One thing I’ve been guilty of is asking too many pointed and personal questions, especially of people I hardly know. Oddly, people answer my intrusive questions. I’ve stopped asking these questions, though. This evolution began occurring around a year ago, when I guess you could say I mellowed out. Or lost interest in knowing absolutely everything about people.

I have not yet completely learned the lesson, however, of not revealing my entire self and history to people well before I should. I find it far too easy to put on a display of vulnerability, but it isn’t truly becoming vulnerable. As Brené Brown writes in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, “sharing appropriately, with boundaries, means sharing with people with whom we’ve developed relationships that can bear the weight of our story. The result of this mutually respectful vulnerability is increased connection, trust, and engagement.”

And that is what I am aiming for this year. Developing or furthering relationships that allows for more connectedness and truth. Building these relationships to the point where showing vulnerability isn’t a trophy, a goal, or any kind of forethought. Showing vulnerability comes from a deep well of trust and love for another, and isn’t forced, showy, or a contest.

Some things are impossible to forget. One’s personal history may be re-interpreted many times over, until the details are no longer so clear, much like a game of telephone. We can’t seem to forget the pain, the suffering that we went through. We cling to bad memories more than we should.

Parts of my life have been replayed over and over in my head. I have hashed and re-hashed, searching for explanations as to why, and have come up with nothing useful. No matter how many ways I interpret, it all adds up to zero. People do strange and terrible things to one another, sometimes for years. Humans are deeply flawed. Some behaviors are unforgivable. Most are not.

I wish I could say that certain people in my life have such a capacity for love that they will take the steps to forgive. To mend fences. Not to eradicate history. If I have learned anything, it’s that each person has his or her own memories that may vary wildly from another’s. I can’t control people’s minds, no matter how badly I want that superpower.

My heart is heavy, though, knowing some hurts are so permanent that they are all we can see. I have chosen a difficult path, walking a fine line between choosing to forgive or falling into the endless abyss of recriminations. I understand both sides. And it is not my place to extend the olive branch, no matter how much I want this peace for them, for both parties.

And so I continue to ruminate on how I can help them. So far the only thing I’ve come up with is an extended research paper on the topic of forgiveness, in different societies and religions. Sadly, I fear this will be an intellectual exercise for me, and only me. Still, I have a smattering of hope that love will rule the day. Someday.

For my first post back to this blog in a while I decided to choose a topic that I’ve thought about quite a bit recently. Connectedness, how people choose to make connections with one another and how they stay connected. I’m not talking about family, because with family you usually don’t have a choice, for better or worse.

When I was out of the nest and living on my own, in my late teens and 20s, I was aware of everyone around me and whether or not they were paying any attention to me at all. It’s a precarious existence, being that self-conscious and trying to maintain the facade of self-assuredness. I’m fortunate in that I’ve always had a strong sense of self and an open mind, but self-protection was one of my primary concerns even into my early 40s. I did not make friends easily, mostly because I was not capable of truly giving of myself. My late 20s and 30s were occupied with family concerns, raising children, having a home, building my own cloister.

Something shifted in me, though, in my early 40s, when I realized that I had hardly lived. By living I don’t mean consuming. I’m talking about being open to experiences, to giving oneself to others, to sharing on many levels. This shift has not come without cost–the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are going to experience hurt. And the more likely you are going to become connected with truly special people.

I’ve made some beautiful friendships in the past five years. I continue to seek out people who are interested in being as connected as I am. It involves becoming selfless, to some degree, understanding that the compassion and depth of emotion that you feel for others may never be reciprocated. Sometimes it’s a difficult thing to swallow, when you feel like you’ve begun the connection with people, only to have it be thwarted, for whatever reason. People are not easy. They’re difficult, complicated entities. I am drawn like a moth to flame at times and, although I have been burned, I maintain a sense of optimism and a desire to share myself more than ever.

I do all of my best thinking in the car or in the bathroom. This week, I was tooling around in the l’il Honda CR-V, listening to NPR and ruminating. I’m trying hard not to closely follow the Republican race to the primary, but with the Iowa Straw Poll just passed and Texas Governor Rick Perry overshadowing Michele Bachmann, I can’t help but compare people of his ilk to the accusers at the Salem Witch Trials.

What is up with people insisting that evolution is “a theory that’s out there”? I mean, really. Perhaps there are aspects of evolution that can be quibbled over, but homo sapiens sapiens didn’t just drop down out of the sky because of divine intervention. Yet creationists insist, are nearly rabid in their beliefs, that evolution is just a theory that should not be given more credence than intelligent design. Witches were accused and tried because of family rivalries, bad reputations, or being of a different ethnicity. They were accused of afflicting others with witchcraft or making an unlawful covenant with the Devil.

How these charges were proven, I don’t understand, based upon my bias toward modern-day methods. There was no scientific or careful examination of the facts. Torture was used as a matter of course to extract confessions from the accused.

What I’m saying about creationists like Rick Perry is that they don’t base their beliefs on facts. They succumb to the mass hysteria of bible-thumpers. What is so wrong with believing in evolution? Why do humans think that they as a species are somehow more important than any other living thing, that there is a god that makes them in his image? Wouldn’t there be a dog-god, a capybara-god, or a redwood-god, a dung-beetle-god, and so on?

One of my great loves in life is writing poetry. I came to it relatively recently or, rather, it called to me. I’ve never been an avid purveyor of poetry, but appreciate the art and craft of certain poets.

I love creating. Accent on the period. It’s elating, elevating, fascinating to make something out of nothing, or to make something out of raw materials. To shape it, mold it, stretch it, caress it, love it until it becomes something that is a part of you and yet not a part of you. It becomes part of the world.

One of these days I’ll post my poems.

Postscript: I put some of my poems online for a couple of days, then realized that if I ever wanted to submit them for poetry contests and the like I can’t have them online. So they’re no longer available to the public until after I’ve submitted them to places, if I ever get around to doing that.

Funny Item No. 1: We all went to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides about a week or so ago. Ethan *loved* it. “It’s my favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie!” he says. Wait until he finds out that they are going to make Pirates 5. Who knows if Johnny Depp will agree to be in this installment. Ugh.

What has kept me amused is his obsession with Barbossa’s pegleg. He is fascinated with the pegleg. You know, the one that when you take it off and remove the screw top, you can take a swig of rum. “Only pirates drink rum,” says Ethan. Pirates and other alcoholics.

Funny Item No. 2: Ethan gets up earlier during summer vacation and any weekend day than he does during a school year weekday. Absolutely true. He was up and at ‘em this morning, the first official non-school day of the summer vacation, at 6:30. Bothering us while we attempted to laze about in bed. Begging us to let him play Wii Sports Resort. We finally caved and went to the gym.

Funny Item No. 3: Ethan can charm almost any adult. He has a gift. It’s an amazing thing to watch, how he works a room full of people.

Funny Item No. 4: Ethan has incredible focus. It’s one of his superpowers. He can spend literally hours building Lego scenes. His latest favorite thing is building Pirates of the Caribbean scenes. I love his creativity and execution.

Funny Item No. 5: Ethan can still fall asleep on his dad’s tummy, as he did last night. Lately, he’s all about his dad, which seems to be par for the course in my life. Both of my boys are fully dedicated to their father, favoring him over me almost every time. Sigh. The trials and tribulations of being a mom.

You know, it occurs to me that I never got around to writing a happy birthday message to Ethan on his 6th birthday in February. Life gets in the way. I have to remind myself constantly that details matter, that blindly cruising along is not really living.

Nat turns 15 today, 9:43 p.m. The labor to end all labors, except we mysteriously decided that we should have another nearly nine years later. Nat is a curious sort, obsessed with some typical teenage boy things like video games and manga and hanging out with his friends. And I think he’s starting to get interested in the opposite sex, though he keeps this on the down-low. You won’t see him fawning all over a girl–I’m not sure he ever will. I think he could use a few lessons from his dad and me in how to be good to a girl/woman so she’ll want to stay around.

If there is one thing I would want for Nat, that is to find the thing(s) that give him a raison d’être. Oh, I know the usual platitude–life is a journey and not a destination–but my deepest wish for him is to find a passion that drives him. Something to guide him. I worry that he lacks motivation and essentially eddies around, trolling for whatever passes by and catches his fancy. I suppose if he has a strong enough ethical and moral character, that’s not such a bad way to go through life. As long as he isn’t living with us when he’s 30.

I wish for Nat to experience passion, in whatever form. I want him to feel, to experience life to its fullest, to give as much of himself as he can, because I believe it’s in the giving that you truly receive. I would lay down my life for Nat, and I thank him every day in my heart for being my son.

We’ve had a spate of hail, rain and semi-cold weather over the past couple of days here in SF. Rain makes me deliriously happy–I love the sound, the feeling, walking in the rain, running in the rain, sipping hot tea while watching the rain. My heart leaps into my throat when I’m taking a stroll, under the safety of my umbrella, in the rain. It’s primal, it’s nature at its most mundane and yet its finest, and I relish every second of rain. The only thing that tops a rainstorm is a thunderstorm. Now that’s awesome majesty.

So, in light of today’s fine weather (is it really dull to talk about weather such as we’ve had recently?), I am posting the following poem.

The Rain by Robert Creeley

All night the sound had   
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

 

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,   
insisted upon
so often? Is it

 

that never the ease,   
even the hardness,   
of rain falling
will have for me

 

something other than this,   
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

 

Love, if you love me,   
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,   
the getting out

 

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

I am the luckiest woman on the planet. Brian conceived of and executed the most awesome present I could ever imagine. My own space. He calls it “shjed” and I call it “woman-cave”. It’s a little edifice in the backyard, where our playhouse used to be. Can I just say that I absolutely love it? For the first time, I used this space today. It was a perfect day, taking the boys and Vlad to meet Brian for lunch at Mel’s on Mission St. Then off to the Cartoon Art Museum, followed by a treat for Ethan, Nat and Vlad at Beard Papa’s.

When we got home, I moseyed over to the woman-cave. The exterior isn’t finished, the shelves aren’t yet installed (or bought) for the interior, the deck hasn’t been built, but it’s absolutely perfect. I have internet, my netbook and a new HD monitor, a printer, a heater, seating. Ethan and I hung out for a couple of hours together–he played for a while on his DSi while I surfed the ‘net, then drew Howl’s Moving Castle meets Hogwarts pix.

Have I said that I love this place? And Brian is the most awesome, amazing husband ever?

This news story may have passed most of us by: Pancreatic cancers use fructose, common in Western diet, to fuel growth, study finds. This study came from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. High fructose corn syrup seems to be a prominent culprit. This is found in just about any processed food these days, except for the organic ones. And sodas.

Another statement in the article took me by surprise: "Although it is widely known that cancers use glucose, a simple sugar, to fuel their growth, this is the first time a link has been shown between fructose and cancer proliferation, said the study's senior author, Dr. Anthony Heaney, an associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery and a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher."

I didn't realize that cancers use glucose to fuel their growth. It would make sense, then, if you have cancer, to adjust your diet so it's largely protein and vegetables, with very little fruit and carbohydrate, if any.

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