Monday, February 13, 2017

Camping in Alabama

This weekend, my husband and I headed south to Alabama, trying to outrun the rain. We looked at the map and the weather report and picked Cheaha Mountain, but ended up outside the State Park and into the Taladega Wilderness, because, well, it's free and there were not any detectable adjacent campsites.
I have to admit my expectations for this trip were modest. Alabama has a total of 3 Wilderness areas. I had two conflicting assumptions: Alabamians are not outdoorsy, meaning the park would be quite. AND, with so few destinations in the state, the park will be packed. Coming from Colorado, one of the most awesome places in the world (half of the damn state is wilderness...overwhelming beauty), I figured Alabama's offerings to be limited.
My suspended expectations served me well. The impact of the woods took some time to reach my conscious mind. We drove in, maybe a mile or two off the road into a clearing and set up camp. We agreed it would be car camping. We brought too many things and too much food. I never changed my clothes once even though I brought enough to change 3 times. I had to walk around and collect stones to make a fire pit and then collect fallen wood for the fire. My husband set up a tarp canopy in case it rained, although it never did.
To look out into dense woods didn't affect me much at first. It is winter, largely monochromatic, all some shade of orange-brown. We didn't see any critters or crawlys. There weren't even mosquitos (this is not a complaint). In the woods there is no view except the foreground. Everything behind is obscured by more trees. What surprised me was how the woods stripped me of any sense of location. And since we were so secluded, I couldn't hear anything except the wind and our own fire. I couldn't tell you where the road was or look out over the hills or tell you what was 30 yards to the north. If I had to guess... more woods. And I suddenly understood the mythology of woods. Why they are terrifying, because they reveal so little. The woods and the south east in general are witchy places.
The sun went down but the temperature never dropped. The dogs put themselves to bed in the tent and my husband and I made love on a blanket next to the fire. Immediately after, the clouds cleared for about 10 minutes gifting us the full moon.
As a cynic, it is difficult for me to say this, but it felt magic. Here I am, a 33 year old woman and until Saturday night around 9pm I had never been naked under a full moon. I didn't pray or evoke any personified moon spirit, even though in the moment I realized how rare it was and wondered if I would squander it. I just walked around, clam until the clouds made the moon, and my skin and my husband invisible again. We kicked out the fire and went to bed. It was both commonplace and something I will never in my life forget.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Work Meditation

Today I had a job scheduled for 10 and a half hours. All together I was gone for 12. It's one of those ambiguous jobs that is both a blessing and a curse. Everything about this place evokes extremes. As a freelancer, and my self-imposed work quota, the job fulfills half of the week's necessary hours in one fell swoop, as opposed to filling a schedule with erratic 2 hours jobs that can start at 7am and end at 11pm anyhow, spread across several days. This kind of job appeals to the procrastinator in me, the work-hard-play-hard lady.

It's also awful. I'm paid to shadow a trainee, a new hire. And after the cursory explanations of safety and process, the trainee is off on their own. And I must simply be available if questions or adjustments come up. This ends up being hours upon hours of sitting in an uncomfortable stool with absolutely nothing to do.

That's the setup. Now here is the meditation:
My presence in this environment is disrupting to nearly everyone I encounter. And I encounter a lot of people there. This is a busy work environment, an ant farm, thousands of folks chipping away at a luxury block and shipping it away to other folk's door. The place perplexes me. The jobs are menial, but they are available. You sign up more than you apply, and get a slightly less than decent wage for easy work. They let you come and go without much ado. Not the best job, but it almost seems like the alternative for many people is no job. But. But... work policies, the management, the oversight. It's nothing less than fascist. Write up for minute late clock ins after break, loosing half a day of personal leave for arriving 15 minutes late, tracking whereabouts in the building, tracking time off work, tracking and holding you accountable for the speed in which you do that small process... repeated 1,000 times in one day. You want to go see HR about a question, well, you gota change your work code and get paid a lower wage for that 15 minutes. Seven levels of management all watching the one below for excessive talking or standing. No earphones allowed; they check your bag on the way home. I see eighteen different ways to dehumanize an individual in a day, make them understand they are not reliable or trustworthy. Then show a video reminding 'em to be grateful for the work.

Then I come in, a contractor, not an employee. And I sit where there is no place to sit, and I read my book. And when I get weary of that, I look at my phone. And when I get weary of that, I rest my head in my hand and my elbow on my knee and I stare into space and daydream and silently suffer, not knowing if I also should feel grateful or sick at my uselessness. And while I'm working hard to see our sameness, a lot of people see me in contrast. I get scolded often, for not working, being in the way. Asked to moved, questioned by a dozen people what I'm doing. I'm suspicious. I explain myself again and again. I interrupt the flow, or the fog? Then when people around me figure out what I'm there for, tell me they wish they had my job, tell me how lucky I am, how easy I got it. I get annoyed or defensive. Or just bored by the repeat. Sometimes I say, "It looks easy now, but it wasn't easy to get here, I swear." The path that started 12 years ago, school, my own menial meantime work,  self-doubt and frustration over slow progress, embarrassments, dozens of little disasters and successes, being held back, carving out a path over a decade with slow burning commitment just to be picked for this silly job. But it not worth explaining, defensiveness is weakness and I feel unworthy of the gifts I've been given: the chance to walk that arduous path. In the end this whole scenario comes down to Capitalism, which seems logical, but is not, only a close approximation, because the minimum is zero, the starting point... I don't believe we can apply that scale to human beings.

Isn't it funny how we don't feel worthy of our gifts and privileges, but that our challenges and oppressions we feel are undeserved?


Sunday, November 13, 2016

I love reading stories of relationships gone awry. Especially marriages. The slow exit from closeness. A drop of bitters added to a pool that doesn't circulate. Then another. These stories are so tender. Losing love like this is genuine and sweet and tragic. It seems so unavoidable. I thinking of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" and "Purity" and JSF's "Here I am" and "Anna Karenina."  Of course these writes are geniuses; that helps.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sad People do Cruel Things

Sad people do cruel things. To themselves and to others. And the tricky thing about sadness is the shroud of justifiability. The broken heart thinks it's kind. The lonely soul is furious at almost everyone for dismissing her. I've untied the knot of my sadness for so long, and the root of the tangle is both complicated and unavoidable, but also, after that delicate age, simply self-sustaining. After a while sadness is a shortcut. Living on the emotional doll. So precious, but not enough to thrive. Leaving it behind is not worth doing something hard. I have been this sad-addict, and I know them.
I had a friend destroy me with her sadness, and she thinks it's my fault. There are many things about her that are still a mystery to me. I can't know the whole story because she never told me. But the last thing she said to me was that she knows me. Knows me completely. But I'm wrong about her. This kind of explanation, I now see, is insanity. It's the overcomplicating of a basic emotion. It's the ultimate stance for the sympathetic character...being misunderstood, relatable mostly to teenagers, or in other words relatable to narcissism. I loved her though. But she didn't want to see me change. I figure my grieving for her is going through half-lives. This cycle shorter than the last. I look forward to the day she is mostly dead in my heart. It will come. So much poison for so many years.

As for me. The nonsense comes up still. Taking every word personal, every action, every minute. Taking the weather personal, my mother personal, a look from a stranger. Old habits, seeds of cruelty. I see it coming now. I've got a 360 camera called experience. And I tell myself to stop. It's not glamorous. It's not musical or revelatory. But it works. Too much of my time here I've been a dick. I owe some restitution. To others, yes, so harshly judged, and to myself.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Moving to Tennessee

I wrote a long, meandering, brilliant, resonating post about moving to Tennessee, which I have done. Colorado to Tennessee. I am here. I had metaphors and creative sentence manipulations. It was great. Then my screen crashed and deleted it all. Just know, profundity has been spilled into cyberspace. The shame.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quickie

Two long days in my head.
Arrived home from my trip and it was like California Valley fog immediately as I walked in the door.

My mind. My thoughts. The boulder, marble pillar in the center of my life, blocking me from everything, not necessarily talking me out of my life (in fact, most of the time I'm trying to talk myself into it), but keeping me too busy and confused to do a damn thing. I wonder if total exasperation is the only path to the wisdom of letting go. And I wonder how close I am to Total Exasperation.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Kiddy Pool

Yesterday I was talking through some personal drama, repeating myself, defending myself, explaining again why this person is ridiculous, and I am righteous, and then shaming myself for gossip, meddling, having absolutely no ability to let the unimportant things roll off my back. And I suddenly realized two things. Well, I had begun to realize the first thing a few days ago after a phone call with my mother... The girl fight behavior... that's a learned behavior. My whole life I watched my mother stockpile ammunition again this or that person that made her uncomfortable, threatened her position, or made her feel insecure about her own choices. Then it was a silent war. I'm reluctant to be hard core critical, but it's not exactly a useful behavior. Even if your observations are right. And here I am, on the phone with mom, gathering ammunition against her cause I'm gonna call my sister 3 minutes after we hang up. The greatest irony.
This is how I learned, and it fucking sucks. I am a master at perpetuating some mutual dislike between myself and another person. In my mind that equates to a caddy airheaded child. That's how I am seeing myself.
The second realization was that my life is very shallow right now, and so yeah, I'm easily drawn into group drama, and tv shows for that matter. Whats the difference?
When and how did it become shallow? Not sure, maybe my definition changed... when grad school ended? When that constant emotional pain left me? (This is an interesting one, my life is not shallow because I'm in pain? or I just don't notice it --or anything-- cause I'm in pain?) Lord knows I've had so much difficulty forcing myself to be creative, it that it? No art? I prioritize work and then its just free time, lazy time, sometimes workout time. It's a confusing question to myself, because I do read, I've been thinking about Alan Watts pretty regularly for months...
Hold up, I'm creating a defense for myself against the argument that my life is shallow. Maybe what I mean to say is, I have no pursuit now. Nothing to obsess about or dabble with, nothing that is carrying me away. It's all done with great echoy effort. I'm so easily distracted.
That hard part is I can't think my way out of this one. I can't decided to be carried away. I must unthink, do nothing, flip that magnet. A slippery task. I'm gonna pull my hair out.