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  • sorting it out

    Putting things in premise conclusion form in philosophy can be helpful. How about trying it for things in life?

    1. I'm leaving a week from tomorrow.

    2. RM might stay the summer but

    3. I have to move out by August 1 and

    4. I don't know if she stays, how long she'll need to be here.

    5. Dad's gone from middle to end of July.

    6. I can take online course training from L, but I don't know how to contact her exactly, and she'd be making an exception. Likelihood? Can I count on it?

    7. I feel I should stay because RM will still be here. If it's me leaving beforehand, doesn't seem right doesn't it?

    8. I really really want to go home.

    9. Without the online teaching in spring, it's $ a deich mŪle money difference for me.

    10. This is getting complicated. Not sure how to move, when, what to do long time later in December, where to go, if all this moving is best or just super distracting, I do have a dissertation to write, friends, loyalties, can I get help or must I move on my own, is it worth it, am I worth it, is this the right thing to do.

    11. I wish life were like music. I wish you didn't have to lose people. Or I wish you didn't get attached enough that losing people were so painful. Or I wish we didn't feel so lonely while not being alone. Or I wish I wasn't afraid to live alone, the thought of which makes me so lonely. I wish I was normal. I wish people liked me. I wish I understood myself and other people. I wish I were desirable. I wish I wasn't as stressed, I wish I knew what I wanted and how to set boundaries and stick to values and learn from mistakes and grow up and be myself without fear and live instead of hesitating to live and I wish for some rest and peace of mind.

  • I Cannot Wait for You

    Iím still being formed
    And so are you
    And growing takes a long, long time
    Yours, and mine,
    But even if you think weíll never make it through
    I cannot wait for you.

    Near or far, wherever I am
    Whatever I choose to do,
    It may be long for you to understand
    But I cannot wait for you.

    We both have struggles to lay to rest
    To struggle on and through
    And though I know youíll do your best
    Still I cannot wait for you.

    I will change, and you will change
    This I know is true
    And between changing and choosing weíre bound to disagree
    As we already do
    But though youíre always part of me
    I cannot wait for you.

    I will leave tomorrow when the sun rises
    To answer a dream thatís all my own
    And whether facing surprise, joy, or despair Iíll go alone
    And though I always wanted, and you can come
    To where Iím going to,
    Tomorrow morning Iíll be gone
    And I cannot wait for you.

    Because you see this life is mine to mold or break
    Mine to fail at or see through
    And though without you Iíd not be shaped
    Into who or what I am now
    The decisions that I have to make
    Are mine to carry out
    And though I might ask you for your help
    And you might ask for mine
    We are different people you and I
    And I cannot wait for you.

    And, my loved one, how I wish weíd see eye to eye
    But thatís a dream already flown
    And we may laugh and we may cry
    But though weíre born in love, we die alone.
    I can wipe away your tears
    I can live in memory
    And you can have me all those years
    But you must set me free

    We agree to disagree or agree not to try
    I hope it will not come to that
    I hope we can make old turn new
    But if we canít move on, or our quarrels forget
    Then I cannot wait for you.

    Tonight Iíll sit here and pretend
    That this place has dawns with dew
    I long for the landscapes which in the end
    Shed their tears instead of you
    And Iím realizing that pretending does no good
    And so hidden by myself I cry
    For the losses, for all the didnít that we should
    And in this desert, deserted place
    I face what life has done and all we knew
    But someday, when all my sorrowís dried, with joy replaced
    I will not wait for you

    Whether you grow or choose to stay a bud
    Now is my time to bloom
    And in the sun and in the shade
    Oh it will be very soon
    That Iíll start to sing the song Iíve made
    That cannot wait for you.

    I say these things not to further pain
    Not to deepen the already festering wounds
    That were cut so deep so long ago
    And left our lives in stains.

    I say these things because the past is done
    And these wounds, this suffering has been spoken of
    In many ways, and many times
    Itís already come to mind, and been relived again
    And even done some good for this crazy world weíre in

    I say these things because itís time to move on
    To sing the futureís strange, inharmonious song
    The one youíve heard with all its dissonance
    And can feel thereís a chord somewhere where you belong
    Even if despite everyoneís insistance
    That itís over, youíve already missed it,
    You play the notes again, again, and never stop, and live them strong,
    You know quite well itís what youíll do
    Even if, ten thousand times, you get it wrong.

    And this I think is required
    For every human life
    Itís the perseverance they admire
    But are too afraid to want
    And this is what I strive for, live for
    And I know you do to
    So youíll understand when I say once more
    That thereís only one direction to this door
    And it wonít matter which god we each implore
    I cannot wait for you.

  • Failure... Really?

    Oh how appealing failure seems
    Once youíre no longer forced to achieve your dreams
    Sit on a beach instead, the waves rolling in
    Breathing in the clear clean salt
    Bright air crisp sand, every thought and every care
    Of what to do with this and that
    The jungled entanglement of vague world affairs
    The swamp in which you hid
    Every torn and bleeding hope
    From when you thought youíd come matured, to when you were a kid.
    All that reason to fear, taken from your hands
    As you peer out over sea and land
    Weightless now, free again.

    You dip a toe into the snow
    You sip apple cider from a can
    And dance from sunset until dawn
    Until all your weariness is gone
    And only tired joy remains
    And thereís no word you know for pain.

    And there you are, retrieved, reborn
    Young no matter what your age
    No matter how many lines etch and carve across your face
    You leap for touching beauty in this place.

    There is a song what while you plotted and planned
    Went flat, then lost the key, then went horribly amiss
    It was at the edge of that abyss when you knew you would fall
    That youíd succeed or lose it all

    That the song came pouring from your lips
    Spilling, waterfalling over all thatís parched and silent and dead
    The desert of your voice where no word was safely said

    And after falling, after failing, thereís no choice
    You can forget you did it all
    Caused the failure and the fall
    And after that, thereís nothing left to do
    But clamber in the depths of you
    And climb the highest pinnacles of earth that pierce the sky
    To find a reason and an I

    Thereóas this will take the rest of life
    Now no time remains for suffering, hardship, strategies for change
    Needs to confront losses, priorities to rearrange
    Life has become unfamiliar, strange

    Itís time to blow bubbles, fly a kite
    Skydive, burrow into a cave, run through the rain, cry and scream and love because you can
    And because you can, gaze the stars, learn from them to glow
    To never mind what you donít know

    But relearn the world inside out
    The world, it expands at your touch
    As the ice that once preserved your heart, melts and melts.

    What a failure you are, they say,
    What a disappointment to the world
    A good for nothing, useless girl
    Who threw her life away

    But theyíre wrong, theyíre wrong
    Hums in the drums, in the chorus of the song
    As you skip along a dusty road
    Winding through pines, the smell of red and yellow leaves
    And flowers in your clothes

    Someone elseís hand in yours
    Laughing for the first time in years
    Remembering not the wars and strains that every generation lives again
    But the creamy taste of fresh baked cookie you let yourself savor at breakfast
    And the vases with the gardenias
    And the dirt on your childís face and the smell of sand dune on her hair

    Moments have no room in them
    For growing older, giving up
    So you climb your favorite tree
    Make love for the first time
    Dream another dream, not yours, mine, all mine,

    And what on earth is possibly so important to understand
    To toil for, to lose yourself within, to forget you ever were
    Or could answer how youíve been without looking up the words

    What type of precision could possibly be self-made
    If it leaves you broken and craggy, like an unkempt field
    Undefined, absurd?

    What on earth could be so important that youíd ever let it trump
    Your most powerful inner truth
    With an authority of its ownÖ

    Such facts are dry and crackly, they leave you gasping for air
    Locked in conversation, subdued, alone.

    What remains for all you sought in vain to strive
    Is that buoyant radiance, shining inside out and back again
    As every inch of you comes alive

    And one thing more, as you presume to dare to live out loud--
    A great relief for finding what youíve found
    Right now, it seems, youíre just in time.

    And if failing is ever mine
    I might wander for a while
    Until I recall that sunflowers smile
    Until I recall that perhaps Iíve not failed at all
    And the world doesnít have to always be unkind
    To one who says sheís changed her mind.

  • I feel like I'm going crazy

    So, sorry in advance for the rant, but I currently can't get a hold of any friend parent, child, elder, dog, cat...get the idea, that I've ever known. It sort of sucks to only have two or three people I know here to talk to, one of them isn't here, the other isn't around. Alone isn't beginning to capture the feeling. It's taking everything I've got to stay under control. Maybe that's why I've reached the point that enough was enough, and then it kept going. So first, my cat is sick. No gory details, promise you all. I'm together enough to remember. So, I've been having to deal with it all day including washing her off with a cloth while she hissed and scratched and meowed her head off and didn't make it easier for me at all. So let's say my appetite was---wanting. Then I pulled myself together, put in a yummy looking dinner for two (left overs are the key to life) and happily rested finally while the thing cooked. So at this point it's done, I'm pretty weak because I have blood sugar issues, and I'm looking forward to eating. So what does a girl do when she's been alone for several days, has cried on her bed ten minutes straight, dealt with a massive headache, a sick cat, and tried to still get things done (including call social security which is nerveracking and ridiculous?) She apparently is so physically out of it for being so mentally determined to make it through that she runs smack into a wall and spills food all over herself and the floor. I kind of just stood there in shock for a moment. Then it dawned on me--I was terribly hungry and wasn't eating any time soon and... I now had another globby goopy mess on the floor to use my paper towels on. I shouldn't explain what my apartment smells like. Meanwhile I've wasted a meal for two people. *TWO PEOPLE!!!* Do I have another meal for two I can microwave? Yes, but there's no way in hell I'm using it now. That meal I lost was supposed to last two meals, not a waste of time and 0 meals. I've used every bowl in this place eating cereal, and don't want to have another cereal dinner (does that make it a serial cereal dinner if I did?) I need something besides carbs and milk. But the fact is, I now have totally white-sauced the pajamas and shoes I'm wearing (still wearing because goddess knows what will else happen tonight) and I kind of went from panicked to frantic to lonely as hell to abandoned and now just am experiencing this dull ache of awareness of things--my hands typing, my dog wanting a moment ago to come into my room, a song playing on the computer. I'm slowly going into that watch events go by state where I don't feel so rotten but I also stop caring. I really needed to eat that dinner I lost. Two people, you guys. I totally understand those sayings like wasting is a sin and I don't even believe in sin. With this economy, there are at least two people out there wanting a better meal and I just go and waste mine. More selfishly, in this economy, there is this particular person--myself--who can't afford to be wasting things. Damn it I payed for that and I might not be getting funding next year. It's not like anyone else could have eaten my meal. It's that I've stupidly, thoughtlessly hurt myself. I can't make a whole other meal now--I'd be too upset to eat it. Well, maybe not that upset because I'm staring into space now (blind people can do that while typing) and feel like I'm in a fantastic bubble and I could stay here for hours. I guess I'll have a pancake with a sausage in it. I don't know how my sighted assistant persuaded me to buy that. I haven't even finished my glass of water because I've had to stop everything to clean up. Fortunately i did get ahold of one friend who's willing to come by really early tomorrow morning to make sure I've cleaned up so my poor roommate doesn't come back from a stressful time visiting a grad school to find a smelly mess. The idea of her walking in and having to deal it with herself is more than I could handle thinking about. I wanted to spend the last two hours I spent picking things up, changing clothes, etc reading for my dissertation in bed, listening to calm music. I wonder how many beers the people i know online would tell me to go have at the moment. Well, no work is getting done. I've caused two much damage for one human being in one day so I'll just go to sleep and call this evening a fabulous example of a waste of time and resources. Go me! I'm not sure I really want to get up. That would ruin the bubble. People, I'm beginning to have an inkling about why someone might want to do something like drink enough to forget about current misery rather than be aware and alive enough to have it consume them before their very eyes. But definitely take my advice and don't try to dissolve yourself through not eating. It's a bit scarier. This one time, I totally hallucinated that there were two people standing in front of me. That scared me enough to get up. Right now every move I have to make to make the gears of life turn is painful. It's all got to be done to live. I'm not sure I can eat white sauce for a while. What I would give for a solid actual individual in my physical space. Is it possible for you to look out your window and see moments of nature at motion that take your breath away and still feel like you're the only one who feels as miserable as you do? Because if that's true, I need to know. And if that's true, you're not alone though that won't be much consolation I know. And if that's true, there is nowhere that you can make a better self, in that case, sometimes you simply drag yourself around your life until it starts to forget all the changes and losses and decides to participate again. It's been fifteen minutes and I haven't moved. The thought of moving my body off this chair and into the kitchen is making me think about moving--my roommate moving, we both moving on, the year moving too fast, I'm so behind. I'll either stare and stare as if I could win a struggle of control with life, by not blinking which would show giving up. Or I start crying. That would be horrible. So I'm staring. Not moving, not changing, not being--just for one more moment--just to postpone, if only briefly, the continuation of time. They have said, it is not terrible to run the wheel of the year, but to stand still, to jump off. Things that begin must end. To end the endings, you have to never have begun. You have to stop life from coming, if you are tired of it fading. Grrrrrrrr. I'm really annoyed with whoever came up with that system right now. Beyond knowing and not knowing, beyond rightness and wrongness, there lies a field. I will meet you there. It's been another ten minutes and I haven't moved. Guess I should do what is right. That field will have to wait. But I do wonder what we'll say when we get there.

  • Time for a Gratitude Check

    Sometimes we donít take notice of the good things in life, even while they are happening. Letís see if I can say this with a straight face.
    I am here in this world to learn how to love myself and others. No matter how many mistakes I make, Iím beautiful and strong. I am proud of who I am. My future is bright: I have loyal friends, I have a normal family who love me in everyway they can. I have a job and a roof over my head.
    (Not too bad, but should probably do it again tomorrow. Act as if, my soul sister always says. I do. And shall it happen? And as if it happened, if it happened, what then? Well I will find out it appears.)

    Iím celebrating the birthday of a first year in our department tonight, with lots and lots of chocolate! I deserve love, affection, to be comforted, to be heard. I listen to and love and comfort others, why am I not worthy of such things? The only one who holds the true me by the hand and sort of gleefully watches her flail around like a helpless, desperate child is myself. I was wrong, Iím sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I was wrong. Iím sorry. I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you. In other words: BhŪ mť micheart. TŠ brůn orm. TŠ grŠ agam duit. maith dom ť le do thoil. Go raibh maith agat."
    (yep, in other words, love being literal.)

    When is it okay to shed the last tears not for the seven billion I am not, but for the one I am? It is not selfish. For a second, I turn my eyes inside away from the glare of noise and lights and sirens and crying babies and dire news blaring into eyes and earsóI listen to something other than the clatter of a world begging for attention from every direction, every time and space, every joy and need. There are sunrises and sunsets, trees, pets, opportunities and friends. Somewhere beneath the surface of the self I present to the others, is a wild, fearless, determined, patient unwavering light. It glows blue and green and violet. There is still, peaceful, expectant water in a pool just below the rocks. There are places for sun and shade. There are places to be overcome with joy. There are places to lay sorrow and watch it seep away, slowly transforming into what will grow into new life. This is a place for me, all for me. I donít know what tomorrow, or next year, or the year after will hold, or why I persist in the things I do, or where my path will lead, or what being of this time and not another has fixed about the perspective I will either share or not share with other people. But in that space beyond the ordered chaos of the comings and goings of the calamity of living, I am collected like tears out of disperate rivers and there unknown destinations and coalesce that way in someoneís hand, transparent and clear, whole regardless of how many signals pulse out from that one, centered bead, and fragment into the broken information that travels trembling and unsure of itself to the outside where others can listen. If only we had ears to hear the songs of each otherís beginnings, we might not respond to love with fear. Being close would not be a burden, a burst of concessionsóI am vulnerable and human as you areóa testament to life. Aweful and awesome once shared similar meanings. The sublime is not just in nature outside us, but our own nature as well. The kind of being that inspires wonder and terror. To understand ourselves, we cross a threshold out of which nothing exits tamed. That can occur between people as well. I think this is what captures us. The enormity of ourselves. We should be grateful for it, I think. Itís all we ever are.

    "The clear bead at the center changes
    everything.
    There are no edges to my loving now.

    Youíve heard it said thereís a window
    that opens from one mind to another,

    but if thereís no wall, thereís no need
    for fitting the window, or the latch."

    Excerpted from Rumi: The Book of Love Translated by Coleman Barks

  • Yike, it's almost May!

    I was up early this morning. We thought we might go swimming, but my roommate didnít feel like it and, like with watching TV, I donít like going to the pool alone. It was a morning where the sky holds itís breath. The whispers of dawn still hung in the air, even at 7:30 am. The birds chattered cheerfully. Outside, it was a (slightly less dry than usual) seventy five degrees or so. Whatever it was, stepping outdoors felt cool, light, and comfortable. I thought about wind and rain and snow. I thought about spring breaking over large parts of the world, the way egg white might cover the back of a childís hand after breaking open the egg. The newness is pristine, as if the landscape were bathed with the glow of a newborn.

    Newness covers us, indeed. It is merely coincidence that in English, life and loss start with the same letter. It holds the truth, though. Between those two mysteries that enclose days, seasons, years, and lives separating stories from each other the way bookends do, lie the transitions. They crouch low so that you are always unsure if they are cowering like frightened children about to be caught, or else waiting with calculated patience in the shadows, preparing to do the catching themselves. Wading through thoughts, words, and ideas, moving through this experience of preparing and eventually writing a dissertation, I feel like Iím walking through thick gray mud in the underground places no one has cared to look in for a while. In the mist and midst of that exhausting wandering, I pause and realize that May will be here so, so soon. The reasons I have held it together, persisting despite the odds, despite my own feelings and fears and frustrations, will soon be gone. My two furry children could be the constancy that moves me forward into this next leg of a vary tedious journey. But I am not a fool to think that I can ask them to carry such a task: in the end, not only did I have to face the fact that Bonds was not a constant, I was the very one who let him go. A need to hold onto something solid, preferably warm, but Iíd settle for part of the natural world that is not infested with cacti, has generally been consuming me over the last two days. The description isnít much of an exaggeration. The need is like thirst, like the parched hollow dry ache of dry hot desert weather against skin that encloses mostly water. Itís been driving me mad. Iíve been trying to ignore it. After all, there is nothing to do but place a foot in front of another, settle one thought down at a time, and construct the thing Iíve been asked to make, even if I wish quite often to not be so confined in that kind of way and that I could be somewhere else. The fact that I am a rational animal prevents me from acting on impulse which is a blessing as I am very well aware of the reality of what Iíd find after trying to enact what might otherwise simply be a symbolic self declaration made way too tangible.

    Grad school sometimes feels like living in a cave. There is no way out but through it, meanwhile four walls shape the edges of your world and there is plenty of murkiness, sharp pointy chrystal things to bump into, and damp places (those would be the spots where you sat and cried.) Itís like a cave in a much more sinister way as well. It expects that whoever has come inside is ignorant and that whatever befalls you meanwhile, even if terrible, is a benevolent push toward the light of truth that comes with a degree, a chance for tenure, and a shrug. (Thanks, Plato for that eternal analogy.) For me it is also the place where I thought I could go to be born into a full-fledged philosopher, but now find I confront or am running from many, small tiny deaths instead. The deaths of thoughts, of stillborn ideas, of unrecognized and withered feelings, of forced endings to things like the love between dog and human, and now the letting go of a good friend. I havenít had many friends here. I will have fewer here next year. Sometimes I wish I could just live alone but the economy has made that decision, as well as closed the door on many others I might add. I must feed the realities of my life that grab for my attention like heedless toddlers regardless of whether I wanted to be responsible for them in the first place, regardless of the fact that I wish it were different.

    Tonight Iím going to an extatic dance event. Iím hoping to lose myself there, or perhaps find it. Iím hoping to take all those desires, all those needs that in this world remain useless and unfulfilled (unsurprisingly of course) and finally have the permission to scream them out through motion. Goddess knows that I canít let on about anything while Iím not alone hereóthat would be right now. I am calm collected okay and productive (except for those tiny details: Iím scared, longing to run, longing to make sense of where all this longing is coming from and what on earth to do about it besides what my imagination shows me to do about it. I donít want to have to start over again, at least not here. I want to start over, and no longer be looking from the outside in anymore.) Only a little more than a month leftóand then, who knows. If I actually was alone right now I might start crying, but thatís a pretty ridiculous idea right now. Iím no longer sure that changing my environment is the solution, as tempting as that isóand itís about as tempting as a chocolate cake thatís right in front of your eyes (okay, my nose maybe?) that you arenít supposed to start eating. I donít think Iíd hold out very long. But thereís a sense in which giving in wouldnít be so good for meóthe same here, outside the analogy. I am not the only one hurting. Itís possible that Iíd be just as alone elsewhere. However, Iím pretty convinced I could find a place to live with no cactus, some trees and water, and much better music. I mean, start somewhere and then reflect again, right? Itís reminding me of my brother who at eight wanted to be Jewish because they had better food and more holidays. For goodness sake why not! In a way that makes perfect sense. The best thing about it is I wouldnít have to change anything about me at all. Wow, Iím feeling a hell of a lot better. I still have no clue why it makes such a difference to me. Most people should be content with what they already have, shouldnít they?

    I should now make a reality check before things get out of handóthat would be, youíre finishing a dissertation, looking for a new roommate, and canít change a darn thing until at least next December and then not probably for many years after that. Do whateveryone else does and move on, biting bullets if you have to, do what needs doing, be good now, and stop staring into space and go work hard to get things done andÖ I scarily know how it goes! Well anyway I suppose Iím done taking the time I never had to wonder about it allÖand I should be finishing chapter 5 (global inequalities, ya think I could have picked something more uplifting maybe?)
    Rolling my eyes at myself...

  • floating

    Sometimes I like to take a concept and express how it converges many different disperate things currently going on. I landed on the floating concept. It's apt for many interesting things.

    First: I'm reading this book by Martha Nussbaum. This gave me the floating idea to begin with. In the two horrifyingly repetitive chapters I've read so far *which a philosophy colleague insists gravely misrepresent Rawls*, Nussbaum tries to put forward her capabilities view in the place of social contract views. She thinks social contract views do injustice (pun intended) to people with disabilities whereas her view does not. Setting aside exactly what she finds contentious about Rawls, for that's not important here, it strikes me that her capabilities view is like a floating candle. See, most ethical theories are grounded in something--a metaphysics about the structure or natural underpinnings of the good, or an account of human nature, or an account of pure reason, or even the attempted solidness of "God says so, and therefore, so....." Nussbaum (paraphrasing) says something like ... "assume political entitlements and a universal concept of human dignity. Therefore, the capabilities view." Even with her admonitions that her view is incomplete and minimal as a political theory, I can't fathom how it can be incomplete in the sense that it rests on mere assumptions and hoped for postulates about what human beings are willing and able to conceive. She never says what dignity is or why we're entitled to things at all. I mean, ask a Kantian and dignity is grounded in practical rationality, specifically defined. Ask an Aristotelian, and human dignity meaning inviolability hasn't crossed his radar screen. Dignity could just as easily be tied to honor, or mere sentience for some people. Nowhere has it ever been suggested or shown that we have "a conception of dignity" and to make matters worse, Nussbaum doesn't even attempt to ground her theory in any account of human nature (wanting it to be pluralistic and able to be adopted by all nations, and all sorts of grandiose reasons that don't seem great enough to forgo having a sound theoretical foundation.) The U.S. still hasn't ratified the declaration on the rights of the child. Query that nations, with all their gnarly histories and ways of treating or not treating people will take to Nussbaum's suggestions as if it's the long lost solution to getting along with marginalized people and other nations alike seems a waste of time. I've seen enough to think it's really really a waste of time. So if it's better odds that there's a tooth fairie than that her capabilities view will be adopted around the world, why does she risk the potential theoretical catastrophe that awaits any account that has nothing to say about personhood, or less specifically, fails to justify itself? It's as if she has built a house and set it afloat on a lake. The house might be brilliant, beautiful, intricate...but I can't think of anyone who would place large odds on it staying upright for any given length of time. This is why I'm not even making an island analogy here...because islands, though on their own in one sense, are as grounded on other land masses as anything else. You can't build a theory on unjustified postulates, just as you can't put up a tent on a windy day without staking it down and expect it to not blow away. Her ideas just float there, uncentered, ungrounded.

    Second, I've been doing quite a bit of floating unfortunately. We are swwitching subjects--I've found that is something I actually have to say, so it's happening. I've been on Match for a while and there's three people I've gone out with. I've never had such an experience before, and it's left me ungrounded, as if I'm held up somewhere between the three, not attached to any of them but going around and around, like a light something in an eddie. Then there is the feeling of drifting around in my dissertation topic with no good hold on what to say. I can see some of where I need to land, but am utterly unclear on how to get there. I have dreams that dot themselves along a lifeline so out in the future they would be unreachable if I went to touch them: they blink like Alpha Centauri stars whenever I despair over my current situation and take out the hope telescope and pier far beyond what even the horizon's eyes can see. The identity I have constructed for myself is grounded in a past so bricked-over with the stories of ages and both undisputable and paper thin, I at once know, and do not know, what it all took for me to have this present moment. The present flies by unceasingly while I have yet to answer my questions. The future stretches out like an ocean, deep and vivid and wild, in constant motion, with a beauty that is as much the desire for new dreams as the fear they may not happen, or the greater fear that they will. In either case, without a strong purpose to adhere myself to, the labels that might seem to hold some reassurance since they have some direction or other are relatively thin and conventional, and I think about all the groups and subgroups I belong to and how any number of their members are fighting over who is and is not counted among them and close my eyes and wish such things never mattered to anyone, anywhere. An identity built firmly on the structures so conveniently out there to hold onto, to not be swept away underfoot, be remembered as a number, (the 1 in the 1% who...) no, if you firmly exist in the world your identity has to be firmly grounded in yourself. Insofar as I have yet to take root within my own boundaries, unsure why I am here, what I must do, whether I have the courage to follow through on even the smallest of not so small dreams, I continue floating. The key is to know for certain that my dreams, my place, who I think I am, is really mine, and not a projection of someone else's ideas or not a projection of my own wishful thinking for a life I cannot occupy. It's a question that's very, very loosely connected to personhood. What is strong enough to ground us, or to ground theories of us? Without the foundation, there is no way to take hold, to grow, to be solid in what you stand for or who you are or what you need or hope to be. I wish, in all such cases, I knew the answers to these things. It would make writing my dissertation much easier, less daunting. It would make me feel much better about myself---finally I could stop casting my eyes about in a frantic ernestness that only the parts of me I don't wish to talk to know anything of the reasons for, and be relieved that whatever else happens, I've found a place to land and I know what I'm about. That would be really terrific actually.

  • Parents

    "Simple Love," by Orla Fallan from "Distant Shore."
    (fanciful in my case: but maybe I can create it later for myself.)

    The word "parent" shows up in "apparently." I suppose in one way or another we all have two parents. Maybe some people know neither of them or just one of them, but two people had to have made you, wouldn't they? What happens when you have parents in your life that you can't rely on to fulfill the role. No matter how hard you try, or think you know them, it is still the case that you can't tell them or ask them anything a normal parent would want to be involved with.

    I guess there's two main lines of thought running through my head. First, talking to my dad is like talking to a ..... rock. Maybe more like a post because rocks are semiresponsive if you know how to relate. Beside the point. I'm writing my dissertation on something I can't soundbite yet, but it has to do with human nature, virtue, human dignity, and disability. "Oh good you can write about something cathartic for you, the same way your mom wrote about trauma," my dad says. I don't know why I don't just ignore him. I usually do. It was of course that he called when I was tired and hadn't eaten dinner yet. Equip with some nifty twelve-year-old mentality phrases I read about online lately something like "ya fecking idiot" ran through my mind while I simply said something like "stop belittling my mom and I that way," which would have been as effective as screaming at a tidal wave to "just slow down already!" Anger is lost on him. Would you be angry with an infant for crying? Bad analogy: you would sometimes and because that's true people like me lose our vision and often much much more because of senseless unleashing of rage at helpless infants which is in fact what led to my mom's dissertation. But between my parents (whose anger, differences, competition, and whatever other imprudent and immoral goingson were enough to break up a marriage) I've seen enough of how anger can change a person. How my dad is so empathically impaired that I had to end that dreadful conversation with "Sure I'd love to talk to you tomorrow as long as you promise me we won't talk about anything important." The truth is, no matter how good I am at ignoring his lack of emotional intelligence (usually) and view his insensitive sometimes cruel comments with detachment as best I can, the way I imagine responding to someone with Terrett's syndrome, it always hurts somewhere that I can't ever rely on him as a father. I can't tell him about my dreams for the future--he will tear them apart before they are even born, and I will be left picking up broken seeds in tears. I can't tell him about the men I am meeting in my life, because his advice circles back on him all the time and I face it, advice from a man whose had multiple affairs is no advice at all. My anger directs itself on him, in his space, takes shape at him, and lands against him always with a dull hollow thud reminding me, long after I've expended the energy, that he is as receptive to my feelings as a hollow log. Any empathic person in there...nope.

    I've been lucky that my mom has emotional sense and sensitivity. I've been lucky that no matter her other faults, she acts much more like a normal human being and shares her own feelings as well as listens to mine. This week my mom has also been angry. Her reasons are hers, and remain with her that way. But her anger has other consequences. She is not angry at me now, or even my brothers or my dad. And yet the trend--possibly going through a bottle of wine--I can't be sure on the other side of the phone, the trend is to drown herself or forget herself in escaping all that hurt and empathy. If she's like me, she probably has more empathy than there is air in the sky and it often can fill me until breathing in my own space is impossible--until I cannot recall whose emotions I am really feeling. She has a right to be angry. I'm annoyed she fills all the stereotypes though. It just really bothers me, and anyway when she gets however she is, for whatever reason, ceasing to make logical sense things turn bad and we talk past each other and then start arguing. With her, part of me doesn't place any blame on what she does and why. I only wish, I suppose, that we could be more like Sue and Anne Kidd. That is, we could have activities in common, like the same things, want to travel to the same places together, share ourselves in a way that we do and cannot. I imagine her suddenly likeing philosophy so we can have interesting discussions together. I imagine her wanting, even slightly, to learn Gaelic with me so we can share mother-daughter moments and challenge ourselves and each other and have fun together. Sometimes I wish fervently that I loved plants, that I could do something with them besides inevitably making them die, so that we could work in gardens together when I'm home and talk about plant names. I wish she'd be a little more adventurous and when we are both through with what has hold of us now for the next two years or so, she'd want to come with me when I want to travel around the world. It's not like we have money for it...but I have passion about it and think that will be enough to get me being creative to get what I dream to happen. I'm sad that I don't know all her dreams, but I know enough to know that they are not mine. And someday I will stand at a crossroad and decide, not for permanence but for a time, whether to stay near her or pursue the things I can't live without doing. And I know what I will decide. And I know I will ask her to come with me and she won't. And I know that with respect to traveling with her, I will be alone. I have seen these things already. I read about Sue and Anne experiencing places together. It is a poignant, not exactly joyful but at least shared, journey into other places that leads them into themselves. If half my mom's heart was in it, or half her confidence or whatever, maybe we could travel together and find not just places, but parts of ourselves. But if this were so, she would at least support my decisions to go where I need to and not try to insist that I can't choose where I want to live. Maybe for financial reasons I'll be forced to decide otherwise, but I'm not changing my mind because she says so. Goodness, doesn't she know that just makes me more adamant anyway and I can't help being stubborn--maybe I can but don't want to, recalcitrantly.

    I don't need to say more now. I have too much to say, and no one likes to read anything that goes on two long. Maybe the Kidd mother-daughter bonding thing is a chimera, that would be heartbreaking, but at least it would still serve as a good exemplary model of what I wish we had and do not. The American dream, or so the fiction goes--to be master of your destiny, to individualize to the point of self-sufficiency, to stand alone, stand tall, and do so joyfully, to strike out a path alone, to draw your own, unique, unrepeatable trajectory into the sands of time only to have it disappear piece by piece as the end of life draws near. All the while you are entitled to watch proudly and exclaim, I did that! I feel absurd as it is that I am alone like that in many respects. Apparently, my dad is supposed to be there for me in ways he never has. Apparently lately I long to have a relationship with my mom that is impossible to create because it's foundations do not exist. What as a parent will I give my children so that they can stand firm on something grounding and solid, and from there grow as they must?

    Last night I drempt I had a two-month-old baby boy. His name was Sean Rian (there was no way in the world I'd put a Y in his name!) and at one point he started fussing and I brought him inside my small little house to the back room to change him. My dad was there. He helped me change diapers because, well, although I'd had the baby for two months I was dreaming it so I had about as much knowledge as I do in real life which is none at all. He (dad) looked up and said "Isn't it beautiful, Liz, you have this wonderful two-month-old boy." And I smiled and put a passifyer in the baby's mouth because he started fussing. And I thought, how strange, my dad of waking life would never be here helping to change diapers and congratulating me on my choice to take six months maternity leave to have a son. Then I woke up.

  • It's Raining!!

    I'm really excited right now. It actually got cold today and tonight it started to rain. It's fantastic to have water around that's not in a swimming pool or coming out of a faucet. I always imagine the desert landscape slowly soaking up the water, like a parched dehydrated person might slowly begin to revitalize. It'll get rid of all the ridiculous dust the wind's been picking up. It's actually beautiful outside, really beautiful, and I can't say that often about deserts. Yay!!! (grin.)
    (I promised someone I'd add lots of exclamations and smileys to this post, so I did.)

  • Thoughts from Two Wednesdays Ago

    At the moment, Ayla (that's my fantastic cat) is being absolutely adorable. Sheís curled up on my lap purring and her head is on my arm and sheís fantastically cute.

    Speaking of cute, thereís someone I keep wanting to write me and havenít heard from. Grrrrr.

    I like animals. They show me often that life is simpler than it looks. Maybe theyíre right. Today was terrible. This morning was terrible. I hate being irresponsible, even if I couldnít help most of it. Why besides that would I be sad right now? Iíve been doing my reading, going on fun dates, writing people in Gaelic which Iíve been wanting to do for a while. So most of the time life is going really well. Itís a gorgeous day outside. Ayla is still curled up ĖI love that girl so much. Iíve talked to S and T on the phone this week and havenít heard from either of them in so long. Itís spring break now. I have all the time in the world to work on my dissertation, get past part 2 of gwerse 10 (I at least got past part 1 finally!) and have some fun.

    On the other hand, my room mateís leaving in May. Newness is exciting and not that exciting. I also still havenít seen our gta assignment call for fall 2011. I shouldnít be so worried. Iím darn lucky, right? I have an apartment and furry little ones and can eat everyday and I can go inside and not be too hot or too cold and I have clothes that fit and if Iím really lucky I could get a ph.d.

    Iíve been wanting to put a gratitude sheet on my wall to remind myself that everything has a perspective.

    Iím struck by how poignant it is to be thinking like this, with perspectives. I didnít grow up worrying if Iíd have enough. Iím on my own now,though. True, Iíve been doing all right by myself so far. But Iím doing so many things, and a lot of them arenít school related. When I think about what I want to do in my life, I start to doubt that Iím any good at philosophy. After all, I donít have the pluralist cool economic perspective that the political people have and yet I still want to do ethics. Whatís scarier is that I want to do other things too. I want to see the world, I want to maybe attend a creative writing program for a year or two. I want to take a Gaelic class at the U of A in the fall so I can learn more systematically and really so I can have people around to talk to in person. I want to finish this druid course and give myself permission to do that. Eventually I want to be married and have a family (so fall-back stereotypical and not what a modern academic woman should want, I hear them all saying.) I wake up in the middle of the night asking, why? Why would a philosopher want all these other things. Why would I care about other projects so strongly and then devote my life to other theoretical questions that are exciting but not the whole of living? The key question is, shouldnít I be content with what I have? There are people in fairly industrialized countries right now who probably praise some god every day that they even have a job. They donít waste time with what else they could be doing, or with thinking about how they donít like the job, or what they really wanted to do for a living. They just live because that feeds the children and themselves. Comparatively, Iím just this stupid spoiled brat who has the luxury to whine about anything at all. Of course nowadays there are tons of people in any country, even right here in Tucson (well, that doesnít surprise me) who arenít well off at all. So if I donít get funding Iíll end up taking out loans and nothing I ďreallyĒ want to do makes a lot of money. Anything I want to do takes some money. So I am left with, abandon all plans that donít involve the highest incomes. Then I watch all the dreams die. And then, as they float away, I am oddly not sad: because sacrifices and survival are inextricably linked and if youíve worked with or near nature at all, youíd see the green buds popping playfully out of the ground and the dying things seaping back into the ground. Then youíd see that growth involves dying a little each day. Then youíd realize that life is as morbid as you feared, and as beautiful as you hoped it would be. Youíd know about the necessity of being born and of being scattered and blown away like leaves in the dust. It is very easy to not fear dying. It is almost second nature to let go. It is also almost second nature to hold on, to live, and the funny thing about that is that when you are determined not to die or go under or surrender or leave the things, the people, whatever you love, you can only be successful by being okay with endings, with things falling away.

    So I look at this stark desert landscape where I donít want to be, and think about those who canít ever choose what kind of environment they want to live in so the question never comes up and they never consider that it might be better elsewhere. I think about how survival is parched and sparce like that, the skeleton of a life. Usually itís internal to a person and her life, but when times get hard survival becomes a bit exoskeletal I think. We kind of get crab-like. All the hard stuff on the inside, and anything that could be ripped away stored safely so deep within us that we fear, after a while, that it is gone and we wonít find it again.

    So I continue to ask why. I should: 1. be practical, 2. Only focus on my dissertation, and forget about everything else so I can finish as quickly as possible, 3. Decide once and for all to be the good little girl/woman/human and stick to the path I chose at 22 because isnít that the path Iím on? 4. Never consider what could have been/might be if, not just what I could have done differently but what I would do differently in the future, after now. Get the teaching job. Swallow the ďIím not scared that Iím really bad at thisĒ pill so I feel great about myself doing this and then 5. Are we on five? Wel, make sure to stay rational, undreamy, sensible, and realistic. The world out there is hard. Aspirations beyond paths that other people have already cut out for you to travel are off limits. You know the little kid toys that have marbles on wires and you pull the marbles around hoops and loops and such until they reach the other end of the wire? Thatís what you have to do. Stay on the course. None of those marbles can jump to the wire next to them with the marbles over there. So you act like your life is that deterministic and go the way you are expected to go and donít whine about it or the three fates will slap you around. Or at least this is how Iím seeing it at the moment. Because longing for things to be different, not necessarily right now but in the future, wanting something else, more, for myself, that is something a person with unlimited opportunities could dare to want. That person and myself no longer share the same body. Itís not like that anymore. So I change accordingly.

    And whenever this line of thought goes through my mind, Iím sort of struck with an odd sense of horror and canít shake it off. And I think about great great grandmothers and want to fuck the system and follow my dreams because, damn it they did everything for people like me! And I think about the standard rational socially acceptable rules and I cringe from ever having thought to jump off them onto another course which, I admit, could be silly and I want to know who that crazy girl is who ever thought it was a good idea to get off the beaten path. Then there is the part of me who sincerely believes that there are some things that, if you donít do them, youíll spend youíre whole life having periodic relapses into ďWhat ifÖĒ and ďWhy did I notÖĒ and ďif only IídÖĒ. I wonder when you should forget about other peopleís expectations and go with the ďI donít want to die asking what if,Ē line of thought and just do those crazy things that you couldnít explain to a fellow philosopher if youíd tried. When is that choice dangerous and terrible, and when is it absolutely necessary, and how do you tell dreamers to stop dreaming. I bet theyíre still dreaming, even while dying.

    I would not be scared to let go. Iíd be worse than scared. I'd go ahead and take the chance while my rational self isn't looking. I donít know why I am passionate about the things Iím passionate about, and sometimes I donít know where itís all coming from in the first place. But if I let go, that would drain away as if the passion stopped up a whole on me made by some crazy wound at some point and if I take that away all the blood will drain out of my body so I look lifeless and limp from misappropriated living.

    Itís so much easier for people who know what they want and always have.. I thought that was me, too, once. Being wrong about that has made me realize Iím much more of an interesting person. Itís also paralyzed some part of my brain, the part that makes decisions and canít believe Iím not in the category of people who have always known what they wanted to do, to be. So I wake myself up with the question, ďwhy?Ē which is asked for all sorts of reasons. And I canít stand being divided about it, but the ďWhy donít you just do it all,Ē or ďJust tell yourself to like all of yourself and be done with it already,Ē or ďare you kidding, that happened in your childhood get over it,Ē or ďall you have to do is realize that all the divided parts of yourself are yourself so just be yourself and you wonít have any problems,Ē well these seem to me to be stupid or at least really ignorant/misguided things to say. It all misses the point. Which is why, I suppose, I understand why groups of people can act like parts of selves do. Nothing is ever easy, youíre born to survive, youíre not scared in the least about dying, you want to change but doing what youíve always done is the thing that always looks like the best, rational, practical solution. Youíd rather be broken then wholely isolated. Does it have to be that way for individual people though. Why? Why? And I think about what it would be to really make changes to acknowledge things are shifting, and I realize I wouldnít be able to go back, and the uncertainty of ďwhat if thatís a mistake too,Ē keeps me guessing until the day ends. Then I wake up wondering why, why. I wonder if happiness really is, as positive psychologists think at the moment, living a risk free life. I wonder what it would feel like to live on your own terms. I wonder exactly what it would be that Iíd do if I had every option in the world. Then I realize, I still donít know. I donít know because I never took the chance, never tried, never went beyond what is only expected. Then I wonder, is it okay to not know and try anyway?

    Ayla is still on my lap purring and being adorable. I love that girl. Going back now to whatís actually important, whatís going on right now. There are these times to step back and wonder, and then there's papers to grade, dishes to wash, friends to laugh with, years to go by before I really find out what is possible or was only a dream I cannot follow.

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