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Archive for April, 2007

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Leaving Paradise

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

A good friend who has daughters aged 30 and 23 is visiting for the weekend. She sits with me in my concern that my daughter doesn’t seem ready to take control of her life yet. This daughter, my fourth and last child, is 21 but dropped out of college and is working for a minimum-wage employer that never gives her more than 30 hours a week of work. She has not, so far, been able to find any other kind of job. Just this week, wrapping up my World Lit class, I taught the conclusion to Milton’s Paradise Lost and asked my room full of 24 college students, “When do you think it’s time for a person to leave home, get their own apartment, let their parents move on in their lives?” Their answers were revealing. [read on]

Silence, Listening, Censorship, Media

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Twice this morning I have written a new blog posting about two things: the workshop at the prison last night, and Amy Goodman’s speech at the Oscar Romero Awards this past Sunday, which I heard rebroadcast on the radio as I was driving home from the prison. Twice, as I neared the end of my post, I accidentally hit a wrong key that navigated me away from my post and erased everything I’d just written. When that happens twice, I have to take stock. What do I NEED to say? Can I be more succinct? The clock is ticking. [read on]

Whole slew of movies

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Over the weekend, between naps and fits of crabbiness and soreness, and despite six hours I spent grading humanities projects, I gorged on movies. Last year’s hits have just come out on DVD: The Queen, Freedom Writers, and The Last King of Scotland. Surprisingly, of the three, it was Last King that moved me most. [read on]

Honeysuckle and Soto Zen

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

I’m back to myself! This morning I can move again without pain. I resumed my morning meditation and my walk in the park, where great mounds of honeysuckle are blooming extravagantly, promising summer. The fragrance makes me drunk with joy, as it’s very much this moment , but it also holds me in a kind of rapture going right back to my early childhood in North Carolina, where I first learned that sweetness.

My internet connection was down for two days, which gave me an unexpected computer fast, and that coincided with my whole physical system being “down.” For two days after my collision with the parking lot, every part of my body was a wreck. I took frequent naps, gulped Tylenol, and limped along behind Duke at regular intervals, both hands on the leash handle, till his human companion came home Sunday night. [read on]

Nikki Giovanni gets it right

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

(Update Wednesday April 18th: today her speech is on the internet. I see now that much of my enthusiasm had to do with her delivery, her energy during her performance of the speech. But I will leave the rest of this post as it was when I wrote it. I seem to have added quite a bit of my own to what she said, but I still think her intentions were what I heard.)

After classes today I had to get the oil changed in my car, so I was forced to sit down in a waiting room with a television on, just as Nikki Giovanni made the concluding talk at the Virginia Tech Convocation, and although part of her speech was a little too much hooting “school spirit” for my taste, she said what I haven’t heard anyone else say and what is, in my opinion, the best possible thing anyone could say. I will just use this space today to celebrate her wisdom and courage in saying what she said. [read on]

Mary Rose Meets Thay

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Continuing my reading of Mary Rose O’Reilley’s The Barn at the End of the World, it seems to me that the radiant core of the book is this meeting she had with “Thay,” Thich Nhat Hanh, the head teacher at Plum Village, and the author of several books that have shaped me, including Being Peace . [read on]

Buddhist communities

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

I always have a stack of books by my bed, and I am often reading several at once, though sometimes a book sits in the stack so long that it gets moved aside, ends up on a shelf, and languishes there for a year or two. So it was with Mary Rose O’Reilley’s The Barn at the End of the World. Somehow I gravitated to it once again last night and remembered why I’d been drawn to it in the first place. The author has a sharp sense of humor, the courage to create a life for herself unlike anyone else’s, and she threw herself over a cliff that has always fascinated me: she moved to Thay Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village, in France, and wrote (uproariously) about how that went for her. [read on]

Dancing with Carolyn Heilbrun

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Carolyn Heilbrun’s last book, The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty, is a pertinent read for anyone on the cusp of life-change. It’s a collection of essays, some more engaging than others. I am very different from Heilbrun, and her experience doesn’t reflect mine. But I don’t find her saying what I’ve heard before. She’s opinionated, bossy, bravely self-revealing, tough, and original. She makes me laugh and wonder, and see myself more clearly, so I’m grateful to the woman in Costa Rica who suggested this book to the friend who told me about it; and I’m grateful to Carolyn Heilbrun for writing it. [read on]

Basho’s Back

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

Last night, this email exchange with Ansie:

Me: Maybe I should go back and get him. But then what?

Ansie: Then you love him and feel his soft body against yours and listen to the sweet little noises he makes when he is asleep. And you decide what next when there is truly no time left for love. If it was me (and I know it isn’t), I would hold on to every little bit of love for as long as possible because in the end that is the only thing that really matters. [read on]

Doubting Everything

Monday, April 9th, 2007

The woman who has taken Basho says he’s not eating, he growls at her cat, he’s terrified of her dog. If she sits on the couch in the room where he hides, he will come out and sit near her; but he doesn’t trust her, runs if she moves toward him. Perhaps he just needs time to adjust, but I feel horrible for thrusting this difficulty on a being who only ever gave me joy and who was perfectly happy with life as it was. And I miss him. There are horrors taking place in the world, and by comparison with the results of global warming and what’s going on in Darfur, Myanmar, or Iraq, this is trivial. But every loss calls up every other loss. I live again the losses of my children, friends, lovers, animals, oceans, and places I have left behind in the quest. I take this moment, and Dave’s wise comment, to call into question everything in my life. [read on]