then back to frosting. That I have not been able to remain open... some part of the depth of feeling must be hardened off... if I am to last. The trick is not to become some dreadful bit of marshmallow fondant. Which no doubt will last forever, but who will care.
Trouble is I’m so exhausted
The plot, you see, I think I’ve lost it
I need the grace to find what can’t be found
I wanna do better
I wanna try harder
I wanna believe
Down to the letter
Jesus and Mary
Can you carry us
Across this ocean
Into the arms of forgiveness
Ugh. This is terribly maudlin. And I don't feel terribly maudlin. Just a bit floaty and detached.
Grateful crap: high school swim team
meds 200 mg lamotrigine
spoke at middle school panel on mental health
spoke with people at meeting about mental health
This message is not meant for you. In Quaker meeting, when a person is moved to speak, it is called "vocal ministry." and in the Quaker tradition that I practice (unprogrammed), there are meetings when there is no vocal ministry. Other times there is a LOT.
Today at the close of meeting, the person closing meeting reminded us that not all messages are intended for all people. They might be for the whole meeting, or a small group within the meeting, or one particular person in the meeting.
Frustratingly, they might not be intended for the person who is delivering the vocal ministry.
A message really resonated with me this morning. It had to do with a story about Thomas Merton and Zen Buddhist D. T. Suzuki. They discussed this story:
A group of hermits are robbed of their possessions by a thief. They track down the offender, bring him to jail and then wonder if they did the right thing. So they ask an old hermit if they had acted properly. He yelled at them for being bad hermits.
Suzuki disagreed with the old hermit. The thief should be in jail. Merton agreed that thieves should be put in prison, but monks should not put them there.
And that in these times when people are in such distress, when anxieties are high that there might be things that needed doing, but that Quakers should not do them. It was an interesting thought. And I wondered what implications this might have.
Then I wondered if this message was perhaps not for me. Very few things I do could be considered things that Quakers aught not to do. Not that I am some paragon of virtue, but I am quite dull. Boring. Yawn.
What I kept thinking about during meeting (when most of the messages revolved around issues of peace in the Middle East and the fate of Jeruslem) about this woman who stared too long at the sun during the eclipse.
She looked at the sun when a crescent was still showing for around 6 seconds. Then she noticed someone wearing what she thought was protected glasses, borrowed those, and looked for another 15 seconds. Later she noticed that her vision was affected.
After a week passed and still she could not see properly, she went in to see her eye doctor. And they found a perfectly burned little crescent of sun on the back of the retina of her dominant eye.
And I thought of Lot's wife and the pillar of salt. And the power of looking toward what we should not.
And I thought what things are there that I should not look at for too long? What things are there that I should not do?
My news feed is full of well-meaning liberal folks calling for meaningful action. Perhaps of the kind that Quakers Ought Not Do. Are there things that I feel will protect me? Like the shaded glasses that turned out not to be strong enough to shield her eyes from the sun?
There is nothing I am reading that says I can look away.
But if I keep staring, I am only damaging myself.
This past weekend I participated for the third time in the Women's Art Festival in Minnesota. I really enjoy the festival. The art there is amazing. And I can just barely sustain the energy required to be "on" from 9:30 - 4:30 and engage with people.
I put out all my bead work, had a bunch of pieces to finish, and sold enough to cover my booth fee and then some. So a success. Plus, aside from the obvious energy-sapping nature of the art festival retail situation... it was nice to hear so much positive response to my beading.
Elder boy had his first swim meet on Friday. It is really fun to watch. I can't wait until I can understand what is going on at the swim meets.
THaven't posted since before Thanksgiving. I'm still around. so are the people around me. and i am trying not to get too bogged down in politics and crap. and other people's stress not becoming my stress. that sort of thing.
I'm feeling vague.
On a happy note, elder boy started Swim Team and it is Awesome. It is every weekday from 3:30-6:00 (and Saturday mornings if he makes it on to the varsity team)
he comes home at the end of the REALLY REALLY LONG DAY positively bubbly. And tells me about his day.
i am getting ready for a show of my beadwork at the Women's Art Festival in Minneapolis. And I will write more later, but right now I have to go bead.
All I want to do:
play online scrabble
eat caramel corn
Now I am not listing all the other things I have to do.
Grateful Crap: my co-teacher said that I was a very easy person to work with. It's one of my core values.
Here's where I will be: http://www.womensartfestival.com/
And OH MY GOSH! I just realized that Betsy Bowen will be there! This Betsy Bowen! The one whose books we have. And like. A LOT. I'm going a little fangirl here.
Quaker, teacher, parent,