April Snow

a picture of a leafless bush covered in April snowIt’s hard to describe the SoulDread that snow on the ground in April provokes in me. I went to bed watching the silent drifting flakes, so it’s not like it was a surprise to wake up this morning to the icy white blanket covering the lawn, the car, the crocuses.

I get a little burst of energy – not the kind you get when you’re excited about Christmas morning snow (magical) or the kind you get when you wake up to school is cancelled snow (joy) – but a kind of frenzied, last stand, scattered energy. The kind I imagine one gets in the moments between making an unfortunate decision and realizing that it is probably going to end you. All the molecules are busy, but uncoordinated. It doesn’t matter where you put your energy, your focus, it’s always already gone horribly wrong.

This doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a sense-making kind of feeling.

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This is how it works

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 11.55.40 AMMerlin had a bad day this week, and I had a bad day as a result. It’s a weird feeling, that vicarious angst. It reminds me how grateful I am to be 40 and not 15. It reminds me that I can’t solve other people’s problems. It reminds me that I’m connected to people in ways that I can’t fully control. It reminds me that I have a presence that evokes itself when I’m not there – and so does she. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around that, sometimes, but I’m always grateful and surprised by evidence of it.

Epic poetry assures us that grief shared is grief lessened. It’s a koan. The division is meant to make the burden lighter, but it also spreads it. Does division make more or less? Or is there something else at work?

Everything in a teen’s life is worthy of epic poetry. This drama necessitated a series of texts and an emergency meeting between classes, a short counseling session, a bit of discourse analysis, and a plan of action for a variety of anticipated events the next day. Did I counsel wisely? poorly? Did my presence even matter in this situation, which I was no part of? This is the stuff of Shakespeare. And systems theory.

Did you know that heart muscle cells will continue to beat in time with the heart they are removed from? I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve harvested and transplanted my heart in several places. I wonder how they’re doing – so far from me. I wonder how I’m doing – so far from them. Evidence suggests that I can’t really help the people right here with me. We all fight our own battles. But I want you to know that I evoke your presence in your absence, that even in my distraction, my heart beats in time with you.

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I want to post!

IMG_1276I want to post, I want to post, I want to post!

I have so much going on right now. I’m also utterly exhausted.

Gavin had outpatient surgery to repair a hernia yesterday. He’s doing well.

I had my wisdom teeth out three weeks ago. Dry sockets and nerve damage. Pretty annoying. Apparently, I “put up with it a lot longer than most people.”

I’ve had natural childbirth – twice. Kidney stones, flesh-eating bacteria, and now wisdom tooth extraction with dry sockets and nerve damage. In every instance, I stayed away from hospitals as long as possible, and then the pain relievers (including straight-up morphine, which I apparently have an atypical reaction to) that they tried to give me have done little good. I don’t think I understand pain scales.

I’ve forgotten the pain of childbirth. The pressure, the sounds, the joy, surprise, and terror – they are all still there, but the memory of the pain is completely gone.

Morphine was useless against the pain of kidney stones, but the duration was short.

I was ready to let them cut off my arm with the flesh-eating bacteria, the pain was that intense, and morphine was of limited use – it made me feel like I was choking, and it distracted me only to the extent that I actively cooperated. I had to lay down and think about sleeping to make it work. Otherwise, the pain buzzed in my arm, a smiling menace waiting for me to lose focus.

So here I am. Swelling around my teeth,  a week or so of denial, thinking the pain was just what I deserved for being alive and happy and insured. Then the news that I should have been complaining days before, should not have been drinking myself into oblivion, should not be taking three pills every three hours to attempt to function.


They are taking the last set of dressings out (I sincerely hope) on Friday. The swelling is (mostly) gone. The pain is – who knows? – tolerable. The nerve damage is – maybe? – permanent.

I don’t even know what to think anymore.

What I do know is that unless someone decides to kidnap and torture me for my superior knowledge, I have experienced several of the most painful events that a person can *naturally* encounter, and I am here to tell you: wisdom teeth are the worst.

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The weird thing about snow is how quiet it can be. I’ve been watching the forecasts with interest all week because we are supposed to have some of the coldest temperatures on record  - apparently it’s the result of a polar vortex. So they’ve been telling us all week that it is going to be bad, but when I got up this morning, everything seemed okay. The snow didn’t howl or beat at the windows demanding to be let in. It drifts. And drifts. And drifts. It accumulates, blankets, insulates, smothers.

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We drove through the aftermath of some pretty serious storming today. We passed eight cars in ditches and two semi trucks that had jack-knifed before sliding off the highway. Our eight hour trip took closer to thirteen, but the highways were mostly clear, and it only snowed on us through Kentucky. It was odd driving through the swirling white; the winds were so strong that it felt like we were driving through a shaken snow globe. Now we are home, and I am compulsively taking down Christmas and cleaning, getting ready for the new semester.

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Leaving is always strange. This trip, we left mealworms, an inhaler, a flash drive, part of a phone charger, a  mystery toy (got a text that we left one, have no idea what it is), and presents that arrived in San Antonio on the day we left Austin. Leaving things behind is supposed to mean that you want to return. It’s always such a blur. Now we are headed home, which we left 13 days ago, and though I would love more time with more people and more time with the Texas sun and sky, I’ll be glad to be home and back to the people and things I left there.

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snow on an evergreen bush

“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person” ― Sylvia Plath

We’ve had our first snow. It’s mostly melted away now, but winter has officially started. I might get away with my wool coat for another week, but then it will be time to break out the down. The sun is setting just after five, and I am ready to go to sleep at 8:30, but I usually have 6 more hours of work to do, so I kind of sleepwalk through it. I think the full spectrum lights might be helping? Even with my dread of the long winter, it’s hard not to get a little excited about snow; it’s undeniably beautiful.

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a photo of multicolored cupcakes arranged to display the number 15

Cupcakes made by Aubrey for Merlin's 15th birthday.

My preference is to gather as many of the people I love together as possible, to feed them something, and to hover around the edges of their fascinating conversations with each other, occasionally launching a volley. Merlin spent a good amount of effort protesting the idea of a party this year, but I’ve often protested parties myself, only to feel a dissatisfaction when the day came and went. This wasn’t the quince she would have had in Austin, but it came off well, I think. She seemed suitably embarrassed and happy, and I think she felt loved, appreciated. Happy Birthday.

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a picture of a legal pad with geometric doodles on itI wish I could draw. If I thought I had any little bit of a knack for it, I would take lessons or something. I only doodle. I like to be moving while I’m thinking, and also when I’m not, and I like the way a pencil scratches against paper and also the way a pen glides. I write the names of my classmates, or I make rectangles in the margins and fill them in. Circles, squares, triangles, lines, and loops, all fitted into their spaces. Sometimes I’m happy with the result, but usually, the result doesn’t matter at all.

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