Friday, May 31, 2002

Society’s Mirror

reflections of self not true
distorted by Barbie and Ken
ideals clouding reality send us
chasing illusions wrapping the image
of self around the image of the physical
forgetting the image of the heart

         “Mirror, mirror on the wall
         who’s the fairest of us all?”

we chant

         Tell me who the fairest is
         and then I’ll make myself to be
         the image of he, of she!

fleeting images flash before our eyes
changing reflections blur our vision
oh society’s fickle heart
and still we stare into the mirror
never seeing who is really there

Thursday, May 30, 2002

The passage below is from a Christian historical fiction novel I am working on these days. It is a passage I particularly like because of how well it fits with the rest...especially the "perfectly fine" part that makes me smile when I read it. You won't smile because you haven't read of the other two times Megan has insisted she was "fine" to Graham. And the whole of how well it fits won't be clear because you haven't read the first few dozen pages. Still...I like the passage and wanted to share it...

excerpt from Until the Mountains Drip Sweet Wine:

Megan felt panic rise to her chest as she watched Ruth step away from her. Megan’s own stony silence had not dampened Ruth’s growing enthusiasm for the visit to Wortham’s. How can she be so happy to be here? In her own nervousness, she had forgotten that Ruth helped run her parents’ store. All Megan could focus on was the women shopping before her. Mildred Potter, Annalise Cooper, and Sylvia Brownstone. Women who surely knew what had happened to her. Can they tell? Do they see the difference I feel? What if I am right about…

Watching Ruth take a step in Annalise’s direction, Megan gave way to her panic and hurried to the nearest bolt of fabric, where she could busy herself looking at the patterns and cloths available. She couldn’t see the colors clearly. All she could think about was what those women must be thinking. Shame filled her heart and bile rose to her throat. Running outside, she bent over the railing and spewed her breakfast over the side railing.

When a damp handkerchief appeared just in her view, she reached out for it. However, the hand that held it was much larger than Ruth’s. Startled, she turned her head and found herself looking up into the eyes of her neighbor. “What are you doing here?” she blurted out.

“I could ask you the same question, but the answer to both our questions is rather obvious, don’t you think, Mrs. Garrity?”

When Megan looked puzzled at his answer, Graham took the opportunity to press the proffered handkerchief in to her hands. But she stood looking at it as if she had never seen one before. So Graham, moving slowly as possible, took his handkerchief and wiped Megan’s mouth for her. He then folded it over twice and wiped the beads of perspiration off of her pale brow. He chided her softly as he worked to repair her appearance for her.

“I’m here because my pantry is quite bare. Which is probably the same reason why you and Ruth are here. I saw the two of you drive by a little while ago. And I assume you’re out here rather than inside because of your condition.”

The last word shocked Megan and what little color she had left drained away. Graham, fearing she might faint again, reached out to steady her, but Megan jerked herself away from his light grasp. Trembling, she backed up until she felt the relative safety of the store wall behind her. How can he tell? How could he possibly know? I’m not even sure myself. “What…what do you mean by that?”

Fearing he had done more damage to a soul already in turmoil, Graham was ready to go hide under a bush somewhere. He cursed his own stupidity and wished again that he had grown up with sisters. What he knew about women was precious little. Trying to reassure her, he forced a laugh as he replied, “Why your tender stomach. I gather Ruth’s still learning her way around a stove?”

“No.” Megan blurted out.

“Yes, I am. She’s being too kind. Megan, what’s wrong?” Ruth had come outside just in time to hear Graham’s attempt at levity. One look at Megan’s pale face and his concerned one told her he was not attacking her domestic abilities.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Perfectly, I’m sure.” Interjected Graham. “Tell me, Miss Dimmock, do many young women who are ‘perfectly fine’ go around fainting, spewing up their meals, and turning whiter than snow?” He stepped back away as Ruth moved into to take his place.

Directing her comments to Graham, she none the less looked Megan straight in the face, eyes searching for some clue as to her companion’s distress. “No, Mr. Miller, not many ‘perfectly fine’ young women go around engaging in those activities. However, I do venture that you have already seen how Megan believes she knows what’s best for her. If she says she’s fine, then I believe her.

“Are you all right, Megan?”

Megan studied Ruth’s face as intently as the other women was studying her own. Slowly she nodded her head, keeping her eyes locked on Ruth.

“Well, then, shall we finish our shopping?”

Megan nodded again and turned to go back into the store. Graham reached out and caught Ruth’s arm as she passed. “That woman is not fine, by any stretch of the word. What do you think you’re doing? Aren’t you supposed to be helping her?”

“Graham, you just admitted that Megan is a woman, not a child, and a women knows her own mind. Megan is still frightened and confused and I will not force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do just now.”

“Except for shopping?” He countered, remembering Megan’s face as the two woman had driven by earlier.

At that Ruth flushed, but all she did was join Megan inside. Graham remained where he was with one hand on the rail as if to hold himself up. Surely men are justified in their belief that women are the most vexing creatures on earth! He thought. Finally he turned to the hotel. Perhaps a meal would be in order as he waited for his neighbors to finish their business at the mercantile. For now, he’d rather avoid any other encounters with Megan. At least until he figured out why her well-being bothered him so.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I lost the bid on the HUD home. I did, however, predict to the exact dollar, what the winning bid would be (an amount I just don't have). I've learned that I am fairly good at guessing what a home will go for...but that's not much help when I have a lower ceiling of bargaining power than in needed in this crazy market in which I live.

After learning that I lost the bid, someone said that I could find a home to afford if only I had fewer restrictions on the properties I was looking at, specifically that the property be two minutes from where I work. I was hurt at the remark. Quite so. You see, the home I was bidding on needed approximately $25,000.00 of repair to make it livable. I am flexible on things not needing to be perfect. And while I am certainly willing to live more than 2 minutes commute from my current job, I have ruled out all properties over a 20-25 minute commute.

It's that perception thing again. No matter how many times I've said that I am not strong enough to work full time and spend an additional hour or more in the car, she doesn't listen. She just sees the person who is torturing herself at the gym three days a week and with cardio workouts five days a week.

Yes, I've gotten stronger (even if my weight actually INCREASED and I'm not back in any of my pre-Prednisone clothes). Yes, I've started to get some slight definition in the muscles in my arms and legs. And, yes, I am healthier just now than when I needed a cane for much of the time. But I am still battling a disease that makes working full time and taking care of all of life's needs (car, vet, groceries, etc.) all by myself quite difficult.

I get so I want to scream (or drown my sorrows in at least a six pack of Dr. Pepper) when I hear comments like hers. She thinks living in another suburb would be fine. She thinks a 45-minute commute should be no problem when many of the people in this area might find that to be a short commute. She thinks I'll just get used to it. She thinks it's all in my head. That I've talked myself out of being able to sit in a car (often with the clutch pushed in), with control of my legs, for a long commute.

I know that she didn't mean to be hurtful in her admonishing remark. I know that. But it doesn't help with my frustration that people look at me without a cane or wheelchair or obvious problem and think that I am doing fine and capable of doing at least as much as they are.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Imagine trying to get .02 ml of aspirin into a small bird's beak...successfully...

I haven't yet done so in the past eight attempts.

Fancy is better, but still exhibiting rather worrisome problems with control of her toes. At least her limping is less; it was quite pitiful to watch.

I put another bid in on a house. The only good thing about this endeavor is that it is a HUD bid and I will know in 48 hours. Everything else feels like Russian roulette between the crazy market and being just 10 to 15K short in what I need to get into a home here.

I have birds and bids on my brain...

Friday, May 24, 2002

Fancy broke a tail feather tonight. She sees the vet tomorrow. She still has poor control of her foot, but she is moving her leg more.

After the vet appointment and before the mother/daughter book club meeting, I am going to look at another duplex. It is a HUD foreclosure, so the bid is open and it needs major work, but I see it as an opportunity to get into a home here.

My writing student wrote a brief piece about foreign languages last week. This week, we worked on putting it into another form.

Sometimes I overhear foreigners
speaking to each other
in their native language
at the grocery store
or museum or park..
Voices jabbering away,
100 miles a minute,
unintelligible nonsense to me.
What possible sense is made?
I wonder
how can there be any
distinguishable words
amidst their
torrent of strange sounds?

But what, I wonder,
does English sound like to them?
Can they understand my language?
Or does it sound like
meaningless gibberish to them
as their language does to me?

I marvel that babies
pick up any language
just by hearing it
no matter how difficult
I think it is.
Russian or Chinese as easily as English.
I wonder, do they “customize” their mouth
to pronounce with ease
the unintelligible nonsense,
that torrent of strange sounds they hear?

Sounds specific to their language
which I simply cannot pronounce
the way a native speaker does,
no matter how hard I try.
The “ch” in Bach, (German obviously),
the “¸” in garcon (French).
I know, not wonder,
because I’m learning French
(or trying to, at least)!
Ah...the mysteries of language.

Personally, I marvel at how easily my writing student manipulates English in her journal entries, novels, and non-fiction pieces she's worked on in the past six months! At thirteen-years-old!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Fancy's about the same. Her leg is now this disturbing shade of yellow with hints of green showing up. She limps. I wince. This stinks.

After my torture session at the gym, I took Kashi and Fancy for a mile long walk. When we got back to the apartment, Kashi dugs his heels in and refuse to take another step. I looked down at him and asked him what he needed. All he did at first was look at me. Sometimes when he does this, he then pulls me to do some more "business" or to investigate something intriguing he spotted. But this time he merely stared at me.

Knowing that one of his most favorite activities is lying on a sunlit floor, I walked to the nearest spot of sunlit grass and plucked myself down. He then came and stood beside me. I started rubbing the back of his neck and playing with his ears and tail. Slowly, he lowered himself next to me, snuggling as close as he does at night in bed. Fancy walked down my hair to my shoulder and then settled herself beneath my chin for a nap.

We sat that way, the three of us basking in the evening sun, for nearly an hour.

Somehow Kashi knew we all needed a spate of peace and quite, to be warmed by the sun, to savor the moment.

He's getting wise in his old age! Sunday was his seventh birthday. I thankful for all the companionship of this most stubborn of puppy dogs has given me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

I haven't really written because I spend most of my time at home holding Fancy. The vet wants me to keep her in her carry cage for at least a week to limit her moment, but I prefer to hold her in order to accomplish the same.

Her leg has started to turn green, but that is expected. What worries me is that her right back toe seems to not be functioning very well. I hope that she gains more control soon...worrying is exhausting.

The squirrels still have one up on me, but I bought two different kinds of pepper at the store today. I figured a triple attack might be just the thing to discourage their rather ungrateful digging. Ungrateful because there is plenty of food out there even after the birds gorge themselves.

Saturday I did take six kids (two of them 13-ish) to Chuck E Cheese's so that the parents of five of them could have a date. People think I'm crazy for enjoying that place and near certifiable to actually volunteer to take six kids with me. But I have this theory about Chuck E. Cheese's:

Everyone needs a bit of chaos in his/her life to help maintain perspective about life. If you think your life is crazy...spend a few hours in Chuck E. Cheese's with a passal of kids...

At Chuck E. Cheese's, the kids get to run wild (and sleep quite well after visiting the restaurant). And the parents get the opportunity to realize that, compared to the overwhelming cacophony at Chuck E. Cheese's, their home is not quite so bad as they might think, even with kids running in and out all summer long. It is undeniably a place of chaos. It is a absolute relief to exit the restaurant to the veritable silence of the parking lot.

After three and a half hours, I was glad to leave, but I did have a good time. And I dare say the kids did too.

I hope Fancy gets better soon...

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Fancy has "severe soft tissue damage." The vet said in some ways this is worse than a break. In any case, I'm somehow supposed to keep her quiet for two weeks. Impossible.

Still, to see her limp and shake her leg in pain is heart wrenching to watch.

Tally's (the African Ring-Neck Parakeet) come to visit while his "parents" are away. I'm hoping he will cheer Fancy up with his presence and funny talk!

On a separate note: the benignity I've shown the squirrels around my balcony has come to an end. They actually have the audacity to dig up the flowers I bought for the bargain basement price of $1.09 to add a punch of color (Trading Spaces talk) to the plants and garden decorations I have on my balcony.

I've heard that pepper can discourage their spread some of the "hot hot" pepper I brought back from Liberia, Africa.

Take that, you diggers of plants!

Monday, May 13, 2002

Fancy hurt her leg on Saturday. She was eating some angel hair pasta on the counter like she's done dozens of time when she fell off the counter and hurt her leg.

The emergency vet was hoping for a strained muscle from doing what equates to the splits, but time has shown that she is not getting better like she would if it is a strain. That means she most likely fractured or broke her leg. She's going to her regular vet in the morning where she will be put to sleep and x-rayed. Depending on what the vet finds, I will know if her injury can be repaired.

Saturday she was so bad, she couldn't even sit on her perch. Her balance was off by the injured leg. I held her until we both fell asleep. Sunday she was a bit better, eating some, too. But while she will attempt to use her leg to get around, each time she truly bears weight on it, she shakes it in pain. It's rather horrible to watch.

We've spent the evening on the couch, her huddled beneath my chin and me hoping she will get better.

Gosh...I cannot believe how much I care about this bird!

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Most Tuesdays I watch Gilmore Girls, The Guardian, and Judging Amy with a friend of mine. We watch tv together via Sprint PCS since we live several states apart. I've shared that with a few others and usually get strange looks or even disgust at the waste. But, as I talked about previously here in this very log, I find it quite worthwhile and part of what keeps our long distance friendship alive.

Well, today, I learned this man I know actually does much the same with his sister. Thursdays, they hang out on the phone, compliments of Verizon Wireless, and watch CSI and ER. Cool, eh? Their respective spouses and kids give a brother and sister time to stay in touch.

Perhaps...I'm not so strange after all!


Tuesday, May 07, 2002

If you're going to care about the fall of the sparrow you can't pick and choose who's going to be the sparrow. It's everybody, and you're stuck with it.
Madeleine L'Engle, The Arm of the Starfish

Last night the mother/daughter bookclub I run met. We usually meet on Saturdays, but none were available for April and the Monday evening we had chosen got moved into May. Still, I was glad we got to meet.

We read one of my favorite books last month, The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle. I think, perhaps, I love the book for the mere sake of the above quoted passage. Polly questions her father's decision to help the one who caused the death of a very dear friend of theirs. Polly would have preferred that Dr. O'Keefe refuse to render aide and allow Kali to face the consequences of her actions--both the death of Joshua and the fact that she swam in the ocean against the safety rules in effect due to the danger of sharks--and either die from her injuries or be horrible crippled.

But if you choose to care about the fall of the sparrow, the choice goes for all, not merely those about whom it is either convenient or comfortable to care.

That truth is one I've wrestled with over the years. There are those people that come into our lives (for many of us) we simply do not like, we do not care for, we would rather them be elsewhere. Yet even they should be valued simply because they are human beings.

It's come up on ER, this sparrow thing, though not in the so many words. When the man who stabbed Lucy and Carter came back into the hospital, many of the people in the ER did not want to help him. The same happened with the man who shot several people in a rage because social services had taken his son from his care. If you take the oath to do no harm, you do no harm, including the harm of not helping those we believe do not deserve it.

Such a hard truth to live...

Sunday, May 05, 2002

I went to see some other places today. They would all be settling for a place to own instead of buying a place where I wanted to live. Thus, I will keep looking...

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Well, I got the bad news phone call today.

What irks me about the whole process (other than the cake I've consumed with stress eating) is that I was $20,000.00 away from the winning bid, yet I was put off with specious excuses for a week. Why couldn't they have declined the contract straight off instead of stringing out my hopes? After all, $20,000.00 off is not a close number.


Off to try again.

I'm already cynical and jaded about my prospects...

Thursday, May 02, 2002

My realtor called and asked me how I would feel about waiting one more day.

Are you kidding! I wanted to scream. I was supposed to have an answer on Monday and now they've postponed a fourth time until Friday?

"That's fine," I answer.

I had my fourth piece of consolation cake today. I'm fairly sure finishing the cake before the sellers decide doesn't augur ill for my chances of actually having a reason to celebrate...

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Fancy has a new skill: removing the bobby pins from my hair when I have it up in a twist or a bun. Systematically, she will walk around my head and pick them out one by one. Surprisingly, she grabs only the bobby pin and not my hair when she pulls with her beak.

I find it rather incongruous of her to do so since she does not like for me to have my hair down since her feet often gets caught in it. When that happens, she panics and pulls her foot and gets tangled more and panics more and screeches rather loudly right in my ear.

She is a funny bird…