findingexpression

awe, humility, hope and a few other things I might notice


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Generations

After Breakfast
“How do we know the difference in a picture between sunrise and sunset?”

How do we believe that California is still golden and New England is still sweet?
“Look at the leaves”,  she said.
Are they transparent like your skin or throbbing and aching with the last rites?

“And what about the birds?”she asked.

“The birds don’t sing in you. Your eyes are not wings. Don’t.”   Silence.  She put her fingers to her chin, couldn’t stop it.
“Your eyes will not take you there. Your lashes are too short.”

She snorted a recognition and bent her short lashes. Waited.

“Learn to swim first. That’s my advice.”

Arms still at her sides she could only twitch her shoulder a little, in fear. She hated cold water.

Goddamit this one could swim and pull herself out and still not be wet.
She controlled her wish to pound the desk in jealous rage. More frustration.
Ahem, let me cover my lips with my hands and tell you that you should swim a long long time, that I pray the weeds don’t catch your feet and little fish don’t nibble at your toes in jest or in hunger.
Out loud at last she said, “Ask yourself if the leaves are rising or falling, then you’ll know.”
Go down with the ship and drown a little, then you’ll understand. Too uncharitable.
“Learn to swim child, by god I don’t know how else you go forward.”

She nudged her insolent chin to the left. She knew this woman didn’t have the answer. Nobody did, the answers weren’t written anymore. Clocks no longer ticked and everybody had reams of black lines in their heads but nobody knew the answers. Fuck you. “I’d rather drown in black eyeliner and chemical soup.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“I know.”

“Now you’re swimming.”

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Another side of immigration

We laughed, we sang, we meditated. Probably an apt phrase for a few spiritual camps out there of all persuasions, but this is actually the subheading for my application to become a permanent resident of another country, TBA (just in-case they’re listening).

Goldilocks zone we have not found, nay, but we have made a decision after several portents, (ok one portent in the name of the she-devil of immigration…can I say she-devil and still be considered a feminist?…), and several signs of the more positive sort came our way.

So, back to the original idea. I am writing the story for our application to immigration and sprinkled throughout the visit dates, mentions of flight itineraries attached, and the dropping of names of our friends as we met them along our little journey to couplehood and matrimony, I have included a few words about the kinds of things we do together. We laugh, no matter that we are serious types and more often have discussions about how to experience God amidst the emotional commotion of our era. We sing, usually softly and to ourselves, and we meditate, together even, although not recently.

I can only imagine what it is like to be an immigration officer reading over couple’s stories, getting to know them, or trying to see through them to their ulterior motives I don’t know which, or both most likely. Are financial documents like joint bank accounts equal to spending 2 weeks together while truck camping? Will they bother reading everything, word for word, or do they just scan the stories and check off the documents received? Should we note the things we have in common, tell them in writing that he cooks sometimes but I do all the laundry? Do we explain all our major decisions, why he proposed and so soon after we met? Do we need to annotate why we didn’t take pictures of our every day life? I don’t have a single picture of us just sitting in our apartment together. Does anybody?

To distract our minds we watch science fiction shows (and yes I am considering writing that in the application) and I recently watched “Atonement” from season 4 of Babylon 5. The scene about 15 mins. in with Delenn and her Minbari clan leaders sounds a lot like immigration. In re-watching it, the similarity is overwhelming and poignant. Delenn is made to answer why she has gone against the tradition of her clan in proposing a non-Minbari for a mate. The clan leader states that the leaders of her clan must determine and judge if the true reasons for her choice are appropriate or not. Basically, Delenn has to prove her choice is made completely freely through a dreaming ceremony. Love or even her own subconscious desire for atonement would be reason for the clan’s disapproval of the union.

Just one of the many precious exchanges;

Delenn: “If I say I love him is that not enough?”

Clan leader: “No. You must convince us on other grounds.”

Delenn: “What other grounds could there be? You set the rules, so you’ve already decided that this is wrong. What hope do I have of convincing you?

Clan leader: “That is what you must discover.”

Now, governments don’t yet delve into the dreams of people applying for immigration, but I sometimes wonder if that would be easier.


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still life

It is still life, as if questioning if it were life, if it were a life,

resignation after a complaint, an unbold assertion or

a remnant, pieces torn from something grand like granite statues

quilted now, puffed little packages of memory, but not resembling itself,

stroke stitches stretched, now sagging,

darting around corners of a former personality

between snips of a familiar voice.

 

It is still a life, a time, a process, going,

unrippled waters, glass bows and boroughs unseen

watching sand bend.

 

It is a still life, quiet, slow breathing, un event full,

no trace of the impending doom of shadows or bright distant light of other worlds or

possibility,

but not languished

observed perhaps.

Mona Lisa’s stilled life,

stolen, bargained, negotiated into or out of,

allowed

an infinite compromise

paused in action, a view of the moment, of transition, of knowing that the

next step has already been initiated, neutrons are in place and protons bouncing,

still life

popular advice column

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popular advice column

Popular advice column, seen in a lobby at a southern Ontario truck stop

I have previously posted some of my photos from our trucking adventures but will try to add in a little story here and there. At first going along in the truck was a jaunt, then a pain in the butt from sitting for so long, a serviceful journey to help my husband get through his work day, sometimes a slog, and now perhaps a journal of what I see around the US in places I would otherwise probably never go.  It always, well, almost always brings new sights, people and an evolution in our relationship as well. How could it be anything less when you are sitting next to someone for 12-14 hours a day, sleeping in a slightly larger than twin mattress and otherwise sharing in something akin to camping in a moving vehicle.

I don’t know if we belong to trucking culture, or if we are simply a segment off in the corner. Well, that’s me anyway, as a small billboard somewhere outside of Little Rock Arkansas told me recently, reading my mind and my heart at once-

“Observer”

That was the only word on the sign, posted for me; a job title, a life’s path, an accusation, or a statement of simple truth.

Like the gentleman who called out to me as I walked out of the shower hallway, through the driver’s lounge: “Feel better now” he said. I felt confronted and revealed in an uncomfortable way the moment he said it, a man sitting in a large room with 20 or more other men, me, a woman with a turban and a fresh face walking out from a shower, but I knew he meant it kindly. Yeah, I did feel better. And I feel better with a little time and observation that although the trucking pictures are far from great, they are shaken and tilted and have bug guts on the windows and reflections from the sun and metal, but these are what I see.  So now I include the reflections, the mirrors of the truck, the corner with my own fingers wrapped around the camera. I want the viewer to know how I see it, imprecise, blurred, raw, messy sometimes and beautiful all the same.


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Looking for the Goldilocks Zone on Earth

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I know Earth is in the Goldilocks Zone. The Goldilocks zone in astronomy refers to planets which rotate neither too far nor too near their sun or suns and have the potential to maintain liquid water. It is also known as a habitable zone, which serves my purpose here much better. I disagree with such limitations on the possibility for life, we have so many amazing creatures on Earth that live in very un-habitable zones that I prefer to think with a more open mind on matters of exo-biology. However, for my husband and myself we are looking for a much more narrowly defined ideal Goldilocks zone for us here on Earth. Sometimes it seems we could move anywhere, adapt to many, even some extreme, conditions. I think sub-zero temperatures rather fascinating and he has lived through monsoons, yet these were seasons and had beginnings and endings.  For me at least, even the delicate dance of light snow in February or the soft glow of San Diego 75-degree sun can turn into tyranny when they go uninterrupted for days or weeks at a time. To make matters more complicated, my husband and I enjoy different extremes. He is as wary of temperatures below 10 Celsius as I am of temperatures with humidity above 80 Fahrenheit. He does not share my love of snow and I am concerned about living in the cloud forests where the sun is a far away friend that doesn’t visit very often. Poetic as they are, I can’t imagine the burden of having clouds overhead all the time. I think I might start to develop a hunchback. Also, my green thumb wrinkles with consternation at the thought; “how could I grow sunflowers or tomatoes with 250 days of overcast skies?” My husband might argue, “How can you grow anything with only 8 weeks of summer?” “Well, cold frames and greenhouses and big sunny windows can help a lot,” I would contest. No winning that argument, it looks like Virginia and Vancouver, despite the fog and countless days of looming clouds are on our short list of habitable places. Maybe I could develop a romantic love for mist.

Place is not only about topography and temperature, but about work and housing compatibility too. We want to live near friends and or family. Unfortunately when we asked ourselves if our friends or families live anywhere we want to live, the answer was mostly… “Nah”. That combination of desirable living, limited commuting, low’ish’ cost of housing and well-paid working just doesn’t seem to align within reasonable distance to friends in too many places under this sun. Also, there are issues of ambiance, not only atmosphere to struggle with. I did research some years ago about signing on to work in the Antarctic for six months. I would have done it too, but I just thought the drinking or smoking and machismo of even 1 other staff person in such a small community might drive me crazy, far more crazy than the cold or the lack of sun or even lack of contact with friends and family. I have much greater fear of the constant presence of a jerk than of the occasional tornado, the regularity of  plummeting mercury or the silence of a lonely place. Also, last year we did some shopping in part of the sprawl that I will call Torontopolis. We went into a store where there was a minor holiday weekend sale and it looked more like planes had dumped clothes from a cargo bay than what was supposed to be a retail store. The shoppers were stepping on the clothes and I wondered if soon they would be stepping on each other in their blithe rejection of common courtesy. We are considering a move into that vicinity and I want to be far enough away from that mentality that I might forget the whole incident some day. Maybe if there are some hills in between us, I could hope for mountains but then it would get too cold for hubby. I do love mountains and at the very least need lots of trails and paths that are not blocked by short mazes of subdivisions, dead end industrial parking lots or impassable highway overpasses. It’s enough to create labyrinths in the mind.

So where is our Goldilocks zone on Earth? Somewhere not too cold, not too humid, not too conservative, not too much anarchy, not too close to a city, not too far from an organic grocer, not too monolingual that it lacks diversity, not so much individualism that it lacks community. And not too far from people we can call our good friends but far enough that we will need to make some high quality new ones.

Suggestions welcome.

Where is your Goldilocks zone?


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Sometimes the tea is forgiving

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Sometimes the tea is forgiving
I left it on the stove too long for some casual affair,
examining the weather from the large window or
putting away a blanket from my morning nap,
a minor loss of consciousness.

Sometimes the tea is forgiving and
does not burn my tongue
does not turn bitter from its patient but too long waiting,
still can taste sweet or rich at least
for enduring time.


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Erase

Sometimes we imagine we can walk out of our life as if it were a piece of paper, two dimensional, but we were three dimensional and we could just walk away, walk beyond it. All the objects in our life would become flat, existing somewhere, but not touching us, ¾ of the way down the trash chute, discarded, someone else’s. Sometimes we want to throw away the people in our lives too, erase them. What we really want is to erase the flaws, the father who drinks, the mother who didn’t defend herself, the brother or sister that teased too much instead of encouraging, the bullies, the thiefs, the breakers of hearts, the terrorists and haters, the sullen and the reckless. We want more heroes and we want to be our own saviors; of our honor, of our kindness. We wished we were poets or dancers, gifted surgical precision decision makers, that we always knew what was right and wrong and chose the best path more often, and always when it really mattered. But instead we are driving around in disappearing cars of our dreams and floating in the air without the power to steer ourselves over those dangerous cliffs. We cannot guarantee an easy landing or even determine where exactly we will set down. I can only hope that the journey won’t scare me as much as it used to and I try, I really try to enjoy every moment of floating, no matter where it takes me.