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believe


Definition: accept as true, credit with veracity, follow a credo, judge or regard
Synonyms: v. 1. maintain, assert, opine, hold, consider, regard, conceive, trust, have faith in, confide in, credit, accept, affirm, swear by, have no doubt
Quotes: ♦ In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. — Buddha

 

♦ I believe that every person is born with talent.  — Maya Angelou

 

♦ The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. — Abraham Lincoln

 

♦ 20. Believe in the holy contour of life — Jack Kerouac from BELIEF & TECHNIQUE FOR MODERN PROSE

Antonyms: disbelieve, distrust



I believe…



Do you believe in the Lock Ness Monster, the Man in the Moon, Santa Claus? Do you believe in finding Big Foot, flying saucers, ghosts in the machine? Do you believe this year will be better than the last? Do you believe in yourself, your visions, your dreams? The things I believe change from year to year, decade to decade. I used to believe in the tooth fairy, the Velvet Underground, peace, love and rock and roll. What do you believe?

In the 1950s, a radio program called This I Believe was hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear essays from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Wallace Stegner, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman—anyone able to distill the guiding principles by which they lived into a few minutes. (For inspiration, you can listen to essays on broadcasts from the 1950s at This I Believe.)

What are the principles by which you live? Are they different than they were two, three, or four years ago? Do you hang around friends who share your beliefs? Or push to expose yourself to other ways of thinking. The goal of the contemporary version of This I Believe (revived on NPR in 2004) was not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs, but to encourage people to develop respect for beliefs different from their own.


Get out your fast writing pens and write the Topic I believe… at the top of your spiral notebook (or start tapping away on your computer or Smartphone).

You can write a haiku, tanka, or gogyohka  practice and post it in the comments.

Or you may be surprised at what you discover when you follow the rules of Writing Practice —- I believe…, 10 minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 2nd, 2012

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All is quiet in my home. I am staring out at wind rocking the trees. Mr. StripeyPants curls up on the wool blanket beside me. I connect to something wild in him. I’m reminded of my March practices — mandalas and writing about the moon. Where has she been hiding? I don’t remember seeing her this month. Has it been too gray. Or have I not been paying attention. The light has come back. The sky is lighter before bed. Maybe she disappears into the white skies of summer.

There are many names for the March moon. I resonate most with the Eastern Cherokee name of Wind Moon. I came out of a meeting this afternoon, walked across the macadam parking lot. The wind kicked through my hair. There was a coolness about her, not like the dog days of August, or the warm breezes of June. It was as if the sky had licked the top of a mound of crusted snow, sucked up her coolness, and swept it across my face. I woke up.

The Farmers’ Almanac calls the March moon, the Crow Moon, a name from many of the Northern tribes. There is the Kiowa Bud Moon, the Shawnee Sap Moon, and the Alaskan Haida Noisy Goose Moon. There is the Worm Moon and the Moose Hunter Moon. But I walk with the Wind, and the poetry of the Hopi — Month of the Whispering Wind. The names are connected to the land, grounded there. That is why I like this practice. Even if I can’t see the Moon, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The tides rise and fall to her rhythm.

I haven’t walked the land this week. But I slow walk any chance I get. Across the streets, parking lots, and sidewalks in the cities and suburbs where I live. Along the steps that lead up to my studio. I always remember to look up. On the ground, my feet hold the connection. Rooted. Every angle counts. As above, so below.

The wind has been blowing all day long. Dark winter branches fall from leafless trees. Twigs snap and drop on the deck. Strong winds strip away the dead wood, prepare the land for renewal. I saw one patch of green on top of the driveway garden when tires splashed through puddles of melted snow. There is an ice dam by the garbage can, melting and freezing, puddling and coughing, spitting and sputtering toward warmth and sun.

The three cats run to the door when we return home. They stand on their back legs, noses against the screen, and stare out at the return of migrating birds. I saw my first robin on a branch near the downtown Minneapolis library yesterday evening. Traffic was heavy. We were looking for a parking spot. “Look! My first robin!” I said to Liz. “Where?” she peered out the window in the direction I was staring. “Oh, I see it! Yeah, Spring!”

Then we parked and walked across crumbled cracks in the sidewalk and into the high-rise library. We went to see a writer, Will Weaver, and a filmmaker, Ali Selim, talk about their work. The writer wrote a short story, A Gravestone Made of Wheat. The film maker read it and wept. Then he bought the rights and spent 15 years writing the screenplay and trying to gather enough money to get the film made. It is called Sweet Land. I wept when I watched it for the first time last week.

That’s the kind of writing I want to do. I want to write a story that is so true to its time, that it makes others weep. We sat in chairs in the Minneapolis public library, each with a small brass plate on one arm. The plate is etched with the name of a writer who is, or once was, connected to Minnesota. I listened to writers talk about their work. Money sometimes surfaces in these conversations. How do you make a living and write. I believe we find our way. If we continue to show up.

Continue under all circumstances. Don’t be tossed away. Make positive effort for the good. The positive effort will take you a long way. And the giving to others. I’ve witnessed it countless times. It creates an opening in me. A whole place where I can learn to receive.

I don’t see the Wind Moon tonight. I hear the knocking of the chimes. If I don’t see the Wind, it doesn’t mean she is not there. The sky is black. Two planes flash, rerouted across distant skies. I don’t hear them. I see wing lights flashing in the dark. I know the moon is behind me, rising above the oaks. If I look out the bedroom windows in a few hours, I might see her pale face, 3rd quarter – half dark, half light. There’s a symmetry, a balance in that. I count on her. The Moon is dependable. She is never tossed away.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 29th, 2008

-related to posts:  winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, and PRACTICE – Snow Moon (Total Lunar Eclipse) — 20min

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What I know about tattoos I learned from D___. His entire right leg was tattooed, and most of his left leg. Both shoulders, all around his neck, most of both arms. His tattoos were serpents and Japanese letters and blues and purples, some red, beautiful tattoos, and I would examine them, lifting his leg while he lay on his back.

I wanted to get tattoos, but the desire hit me late, after I knew my body was mine to adorn for my pleasure. I wanted Our Lady of Guadalupe on my bicep, like Catholic sailors, except my bicep wasn’t big enough to hold her holy glory, plus I worried that her golden rays would droop as I got old.

But when I wanted tattoos I was firm, late 30s, after I’d had Dee and Em and knew that I could do things like birth babies on the bathroom floor or crouching like a tiger in my bedroom.

Why then, no tattoos? Mid-life crisis-y, that’s what I told myself. How desperate, how too-little-too-late. If I got tattoos, I’d want to be like D___, 1/3 of my body covered (by now probably the images creep up around his ears and chin like ivy crawling up a tree).

I’d want to paint myself in excess, or like piercings, be one of those people who start with a second hole in each ear, then add a small gauge. Then my lip and the spot above my eyebrow. My nose, and believe me, I considered my nose but later worried that I might get ancient and be dotted with holes that would affect my breathing, or worse, sag like big drops.

I remember Carmen Chavez’s cat pulled her earring straight through her ear and her lobe hung like a cloven hoof, all floppy like fringe, and that image stayed with me forever so that the piercings went the way of the tattoos. Out of mind.

I did get one second piercing on my right ear, although the last time I wore a stud in it was when I was 19, I think, and had teeny-tiny diamonds that Corky gave me and that I almost immediately lost, or one anyway.

I wish I had been the kind of young adult that thought nothing of changing my body, nothing of the risks of dirty needles — Cousin R___ got Hepatitis for life on account of his tattoos. I wish I could have colored away, I wish I’d even gone for the parts of my body where the skin sits on bone, showed my tolerance for pain and gotten Saint Lucy’s eyeballs, one on the top of each hand.

Someone once told me my art would make good tattoos, but I might have gone for more traditional images, a skull and bones on my other bicep, no dainty stuff, just the fare of soldiers and men my father’s age, a ribbon floating across my back shoulder, I Love You Jim!, except it might have had some other man’s name on it, an earlier love, for I would have been younger and bolder when I got it.

I’ve always been most in awe of the teardrops falling from the outside corner of a person’s eye, one drop for each year in prison, or is it for every five years, I wonder.

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – TATTOOS

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By Christine Swint


Whatever grows out of this pen, the ink, the spidery words trailing across the page, grow out of me like the hair sprouting from my scalp. The words are connected to my brain only in the instant the pen touches the paper, the same way that my hair is a part of my body only on the surface, at the follicle.

I often wonder why humans have so little hair covering their bodies, when our primate cousins have fur aplenty. In his book, The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris theorized that for a while, and I guess he meant a long while, humans became water mammals, losing most of their thicker body hair because it wasn’t needed, keeping only the hair on their head for warmth. But what about pubic hair? Why would that hair have stayed on the body while rest of our skin kept only peach fuzz?

Maybe hair in places other than the head is not as sexually attractive to humans, at least not on the female form. Think how much money women, and some men, spend on ridding their bodies of unwanted hair: laser removal, electrolysis, Persian threading, waxing, tweezing, chemicals that shrivel the hair at the root, and of course, time-honored shaving.

As I grow older, the faint down of a young man’s moustache has appeared above my lip, which I remove every six weeks or so. I also have my eyebrows waxed. I’m not going to reveal anything else here — I’m writing to the bone, but not the bikini line!

I’ve tried threading, because it’s such a clean, non-invasive way of removing hair. It works like a rotary lawn mower, gently swiping the hair off the skin.

Humans do love hair, but we’re selective about where we want to see it.


Links



Christine Swint studied English and Spanish at the University of Georgia, and Spanish literature at Middlebury College in Spain. She writes poetry, fiction, and personal essays in Spanish and English. She lives in metro Atlanta with her husband, two teenage sons, and two dogs, Raf and Duffy. After teaching in the public high school for many years, she now teaches yoga in local community centers.

You can read more of Christine’s writing at her primary blog, mariacristina. Christine also keeps a blog — called Yoga Dreams — about her experiences as a teacher and practitioner of yoga.


-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – HAIR

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What’s in front of me is a list of the four ingredients for roasted broccoli:

salt
pepper
garlic powder
olive oil

I wonder why I left off the main ingredient.

I wrote the items down in my notebook on Friday night, and on Saturday late in the day I cut the broccoli into florets and used my hand to coat each little tree with the oil mixture.

Little trees, that’s what we call broccoli, Jim and I, as a way to entice the girls to savor it as much as we do. “Eat your little trees,” we might say. On Saturday evening Em asked, “Do you like the top of the tree or the trunk better?” Jim said “the top,” I said “the trunk,” and I thought of the bartender in an Italian restaurant where I worked in college who taught me to peel the thick skin and eat the stalk, it’s the sweetest part. At the close of each night I handed him a bag with all the stalks we would have tossed, and every time I make broccoli I think of him.

What’s in front of me is tap water in a cobalt blue glass on my nightstand, a necklace made of Catholic medallions, the kind you get for Confirmation or First Holy Communion, and lip gloss that belongs to Dee. I used the lip gloss last night, my lips were dry and it was there, bubble gum flavor. It reminded me of Taft Junior High and shiny tacky lips and a big white sweater I wore every day to school in 7th grade.

What’s in front of me are my knees propping up my notebook. I’m tired, too tired to sit up and write. I took Dee and Em on a long walk in the bosque, we left a little after three and we kept going as if we were compelled to find something further on the trail and further yet, we walked and ran, and I had the sense that the woods were alive with pulsating pinks and oranges and browns.

What’s in front of me is the prospect of having to go out in the cold night to pick up a prescription at Walgreens that I meant to call in all weekend. In front of me the strong possibility that I’ll blow it off until tomorrow morning. In front of me Jim saying “you’re not going to make it to the store if you lie down like that.” I smile but don’t stop writing, years of saying “you see me writing in my notebook? — don’t talk to me” have fallen on deaf ears.


-related to Topic Post, WRITING TOPIC – ATTENTION TO DETAIL

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A woman in navy gators, old-style webbed snowshoes, laced with sinew, bulky and awkward, tucked up under her armpit, slinging waggling ski poles, wrapped in a red knit ski cap with earflaps. I’m reminded that Natalie has a wool cap like that, a Sherpa cap that looks like someone knitted (no, crocheted?) it for her, especially for her. And now I’m remembering a photograph I took of her with dark shades and that Sherpa cap, gloves, or tan mittens. She’s staring right at me, right into the camera. We are walking the dirt road to the white cross behind Mabel Dodge, the one painted by O’Keeffe.

The sun is pale orange, sinking in a crisp winter sky. Wind whistles, clouds surf along a plume of chimney smoke, sky purples, alternating stripes of gray and red, tapered yellowish tails that blind me when I look into the sun to remember how to describe the light. Light is one of the hardest things to write about. Hard to detail. Like trying to capture the feeling of sucking air through a candy-cane striped straw. The kind in the Wendy’s Frosty I had Friday night. It was late, the storm was coming, Liz stayed two hours later at work. Overtime and a feeling of job well done.

Clingy, tawny oak leaves, sucked into winter’s vortex, hanging on by a single, dead stem. Bobbing ash branches over the Mystic River deck. That’s the name of the color of our deck: Behr Mystic River. And the house will be Pot of Cream next year and the trim will be Cloudberry. The color scheme, does it tell you anything about us? Or describe true color?

What’s in front of me, a long, lonely winter. Not the kind of lonely I am used to. Not the long-suffering alone kind of lonely. But the kind of lonely where I have to make decisions that impact me for a long time to come. There are decisions. And then there are consequences of decisions. Will ever the twain meet? I want to know.

Aluminum blue streaks, striated against brown banana orange. Night falls from the West. There is dusting of powder on the north side of the ash. The tree is 3 pronged and I see the sun through the slingshot V of branch 1 and branch 2. Thing 1 and Thing 2 with their shiny red and white hats. The snowshoe woman looked like Thing 3, though I couldn’t see her face. She walked briskly, head down against the wind. It picks up as the clouds disperse, making way for the frigid air of a clear night.

A midsummer night’s dream is only a distant memory. Orange day lilies and sweet bush clover and pansies and black-eyed susans. I took a lemon bristled broom and a fire handled, snow shovel and took care of the deep, mottled driveway, the newly painted deck, the lean and trim gutters that Gene completed on the eve of Saturday’s storm. He was dressed in Carhart brown and sucked on a Marlboro while he deftly tacked the gutter pipe to the old 50’s Masonite siding. “It’s in good shape,” he said. “Usually, this stuff cracks.”

He looked kind of James Deanish (there I go again) with that cigarette dangling from his winter lips, sideburn edges peeking under a red skull cap, body wrapped in the bulk of winter construction in Minnesota. He was the nicest man and I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated contracting with professionals who do what they say they will do and don’t quit until the job is done.

An elongated scar on the south branch of the closest naked oak. It’s about 50 feet from the window I’m staring out as I write. There were two cardinals (aren’t they bulked up finches?) on the three feeders on Friday, one male, one female. The female was an understated caramel, with her tiniest breast feathers ruffling in juts of wind. I wondered if she was cold.

Then the male flitted by in papal crimson and true black. The female had a little blip of red on her crest. I watched them dance back and forth on the oily, black-seeded feeder. The neighbor plugged in his outdoor Christmas tree, twinkling white, while his kids pulled out over thin air, dangling from a wooden seated rope swing hanging from the same scarred oak.

Plus 6 with the windchill. The night’s sunset is reflected in the shiny screen of Liz’s laptop. She oils her hands with a lavender salve I bought at the Albuquerque Growers Market last summer. I feel glad to be alive.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

-related to Topic Post, WRITING TOPIC – ATTENTION TO DETAIL

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I feel loved when I hear the words, “Hi, you.” That’s what Jim sometimes says when he answers my call on the cell phone. They sweep me off my feet, those simple words, and if that were all he did for the rest of our lives together, I think I’d be happy.

I feel loved when Em comes up and hugs me. She reaches the top of my waist, hugs tightly, then pats my back with her little hand. I am surprised by her capacity to love, how did she get so much room in her tiny body?

I feel loved when my family gets along, no quarreling over sharing the peppermint bark or which movie to watch on the computer or who gets a skirt and who doesn’t. No bickering over your turn to cook or I’ve cooked all week. Mine is a need for harmony, and more than that, optimism and kindness.

I realized after staying in bed most of yesterday that I rely on others to make me feel loved, rely on the smooth humming of those who live with me. When Jim gets sick, as he was Thanksgiving night, with bad pains in his lower abdomen, I feel unloved, or overwhelmed, unable to carry forth. It’s not how I want to be, I want to be a strong, loving partner, but sometimes my strength comes too much from the strength of those around me.

I’ve been reluctant to write about love, reluctant to look inside my heart and ask, What is love? Love isn’t gifts, I know that. I love touch, but more than touch I need words. Simple “Good morning,” “I love you.” Even if “I love you” is doled out every few intervals, as long as it’s said with a lift in the voice, it takes me with it. On a trip to lovedom. Dumb lovedom.

Love, love is. I remember the movie Love Story. Larry watched it sitting on the orange beanbag in the den. It was past my bedtime, but I crept behind the bar separating the kitchen and den, and I watched to the end. Love is never having to say you’re sorry. The next night I crawled into bed with Mom and told her I thought I had cancer. I guided her hand to my chest and showed her the small lumps in my breasts.

“Oh,” she laughed, “those are breast buds, the beginning of boobs.” I cried, partly from humiliation, partly relief. I thought I had the same kind of tumors that killed Ali McGraw, thought my tragedy greater than hers, me younger, me real, me not loved by a handsome Ryan O’Neal. Never knowing love and knowing in the soul inside my heart what this meant, loving to the point of not needing to say you’re sorry.

Only later did I find out that I feel loved when after foul words are spilled, my beloved can tell me that he is sorry.


-from Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – KINDS OF LOVE

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