Monday, October 22, 2012

Sleepy little face with the glow of dreams still clinging, strong round limbs so quick to explore, wide eyes that see and love: I love you.

Downy head, golden copper hair floating in the breeze: I love you.

Questing finger, never taking no as an answer: I love you.

Restless night-time body, flopping here and rolling there, disturbing my sleep and my dreams: I love you.

Little lover of music--arms waving, compact body bouncing, sweet voice uplifted in joyful participation: I love you.

Small daughter, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh: I love you.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Belonging

We all feel the almost unbearable urge to fit in somehow, to pull together the fringes of the world into place around us in the shape of family, friends, job, entertainment, clothing. We also have a sense that this is a symptom of the herd mentality and to be scorned, a shame which causes us to apply and reject the labels so frequently used: hipster, ghetto, nerd. But it is a universal necessity to belong. We seek esteem of whatever qualities in us we deem estimable--a hair cut, our ability with computers, holiness like a patched and shredded garment. Who we are often cannot stand alone. And I'm not sure it should. Fellowship is the basic emotional/spiritual need, the cry that goes deeper than Maslow's hierarchy.

See how we shift the upholstery of our souls? How this one assumes the skinny jean/shipster look and that one the pencil skirt/intelligentsia look--changing the upholstery, and sometimes the attitudes, that cover the still-beating heart and blood.

So in this sense we are shallow creatures, changeable, malleable. Ready to give up one skin for another, assuming actions, mannerisms, thought patterns like chameleons. But in another way we are sublime for this trait, for we recognize the trappings which seem to us admirable and pursue them, and our souls achieve a momentary apotheosis. It will not last, but the transformation has made us divine for a moment. It has also brought us one step closer to other souls--we have reached out of the forsaken splendor of our own souls and into the territory of another spirit.

Fellowship. The urge to belong. Part of the human condition, the splendor and the squalor.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Abstraction

What does it mean to dream?

What is a dream? Lying within and sparking to life at a single thought--this is a dream. Latent, slumbering, essential, the vision that, though unformed, seems to bring with it the path of life--this is a dream. From youth an inner hunger that cannot die, though denied and starved through a lifetime of duty--this is a dream.

It can be ambiguous or specific. It can be many-faceted or single-faced, obsessive. It can surface differently at different times of life--a painful yearning for somewhere else now and a desperate need to travel to Ireland later--but it is always within the diamond casket of your soul, burning and burning to escape and breathe, to grow and lick away at the false structure of life with its ravenous beautiful flames.

It is fire in the blood. It is night with a single star. It is the innocent breeze on your cheek. It is all this, and it is nothing. It is inescapable and easy to ignore.

What does it mean to dream?

Without a dream you are nothing. With a dream sometimes you are nothing, too, because a dream carries with it the dull knowledge that no matter how hard you strive you can never fully live it out, you will never find the perfect representation of that vision that seeks expression within your heart.

But with a dream you are everything, because you are living on all cylinders. You are striving toward something beyond, and you are choosing every moment to seek until you find. Whether your dream is travel, or education, or business, or photography, or wine, or cathedrals, or color, once you step into the cascade you join the River of Life and become truly alive for those moments. You swim in the sea of mystery. You breathe deep the air of freedom.

What does it mean to dream?

It means you never stop facing yourself with brutal honesty. You admit laziness, pain, bitterness, incompetency, and you go on. You make yourself room to fail, and you succeed. You strike out into the unknown without the assurance of salvation. You fail at explaining yourself to others but you still keep trying.

This is what it means to dream, a little.


What does it mean to you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Endless


Endless. Horizon stretching unbearable, blues shading into greens, teals, purples--white snow sharp against misty prospect.

How did we get here, to the eagle-sight of Oregon, to the clean air that fills us like wine and sweeps through us like water? Do invisible ties bind us to the sultry heat of Missouri, where crops wither and folks take shelter? As we stand on the snow and our feet sink into the icy crystals, as we clutch each other for balance and laugh in startled delight, do our souls ascend to the heavens, since we're so much closer now?

The faces we've basked in--those behind us engaging in post-wedding revelry, those of family familiar to us in their sorrow and their joy, those of new companions of the road--fill our hearts now, papering the walls of our internal rooms with mystery. We are the product of all that has come before--we are ancient, we are infants. We dance in the freedom of life and we bend under the weight of experience.

At the summit of Mt. Hood, we pause for a family picture. Sublimity and prosaic reality intersect. Life eddies and swirls around us. We breath. We exist.

We are endless.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Companionship of the Road

We drove today for endless hours across South Dakota's wide-spread hills and plateaus, the throaty sound of motorcycles roaring by, the sky soft with dappling clouds. We hit the border during the Sturgis festival so surrounding us at all times (hemming us in, shooting amused and hostile glances at us, and alternately passing then holding us back) were tanned, tough-looking bikers. We thought of our friends who'd give a tailpipe to be here, and fretted against the traffic.

Eire has done well on this trip, riding for over 7,300 miles with aplomb. Sometimes we can just hear her saying "Boring, boring" and sometimes we hear nothing because her toys--gangly Mr. Giraffe, spiny purple Fishy-Ball, or Millie the Worm--absorb her interest. Or we hear her plopping her pacifier in and out of her perfect mouth, gnawing on her thumb, or sucking on her arm.

We fill our time with gawking at the lovely scenery--the craggy majesty of the Mission mountains, the bleak plateaus of Wyoming, the lush Columbia River Gorge, and take turns pointing out bumper stickers (like my favorite today, "Where the HELL is Wall Drug?"), dilapidated buildings, interesting people, and unique vehicles. We read out loud--or rather, I do, since Michael's driven all but fifteen minutes of the six weeks--from short stories, or poetry, or "The Picture of Dorian Grey." We listen to music ranging from Tool to Dylan to Oscar Carcamo. We share visions and dreams. We argue, and make up.


This is the companionship of the road in the McIntyre family. Living in our truck, sleeping in campgrounds and parking lots and loved ones's homes, we have made our way across the country from Missouri to the west coast and back again. Tonight, in Sioux Falls, just six hours away from home and all we hold sacred, I am filled with the crazy conflict that comes with saying goodbye to a chapter in my life and hello to the next. I will miss the quiet morning miles, the coffee kedged from shops ranging from awful to astounding, and the knowledge that anything can happen and probably will.

Tomorrow we pull into Kansas City and plunge back into life. In one way it will be as if it hever changed--the waters of life will part and close over our heads and we will be back in our accustomed places, among familiar faces. But in another way it will be different, because we are different. We have been changed subtly, in increments, by the people and the places we have met along the way, by the challenges and the comforts, by the wisdom of learning more about ourselves and each other.

I am eager and reluctant, joyful and grieved. In this paradox of life I willingly step forward. Greetings Kansas City. Goodbye everywhere else--we'll return someday, not so long from now.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Couple Weeks in the Life of a 3-Month-Old

we...

thought deep thoughts on Daddy's lap

met and loved aunt allie

wore an awesome sundress and visited the coffee shop

pulled some shots with daddy
got a bumbo chair (which means we can sit by ourselves)

listened to daddy play bouzouki

visited uncle kevin and pat



ate mexican with grandma and grandpa

looked at a lake

and went to mommy's favorite thai restaurant

they were good weeks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review... The Somnambulist

image source
This book is written with a delightful vocabulary and a marvelous appreciation of prose. Each sentence seems crafted with care and is a joy to read. In Jonathan Barnes's debut novel, the Victorian detective story is brought to a beautiful stylistic level. 


That said, I found that several aspects of the book did not deliver as promised. The style was self-conscious, the point of view occasionally shifting without reason, and the unreliable narrator--when revealed--unlikeable and rather uninteresting. In addition, there is much to-do about the wickedness in the book, but the overall impression is just muddiness, the complete plot is exceptionally thin, and the title character, The Somnambulist, has not even a crucial role in the plot. Nothing more is known about him at the end than the beginning. There are hints that he is the soul of London, slumbering beneath to rise again when salvation is needed, but the reader is left confused as to why--other than for a snappy title--the book is called The Somnambulist.


Edward Moon, a fading magician, is introduced as the protagonist, but there is little about him to care for or even to revile. In fact, the most loveable/interesting of the characters is the grotesquely fat Fiend, whose origins are only barely hinted at. There is much left unwritten in this book, which leaves the plot shallow and unwieldy. It takes a wild turn into the absurd partway through which, I'm sad to say, ruined my suspension of disbelief and had me raising my eyebrows in displeasure.


In spite of these flaws, Jonathan Barnes shows great promise in his first novel. I will continue to read his upcoming works, in hopes that the scintillating style will be matched by just as cunning a plot and just as consistent the characters, next time around.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Week in the Life of a Two-Month-Old

Life's exciting when you're two months old!
This week we:
visited Daddy at the coffee shop

hung out with uncle paul

and aunt abigail

practiced walking

helped mom with yoga

did a great job distracting mom from work

chatted with daddy at burr oak nature center 

had ice cream with danielle

found our hands

and walked the little blue trace trail

it was a wonderful week.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Courage in Creativity

my first painting in ten years
Let's face it: it takes some guts to create, to create anything! First and looming large in the consciousness, there's the knowledge that I have the chance of creating something stupid, or faulty, or just plain negligible. Then there's the always-present possibility that I could be laughed at, mocked, or--worst--ignored. And then what if, as I undergo the process of creation, I am changed? What if I become different somehow than I am now, and what if I don't like myself so much then?

Right now I'm beginning work on a novel. It's going to be based on my childhood  in the very conservative Christian homeschooling movement, and on my experiences 'coming-of-age' in the Real World. Deep down, I feel impelled to write this book, no matter how long it takes me to write, no matter who I offend, no matter what the end product looks like. But I must admit I'm petrified.

the wise fool who speaks in riddles
Baggage. That's what I've accumulated in my 27 years on earth, and I'm going to have to open some of it if I write this book. I will have to face some deep church-related wounding within me--years of control, boredom, frustration, and most of all, effort. And as I intend to spend a lot of time listening to others who have come from the same background I will have to face their baggage too. There is much that is beautiful in my background (and my family was outstanding) but much that was twisted and ugly too. I'm afraid of the pain that I'll have to weather in exposing all this to myself and then, through my book, to the world.

Fear. What I have to say isn't all positive. I have no desire to write an expose, but if I'm going to write this book, I'm not going to tiptoe around everyone's 'sacred cows'. Because more and more I am convinced that there isn't any point in me writing anything if I cannot be true about it. I'm afraid of what others will think. Even to the point of pondering a pseudonym. But why would I publish anything of which I'm not proud?

fighting the dragon
More fear. What if, after all, I'm no good and I can't really do it? What if I talk about my novel, research my novel, make a few half-hearted stabs at my novel, and in the end have to acknowledge that anything I have to write isn't making it through the veil, that my craft is weak, and that I should after all stick to writing articles on hiking trails and restaurant cuisine? What if I fail?

I'm sure I could extend this list, and I think in future posts I will explore each topic separately. But for now I want to share my current conclusions. I must trust. I must trust that I was created with a big enough gift for communicating what I simply must say. I must trust that the passion building within me has a purpose and an outlet, and that others will really want and need to hear it. I must trust that if I embark on this project it will someday come to an end, a beautiful end, though possibly different than I intended. I must trust.

What is one fear you face when you create?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Honesty

exhaustion--the other side of motherhood
It's hard to be honest sometimes--certainly with others but mostly with myself. Growing up one thing that was never tolerated was any kind of untruth, and I have always prided myself on my honesty. But as I grow older I'm learning that honesty isn't quite so easy to quantify, that there are many layers in a human heart and mind, and that just figuring out what's happening within--much less admitting it--can be excruciating and at times impossible.

The important thing to realize is that without honesty no relationship will flourish--it may appear to, but it is growth without foundation, foliage without roots. Whether it is friendship, romance, or collaboration, honesty must suffuse the relationship.

Honesty of thought, acknowledging truthfully to myself what I'm actually thinking, admitting and allowing myself to feel rage, frustration, love, appreciation, fear, confusion. Honesty of action, within the bounds of courtesy letting my movements speak truly of my inner state, without resorting to the hidden games of banging doors, manipulating, crowding, or clinging. Honesty of speech, actually saying what I mean without letting it build until it explodes the doors of my soul and decimates others, communicating as much as possible exactly what I think and not trying to couch the words in roundabout phrases that might shelter me from conflict.

I must acknowledge that while I see the importance of honesty, I often don't know how to live it.

What do you think about honesty? 

Monday, March 26, 2012

What I Wish I'd Known As a Teenager

Teen Week 2012 is a blog project hosted by body image warrior Medicinal Marzipan. Bloggers from around the world will be posting on topics related to self-esteem in teenage-hood. I'm honored to participate.





Growing up in a very conservative setting as I did, clothes were a big problem for me as a teenager. It was the late 90's, and I desperately wanted to fit in. All around me I saw stylish girls wearing tight pants, form-fitting tops, earrings, makeup, and elaborate nails. That was outside, 'in the world'. Closer to home were long loose skirts, loose tops, long hair, no makeup, and very little jewelry. These two images clashed horribly within me. The first was labeled "pretty" and "popular" in my mind and the second "holy" and "right".

What makes me sad now is that I never looked within for direction--and this wasn't only in the area of fashion. I was caught between a couple of boxes in the 'what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up' department as well. It was either 'have a career' or 'be a mom'. Neither of which appealed to me all that much, to be frank. But somehow it never occurred to me that I was unique. I had a unique style, a unique perspective, and a unique destiny. No one could tell me who I was--only I could find myself.

And so this is what I say to teenaged girls everywhere: Figure yourselves out. Don't be afraid to try different clothes on, and different accents. Read books and learn what other people outside your world are doing. Go to thrift stores or learn to sew your own clothes. Learn new hobbies, make new friends. And don't be ashamed to be different from those around you. It may cause pain--you may be rejected, you may make faux-pas, you may become horribly embarrassed. But if you can be yourself, imperfect and lovely, you will find that freedom grows around you. You'll be too big to be boxed in by a movement or a fad. You can't be labeled, you can't be ignored.

For those of us who left the teen years behind years ago, I say the same. We can only be ourselves--let's be the best we can be.

Meet Toots!


Her name, which has been long forgotten in the slurry of fatuous nicknames, is Miss Moppet. She suits it—a pert gray cat with spotless white stockings and breast. There are faint tracings of khaki among the gray, which give her a mottled look. Behind her ears and under her front legs the fur is long and curly, with a greasy appearance which might come from being hard to reach and mostly unlicked.
She blends with her people’s house—a soft-pawed princess among the deep browns of antique wood and leather, the various shades of dusky green on the walls, and the rough natural stone tile the color of her left eyebrow. Not only does Miss Moppet blend with the house, but she rules it with an aplomb unknown to any human except one who lives a life petted and adored, without pause, from dawn ‘til dusk.
There is a certain imperious glare she wears at times. Her long slanting eyes grow round, deep yellow orbs divided in the middle by a slender slit of black, ringed about with dark fur which looks like kohl, artistically applied. Her subjects watch her and snicker, but this does not diminish the unmatched air of hauteur about her. The fact that one of her white eyebrow-hairs has a kink in it doesn’t either.
Her life is one of alternate frenzy and indolence. Early in the morning when her oldest human—tall, yawning, with big hairy toes and a yearning for coffee—stumbles down the stairs she is waiting, throwing disdainful glances over her shoulder but eager for a gentle massage, enjoying the feel of his wide-knuckled hands entwined in her fur and the sound of his low rumbling whisper.
There is a brief spate of wildness then, a few high-pitched yowls and the keen enjoyment of racing across the wide wooden-floored hallway with the sound of a small thunder and leaping to the windowsill in the kitchen where she can gradually allow her fur to settle and her bottle-washer of a tail to shrink and begin a slight spasmodic twitching.
Sleep—fuzzy, warm, engrossing sleep—strikes her then and she settles on the rose-colored velvet of her woman’s antique chair where, unless disturbed by the descent of adoring children, she naps in comatose oblivion for hours.
Lately she has become an ornithologist, as the elements conspired together to bring her a new hobby. Six inches of ice and snow outside drove hordes of birds to the feeder outside the schoolroom window. She waits with rear end wiggling until several of the winged mice have settled their frozen feet on the red plastic of the feeder. And then with perfect timing comes the sudden leap, the hollow thud against the window, and the startled birds streaking for the sky in alarm. It is the thrill of her day.
Two of her people are writers, and she enjoys curling up in the sun (which highlights in perfect detail each strand of whisker springing from just above her curving lip) to the music of the faint clatter of fingers on keyboard, the long pauses for inspiration, and the occasional groan.
There are two professional musicians among her people, and she has slept through many a scale and arpeggio, many an anguished hour of slow practicing. Currently there are all the octaves and broken thirds of the Beethoven violin concerto to lure her into sleep, but last month it was the soaring melody of the Saint-Saëns’s Rondo Capriccioso.
 By her luxurious presence she brings much light and delight into the lives of the people around her, one of whom, in a bleak moment of writer’s block, decided to sketch the furry puddle lying beside her in the sun.
An easy task, and enjoyable.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Linkature

A wild stop-motion video here.

This had me laughing.

My husband's band... this was an open-air concert a week before our wedding.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Six-Week-Old

Grandma came to visit the other day! We:

Talked...

Took a bath...

Got a massage...

Took a nap...

Went out for lunch...

And smelled the coffee Daddy made Mommy...

It was a good day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Three years ago I was sitting next to a good friend eating corned beef and cabbage and decided to send a text to the man who was becoming my friend; I didn't know with what joy he received it, how he showed it to his friends, and how he pulled up my website and said to his parents, "This is the girl I'm going to marry someday."

Three years later, we are making breakfast together, bumping happily into each other and waltzing while the coffee brewed. Our precious daughter kicks and coos nearby. We have three years of life lived intensely behind us and a whole lifetime ahead.

What a gift is true love, how rare, and how priceless. Dear M., I treasure you with every particle of my being and anticipate learning to love you more deeply every day for the rest of my life.

Happy Saint Paddy's Day!