Ready?


The First Time at the First Place

But I’m not ready to go home yet.
“But you can’t stay here forever.”
I know. But I’m not ready.

I don’t even know what ready means, or what ready looks like, or how ready feels. I just know that this is not ready. Thoughts of returning to the same circumstances that sent me to the hospital in the first place bring on panic attacks. I don’t think that’s ready. When I can’t stop crying whenever I think of going home, I don’t think that’s ready, either. When I shake so much I can’t eat, I suspect that’s also a sign I’m not ready.

“All, right. You can stay for one more day, but only one more day. That’s the best we can offer. You’ll need to use that day for preparing to go home. Can you do that?”
Yes. Okay. I understand. I will.

I do understand. I do. But even so, I don’t think I’ll be ready. At least they offered me one more day. One more day of safety from myself. One more day to breathe freely without fear that I’ll give up on life again. One more day to think about the thinking that led me to thinking that I needed to be in the hospital. One more day to accept the reality of life on the outside. One more day to steel myself for returning to the grief and loneliness. To return to the reality of pain and rejection. Of never-ending sadness. Of emptiness. Of hopelessness.


The Latest Time at a Different Place

The last time I was in the hospital, they sent me home before I was ready.
“We do things differently here. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
But last time I was told I just had to get myself ready and I couldn’t stay any longer, even though I was afraid to go home.
“If you feel afraid to go home, then you’re not ready. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
How will I know when I’m ready?
“You’ll know when you’re ready. We’ll know when you’re ready. We won’t kick you out, we promise. You can stay here until you’re ready.”
Oh. Okay. Thank you.

Is it weird to say I cried when the doctors told me I wouldn’t be going home for a while? I cried from happiness. I cried from sadness. I cried from sheer exhaustion. I cried from releasing the fear I’d been carrying. The fear of having to return home too soon. Perhaps this time will be the last time if I’m able to stay for enough time to finally discover what ready looks and feels like. What ready actually means.


Ode to Miss Charlotte M Mason


Ode to Miss Charlotte M. Mason

Charlotte. May I call you Charlotte?
Is it appropriate to be so familiar
with someone so profound?
You are not my friend.
You are my hero.
My mentor.
My inspiration.
You voice continues, even now, to speak
for the children’s sake
for Heaven’s sake
for the sake of all that’s holy.

What would you have done or said
in the face of assaults on nature
of melting ice caps
rising temperatures
shrinking glaciers
clearcut forests
dying bees?

You were ahead of your time
would you raise up a cry
as the natural world crumbled?
How can children walk
beneath trees and sky
when the trees are gone
clearcut for profits
and bottom lines?

Doing dishes

by Debi

In her essay, “Trouble Man,” Dodie Bellamy states, “I’m a lousy housekeeper, and by the end of the week dishes are stacked on every available surface of my kitchen.”

Me, too. Surprisingly, even with an automatic dishwasher, the plates, cups, pots, and pans still pile up.  My problem is that the dishwasher needs to be emptied prior to loading in some fresh dirty dishes.  Maybe it’s not so much that I’m a lousy housekeeper, but that I’m a lazy one?  Emptying the dishwasher just seems like too much work.  In reality, it isn’t a lot of work when I actually do it, but my mind tends to make emptying the dishwasher seem like a huge task looming over me that will somehow disrupt my entire day.

Bellamy listens to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack while she’s getting caught up on the week’s backlog of dried on kitchen gunk.  Sometimes I listen to music, too—my favorite dishwashing CD is the soundtrack to the No Reservations movie.  But usually I listen to the soundtrack in my head.  Either a song stuck in my brain, or just my quiet ruminations on life.

There’s something soothing, almost mesmerizing about doing dishes. The mindlessly repetitive, rhythmic movements.  The warm water and fragrant bubbles.  It’s satisfying to take the kitchen from complete disarray, and return it to a clean, shiny state.  Is that why I procrastinate?  Is it less satisfying on some internal level to just do little clean-ups here and there, but never have the transformational experience that comes from a complete overhaul?

Many things I’ve written have developed after a time of quiet personal reflection—believe it or not, usually while standing at the sink up to my elbows in warm, soapy water, gently scrubbing my plates and glassware.  Standing in one place, actively involved with a mindless physical activity, seems to release something creative in my mind.

Many writers over the centuries have used the mindless activity of walking as a physical meditative process.  For me, while I thoroughly enjoy a good walk, I tend to get so caught up in the sights and sounds, people and birds, creatures and weather around me, that my mind isn’t quite as free to wander as it is when I’m staring at a corner and small window of my kitchen.  The kitchen almost works as a sensory deprivation chamber.  There isn’t much to see, or hear, or experience.  Just the warmth, the steam, the water, the suds, the rhythms of the washing.

I wonder why I delay doing the dishes when it’s such a fruitful, creative time for me?  I have no answer.

But on that note, I have dishes awaiting me.  Meditation time is nigh.

Random Bits: Shifting the Lens

Notes from discussing Georges Perec’s “Approaches to What?


Rather than focus on the scandal, the news event, the cataclysm, focus instead on the mundane, the ordinary, the “what’s happening when nothing’s happening.”

Don’t be a daily newspaper but be a daily record of the little things that make up the very fabric of our lives.

Question the habitual even though it’s difficult to see because you’ve been habituated to it.

“Look with all your eyes, look.” – Jules Verne

Ask the questions journalists focus on (“5 W’s and an H”), but turn the focus to the small common things rather than the more significant, yet abnormal, happenings.

Microscopic rather than macro.

Shift the lens.

“Whatcha’ been up to lately?”

Believe it or not, I’d never set out to write books.  Strange as it may seem, book contracts just sort of fell into my lap.  Recently several people online have expressed interest in my book and internet history, and where I’m at today.  So I thought I’d take a few minutes today to share my story, such as it is.  It’s not super exciting or glamorous, and definitely nobody’s going to make a movie about it like they did with Julie and Julia.  But, hey, like Julie Powell, I actually was discovered online and given a book deal because of my websites.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s back up.

Continue reading

Random Bits: Scribbles from My Notebook

(inspired by seeing Anne Lamott)

by Debi

Truth, sorrow, and grief have gone missing in popular culture.  We are lost.  Grief (and anger) are the way home.  Anger.  Fury.  Sadness.  Pain.  Death.  This is the poetics of self-stuff.  Tears water our lives – like bathing, baptizing.

We’re told to pick something specific from the menu of life, and not to live in paradox.  We are shamed into becoming actors of perfect lives. The newly sober, however, are allowed their real feelings.

There is no freedom without discipline.  Habit, not inspiration, is the parent of creativity.

The fourth great prayer after Help, Thanks, and Wow is Whatever.

Know that you are safe.  You are preapproved.  You are welcomed.

The opposite of faith is certainty.

Love and serve everyone.