Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lot's of people in my neighborhood have their clocks set slightly fast, or they're by now too drunk to care. An amazing number of fireworks are going off, as well as at least one car alarm. I can hear wordless voices raised in celebration or inebriation, or inebriated celebration.

Sounds like a war out there, but a joyful one.

I've come to a chapter break in the book I'm reading, Joe R. Lansdale's Lost Echoes, and written down my New Year's vow (resolution has always sounded a bit wimpy somehow).

I'm ready for the new year.

Willow, as predicted, has been asleep for hours. I hope all the damn fireworks don't wake her up.
In some ways, I feel like I'm limping to the finish line as far as 2008 is concerned. I can feel the strength inside, the kind of strength that helps me eventually overcome trauma, but I still count this as one of the crappiest years in recent memory. I'm hoping that I grow past all of this in 2009, but it's a slow process at best.

That said, I'm optimistic about the coming year. We've finally got somebody who is apparently both sane and intelligent moving into the White House, and if everything goes according to plan, I'll have my teaching credentials and get a job in a classroom this year.

Right now, on New Year's Eve, I'm with Willow. She's sad and missing her mom, who she gets to see even less than she sees me. Her mom is out having her first kid-free New Year's Eve in over a decade. I'm typing away and realizing that I've been spending too much time staring into my computer screen, as if willing it to provide me answers. I've been using Facebook as the socializing tool it is meant to be, and reconnecting with all manner of folks there. This is good, but it still means that I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the computer. That said, in the past week, I've been out hiking with a friend from the Yosemite Institute, spent time with other old friends, and in general been more socially active that I have in quite awhile. Marriage did tend to cause me to focus on, well.. marriage.

I think in time that all of this will be revealed as necessary. I can sort of see it now. That doesn't mean that it's not sad though. It is sad.

Here's to a wonderful coming year. Willow is determined to stay up until midnight. I'll believe it when I see it.

Be safe. Be well. Tread lightly.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The last couple of the weeks of the year are always kind of strange. Nothing really happens during this period. Many businesses shut down between Christmas and New Year's Day, while others just seem to tread water. Maybe I look at it the way I do because I'm in an industry that truly shuts down during this time. This causes me to forget that a lot of people actually have to go to work this week.

As for me, I took Willow up to the California Academy of Sciences again, meeting an old friend, J, there - J had a museum membership, which meant we got in free. That was really nice of her. The museum was just as crowded as it was the last time Willow and I went, but that didn't stop us from having fun. Willow is small enough to squeeze her way to the front of the crowds in most situations, getting front row seats to watch strangely diurnal bats flutter around, and to watch penguin hijinks (just one out of the multitude of penguins seemed interested in entertaining visitors - the rest just stood up on the rocks and vibrated their hindquarters at us). We'd somehow managed to miss the penguins last time, along with the African hall and its taxidermied specimens. Checking out the African exhibit, we noticed that there was some subtle digital trickery in at least one of the backdrops behind the dioramas - what used to be static savannah had a little herd of elephants marching across it. Hi tech!

Later, I had the perfect mocha. Sometimes it's the little things that help us along the road of life.

Sunday, Willow and I buried my iguana in the garden at work, and Willow handled the process very well, helping dig the hole and pat the claylike soil down afterwards. We talked as we worked, and she seemed to have a pretty good handle on the whole dying thing.

I had figured the iguana would be dead when we went and checked. It had been getting steadily more decrepit over the last year, so it was kind of a blessing that it finally passed on. A quick bit of internet research (which, admittedly, isn't always reliable) showed that it had lived well past the usual expiring point for members of its species. The internet sources I found gave me a big range - anywhere between around 7 and 19 years for iguana life expectancy. My iguana died at 23. Now he will nourish the garden.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rain is beating down on the roof as I type. Willow is sitting nearby, engrossed in her new Pokemon video. Her new bike awaits its first ride. Maybe the rain will let up later.

This is my first post-marriage Christmas, and it is a bittersweet one. I'm still getting used to things as they stand now. We went to my mom's last night, and opened presents around the tree there. Afterward, I took Willow home and waited for her to go to sleep so "Santa" could get to work. This morning, I sat back and basked in her excitement as she ripped away the wrappings. She gets to do the same thing again at her house later on.

I guess all is well.

Peace be with you.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I feel almost obligated to reflect on the year now that 2008 is days away from becoming history. Sure, there will be the music and event lists, but there will also be personal lists of lessons learned, and maybe some thoughts about what I want to accomplish next year. This year has been tough for me, and I'm not sure what the next year will bring. Of course, the possibilities often outshine the realities, so I will go into 2009 with high expectations and good spirits. Let's hear it for possibilities!

Right now, I'm hanging out with all four of the kids. The girls are making a hot chocolate mess, and the boys are parked on the couch playing a video game. I can understand the hot chocolate more than I can understand the video game. Hot chocolate is more real. But then again, I've been biased against video games my entire adult life. I almost said "always", but then I remembered I used to play Asteroids and other similar games when I was a kid. Of course, I had to go to the local 7-ll and use quarters to do it (or, I might say "quarter", because at some point we discovered the trick of taping a string to a coin and fishing it back out again).

Anyway, Christmas descends in a couple of days. Willow is spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with me, and the other kids are going to be at their dad's.

Willow is calling me. Time to go...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Solstice! At 12:04 AM (or so), the light starts to return. I envision a pendulum reaching the end of its great solar arc, and smoothly reversing direction. Sure, I know that it's the tilt of Earth's axis, coupled with our revolution around the sun, that causes it, but sometimes I just feel like telling stories. Stories have been with us forever, and before there was science, stories were all we had.

May whatever story you happen to subscribe to bring you peace and goodwill this season. The Great Mystery knows we need more of that around here.

Currently listening to Bohren & der Club of Gore "Midnight Radio".

Friday, December 19, 2008

I've worked my last night for the year. The kids were only up at camp for four days, which meant only three nights of work for me. It has been unseasonably cold all week, with the snow (!) and frost giving way to rain as things wound down.

Of course, not being one to actually relax, I agreed to supervise the weekend work crew on both Saturday and Sunday. I haven't done this in awhile, but it's a pretty easy job as long as nothing goes wrong. The weekend work crew consists of people who made poor choices (DUI, etc.) and are working it off. It sure beats going to jail. I think they generally prefer working at our site to picking up trash on the freeway. When you work away from the freeway, there's less chance of getting hit by somebody with a similar lack of judgement. Wouldn't it be ironic though, to be doing community service because of a DUI conviction and get hit by a drunk driver? I'm sure it has happened at least once.

Today, I'm hanging out with the boys, who are both sick, and watching movies. Movies can be healing.

I'm loving the rainy weather too. It looks like it's going to rain on Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the camp office, homesick kids clustered together in little groups of misery last night. I wonder if the fact that they're away from home only a week before Christmas had anything to do with it. Then again, it could be because they're fifth graders instead of sixth.

It snowed during the day at camp yesterday. Overnight, it was really cold, and the night air covered everything with a rime of frost. In the morning, there were two ravens, looking somewhat bedraggled, perched close together at the apex of the lodge roof. I watched them for awhile as they groomed each other.

They flew away when I went to get my camera.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm simultaneously reading a book of ghost stories and a book on Buddhist mindfulness practice. OK, I'm not reading them at exactly the same time - that is beyond my limited ability to multitask, but I'm trading off as my mood changes. The ghost stories appeal to me aesthetically, and the Buddhist book is interesting in a spiritual way. I especially like the point that our suffering is caused by craving (are yearning and craving the same thing? - these are the kinds of questions I ask). It also has a lot to say about being really here - being in the present. Or, you could say, being present in the present. This is the time of year to be thinking about presents, after all... except presently, I'm a little short on cash. Oops. My mind is wandering again. This reminds me of something a psychic coworker once said to me long ago - "sometimes you're just not there."

This is true. I must work on being here. It's harder than it sounds. My mind often slides sideways into elsewhere. Maybe it's a defense mechanism. Who knows?

Monday, December 15, 2008

At the Station

At the Station, originally uploaded by Corbie.

What do you get when you take a 106-year-old train, dress it up with holiday lights, load it up with holiday characters, a guitarist playing Christmas songs, songbooks so the passengers can sing along, and a guy giving away free hot cider?

You get fun. Willow could hardly contain herself. She hassled Santa, sang songs, jumped up and down, rang bells, excitedly pointed at the (fake) snow swirling around outside, and generally wore herself out. I had fun just watching her, although I think I would have had fun anyway, because it was really cool to take a ride on an old-fashioned train through the rainy streets of Santa Cruz. I guess I never really noticed the train tracks there before. I had forgotten, for instance, that there were tracks right in front of the Boardwalk.

The city was ablaze with holiday lights, and the rain-slick rails and streets mirrored them. We had the option of being inside enclosed train cars, or out in the tarp and vinyl enclosed cars. I think we spent more time outside, under the swaying holiday lights, taking in the crisp night air.

We also played miniature golf, and Willow sat on Santa's lap. She's been feeling shy lately though, so it was hard for Santa to get any information out of her. I guess she'd make a good secret agent.

So, that's how the weekend ended. It began with a trip up to my work so Nathan could gather some plants to make Ohlone tea with. He's in the fourth grade, so they're doing Native American projects, which of course triggered his memory of making Ohlone tea with me at summer camp. Six kids ended up coming along - the usual four, plus the boys' friend C, and a friend of Willow's from her class. After we gathered the plants, I showed them the Rattlesnake hiding under a board near camp (where it will probably be all winter), and got them all back in the van. We were treated to another, unplanned, wildlife sighting on the way back to town - a Bobcat crossed the road in front of us, and we slowed down to watch it vanish up the hill. This was pretty exciting, because of the animals I've actually seen in this area, this is one of the less common ones. I'm still waiting to have a Mountain Lion sighting, but I'm sure it will happen sooner or later.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

There's a storm moving in from the north today. It rained last night, with more slated to follow. The air is biting cold, and the leaves are leaving the trees in massive flurries. Willow and I ran around the park earlier, grabbing up big handfuls of leaves and watching them whip away in the wind. We could see them forming drifts against the houses across the street.

It feels good to be outside. It cleans out the cobwebs that form when I sit in front of the computer for too long.

Speaking of which, I'll end this post here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Today started with the perfect moonset. I watched the full moon sink slowly down beyond the distant, tree covered hills. The golden moonlight illuminated the valley-bound mist as the moon sank. As the silhouettes of trees eclipsed the golden globe, a raven's cry echoed through the valley.
As the sky lightened, the mist lost its definition, spreading outwards and upwards.

You've gotta love a day that starts this way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Willow is currently playing with the Land of the Dinosaurs Prehistoric Play Set that she saw in a little vintage toy/memorabilia store last week. The lady working the register didn't know the price then, and the guy who knew was onstage with his band at the time, so we just had her put it aside until today.

I have fond memories of playing with the same set when I was a kid. The thing is old enough to have a Brontosaurus in it. Of course, it also has cavemen. At least there's a little "scientific" note inside reporting that cavemen and dinosaurs never coexisted. Let's hear it for imagination! Right now I'm enjoying reliving my childhood through Willow. It's hard to put into words the sense of nostalgia that washed through me as we pulled the little plastic dinosaurs, cave, plants, and cavemen out of the original box and spread them out on the floor. Maybe she'll have that same feeling some day...

And on an unrelated note:

Earlier, Willow and Sophie were introduced to a couple of whippets, who had listening vocabulary that included words like "squirrel", "rat", and "bird". All the nearby squirrels had the good sense to make themselves scarce for awhile.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

There is a gap between how I handle certain situations, and how I'd like to be able to handle them. For the time being, I guess I'm going to live with that. We are who we are, after all.

Don't get me wrong. I love myself. I just have to work on showing that love in a way that doesn't involve buying myself presents.

I'll just keep in mind that it's our flaws that make us interesting.
I'm feeling restless and dissatisfied today, but temporarily powerless to do anything about it.

Outside, the Autumn leaves seem to shine with their own light. The air is crisp and tinged with the smell of smoke.

I think part of the problem is that I've finished all of my schoolwork for the term, and the apartment is clean. I've run out of busywork, and I've run low on money. I feel like a retiree, cast out of a comfortable job.

I know this mood is temporary, but it's still strange to feel this way. The next term, and the next paycheck, will come soon enough. The strangeness will pass.

I've got to plan for times like this. Or maybe I should just relax and enjoy the downtime. I used to be able to do that.

I think I'm spending too much time on the computer too. That's what happens when you have a new laptop, I guess... It's just so damn convenient to use.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm having a memory of a dream I had some time ago, back when Jen and I still lived under the same roof. In the dream, I was living in an apartment. We had split up.

Now, that dream is reality, and I'm not sure if I ever really dreamed it, or if it's a false memory - kind of a dream deja-vu. But not.

Still, the situation I'm currently in doesn't always seem quite real to me. Not even after several months have gone by. On the other hand, it's hard to remember what things were like before I moved out. Part of the reason that it's hard to remember is because I try not to think too much about it.

Outside, dogs are barking. I almost sounds rhythmic, like one of those Christmas carols sung by canines. There's no melody though. Just insistent barking.

Inside, it's quiet. The apartment is clean. The cd I was listening to just finished. I think I'll go get Willow. I miss her.
I've finished all of my school work for term 3 now. One more term to go. It sure has gone quickly. That said, things only speed up from here...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I just got back from taking the RICA (that's the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment), and I think I did pretty well.

Nothing like sitting in a room with a number two pencil for nearly four hours on a Saturday!

I got taken out to dinner at a nice little Japanese restaurant last night for my birthday. Had the tofu steak, followed by fried ice cream. Plus singing of the birthday song. Gotta love that.

The camp week ended with more vomit. No more poop though, fortunately. For some reason, I'd much rather clean up vomit.

As I was showing the remaining lost and found items to the assembled kids on Friday morning, I held up a shirt that I thought read, "life is good", basing this thought on the fact that there's a whole line of similarly emblazoned positive apparel out there on the market. As I read it out loud to the group, I had to do a sort of verbal double-take.

The shirt actually read, "life is crap!"

A sweet-looking little girl divorced herself from the throng and stepped up to retrieve it. She was smiling.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I turned 41 today, which in some ways means nothing. I'm still the same person I was yesterday, and the same person I will be tomorrow. Despite this, I'm sometimes tempted to impose temporal boundaries on my existence. I note the passing of birthdays, and the changing of one calendar year to the next, even though the changing seasons, with their attendant equinoxes and solstices, are important on a deeper level.

Still, it's my birthday, and I'm glad. I spent the first few minutes of it cleaning up vomit, and several hours later, being overwhelmed by the stinky mess glopping up the floor in the boys' bathroom. This was followed by a sweet moment when the whole camp sang "hoppy birdy" to me (that would be the science camp version of "happy birthday", in case you hadn't figured it out). Later, the second graders I student teach sang the more traditional version.

Since then, I've been alone at home, being kept company by an influx of birthday wishes via Facebook. A bit different from past birthdays, to be sure, but this year has been all about change, so I must embrace it and look forward to another year during which more changes will happen.

Still, I'm glad to put this year of my existence behind me, and I'll be equally glad when the calendar year changes. Sometimes I need arbitrariness to help adjust my attitude. It helps somehow.

Currently listening to Last FM again, on shuffle.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's cold at night now, and wonderfully foggy in the mornings. This morning, the freeway was wreathed in fog, but as I drove home, I could see the sun shining through up ahead, creating an almost mystical "move towards the light" moment. My first instinct was to paw through my backpack for my camera, but the moment passed too quickly, and I knew that my camera wouldn't have done it justice anyway.

I moved into the light and then back into the comforting dimness of the next patch of fog.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Let's not forget the boy who woke up at 12:30 AM this morning covered in vomit. It is reported that his first words upon awakening were, "I woke up and found this in my bed!"

Don't mess with the Vomit Fairy.

I have one last week of studying and finishing up before this school term grinds to a halt. This weekend, I take the RICA (Reading Instruction Competence Assessment) test, so I've been studying over the last few weeks (this counts as a study break). Then, I have roughly a month off before things start up again. When they do start up, they start up with a vengeance. I'll be in a different classroom (as yet undetermined, but probably a fifth grade classroom), and there will be an increased load of work. I've been trying to find a way to get paid for my classroom time, but apparently I haven't been trying hard enough because it hasn't happened yet. We'll just have to wait and see...

Today, as I walked out of the classroom I'm currently teaching in, my Master Teacher (that's what they call the teacher one student teaches under) commented on this year's class:

"They have no personality. They're flat."

She was mainly referring to their writing efforts, which show no inventiveness. This teacher is constantly exposing the class to literature, in all of its forms. The kids in the class, for the most part, seem to appear at school each day in a state of tabula rasa, as if their minds were wiped clean by the previous evening's TV watching and video game playing, or whatever else it is that they do. Nor do they make connections across the curriculum. For example, today during a math lesson, a girl apparently figured that since it was Math, and not Language Arts, capitalization was not required.

As we walked, we talked about how she has seen a downward trend in the capabilities of the students who move through her classroom every year. This is worrying. I wonder if this is something that is happening everywhere. I've heard other teachers report similar trends, but haven't, as of yet, seen any scientific studies on the phenomenon.

The kids definitely do have personality. I really like them, and enjoy hanging out with them, but they definitely can't translate this personality into academic work. That said, if this is indeed a trend, the future scares me. That's why I'm becoming a teacher.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Willow and Nils Contemplating A Drive

After the semi-traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's place, my brother and I, with Willow in tow, went up to Cloverdale to participate in a "leftover" Thanksgiving feast. The whole idea was that everybody was supposed to bring their leftovers. Having none, we brought fudge and drinks.

For the record, Cloverdale is approximately 50 are-we-there-yets away.

Our friends' new place is a house set amongst the vinyards, with its own adjoining vinyard. They have a new baby to keep them company there, and this house, like the other ones they've lived in, has taken on the character of its residents, which in this case means old-timey and interesting, with drifts of literature, music, and musical instruments vying for space with sculpture, bones, lichen, and other natural items gathered from the wild areas beyond. Through the afternoon and evening, many more people showed up with leftovers. Fortunately, at least one family showed up with another kid. Willow and the other kid, a little boy, played the "hide behind dad" game for awhile before overcoming that sweet little-kid shyness and playing. A bunch of us went for a walk too, climbing a hill and bushwacking our way back down as the sky darkened.

We stayed until Willow threatened to turn into a pumpkin. Once in her car seat, she stayed awake just long enough to take in the glittering starscape above, and glimpse the Grey Fox darting out of headlight range ahead.

I needed that.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm celebrating Buy Nothing Day today. This in response to the annual gearing up of the Corporate Christmas Machine. Besides, the stores are full of rampaging herds of shoppers. Who wants to get tangled up in that? In fact, one Smallwart (uh... I mean Walmart) employee has already been trampled to death. That's just plain tragic.

Of course, I could buy things online, but I can just as easily do that tomorrow. Or the day after. Or not at all. In fact, I might make some gifts this year, time allowing...

There are other ways to celebrate the season and tell people you love them than buying plastic crap. It's another of those quality versus quantity situations. As a nation, it seems we continuously focus on quantity.

It's hurting us.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Due to scheduling necessities, I'm having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and Saturday, but not today. Willow gets to have Thanksgiving dinner on 3 consecutive days. Hope she doesn't burn out on food.

Today, I'm going to do schoolwork and reflect on what I'm thankful for. I'm not particularly thankful for schoolwork, but am thankful for all of the usual things - family, friends, the fact that I'm healthy and have all my basic needs met, etc. Sure, this year didn't turn out as I would have planned it - not by a long shot, but it's during periods like this when I do the most growing. Sometimes I need outside forces to shake me out of whatever rut I've dug for myself. The lesson here is to either not dig the rut or know when to climb out on my own. Right now, I'm looking forward to 2009. I know there's not a magical temporal division that happens at midnight on New Year's Eve, but mentally I'm ready to imagine one and leave this year behind. 2009 will involve some hard work. I've got one more term of school to finish, and with it comes increased time in a classroom for me, and an increased load of assignments. 2009 will also be the year I get a job as a teacher. Who knows what else it will bring?

I'm thankful that I live on a beautiful planet, and that the future is full of possibilities...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well, apparently my theory about the astronaut's toolbag burning up in the atmosphere was way off base (so to speak). The bag has been spotted in orbit over Canada.

Still could happen though.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've come to the realization that a "week off" is no such thing. Nearly all of my daytime obligations are in place for most of the week. I still have one last group of assignments to finish for school, and I have a pretty major test (the RICA) coming up in a couple of weeks. Especially major is the fact that, like with the CSET, I actually had to pay for the dubious honor of taking the damn thing.

Right now, I'm resting on my laurels (funny expression, that - but look what happened to Caesar while he rested on his laurels) after finishing the last batch of assignments. Willow is over for dinner, although I'm surprised she's hungry after the Friendship Feast at her school earlier. She wanted me to bring mac'n'cheese for the event, so I whipped up a double batch. Every last bite vanished, leaving many other, much more classy, dishes unfinished, and in some cases, seemingly unstarted. There was a lot of good food there, including a chocolate-topped pumpkin pie. Yum. The kids, like kids have done for pretty much forever, all dressed up like pilgrims and Native Americans.

I'm going out to another gig later with an old friend. Good thing I got the ticket in advance, because I sure don't have the money to spare at the moment.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I should sleep. Really. I stayed up really late (2:30 AM) and got up really early (7 AM) again. The staying up late was because I had to go see O'death play in San Francisco, and the getting up early was because I volunteered to help a friend move. Rents are going up, and people trickle away to places of lowest rent, like water down a rocky hillside. Although, I guess if that were actually true there'd be nobody living in California, or anywhere else near a shore.

I have the coming week off. Well, not really, I have school work that needs finishing, and a test to start studying for. Instead, let me just say that I have the night off. I'm officially giving myself the night off. I might even sleep.

I'm tired, after all.

Right now though, I'm listening to Last FM. La la la la.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As I was waiting in the van with Willow and Alex in the darkened parking lot of the soccer field where Alex had just finished practicing, we saw a rather substantial shooting star streak horizontally across the sky above the northern horizon. It appeared almost greenish, and seemed to throw off sparks before it fizzled away to nothingness.

Despite all of this, I nearly forgot about it until I read the news story today about the astronaut who dropped some tools while spacewalking outside the space station. It occurred to me that what we'd witnessed last night might have been the spectacular demise of those fumbled tools.

This, in turn, reminded me of an incident that happened while Willow and I were driving from her pizza party to the barbeque at my friend's house. We were on the freeway, passing the soccer field, when all of a sudden there was a soccer ball bouncing across the lanes of traffic. Amazingly, it didn't hit any cars. Still more amazingly, somebody had to have kicked that ball damn hard to get it over the netting erected between field and freeway to prevent just this kind of accident.

People just have to learn to hold on to their stuff.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

While rushing up to work for dinner, I saw two coyotes by the side of the road. It's funny how, even out of the corner of my eye in the dark, I instantly know they're coyotes. Their ears stick out in a way that makes their heads appear triangular, and they exude a wildness that sets them apart from mere domestic animals. These two seemed to be digging in the drifts of Maple and Sycamore leaves that line the roadsides this time of year.

They looked for all the world like they were up to some sort of trick, which is as it should be.

Right now, this kind of sighting is therapy. There is magic in these encounters, but only if we are open to it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The weekend was as full as I could make it. This is partially because I'm dealing with an emptiness inside - one that I'm trying to fill in meaningful ways. For the most part, I'm finding success, although there's still an angry part of me that won't be denied. I don't want to feel angry. I really don't. Anger is draining, and I'm not even going to waste space here explaining why I feel angry. This part of me will grow smaller in time, I hope. The emptiness will be filled. Life will go on.

In some ways, I feel like I've found new purpose, and new strength. The only problem is I don't consistently feel this way yet. Changes are being made though, and things are happening.

The damn computer died today too. It refuses to boot up, so it looks like I'm going to be spending more time at work so I can use the computers there (or should I say "here"?).

Willow had her last soccer game this weekend, and a pizza party afterwards. She also went on a playdate with her friend, H. Between those two events, we went to a barbeque at a friend's house on one of those lonely hills rising above Highway 87 in San Jose, and Willow got to meet a cat who was part Bobcat. The cat had never seen anybody Willow's size before, and spent most of the time peering at her with widened eyes from behind some conveniently placed piece of furniture.

Slightly less successful, from Willow's point of view, was the potluck at Sempervirons Outdoor School. She wasn't too excited about the food (excluding the fudge, which we made) and was on the verge of turning into a pumpkin by 6 PM. We left early, and she fell asleep in the car on the way home. We didn't really have anytime to relax this weekend, but I'm noticing that Willow isn't doing much better with down time than I am. She has a tendency to get weepy and ask questions about why I'm no longer living with her mom. My heart goes out to her, so I hold her close and comfort her.

It makes us both feel better.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

We're doing our version of Saturday morning cartoons this morning. We don't watch TV, and I don't plan on ever having cable, so Willow is watching a dvd.

There's something to be said for starting the day slowly. When left to my own devices, I'm a slow starter in the morning. Back when we lived together, Jen used to get really pissed at me for taking the time to read the paper in the morning. I can kind of see her point. Mornings were always full of chaos and complaining kids who couldn't find essential things. Add that to the fact that these same kids were often reluctant to get up at all, and you didn't have a happy scene. It kind of ironic that, now that I live alone, I don't read the paper. When I moved, I decided not to order it at the new place, mostly for financial reasons. I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. This made me wonder why I was so insistent on reading it in the first place. The only answer I have is because it was there, and because I form habits easily. Back then, with the paper, I would often be grouchy all day if I didn't get to read it. Now that I never read it, I'm fine.

I still have a computer habit though.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I've been journaling, in one form or another, for over 13 years now. I was a bit of a late bloomer as far as this kind of record-keeping is concerned, starting at 27. I didn't start blogging until 2002, at which time I virtually abandoned the more traditional hand-written journaling I had been doing up until then. A recent comment by a reader of this site, L, has prompted me to reflect on the nature of public journaling for a moment.

When I made the jump from the written page to the glowing screen, I had to decide what I was comfortable sharing with the world. A lot of my paper journaling concerned itself with personal growth, and a lot of my desire for personal growth was prompted by the relationship I was in at the time I started journaling. It was a relationship that, for a number of reasons, was never really meant to be, but it was definitely an interesting experience and I learned a lot. I ended my attempts to make that relationship work when Jen came into my life, and a couple of years later, following in Jen's footsteps, started this blog.

At the beginning, the blog stayed at the surface - social commentary, strange humor, and at its worst, mere reporting of the events of my days. One of the reasons for this, of course, was that I was happy, and there wasn't any pain to reveal. Sure, there were moments of pain, such as Willow's premature birth and other health problems, and Jen's own hospital stays, but for the most part, I kept the mask on. Even as our marital problems grew, I didn't let on that there was anything wrong, and I'm not just talking about my blog posts - I didn't talk about it either. If you go back into the archives and read between the lines, noticing that the frequency and quality of the posts dipped a bit, perhaps you might, in retrospect, see the unhappiness there. I was stuck, and didn't know quite what to do. I didn't know how to fix things. At the end, I did my best, but at that point, it wasn't enough.

Back in September (or was it August?) I actually started another blog in which I dug more deeply into the core of my being than I ever have on these pages. I didn't tell anybody about it, and I'm not going to include a link now. That increased level of anonymity was liberating. The self-imposed boundaries of public writing slipped away. I kept it up for a month or so, until about the time I went public with the dissolution of our marriage on this site. That in itself was another liberating moment. It was a public airing of pain, which is something I'm not used to doing. I think it was the fact that at the same time I was writing about it, I was talking about it. My family, friends, and co-workers all offered support. New friends and new-old friends came into my life and supported me. People shared their own divorce stories with me, and listened to mine. I found that I had more friends than I thought I did.

For me, at least, this public airing of my feelings is part of the healing process. I am humbled by my experience - taken down a notch, if you will, and that has allowed me to more fully connect with those around me. Another reason I chose to put this all out there on the internet is that I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for artists, authors, and musicians who publicly voice their pain (look at Frida Kahlo, or Michael Gira, for example). Real emotions make for powerful art. True artists dig deeply. I'm inspired by that.

I hope that clarifies things for those, like L, who wonder why I do this. I don't dig as deeply here as I do in my more traditional journal (which I have also taken up writing in again), but my recent experiences have certainly broadened the scope of what I'm willing to write about in public.

We're all in this together, after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I must have a touch of lunacy, because I'm feeling a weird, directionless energy right now. Outside, the full moon hangs in the sky like it owns it. There's just enough moisture in the air to soften its edges a bit, lending a touch of unreality to the scene.

I'm going to try and hang onto this energy and utilize it somehow.
I just realized that I've been living in my apartment for exactly 2 months now. I suppose that doesn't really mean anything, but like it or not, we're all slaves to numbers to a certain extent, so I thought I'd mark this numerical milestone with some words.

In some ways, it seems like I've lived here longer. I have new routines, some of which are due to school, and some of which are due to my reduced time with the kids. I have a new neighborhood, which I'm still exploring. For example, last night when I was on a quest for a jumbo-sized rat, I found out that the pet store down the street just sells fish. I also discovered that there's a vegetarian cafe within walking distance. The next step is to see if the food there is palatable. I'm also enjoying the fact that I can have music playing all the time because there are no nearby kids trying to watch movies.

I'm having a hard time reconciling my old life with the new. It's still hard to be over at the old house when I'm taking care of the kids, and it's often hard for me to talk to Jen. This tends to make all the memories (good and bad) and the pain come rushing back in. At times like this, I'm reminded that I'm still very much in transition. It has been a long while since I was last truly single - around 15 years, in fact. There were virtually no gaps between my last three relationships, although the one in the middle was so off-again-on-again that I'm still not sure how to classify it. I wasn't really single though - just confused. As for the future, I'm trying to keep busy and work on maintenance, which is always something I've been lax with. I need to be better at following through with the choices I make, rather than starting strongly and losing my way as time wears on.

In another month it will be almost Christmas, and my 41st birthday will have come and gone. I'm not sure what the holiday season is going to be like for me yet. It may be hard, but then again if I focus my energies in the right way, it might be okay. Time will tell.

Today, I've got to go get my TB test read in a couple of hours. I don't have TB, of course, but the world runs on bits of official paper - at least until all the trees are gone.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the dentist for the first time in over a decade.

Right now, I'm listening to the soundtrack to Frida. Great film. Great music. Great artist.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My work week began with vomit. This is actually not that uncommon. If you're in charge of nearly 200 kids, there's always going to be at least 1 or 2 of them vomiting, or peeing, or doing something else equally objectionable. The first kid vomited out of sheer homesickness. The second, a cabin leader, emptied the contents of his dinner into the camp office's recycling basket at about 2 AM. At least he made it into some sort of container. I'm thankful for that.

Other than that, it looks like it's shaping up to be pretty good week.

Of course, this morning I drove nearly all the way to the school where I student teach before being tipped off by the lack of rush-hour traffic that something was amiss. That's when it hit me. It's Veteran's Day. Shit. No school. I turned around and went home. There's a lesson in this somewhere. I think the lesson is, "get more sleep." Wish I could.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm loving the cloudy, breezy weather. Most of the music in my collection lends itself to these kinds of weather conditions, so I'm getting the full aesthetic effect at the moment.

At the moment, Mondays have become my "get shit done" days. I don't have to be at work until the evening, so I have a whole day to catch up on schoolwork, clean the apartment, and tie up any other loose ends that need attention. Today's loose end involved getting a TB test, something I have to get done every four years if I want to continue working with children. Apparently, TB is on the rise in this area, so I guess it's good to get checked out occasionally. Still, the chances of picking something else up while languishing in a crowded waiting-room are probably pretty high. I forgot to bring a book too, so had to stare at the wall and lose myself in my thoughts. Not completely pretty in there yet.

I've got less than a month to go in the second-to-last term of my teaching credential program, and less than a month until my 41st birthday. At the moment, my emotions are a confusing mixture of sadness, anger, optimism, and pretty much everything in between. It's strange to be single again after so many years, but in some ways it's good for me (or so I keep telling myself). It's almost as if I've had to re-learn how to be single. I'm still learning the ins and outs of the new neighborhood too, and marveling at the number of places within easy walking distance.

Currently listening to: Grey Force Wakeford "Marble Heart"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I went out to take in some live music last night, but since it was music, I wrote about it on my music blog. The show was in San Francisco, a city where I used to spend a lot more time than I do now. There's something to be said for city life though - unlike the suburbs, everything is so compact. Unlike in suburbia, walking makes sense. Groups of people in animated discussion with each other barrel along on the sidewalks (true, much of the discussion seems to deal with what bar to hit up next, or getting laid, or some such), lights paint the surroundings with color and shadow, cars, bikes, and pedestrians weave in and out, and high above, the lonely moon looks down. There's an edge to the proceedings that is wholly missing in suburbia. Also, the city is where the majority of the interesting (to me, anyway) cultural events take place.

Of course, the city sucks away money. Getting to the city sucks away money too. That's a problem. I have to remind myself that the money gets sucked away no matter where I am, and not worry so much about it.

Now, back in suburbia, I'm going to go be a soccer dad for a bit. Willow is developing into a good little soccer player (as are the other kids). I watched her and Sophie run around with a soccer ball at Alex's practice yesterday, and it was great to see how skilled they've become. It's good to see the kids running around outside. The forecast says it might rain, and currently the sky is a uniform gray.

Bring it on.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Another work week has been consigned to the dust-bin of history. The kids this week presented a multitude of disciplinary challenges, and at one point, even some of the teachers had issues with each other. The mice are still rampant, but more of them got snapped up in traps, including at least a couple in one of the boys' cabins. Oh, and there was another lice outbreak, but all of the buggy kids had already been driven home by the time I got to work.

The weekend is just around the corner. I leave in a few minutes to pick up the kids from school. I look forward to seeing them, but don't look forward to spending time at my old house. I find that it's easiest for me when I'm doing things that don't have any relation to my old life. I've always been one of those people who needs to retreat to heal, but in my present situation, I can't completely do that, so I'm left with trying to juggle emotions.

Sometimes I drop them.

I have some plans for the rest of the weekend, but not as many as I would like. I've been trying to plan the weekends in advance, because if I don't do that, I often just stay home. Not that staying home is all bad. There is always plenty to keep me occupied at home.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mice continue to be a problem up at camp. They skitter around inside the cabins at night, and I've seen them a number of times in the camp office and in the staff room. I've already mentioned the fact that they fill my shoes with pilfered nuts at night, but I haven't yet mentioned the measures that have been taken to eradicate them. Apparently, a couple of feral cats have been brought in to handle mouse control. These cats replace the ones who originally had the job. Those cats dwindled in number over the years, possibly becoming coyote snacks (speaking of which, I saw a dead coyote on the road the other day too - things are tough all over, I guess). At least one of those original cats came to a gruesome end when its warm, dry sleeping place inside the emergency generator came to an abrupt end one night when the power went out. Raccoons ate the pieces.

I have yet to see the cats, but I have seen the mousetraps. We're talking old-school, baited traps that snap down and kill mice. I'm not sure why they didn't look into getting live traps, but I guess then somebody would have to release all the mice somewhere, and we've already trapped nearly 20 of the little buggers, including one who had the trap snap down on its hind leg. That one I had to kill, which since I'm a reptile owner, I've had some practice doing. I still hate to do it though. After all, we're all just trying to survive as best we can on this small planet. Mice are disease carriers though, and the kids take priority in this case.

In a way, I blame myself for the mouse problem. Over the last few years, I've probably removed around 20 Rattlesnakes from the site, relocating them to less-frequented areas. Of course, fewer Rattlesnakes means more mice. Still, most people would rather have to deal with mice than Rattlesnakes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not that it's news any longer, but Obama did win, which is great. Prop 8 passed here in California, which isn't great at all. It's funny (by "funny", I mean "sad") that at the same time we finally have a president-elect who breaks the mold, there are still enough assholes in the world to continue denying rights to a group who apparently it's still okay to hate.

There are still a lot of racists in the world, but they're usually shot down pretty effectively when they open their ignorant mouths. I wish the same thing would happen to the homophobes. The success of Prop 8 serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go as a society.

This is what happens when people continue to look to a 2000 year old book to tell them how to live their lives here in the 21st century. Or worse yet, when they listen to a person with an agenda interpret said book for his/her own nefarious purposes. Even so, they manage to pick and choose. Why do some people just seem to need to hate and/or fear other groups of people? It's not because it's in the Bible. People just use the Bible as an excuse. Still, I wish I could find the article that outlined all of the other crazy, outmoded ideas one can find within the pages of the Bible - such as the proper circumference of the switch husbands must use to beat their wives. I'll have to look around for it...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In the second grade classroom where I student teach, we had a mock election as part of a social studies lesson. Obama won. I can only hope that this microcosm will reflect reality.

I left early so I could go vote. Now, the waiting truly begins.

Monday, November 03, 2008

With the ending of daylight savings time, darkness falls early. It seems like it has been dark for hours already, with a light rain swirling down out of the blackness. It's dark inside my apartment too, because the bulb in the lamp just burned out. The voice of Lhasa de Sela drifts smokily from the speakers, accompanying me as I drink coffee in preparation for going to work.

Tomorrow, a new president will be elected. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to go vote, but I am sure that I will vote sometime tomorrow. I keep thinking of an old punk 7" by a band called A State of Mind (I think it was a split 7" with Chumbawamba, or was that their other record?). It was called, "If Voting Changed Anything, They'd Make It Illegal!" That's a jaded thought, but perhaps there's a grain of truth in it. We never get to vote for exactly who we want. We just get to decide amongst the choices presented to us. Sometimes that doesn't even work. Look at how George Bush snuck into the White House.

That said, I'm still going to fucking vote. I have to. We have to. Apathy kills.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos, originally uploaded by Corbie.

The San Jose Museum of Art was a happening place today. For starters, admission was free. Secondly, it was day 2 of a dia de los muertos themed celebration. While there, I discovered that there was an Andy Goldsworthy piece on display - a floor covered with pine branches, with a circular pattern of burnt branches in the middle. If that wasn't enough, there was a whole wing filled with photographs of Frida Kahlo. I'm not sure if these were the same photos displayed at the recent Kahlo exhibit in S.F., since I missed that one, but I guess it doesn't matter. It was good to get a little peek into her life, although I think one is offered a deeper glimpse by her paintings.

Willow powered her way from room to room in true 5-year-old fashion. She sat through one song by the mariachi band playing in the lobby before declaring the music unworthy of further attention. Too bad. I was really getting into the music. She did hover around the craft tables long enough to make a butterfly and a paper flower, decorate a sugar skull, and color a tin butterfly I'd traced for her. Pictured here is my tracing effort. To achieve this effect, I put a picture of a skeleton over a cardboard-backed piece of tin, and traced the lines of the drawing with a pointed piece of wood, digging into the tin. I decided not to color it because I thought rubbing marker over it would ruin it. I'm happy enough with the result that I'm thinking about doing some original art this way.

The rain held off today, and the weather was cool and cloudy. I'm hoping more rain hits us soon. It clears away the cobwebs.

I finally got a chance to hear the rain pattering down on the roof at my new place. The sky has been gray since Thursday, with heavy wind whipping through the area Thursday night/Friday morning. Of course, during the wind, I was up at camp, listening to small wind-bourne objects skittering across the cement and banging into walls. Friday evening, I took Willow trick-or-treating with her friend H. We hit a gated condo complex and cleaned up on the treats, although Willow was pretty wiped out by the time we finished.

She has been a bit under the weather this weekend, but I think this is in part due to her unhappiness at the fact that I no longer live with her. At one point, she said to me, "I don't like having two houses!"

Speaking of houses, we did get out yesterday, to a birthday party for one of Willow's friends. The party was at the house of the girl's grandparents. It was a huge place, up in the hills above the reservoir, with a proliferation of skylights and a deck commanding a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There was even an attached barn, and the kids got to go on a tractor ride in the rain. The fireplace was enormous, with a fire burning warmly away. I'm of two minds about this kind of house. Part of me finds them horribly extravagant. A house like that is just too big for one nuclear family. Owning a house like that is like taking the whole pie and leaving crumbs for the neighbors. On the other hand, it was beautiful, and I loved the way the architecture blended in with the surrounding forest. The stone work was very nice too. I could probably get used to living in such a place, but from my present perspective it would be overwhelming. You'd have to hire a staff to maintain things. From a person who is used to doing everything for himself, and not asking for help even when he should, I don't think I'd like that. Not that I'll ever have to worry about this. There's no way I'd ever be able to afford such a house.

Willow had a blast though, and in this situation, that's what counts.

Today we're going to attempt to attend the ongoing Dia de los Muertos celebration at the art museum.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last night, I kept being awakened by the gnawing sounds of a nearby mouse. I'm still not sure where the sounds were coming from, but this morning there were two almonds inside one of my boots.

Not the first place I'd think of when looking for somewhere to cache food. But then again, I'm not a mouse.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Since I get off work early Friday morning and don't have to be back at work until Monday evening, my weekends stretch over 4 days. Supposedly, it's a long stretch of free time. In reality, there are always a number of tasks and obligations that fill up that time. This weekend I spent some time trying to wrap up a task known as a Teaching Performance Assessment, which is just what it sounds like. I'm being assessed on my ability to teach. In this case, the assessment focuses on how I gather information about my students and how that information informs my instruction design. Thrilling, right?

I had ample time to go hang out too. Willow had her soccer game on Saturday, and played well. Later, I went to a costume party thrown by a couple of co-workers, accompanied by a taller, better-looking version of none other than Sarah Palin. She even had the accent down. Yesterday, I went and saw the latest Central Works play, which is based on Paul Hawken's book, Blessed Unrest. As usual, it built to quite a level of intensity. Unusually, it ended on a note of hope. My brother, who designs sound for Central Works, mentioned that Paul Hawken himself had been in the audience the day before, accompanied by Muriel Hemingway. Apparently though, the performance I saw was superior. I found myself moved and inspired, despite the fact that in this case I already count myself as a member of the choir being preached to.

Yesterday also marked our six year wedding anniversary, and day now destined to pass uncelebrated. Six years ago, I never would have expected to be sitting in a studio apartment, writing this. I guess it just goes to show that anything can happen at any time. The choices we make dictate how the future plays out, and sometimes it doesn't matter what you do. Shit happens. That last remark is in no way an excuse for not trying though. When shit happens, make a choice to shovel it up and get rid of it.

Still shoveling.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I actually got a full night of sleep last night. Sure, it started after midnight and lasted until well after daybreak, but it was for the required number of hours. It is a little noisy around here in the mornings, with the sounds of my neighbors bleeding through the walls (the sounds, not the neighbors, you understand...), but it didn't faze me this morning.

The computer is being temperamental, but that's not really news. If I could afford it, I'd upgrade a few things around here - the computer, my camera, etc. Of course, I still have a list of things I need. Most of the items are relatively inexpensive, and I'm sure that after I get paid I can make some headway. I keep thinking that I've got to focus on quality, and I'm not just talking about my list of items - I'm talking about life decisions and how I spend my time. Not to mention how I take care of myself and those I love.

I'm not quite there yet, but will be. I'll start by getting off the computer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My emotional state seems to deteriorate as the each week progresses. This is mostly due to lack of sleep, but I'm still finding it difficult to watch all four of the kids at my old house - it brings back too many memories, and I'm having other issues with it too. I don't feel like we're sharing quality time there, and life is really too short to engage in pursuits of questionable quality. I know that a lot of it has to do with my attitude, but some emotions are hard to overcome, and some situations just remain intolerable.

I love the kids. That goes without saying, and it's especially hard because I've helped raise three stepkids for the duration of the romantic relationship that Jen and I shared. Once the divorce has happened (and it has already, in spirit if not on paper), they are no longer my stepkids. Our relationships will still be what they are, but in some ways I feel like I've lost way more than just Jen (not that "just" is exactly the right word, but you know what I mean). Right now it's hard to be over at the old house with a smile on my face, pretending that everything is okay, when everything is patently not okay. Our lives have diverged, although in some ways they will be entwined forever. The engraving on our wedding rings read, "here we merge to form a river, and travel to the sea together", but now our streams have been sundered and we lie in seperate beds, still traveling towards the horizon but day by day forgetting what it meant to be together.

That said, we forgot what it meant to be together quite awhile ago. Fault lies on both sides, and blame is not given. We ended up being incompatible in some very basic ways. I think both of us knew this early on, but chose to ignore it. That's how it often goes, doesn't it?

Thank the fates for sending some old friends back into my life, not to mention all of the newer friends who make things more bearable on a daily basis. I'm feeling much more open to newness at the moment, and I'm finding it all around me. It's a good feeling.

Now I just have to find a way to comfortably deal with the death of a long relationship, and the resulting emotional fallout.

Maybe if I get more sleep. Maybe if I forge ahead. Maybe...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For the second day in a row, I've been busier than expected. Today it was because Willow has some sort of bladder or urinary tract infection. I took her to the doctor this morning, but poor Willow, who had been sitting on the toilet all night thinking she had to pee (and even falling asleep there), couldn't pee at the doctor's office. No pee equals no urine test equals no diagnosis. The doctor wouldn't prescribe anything for her, and recommended I buy cranberry juice for her to drink. Willow is not a fan of cranberry juice, but dutifully drank a small, watered-down cup of it. It's hard to tell if she's getting better or not, because now she's asleep. I have to wake her up in fifteen minutes or so to take her back home. Too bad, really. I wish I could just lay down beside her and go to sleep myself. Work obligations and coffee consumption don't allow this. The bigger kids now sleep over at their dad's on Wednesday, and Willow would sleep here at the same time if it weren't for my work schedule.

Things will change again when I stop working nights, which could be as soon as the end of the year, or as far off as next Spring. The one thing we can always count on is change. I'm reminded of another conversational thread from Monday night: stasis equals death. I think there is more truth in that than I'd care to admit.

Time to get off the futon and get ready for work now. I'm going to have to carry Willow to the van. Hope the sleep is doing her a world of good, because she means the world to me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today is turning out to be busy. Since about 4:30 PM yesterday, I've been home for about 2 hours, give or take. Maybe 3. At the moment, I'm trying to wrap up some reading and writing assessments on a third grader at the school where I student teach. I'm also teaching an after school science program on Tuesdays. And now, I'm going in early to run the astronomy program up at camp.

I did have a bit of down time last night, sitting by the embers of the evening campfire with one of this week's teachers. The night found both of us in a reflective mood, which was good for my soul. Strangely enough, one of the most memorable exchanges during the conversation had to do with a quote from the comedy, "City Slickers": "We may be lost, but we're making great time!" This kind of sums up the way I feel sometimes, or the way I view the negative effects of modern culture. We all seem to be rushing to get to someplace else. We can't find the time to take care of ourselves (or the people in our lives) in any meaningful way. We make snap decisions and sometimes stick to them for years, despite the fact that they may be, at best, wrong, or at worst, killing us. But hey! - we're getting there quickly, so it must be okay.

Is it?

Some of this, at least, applies to me. I'm trying to grow and reflect on this all.

It sure was nice to sit by the dying fire though. Fire itself symbolizes change; transformation - painful transformation that allows new life to grow.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm concentrating on trying to feel good. It usually comes naturally, but these days I have to concentrate on it. It's probably character-building. Right now I don't feel all that bad. Since I don't drink, I've had to rely on actual coping mechanisms during this whole separation/divorce process. I'm not used to this kind of pain, but I'm getting better.

That said, I've had some dark days too.

At the symphony last night (I got free tickets because I helped host the symphony camp when they rented our site over the summer), Willow lasted for about half of it before conking out in my lap. I sat there for one more piece, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade", before taking her home to bed. Glad I stayed for that one though. It was quite nice.

Now, I'm listening to Ghost's "Overture: Live in Nippon Yusen Soko 2006". One of these days I'll even watch the DVD it's packaged with. So little time, even now...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yesterday was nonstop, with a walk-a-thon, soccer game, and wedding all following on the heels of each other. Willow walked 8 laps at the walk-a-thon, played well at her soccer game (even though the other team trounced hers), and ran around like a crazy girl at the wedding, with her newly pink hair matching her pink dress. The wedding, the union of Richard and Heather, was performed by a drag queen (although he wasn't in drag - "dressed down", as he put it), and was definitely a much needed breath of fresh air.

There was a moment when all eyes were on me too. I attempted to walk through a closed door. Unfortunately, the door was glass, and the resulting shattering, tinkling sound of flying daggers of glass presented a definite full-stop punctuation mark in the midst of the ongoing flow of wedding revelry. Fortunately, none of the daggers punctured anybody. I was uninjured.

A mere feet away was a friend who did the same thing as a kid, and who still sports the scars from his own encounter with a closed door.

The world is a strange place.

Tonight Willow and I are going to the symphony. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

There's a Great Horned Owl calling somewhere off in the darkness. The moon is one day past full. I'm hiding in the computer lab at work, drinking a cup of herbal tea. The cabin leaders are all in the lodge, eating donuts and hopefully staying out of trouble. Through the wall, I can hear the teachers talking.

I haven't yet found the inner calm I require to truly move forward. It's hard to focus on what will be when you're still mourning what was, or what could have been. I have to take into account that my state of mind is negatively affected by a serious lack of sleep. I've known this all along, of course. I always tell kids who come into the camp office at night that their problems are magnified by exhaustion, and that the best thing they can do to make things better is sleep. Sleep doesn't solve problems, but it makes them more bearable.

I wonder what the future will bring. How will I feel about all of this a year from now? Will I have successfully made the transition? I plan on living in my apartment for at least six months, or maybe until the end of the school year. Who knows, maybe I'll be there longer. It's not a bad little place, with the park nearby, a skylight in the kitchen, and an air conditioner. The wood-paneled ceiling is a plus too. Too bad the mail delivery seems to be so chaotic.

I'll be glad when my school term is over in December. I've been having trouble focusing on my assignments lately, and am stalled on the current one - not due to a lack of focus, but due to a lack of a subject for the literary case study I'm supposed to perform. I may be able to fix that tomorrow. After this term is over, I only have one more. For the last term, I'm hoping to find an internship so I can work at a school.

In a way, this is an exciting time. Part of me recognizes this, but I don't feel excited. I feel wounded. There will be a scar, but with each scar comes wisdom. I will heal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's strange how we sometimes seem to go in circles until we gain enough momentum to fly off on a new path.

Going through one of my journals, I found the results of a Native American tarot reading an old friend did for me years ago. My guide animals were (are?) the skunk and the otter, with the skunk representing respect, and the otter representing playfulness (if I remember right).

At the bottom, my friend wrote: Change is in the air - let go of old habits. Let your true feelings guide you rather than being complacent. Stand up for what you really want and need. Let your love flow - it's pure and true - don't fear it - trust it. Guide or offer guidance to others right now when they seek you out. It's called Faith.

Here and now, years after the fact, those words hit home. I really do need to offer more of myself. I rarely do that. I'm too busy looking inward.

Habits. Complacency.


Monday, October 13, 2008

It's the start of a new week, and today I'm finding solace in Firewater's "The Golden Hour" and getting shit done.

Carpe Diem, after all... I'm tired of letting the day seize me. Still, there are days when I feel limited in what I can accomplish. These limitations usually take the form of lack of funds or people not getting back to me in a timely manner. That said, today most people are getting back to me pretty quickly.

Oh yeah, the other limitation has to do with the computer printer being out of ink, which of course means any home printing fetches up against two limitations: lack of ink and lack of money. Good thing there are computers at work.

Yeah, I'm still sad, but I'm attempting not to dwell on it. Dwelling is counterproductive in many ways.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've been in my apartment for exactly a month and, despite some emotional setbacks (one of which was Jen announcing her intention to divorce me), I'm slowly adjusting to all the changes in my life. I suppose more changes are in the offing too, since I'll be working in a classroom before too long. I just don't want to hear any more bad news for awhile.

I had long, unrelated phone conversations with Jen and my mom today. Right now, I feel the need to talk to people. It's both hard for me and good for me to talk things out with Jen. I still have some issues I'm dealing with, but hopefully over time things will get better. I'm slowly starting to reconnect with the outside world too, and trying to keep in mind lessons learned.

School is getting tougher too, partially because I've been distracted. I'm trying to iron out some financial aid wrinkles too. There's always something that needs attention, and my mind still tends to cannibalize itself when I'm left to my own devices for too long.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

I've got Tracy Chapman's version of "House of the Rising Sun" playing in my head, particularly the lines, "I've got one foot on the platform/and one on the train...". That's how I feel right now, like I'm starting off on a new journey. The thing is, especially when using this as a metaphor, one must remember to get both feet on the train before it leaves the station. Indecision could be messy. I'm sort of feeling that right now, but becoming more clear about getting on the train with each passing day.

I miss traveling.

To belabor the metaphor a bit more, I can hear the loudspeaker reminding me to mind the gap. Every life change comes with a gap - a gap between the comfort of the known and the uncertainty ahead. It's both fitting and somewhat soothing that this gap comes during the transitional season of Autumn.

Now I'm seeing the hilarious train platform murder scene from Dario Argento's "Cat O' Nine Tails". My train of thought does this to me.

Mind the gap.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I just met one of my neighbors after around three weeks of hearing him groaning and cussing through the wall. Nice guy, in an alcoholic drug addict kind of way. He provided me with a litany of his woes, mentioned several times that he was a member of a cannabis club, even showing me his membership card, showed me pictures of his daughter, told me about his health problems and about how he was from Detroit, and on and on and on.

When I finally managed to extricate myself, his last words were, "if Whoppers weren't 99 cents, I'd already be dead."

He's unemployed too, which explains why I always hear him.


Lots of other stuff going on too. Not going to blog about it now.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Right now, I'm loving the way Willow sings as she plays. It makes for some interesting juxtapositions of music and drama:

(singing) "Peace and love, peace and love, that's all I'm thinking of bay-beee, peace and looooove"

(playing) "I GOT SMOOOSHED!"

Now she's singing, "I miss Mommy, I miss Daddy." She's trying to come to terms with the changes in her life.

Now she wants to go to the park. Let the healing power of play commence.

That's what I need right now too.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tess Gerritsen and Ed the Head

Tess Gerritsen and Ed the Head, originally uploaded by Corbie.

Even before she'd mentioned that she'd brought something along, I'd noticed the small box she held in her lap. As she started to open it, I asked, "what's in there? A shrunken head?"

I was right.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Stop the emotional rollercoaster! I want to get off! It has been a tough week in a tough year. I'm not going to write about it here because printed words take on a reality all of their own, and who really wants to remember the kinds of feelings I'm experiencing at the moment?

Not me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Willow has been having a rough week. Last night while she was visiting for dinner, she slipped out of the swing at the park and landed on her back (later she proclaimed, "I did a back flip!"). She got the wind knocked out of her, and she cried, more because it scared her than any other reason, I think. I'm sure it didn't feel good, though.

Today, while student teaching, I got a call from Jen saying the on-campus YMCA at Willow's school had called. Willow had fallen and hit her head. Since Jen works far away, and I'm a bit closer, I went to the school to see Willow. She's fine, with a bloody bump on the back of her head, but no other ill effects. She did use the opportunity presented by my visit to request the rest of the day off.

Now, we're hanging out. I'm glad. She's playing with plastic zoo animals. I'm going to go join her on the carpet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

For the last couple of days, I haven't left the apartment much. It's funny, really. I don't have any kids to pick up, or kids to help with homework (actually, I do in an hour or so) and yet I don't go out. Sure, I have school work to do, but I find that I can't do that for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time without needing a change of task (unless I'm in a panic to get something done by a deadline, in which case I can work for as long as needed).

I think I stay in because I'm surrounded by my comfort junk. We all know about comfort food, but some of us apparently have comfort junk, or comfort stuff - call it what you will. I've always been a bit of a packrat, and despite having to pare things down when I moved, I still live surrounded by books and cds - I have years and years worth of entertainment stacked around me. Not that I spend all of my time reading or listening to music (actually, I kind of do when I can get away with it). I spend a fair amount of time on the computer too, writing and surfing.

The thing about comfort junk, and surfing the web, and all of that stuff, is that it's no substitute for human interaction. It's definitely not a substitute for love. I feel like I accidently went and made that substitution somehow, without even realizing it.

Now that I'm alone with all of this stuff, I find myself in a reflective mood.

It's just stuff.

I need to get out more.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This evening, as the sky darkened, I sat out on the patio and read a novel. Gentle music played inside the apartment, and I could hear (and can still hear) people in the park across the street. I had some coffee too, using the horizontal beams supporting the fence as a table for my mug. Sure, I had to drag one of the kitchen chairs outside because I have no patio furniture, but that's okay. The kitchen chair worked just fine.

It's too dark to read outside now, so I'm writing here instead. The music is still playing.


Loveless, originally uploaded by Corbie.

I went to yet another wedding yesterday. Actually, it was a wedding reception, the actual marriage having taken place earlier in the day. The reception took place in a park in Santa Cruz, and we had to share the space with soccer games, other parties, and the general public, making it hard to find parking.

I parked down around the corner and found myself passing through Evergreen cemetery on my way to the reception. It has been about 20 years since I was last in that cemetery. This time it was in the afternoon though, and we weren't getting kicked out by cops. Times have changed. It's a strange little cemetery, with the grave markers at the back becoming one with the surrounding woods, sticking out of the undergrowth like strangely weathered boulders. Near the road, the ground is devoid of grass, and the ground has subsided in coffin-shaped patches in front of some headstones, making it look like the century-old residents have gone walkabout. The photo here struck me as being particularly poignant, not only because of the name on the stone, but because of the age of the deceased and the fact that she died exactly a hundred years ago. This represents every parent's nightmare - the life of a child ending before it truly begins, and dragging the happiness of the parents down into the grave with her.

We become so vulnerable when we love.

Speaking of love, the reception helped me set aside my maudlin thoughts. Most of my coworkers were there, and a few other people who I've met during my years as an outdoor educator. The relaxed atmosphere and good food was just what I needed.

I left before the reception was over so I could make the trip back over the hill and take Nate to a Pow Wow at West Valley College. Fourth graders do a unit on Native Americans, and Nate's teacher offered points to students attending the Pow Wow. To my thinking, it gave me a chance to do something with Nate, something that doesn't really happen all on its own anymore. I also like going to Pow Wows, and it had been nearly 20 years since I'd last gone to one.

It's interesting. When we told the kids I was moving out, Nate had the most immediate emotional reaction to the news. He was flat out pissed off. Maybe that initial venting has allowed him to better come to terms with the situation, because now he seems to be handling things better than the other kids. There's something to be said for letting your emotions out and telling people what you think. Maybe I should do that more often myself.

Willow came along too, with Alex electing to stay home and watch videos on the computer, and Sophie misbehaving enough that I didn't really want to bring her. Not that she wanted to go anyway. At the Pow Wow, we checked out the vendors and watched the dancing. Using Jen's camera, Nate took photos, politely asking permission of his subjects before doing so. Everywhere we looked there were people in native costume. Vivid colors, feathers, and jangling bells turned the drab college campus into something else entirely. The color and movement all around us, coupled with the surrounding darkness, gave the illusion of what is must have been like hundreds of years ago, with people pressing close together in the night, pushing back the unknown with their stories and companionship.

I'm glad we went.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I've always been good at adjusting to new situations, but I have to say that my newest new situation has got to be about the hardest I've ever had to adapt to. I feel like I'm out in the cold, while inside a warmly lit window, all of the joy and frustration of family life plays out while I watch. I know that this isn't completely true, but that's how it feels.

I'm now a visitor in my own home, not sure of where the boundaries lie. It's an uncomfortable feeling. In fact, it's incredibly sad.

In part, my facility for adjusting is why this whole thing happened. I'm more comfortable with adjusting to things than I am with taking action to change them. Life has always been something that happens to me. I seldom find the initiative to happen to life. It's funny how in my effort (or lack of effort) to avoid discomfort has resulted in so much of it.

At least I know the lesson here. That's the first step towards making changes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've been student teaching for a couple of weeks now. I'm finding that, under the cold, hard light of reality in a second grade classroom, I have to keep adjusting my plans to make things more concise, more simple. It's almost like relearning how to teach. It's that different from teaching fifth and sixth graders in the woods. The kids are sweet though, in that, "you've gotta explain things really simply to me," kind of way. I'm teaching a unit on folktales. I was quite ambitious with my planning at first, but like I said, I've had to throw most of my plans out the window and watch them get spirited away by the Autumn breeze. Not that there is any Autumn breeze. Still feels like summer to me.

And my bank failed, dammit! Good thing some other, bigger organization threw money at it and took over. I think. I'll be the first to admit I don't, and probably never will, understand the world of high finance, but it seems pretty scary out there right now.

Currently listening to: Bohren & der Club of Gore "Midnight Radio"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh yeah, happy Autumn! I'm still coming to terms with all of the non-seasonal changes in my life, so what the hell - let the season change too!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Incoming, originally uploaded by Corbie.

Willow is asleep beside me on the bed. At the moment, I can hang my legs over the edge of the bed and type on my aging desktop. I may rearrange things, if I can. Things are a bit cramped here, but I like it (the physical space, if not the emotional one).

Willow and I went to the beach yesterday to take part in a little gathering of outdoor educators, masterminded by the one and only Scooby. It made me realize how seldom I visit the beach, even though it's only a half hour away. My sharpened sense of melancholy made me appreciate the cold waves and distant lights on a deeper level than usual. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, I really appreciated getting to hang out around a blazing fire with a bunch of my coworkers too. My work is a happy place. It's also so much more clearly defined than my personal life.

Not that I need to be told what to do. I guess it's just that I'm more clear on what the expectations are.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I've more or less settled into my new routines. It has been a week now since I moved, and I'm also just finishing up my first week back as night supervisor at science camp. In addition to this, there's the additional kid-juggling that comes with being a separated couple, and my new position as student teacher a couple of mornings a week in Santa Clara.

It's funny, but when there's so much going on, it's harder to write about it. For this post, I'll stick with my work week. We had two schools up, and the kids were well-behaved 5th graders. A couple of them puked, a couple had fevers, and I pulled out a gnarly splinter from a girl's hand this morning, but other than that, it was a problem free week. The cabin leaders were all college students too, which raises the maturity level, but sometimes makes them less willing to follow directions. This was a good bunch though, and included the girlfriend of the cabin leader who was killed recently. I'm pretty amazed that she came up at all, given the newness of the wound, but she did it as a tribute to him, since it was a place he loved so much.

As for me, despite the decreased amount of sleep I get when working nights, it felt great to be back. The place never fails to make me feel better, no matter what I have going on in my life. Right now it is much needed, of course. The moon was full earlier in the week, and for some reason it brought out the owls in force. At one point, there were 3 or 4 owls all calling out at once, hooting back and forth from the darkness of the trees - except for the Screech owl who, of course, screeched. All my reptiles and other pets are in the nature lab at work now too, and are being enjoyed by countless visitors. I've been trying to get to work early to check up on them, and so far it looks like all of their needs are being attended to. It looks like I'll always be the one giving the python water though, since he has a tendency to strike at any hands entering his domain.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I haven't yet filed any change of address forms. It's on my mental list of things I need to get to when I have time. Ha.

My new mailbox is one of many, sharing space with 15 other boxes at the top of a column by the road, with the column sharing the parking strip with something like 12 other columns and a couple of large lock-boxes for packages. Oh, and the recycling bin where everybody stuffs junk mail. When I first opened my mailbox, I had to remove a cube of mail, composed of ads and mail addressed to at least 3 different previous inhabitants, and some for the guy who forgets to tell people that he has an apartment number. There was also a key to the lock box. Inside the lock box was a big box of wine. I handed everything over to the apartment manager. I wonder if she'll drink the wine. No, I take that back. I really don't care if she drinks the wine.

The whole experience made me think of the transitional nature of our lives. People come and go, and their mail struggles to follow, often getting waylaid by people not having time to fill out change of address forms.

We just don't have the time. We're distracted by more important things.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The moon was beautiful tonight, rising majestically and painted orange by the unmentionable mixture of particles that passes for air around here. Like everything else around me at the moment, its aesthetic effect was honed by emotional crisis. The hills at twilight, witnessed while I indulged in some spur-of-the-moment retail therapy (new Tess Gerritsen novel), were soft and purple, mysterious and unattainable in the distance.
I'm writing this in an actual journal - the kind made out of paper - for transfer to the blog on Tuesday, when my phone/internet service is up and running.

Jen and I have separated. I moved out on Friday, dragging loads of accumulated crap behind me. I'll be helping out with all four of the kids twice a week, and Willow will be with me when the other kids are at their dad's place. It's too early to tell how well they will cope, but under the circumstances, they're holding up pretty well.

This isn't a venue for details. Let it suffice to say that a lot of this stems from us both being non-confrontational and from me being oblivious a good part of the time. Make of that what you will.

The future looms, and right now it's full of uncertainty and a whole lot of work of every kind.

Current listening: "Cosmic Superimposition"

Monday, September 08, 2008

The kids all had the day off from school today so their teachers could have an in-service day. This makes it the second Monday in a row with no school. Of course, today I had to go to my own in-service day (the first of five this week), so I dragged all the kids along with me. Alex especially didn't want to go, because it meant that he wouldn't be able to get started on a school project he'd put off 'til the last minute. Once I got there though, he joined our back-to-work meeting, even to the point of occasionally contributing to it. Nate went and read under a tree, and the girls spun around in office chairs until they were dizzy and chased each other with squirt guns.

Later, looking for the girls, I discovered them in one of the conference rooms with nearly 10 little wax paper cups full of ice. Sophie guiltily looked up and demanded to know, "WHO TOLD YOU?" She then tried to blame the whole thing on Willow.

Willow, for her part, just kept eating ice.

I don't mind them eating ice, but I wish they'd eat it out of the reusable water bottles I'd packed for them. I guess that's less fun though.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I have a hard time maintaining things. Once I get to a certain point, I take a leaf from Julius Caesar's book and, well, rest on my laurels (so to speak). My life could be visually represented as a series of plateaus. Every so often, I realize I've been hanging out on a plateau for so long that the view has grown stale. This is usually when I start climbing towards the next plateau. Sometimes though, in order to shrug me off its back, the plateau has to fall out from under me. On such occasions, I flap my arms like a sad bird until I find a new resting place. You'd think I'd learn...

Take for instance the old template I've been using here since the dark ages of 2002. I realize that a lot of people hate reading light text against a dark background - mostly because they aren't afraid to tell me about it. I also realize that the comment link has been broken for ages, and that the old page took forever to load. Well, I just climbed off that particular virtual plateau and changed the template. I notice that my sidebar links have disappeared, but I'm not sure if people ever followed them anyway, and truth be told, most of them would be more at home over at my music blog anyway.

I'm pretty busy at the moment, with school and other things, but perhaps I'll tinker more when time allows.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

We were driving past the cemetery today, something that almost always elicits a comment from Willow.

Willow: "Can we go say hi to the people in the cemetery?"

Me: "We could go there sometime, but the people are all under the ground."

Willow (exasperated at my stupidity): "I knoooow, but we could dig!"

Friday, August 29, 2008

The kids are finishing up their first week of school, and despite that fact, summer is still very much with us, with temperatures hovering near the double/triple digit demarcation line. Like I was doing near the end of last school year, I've been walking the kids to and from school, which at the moment means I'm walking at least three miles a day. The kids have pretty much settled into their new routines, with Alex going to the middle school and the three younger kids all attending elementary school together. They missed all being at the same school by a year. Willow has the same teachers that Nate and Sophie had (two teachers sharing a contract), and since they are good teachers, this is a good thing. Nate has the only male teacher. Someday, somewhere, that will be me, but at the moment I still have two more terms of school before I can get my teaching credential. This term, I'm going to be student teaching in a second grade classroom at a school in Santa Clara - one of the rare public schools where the students have to wear uniforms. I've already been there (yesterday, actually) to meet the students and observe the teacher. She's been teaching for decades, so I should learn a lot of new tricks. That routine doesn't start in earnest for another couple of weeks. I still have another week off work, followed by our in-service week, before all of the pieces fall into place around here.

Speaking of work, I learned some sad news yesterday, but first, an explanation. Our science camp and summer camp programs depend heavily on volunteers (during the summer, they're called counselors, and during the school year, they're known as cabin leaders). Some of our volunteers come back again and again, often appearing every few weeks and being incredibly flexible with their time, so they can jump in when and where they are needed. Occasionally they become staff, which means they actually start getting paid.

One of our most dedicated volunteers, Brett Lazzeri (aka Sea Turtle), was killed in a car crash in Reno on Monday. His girlfriend, Sunny, survived, but was injured - I'm not sure how badly. It's still hard to believe. He touched the lives of many, and I'm sure that there are literally hundreds of kids who would be completely devastated to hear this news. I know I am. My thoughts and energy go out to his family and friends, and I know his spirit will live on in the countless lives he's touched over the years.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My week as site manager/liaison for the symphony camp is over. I helped out with another small group over the weekend as well - a student council from a local catholic school. Bright kids - we played charades around the campfire as the full moon rose through the trees, and they were so good that it was as if a psychic connection existed between members of the group.

As for the symphony group - the California Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, to be precise - their Saturday concert was phenomenal. I can't remember the names or composers of the pieces (it was hard to hear the conductor when he announced them, and there wasn't a program), but all the practice they put in (sometimes waking up before 6 AM, I'm told, which is unheard of for the average teenager) paid off.

The day before, I took a bunch of them over to a nearby park to watch the annual free Shakespeare play. This year there are two different ones, each running for three weekends befores switching. We saw A Comedy of Errors, which I have to admit I hadn't seen (or read) before. The stage design was well done, and it was great just to sit and watch while the sky darkened. Occasionally, a bat would flit down into the light before darting off into the darkness again, making sure that mosquitoes were kept to a minimum. Oh, and the acting - it ranged from competent to excellent, although one of the main actors chose to model his character after Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Too obvious by far, and quite distracting. Other than that, it was a lot of fun. Willow didn't understand a word, of course, and neither did some of the younger symphony members. The spectacle kept them interested though.

I also led a night hike for them, helped out with a dinner in the park, and oversaw their campfire. Willow tagged along for the latter two events (with all four kids hanging out for the campfire), and was overjoyed that there was an elaborate jump house set up in the park. The woman in charge of the symphony camp paid the jump house people some extra money to leave it up a little longer so the symphony kids (along with Willow) could play on it.

This week, soccer practice starts for the kids. Jen has been buying them new soccer gear and back-to-school clothes, and they're all excited. As Dar Williams puts it, it's the end of summer, the end of summer/When you move to another place. Autumn always seems like the time to move ahead. I think having a job tied in with the school year helps divide each year into manageable chunks like that. Summer is a time of relative stagnation, and Fall is a time of regrouping and change.