Trying To Reach You

A quiet day with pencils. And rhubarb.

A Doodle: Language Waves
2015TryingToReachYou

A Proem: Trying To Reach You

I don’t swim anymore.

I remember it though. I remember the cool smooth press of cold water, moving softly, slowly over my skin. I remember the light escaping with each movement, reaching back into the sky. I remember how sound moved away from me as I submerged.

Sometimes trying to reach your shore is like swimming. With every word the light of meaning reflects into the stars. Forward, forward through transparent pressure, I move towards the distant sound of your voice.

From the garden.
2015MayRhubarb

Worldly Distractions

Weather

The Little House in the City
24°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 26 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 23.9°C
Dewpoint: 17.5°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: SSW 17 km/h
Humidex: 30

The Country House
28°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 26 May 2015
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 27.9°C
Dewpoint: 15.2°C
Humidity: 45%
Wind: WSW 11 gust 30 km/h
Humidex: 32

Quote

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

[Once, during a performance review I underwent while teaching individuals with disabilities, I was criticized severely for “always doing the right thing”. It was the only criticism the director had of my work. I had a hard time believing that the director actually said that to me, and meant it. I was, as Mark Twain says, astonished, and deeply disturbed. Either the culture has morphed into something unrecognizable since Mark Twain was alive, or he was cloistered from what really goes on in the world of ambition and competition.]

27 Comments

  1. The Universe has turned to loving “bad” things. For some reason. I think it’s a phase the Universe is going thru, like the Ice Age… it’s the Bad Age… where it’s more cool to be bad than good. I think it stinks, personally. I will continue to tell my dogs they are “good boy” and “good girl” and hope that they know that’s the way it should be!

  2. When I think of some of the inexperienced fools in places of power and authority, it all makes sense to me.

    That was a strange thing for your director to say.

    Love the poem and the art.

  3. I’m with you Kate, for the most part there is no one driving the bus!

    The director was a disturbing individual, I felt she was quite ruthless, the better I got to know her. Her personality was a real eye opener for me, and it was knowing her that allowed me to understand some of the contempt for “bleeding heart politics” that I ran into at the university. It seemed that she saw people in need, from a holocaust camp survivor, to the people dealing with severe disabilities, as having a lot offer an able bodied professional in the way of “career opportunities”. Some of my students used to say, “she thinks she is God”. They may have been right, but not the kind of God I wanted anything to do with. She did help some people, but in my opinion it was just some. She did a lot of harm to her staff, not just me, and was not admired by very many of the students. My association with her nearly destroyed my faith in humankind.

    I met better people, and I think I’ve recovered.

    Glad you like the Proem and the art! Thanks for calling it art!

  4. NORA

    Hi Maggie,
    Did you do the doodle? It looks like embroidery. I really like it!

    Did you write the poem? I really-really love it!

    Also enjoying the photos you are adding along side of your entries.

    I think the earth is constantly going through phases. It’s just a mystery why to me.

  5. Hi Nora,

    Yep, I did the doodle, I needed to think today, and it is always easier with pencils. And I did write the poem, which I defined as a proem, not sure if it is poetry or prose, it is what it is. I am glad you like the doodle and words!

    Why might horrify us, so I am content with because, πŸ™‚

  6. crochetlady or Lee Ann

    I love both the doodle and the proem. I found that when I am in the hospital, having my markers, pens and notebook helps me get thru some of the heavy times.

  7. This post has a pleasing sense of balance – offering pleasure on many levels.

    I’m a bit (a lot) behind on posts I’d like to write. One that has clawed at my heart and self-esteem for more years than I’d like to admit is about a teacher I had in 7th grade.

    I’m unable to identify when I read essays written by former students describing how a teacher changed their lives – these essays drown in praise and gratitude. My essay would also be titled *The Teacher Who Changed My Life* but for different reasons. He hated me. Singled me out in the classroom. When others weren’t watching he verbally made it clear that I was stupid and worthless. He hated me. Of note, I’d started the year as a happy bubbly young teen. Any confidence I had was ravaged by this monster who once even physically lifted me and threw me against the lockers in the hallway when no one was watching. So, yeah, I remember a teacher who made a difference in my life… It took YEARS for me to recover – I’m guessing 27-30 years. He did that much damage. It still haunts me – that he had that kind of power over me. He was an evil man with a cruel streak – I was his target. This is the most I’ve ever written about that time in my life. His name was Mr. Schaffer. He was tall and bony thin with a sinister black moustache and greasy stuff to slick down the threads of hair on his head. I was terrified of him…. I never told anyone I was being emotionally abused or that he threw me around. It was a very very sad time in my life. My mother was drowning in vodka, my father was absent. It was the perfect storm for disaster, but I survived.

    Sorry to get lost in myself… but I want you to know that I completely understand the damage that can be done by mentors t that we want to respect.

  8. Reenie, I am so glad you did write about your experience in 7th Grade. What a miserable little creep! I am glad you named him. I assume he did not rise to any heights of power, so that there is little danger involved in giving him a name. Not only did you survive, you also developed a tremendous depth of character, which I have come to appreciate, and I am sure others do too!

    It makes my blood boil, hearing how much damage one miserable little creep can visit upon a blithe spirit. He probably targeted you because he felt you lacked a support system, people who would go after him. You probably weren’t his first target, and probably not his last either.

    For me getting to know the woman behind the scenes was an opportunity to learn that talk is cheap, cheap, cheap. Famous or powerful people have a “public face” that has nothing to do with who they are at heart, it has everything to do with whatever useful image they want to employ. What they do when they think no one will find out, well, that is the measure of a human’s worth.

  9. Maggie, thanks. This is something I want to flesh out. I want this story to be a part of my life journals because this man’s behavior affected me for so many years.

    I married young and into a remarkable family. Very very smart and talented and I was such a so-so nobody with a neglected childhood. But once in the fold, I became one of them. I have joked that I was their *little Joan Kennedy* the pretty little thing without the fancy college degrees. But they made me one of them. Embraced me. Like cream, I rose to the top. They gifted me with empowerment. I suddenly realized I could participate in any conversation at their table and that I added warmth and wit and made everyone laugh a lot. I became a favorite choice for games like Trivia Pursuit. I had a head full of information just waiting to burst free!

    My mother-in-law fluffed me up all the time – made me feel like I was the best mother in the whole wide world and so clever with my cooking and crafts and mothering. She was an accomplished journalist – knew the elite to include Walter Cronkite… and importantly, was the one who insisted I should write. She loved my writing, my *voice* She never stopped encouraging me. She’s still alive – 93, I believe. It’s only been recent that we had our last exchange of letters because her mind is so frail these days. But up until her last lucid letter, she was cheering me on with a desire that I publish my memoirs.

    I drone on and on. My life is so tiny these days. You have sparked some powerful memories and I’ve been able to levitate the best of them as well.

    Though my stamina is very limited, I’m going to set up my studio on the screened porch so I can get some outdoor air and hear outdoor sounds.

    Again, I’m sorry I’m vomiting this all up on your site. It’s my *Safe House* tonight. Love.

  10. Irene, I think that when we share memories of difficult times, we offer to others the gift of trust, a form of acceptance, and in an odd way, belonging. I wish you had had a true “Safe House” of acceptance and understanding and support, when you were in 7th Grade. I am glad that your marriage offered you the opportunity to find your “voice”, which is always welcome here.

  11. As always, thanks for all your kindness and good heart.

    As you observed – you risked to share a vulnerable memory and I connected – I think we all heal a bit more when we unleash the unfortunate events in life that ruined us a bit. It’s insidious how creepy people have a knack of being the mold on the cake that makes it hard to swallow. Not only did I connect with a memory, though I thought not possible, I connected even closer to you.

    Life can be so sweet. So surprising. A door creaks open, we tremble… but a sliver of light streams through to wash us with redemption.

  12. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Really enjoyed your doodle and your proem. I had to look more than twice to be sure the doodle wasn’t a tablecloth or dresser scarf. Like Nora, at first I thought it was embroidery. Even more so, the proem, which came across almost as lifelike as the doodle. Really enjoyed the descriptiveness and the allusion to swimming.

    Had to smile a grim smile at your evaluation where always doing the right thing was the only “negative” your boss could find. Too bad she touched the number of lives that she did. I hope she didn’t do too much damage to the people around her. Very glad you’ve met people since that time who have restored your faith in humanity.

    I’m afraid I’m an optimist when it comes to humanity. Oh, there most definitely is a portion of the population we’d be better off avoiding, if we can. And yes, I’ve been involved with a few of those. Still, it seems to me there’s a much larger number of people out there who, while some may have a wart or two on their personalities, they’re still good people. πŸ™‚

  13. Thanks for the link Teri, an interesting article, and I agree it is somehow apropos.

    Although I enjoyed the article, I found the underlying assumptions about the concept of “people” flawed. The author seems unaware that there is no “universal we”, and seems stuck in what I think of as a privileged mind-set. For instance:

    “THE CONSCIENCE LEAP In most lives there’s a moment when people strip away all the branding and status symbols, all the prestige that goes with having gone to a certain school or been born into a certain family. They leap out beyond the utilitarian logic and crash through the barriers of their fears.”

    If you look at the actual demographics of Canada (and I think the USA but I haven’t studied US demographics in any depth) you will see that the MAJORITY of people have not gone to a certain school, or been born into a certain family, that those are not experiences in “most people”‘s lives.

    This colours the article for me, because if the author is still seeing the world as most-people-are-privileged-like-me-the-white-male-writer, he has not achieved what he is looking for. Even worse, because he has failed to include the majority of humans in his “we”, he may be falling into the trap he himself describes as “self-satisfied moral mediocrity”.

  14. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Interesting that you should read it that way, Maggie. And I can see what you’re saying. You mean thinking they’re special because they went to Harvard or because they’re related to the Kennedys. But strangely, when I read it I didn’t come to that place. My vision was much lower. I saw it as connecting with their special high school or their personal family being special, “I’m a Smith. Smith’s are special.”
    And I’m not sure if your focus is what the author was reaching for or my focus.

  15. I see what you mean Teri. I feel that using language such as “branding and status”, and “prestige” imply reference to societal advantages, rather than personal advantages. I have explored this concept at some length during the years I interacted with people of privilege, and have found that these references are almost always indicative of societal privilege. There are always exceptions, but I don’t think this author is one of them.

  16. Could you please delete my comments from this post. Thanks.

    I’m feeling a bit misunderstood and would never want to appear elitist. My father was a plumber – you know – the profession everyone sneers at and makes fun of. He’s an amazing man. I love him dearly and have never hidden or disguised my origins. I’ve just been very fortunate to have had a remarkable life with remarkably good and bad experiences. Thanks. xoxo

  17. Reenie, I will gladly remove your posts as you wish.

    Elitist? You? Perish the thought Reenie. The author I was referring to was David Brooks. I have never heard you use language that implies an elitist attitude towards other human beings. Therefore I am somewhat puzzled by your request.

  18. Thanks for the feedback. Go ahead and keep them up – I was just worried that I may have inadvertently offended someone. My experiences are mine to own and not necessarily understood especially out of full context. I have no fancy pedigree. I’m an Irish mutt. I attended the college that would take me. Nothing fancy about me. But I’ve had remarkable opportunities to experience a broad range.

    A little insight: About 7 years ago when I was still somewhat mobile, I worked in a catering kitchen and freelance server at fancy university events. One summer there was a reception to honor patrons of the university’s summer music festival. I gave quite generously – um, top donor. Though not my comfort zone, I attended the reception after an evening concert. I mingled for about 24 seconds (such boring people analyzing the evening’s performance like it was a glass of wine. Sniff. Sniff.) and headed for the kitchen where my catering co-workers were. I pulled up a stool and visited with them and then went home. This is me in a nutshell. But to relate the story, I had to share some personal insight about my life… and risk being misunderstood. πŸ™‚ I generally hold my cards close – but what the hell – I’m dying. Why conceal anything now.

    Gigantic love Teri & Maggie for putting up with me.

  19. I am very happy Reenie, that you changed your mind, your comments are always sensitive, and tolerant, and welcome. I find you to be a passionate woman, private and yet courageous. You always own your own experience, and I have not perceived you, at any point, to have assumed that your experience is anything other than your own. Your voice is unique, respectful, from the heart, and you let the people who read your words decide which experiences are shared, which experiences are not, offering opportunities for understanding for all involved. Hugs

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