Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the impossible,

I know I ponder the theft of param from the world. Maybe she was on borrowed time the night that I first found her having used all her lives. I can only imagine. She seemed offended mostly as she was dying. Like oh dammit, I did it didn't I. This sucks we all seemed to be thinking. It breaks my heart in all sorts of ways. More than deaths of older animals or ill animals. It was nice to pray with my mom for the cat though as we sat there. She did seem more out than in if the tales of cats are true. But I thought for sure she'd be the one to call 911 and save someone's life one day. What a reckless but prescient cat. I had her in my arms one moment before which makes in worse in that I wish I'd have carried her into the house and locked her away from harm. But that goes to inevitability doesn't it- it's so hard to say what prevention looks like when you let your animals be themselves and be free- and she seemed heartily defiant when it came to cars and to the neighbors driveways. I do wonder the point of it all - all of that and then to come to this in so short a time. I mean really- it only made it better in that either God would miraculously heal her or she would die in a moment. I gave her all night to make up her mind even though she died over 5 minutes time, but in the end I pictured her with Jesus, and I buried her in the backyard with a sprinkling of miniature roses. Mortimer attended at a distance, being the only of the three other cats to really sense the depth of what was occurring. But anyway,

And now what. We're so lucky to not be exposed to death more often and to be able to mourn the loss of a cat and not have rows of human bodies to bury. And I find it hard to have witnessed healing on Friday, to a strange encounter at Ralphs to hear about another womans healing, to have my cat die and then cathy come over to drop off some fishing line just this morning and ask unknowingly if I could pray for her cold for healing. And as I prayed her breathing actually became clearer. What can we do.

It is like you say a matter of surprise. But it's an honest untainted reaction to both the good and bad of what comes to us. And I suppose that's how it should be- its a bad day when we both predict a miserable outcome and hope for nothing more or find no joy in something so miraculous as someone being healed of scoliosis or the unfathomable construction of a pomegranate.

But still it is hard upon us to be caught so constantly in between.


Monday, December 9, 2013

impossible things

dear non-broken ever-persevering blog, 

I find it impossible that your kitty from the far-off lands so suddenly met a terrible end. After all that - ? Just to - ?  I have no words. 

How are YOU. 

It's impossible to me, on a much more superficial note, that pomegranates exist. These treasure troves of addictive shimmery kernels. We ate them this weekend. They were 58 cents each. 

And my impossible, improbable job. How did I even end up teaching littles, and really caring about it? So much that when my assistant was recently taken away and my classroom that I worked so hard to create was half taken away, I melted down into a frantic puddle. Tears are vexingly effective and I now have some semblance of help (unpaid assistants, bless them), at least through the month's end, so for the moment it's not quite as bad? as originally perceived. But still so many problems with combining ages 2 and 3. One wants to eat buttons and the other really does not want to share. No one wants to hear stories anymore. They run laps and bang the plastic hammers as loud as they possibly can. There is a holiday program to learn and take-home gift-type projects to create, but we are operating with our bare-bones, hoping to keep this ship afloat until it evolves into another type of vessel (full-day operation, details TBD) - 

I want to teach them things, but at the moment, if they can just stay alive. 

And then through all of this, here is me, impossibly as the girl with the tick on her back. Or in my brain. An impossible tick ate my brain. Day 40 of antibiotics approaches with no change. No expulsion or extinction or thorough exorcism as hoped. An acceptance of the new Way Things Are and have been for months - flu-like mornings, lack of short-term memory, weak right arm like I touched a Horcrux or something. All-over arthritis. Not to mention the random twitches and zaps and pains and tingles, whatever the tick at its post commands. Floating through the day as though everything's fine and it mostly is until I pause and then - 
by the spirochetes or whatever they are swirling around inside my blood and my muscles and mind. 

Life is a string of impossible things, one after the other, and yet we remain surprised. I wonder why.

much love to you,

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Sometimes I suppose we forget where we are in the chapter of our own lives. I decided to take my laptop into my room, dreaming one day of a queen sized bed to stretch out in, and admire my newly painted door- glorious- and put on some bon iver. And it was this familiar feeling, like I'd done this and written it before, but it felt so new and novel- what do you mean turn off the noise of tv and retreat to a calm space. And the last thing I'd been listening to was the last chapters of Something Wicked This Way Comes. I hadn't remembered. How quick things fly in and out.

Nothing is stable in this newly painted space.

Walking and low body temperatures and lists that go on and on and never end - staring at spots, just like before but with things that suddenly remind you of a distance. You aren't the same anymore. And that door newly painted with the shiny brass nob- that was 16 years of waiting and that hallway door maybe 40. Perhaps it will do nothing to quiet the place but they were a beautiful thing to imagine into being.

But there is so much you want and desire. Where do I begin?

He said to dream with him, and worship him with my hands...

more later,


Friday, November 29, 2013

Letter to the Ether,

I guess we broke the blog. Or that the unexpected fish tank explosion of 2013 really was the last straw. I wish through this time I was unaware of leaving the blog or that I didn't think about talking to it, but I deliberately didn't- my usual test to see if I could give up talking to the ether and I find that I cannot.

So here I am again.

There is something to the slight warping of the floor boards you mention. The imperceptible lift and catch to say I am no longer perfect, no longer a blank slate to act upon and be acted upon but a floor with a story. I suppose it depends how long you live there and who will live to know and pass down this queer day there was a shift and the inexplicable imperfect occurred. It deserves a small humorous plaque I think. The stories I know of my floor are not nearly as daring- fraught with the hazards of carpet and animal or metal or toilets overflowing. I wish it had been more. And the mundane hazards replicated over decades -- thus the scripture. I finally sanded the West bedroom after a couple sermons and worship music and avoidance activities and now the equally arduous task of stain and sealing. The same herculean mental effort.

It is also possible my metabolism is crashing which would explain the extreme fatigue, the brittle nails and hair, weight gain and recurring food intolerance - dairy, frosting? I don't know. If I wasn't afraid of the black Friday or that guy Mayhem I would've gotten some b-supps. I did however take a walk. And it was a beautiful post rain- glisten and gold dripped trees.

It is not lyme's disease however. It is not that... should know more.

But we are tired are we not of all the habitat enrichment and diagnosis that is the human body. But still we must grapple and wrestle out of this mortal shell and cross the divide into that collaborative body of experience, warping boards and all. Beautiful in the patterns we make.

I did almost set the house on fire- but in my defense I didn't know that the large board was soaked in something highly flammable before I put it sideways into the fireplace.



Friday, October 25, 2013

post traumatic fish tank smash

Last week my fish tank inexplicably exploded as I walked by - I stood there gasping not unlike the gourami on the floor, amongst the decorative stones, glass shards and water. Lots and lots of water. It was random and crazy, and I can still only imagine how much worse it would have been if the tank had been bigger, if more blood had been shed, if N.Lo hadn't been home sick with me called in to work. 

Obviously I lived to tell the tale. Cleanup ensued. Electronics lived, skin remained mostly unscathed, many books were rescued while others soaked and died. Even those goddamn fish are still swimming around in a pitcher, all six of them, though I don't know for how long. 

But one thing is still bothering me. I'm going to write it here and never speak of it again. Because ultimately it is just one of those terrible, itchy, imperfect things in life that you can do absolutely nothing about. 

My floorboards are warped. You have to stare at them to see it, or shuffle your feet like I do when I walk around the house to feel it. The wood is still glossy and shiny and lovely, I get that. And it could have been so much worse, I also get that. But there it is, on so many of the planks the water met, a slight bow to the edges, a vexing, audible unevenness under my slippered strides, which won't ever, ever be amended, save for an entire reinstallation. Which I know darn well will never happen. 


There. I said it. Now I'm never talking about again. Bah!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Here in the southeast, there is a bug for every season, I recently shared with M--a literal bug. Spring is the season for tick-abundance, and like freckle posers or ends-of-sentences they appear on your skin as if they can escape your constantly editing eye. Or else they burrow in the dogs and have a feast, dislodge themselves and waddle away, brainless and dumb, off to provide a feast for birds or, in a decidedly lesser contribution to the circle of life, a horrifying squish experience for your bare foot.

Summer is mosquitoes, wasps and, toward the end, deer flies. Itchy, oppressive and mean as the heat itself. You fight them with toxic sprays and swatting hands and running feet, but ultimately you just have to endure their existence until the cool arrives, providing them an expiration date and you a sigh of relief.

Fall brings the stink bugs, brown and shield-shaped, and seeking a warm home. In spite of their unfortunate name, I have yet to encounter the actual stink, perhaps because my research came to me in advance of any encounter and I know better than to kill them. I simply ferry them from their place on the curtains and walls and window screens back outside. To me, these are the least offensive of all the bugs, because they are just there. Hanging out solo or in groups. Minding their own business, not attacking, and maybe more importantly, not scurrying.

Which brings me to winter and the bugs that are not bugs - mice. Every year we have at least two, appearing for the same reason as their predecessors (warmth), but these I cannot abide. Perhaps they tap into my deep-seated anxiety toward balloons and biscuit cans: the element of suspense, surprise. Or else I'm intimidated by a cleverness and physicality that can lead them, in spite of blindness, toward the darkened depths not in, but behind, a dishwasher.

Are these creatures questionable mascots for each season, a reason to wish the time away? Or are they simply what is there, a defining attribute or buggy backdrop to the scene...

dear bruckner,

I know, right? It's a total crisis, this Book Purgatory thing. And that terrible thought about All Books - I shudder thinking it ever even skipped across my brain-screen, if only for a nanosecond.

My favorite book currently is "Will Grayson, Will Grayson," which is a collaboration between my two favorite authors, David Levithan and John Green. Separately they slay with me with their wit and heart; in this book they get together and it's like, boom. Mind. Blown.

Now for the hap-py-blog-iversary questions (which I'm writing before reading M's own responses):

1) Do either of you remember why you started blogging? And why do you suppose nine years later you're still doing it?

I distinctly remember that I started blogging because M insisted. I didn't really get the whole concept of blogs at the time, or what sort of thing we were each meant to contribute, but I could not ultimately resist the offer to collaborate. Nine years later, I still can't resist that offer. And, as M has often said, this has become a written record of us. A little treasure box in the ether of our words. It's Pen&M, a history.

2) In these last nine years, what has been your most personal post?

Hmm, tricky. The Best of Bailey post comes to mind, although maybe there is another squirreled away in there. Certainly M is going to have many more to sift through and choose because, and this has always been and continues to be a blog-philosophy split, I veer away from the personal. Or at least too personal. For years I stuck to reality TV and other mostly non-personal topics in my blog-posts, and with prodding evolved to at least share daily life details and a slice of my feelings toward them.

However, I have trust issues, and while I do believe one's best writing can happen when one is at her most vulnerable, I am pretty firm about not delving into that vulnerability on a blog. So in some ways that's a hindrance to my writing here, but then, different forums dictate different styles, so I feel like my blogging retains its own value. I just refuse to bare my soul here, where anyone can just happen by and sift through its contents. Trust has to be earned, dammit!

Maybe that was my most personal post, right there.

3) Are there any topics that are off limits to blogging? If so, what are they?

Please see above.

4) If this blog continues on for another nine years, what do you suppose you will be writing about then?

The aches and pains of aging, for sure. And the increased incidence of death surrounding us. Also, holy crap, my children will be well into their teens by then, and I'm sure I'll have a lot to say. And I'm hopeful that I'll have more travel stories by then. Or some at all, as the case may be.

5) If you could go back nine years to just before this blog's inception, what would you tell yourselves about the arduous literary journey ahead?

I'd show me the recent words M wrote reminding me about unique voices, perspectives, experiences, and how not only are they meant to be shared, but that they are completely worth sharing. I'd tell me to shut up and just blog already.

6) Do either of you have drafts of unfinished posts? If so, how many? And what were your reasons for not pushing the publish button?

It's possible that I have unfinished posts, but more likely in my brain rather than on the blogger dashboard. Because I can't stand the idea of such detritus and would likely delete it to clear away virtual clutter. Unpublished drafts in my brain remain so purely because of time.

7) Have you ever considered posting under your real names? Would doing so dramatically change your blogging approach?

I've thought about it many times over the years. I imagine my posts would be more polished and pointed rather than rambling? Perhaps product-driven, rather than process-driven. So basically, my posts would all be pretty, shiny finished things, rather than scribbles and half-thoughts. But I don't think that'd necessarily be any better. I think there's more freedom under a pseudonym.

8) If a stranger happens upon your blog for the first time today, what do you believe they'd think about it? What would you want them to think about it?

I think there would be a whole lot of head-scratching at first. But ultimately after some sifting, I think they'd see it as a long and important conversation between friends.

9) Have you ever placed a hidden meaning in a post? If so, would it be too much of me to ask you to share an example? And if it wouldn't be too much for me to ask you to share an example, will you share one?

I'm sure I have, but what? That's one of those questions where you can think of the answer until you're asked.

Oh - maybe there have been references to terrible family members on here that were veiled. That's entirely possible.

10) Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say about your blog when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I'd like for God to tell me that my blogging, for all of its flaws and lacking, were still enough.

You might also substitute the word blogging for other things there. Friendship. Parenting. Wife-ness. All around person-dom. I think it's something everyone needs to feel or hear.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Bruckners 10, by Mendacious

Thank you Bruckner for taking the time to draft such sincere questions to which I sincerely respond. I can't say I was sarcastic, pithy or comical once. What has happened to my heart?

Do either of you remember why you started blogging? And why do you suppose nine years later you're still doing it?

At the time, I think we came late to the blogfad even back in 2004, I was a year out from gradschool where I produced daily in a highly neurotic and compressed environment. So obviously displaying my work seemed a logical next step and forcing output vital. I look back to our first post and it still stands- I had a fear going through grad school that I would stop writing. I remember some of the best writers looking at me thinking, no way, you won't stop, and besides this blog, I have. I'm not producing anything for it's own sake. The great Californian novel lying dormant. Phyllis Moore, our favorite teacher at SAIC, would be haunting us right now if she weren't a recluse somewhere with her cats and typewriter and amazing pecan pies (last heard was in Kansas/no will never forget her). Coupled with that fear, my friendship with Penelope or AMRF (L), gained traction and flourished over electronic media, and so our tethering together was a wise and pertinent choice at the time, since we were ever faithful in our correspondence- and at the time we'd already had 3 years behind us- so what could go wrong? And wouldn't it always be? ACCOUNTABILITY.

I hold myself to that same standard 9 years later. Why aren't I writing? Telling my friend what's going on and how I feel is a small but significant, however challenging, stab in the face of not writing at all. So for me it has worked in varying degrees, to continue to believe in magic, and act against the dark in us all- perhaps just a gasp- and maybe the blog is a visible record of its success and its neglect- even as our letter writing over email fades in and out you can't really track the loss like you can over yawning gaps on the kronos meter that is the blog. I like it because in that sense it's a truth teller. And that's something isn't it?

2) In these last nine years, what has been your most personal post?

Ooo, I don't know. I'd have to go through the archives. I don't have interns to do that. I will say fresh off anything where I express anger or hurt (not just pithy sarcasm, or epic storytelling) is pretty personal. I try to tread lightly, despite the missteps. But my journey from wrath to a hurt heart is pretty personal- so maybe the arch in general. And that there is something significant in the shift. We rarely argue so when we do... ouch.

3) Are there any topics that are off limits to blogging? If so, what are they?

I think Pen has more than I do. Probably part of our tension. Ironic I will say as she is a non-fiction writer. I probably talk about friends less on here though then I could. I am, I don't know where it came from, a referential writer-- and so to me it's not so much gossiping but struggling over difference. Beth remarked she tried to read our blog, or had off and on but that it felt she was peeping into something personal. It didn't used to be that- it was much more "writerly". Even if you were still reading between the lines and when Pen was still talking about Survivor. It was a big shift for me to begin to write about faith so much, and to try and share that with my cohort- as I felt the things that I was experiencing and going through were difficult to translate and how to translate them over a continent.

4) If this blog continues on for another nine years, what do you suppose you will be writing about then?

Bruckner, you are gifted at question asking. I only have one other friend so adept at it- and that's Danica who gave up reading blogs apparently, but has the same gift at pulling threads. Perhaps I can talk about her more since. But anyway- that's a good question. I'd like it to be less self-conscious of even how boring I can be or same- we have always been conscious of our space and usness. I suppose our proclivity will be to talk about life in varying degrees of honesty and revelation. Perhaps at the end we'll just tweet words after updating only sentences until just symbols will be used to communicate nothing at all but a vague sense of emotionally deceptive circumstances and nothing whatever to do with reality- but it will also be the tension of the two of us- our coming together and our failing in coming together- the shifts and differences in our lives- and if in giving up on the blog does it say we give up on one another? Why should it? Is it something that should keep going or do we consider one more year to make it an even 10 and let ourselves off the hook to do something else? It makes me ponder the cancelation of such a long running show. Long after everyone has gone- something to think about. Like, if as a response to her silence, I return the silence? And for what purpose? Or do I continue to believe and to reach out like a sad extinct species? Or do we keep it neat and clean before anything like that happens? Are we still getting anything out if it and does that matter? Have we surpassed that in relationship when it becomes more about love and covenant than it does about titillating fulfillment. Ive had some sad friendship revelations but I can only hope she and I have built this friendship house on rock. But you never know.

5) If you could go back nine years to just before this blog's inception, what would you tell yourselves about the arduous literary journey ahead?

It's a marathon. It's pace. It's relationship and tenacity. I don't know if that would've helped me or prepared me for what it looks like to be faithful to this construct for so long- 2520 posts? What is that? And is anyone going to care? Does it matter? Are we perhaps being Proust on a larger scale- so that to pluck out the story maybe 100 posts will suffice to tell you something- but not everything. Are we actually succeeding in communicating or is all of this failed chitterchattery. I would've told myself to prepare to repeat yourself over and over and over, and in that, the left over parts is something that won't be swept away, like 50 1st dates- vital remnants remain. I think I would tell myself this is the one and only way you will sometimes be faithful to writing or to your self-- and to believe in what you're building even if you can't really see it. Though maybe more deliberateness- can you imagine if we'd developed a story arc for a decade? like projected what we would do and how it should go? How it's going to end? Maybe that is why we are sometimes a little like Lost.

6) Do either of you have drafts of unfinished posts? If so, how many? And what were your reasons for not pushing the publish button?

Funny that. We are very tidy. Oddly. There are only 4 drafts currently on the blog. 2 of which are being written to you right now, another to pen and there's a fourth but I don't know what it is. But the number is likely to go back to zero. We'll delete them before leaving them to dangle too deathly.

7) Have you ever considered posting under your real names? Would doing so dramatically change your blogging approach?

I've grown so fond of our pseudonyms but it's true- as we've become more personal and less lit/fic meets E! meets...  Why? You could accuse of us of trying to be clever, and writerly. But also we were so sensitive to the current moors of our schooling- of the absolute push to succeed. Hence the blog name and our mocking of fame and but if not that, then what? I'd say maybe if Pen is up for it, we could do that- it would sort of be shocking to me to learn to relate to her as herself. There is and was a barrier in the beginning- but why not write as ourselves? Would it push us to be honest despite the readership? Because of the readership? Would it truly be great and at what cost? Our faces are already out there. But maybe Pen can give better perspective on this. By the nature of being read and known already keeps up hemmed in- what does it matter- would it change how we write? I can't say.

8) If a stranger happens upon your blog for the first time today, what do you believe they'd think about it? What would you want them to think about it?

Oh man, I don't know anymore. I haven't thought about that in a few years. Perhaps after Kurt left us and Sarah stopped blogging or caring if anyone else was. I did have a friend out of blue realize we were still blogging. She said she was surprised and that I was a good writer and loved the piece I wrote about the 'hate letters'. So there is something lovely about being rediscovered. I think I'd want to be known in someway. Some meta way that I don't even know myself. I think though if they were investigative they'd say holyshit! what?! What is this? Who are these people? I don't know if it's entirely obvious at the start. I'd want them to be curious maybe to try and discover and mine and explore the depths and find it worth their time- but I can't say I write with that in mind or that the minutia of our lives is that interesting to anyone who doesn't know us. We've never been good at marketing. It would be funny in this next year to actually market us- with friend quotes and pictures and bios. really make a SALE maybe. Pen what do you think? Also what would it be like to discover us and start from the beginning?! What would keep a reader going? IF it were me? Would I ?

9) Have you ever placed a hidden meaning in a post? If so, would it be too much of me to ask you to share an example? And if it wouldn't be too much for me to ask you to share an example, will you share one?

No interns.
When another one comes across I will [*] for you.

10) Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say about your blog when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Well done, my good and faithful servant.

(A record of love in all it's facets)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Friend,

I suspect technology is trying to keep us apart as much the same as it kept us together. Did you receive my last letter? and the new stationary-

I woke up with some sort of white wine hangover and have been useless today on most fronts. As Cat says it's postwedding we're not married blues. As inevitable as the hangover I guess, or the faux pas of asking where a man's wife was and the divorce is 4 years old. Or the equally inevitable string of people I had marginal to some interest in seeing as 18 years takes its toll on how much enthusiasm one can muster at peppered small talk and being passed from one somewhat interested person to the next and you're just praying someone walks up so you can pingpong to the next. . .

biblio-ADD and other things

Hello from the land of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. I finally cracked and decided $5.99 for a giant container of lovely smelling cracked-cuticles preventative. We're talking years of ghastly nail care here. I don't require bright, shining, enviable nails, but merely an un-ravaged set. Clean, neat and healthy, or as much as they can be taking into account my daily channeling of anxiety into "evening" them all out. With my teeth.

I'm in Book Purgatory once again and it's a terrible, terrible place to be. M. Rescue me. Somebody! The terrible thought entered my brain the other day that I no longer even like books, that they all suck, a waste of time. I cannot even believe the neurons and synapses conjured that assessment, however brief. But nothing is holding me. For months now, I haven't finished one single thing. The next book club selection, which happens to have a fabulous cover of a women flashing a field of cows - midwestern breast cancer story - turned out to be a self-published abomination wherein the "author" copy/pasted her CaringBridge journal into a single document and called it a book. Reader comments and all. Bah. Everything else, meaning the real books I've checked out from the library to try, have failed to hold me. Too dark, too fluffy, too predictable, too copying of the latest popular thing.


And I get that death is a part of life, but lately there seems to be a surrounding wave. Excessive hearse sightings. News of passings-on that have been both expected and not. Two and three degrees away, rather than the usual five or six. I don't know what to make of it all except to take in the beauty of remembrances, grieve with the most closely affected, ponder the great beyond...

Okay it's days later and that clearly was the middle of a thought or even a sentence.

I did find a book! That so far I like, maybe 35 or so pages in with no ship-jumping thoughts or anything. Thanks, RHE, for being that engaging of a writer. Your thoughts on Martha Stewart's Housekeeping Handbook alone earn a gold star. I'm on exactly the same page with those daily, weekly, monthly and yearly checklists and am totally living in squalor, too.

I've had "Happy Blog-iversary" in my head since Friday at least. Haaaaaaaaaaaaappy Blog-iversary. Woo! Nine years seems both impossible and completely accurate. I do miss the pre-FB, pre-Pinterest, pre-Tumblr days of blogging, when the writing/content took center stage. Now it's all popping in occasionally whenever we can spare a moment away from the mini-micro blogs that are tweets and FB posts. Onward, as ever, but I'm always given pause by the question of, what did we lose?

Also, if I were to create a pie graph of personal energy spent each day - well maybe I should do that. Graph it. Because maybe I'm not really aware of where it's all going. I suspect stressing over failed expectations? Like I'm not doing enough, ever, or whatever I do accomplish somehow lacks. Which is frustrating because I'm doing the best that I can? And it's not only my voice that I hear putting forth this assessment. And some distant part of me is also aware that were those voices to be silenced, I'd probably a whole lot more energy, even creative energy, to expend.

Moving on from that entirely subjective thought strand, let's wish one fourth of our readership a happy birthday! Yay, AA!

The weather-cooling brought on by the formidable Karen-storm occurred behind schedule but is here at last. Windows are thrown open.
A field trip to the farm tomorrow with a group of tiny people is on tap. (Their parents will all be present, too.)
Yesterday I did a 1-mile walk in the sun to help stop hunger - a much different experience than last year's chilly gray 5K walk. I brought a puppy and a 5-year-old with me, so a mile seemed wise.
Today I folded laundry and made ribbon dancers for my preschoolers while watching ProRun. Queue the Helen Meltdown in 5-4-3... I'm so glad TimGunn told her to suck it up in his TimGunn way. And I love Heidi's charming attempts at Americanisms, like "the dangling sausage," and "hitting it on the nail." Also, some surprisingly kickass looks? I'm a little bored of the whole inevitable duking it out among the lower-ranked, but whatever. Still do NOT agree with the Kate oust... rooting for Dom maybe, ultimately? We'll see.

Ah, behold our blog-look. Behold us! I await the questions from another quarter of our readership. I will make it a point to blog just about BUGS next post.
For now - sleep.
xoxoxo to you,


2005- we were funny and so was our interviewer johann
2006-Johann Visits Wilmington to Interview Penelope
2007- mendacious says, dear Penelope...
2008- no mention... blogdom mourns the forgetfulness of Pen &M.
2009- another shocking "no mention"
2010- woh, wait 3rd year going and mums the word. am I missing someth...
2011- um, seriously? maybe I thought it was a different month? I... uh...
2012- I uh... I feel like we must've mentioned it somewhere in here... oh my GOD.... i'm sure we did.
2013- ...

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Listening to Adele. Playing Gears. Drinking iced-tea. Unsweet. Wearing paintclothes for no particular reason but I'm ready dear friend, for the day.

Happy Anniversary.

It's been 9 years of words exchanged over this enchanted device. And in the midst of having friends that make me think why even bother having enemies, I have you, and I wanted to remind you Narnia is real in the midst of pain and elusive gmail archiving problems. Don't cease to believe. It is the one tragic thing I could not bear in this life, and

If encouraging you is one of my sole purposii in life I am happy to do it. Because you my dear one, are priceless.

It's been a few weeks since I heard from you, and though you can't feel it, there is magic humming at your fingertips- that table is a series of molecules moving at a rate we can't perceive- we run our fingers over the smooth and cool of the surface. It seems so ordinary and we look out- the way the wind whips right now through the sky into the tree, trouncing the leaves they twist shudder and unfurl. They bend but don't break. They fly off and out and the tree won't forget them. The way my cat's whiskers arch and twitch as he yawns. The way the light dances through the eye, the way our muscles move into smiles. The breath, deep in a sigh our whole body responds aching for peace. Rest be with us this day. God be faithful. Bring unity to our hearts and bodies. Bring us to wholeness.

Can I understand the miracle of my hands?
To be silent and let it pass without an exclamation?
To leave you there disbelieving in your extraordinary life?
When look how you are and how much God must love you.
My heart beats fast at the thought.

Let me run into the yard and disappear into space.
And I just went to try but the hose needed to be moved and Twist was mewing at me and I picked her up. That green of her eyes staring wide at me and the pincing of her claws as she wonders why the water is disturbing her rest. She mews. She mews. Her fur a midnight with streaking stars. And the morning glory blooming that ostentatious purple mocking me and the weeds taking over the orderly roses. And the warmth of my flipflops against the sun. And I heard no need to fall away up and out and into because I am right here. You haven't far to go. Sit beside me.

I will, always and forever Penelope,


Friday, October 4, 2013

While you've been gone,

I've had a spate of adventures.

This one's for you Bruckner, and for Penelope too.

Monday, September 30, 2013

dear penelope,

Perhaps certain readers of my letters to you would like something more concrete. Youll be happy to know that as this event was unfolding I thought to myself, ah, now finally, something to blog about. Something down from the clouds and onto wet soggy earth. Of course I had a load of wash on the dock, the dishes overflowing and crawling with crumbs and ants in the sink, and there was the lawn, the lawn was so thirsty too- it told me so. And the camellias, those too. So as the 1st load was going, I put out the trashcans, chatted with the neighbor Pat and stretched out the hose, on my way to maybe wash dishes, and diverted to stretch the other hose to the camellias, I gave it a pull, it was stuck, came back to untwine it, and then tracked back and gave it a nice unfurling whip and stretch, and then, you know, that water exploding out of a small valve, whining, weezing, gurgling, pshhhhhhh, and shuddering pipe, water soaking the panes with a thwat thwat thwat and pwat pwat pwat sort of sound- and then it got a little quieter as the water level rose, and kept rising around the break, which I felt what a spectacle I can only wonder if anyone else saw. I rushed to turn off the red valve, and then the yellow valve, but no- it was below those. Soaked and dripping now.  I gingerly run into the house, slipped as I turned to grab the phone and sent it skittering across the kitchen floor along with myself as I was failing the turn off the water and problem solve this as fast as you can game. Mom didn't answer, dad, then suddenly mom answering and I ask, how do you turn off the water it's gushing, where, hold on let me, blah blah, here's your father, blah blah, no, gushing, below, yes, cover plate, near the street, get a wrench... I can't find the flashlight, where's the valve. I don't know. Wait, what do I do? mom in the background, we should just go over there.

And of course having lost the game I stood and pondered the water rocketing forth onto the lawn and creating a river at my feet, rushing past and under the grandmothers clock on the porch and down and out the driveway. I finally found the valve at the street level, and no it wouldn't budge. And then of course finally-- they came, and squishing across the lawn brought tools, my found torch, and absolutely drowned the rusted hinge with wd40- and then more problem solving with counter-levers, and dad grunting and mom fetching giant metal rods finally and 3 different types of wrenches, and we beat it, that sonofabitch. Language dear. Well after the river ran through it. But as with most things, I enjoy watching my parents work together and well. Even if my dad was in socks and my mom had some sad little blue light. They problem solved and pondered and that's them at their best. So despite the fact that I am now grungy, showerless, slack with thirst with no relief in sight, it was a pretty good night. I went on to play gearsofwar3, eat yogurt and watch sleepy hallow.

Sure the government is shut down, and my nails aren't in any kind of shape for a wedding, and I ate too many carbs, but I can say because of that I pretty much loved today. I can't remember what else there was but coffee with matt, and trader joes... and then the water burst forth. Dad said something like, well you broke it. As if my lateral tugging should've done it in and what was it doing being exposed and plastic to begin with anyway?! I'd like to believe I'd used the hose like a safety rope tied to myself and wrapped around the chimney while I was engaged in a daring cat rescue, but nevermind. Tomorrow is another day though. And I can say now I know how to turn off the water... hopefully it'll go a little bit easier than this time.... not sure about the gasline though... that's for the next earthquake.

xo, m.   

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I do love Ray Bradbury and was thee favorite of my youth. (Bruckner references his adoration in an actual blog!) There is something about him that is absolutely magic and he captured Fall so perfectly- in it's haunting transcendence, passage of time and of youth in such a way that still makes me look at the wind and a full moon with a measure of awe and mischief. He names mystery so well, the small things that become extraordinary. The big things that must be something. Must break out his short stories and read them for October.

I think on that note I can talk about the ocean. It was a gaping yawning absence. Each time I viewed it an ache in my chest appeared, stranded, wincing as the last hope of rescue disappears from the horizon. The hand reflexively soothes the constriction in the muscle. Your face draws in to frown but you think, they wouldn't have seen you anyway. You feel oddly condemned. The hand knowing the tensing pull of the neck goes there also and ministers to it, before it flings itself down and tells you there is nothing more to be done, but that the legs, they should do something. Maybe take you from this tragic spot. But your legs reluctant fold instead so that you can stare fixed on the blue slashed horizon with the posture of someone who still hopes, and waits.

At this point there must be something to do. Smoke. Eat. Talk. Sleep. Tan. Something to fill that longing absence. Text. Anything to not be alone. Its the same condition that strikes us and leaves coffee houses filled at dusk, that restless nervous feeling of things done, of things undone. It's at this point I feel we are all without fully knowing, longing for eternity and fearful of death. We can sense that tenuous pull of the horizon and we wonder. We feel displaced and I think in ourselves we lose confidence, a slight unmooring, and erosion of our self-reliant existence.

Now this is not always true. But I began to see the juxtaposition of my heart when it went to the mountains and felt anchored with glory and not absent from it, as the monoliths all stretched heavenward and my eyes and soul with them. It seemed an obvious place for rejoicing, and not of lost wanderings in the heart. And then just as often I went to the vistas of water pulling out and threading fast into the infinite, and I felt the bottom drop, caught up with knowing God was God but feeling very far from him, and resenting him for it.

So naturally I move to an island, as I've said before, where my body plays out what it has felt and known all along, akin to my playing out my spiritual landscape ala volcano tours of yore. Water water everywhere and none of it to drink. I'm sure it's akin to a spiritual desert and daring God to show up. And God not to be outdone in my unconscious movements responds that in the vast and the deep he resides also, but not just from afar. But close enough to be caught up in his touch. So that now, as I had met him everyday for months on the desolate and windy shores of jeju, silent and tired of talking, trusted that he would be there even if I had very little to say, I find myself reconciled to him and the ocean too.

I've been a handful of times and I'm looking for it. That reflexive ache. It's not there any longer. I move freely. I rejoice. I say hello God, here you are. I'm here also. I'm not sure why the change was important. Except the Father cares very much that I know he is close to me, so that the little girl in me can feel bounded up by his love in a way that simply has never been. I find this coming towards Home too. Not feeling alone here. Not feeling absence but presence- so that these things are not merely projections or prayers thrown off a cliff but an exchange of words to someone who is sitting next to you on the couch. I don't know.

But place is important is it not?

xo, m.

Dear Penelope,

Staring at my disjointed living room. Bored for the last 1/2 at least. Pondering decorating choices and if it will ever quite come together. There is a giant door that I can't move on my own now located to the left of the mantel. And I'm pondering an 'Adopt This Art' day, so I can get it out of the house. Who cares about it? I don't. Do any of you want any? Anyway. Also i'm thirsty but instead I had yogurt and fruit and now i'm overfull and i'm still thirsty. Story of my many days. And the trim, the trim and the closet aren't finished. Why does it take so long to paint a hallway. ?

Allright well it's another day. It's not looking good for some conflicts I told you about. One I think, because I'm reluctant to re-enter dysfunction without a conversation, and that conversation I don't think will ever happen. The 2nd, what can you do when the other person spends time holding a self-righteous position of "i'm not angry", "it's me, it's not you". That sermon about healing anger was spot on- we say to ourselves "I would never do that." So you sit in your high tower, don't confess how angry/hurt/livid you are and the other person walks around with that I'm being torched by your gaze but I can't quite put my finger on it sort of feeling.

I wanted to talk to you about the ocean, but it's being blocked by the 2 paragraphs above. So i'll just send this quick letter off with a promise for a longer one after.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Well how goes?

The hot weather came back and i'm fighting the inevitable flipflop farmer tan. The only place i'd put 70. because seriously that's the only place that needs it- perhaps the proximity to the baking asphalt. Me thinks. And all this out and aboutness. Oh touring LA.

Operation jejusarah visiting is going pretty well. It would be better if she were more opinionated on what to do because it's too easy if she doesn't care to not do anything at all- so why bother. Or rather force us to do things we could and should do for their LAness. Like museums with entrance fees or exhibits or soundofmusicsingalongs. We could be home playing gears of war or painting trim. And of course NO I haven't finished Yeasl's necklace. Rats. And no I don't have enough money for my bills this month- again. Will have to in next letter to relate what we did do- with perhaps a note about each.

We did have a 1/2 expected but not all day expected Law Day yesterday- which included tours of USC law and UCLA law- would not have thought but usc won due to its small village type feel. And though typically ucla had more of an abundance resource feel it still felt a little too systematic and large. We did sit through a Tort class at ucla which I found fascinating. Ultimately I find trying to interpret the language fun, like "detrimental reliance" (meaning when A party takes action for or toward B party and bad things happen to B as a result of A's action) and all the ways in which ficence is used in determining detrimental reliance - maleficence being the most popular but in tort class there is non-ficence, mis-ficence... and just ficence in general. So to litigation you can predict outcomes and similarities- surface/non-surface- and WHY but no one is pointing out that the idiot who tracked water in should be held libel for x person falling because he was being a thoughtless bastard but whether or not his relationship with the hotel and the situation obligates him...

Now I say fun, but like philosophy and psychology- you start boundaring your existence and your context using those words because we need to define things- and suddenly you find yourself in a very tight box. And you use that box like weapons, and its all how well you use those weapons to prove your argument and nothing whatever to do with truth- it is nice to know there are a myriad of things you can do with law and that THE GOOD is out there somewhere but while I had been feeling more like i'd made some fundamental mistake in my thinking, torts class brought it back to me- the guys who jack-knifed their trucks to avoid iceskidding over a cliff, who set flares but not in the right place, made a mistake but no, shouldn't be held responsible for the dude flying into them in his car. Or my favorite- P (plantiff) has come over to visit D (the defendant) and the cat is a titch aggressive. So P asks D to put the cat away. D ignores or does not comply- I think there was a stated promise though- and P is subsequently SCRATCHED. OH NO! So P assumes the cat must be rabid and goes to get a rabies shot- and SUES D for damages because they had a bad reaction. Nevermind that scratches are not typical transmitters of rabies but BITES are. Of course we're not arguing that. We're arguing what sort of ficence D should be held to. And if P made a reasonable attempt to help himself- he didn't call to get the cat impounded... blah blah. Bob Loblaw.

Anyway. Needless to say we didn't make it to the beach. We did however make it to happyhour sushi (philly rolls in my case) and tempura... SJT had some excellent spicy tuna rolls- may have a new fave and of course because lately I've been obsessed with mcds chocolate dipped cones but sjt wanted a change- we opted for chocolate dipped bananas. Good times.

We even watched Sleepy Hallow. Hmm. Is all I can say. Like almost possibly but then I don't know. Will try to get to God for Bruckner later. I will say both him and AA were asked after- like wait why couldn't they come? Why won't they come visit me? I mean props to my former boss for really making something awesome over the program- ipads, movie clips! photos! to access for tours... we did not however run into anyone from glee or drphil. and there's an actual relationship btw the pages and HR. and hiring. whaaat. Anyway- oh right ProRun--- well. I mean.. seriously. Kate should've won. And can we get rid of Ken already? I forget what the last one was about now-- but well anyway.

I have to go- we're going to persevere despite utter reluctance and irritability.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

so i did something weird with my gmail

Let me preface this by saying - I archive almost all of my nonjunk email, like letters and pictures from family, friends, even the little bits and pieces of conversation, just because and just in case. But as far as the actual inbox is concerned, ideally it is kept neat and clean. Then when the little smartphone arrived on the scene last year, and as the computer because more and more decrepit (I'm cursing it for its incompetence as we speak), I fell behind in my archiving. Like, way behind, to the point of I Give Up behind. There were over 1,000 non-archived emails weighing down my inbox and my shoulders when finally, the other day, I found a solution via google to bulk archive through a simple filter. At first it didn't work, but then I switched something and it did work! In a matter of seconds, poof! Emails archived, chaotic unarchived weight from shoulders lifted.

But then, today it occurred to me - why it took 2 or 3 days to dawn on me, I do not know - that no longer were any new emails coming through. No "I'm back in the country, how are you?" emails from mom, no prodding,"hey, what are you doing, tell me MORE!" messages from mendacious. No articles from my coworker I said I'd edit and she said she'd send? Hmm. Except, oops, they were there, just not in my inbox. Automatically archived. So, wtf? I don't even know how to fix that, and do admit to feeling slightly panicked all over again at undealt-with email.

Ugh, my brain! Isn't there a way to archive my peskier thoughts. (Without fubar-ing that, too.)

So teaching is really quite lovely, so far. Still so much to incorporate and learn, to-do lists everywhere, but also the feeling that - we're off to a good start, and introducing new things in as the year goes on is the right way to do it, anyway, for us all. Thursday, I had a thought that perhaps 2 out of the 3 were already a little too comfortable with us, the teaching team, because all of a sudden they were block-crushing little monsters who would not be stopped. But it was also Thursday, i.e. our Friday. And then there's the problem of the afterschool crew, whom I stayed with Thursday, but not Wednesday, after my coworker and I convo'd and decided having 2 people stay for 1-2 children was not only pointless, but also possibly illegal, pay-wise. I had 3 kids on Thurs, which brought me up over minimum wage (holla), and also, I earned every penny with the wild monkeys under my care. Sheesh.

Outside school, I daily fend off a connected series of muscle aches and panicky-type waves, so I can only assume by now all of the monster is stress-borne. My upper spine is like a barometer for mental duress.

But then, I ponder the force field of calm I carry with me in situations where others are calling for it. Like the children in my care, or the parents dropping them off, or the old dog in pain, or the child upset about xyz at school today. Not always, but often, I can carry this shield for others, but not myself, like some kind of gift (but also a curse, since I am apparently unable to partake in it).

Well so, J.Lo's off to a tiny northern state this week for a conference, so I'll be here, holding down the fort. Watching normally booed and hissed shows on the large TV instead of the tiny tablet or phone, making pasta di fagioli and eating the leftovers everysinglenight if I want to. Facing down Full Week 2 of school, managing the puppies and the children. And generally trying not to lose my shit! (Exclamation point absolutely required.)

love to you xo,
your penelaotang

Saturday, September 7, 2013

As I sit here pretending to smoke this mini-golf pencil,

my gums aching, nothing much on tv, and nothing I want to look at on the internet. It's like returning to my inbox to see if anyone has sent an email and no one has. Like waiting for money to drop from the sky or pondering earthquake weather.

Sipping rooibos iced tea as param snakes past me and hops out the broken screen door. Seems a shame to fix it. Wondering about having dreadlocks, knowing I could pull it off but would I want to. There are things still to do on the list- short term- curtain rods, trim, closet, and why are my gums aching anyway.


Something so earnest about a question mark.

I was going to talk about some of the church conflict stuff. So much there about truth and love and how our heart disorders them- but I think i'd rather go to bed. It's crazy. I mean I've had coffee even. I guess potting that one plant totally exhausted me. It came out of nowhere as I was watering- it just suddenly was impossible to ignore- and earlier I did become crazed and start ripping weeds and dead sunflower stalks out of the ground and into a giant untidy heap on the lawn.

So sleep. Sleep's ok for now right? After some portlandia and turning off the sprinkler.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Dear AA,

I think you're missing my um, broader point about narrative threads and real life- but I totally get you, yes. How do we invest- what are we spending our time on, and for how long. ?

Just now I spent 905 pages of time on a book I mostly loathed. Now I didn't chuck it across the room like I did with 1984 and handmaids tale (canNOT stand post-apocalyptic narratives of facist govt takeovers) but I think i'll probably throw it into the giveaway pile, even if the supercutenewsherlockholmes is playing him in the hbo miniseries. I can only hope they make it better. But the book it was callus, and fragmented narratively, and the characters- not really at all likeable? Somewhat appealing but inaccessible. For instance the main character is referred to as a "meal-sack" throughout and his meaty sausage like hands with his mouth agape. The whole thing agitates me.

Also it was 93 in the house today. i'm acclimating in that I can actually put my hair down. So there is something to not having a/c and letting your body adapt, after ive soaked my feet in cold water and drank 2 cups of iced water. The book, finished with a seriously unsatisfying end. It was gripping in a way, as life just carried on in crisis and the shifts were small but they were happening- but ultimately I wanted to care about the characters and I don't know if I did... hmm we'll see if it becomes forgettable or in a way memorable in how irritating it was- some books don't deserve it but I suppose it's working if your reacting. even if it's a bad reaction. and to think I read this book while playing hardcore on gears of war - I laughed when I set the mode on casual and played it again- how easy it all was... i didn't die over and over and over and actually say to myself, is this game going to beat you? are you giving up? or are you going to learn how to do this BIT better. now i'm super efficient at the torque bow with an xbox controller... but i digress. what's your game mode setting?

Some gamemode settings are on insane and how many of us can really go there? Sometimes, I have glimpses in myself of such courage. I'm acting it out now financially. But in the gameworld I only do that when i'm bored with the maps and the AI enemies- not aggressive enough, die too easily... yawn. Korea was insane mode in some ways too. Other ways pretty casual to normal, as life has to be at times. It's like yah, ok, what ELSE. But i had to start at casual. And then i became bold and went hardcore and now i'm used to that there's no going back to "normal".

And being away a year has given me crazy perspectives on friendships- the ones that have experienced hostile takeovers, long dormant resentments, and my need to be patient about a lot of things and that terminal list- the list itself I indite myself over- blasted projects- never ending. Today my dad came over with Hamlet- love that- to measure cabinets- so that might actually happen? Kitchen renovation. Kind of shocked. My dad did say to my mom that the living room looks like a vampire den. As I said to Pen I can only hold back my gothic and as danica suggested bohemian instincts for so long- and then I'm just seduced by the names too- medieval forest, chianti, black orchid... interestingly one of chi-cathy's favorite words is corridor. Which I love, and will try to work into the map i'm painting in the hallway (polarbear white!) and as that movie with the rabbit suggests, another beautiful word like cellar door... Autumn, today, had never heard of the word roiling. It was used in the context of church of course- it feels roiling. The battle. The tumult. The turbid waters.

Good stuff.

But life- we should try to live it on hardcore mode more often than not I think. Since safety in any sense is mostly wholly fabricated and not actual. Of course I'm biased since I spent a year meditating on what it was to be safe. Literally most everyday calling the word to mind and holding it there with God. So naturally that is my answer to everything- what are you doing? Oh, you don't feel safe. Right that's it. Little M, Little Pen, Little AA- is God holding you safe in his arms?

Besides that lately I am examining God the Father and His love for me. And know my next task is to examine my utter detachment from seeking success or a future or something? Like by gradschool maybe i got a little too esoteric with my whole "it's an end in itself" rhetoric- like maybe i shouldn't have let everyone off the hook so easily- maybe that was me trying to put something insane into a casual setting and confusing what was at stake- i mean i had the right strategy but the execution i think was off... anyway i'm pondering that.

So jejusarah is coming on Monday and I'll have gone to church, and watered my pre-school teachers yard. She's 86. And then it's off to Paramount and who knows what else. Will try not to freak out about how i can't afford gas.

Ok this laptop is raising my coretemperature to critical. I need more icedwater stat.

xo, m.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


It's down to 89 in the house and I'm stabbing at the 2nd frozen block of coffee willing it to melt faster. It's only a matter of time, given the temp, as I watch JeffGo/db/um become a doily salesmen on P0rtlandia. In the 2nd season didn't he play a knot salesmen? I'm not sure.

It reached 101 in shade today. I ate like 4 nectarines and frozen yogurt and one of those chocolate dips from mcds. I bought a giant bag of ice, too. And played gears of war and painted the closet and hallway all day. I thought I couldn't go on but I rallied to finish the 2nd coat on the closet. And feel I did a good days work with the looming jejusarah visit.

You raise an interesting question about narrative threads. A favorite topic of mine, as we are a month shy of our 9 year blog-iversary. (I just finished the coffee. It was amazing. My tongue is numb.) Ok so right threads- I want to hear more. Based on what you've said it occurs to me it all depends on how you read a book in the first place. I remember with horror contemplating your? and my moms, skip to the end to see how it works out before you invest. But then equally your refusal to tell me what happened in a certain book series. I tend to like to know as little as possible going on beforehand, but for certain things to know the arch of a movie or book I wont read doesn't bother me. Oh and what sort of book are we talking? Ulysses? Something by Thomas Pynchon? Or more lately and boringly by Ford Madox Ford, or Proust or I don't know- c.s. lewis? Sometimes I do rightly think i'm in Narnia. And those are the best days. The world isn't as concrete as we sometimes make it out to be. And on the worst days i'm trapped in a descriptive paragraph that wont end for the semi-colons, or worse I've stumbled into into The sound and fury and my head explodes in confusion because i'm not used to fragmented narrative yet. Remember when books actually caused your synapses to misfire do to the narrative construction?

But we're talking about real life... right right. A complicated interweb. I think each season does have distinct beginnings and ends and ok some take longer than others but I think they do and can be resolved. It builds, as frustrating as the waiting is, a sense of expectation... I suppose we have to look at what in our lives has been resolved. What's taken turns and twists. But then I'm talking to your sub-text. And that's not clear in what you expect and what you're staring at. Death is the finisher of all threads is It not? Ha knot. Anyway. Oh not that your sub-text is death. You did mention joy and patience. I think there's a lot of things we can cultivate through discipline, and routine but I think only so much can be done unless God increases our natural capacities. Otherwise it's just work right? Ugh. Who wants it. I asked God to be my work boss a few days ago and then was immediately sending complaints about the tasks and it came down to me asking Him to give me the strength to do it then, and he happily obliges most days when I remember to actually ask and not just sit mired. But then conversely so much is gained in laboring through things. It's hard in this heat.


Based on a word from autumn when I first got back - I wrote on my mirror 1. worship 2. be responsible. And I find not much is done but berating myself for crimes against productivity if I start with 2. I see my list like violations mounting a case against me and setting me for failure at the outset. And I sit in judgment of myself and so accomplish nothing. But if I literally put on worship music, sing or hum some tunes over breakfast or just put it playing on in the room that needs to be conquered my mind is overcome and I am suddenly kinetic in a way that sheer will won't accomplish. I think it reorients the focus. In a way that literally makes all things possible. I want to remember this. It has made all the difference since I've been back. We can't hold onto this all the time, but perhaps it's like a morning offering to face the day/maybe not the day- but the maker of the day- and keep the rest for peripheral vision.

I think back to being radically healed from the church and I thought like you about this narrative thread that it would never be resolved. I was miserable in community. I showed up, not knowing what else to do, not realizing that was the thing itself- to just be there- and that God was working in a way I couldn't perceive, so that one day as someone prayed for me I felt it break over me and it was literally done. God has those sorts of things in store for all of us if we pursue him and his promises for us- I think? and for YOU. sometimes we so closely associate our identities with our wounds that we can't tell the difference. Or we think somehow the wound is us. And it isn't. The hurts, the deep places. Those can be renovated. They can be like this one spiritual one for me broken open and excised. So I suppose that's what I ultimately mean about expectation- some I suppose not ever resolved on this side of Armageddon but then, a lot will be and can be in the interim. Which to bring it back- how amazing freedom in Christ really is. And all those debates worthwhile over MM. It is a choice. It is never done without community, but it's something so worthwhile once you walk into it. Shame doesn't have to be a part of everyday life. Shouldn't be.

Well anyway list making for tomorrow and handing it over to God- a new thought pattern- here have this- this is what I need, this is what worries me, and then ok, i'm going to get to work. (obviously with lots of cold things breaks- this weather shows no signs of letting)



holla holla hey

Good morning from the east coast,
I have been burrowed into the world of newjob and settinguptheclassroom for days now (weeks?), but I feel like emergence is coming soon. More or less. There are still things, still lists, but not quite so harrowing in their must-get-it-done-immediately!ness. I'll have to develop a repertoire of kitten-herding skills, for instance, that can only be honed through practice, trial and error. I must compile a stack of music-to-play that mostly veers away from kids-singing-kids-music because that seems a quick road to mental snapping. Oh, and lesson plans. Must corral the bits and pieces of I-think-I-want-do-this and I-vaguely-envision-that and tighten it all up.

But it'll happen.

I had a thought about stories the other day that perhaps you'd enjoy. And probably this is a human thing, not just a penelope thing, but maybe it falls into the Venn diagram middle-space of personal and universal experience. I love stories. Have always loved them. But do I/we love stories to the point of fault? In terms of narrative thread, we almost set ourselves up, through that love of stories, to expect an endpoint to all our narrative threads. And I know, how obvious - life, while made up of our stories, is not a storybook or even a series of them. Our narrative threads are much messier, frayed, knotted and twisty-turny. Which is part of their beauty, but also, should we not be continually mindful, a good way to set ourselves up for that constant sense of disappointment and frustration when our stories fail to end and end neatly. For instance, say I'm working on patience, or cultivating a sense of joy. (Of course I would pick something abstract, but any goal-or-problem-type *thing* could be substituted in.) And I, through whatever means, land on some sort of mental secret or key to attaining said goal or solving said problem. And my mind tries to squeeze it all  into a story paradigm, wherein I had that moment of recognition or realization or epiphany, and from that day forward, that particular goal was achieved or problem was solved. I guess that would be the old living happily ever after trap, even if one doesn't actually expect it to be so pretty or pat or whatever. It could be more disheveled, this journey and conclusion, but I think our minds still want to squeeze into a storyline wherein we no longer have to worry about this particular thing.

Except that never happens.

I have to cut myself off - ohmygosh, ironically? - and return to blogland later. Today is Open House part two, for the littlest classroom (not mine, but my presence is still required) and then some errand running that most unfortunately includes procuring 5 tons of mulch. And then, I hope, some canned salsa making. And oh, preparing for the first day of school tomorrow.

Love to YOU who must write me back now,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


It has been many days since our last communique. I'm soaking my feet in cold water to lower my core temperature. Necessary things without a/c. I did get a free sb drink today. They're card machine/reader was malfunctioning- maybe melting because of the heat. And so not only do i still have my freedrink on the card but my venti soy extra shot latte was on them. Total score. Jesus must love me sort of moment. I can't say I managed anything else today but yard work for Marge my preschool teacher and I did superglue the stone on my ring and set about to watering everything. Weeping obviously at the abysmal state of the garden.

I am obsessed with things like, where do I put the book case? Do I mask the nook or set the bookcase back- oh ok and I did spend a soul sucking hour at home depot buying paint and bits- and that leads to more questions like well do I want a 2nd drape set or maybe I just go with blinds and take back the cafĂ© curtain rods. I'm sure if people whoever they are go back to read this - or any of a stack of missives, they might draw a knife or a gun at themselves at the mundanity of it all- but they'll know the minutia and then it'll be up to 'them' to draw the broader stroke of singleness, life with cats, the obsessive way she writes about home renovation must have something behind it. And why over the last 9 years of blogging has she brought up missing cabinet doors and why did she paint her living room like a cave? Possibly, probably no one will care. And someone will chuck everything into a dumpster as some ironic turn and insult to my entire life. Not sure why i'm thinking of these things. I was dismantling some of my albums-- making chaos, decluttering in order to make streamlined memory remembered. Which strikes me as pointless and a little sad, these batches of life photographed and how lots of them just pass from existence. Although I went to a wedding shower on sunday and I was around a handful of people I've known off and on for 18 years because of the co-op. You never know what you do or learn or love or obsess over or grieve will crop back up into your life. Not unlike pending 20 year reunions.

As I was writing this I received your letter. And then I had a video chat with jeju sarah. And so let it rest.

The day started with my senile marley yowling into the echoing hall, and the dawn breaking over the mountains and clouds coming from the north east to an overcast morning. To my indulgence of two English muffins with all their nooks, crannies, butter and fruitspread, plus 1 egg. Salt and peppered.

Last night I watched this documentary called girl27. Sort of horrifying. And had some annoying unresolved story threads- but it was good. It was about this girl that was raped at an MGM function back in 1937 and the lengths that they went to cover it up-- the mother bought off, the witness bought off (his kids traumatized because of it), the doctor, the lawyer!, the DA!. And besides that yes, some vindication65 years later, but really, the power unforgiveness and unacknowledged trauma- what it can do to a person- how it didn't just devastate their lives and rob them of their gifts and dreams, but the culture of secrets and pain pervaded and infected their kids too- and their kids kids. Yikes. And the documentarian though he brought those things up didn't want to comment further but let it lie. A good/bad thing. For instance this crazy fact- Clarke Gable had an affair with one of his leading ladies. She was catholic and deeply shamed I suppose. She hid herself away until she gave birth, gave her baby UP for 18months!!!! into an orphanage!!! and then adopted her back! And would not relent about this secret everyone knew about until much past her daughters wedding- AND actually went so far as to ask that her daughter tell her granddaughter she was adopted! THE HELL! Talk about bondage.

Anyway the trash people came and though the automated arm slowed considerably, the 100+ carpet is out of our lives for good. Just like secrets if you give them up and over. They're not lying their stinking and getting eaten by moths and then soaked by sprinkler runoff and let to mildew in a driveway for 2 weeks. There you have it.

Now back to antiques roadshow and mustering the strength to finish medieval forest.


Monday, August 26, 2013

hi from a late-hour

Here my brain is, rattling around. Wondering among too many other things where podcasts have been all my life. Answer: I never had patience for them, never really "got" them, could not wrap my brain around the auditory factor of them, but now all of a sudden. Introduce me to PopCultureHappyHour and I'm hooked in for life. So novel, the idea of ingesting brainfood into one's ears rather than solely one's eyes while reading, or eyes and ears both while watching a show. Imagine. I mean, people have only been listening to talk radio for decades now, but whatever... #latetotheparty

Also, my vehicle (whose official name is the Lo.Co.Motive, in case that's been not-yet-mentioned) is often empty of late, leaving me with full control of the iPod and more mental space to ponder the different things I pick up on every single day along the same route. Not new things, but new-to-me things. Like that old rail car next to a church, right next to their playground, maybe it's a playhouse, too? Neat. And the other church whose signs are definitely posted by someone different lately. Someone dumber. You know your signs are dumb and lacking inspiration when the Seventh-Day Adventist signs are connecting more with the crowd. Really. And spider webs spanning power lines, tons of them catching morning light. And let's not forget Nurse Carla Espinoza, still hanging out on the truck outside the scrubs-shop - What up, Nurse Carla! I say in my head. Every time.

And after a mere 1-2 weeks of school, we all have some dumb cold that's going around, already. Already! Unfair.

So today I'm simply drained, more so than the new-normal drained. I spent four hours today dragging some things back into my classroom and attempting not to spaz out at the sheer excess - there is just too. much. crap. There are things we have to have and things we can rotate out and things I've brought in, but for the most part - omg, begone with the ratty plastic ponies and the creepers oversized stuffed carnival prize. I literally dragged in the biggest box I had and assigned it the job of holding Things That Are Currently Making Me Hostile. Some might be allowed out of the box again, now or maybe later, or in the case of those ponies maybe never. It was the only way I could deal with the rest of the room. And tomorrow is going to make me feel simultaneously more and less crazy, because I will have some help arranging, cleaning, etc. So while my mind craves sorting through it all and mentally cataloging where everything needs to live in a solitary manner, I have to accept this help. Because it will never get done otherwise. And then the whole teamwork thing. Bah! I get it, I embrace it, but then. At a root level, I reject it entirely. And it's a mindful conversation that must continually take place, talking my misanthropic nature back from the ledge.

Finally I delved into Call the Midwife and um yes it's fabulous.

I'm sure I ought to write more but for now my aforementioned rattling brain calls for tylenol and a long sleep.
love to you across the land
oh and! I heard some commercial this morning saying that RDU offers nonstops to LAX now, 7 days a week. must investigate. because that's kind of a big deal, no? although probably costs a million dollars.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sorry I wrote you hate letters Mom,

We don't have to wait till mother's day to appreciate our moms. Having me for a kid I am sure prepared her for all the vitriol and animus that she was to encounter in her life, my kind souled mother. However, as a child I obviously did not take "because I told you so" as an answer for anything in my life and not even to strangers. I had, still have, a sort of abnormal barometer for truth and needing to see the reason or story behind things. As my mother said, when I cut my foot and she took me to the doctor, he was saying something about the fact that he was Santa Claus and I started to cry for being a liar. I was 3 or 4? I'm not exactly sure of the details anymore. But take an absolute knowledge of truth and a very angry child and you get letters that are more than a little like murder weapons and less  like the aw, kids. Aren't they funny. And more like the um, right. Yikes. I will forever recall being sent to the principals office to be paddled because I looked at my teacher funny. The look was probably akin to absolute indictment or probably contempt. I was 8. The pamphlet below, excerpted was stapled together on construction paper and written when I was 11.
There are the usual peculiarities of being highly verbal- using the word ridiculous and spelling it correctly. But of course lacking the ability for more complex sentence structures it gets a bit unhinged as I sloppily site my brother's treatment of the cat, (not pictured here), but seem to capture how demeaned and condescended I felt. Just yesterday I was about to start gnawing on a table leg in regards to arguments about whether or not I could or should get cut stone for the bathroom- because of how it won't work- and this from the people who didn't get drywall thick enough to be flush with the door jamb. Who are we kidding here people? The "right" way of doing things? The "proper" thing? I don't think so. And and, and there my mom is petting my arm like calming an angry cat. It was hilarious. Also, she was always insisting I smile. It sometimes worked but I mostly fought it, which is probably why my default smile is a left cornered wry smile and not a fully committed one. Amused but holding back.
Now the pitchforked mom with the horns is more typical of childhood I think- though the 'kill, kill' part i'm a bit circumspect about. If it were just the picture with "I hate you" I would say adorable but it's all the other furious rantings, and the of course the coup de grace below which seems a very adult and venomous thing to say at 11, which of course I saved till the very end.

As it is I've come along way from being that angry. Thankfully. And have forgiven mom for all sorts of things children like me carry along with them. I think even into high school it was hard to find a place for feelings as strong as these- and kids have them- I remember being utterly relieved when a teacher I had said it was ok to hate my father. Because that's where I was at. And the absolute tension and torture I felt at not honoring my father and mother dissipated to a place of being able to say, ok, this is where I am. I have somewhere to go now. It's not just this pent up thing in my heart.

Anyway thanks for loving me mom and holding me dear. Glad it all turned out ok in the end. But ps. I burnt the letter. No need to keep the bodies lying around. Time to tidy up. Bury the hatchet and all that. Maybe you can write about it in your memoirs of me instead. And as a narcissist you know that's just the sort of thing I would love. Mothers are narrators to their childrens lives- and the stories they tell go really far in cementing reality - spiritually, emotionally- the things they chose to keep and tell. Looking forward to more.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Hello, from across the continent. I'm listening to Bon Iver and Param is by my feet. And I'm up past my usual bed time of 10pm at least this last week. I can feel the rhythms evening out as each thing is accomplished, and hammering asphalt intermittently during the day as my upperbody building exercises is enough to make my eyes lightly mist up in encouragement that even that - this measurable output 1/3 done- Sure even as I sat and sighed deeply in satisfaction at 2/5 gardenias planted I noted that they're being attacked by something and that the 2/3 is long as the day is hot in August. But still. We do what we can. We do it where we're at and we don't wait to be anywhere else. To suddenly have money. For pigs to fly. For things to alter themselves when they have always been the way they are.

Mom said that painting the bathroom was not akin to climbing Everest and I quipped and she hurumphed. But each room I think is a mental and emotional battle against my own internal grudges. Deep-seated. Grooves that go really far down into my own heart of darkness. Grooves that have me loosing my shit over craptastic drywall work- lines everywhere, lines cracking through the primer, drywall not flush to the door jamb, weird fucking wonky not perfect shit. I look at the spider like smash I made in the enamel of the bathtub- 3+ years ago by now and I think I made that. I was tired. I swung and I missed and I knew I had to put the sledge hammer down. But this drywall business is just half-assery. I get it. I'm guilty of it, like the floor- there's lines aren't there. But this guy they hired and my dad know better. They aren't novice hacks. I don't know why it enrages me so. Maybe because I feel i'm doing this by myself against the stream of fuckall. I had worship music going for a good while just to push through the inevitably toxic mental churning.

Still it didn't stop me having to scream at someone (poor mom) of the shit job- surely someone has to know. Someone else besides me in my own head all by myself, as I spend each day fighting the gremlins from room to room. And then of course somehow got into a fight with Amber where she was prompted to hold against me all the things she's done for me that I thought were generous of her but apparently not, so of course I should do just this thing out of 'you owe me'. Don't you? And I was reminded of the MM part where he talks about how we economize relationships- and I thought ok i'm not going to do that. I won't tit-for-tat this. But then it led me to wonder what other resentments other people were stacking against me. It goes to what we can possibly repay. We can't. I'm in enough debt as it is- I simply can't keep account to balance out friends- but it's a new way. A new groove. To burn the ledger- and how to love through and in that space. I can't say I know what that looks like.

It's control too and the perfection you know time and money can execute for you. To just have it done. To not labor. As if nothing is learned, gathered or built in the doing of things. Are they really time stealers- or are they like washing the whiteboards or waxing the car- the discipline of carrying through and doing and being mundane creation and maintaining- and how we behave in those spaces and the decisions we make to keep going- hacking at the asphalt, letting the lines lie- weeping, gnashing and then rubbing the imbedded gravel out of our knees and we keep going- to find peace in an imperfect space. To find peace in ourselves.

And then in those meditative spaces I think- God, you must not care about me as I sit here in this imperfect mess and you don't deliver me from it with bags of money or a husband or a friend who won't inevitably hold it against me if I ask for help. And then I hear, it's not important. But I think that's me thinking what God would say, and then I argue back but it's important to me. But then I think what's the aim and the aim isn't perfection, and I think God would agree with me on that. And then what it is - relationship- in those spaces with God and myself in the concrete, and in those spaces in my heart that all of these things trigger. Pondering the verses below as things fly through my head, as I shrug my shoulders from the tension and crack my wrists from the overwork. It would be better if Jesus be my arbiter- against accusations of who I am in the world and to others. It will never be enough without him. So the power of such things must be to walk in faith through them- the small that would make us small- to define myself not by the cracked lines of an atom among many, but by him, who makes me heir and calls me daughter. I have to believe I'll be the better for it.

2cor10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Long time,

strangely enough this is now a lost blog. It was called "In the Void" so I suppose now appropriate that it's lost. But it wouldn't publish it and I tried and then something I thought was good wasn't and so then there it went. Probably the narrative is better for it. I'll list what I can in no particular order.

What is God saying to you in the dark places?
What is, what are the answers ?
I can't help but ask.
And to not have them. We keep going. We keep.
Ancient animals = bender, marley
10 years since becoming a page- am going to visit the lot with visitor sarah from Jeju. Think a page reunion is totally in order. Am excited to wander around the lot..
My preschool BF found me. Last contact pre-FB was 8th grade. Eating spaghetti. She'd had her wisdom teeth out. I'm going to give her the colonial grandmother clock I can't come to peace with. Not going to hold onto it because it's worth something. Bondage to all manner of things. This imaginary worth. Which led me to say hello to Brenda who gave me the clock in the first place who didn't want it as I don't want it- something about it- we say automatically we don't have the room for it.
What else- 2 necklaces finished, painting finished.
Mom moved out and the room floor needs to be done.
Chipping up asphalt to make way for plants
Curtain rods
Toast and only 1 egg. Why 2? Try 1.
Walking around the block victory.
Fasting after 630- as we thirst and hunger for righteousness- August.
1/2 way through parade's end
2 chapters shy of finishing the Meaning of Marriage
Good good conversations have abounded because
Roving conflicts with losangeles cats, coming together again
2 new dresses. Rather adult in their dark colors.

And now the day awaits.

Monday, August 5, 2013


as they come to me, so no particular order ~

Bender is old. Bender has lumps. Bender has what I'm nearly certain is skin cancer on her belly. I google-imaged to be sure, but quickly wanted to barf (don't ever, ever google-image that term, I mean it). And it breaks my heart, but brings me immediately back to the first point and the way all old dogs break all our hearts.

Every day the old Bender and the Sophie puppy chase tennis balls and run together and I adore the way their soft-black-ears flop in tandem.

It's a day early, but I've surreptitiously acquired The New Album from The Contentious Band (the one connected with that a-mazing continent quote I sent you last week), and so my brief-ish road trip down the what lately is becoming a very-well-traveled road will be a better one. Although I do wish it were a better destination this time than lying in a brain-scanning claustrophobic tunnel for 12 minutes, but maybe that will lead to some answers about my scattered-ness, or not.

I've never loved summer, as the blog-audience surely well knows, and again it occurred to me that it's another thing rooted in control. I can't control being too effing hot, to the point of stifle. I can't control the outcome of the garden, whether it will be high-yield or lagging, whether the tomatoes will like the way we tied and staked them (this year, not so much - #pinterestfail). And I especially can't control the insane weed-growth taking over the flower beds. I mean I could, if I had enough funds and/or stamina to haul in 2 tons of mulch redo the whole thing. Which will in fact happen at some point I imagine, but not anytime soon? And so that continues to vex me as I throw the ball and adore the floppy ears. Adore-seethe, adore-seethe, is how it goes.

The preschool room will be painted Pineapple Delight, which isn't nearly as manic as it sounds, and even though it was my third choice color (the other two were blues and greens and so much calmer...), at least it was a choice of mine? I mean, let it go Penelope. How many people get to all but dictate the entire look of their classrooms from the start? My lovely third choice is better than like, Schoolbus Spectacular, or some other imagined horror.

We finished Orange is the New Black (SO. good. brills.) and also through some luck reinstated direcTV - something about, well, football is starting, and we have a credit, and oh now there's another ginormous credit through the referral program. Like we won't even have to pay for it all for 2 more months? I waffle on the "need" for any extra forms of entertainment - it's not a need at all, what am I saying - but as far as luxuries go. We by no means have the Cadillac package, more like the Ford Focus. And now I can still watch Survivor.

Well anyway, my love - it's time to go. adieu adieu, til next time.
p.s. did we both order ravioli then? Because I seem to distinctly remember also having that. And, we were not given a very good table. By the wall, definitively out of the action, all but squirreled away. I expect the shoe baron to land us a better spot, to see and be seen, dammit! when the day comes.