Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Safe in this Place

I want to feel safe in this place.
Torn and broken down and thinking too much and not enough in this place.
Lost in a sea of thoughts and images of destitution and mistrust and pain and what-did-I-do-wrong and we-have-so-much-work-to-do and will-it-ever-be-enough in this place.
Insides like weeds that grow over tops of mounds of covered up landfill in this place.
I know light exists in this place but I see darkness ahead that makes the path murky and a little harder to walk down in this place.

Does beauty remain?
Can I get out there and keep moving at any pace?
Will someone turn on me for making a stance and choosing a side?
Where do we go from here?
What can I do to help?
What is it that hurts the most?

I want to feel safe in this place.
Continue to learn in this place. And write. And listen. And teach. And pray.
There are homes in this place that comfort.
People in this place with big smiles and hearty hugs.
They'll be there for me in this place.
I'll be there for them.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Great Grandma Lee wins the lottery!

"Great Grandma Lee has won the lottery!" 

She has spent a lifetime scratching tickets to find the matching cherries, the letters saying 'winner! winner!', the 777 - right in a row.  She used to watch game shows - Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, Password... - and dreamed of being a contestant.  

Great Grandma Lee would care for me, her great grandson, every afternoon after a rambunctious day at Ponderosa Elementary in Post Falls, Idaho. I would come running, abandoning post-school kissing tag, and make it to her doorstep, panting and panting, just so I would make it in time for the game shows.  While watching, I would jump up and down, up and down, yelling "No Whammies, No Whammies" and she would just laugh and laugh in her reclining puffy chair. And I would laugh right alongside her, especially when an animated Whammy would come and pour a ton of feathers all over a contestant lady with red hair, making her lose her prize money. 

My mom, Wendy, had to work long hours at the bank and was gracious for having such a loving grandmother to help watch her son. Everyone loved Lee, from the boy bagging her groceries to the Swanson man who would deliver her food.  The secret was her ability to be sweet, literally.  Great Grandma Lee would always carry fudge in her pocket.  If offered, I'd always pick off the nuts on top; "I love you" she would say as she handed over the fudge, alongside a peck of a kiss, and a wink of the eye.

"Great Grandma Lee has won the lottery!"  I imagined my grandma saying when she told me the disheartening news that my ninety-five year old great grandmother, Leona Griffith, had passed away over the weekend.  But I am happy to say that I think she has won the ultimate prize - peaceful rest.  She's in her big puffy chair, laughing at the contestant lady with tons of feathers, and giving out her fudge as she makes her way to the pearly gate.  With joy and tears in her eyes, she reconnects with loved ones saying, "I told you not to say goodbye - say 'Auf Wiedershehen' (German for 'until we meet again') - and look!  Here I am".   As her great grandson, I find myself as the biggest winner - having those treasured moments with my great grandma, with uneaten nuts in my pocket and No Whammies.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bubbles like Ice

Walkin' down that old sidewalk, Washington Street.  Ann Arbor.  Slippin' and slidin' on my way to the YMCA.  So cold that clouds connect to chimneys and the purples and reds in the sky seem painted behind panes of glass.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiittooo.  I blow some soap bubbles into the air and they fly...despite the coldest temperatures in a long while (-36 degrees f, too cold c) they raise and the pine needles tear the skin of the bubble like plastic.  Oh, and there was a bubble that survived and it floated into the nearby snow patch.  Frozen.  I picked it looked like a solid marble and melted when I touched it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twitches in the Dark

Who knew there would be twitches in the dark?  Quick sudden movements, muscles contracting for a second, like lightning in the veins, sweet and scary.  A tremor in the finger, a tap of the wrist, a one-two shake of the left foot and a twitch.

I hold her firmly as we lie in bed.  Her twitching stops and the room is quiet as air - whispers won't wake her now. It's a safe place to be - the place of twitching - not a place of concern, or nerves before a graduation speech, but a deeper thing - a place of comfort, home, safety, an "I'm here - no need to worry" followed by an "I know.  Goodnight, babe."

I don't respond to her nighttime twitches with a shake or a shout louder than a drum.  All that is felt is warmth in the heart as her hair falls beneath my chin.  Her hair brings smells of home that fill me with joy and I'm reminded that in these moments I love everything about now - the quiet of the room turning into the tick-tock of the clock and a buzzing furnace - even that my lips feel chapped and my back isn't perfectly aligned.  I won't feel afraid, not once, when her twitching stops - just feelings of home, chapped lips and the cotton sheets I feel against my skin.

A jolt - no stammering, muscles slackened.  Shhh...she's sleeping and the moon is out.  I'm taken by the darkness of the room, not a shine in front or a spark in back, quiet and still and shhh...she's sleeping now.  Just a moment ago, we were whispering the day's events...a lost patient, the weather, "feeling sick?" "Nah.  You?"  Deep breaths...slower heart pulses...head to chest (she can hear the heart best).

The temperature feels right.  The bed is warm and our bodies are at rest.  A slight tremor in the finger...a tap of the wrist...a one-two shake of the left foot...and a twitch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ann Arbor, folks!

Remember me?

I've made it to the Midwest and, boy, life is grand!  Eh?  I'm married and with marriage and commitment comes moves and new beginnings and faith that everything will be fuller.  Adrienne is my partner and she makes everything like lightning.  Decisions will be made here, the future has its 'start' button here. I'm thinking a lot and discovering new things about me while being reminded about the great sense of splendor I have when arriving to a new place!
The sights!  The sounds!  The intrigue!
It reminds me of the days in just finishing undergraduate school, not sure where I'll end up but knowing the adventure will be great.

Things to do in AA:

  • Find a job that suits me well.  Wish for something in int'l ed.
  • Heed the advice of others and listen to their guidance in all things.
  • Learn a language and use it!
  • Learn a recreational skill or activity and practice
  • learn how to play the piano
  • Keep surprising Adrienne
  • Cooking skills refined
    • Meet a butcher, baker and farmer
  • Continue education - Masters?!?

What a beginning!

Ford Lake, MI

Cycling ride over planks and under bridges. Huron River close (you can hear the rushing of water and kayak paddles stroking the surface!) and the kids laugh and laugh and the birds fly on by. Looking left, then right, there's green all around; the willows, firs and maples swaying to and fro, saying their "goodbyes" as I say my "hellos".

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Sky Story

The colour seemed loudest at night and the red rock bloomed like honey trees and I'm here and I'm now and there is nothing the world can say.  The man is too little to know of his wrongdoing, much like the long-haired stallion is too keen for his own good.  It's a type of give, a give and a take, but mostly a take.

"Owwwwwwwwwiiii" the man cried and all that heard it floated to the tip-tops of the heavens above.  Like a great big shadow in the sky, with cotton candy stripes and big yellow sunbeams!  You're flying and you don't even know it.  Flying and yelling and screaming at the top of your lungs for all to hear, but no one is there to listen any more.  Their eardrums aren't developed and they have plugs in their ears anyway.

Too much sound.  Too much hot hot fever.  The boy can only handle so much before he is pained and dying inside.  He asks if it's real and if it's real if he can hold it.  "No" is the answer, "and you can be quiet about it too".  Silence.

"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, you'll wake the neighbors".

One. Two. There is no sign of the here and now, there is just the then and later.  Once the sky falls and the people float to the ends of the earth, the world rewinds and all becomes still, as if it were just the beginning.  Then the typewriters begins buzzing and clickity clack of the keys are writing the story and pretending they know what's good for them.  The story begins within the story, an utmost lie if I ever heard one.  The story never ends, just goes and goes and type type type type ype ype ype pe pe e ...

Keeps on and keeps on and rewind.  Buzz.  The sound is deafening if you get too close and you'll go blind within a minute if you let your retina focus too much on the moving parts.  You'll believe it when you see it.  You'll be promised if you don't cross your toes and your teeth are straight.  The sky is only so far up and the moon ain't no picnic either.  

You'll get there someday so don't worry.  They all get there someday.