Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekly Quotes 2014 #12

This book does not have page numbers so I am unable to offer parenthetical pagination.  I suppose I could write in numbers myself but that's time consuming and I didn't think it especially mattered this one time.

What would I discover about the cottonwoods if when I walked to the mailbox I listened to them instead of looked at them?  What would I find out about the rain if I didn’t run inside?  And is it possible that a sunrise would refresh me more than sleep? 

and alert
and available
human and

(without purpose)
(without wanting)
(without needing)

Sometimes when I am scared I like to turn on the light. 

My growth does not seem to be a matter of learning new lessons but of learning the old lessons again and again.  The wisdom doesn’t change, only the situations.

So often I wrestle with myself over how I want to feel instead of trying to discover how I really feel.

Eventually, a kind of professional scribal class came to be a part of the Christian intellectual landscape, and with the advent of professional scribes came more controlled copying practices, in which mistakes were made much less frequently. . . . It would be a grave mistake . . . to think that because later manuscripts agree so extensively with one another, they are therefore our superior witnesses to the ‘original’ text of the New Testament.  For one must always ask:  where did these medieval scribes get the texts they copied in so professional a manner?  They got them from earlier texts, which were copies of yet earlier texts, which were themselves copies of still earlier texts.  Therefore, the texts that are closest in form to the originals are, perhaps unexpectedly, the more variable and amateurish copies of early times, not the more standardized professional copies of later times.  (71-72)

Scarcely anything has made a more revolutionary impact on the modern world than the printing press, the next closest thing (which may eventually, surpass it in significance) is the advent of the personal computer.  (76-77)

Printers for the most part did not search out new manuscripts that might be older and better in order to base their texts on them.  Instead, they simply printed and reprinted the same text, making only minor changes.  (79)

If one did not know which words were original to the Greek New Testament, how could one use these words in deciding correct Christian doctrine and teaching?  (84)

There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.  (90)

There are some kinds of profound wisdom that I hope never to gain from my own experience.  (196)

After college, my roommate was in a bad car accident, and I flew out to Hawaii to see her.  She was wearing a halo brace with bolts drilled into her skull.
“Do you feel lucky to be alive?” I asked.
“Well, actually,” she said, “I feel like I really wish I hadn’t been in a damn car crash.”  (220)

When researchers tried to figure out what helped third- and fourth-graders remember what they read, they found that the students’ interest in a passage was far more important that the “readability” of the passage—thirty times more important.  (228)

I feel compelled to make lists of foreign words that describe concepts that English can’t convey (flâneur, darshan, eudaimonia, Ruinensehnsucht, amae, nostalgie de la boue). . . .  (230)

Flawed can be more perfect than perfection.  (242)

Clearly, being anxious is a full-time and rather exhausting occupation.  (2)

If you have ever opened a can of worms, boxed yourself into a corner, ended up in hot water, or found yourself in a pretty pickle, you already know that life is rarely (if ever) just a bowl of cherries.  (119)

When the impossible becomes merely difficult, that’s when you know you’ve won.  (154)

. . . I suppose that is what is meant by ‘growing up’ . . . .  Finding out the different between what one expected one’s life would be like and how things really are.  (165)

This is called “selective truth telling,” and it is frequently used in political campaigns, toy advertisements, and other forms of propaganda.  (166)

You thought navigating the cafeteria was treacherous?  There’s a little place called the teacher’s lounge, my friend, and it is where the human spirit goes to die.  (125)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writing Wednesdays: True Reflections: Short Story

This is an experimental piece and I've shared it here on my blog before. It's perhaps the creepiest thing I've ever written and definitely not my usual style.  

True Reflections

You feel it begin as an itch beneath your skin.  A sensation that tingle and tickles but lies too deep to scratch.  You try to ignore it, think you will learn to ignore it, but there is no ignorance and no bliss.  Just this.
In your advanced high school literature class they had you read The Yellow Wallpaper and you remember thinking you understood the woman crawling behind the wallpaper, the madness in the walls.  But you knew your walls were different, stronger, impenetrable.  Until the skin crawled and you knew too late too late your fate here lying just skin deep just deep enough to be hid but not rid of.
You shower to cleanse away the crawling, water sloughing away the dead skin cells.  Naked you emerge and dry yourself with clean towels that you immediately toss into the washing machine, retrieving a new set from the endless stack you keep, a steady rotation of fresh white towels.  Bleached white and when they begin to yellow they follow the fate of their fellow white towels and are tossed down the incinerator.
Naked you dust everything.  Every morning after you shower you dust because you must rid yourself and your life of the messiness before anyone else can see.  Vacuum to catch what the dusting leaves behind then shower again to rid flesh of anything clinging.  You dry with clean towels and toss into the washing machine before you dress in the same black and black on black.  In summer, you wear black pants or black shorts with a black t-shirt.  In winter, you wear black pants with a black sweater.  Sometimes you wear layers.  Sometimes you wear nothing.  Today you wear black pants and a black t-shirt.
You don’t need any mirrors where you don’t see anything anyway.  There are no mirrors except for the one in the bathroom, the one they call a medicine cabinet.  You cover that one with one white towel that you change once a week to keep it clean.  And you turn off the light at night the night you change the towel so you won’t see your reflection.  
You don’t want to see what you feel beneath your skin the crawling within thing that you might see if you looked.
The itch is changing you know.  You feel it grow into a burning worming feeling crawling slithering beneath your skin and you look again to the walls for the madwoman in the yellow wallpaper.  
But your walls are white, painted white, stainless white.  Not even a painting or poster covering the bare space of white.  And no mirrors anywhere hanging.  You have little furniture, an Asian austerity that allows you to see the walls from floor to ceiling and no carpet for your hard wood floors.  Just a bed and a dresser and a desk and a two person table where you eat your meals.  Enough furniture for one person and space to move, to crawl, to dance.  Alone.  One person all alone dancing and whirling alone.  
Unless the woman has found her way into your walls too, your walls like the one in the story.  The woman worming, crawling, dancing in the walls.  You look for her inside the walls.  She is not there but where you feel her inside your skin, crawling madly about, mocking you with her presence, just beneath the surface of yourself.  You feel her pushing you to let her out but not today.  
Today there is work.
Walking carefully, the path delineated.  This is the way you go to work.  North two blocks, turn right.  Walk four more blocks and turn left.  Change is not acceptable.  Change is dangerous.  Change is changing, a changeling switched at birth or sometime thereafter.  Once human.  Now a beast.  But not today.  Today you walk to work.  
Stores change.  This one used to be an art supply store, then a clothing store, and now it is used to make keys, to sell locks.  So many doors with so many locks and so many keys to keep things locked safe, safely behind closed doors.  The stores change.  Doors don’t change.  Locks change.  Keys change.  And you won’t look to see if your reflection in the windows might have changed into the changeling woman dancing inside.
Stop.  You stop.  Stop at the light and fight to stop your mind from loosely following the path it wants to take.  Making your thoughts stop with the light.
This is the way you walk to work.  Carefully prescribed, the route you take from home to office.  The weather changes.  Today the sun has not yet burned through the morning clouds.  Sometimes rain.  Sometimes snow.  Sometimes sleet. Sometimes sun which is too bright and you know you should buy sunglasses but you never do because you don’t want to blur what you need to see, the things on your way to work that have changed and those that have stayed the same.  
And sunglasses have reflections you might see of yourself or the changes you don’t want to see, won’t see if you don’t look to see where there’s nothing to see.  But see?  You feel things just beneath.  But you can’t see what you feel.  Just the woman dancing to be seen.
You don’t, won’t dance.  You walk with the stream of other people who walk to work, who climb like roaches from the tunnels of the subway, who skitter along the sidewalk, careful not to touch one another.  You don’t like people, don’t like to be around people, don’t like to be seen by people and nothing is safer than living in a city to be left alone, surrounded by other people.
You can’t let anyone get too close, close enough to touch, or they might see the way things really are, the changes changing inside.  At work you can hide in your cubicle, tasking your way through the day.  Nobody calls you.  Nobody needs to see you.  Your work flow flows independent of anyone else.  Only your manager and occasionally your manager’s manager hold you accountable but because you do what you ought to do they never talk to you except to review your annually.  
Seven months and eighteen days until your next review.
You arrive at the office and wipe down your desk area, your computer monitor, before turning it on.  You don’t say hello to anyone else.  They say nothing to you.  This is how it has been and will be.  You have worked here longer than most, not seeking a promotion or better job.  You are happiest, safest, here where you can predict what you need to do without fear of anyone wanting more.  
You don’t go to the break room for a cup of coffee or to warm up a bagel.  You begin working and continue working through lunch and until it is time to leave.  You see, briefly, a coworker pass wearing a yellow something and your skin crawls, burns, churns, dances.  You hate the color yellow, hate wallpaper, hate the woman who waits.  You wait for the coworker to leave for the day before you leave, not wanting to risk a ride together on the same elevator.  
Details to keep from derailing the routine.  You walk home from work, and the burning itching feeling returns each step closer to home.  Safety in numbers behind closed doors you will be safe to be yourself and fight not to change. Another day of work behind you and a weekend alone ahead.
Dinner is simple.  Brown rice, sorted carefully to remove anything suspicious or not quite the right shade of beige.  Broccoli.  Sometimes spinach.  Never corn.  Never yellow squash.  Sometimes chicken but not often.  Sometimes beans, sorted, rinsed, cooked slowly.  Beans are for the weekend.  Chicken for the middle of the week.  
Tonight brown rice and spinach.
You take off your clothes, your skin on fire, burning, the insides crawling to escape.  The clothes go in the hamper until there is enough for a full load.  Water started to boil for rice, already sorted, and ready to be cooked.  You shower while the water heats, comes to a boil, dancing in the pot ready for the rice.  Towels tossed into the washing machine.  
Tonight you will cook naked, your skin red from scrubbing, on fire from within.  The worms are crawling faster now, electric shocks signaling something.  They feel like they are dancing.  “Can worms dance?” you ask no one, not even yourself, afraid of the answers to your rhetorical questions.  
You cook the rice but nothing else.  It takes all your concentration to do this much—pour the finished rice onto a plate and wait, watching waiting, the pile of brown rice to cool, looking like amputated, or stunted, worms themselves.  You wait for them to get cool, to cool down, to stop dancing behind the steam.  
The neighbors upstairs are fighting again.  The walls are full of screams and dreams, of peoples voices screaming out, of dreams white washed away.  You look again to see that she has not found her way through the plaster.  
White wash.  Don’t shoot until you see the white walls of their eyes.  White sheets hanging in the too bright sun and mother’s madness dancing naked until daddy drags her, feet still dancing, into the house, dragging a white sheet around her naked body to keep the neighbors from talking, from seeing.
But the neighbors aren’t talking.  They are screaming and the walls are thick with the sound of voices.  
She is not there and you can’t find her out there so you return to the kitchen where the rice is cool.  Too cool.  You throw it into the garbage and now you must choose—leave the rice where it is or dress and take the garbage to the incinerator.  You must choose to do what you must do.  To choose what you choose not to chew.  Ew.  
The fighting upstairs has stopped and you walk to the window to look outside, careful to keep away from the light, to create no reflection.  The lights are off in your studio.  Nobody can see inside where things are crawling to get out burning to escape the things you keep down inside to hide what you are.  You watch the boy crawl down the fire escape and into the open window where his lover waits, her parents already asleep and unaware of the way the lovers find to meet each other.  
You had a lover once who looked inside your eyes and became scared.  You talk in your sleep.  You say things you didn’t know you knew and shooed your lover away.  That was then, before you moved to where nobody knew you or your family.  Before your mother was gone and your father was too tired to care, could only stare at the walls.  Wallpapered walls.  Not yellow.  There is madness in yellow.  You know.  You read it.  In a book.  Somewhere.  Back there.  Before you were here, living here, alone.  No father to care.  No mother there.
She turned herself inside out.  It was the only way to save herself.  To get the madness out.  You can’t dance naked when your skin is burning so best to slough it off, remove the wallpaper papering her inside.  Let her out to dance and you will be left alone to dance alone.  So you were left alone and her madness left you that way.  Safer to be alone where nobody can see in a city where nobody sees you really.  
The rumble in your stomach is her growling.  She is angry tonight.  She is ready to right the wrong of her imprisonment, meant to be dancing naked and free she is ready to be not inside.  
You don’t have any knives.  Nothing sharper than a fork.  You are safe in the white sheets and towels of your life, in the black clothes that shadow you so you can hide more easily, seamlessly.
You don’t remember going to sleep or waking up to red sheets or how the broken mirror broke off in your hands and peeled your skin open to let the burning woman out but she’s still crawling inside so you keep peeling back the layers to find a way to be free.
Just like mommy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What a Difference a Day Makes

Take Holly to the vet.
Vet says we need to do $3000-5000 of surgery.
We can't afford that.
They say we need to euthanize her.

We have morphine for Holly's pain.
All we can do is hope for a miracle.
The vet says bring her in tomorrow.

Holly is a miracle puppy!
She wakes up and her tail is curled and happy.
She boops Snowdoll on the head.
She gives me and Rob love bites.
The vet says if she's behaving okay, we don't need to bring her in.

She hasn't had a bowel movement since Sunday.
The vet says bring her in tomorrow.
I fight not to cry for hours.
Holly has a bowel movement.
The vet says we don't have to bring her in.

Seriously . . . 
I'm exhausted . . . 
and so happy!

Weekly Weigh-In with Holly Update

Holly update before anything else. 

Monday morning, I woke up and took her and Snowdoll outside.  Holly’s tail was up, curled as it should be.  It was sooooo good to see her tail up and perky again.  She even gave my nose a quick lick.  Once back inside, I went to pet her and her tail twitched. 

I was soooo excited!  (And I’m totally spoiling any opportunity to share all of this on my Sunday weekly update but there’s no reason to wait until this weekend to share good news!) 

When Rob woke up, she was still tail-up-perky, and then she booped Snowdoll on the head, wanting to play.  And that is how she was all day long.  Wanting to play.  So sweet.  Back to her usual self. 

Only not quite.  We’re waiting for a bowel movement.  Just one.  She was doing fine on Sunday but the vet had given her a flush, if you will, so she should have done something on Sunday.  Monday she did nothing.  So we went from thinking we had to euthanize her (Saturday) to watching her suffer (Sunday) to finally seeing her behave normally (Monday) to watching over her for still more normal (today).  If there’s still nothing, we may have to return to the vet.  There may still be a surgery.  We don’t know.  Not yet.  Yesterday it all felt okay and today it’s back to this unknowing nothing.

I did my weekly weigh-in and I have officially lost my first 10%.  This is wonderful progress and worthy of celebrating but I was happier about that boop on Snowdoll’s head than I was/am about the numbers.  Yes, I’m exercising daily and doing all of the things I should be doing.  I skipped exercising on Sunday (can you blame me?).  I’ll exercise today and continue trying to like the kit I’m using.  I like elements of it but right now my focus, my energy, my everything is on Holly’s health.  As for me?  I’m merely going through the motions, doing what I know is right and good for my health, because I’m powerless to do more than I am already doing for hers.

I really hope today the canned dog food and the canned pumpkin will work some magic on her puppy bowels.  I really do.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

No Weekly Update: About Holly . . .

Holly is suffering.

It’s Romanov all over again.  I hear myself thinking “But she was fine this morning.”  And she was.  Just as Romanov had been playing with the new toys we’d just bought for them, even though Snowdoll is not a dog toy lover.  But new toys mattered to him and we could see they mattered to Holly.  Not that she was playing with toys yesterday—she was playing with us.  And I don’t mean later, when we were both up but right away, in the morning, she was grabbing my hand with her mouth, nibbling my nose.  She did the same thing to Rob, jumping up to wake him with face nibbles and kisses.  She was so happy, her tail twitching and flipping around.  Everything was normal, even better than normal.  Rob and I both commented on it, how very happy she was.

Then, around 2pm, he took her outside but something was very wrong.  She was lethargic and non-responsive.  I noticed that she was not standing properly, wobbling on her legs.  Something was very wrong.  Rob tried to give her and Snowdoll a dog treat.  She didn’t want it.  She went to take it because that’s part of the “game” but she just dropped it. 

Rob literally picked her up and carried her first to our bed (and you know, he never ever lets the dogs on the bed) before we mutually agreed she needed to see a vet ASAP.  He left and I called the vet.  They did some x-rays ($300) which were inconclusive.  They want to do an ultrasound ($450) and wanted her to go to an emergency vet clinic for an overnight ($1000) where she would be given fluids and pain management.  Needless to say, we could not afford what they wanted to do so we brought her home.

Truth is, as distressing as it was to have her here in pain, given her separation anxiety, of course we were happier to have her here than alone in some crate in some pet hospital.  The vet gave us some morphine to give to her every six hours and it was enough to dull the pain but not enough to numb it.  She slept and when she slept we slept.

In the meantime, I reached out to Mary because she volunteers with the pet rescue and the vet there will step in and take over Holly’s care this morning.  We just need to give her a call.  Which we will do later, when normal people are up on a Sunday.  Not too late but not now, at 8am, when I am writing this. 

We are avoiding our thoughts, avoiding our feelings.  We are doing what we need to do to keep Holly from suffering more than she is already.

How much love does she have for us?  How much trust?  Whatever is wrong, the pain is localized in her abdomen and she, when I sit down by her side, tries to roll over on her back so I can rub her belly, even as she whimpers in pain.  And so I gently rub her belly, showing her as much love as she shows us.