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.