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: irr.app.(ext.) "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!"