i see a boundary, i eat a boundary
My children’s first year at school together, come and gone. Not much fanfare after all; I brought out some homemade food on the last day of class – simply to be relevant, to impress upon the children there that their time is honored, that we do indeed see them and love them. And yes, I am glad to be there if only for this brief hour. The food in hand: deviled eggs and pretzel sticks, the eggs created in my kitchen only the half hour before. I carry the parcel to a few other classrooms, teachers. My footfalls are weary but I’m glad to ghost about the hall and experience the privacy of my thoughts.
The edifice, the institution, the classroom, is as it always has been now that I’m an adult: a bit dirty, small-minded, housing implausibly-cheerful young citizens and adults paid a wage for honorable work. My throat constricts and my heart thunders with hope, and despair. My children are happy – everyone seems to be! – but I am ambivalent, an experience that will follow me the rest of the day.
And I am distracted. Our grocery reserves are limited to a bit of folding money in my pocket, and we are paid Thursday next. But even this is familiar, an adventure. Only distressing if I decide it is. Instead: it just means on our last school roadtrip I text my husband to send me coupons for take-and-bake pizza; I think of what we have in the fridge, and of when in the next week or so I can reasonably set up something special for the kids. They have, after all, completed a year on their own steam.
Driving home I know the car full of children – four in all – are feeling joy, and sadness, and a since of pulsing life. Even now today’s memories are blooming in their chest, to be touched upon lightly in years to come. Music and singing, the wind through our hair, the sunshine painting the winding road flanking the Wishkah river. They can afford to let the moment come and pass, while it lives wretched and sublime through my body, manifested in my fingers resting on the steering wheel, tapping out a rhythm more cheerful than I feel.
Summer, then. And already my son is half-feral: he has plans to do his banking – he packs his stamped-leather piggy bank in my car and is querulous I don’t make the time to stop at his branch. He tells me he will stay a week at a friends’, someone he hardly knows. His summer tan returns seemingly overnight, his hair lightens from honey into an earnest, bedeviled blonde. He is outside and running the neighborhood as much as we let him; home, he cooks meals at late hours, and tries to take a bowl of soup to eat in his bed, although perhaps I have scolded the children for this kind of thing hundreds of times. He painstakingly arranges his most treasured effects in the many small wooden boxes and metal-clasped receptacles he’s squirreled away over the years. In one such repository: miniature Lego pieces, a geode, a key, foreign currency, fossilized sharks’ teeth, and nondescript rocks imbuing a meaning known only to he. “I wish I could keep your heart inside,” he says – then, with a quick glance lest I misunderstand, amends his statement to mean my soul, my spirit, not my anatomical heart.
He tells me he will forgo school next year – but who can tell? This time last year, we had no hint he’d want to attend, and we wouldn’t have predicted how that would go in any case.
I have a leadership role in my household. This is evident to anyone who knows our family. This is something we four know. Yet in so many ways I am blind and striking out, making way in hostile, confusing terrain so the family can grow into themselves. They thrive in confidence in this shadow, lush and verdant greenery twining in the loamy darkness, growing strong. They fall asleep easily while at night I am prone to anxiety.
And tonight – as evening falls, sitting on our couch with my legs folded underneath my body – I talk with my husband. I speak of the disappointment and sadness I feel to watch so many I know, falter in their spiritual path. I speak of Doubt, which is so much harder for me than Fear. A mirage of illusion. “There are a small number of people I have found to be faithful,” I tell him. “You’re one of those people -” I say, and turn my head strategically for just a beat, to let this pass, before I complete my thought.
I am glad of their faith because, if I cannot always be happy, be sure, they are still the best thing to have come along, to awaken me to something beyond my own machinations and limited understanding.Read More
A few days ago I was suddenly struck with the knowledge I had to, had to, get to sewing some swimsuits. In fact, I have this silly little dream of running a little web-thingy whereby people donate the funds for materials, and I make up amazing custom swimwear for young women who are otherwise without a kick-ass summer suit. Like, I’d like to make suits like this for EVERY young woman who wants one! Body image issues are rubbish and a custom suit goes a long way to demolishing them for the season.
But – for now, I’ll concentrate on making suits for family & friends.
First up: skulls and lightning. Because, OF COURSE. A (to my taste) seventies-inspired suit with a surplice bodice.Read More
Today, alas, is our final day of sew-a-long. We will be constructing the side seams, hems, waistband, and belt carriers. And while today is certainly image-heavy, it’s a piece of cake. Not to mention I have a few tricks up my sleeve with that waistband that will probably influence every waistband you sew!
Life is confusing. I was going to wait to share my feelings, wait for things to be less disturbed, but it hasn’t been happening. Life continues to confuse me. I put a step in front of the other, and make my way around the sharp rocks. I don’t stumble, I don’t put out my hand to averse affect. I do not feel a falseness to the path, but I am lost.
Life seems to be smaller, somehow. I have a social life, and a busy one. It isn’t a joyless life. But nevertheless I am somewhat diminished, particularly with regards to human contact. It isn’t just my imagination, as I have a special type of journal that reveals my activities, contracts, and experiences from previous years.
As of the last year, or so: I am receiving fewer requests for paid work. I receive requests often enough – but few actual pieces are commissioned and completed to mutual satisfaction, as most who ask are not serious about the whole business. I have at least, learned to spend my time well on this record. I am receiving fewer comments on my online writings – in all the places I write (there are many, and many you here are not aware of). Fewer donations through my blog, and a damn sight fewer emails. I reach out, but the reciprocal is rare.
You can imagine how wonderful it is when someone asks after me, or writes me!
It is wonderful to be alive, but it is easy to suddenly experience isolation. It is the oddest experience, and not entirely comfortable. I know it is temporary, but nevertheless I stumble.
Sometimes I think people mistake my Buddhist practice as one of self-sufficiency. Buddhism and self-sufficiency don’t go together at all, of course. (and yet they do!)
I have fear. I used to think I had mastered fear; now I know I never will. Today while reading North & South (listening to it, rather – via podcast/audiobook), and contemplating Bessy Higgins’ plight, I was suddenly overcome with concern for my daughter. Her lungs aren’t well and people really do get very ill from this sort of thing. We haven’t sorted it all out, and it’s all new to me, and not comfortable whatsoever. There isn’t really much that can be done to help me feel more comfortable – there is no remedy, nothing I can buy or work I can do.
The whole business makes it quite an effort to complete my requisite tasks, to care for myself and others, and to keep up the effort. It is like speaking into a well, a vast and dark space. Waiting for an echo and none returns. Am I to shout? To grow more bold? Or to look into the deep dark and feel the fear, wash over me like the damp creep, the gloaming, the mysteries that are never known but rather chased away by sunlight and bits of flame and the day’s distraction.
The sun outside is a pleasant companion; it warms my house and in the morning I go through a routine, opening as many windows as I can easily,
and keeping curtains closed such that we remain cool.Read More
The sun is banging against the blinds in our very small bathroom – one of my favorite rooms in our house. Outside I can hear my daughter; she shifts the vacuum hose to the back seat of my car, to complete her task cleaning it. At the moment my ears focus on her she pauses and coughs, coughs, coughs, a wretched, wracking symphony. In that moment I suddenly realize that, given her asthmatic flare-ups lately, she should not be charged with household duties that are dusty or otherwise might exacerbate her condition.
It would be easy to feel so terrible – #parentingFail, and not just mine – but instead, I have clarity: “I’ve never had a child with asthma before!” I’ve not had asthma, nor lived with anyone who has. Of course, I make mistakes.
As Rose Tremain said – “Life is not a dress rehearsal!” I can’t know how to do things I don’t know how to do.
The very thought humbles me, gives me some thread of courage, as we move into a new season in our life – that of putting our affairs in order to buy a house. As pertains to my child’s illness, the medical bills – which I’d almost paid off a few months ago – have piled up. But there is a satisfaction to be had. My own health continues to hold. It has been almost half a year since I needed a treatment for my kidneys. I am very grateful for that. I have regularly paid on the other bills, so they do not hurt our credit history.
My mind has been consumed lately with bouts of what the Buddhist practice names Ill-Will – one of the Five Hindrances. I trust it won’t bore you very much if I don’t go on at length about the Hindrances and what they are – except to describe the symptoms of this particular branch. Like a fever in the mind, of thought. Distracting, and unpleasant: assuming the worst about people. Hoping bad things befall “enemies” (those who one minute I’m perfectly fine with – the next, have crossed me in some real or imagined way). Experiencing envy for those who seem to have things easier than I. Wishing I had more help. Believing I should ask. Experiencing shame if I do. Feeling angry if I don’t receive the help I think I “deserve”.
The list goes on. Like a fugue, like a fever in the night.
Ill-Will has invaded my mind lately, a flu that leaves me weak and tired. I have some thoughts as to why I have been thus afflicted – but it doesn’t matter much, does it? I tolerate these thoughts and the emotions that come with them, and I gently turn away from them. I suffer patiently and I exercise restraint in not acting on these fantasies – not saying the sarcastic thing, not practicing poor citizenship. I greet people and breathe deep and try to “show up” for the things I should.
It has been a struggle. As much as I have many to help me, my walk is still my own. Today in my kitchen my heart was flooded with fear – and I looked on my windowsill, the green and growing things I caretake and the blessed idol there – and I took refuge, and my heart grew strong again.
Playing badminton in the backyard, the net with a hole in it, one stake made of some kind of plastic tubing and one of wood. Our life can look so shabby at times. The openness and laughter of my children reminds me the future is not my past.Read More
You mastered the button fly! Today? Things are a little easier. Just a couple back pockets and a yoke. The easiest installment in our journey. Chillaxin’.
Great job on your front pockets! today? We are talking the button fly! This might be the trickiest part of the jean: but it’s pretty easy when you break it down point-by-point. My button fly method is also beautiful – go ahead and peek inside designer jeans and compare. I dare ya!