When we last checked in with our heroine, she was failing at NaBloPoMo. Since then, there has been one lone earnest request for an update. And I truly aim to please, so a month or more later, I am writing in my blahg. It's a snowy day, one of those where the earth and sky are the same color and the monotony is broken up by sloppy asphalt and bare trees. And one lone red icehouse on the lake that briefly disappeared into the flurries this morning and is now a bright spot again, like a cardinal.
It's been cold as hell this winter, you know. It's always pretty cold up here, but this year there have been unprecedented school cancellations because of windchill (and also plenty of snow). There was a lot of bellyaching about that on the social media among parent-friends I know, and I get it, but those were mostly folks who had to arrange childcare and take personal days to deal with the kids being at home--inconveniences, in other words, but they were all able to take care of it one way or another. There are plenty of parents who HAVE to go to work in order to get money and don't have any personal days or sick days or whatever, and plenty of kids who won't get fed if they don't go to school, and plenty of immigrant kids whose parents have no context for this type of cold and no appropriate clothes for standing at a bus stop or walking to school when it's below zero. So I did a lot of scrolling past all of that even though I truly feel for the stir-crazies, I do.
Hooo, I didn't mean to get into that rant! What I was going to say is that without the enforced exercise/winter recreation of biking to a stupid office most days, my way of dealing with winter this year has been to snowshoe or ski almost every day. And if I don't put some weird equipment on my feet to get recreational, I just go for a walk. And it's been really good, even on the days when we were enveloped by the rage of the polar vortex. It makes you feel tuffff. Walking on a lake makes you feel powerful and small at the same time. And I have discovered the joys of being out in the dark in the snow, which was something I avoided when biking was my main winter jam. When it's overcast, there is so much light trapped between the snow and the cloud cover that you can walk at 10 PM on the golf course and see your way and feel safe, no problem. And when the sky is clear, there is a thin bluish light reflecting off the snow that is equally easy to see by. And when the moon is full, you cast a distinct, dark shadow, and almost feel conspicuous out there.
In about a month all of these things are going to feel like very small consolations but as of mid-February, I have not yet had it with winter, which I feel is pretty good.
Another update is that I started volunteering with an organization that supplies meals to people living with HIV/AIDs, MS, and breast cancer (and their families), no strings, no income requirement. Just people making and delivering food to other people. I had been wanting to do something with food justice and this way I get to be in a big commercial kitchen and meet a lot of interesting people while I slop food into trays or, you know, chop onions for two hours (truth). As a bonus, they keep a fridge just for the volunteers and it is always full of frozen meals and cookies they've made in-house. I'm looking forward to working a bakery shift one of these days, but maybe that won't happen unless I take a really early shift (so I guess that means it probably won't happen).
I also randomly got a very part-timey job that is quite amorphous at the moment, but basically involves working as an assistant to some very lovely people on their donor activism (meaning they do a combination of both big-ticket giving and working on the ground stuffing envelopes and door-knocking etc) for radical, progressive social change. It's going to be very collaborative and fun, I think.
And the voice students do trickle in, though it is a very slow trickle and I often wonder what on earth I am doing with myself and why. Then I have a good day of teaching, and I think "yes I do love this," and it's all better for awhile. I wish I knew what it was like to have clarity of vision and purpose because this is not something I have really ever experienced personally. Or, like, vocational passion. I don't seem to have much of that either. I truly think that what I like best is hanging out, either alone or with my peoples. My most contented-to-transcendent moments in the last several months have quite honestly occurred on snowshoes.
I think 2014 is likely to be mostly about vocation, though--not that other years haven't also been, but this year it's probably going to be much more specific than in years past. It feels more important than it has in years past. And it's the central thing in my life right now, because I've recuperated from my marriage/divorce, and have made a number of personal changes that seem significant--living alone, getting a furry companion, buying a new car that feels like me, quitting a job that didn't feel like me at all--and my preoccupation has to be how I am spending my mortal life. And how I inhabit myself completely, whether that is as an artist or a teacher or a compassionate human being or a reliable and wonderful friend/family member, etc. And also how I inhabit my physical body, frankly. These are the things I think about whilst snowshoeing.
I also think of stupid things while on snowshoes, like I finally came up with my roller derby name after observing many gnawed and felled trees creekside: Beaver Damage. Or maybe it's Beaver Damn. I don't know.
There are big family changes happening in 2014 too. My sister Emily is getting married in April, which is very soon and I have things to do for her. I'm making her bouquet and I need help from the Thrift Army: find me some more non-shitty vintage enamel flower brooches in pinks, reds, and pale oranges for under $5 apiece. Sighhhhhh I do like a thrifting challenge but this one is slow going. I don't think I even have half of what I need yet. The problem with these pinteresty crafts is that they drive up the price and drive down the availability of the raw materials. We're also planning the shower and bachelorette stuff right now, too, which drives home how quickly this is all coming up. And most important of all: what on earth am I going to wear, and which color should my hair be?
Once that's all over, we'll be manically awaiting the arrival of my brother and sister-in-law's BABY this summer. It will be so good to have another baby in the family. These kids here are getting too old. Henry is going to be TWELVE in April.
This whole thing is turning into like one of those coffee dates you have with someone to catch up on the last 10-15-20 years (I had one of those recently too, with my high school English teacher). Disjunct, bonkers, overly newsy. Maybe I should just write more often.