Lourdes Mint's Mid-Life Miracle

Real-time memoir of the coming year (5/20/14 – 15) and the achievement of a life-long dream

Archive for the category “The project”

Here’s to doing something tiny, today!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tiny/

“One could almost believe that one day is just like another. But some have something a little more. Nothing much. Just a small thing. Tiny.” ~from Little Bird, by Germano Zullo

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A close friend of mine gave me this book when our first potential adoption fell through. On the day the baby was born, we were on our way to the hospital when the social worker called to tell us the parents had changed their minds. We went home and decided we would not renew our home study again. We had renewed twice already and suffered through several disappointments, this last one the worst, and we were done. We had a beautiful family already and weren’t getting any younger, we told the adoption agency. I hit the “reset” button in my life, began this blog (among other things), and rededicated myself to making writing a priority. A little over two months later, and just a few months before our home study expired, Mariel was born and everything changed.

She was so tiny, but we could already see in her, the strong and beautiful little girl she has become. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but these last couple of years have not been big writing years for me. We have been very busy here, busy with family and with moving house and all that comes with those things. And I feel like I am only now beginning to dig my way out.

Compared to what I have to do, ALL THESE THINGS I feel I have to do, all I can do today is something tiny. And I’m doing it. It may not be much, but it’s a start … or mainly, rather, a continuation of things started long ago. I think there’s an important difference there.

Continuing is not as fun and fresh and punchy as having A BRAND NEW START because, for one thing, it’s more complicated. I cannot, at almost 50 years old, simply write off all of those things I’ve wanted and pursued over the years. I know a few at least are genuine reflections of my most authentic self, not just my younger or less-experienced self. Continuing now, picking up where I left off, validates my past efforts even if they didn’t lead to tangible achievements. It is messy and murky work, and every little thing I do, even this post, feels tiny compared to where I want to be in relation to my hopes and dreams. But I have to proceed as though I believe, with all my heart, that the tiny things will add up. So here’s to doing something tiny, today!

There is always “burn” here now.

Pretty+Flames+2-7-2007+3-36-23+PM+2816x2112There is always “burn” here now.

Door knobs burn in my hand as I turn them, so I leave the inside ones open. Even the floor burns the bottoms of my feet, so: shoes, but they burn also. These words too, all words, whether I think or say or read them, they all burn now. Sometimes./

To hear them, these ones here, spoken aloud in this room today — w/ no one aside from me listening, no music playing, nothing baking — to hear them without burning, what I would give for that! To be back there, here but back then, in my dream of life again, where it was plenty warm enough, what I would give./

There were times I’d think I must have come from there to here through someplace really cold. I’d think, could I have died that day? That day I “wakened” to the smell of all my pies burning and you knocking as loud as you could on the door. “What’s burning? Are you okay? What’s going on with your hair?”/

We threw the pies into the garden, laughing. You cut my hair in the kitchen to help fix me back up as we aired the place out. “What happened, though? Did you fall asleep? Since when do you bake pies and for what?” I opened you some wine and we spent the rest of the day together./

But I watched the pies slowly disappear alone. It took weeks and then one downpour finally carried the rest away./

Today, I know I came through someplace really cold to get here. Why else, how else, could touching these now — these plastic keys — burn me so? So that the plainest words/thoughts, uttered as plainly as I can manage, are birds barely escaping a flame and then at the very last second returning or just stopping, letting it happen, letting it wrap them and hold them in its hot hands until they turn to ash?/

There is always “burn” here, but I’ve begun to wonder if it might be okay for a time./

After all, crying now is like climbing a tree—but on another planet. Crying: Why? How? It doesn’t happen here, I don’t think, but I’m not completely sure (having learned about evaporation so long ago). I do know it’s not okay not to cry ever./

I know too that today nothing is baking, no music is playing, and no one knocks or doesn’t knock at the door. And I know I didn’t die that day. I am being still and quiet, no more words aloud for now, dreaming of when I was “just warm enough” and wishing I could cry, here or on some other planet, any planet (except Mercury, Venus)./

And yet. Even though these words, my memories, the door, the floor, the bottoms of me feet — ALL of it burns, all of it is burning me — I begin to think it could all turn out all right, that one day I will be just warm enough again.

***

THIS is a repost, thanks. I’ve been gone from here for SIX long months. I consider it a bit of providence that I log back in tonight, after several days (weeks? months?) of thinking about this blog AND THIS POEM especially, and find that BURN is the one-word daily prompt. Today. When I log back in … But so, I have nothing new here now, I don’t think, am exhausted, but I jump back in to this — everything — holding the hand of my 47-year-old self from two years ago. I trust no one more.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/burn/

https://wordpress.com/post/lourdesmint.wordpress.com/678

 

 

These Things Happened in the Past

PASTLourdes_v1: “These things happened in the ‘past,’ the past. Now you try: These things happened in the past.”

Lourdes_v2: “‘These things … are happening now, in the present, at this very moment! They will always be happening, in fact, forever and ever and ever, until the end of the world. And even after that, they’ll happen still, again and again. More things on top of these things will happen, actually, and with more frequency, until finally it will just be one long, continuous thing happening, happening, happening!!!’ Was that okay? Close enough, I mean?”

Lv1: “[Heh, heh.] A joker, I see. Try again. Past. These things happened in the past.”

Lv2: “Pissed. These things pissed me off — not because they were all bad. Some were. But some were great, are great! It’s just: there were too many things, too close together, so ‘pissed’ is what I’m coming up with. Sorry. I am trying. I’m big on trying. Try, try, try. I’m tired. Try-erd! I’m exhausted. Pissed.”

Lv1: “Understood, understood. But this is an important exercise — for you and for your loved ones. Time to say “Good-Bye to All That,” right? Let’s turn the page already. So please, please, please: just try one more time. Past. These things happened in the past.”

Lv2: “[Silence.]”

Lv1: “You know what?”

Lv2: “What?”

Lv1: “How about just starting with the one word: past. That’s [ae] as in  apple, of course. Past.”

Lv2: “Pest.”

Lv1: “[Pffft.] Well, fine. I can see why you might feel like going there. But really we’re doing this for you, remember. So, just to get back on track, the problem with pest here (one anyway) is that it’s got the ‘eh’ sound as in ‘you can do better’ and “things now will get better if we sort them out from things that happened in the past. See? So: pissed, pest, past. Do you hear the difference?”

Lv2: “I do.”

Lv1: “Of course you do, so, please. Try again. Say it. Past. These things happened in the past, the past, the PAST! Past.”

Lv2: “Post.”

Lv1: “Perfect. Why don’t you? I really think you should do just that. Post.”

Lv2: “I will.”

Lv1: “Good. Great. I look forward to it.”

Lv2: “Me too.”

[I will add a link to my post HERE as soon as I’m done.]

 

 

NaNoWriMo –> NoMo!

Blobs grow in beloved gardens (1975), by F. Hundertwasser

Midnight tonight is the end of NaNoWriMo, but I’m done for now. I did 22,325 of the 50,000-word goal, so YES there was a supernova-like burst of “story” near the end. It’s hard to know how much of what I’ve done is good, especially since I could only write a little bit here and there, but I don’t think any of this has been a waste of time and believe I’ll finish post-NaNoWriMo. The coolest thing of all is that my main characters are talking to me (again) after being stowed away for so long. And they have a lot to say that I never even thought of before. What a wild, weird thing the mind is!

Daily prompt response: Problems with Styrofoam and Another Advice Column Reject

instock-069Peanuts

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Connect the Dots.” Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story [or make one up?]. Consider how it connects to your life. Write about that.

Dear Abby,

I know this is probably not a huge deal, but on the off chance that someone else has the same problem and suffers mainly because it can be so inexplicably distressing, I figured I’d write. You know how those Styrofoam peanuts can’t be recycled so you have to get them out of the box your extra fragile purchase was packed in, bag them, and throw them away separately — with the rest of the garbage? Well, every single time I do this, and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TIME, I’m extra careful to pull the bag into which I’m emptying the peanuts all the way around the box, all four corners, before I even attempt the transfer because I always seem to end up making a mess. But still, no matter how careful I am, an estimated 40 to 60% of the peanuts end up outside of the bag and I have to round them up by hand (“like herding cats” because of the static electricity) and bag them by the handful. Do you know how long that takes?

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts, LM

 

Dear Abby,

I’m supposed to be working on my novel now …I have so precious little time and I’ve entered into a contest or rather a challenge to help keep me going: NaNoWriMo. You may have heard of it? Anyway instead or working on my novel, I’ve been unpacking valuables (I use that term very loosely) that we have no place for yet (we moved recently and not all of our furniture is here …). Although I’m having a bit of trouble with the Styrofoam peanuts, as I wrote you about separately, I am not having trouble with writer’s block. In fact, really I’m having almost the opposite problem. I start working on my novel and the next thing I know, hours have disappeared and I have no idea what, where, who, etc. But see I can’t have disappearing hours, no idea, no — I have children, a family. But here I am with a discrete, necessarily limited, beautiful little chunk of time set aside just for the novel and instead I write you … and only “for pretend,” no less, in a blog amid a sea of blogs that connects to an ocean of blogs that connects to a bunch of other seas and oceans of blogs.

So I just want to know WHY? Is that too much to ask?

I don’t know whether it’s just the static electricity (for lack of a better word [FLBW])  or there’s some other scientific explanation for why this CANNOT work as it seems it should, but I’m way beyond annoyed now and actually starting to get concerned. Thinking about it now, I guess the real basis of my concern is whether it’s normal to have so much trouble with Styrofoam (FLBW) or whether something else could be going on? I mean, do you think there’s some underlying issue I’m not addressing here? Or maybe even larger forces at work, whose presence and significance I’m missing?

Up to my neck in peanuts (FLBW), LM

p.s. For our listening enjoyment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI7OUQbE65g

Today I begin “I Brought You Back”

What would you do if you had a gift or ability that you weren’t entirely comfortable with? (What DO you do?) And what if this ability might be considered inhuman, impossible … supernatural, even? And you used your “gift” sometimes but not others, for reasons you couldn’t always understand or explain, and the consequences of your actions were more often than not completely different from what you expected: sometimes just so clearly WRONG; other ti450px-william_blake_-_christ_in_the_sepulchre_guarded_by_angelsmes, though, wondrous, unambiguously RIGHT — restoring necessary joy and goodness to the people you love, the world, all and everything? (But sometimes, don’t forget, sometimes: wrong, wrong, wrong … ?) What would you do?

“Quit doing it and let time pass, let all kinds of time pass.” This is my main character Nohl’s solution as the story/novel starts — that and to get as far away as possible from the mess he feels he’s created, cut his few ties with the past, etc., but NOT before telling EVERYTHING to someone he can barely call “friend” nor before doing his thing one last time.

The novel will follow one person’s complicated, lonesome relationship with his gift, each time he’s used it and how it “worked out,” ending with his decision about how to move forward … and an opportunity, with someone he now considers a true friend, to put that decision to the test.

This is the spark for the novel I’ll be working on this month (through NaNoWriMo). I’m being perhaps irritatingly mysterious/vague re: the gift because I don’t think it’s really what the story’s about, but I’m also afraid that mere mention of the word that best describes the gift would put an END to some things that I need, now. (More vagaries, sorry…)  Really, the gift could be any ability or talent that a person might have and feel ambivalent about and unclear on how, whether, why to develop it — unsure about whether it’s a good or bad thing. My writing this novel represents my decision to embrace a gift I’m not sure how I feel about … and not even sure I have. And I’m going to draw some pictures (or create some kind of visuals) to go with it, I think — also maybe a recording. Here goes!

 

You, Carbon

ScaryEye (3)
You, carbon, 
I understand what you are to me and this dog, licking a mysterious spot on the rug — and probably to the spot, too.

I know what you are to that pair of stink bugs, each seeming to pause in its path to make way for the other, and to

The vivacious algae, grooving full-tilt on the inside of the fish tank.

I know what you are to the fish.

I know what you are to vegans and cows, to moss and paper, to

Muslims and to flowers, fresh or dried … also to

Kentucky women and stunt men, hand models, leather belts,

Republicans, nuts, mathematicians and trapeze artists, run-away elephants, chocolates,

Babies of all species, natural fibers, gamers and monks, shells, dirt, Etsy shop owners, “happy creatures dancing on the lawn,”

People who know they’re dying soon, downed trees filled with munching grubs, nurse practitioners (God bless ’em), and

Maybe even aliens (from outer space).

I know.

It was back in the pitted, confused, brain-sweltering days of much younger years when I first learned — from the soggy pages of an Omni (or similar) magazine that I’d taken into the tub with me, as I often did. I craved information that seemed to stretch time out so far and wide that my life, all life, became a dot and all meaning disappeared.

That you — in your simplest, most basic, dark and un-shining form — were at the bottom of it all made me feel better. YES, knowing that we’d all whipped ourselves up from the flat, black palm of your four-fingered hand, this made me feel better. And better was best, then.

But since then, better has me agreeing to “follow up” visits with Mormon boys on bikes, has me talking so long to homeless people they beg my pardon (have somewhere to be), has me listening and watching (waiting?) for something — I’m not sure what. I settle for cake. Then I make a list I will never look at again. I think of you, sometimes.

But I no longer try to meet, let alone hold, your opaque, sooty gaze. I want to see past, to who you’re working with.

“You fight evil with all you do”

Great song, wonderful little short story … except the meatball, in my opinion. 😉

Unknown

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Lay and Love (2007) – YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxaXYBrdRdA
I didn’t realize this video is controversial among Will Oldham admirers. One person calls it “sleazy and ironic.” I’m no Pollyanna, but I saw it as almost exactly the opposite. And “someone” (my husband) told me this morning he thought it was very disturbing (paraphrasing a bit here): “the White Man and all his money funding a frivolous and tawdry adventure for people requiring more basic forms of support” — and I get that. But I saw it more like this: here’s this sort of odd guy who’s come across some money (I don’t think rich people flash around wads of cash like that) and doesn’t know what to do with it so he sets out to do some good, if misguided, thing with it. It’s a “good” shaped out of his own experience of life, which maybe only some can (or would even try to) imagine. But I do think it’s kind of beautiful (except the meatball). And the song just IS beautiful, period. Hear for yourself.

I did my thing (Part 2)

There’s no “I did my thing (Part 1)” so this may be cheating (but there is this: https://lourdesmint.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1214).

Anyway my thing was such a small thing: mailing a check — which is not to say that money is no object for us or the person we owed it to, because that’s definitely not the case. But in the grand scheme of getting our monster of a house ready for sale, this was one of the smaller costs … and we were then VERY close to putting it on the market. So mailing that check that day, with my old friend Rochelle’s words of wisdom in mind, I had to ask myself: exactly why had I procrastinated with this particular check, along with several other final DETAILS really, when working on the house/the move has been such a time-hog and soul-sucker for more than a year now?

The answer may be obvious. I have no idea. It’s going to take a while for me to dig myself out of the hole I fell into and regain perspective … or perhaps discover an entirely new one. But I think the biggest challenge will be in not looking for another albatross to hang around my neck once this one falls away. IMG_3520

People can become accustomed to and very adept at adjusting for the weight of their burdens, the frenzied tempo of chronic stress, even the warped “comfort zone” that is defined by the ever-widening gap of what they feel must do and what they can actually do. Looking back, I see I have traded in one albatross for another for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure why. But I don’t think it’s as much about being a glutton for punishment as it is about not being sure what I should or, no,  can do with my (relative) freedom — once more time & space become available in my life again.

 

 

What’s one small thing that you (yes, YOU) can do today? (Part 1)

IMG_2974Just thinking of my overwhelming list of to dos — the kind that follows me into the shower, spoons with me at night, and takes a bite out of my sandwich before I get a chance — and I thought about this friend of mine. I’ll call her Rochelle. She’d say, “just take one small thing off that list, one that you can do by yourself today (in under 10 minutes, say) and just do it.” Crossing that one little thing off your crushing, intimidating list steals a disproportionately large amount of its weight and bluster, according to her.

She did this for 80 days or something like that (I forget all of the details, but I think she gave herself as many days as she had items on the list) and FORBADE herself to add anything more to the list until everything on it was crossed off. For a while this was very hard for her and she’d sometimes sneak-start a new one, but then destroy it.

This idea completely freaks me out, still. No lists???

“But how’d you get all the other stuff done, the stuff that you HAD to do but that came up in the meantime, on say Day 48?” I remember asking …I still wonder.

She said she made a mental note of those things and did them too. To this day, she refuses to keep a to do list* that’s longer than four or five items and that can’t be done within a week or preferably a day. (WHAT???) What she discovered in the process of her little experiment, she said, was that her elaborate to do lists were a SHAM: not only were they a terrible form of procrastination and a really crappy reminder, right there in black and white, of how lame she was, but also they didn’t really work … for some people anyway, like me, like the old Rochelle. And — this is the best part — by relying more on her memory, she claimed that what she had to do became more integrated with who she was, her true values and priorities, in fact helped her manifest those things in her life. “I remember what I have to do because it makes sense for me to remember.” She’d also realized that so many of the things on her old to do lists were things she thought she SHOULD do versus things she really needed or wanted to do.

Today Rochelle is one of the most productive and successful people I know personally AND she’s living and making a living in line w/ her own ideas of what’s important. She talks a lot less than she used to, isn’t as twitchy either, seems happier, drinks less, but she’s still Rochelle. And this reminds me of one last thing she said about the old lists: she felt that they, along with other old habits, were like so many old friends who’d provided her comfort over the years, never let her down, were always there for her — and that for a long time, she equated getting rid of these habits with a sort of betrayal … not only of these friends but of a self that she’d formed in their trusted company. But they had become less comfortable for her over time (more on this later, maybe) and by saying goodbye to them, she actually felt more like herself, her true self, than she had in years.

So right now I’ve picked my thing, so small but slightly incriminating in my not having done it, and I hereby commit to getting it done today, crossing it off my list. Not sure yet whether I’ll commit to the rest of the plan.

Either way, I’ll report back later on my success.

WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOURS…

*As opposed to a grocery list or an action/implementation plan in list form, in which each item is the next step in a sequence of steps for getting X done

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