Thursday, July 23, 2009


It appears that I am getting closer and closer to being that crazy old woman with cats. I putter around my house grousing at the world in general, the state of my finances in specifics, and my ex in expletives. No one listens. Well, occasionally the cats will deign to appear interested, but I know better--I may be crazy, but I'm not senile. . .yet. I've managed to work myself into a near-constant state of anxiety. What I really hate about it is that my brain still functions fairly well, and I'm quite aware of what I'm doing. I just can't seem to stop.

I believe I'm about to corner the market on imagining unique worst case scenarios--like being bitten by a rabid possum while putting garbage on my back deck or drowning in my shower or giving myself brain damage by pulling a five-pound trifle bowl off on my head. I'm up to at least a half dozen apocalyptic fantasies per day. I'm not sure why I feel compelled to borrow trouble as it were. Like most of us these days, I have the prerequisite amount of trouble and hardship--personal, work, financial, etc.--without imagining anything! But, no! I have to go and be paranoid and create bizarre possibilities for death and destruction. Okay, so maybe not death and destruction, more like miserable mayhem.

Regardless, there is obviously something wrong with me. My youngest son delights in telling me to chill. He has no idea how much I would love to do just that. If I weren't certain that I'd end up in the emergency room, I'd try yoga. Drugs just make me see things, like fluorescent green spiders. Many of the more common stress relievers are not possible or not working.

Maybe I should just face the fact that I'm nuts and enjoy it.

Here kitty, kitty!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Finding My peeps

I have been working really hard to come to terms with my appearance as I age. This is not as bad as it sounds. I actually look pretty good. But I used to be a dancer and weighed 117 pounds. I also used to be 22 years old, so I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I have been taking various aerobics classes at my new gym and trying to get used to moving a considerably larger and much older body around. Since I also have a very twisted sense of humor this has led me to burst out laughing a couple times in class. It's ok, though, since I'm taking zumba classes and people just think you're really happy to be there.

A couple of Sundays ago I stumbled upon an 8:30 am class taught by a professional dancer in her fifties. I went in and everyone came over and gave me what turns out to be their standard interview. It's like a secret little club over there and they don't let everyone in. It's made up of former dancers in their fifties. This woman's movement vocabulary is very similar to the one I was trained in (Graham, Cunningham, Dunham). It was wonderful to hear those words and see that my body remembered what is was supposed to do even if it took some adjustments to do it. To have someone say "feet in fifth please" rather than "ok put your right foot like this" is a relief and a wonder. To have someone know what fifth looks like and appreciate the need to modify it to third was beyond my wildest dreams. It was like when my daughter and I found the zumba class populated entirely by big girls. We walked in, everyone looked at each other and we all burst out laughing. It was great. We spent the class smirking at the skinny teacher and laughing. Most fun I've had standing up in years.

Anyway, I'll continue the search for my cohort.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Child of the South

My father celebrated his 74th birthday today. He's amazing; both he and my mother can run circles around most of the people I know--both physically and mentally. They work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labors in their own special way. Once they've put in a full day of work, they like to chill on their porch, reading or just enjoying the surrounding woods and wildlife. They endowed my sister and me with their love of reading and their enjoyment and appreciation of the beautiful southern landscapes that we call home. They gave us every possible opportunity to be unfettered southern children, at home with the sun and the wind and the woods. They inspire me in so many ways.

I am a child of the South--
rural child on the porch,
with lemonade and calloused feet,
grass-stained knees
and sun-bleached hair.
I hug warm breezes close
and slap laughing kisses
on each sultry, sun-blessed day.
I am my mama's child--
kitchen imp
with doughy fingers
and flour-dusted hair,
fashion queen
in lavender taffeta,
floppy high heels,
and jaunty hat.
I am Daddy's darling--
high priestess
held aloft on broad shoulders
to worship sun and sea,
precious cargo
tucked in with downy covers,
kisses, and whipsered prayers.
I am a child of the South--
rural child sleeping sound
with starlight and moonlight
in the magnolia-scented evening.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I've decided that I want to be as resilient as wild chicory. Every spring I watch those beautiful pale blue flowers bloom along the roadsides and wild places. Inevitably as they reach their peak, road crews come along with their monstrous mowers and strip them away. It always makes my heart ache a little to see them disappear. But I only have to be patient and give them a few weeks to regroup, and then there they are again, their periwinkle faces bobbing on their spindly stems.

I feel as though I have been run over by a mower or two during the last couple of weeks. A conference, a workshop, hours and hours at my desk scrambling to get ready for a new school year and a plethora of changes. I love teaching, but life as a high school teacher seems to become more difficult with each passing year. I can deal with the changing nature of the young people I teach--life changes and so do the creatures that inhabit it! It is often a challenge to translate the current adolescent mind and its accompanying angst, but that keeps the job interesting! What I have more difficulty with is the apparent illogic and ineptness of the policy makers in the field of education.

There is such a focus on student performance on high stakes testing that true learning often gets lost in the shuffle. These two things are not mutually exclusive, but I can't understand why it's not obvious to everyone that the focus has to first be on learning--then the testing takes care of itself. Many of the policy dictates that educators are dealing with right now have a tendency to be counterintuitive. We are often asked to use convoluted methods to tackle problems that would be better confronted head on. It can all be exhausting and potentially demoralizing.

So I think about chicory. It is so beautiful and seemingly fragile, but it doesn't give up. Maybe I should plant a twig or two on my desk as a reminder.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


I've been doing my homework--reading blogs, lots of blogs. What I'm struck by is the supreme self confidence with which people blog. They post the good, the bad, the mediocre, even the drivel, and, let's face it, we all descend into drivel now and again. It doesn't seem to matter what the content or quality; bloggers are remarkably self-confident and bold. They throw themselves and their ideas, itineraries, and ignominies right out onto the web for all to see. I am amazed, intrigued, and inspired. But not quite emboldened yet. Hence I am posting on a blog that has seen no traffic for about nine months. What can I say--I'm an inveterate coward. (Baby steps, Joy, baby steps!)

The repressed cultural anthropologist in me has become totally fascinated by the blogging phenomenon. This is human communication unlike anything we've ever known. It has created human communities unlike anything we've ever known. I am fascinated that individuals are allowing so much access to themselves, opening themselves up to a world of strangers in ways we seem incapable of doing face to face, even across our dining room tables!

While I find myself sitting here on the edge of the pool, unwilling to do more than swirl a toe in the water, I am absolutely enthralled by the swimmers--the fearlessness, the grace, the occasional antics. Blog on, blithe spirits, blog on!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fear of Writing

I still find myself overwhelmed by the sheer nakedness of posting. Joy does so effortlessly, a blithe author on the web. I find the whole process almost painfully arduous. Of course, it is this very fear of exposure that has kept me scribbling in notebooks and journals all these years--scribbling that is always tucked away in drawers rather than shared. It is very possible that I have never been published because I have never truly made an effort to be. Apparently I find that more palatable than not being published because my writing has been found wanting! Just to prove to myself that I can break bad habits, I offer up a scribbling to share.


Sometimes it's hard
to even contemplate
the commitment
of pen on paper.
It's frightening
to allow the flow of ink
to shackle you
to word and thought.
The bold gallop
across parchment
scatters shadows
and rends your veil.
It drags you shivering
and exposed into the light
and chides you
for your reticence.
No matter how weighty
the poetry or prose,
the letters are too spare
to hide the quivering soul
and the fiery mind
whose coupling
gave them life.