Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ode to Dirt or How Do You Vacuum a Vacuum?

O Dirt! Where do I find thee? Let me count the places.
Under my children's fingernails and in the folds and grooves of their ears,
In the washing machine where the water doesn't reach and the lint collector where the crevice tool won't reach either,
On the window blinds (of course) and the tops of the baseboards,
In the bathtub after draining the water to find each rubber duck traced in dirt on the porcelain,
Ground into my carpet and tracked across my kitchen and (after a rousing wrestling match) sprinkled like salt on my sheets,
In all the places I clean daily and weekly and monthly and never, and even in places I thought were perfectly sealed.
You sly exfoliant, you!
I lay awake at night, conjuring schemes for your eradication, my critical thinking skills taxed to the utmost at the contemplation of your demise.
And yet, without you, where would I be?
What would I do with myself, had I no dirt to clean?
How would I sleep at night, not knowing how to fill the endless hours of the next morning, frozen in the suspense of a spotless day?
And so, I salute you, devil though you may be, in your red and dusty glory, for because of you, I have learned.
Because of you, I am strong.
And also, you can vacuum a vacuum with another vacuum or with a husband willing to give you a hand.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Living Deliberately

I've been thinking about how to live more deliberately—about how to get as much as I can out of life while I still have time.

There are a lot of options. I could abandon my family and live in a cabin in the woods that I built with my own two hands. But I love my husband and children and hot showers and indoor plumbing.

I could build a well, install solar panels, disconnect the internet, and go off the grid. But I'm not Amish, and I don't know how our landlord would feel about that.

I could sell or give away everything I own and join a minimalist commune. But my family members must reach their own conclusions about the value of material goods; I can't do it for them.

I've decided that, rather than follow some extreme, transcendentalist measure, I can simply make more conscious deliberate choices about what I consume, especially what I consume online.

This leads to my decision to abstain from participating in two of the largest social media outlets: Facebook and Instagram. Of course, since Facebook bought Instagram, it's just THE largest social media outlet.

I haven't really been active on Facebook for several years. I deleted the app from my phone two years ago and only logged in to post something really significant—such as notice of my acceptance to law school and the fact that we were moving.

When Facebook bought Instagram, however, and started using the FB algorithm to order my Instagram feed, that was the last straw for me.

You see, I like having choices. I don't believe the companies who run these social media outlets should decide which of my friends' posts will interest me the most, which ads will be most likely to make me pause in my scrolling, etc.

When a computer algorithm chooses what to display, and when a company accepts marketing dollars in return for filling my newsfeed with ads, I no longer have a real choice in what I consume. If I open my account and look through my Newsfeed, I've already consumed all those ads and all those "relevant" posts, even if I didn't want to.

I know that opting out of social media is not a realistic solution for everyone. For me, however, it feels like the right thing to do. I'd like to take more care of how I spend my time and attention. I want to live deliberately and consume modern culture deliberately.

What about you? Any ideas on how you can better "suck all the marrow out of life so that, when you die, you do not come to find that you had not lived?"

Saturday, January 2, 2016


The trees are tired
in this wild rush of fall,
tired of the leaves
constantly clamoring to be up
and bursting into brilliant flame,
tired of being awake.

They feel the frost nibbling at both ends of the day,
sense the coming of winter
when sleep and death
hover peacefully in the air
and all the leaves are silent.

This last effort is not for them,
the straining of the colors
and the trembling against the wind.

It's a lost cause, 
as they have always known, 
and all they care for now
is a still night with a pale moon
and the starlight
singing them to sleep.

Thursday, 9:15 p.m.

She was tired.

She sat on the couch, legs crossed (right over left) and arms folded (left over right) and stared at the silence.

She heard the hum of the refrigerator and the soft whoosh of the heater and a strange buzzing in her ears, as if her brain could not process the absence of children's voices and the sound of bare feet slap slap slapping on the stone floors. As if silence wasn't good enough, so it had to make up something else to hear.

She leaned her head to one side and her mind wandered into tomorrow, next Tuesday, three hours ago, a year from now.

She knew she ought to get up and do something, anything. To sit idly was more than frivolous, it was more than wasteful and wanton and wicked, it was heavenly. And it made her tired — at least, she accused it of making her tired, because what else could it be?

But the longer she sat, the louder the humming and whooshing and buzzing became, until it consumed her and she couldn't think of anything else and she didn't want to.

So she leaned her head further to the side, and closed her eyes and (just like that!) fell
into a deep and dreamless sleep.

Summer in the Desert

Excepting snakes, the desert makes night creatures of us all.

We wait the long day in languid silence
while the sun burns across the sky.
We hide in dark corners, fighting the madness,
until the evening drops, the light fades, the earth exhales.

When the night winds blow like the whispers of dryads,
when stars pierce the deepening blue,
when cicadas set down their bows and crickets pick them up again,
then we come alive.

We feel our old strength returning.
We have only been sleeping these hot, dreary hours,
until the sun went down
and we could see:
the lingering twilight
the bird shadows measuring the sky
the clear light of a rising moon.

True love

The flutters and excitement
Were pleasant while they lasted--
The pseudo imitation
Of a deeper kind of grace.
Though we pursued intently
After passion's bright illusion,
We were only chasing shadows
That dissolved without a trace.

After all the sparks went out
After all the flames died down
After life was back in route
Then we fell in love.