Certain, Certainer, Certainest

September 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Uncertainty can be downright awful.  There are things we can be quite certain of, but is it an illusion?  I am certain I will wake up tomorrow and make it to work safely and have the job I had today.  Because something exists today, in other words, I’m quite certain it will exist tomorrow.  I expect it all to be just as I left it–my health, my finances, my job, my family, and even my friends.  But I read, or heard, somewhere that to be truly at peace means to expect nothing.  I tried this, or was going to try this for a day, and couldn’t even manage to do it for an hour.  I expect a lot out of people, which I think means I am certain of things.  Of course, can I really be certain of everything?

I am not certain of a few things.  I am not certain of who I will marry.  I’m not desperate or panicky about finding a spouse, but it causes me a good deal of energy because I see in front of me an entire shelf of uncertainty.  You see, there are single men in my life and a handful of them are interesting, funny and attractive.  I wonder if they too might be interested in me?  And usually I find out when they start dating someone else, but in most cases, I have no idea.  And I hear all sorts of things from: “you will know if a guy’s into you” to “I wait for the girl to make the first move”.  So, these men I find interesting…are some of them waiting for me to make a move?  (Side note: I read The Male Brain last week, and I thought it would clear up some answers.  I think it only muddled them compared to my experiences with the opposite sex.)

Like I mentioned before, I’m not hyperventilating over here, or twiddling my thumbs waiting for a man to rescue me.  I’m actually pretty happy being single, but I know I do want to get married someday and so I think about it almost every day.  It’s like wanting a really great job, but not knowing what that looks like.  And I feel like I’m looking at job postings, and I see 10 really cool jobs that seem to fit me pretty well.  I have no idea what actually will work out, so I march forward and try them all.  Actually, I think I’ve just described online dating, and well, a first date does sometimes feel like a job interview.  But that’s another story.

I asked out a friend this week, and I almost knew I would be rejected.  But I found this man interesting and attractive, but not knowing if he was interested in me–the uncertainty of it all–was too much.  I just wanted to know: yes or no.  This week in our Sacrilicious Bible study, we read the verses in Luke: “Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find; knock and the door shall be opened.”  This has been somewhat of a tricky passage, because we ask for things all of the time, and don’t receive them.  Without going into some heady theological debate (because I don’t think I could anyways), I think in some ways, God is saying, “Ask, and I’ll answer…somehow.”

Well, the boy said no, but this is not about boys.  Well, not totally.  It’s about the fear of uncertainty.  I’m happier with “no”, than I am with not knowing at all, and yet, I want to be at peace with the unknowns, to embrace the mystery.

On a positive note, I’m certain I will enjoy my marathon on Sunday.  I’m even certainer (look it up, it’s a word), I will finish the race.  It might rain, it might get hot, but I’m certainest of my strong legs and determination.


Rain, Mercy and Moms

September 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

I spoke to my mom tonight because it was her birthday on Tuesday and it has taken me three days to actually wish her a happy birthday.  I call her at nine and we talk about what’s been going on in my life: running, working, just normal life stuff.  She told me that Dad was picking up a chicken coop he bought at an auction with no intentions of actually using it as a chicken coop. Soon after he scored his purchase, he realized he doesn’t really need a chicken coop, but found someone who does, so they went to pick it up.  “They left at 4:30,”  Mom said.  (It is almost 9:30 by now.)  “Where was it?” I asked.  “I don’t know.  I guess I didn’t ask,” she said.  I suddenly find myself in my mom’s shoes, in a wife’s shoes and want to know: where was he going, what time did he say he’d be back, etc. etc.  But I love that my mom has none of this worry, none of the petty anxiety.  Maybe this comes with being married for almost 35 years, but it made me really happy that my parents give each other space to be and yet they are an incredible partnership.  And all is well.  Dad was pulling up the driveway when we hung up.

Last night on my run, we (me and my trusty running group) got caught in the rain.  When the first rain drop hit my face, I held out my hands and squealed: “RAIN!”  And it rained hard, and I ran hard and I could not stop smiling.  I wanted to sit down at the same time and write a poem (because it is hard for me to write poems while I’m running).  It was both refreshing and exhilarating.  During the hour and a half getting soaked to the bone, I felt newness and life.  Okay, okay, this is getting a little….emotional, I realize, so I’ll stop.  But I love the rain.

Tonight I met with my wacky Lutheran church people for a Bible study.  I’m not sure how this sounds to you, my dear readers, but I do want to read this book as a historical document, as literature, and I honestly love the metaphors and paradox.  I will share a snippet of what we read tonight in Deuteronomy 6.  “We were slaves…but the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”  From slavery to freedom.  Grace.  Redemption.  I really don’t consider myself very evangelical, but this idea or this truth is absolutely lovely and exciting to me.

Which, I guess brings us full circle back to my novel.  The working title, Fire by Fire, is from a line in T. S. Eliot’s poetry: “To be redeemed from fire by fire.”  I don’t know what Eliot means by his poetry exactly, and right now I don’t know what the Hebrew Bible means exactly, and I really don’t know what my book is about exactly.  But I know this much.  I know redemption is a major (if not THE) theme of the Old and New Testament, and I want my book to be about redemption as well.

All that to say, I feel rejuvenated.  I’m excited about this fall to read and to write and to run (but mostly read and write).  I promise someday soon to talk about the next chapters I’m working on…

Pansies vs. Begonias

September 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ah, summer hasn’t quite left us yet.  Like the boyfriend that can’t completely break-up, summer keeps coming back for afternoons of dappled sunlight in the forest and lazy days for denim cut-offs.

I spent most of the day with my dear friend Annalea–brunching at Hell’s Kitchen, walking around Loring Park, and reminiscing about college days at Starbucks.  After I dropped her off for her long road trip back to Portland, I came home, grabbed a blanket, a pluot, and Kafka on the Shore and read in the sunny park.  I came home, only to do the same on my deck and I noticed my sad, ignored flowers.

In May, I was enthusiastic and pragmatic about planting flowers that would do well in pots in the shade.  Last summer I made the mistake of buying strange but beautiful flowers (bells of ireland, love lies bleeding), and they were not happy in such small pots.  This year, I bought impatients, pansies, marigolds, begonias and snap dragons.  I told myself I would be a responsible flower owner and water and prune them and keep a beautiful looking deck.  This did not happen.  The pansies were the first to go.  Poor little fragile things.  The impatients were slightly heartier, along with the marigolds and snap dragons.  I watered them when I remembered, and it is generous of me to say I remembered to do that about once a week.  I slacked off and let the rain take care of business.  I maybe have watered them once in the last month.  As I sat in my 80’s style plastic lawn chair reading and observing my flowers (or what remained of them) I was amazed that the begonias are not only living, but they are beautiful as ever.  They’ve survived a hot summer, without much water or care and they are resilient.  It made me think about the poor pansies who didn’t survive a week without attention.  I’m sorry I neglected the delicate purple flowers, but mostly I’m impressed with the begonias for their heartiness.  I guess a Minnesotan can’t help but like that.  Hmm, I kind of feel a poem budding.  The blog entry isn’t well planned out, but I wanted to share my observation of the day.  After all, it is my duty as a writer to observe the world around me.

Solitude is my Dragon

September 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

I am aware I haven’t written for a while, and it eats at me.  I do not write because I think I don’t have anything worth sharing, but tonight I do.  My friend Amy reminded me to read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, and I will a few lines from letter eight:

“I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the midle of a transition where cannot remain standing.  For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart…We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered.  We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens.  And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside.”

When B. broke up with me, I made plans every night of the week, and the week thereafter.  I didn’t want to sit at home, alone and sad and I thought it was the best thing to do.  I have been desperately clutching after people and love and experience day after day, and when I am home, I turn on the T.V. for company.  I thought I was happy being single–my year between being divorced and meeting B.–but perhaps I was just busy.

I met someone recently and choose to fall headlong.  It was young and foolish, and I knew that, but I didn’t care.  And now, that too, is done.  Nevermind the reasons why it couldn’t have lasted, I did not want to give it up.  I think: how do these crazy things happen to me?  They don’t happen, I make them happen.  I am impatient and quick to give up my solitude for relationship.  And even Rilke says that love is good and loving another “is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks”, but I think I’m still in preparation.  I am still learning.  And I think I need to embrace solitude and sit with my sadness instead of running away from it.  Rilke goes on to say, “…just remember that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter…but there are in every illness many days when the doctor can do nothing but wait.  And this it is that you must now above all do.”  And so I will wait, and pray for patience.

Ranier Maria Rilke says it much more eloquently than I do, and I don’t mean to be too dark and depressing, but I also find it comforting that this is what it means to be human.  We are solitary and we must learn how to live with ourselves.

I feel as though I should bring up the topic of my novel.  I don’t know how many of you readers are writers, but I tend to not write when I’m in the midst of emotional turmoil because when I write, I write the truth and sometimes I’m afraid of what I really believe, or what I want.  Unfortunately for my book, this means I’m not sure what is going to happen with my protagonist because I’m not sure what I want with her, and could that mean I don’t know what I want with myself?  Possibly.  I had the thought today that I’d rather train for a 50 or even a 100-mile marathon than write this book.  Running these days has been easy, but then again, I’ve been training hard and so perhaps I must do the same with my book.

It’s been a strange couple of days, months, years for that matter and I think I need to sit down and just be for a while.  I will try to keep writing, at least in here as my record of thoughts about writing and being.  I will leave you with these hopeful words of Rilke:

“…perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.  Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”


September 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night I had a deep-tissue massage booked by my favorite masseuse ever, but she forgot and never showed up.  I was utterly disappointed, but instead, I was able to meet some friends at a new classy restaurant downtown St. Paul called Faces.  I’m not sure how they came up with the name; it seems like an odd choice for a restaurant name to me.  I ordered the California salad, which turned out to be chock full of cabbage.  The farmers must have had a surplus of cabbage this week.  I paired my crunchy, healthy salad with Hob Nob Pinot Noir.  Quite tasty.  But most of all, I was really glad to be back with my girlfriends.  Part of me believed I would be moving to Georgia, and I think, subconsciously, I was pulling away from my friends.  Well, my dear St. Paul/Minneapolis friends, I am back and I’m glad to see all your faces at Faces.

Tonight our running group ran almost nine miles.  We ran at a good clip, and when it was done, I felt like I could have gone on running for miles.  I like that nine miles seems short to me, and I suppose it better because I’ve got 26.2 to run in a month.

Here’s a question: Why do you do what you do?  A pastor once asked that question of his congregation while I attended his church one Sunday.  I have to ask myself this question over and over, because I am prone to making decisions based on what other people want me to do (or not do), or what I think they want me to do.  I visit the Literary Loft website every day, but I don’t sign up for Ian’s novel writing class.  I feel like I should.  I don’t want to let Ian, or my writer friends, down.  If I took the class, I probably would get something out of it, but I don’t really want to be in it this fall.  I still want to write and work on my book, but I kind of just want to take a break.  If I took the class, I know I would be signing up for someone else and not because I really wanted to be there.  I need to learn to make decisions for myself.

Even the guys I’ve dated.  Guys my friends (and family) have told me not to date, or guys my friends (and family) have told me I ought to date.  I’m in a place now, where I really need to ask myself, “What do I want?”  Not in a self-centered sort of way, but I’m the only person who can live my life and I need to figure out what I really want.  Maybe this is common sense for you all, but it is stinkin’ hard for me.

Welp, I do know what I want right now.  I want a dish of mango sorbet and a mug of hot RELAX tea.  So, good night.

I just realized this is not a very interesting post.  Sorry.  Next time will be better.  I promise.

Where Am I?

You are currently viewing the archives for September, 2010 at Fire by Fire.