Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A New Package of Bacon

I haven't had bacon in my fridge for a few weeks; my officemate bought us this giant vat of Puffed Cheese Balls (yes, that is generic for Cheetos), so I felt that my totally-non-nutritive-excuse-for-protein category of the food pyramid was effectively filled by our epic consumption of these rather addictive little buggers. Thus, I bought no bacon.

But this week I couldn't resist, no matter how many cheese balls I eat at work.

I have to say, this morning, sitting on my balcony, I was really happy I had bought it. The smell of it coming from my kitchen was the only reminder of reality as I sat out on my porch. It was one of those mornings that seems to happen to you instead of being something you watch; it was so slow, so pale but so bright, and the fingers of dawn climbed over and under and around every rock and tree and car in such a way that even the parking lot below my porch seemed a beautiful thing. I have never seen those shades of pink in that order, and I have certainly never seen that shade of robin's egg blue.

At the same time, I have seen a morning of equal wonder every time I've woken up early enough for it -- it was a totally discrete instance, but it also wasn't at all. In a million mornings, there will be many of these, remarkably similar at the surface; but that's not how it felt, eating my eggs and perfect bacon. (Seriously, it was the perfect blend of chewy and crispy. It also wasn't so heavily smoked that it had a heavy smell while cooking -- it was more like a light breeze of maple syrup coming from my kitchen.)

It felt a bit like fate that I had bought my bacon and woke up at six, that I had one bag of my favorite kind of tea left, and that the sun had waited until I got there to give its morning show.

I suppose I know that this morning, down to the smell of my breakfast, has happened a hundred times before and will happen a million times again; I know that none of it had anything to do with me and that most of this was chance, but I think that moments of beauty happen because we are ready to see them, that sitting still long enough to let them happen is a skill. That stillness has not always come naturally to me, but the peace that comes from enjoying the morning is a lifestyle choice I am happy to make.

Then again, it could just be that the world looks better when it smells like bacon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A List for 9/25

Today, I:

wrote a note in all caps and meant it
finished knitting a sock
got prettily sunburnt on my nose.

completed an interception
unintentionally conned a jock into thinking I play football
ate two bagels (!), gluten free.

I registered to see a documentary
had two long heart-to-hearts and
left three good messages.

I took a long walk into geographic clouds
found porches which reminded me of long absent friends
and was followed home by thunder.

It is satisfying when the clouds burst
and lightning crashes with all threatened fury
just as I slip under the porch overhang.

Today, I bought jello, cider, vinegar chips, and a water bottle
I ate a bowl of chicken soup
and woke up tucked in. It was a rather pleasant day.

Tomorrow morning I am hospitality at Meeting.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Texans and the Car Doors

I never understood that brand of feminism which got offended when men opened doors for us ladies or waited until we got all the way inside our houses before driving off after a date. I never assumed it meant they thought I couldn't open the door, I just thought it was thoughtful that they did it for me.

But then I met these Texas Men, who come all the way around the car to open the door for you and actually get a little weirded out if you open a regular door for them instead of the other way around. And they don't like it when you sit on the ground if they're in a chair, or if you're standing and they're sitting. I know this one guy who stands literally every time a lady gets up from the table. This just feels like taking it a little too far.

But then this past weekend I spent some time with a good Texas family and mentioned this oddity of the car doors at dinner. It was right after the parental unit had said they were buying dinner, and I had repressed my immediate desire to protest and replaced it with a polite, if effusive, thank you. I thought this was a big step up.

The son of this family said, in response to my inquiry, that he actually enjoyed opening doors -- even car doors -- because it's a good way of telling a person you like them or respect them.

Which is exactly how I feel about feeding people.

I don't invite people over for dinner because i think they can't cook, I do it because I want to do something nice for them because I like them and I like feeling like I'm taking care of people I like. Maybe this door thing is as simple as that.

I honestly had not made that connection.

Well, then all kinds of synapses started firing, and let me simply say here, because there are too many instances of this for me catalog and apologize for them all individually, that I'm really sorry if I've ever told you off or gotten offended when you gave me advice, or when you helped me out of something, or when you opened a door or jar or can of worms for me. I get it now, I swear! Just like when I give advice or a friendly word it's because I like you and respect you, I GET IT that that's what you're doing, too! Ha! Liberation! Car doors and cooking! Same thing!


There really is something to be said for this southern hospitality thing. I missed it. I like it. I think it might be good for me.

An Ode To Whole Foods

After a few months of being very good about never shopping at Whole Foods, I have caved. Whole Heartedly caved. I love it. I love the lighting, I love the smell, I love the way the vegetables are arranged, I love the organization of the dairy section, I love the way you can sample types of cheeses and have actual conversations with the person behind the cheese counter about the flavors, textures, melting temperatures, tartness, or crumbliness of each of them. I love the music. And the carts. And how nice everybody is. And how easy it is to buy sustainably produced everyday things. I know I'm succumbing to a ridiculously awesome marketing campaign, but I honestly don't care.

I love that every type of bacon comes in different thicknesses. They sell soap called, "Coconut Skin Trip," they sell veggie flavored Pirate's Booty, and they sell quinoa pasta. The organization makes sense to my feet as I walk around.

I don't like asking for special treatment and I do like foods made of flour, so shopping for gluten free breads, pastas, fried things -- it's tough in other places, even if they carry the stuff, because it's never obvious where it is. I know it's stupid, but I get embarrassed telling people I need the gluten free section, like I am asking them a favor. But Whole Foods makes it so easy. It's all clearly marked. For every regular wheat item, there's at least one gluten free option. I never have to feel uncomfortable. Obviously, I'm working on the thing about asking for my dietary needs to be met in other places, but to walk into a place to do all my shopping and know that not once am I going to feel weird about my food is really great.

Food is important to me. Feeding people is something I get a lot of joy out of. Since this whole gluten intolerance thing, Food has become something I worry about instead of something easy for me and my people to gather around and enjoy each other over. Shopping, going out, eating at other people's houses -- there's a hitch now. That's fine, I can deal (or I'm learning to), but today, when I stopped at Whole Foods on my way home from work to get supplies for chicken soup, I felt better just walking in there. I felt like I was with a bunch of people whose food philosophies and mine just meshed.

This life thing is most rewarding when it's hard, but it's nice, when I'm cooking and grocery shopping and feeding people, to only feel the good and simple parts.

(There's a really cheap connection with Whole Foods and Whole Eating and all that to be made here, but really, I'm not going to do it.)

Best of all, the chicken soup was perfect.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Good Day For Mail

Usually, I don't check my mailbox; in Chicago, it was the opposite direction from my front door, all I ever got were bills, and it was too cold to stay outside long enough to run up the stairs. Here, it's still the opposite direction from my front door, but it's been too hot. Plus, old habits die hard. Today, though, as I was putting my key in the lock, I thought, "Mail!" and looped right around. Not sure why that thought was powerful enough to move me today, but it was.

Lo and behold, there was the postlady, locking up the banks of boxes. It's quite a sight, if you've never seen it -- many tens of rectangles angled out to look like one long triangle, like geometric mouths with braces. I went to mine, fresh closed up into the wall. I turned the key. I squealed. (Really, I did. If you have a hard time believing that, well, then you probably don't know me very well.)

"Good day for mail?" she asked, a lilt in her voice.

"Yes! Ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodness yes!" I said back.

A moment for context: I used to babysit for a family in Chicago, and I love them. My love for them is so big the only word for it is BIG, in all capital letters. And here for the last week or two I've been feeling like I have to send them cards or maybe the next time I mail them something it will be awkward, and I don't want that -- what if I've missed the correspondence gap? (Those of you who send regular mail understand this fear. You should know that with me, there is no such thing as too long or too short between letters.)

But there, in my mailbox, squished against a bill for Ashley Eukhert (who doesn't understand the concept of changing an address) was a big yellow-orange envelope with handwriting and STICKERS. OHMYGOODNESS OHMYGOODNESS OHMYGOODNESS.

A package! A package! WOW! But WAIT. What is this larger than normal padded envelope just underneath it?

ANOTHER package! It even had a 'delivery confirmation' sticker. The return address? A person I haven't spoken to in years, but about whom I once cared a great deal.

A moment about that phrase, to 'care a great deal.' For me, this means that at the time that I knew him, I felt we had a stake in each others' existences, that how I lived my life was of concern to him in a positive way, and vice versa. That we put thought into each other. This is still true; what he wrote in his letter made me think in a way that will change me a little, or maybe a lot, if we look at this in terms of angles. Today, this was a little thing. If his thoughts from today stay with me as long as his thoughts from way back when have stayed, well, the projection of the angle grows. So today, I got a letter from an old friend about whom I care a great deal.

It wasn't just a letter, it was a bookmark, too. In 1923, Robert Frost and his son planted 1,000 pine trees at their farm in Vermont. Two trees were harvested in 2009 for local artisans to make beautiful things from.

Frost is my favorite poet. So when this friend moved on to the next thing in his life, I gave him my favorite copy of my favorite collection of Frost's work. Today, years later, this friend sent me a piece of something Frost himself planted, and he sent it enclosed in some beautiful thoughts. Reading them felt like just yeasterday we'd left off the thread of a conversation.

So I opened his package first. Then I rather gingerly broke the seal on the large envelope from the family I used to sit. Inside, I found this beautiful art:

1. A First Painting:

2. A Banner

3. Another Banner

There were notes, too. Really lovely notes, with phrases like, "Tomorrow is peace day at school I made a shirt," and "I want to see you too," and "We got your letter thank you I like your card I miss you how is TX," just like that, which are really heartwarming things to see spelled correctly in mostly straight handwriting. My favorite thing about these kids, (trust me, it's hard to pick a favorite thing) is how honest and open they are. I love their willingness to ask anything and say what they feel, but also how thoughtful, clear, enthused their words are. In a note I almost missed because it was stuck to the back of the painting, their mother promised to steal me and never give me back if I came to visit.

Today, I felt a few little gems of life with them in it. I feel full. Not overflowing -- just perfectly full of peaceyness, all the way up.

This is not the only kindness my mailbox has treated me to lately. A little more than a week ago, I was told in an unlooked for letter from another old friend that I am warm and 'glinty eyed' and that sometimes this person thinks of me when cooking or jumping into lakes. The best part of this one, though, was this, in chickeny scrawl on a yellow piece of slightly rumpled mini legal paper: "Just met a teacher atop Mt. Katahdin. Apparently there is space camp for teachers. Just so you know what's out there. Are you writing at all these days?"

My mailbox has been good to me of late.

(You may wonder why I include no names here -- it's because the internet is scary and googleable, and I don't want other people's contributions to my life to be tagged and named and scattered across the unknown permanence of this particular web. I think that would be unfair.)

Today, I opened my mailbox and I felt, I physically felt, the weight of how much a few people I really care about love me. I felt, where often I only hope, that opening or giving myself to people really does come back. I think there is a difference between knowing and expecting it to be true that the people we love love us back. I feel it fairly often, but today I felt it like a cocoon. Some days, we really can get the thought we put into people given back to us, tenfold. I know, because it happened. Today. Unexpectedly. In my mailbox.

Sure, my tendency to open myself up to everyone I meet may cause me occasional pain, and there is a lesson in that -- the people who witness your life have a power over it, so I'm really trying to let the self select and not give binoculars to negativity. But today, my mailbox was basically overflowing with the physical manifestations of certain beautiful friendships, and that makes it all worth it.

Letters aren't just objects. They are unique dedications of time and affection which you can hold, lose, find, touch, smell...

I suppose it's ironic to talk about the merits of physical communication in a blog, but today was too good not to share in as many mediums as are physically (or electronically) possible.

My contentment is fuzzy, full, and BIG -- a blanket better than even the heavy Texas air.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Rough Draft of My Brain

Dear Friends,

Three of you have told me in the last few weeks that my attempts to start thinking more before I talk are possibly folly. This has ruminated in me for a while, so I'm opening the gates. WARNING: you are about to enter the inner workings of Morgan's reflective mind. Blah blah blah or forever hold your peace (Piece? Maybe...).

My office is a fluorescent cave. It gets to me. When my officemate isn't there, I keep the lights off, even though that makes it dark -- my window is artistically sliver-like. But I don't mind the dark. I don't even mind the Twilight jokes, since it means I don't get a fluorescent light headache. My officemate is on a business trip this week.

The downside of her absence is that I don't have her to bounce ideas off of. She's excellent at listening to some project I'm about to work on and make the task a million times simpler than I would have. Today, I spent two and a half hours working on a pressing project doing totally unnecessary things primarily because I am not good at simplifying tasks. I've also had to pass along a project I'm really loving because I am not the person for it for the same reason; I have to learn to write simply, to be straightforward, to not get attached to unnecessary facts and phrases just because I like them; I have to learn to get less caught up in romance because I miss the reality of it. I suppose the bit about romance has a lot less to do with work and a lot more to do with me, but I like the way it sounded, so I'm not going to cut it.

Case and point.

People can learn to write in declarative sentences. I have learned to write in declarative sentences. I have almost learned to think in them -- if I think about thinking in them, I can make myself do it. I think my life would be easier on other people if I were better at this type of thought. I'm not. I want to fix that.

But maybe, and this idea is by no means uniquely mine, 'fixing' is the wrong word.

I think that the words we choose to talk about our lives matter. I have a friend who actively listens to everything I say. I never knew how much I talked purely because I like it until I met this person. I never realized how little thought I put into my words until I met this person. It feels good to know you're being listened to. It also made me want to make sure what I said actually mattered, so that his energy was not wasted. I think people can tell when you're thinking by talking and thinking before talking. I think that translates into how people listen to you, and I think there's a relationship between being able to think before speaking and listening well.

This afternoon, thinking aloud, I invited C. to dinner, and then I., and then J.. I didn't contemplate what I was going to make until John asked me what kind of wine should hit the table. Never before meditated ideas flew about in gchat. Dinner was a rousing success, Bullshit (the card game) was a rousing success, the British sitcoms we watched afterwards because we'd been talking about British sitcoms were a rousing success.

It isn't that every sentence needs thought beforehand to be good. It's that the habit of thinking before an action could be really valuable. I would probably be able to simplify the way I do things -- and thus avoid hours of extra work and heartache -- if I could.

But then, this little rough draft of my brain wouldn't exist, would it? And aren't you just loving that it does?

The other side of this problem is that in listening to other people I am inclined to think about what they say as they say it rather than think about what I am about to say. In order to avoid long pauses, however, one must either craft a response while the other person is talking or think while speaking.

Perhaps the answer there is allowing peaceful pauses. I like that thought. It didn't come around until the second draft of this here posting.

I have learned that declarative sentences are valuable. I am convinced that people who think in them, really think in them without having to remind themselves to, cause their people much less... turmoil, in that what they say has been edited for purpose and to avoid hurting anybody. But I don't actually feel that this is a better default model for me. It's a skill, but these last weeks and weeks of trying to learn it have made me feel... cold. I actively feel less warm when I am busy feeling guilty that I'm not thinking and phrasing simply enough. I've started feeling bad about faux pas instead of laughing about them.

I'm going to keep trying, so I can turn on and off this thinking-before-I-speak thing. Perhaps with pauses in conversations, this new speech pattern is possible. But for better or for worse, I am too complicated for simple sentence structures in my heart of hearts. About this I can be clear, but to untangle myself into simple statements would be to untangle the layers of truths and memories which keep me feeling warm and fuzzy and full of wonder; I think perhaps these things are worth more than simplicity in the soul.

There's a difference here, between presenting myself clearly and thoughtfully and doing so as a reflection of my inner self. I've conflated them because my problem with thinking before I speak/speaking simply is that I do not like to present myself differently than how I feel myself to be. That may be silly. It may be wise. I don't know.

I still do want to listen better, think more, and bring stillness with me when I go. I want to be clear and thoughtful in my conversations and my thoghts. I want to not say inappropriate things at work. Maybe these things don't require thoughts constructed of short, declarative sentences... maybe they require a deeper separation of thoughts and verbalization. Perhaps everything that pops into my head is there for me, not everybody else.

I mean, I knew that, it's just a matter of feeling it.

Goodness, but life takes work!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finding Parking

I don't think I will ever feel at home in a place where garlic cooked in butter in the kitchen doesn't waft all the way into the bedroom closets. I like to know somebody's cooking in my kitchen, I like to hear it when they walk through the front door. I like to pick up a thought in my bedroom and have it still on the tip of my nose when I make it to my computer, haphazard on the couch.

Chronicling my life has always ended in failure. Writing events for the sake of them does not appeal to me, yet... I struggle against the thought that everything which merits penning has a point.

I feel terribly guilty when the point of regular writing is regular chronicling. Strawberries stain white carpet, but I got the red wine out.

Zoning in Houston is strange, when it exists. The Fourth Ward, or Freedmen's District, appears to be an island of boarded up shotgun houses and old pecan trees, feral cats, deep grass, and shopping carts discarded even by Houston's baggiest of bag ladies. It sits amidst swanky apartment buildings, a boutique creperie, a frozen yogurt place which sells the stuff to you by the pound (toppings can be heavy), and, of course, my work. The sidewalks here are of interlocking brick. If I arrive early enough, a man with a leafblower is still blowing the leaves, grass clippings, and parking receipts from where we, the People In Suits, are likely to see it. Remember that collection of poems by Shel Silverstein called, "Where the Sidewalk Ends,"? Well.

So on the way to work every morning, I pass the same long, thin man with his long, thin cat, coming out of his condemned shotgun house to fill a water bucket from a pump in his condemned yard. Then, he will very carefully wash his face, sling on his backpack, pick up his bike, and after he leaves the condemned chain link gate in the condemned chain link fence, he always hooks the most discreet of locks around the top and bottom of his chain link door, his cat stretched out on the cracked sidewalk. On the next corner, Jackson Browne or the Weepies or James Taylor or NPR pour from my windows and wake up the Man Beneath the Pecan Tree, and then I park while he rolls over on his pallet in the sweaty shade, hitting the snooze button on the cars driving past him to their jobs in front of computers in offices. He might be taking a shower in a public fountain later, but he sleeps beneath a pecan tree. If there were choice, there would be poetry in that somewhere as well.

If I park on the left side of the street, my car will be shaded from the morning light by a big fancy apartment building, which appeals to that bit of me that wants to sit in my car with only my music playing to finish the song, and then perhaps have a moment all mine in the shade. But if I stay too long in that shady spot, the stench from the sewage drains -- only on one side of the street, mind you -- will waft into my car through the recirculating air of the A/C. It's some concoction of rotting meatballs, old cottage cheese, and titanic concentrations of body odor. But, there's a clean white sidewalk across the grass from my car. So the first morning I parked on this street,side of the street, not knowing yet about the sewers.

There's still dew on the grass when I get to work, so that morning I got my sassy yellow heels soaked crossing the rough chopped swamp grass on my way to the sidewalk.

And then after a few steps it wasn't a sidewalk any longer, it was a shallow pit of oozy goozy possibly bubbling muck, right where the sidewalk was supposed to be, right where the sidewalk had been a moment before, right where, across the street in Midtown, there's a guy with a leafblower blowing the fancy brick sidewalks clean. Here, the sidewalk ends.

The next morning, I parked on the right side of the street. There, I could see I would be shaded in the late afternoon by a large live oak tree which guards the junk shop when it isn't being deciduous. (The fact that deciduous may modify 'junk shop' and may modify 'live oak tree' was unintentional but I like it, so I'm leaving it.) But, there's no sidewalk at all on this side. I thought, "Good," and walked over to the tree. Running around it, in the tall, waving grass of the Fourth Ward, cut a little path which reminded me of the woods back home in Virginia. There were tall flowering weeds and the wind was rippling about. Happy, I started walking.

Up close, the tiny path is just the right size for one foot to fall in front of the other in shade all the way to where the sidewalk starts (or, from the other direction, where the sidewalk ends). Up close, the path is teeming with used condoms and scraps of paper and broken glass, with what are probably rat droppings and a smell not as bad as the sewage, but close.

Every morning, I have to choose between walking along it or in the street and looking at it -- from a few feet off it's poetry. Up close, it is, I suppose, a different kind of poetry. And every morning, where the sidewalk starts, the leafblower stops his street cleaning and tips his hat at me as I pass. It is as if he isn't supposed to get the pretty lady's feet dirty, only... she just parked where she just parked.

I'd rather park away from the smells and think the path through the tall grass is pretty, but I draw the line at the need to erase the falling leaves and parking receipts from the sidewalk. Why can't we throw away our trash and enjoy the leaves? Good things are usually a little dirty up close. Chickens are delicious, but they have cartilage and fat. People are great, but they smell. Hiking is fun, but it makes you sweat. And so on.

Walking to work in the morning, I just wish more people picked up the trash in the path and cared a little less about suppressing natural things like falling leaves and grass clippings. The first is an unnecessary evil, the second are pleasant remnants of life with green things.

Anyway, I've taken to walking in the path. I pick up and throw away the stuff that won't give me herpes or cut me. I hope somebody else does, too, but honestly, it's kind of okay if they don't. The path is getting prettier.

I just hope they don't start leafblowing it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ramblings around the point

Last week and this week, I am being paid to study pressing social issues and the way a good education in mathematics can be corrective. Does early math education close the gender gap? Yes. Does early math education enfranchise people? Yes. Does it make us whole and better citizens? Yes. Can I effectively insert Reasoning Mind into the political conversation about math education? I hope so. I'm writing philosophy and research papers and dry statistical analysis... then, in my spare time, I'm reading about the education crisis.

And they said they didn't teach job skills at UChicago.

Thursday night I took my first yoga class since Chicago. The lady was an odd one; she made disclaimers about silliness, etc., apologizing for the fact that we may look or feel a little ridiculous in a moment. I thought she was referring to the pretzel-like fashion in which we were about to twist ourselves up. Nope. She proceeded to tell us to balance on our forearms and our toes and 'sploosh out the negativity.'

She was right. It was weird. It was also rather glorious, because she then proceeded to encourage us to 'make those splooshy noises, now,' which is not something I ever thought I'd hear in a yoga class, but this is Texas.

Friday night, Dave Matthews was in town. We got there rather early and walked over to the pavilion from the free parking (only in Texas is there free parking at a massive corporate-style concert), but in the indecision about whether or not to take my bag with me into the venue I managed to leave my ticket in the car. I told the guys I'd call them when I back and retraced my steps to the car, only to discover that my phone was still at work. There were people literally pouring alongside me on their way into the venue. How the hell was I supposed to find three dudes on a blanket in a sea of dudes sitting on blankets?

(This is when it occurred to me that outdoor concerts have been happening since long before cell phones, so there was a decent chance it was all going to work out.) I walked back. There were Wes and Alex, directly in sight of the entrance, sitting at the edge of the Sea of Bros. I think cell phones have seriously damaged my generation's ability to meet people, function in large public places, and to keep their engagements.

Saturday: Tarkovsky made a film called 'Andrei Rublev' about a 15th century Russian Orthodox icon painter by the name of Andrei Rublev. The entire thing is a series of tangents which take place for little to no obvious reason, and much of the action in the film isn't relevant to the story being told -- or at least, it didn't seem so when I watched it, though the more it sits with me the more connected it all seems. Perhaps this is what is meant by the facility of the human mind to build stories out of disconnected pieces.

The point is, this film was in black and white and shades of gray and brown; most of it took place in what looked like a field of mud or dirty grass punctuated by large puddles; and both the people and the icons seemed flat, dirty; like they were draped in bits of elephant skin. The horses were always upset about something, probably the mud, and were prancing about like nobody's business. This film was three hours long.

But then, the last five minutes was a series of shots in full color of Rublev's paintings, today, unrestored, gorgeous, dimensional, shaped. It was breathtaking. The last thirty seconds showed three horses at the edge of a pure blue shallow lake, drinking and grazing in a field of the most perfect marsh grass I have ever seen.

It hit me like a ton of bricks that the entire film could have been incredibly visually stunning, only I was too caught up in the colors -- or lack thereof.

Art should do this more often.

People really spoke this weekend at Quaker Meeting. They spoke about gratitude and perspective and stillness and purpose, about bringing peace from within out into the world. There was something that tugged at me in a way which felt like roots as I was sitting and listening to these people speak from some higher stillness. In listening I was not pulled out of or away from myself in the least; I think I know now what it means to say, "You speak my mind," but it was more than that, there was a sense of lightness there.

The rest of the weekend involved cheesecake and Whole Foods as a zen experience and an episode with a taco at a birthday party which I unintentionally crashed, but now it's time to get to work.

None of what I've written this morning seems to have much of a purpose except that all of these things were rather lovely and I want to share them; luckily for me, that's the point of this here blog. I think I am starting to take more time to appreciate things because they are, not because there is necessarily a punch line. I don't want my life to have a punch line, and I don't know how it all fits together, but it has been a good couple of days in Texas.

Day One

I have been blogging since I moved three months ago, but I never posted them; they're just lists and lists of honest statements about my life which I meant to edit and share but didn't. Now there's a backlog and I've been feeling bad about not posting them - remember that episode of Gilligan's Island when Santa Claus finds them and goes back to the North Pole and then never comes to save them? And then, years later, when they're found, Santa is there. Gilligan asks, "Santa, you found us, but then you never came to save us." And Santa replies, "Sorry, son, I wish I had, it's just... well, I forgot, and then I was ashamed of myself, and then I figured it was too late."

Obviously, it is never too late to rescue people from a desert island, even if they have managed to concoct a paradise of mid nineteenth century Floridian comfort.

Well, I've been stuck in a similar cycle about starting/posting to this blog, and in the spirit of dismissing such irrational feelings, I'm not posting anything from before this Day One. I will simply list my honest statements here, in the hope of sharing my life with all you people I care about. As my grandmother said once about something entirely different, "Yeah, but that's yesterday. New Year's is a stupid holiday. Don't wait for an occasion or other people to start doing things or changing things. Every day starts a new year. Stop being so damned ashamed of yourself and just do it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it." Goodness me, but I love my Grandma.

So here I am, incidentally, three months to the day into My Life In Houston. It's beautiful here; the trees are like huge bonsais, the flowers outside my window never seem to stop blooming, and last night, tending my basil, there was the teensiest breath of a chill in the air, but I still felt enveloped in a warm cloud.

Purpose of this blog: I want to share my life with a lot of people, but I don't live near them, and I have discovered that it is better to let other people enter your life on their terms and in their time, so rather than directly email or call all you lovely persons with what's going on in this little city in my little brain, I'm leaving it here for you to participate in as you will, with no expectations. (Grandma, I have learned to witness my own life, or I wouldn't be able to say that, now would I? So maybe it's better that I didn't start blogging until I'd taken in that little lesson...)

It is incredibly hard to work straight through a nine hour workday without slouching, twisting my legs up like a pretzel, resting my elbows on the desk, glancing over at facebook, or getting the two-thirties... all afternoon. Today I will try going home at lunch to see if, perhaps, coming back to work from home makes the afternoon feel like the morning.

I've made a lot of resolutions since I got here, one of which is to work slowly on the things I need to change to be a better person. I'm in the "Read More Books I Like" and "Appreciate the Cool Things You Did" phase. Though I'm still working on thinking before I speak.

Funny how taking a breath before you start a sentence weeds out a lot of extraneous word vomit. Funny, too, how it changes conversation and thought patterns.

This morning, light filtered through my basil plants woke me up from oversleeping. The extra blankets I've put on my bed missed me, I think, missed the orderly way I make them lie on my bed, so they cuddled more than they needed to and kept me sleeping longer than I should have. I was sure to give them a big hug for that.

I bought basil plants when I moved here. I've harvested them once, and now they are so heavy with leaves again they can't hold themselves up. The first few months, they did not seem to grow at all -- but here they are with a second harvest on the way. There's a metaphor for transitions in there somewhere.

1. My crackpot theory about going home for lunch and tricking myself into thinking the afternoon is the morning totally worked, and I'm sitting up straight at my desk.
2. Though I THOUGHT I was being random about my First Day and not taking an occasion of any kind to begin something anew, it turns out today is Rosh Hashanah. Heh. There are layers of ironies here.