Kathleen C's blog
In '67, I lived in the dorm at Michigan State. Walked by a lounge and heard someone playing this on the piano. "Pretty good", I thought.
It was Stevie- he used to show up and hang with the blind kids, encouraging them to stay in school.
I hope you enjoy this!
The Steely Dan song; he's still got it.
Though I was immersed in work yesterday, part of me was back in that moment, when I got the news.
I noticed that I began almost as a current tugs a swimmer to idealize her, the very woman my husband calls, quite accurately, "a minor devil". Loss does that. We say, "Do not speak ill of the dead", and I've always wondered, why not? What I didn't realize is that a kind of amnesia, similar to forgetting the pain of chldbirth, ensues. The knowledge that there will never be another conversation colours the realization that many conversations were harrowing.
Philospher Robert C. Soloman on exsistentialism and freedom.
My favourite trip-hop band now. The surfer is Laird Hamilton; don't know who's skydiving.
Over the holidays, I met an inventor, a voluble guy in his late 70s who told me to learn to grow my own food in the backyard.
I thought of him when three friends called me in the last two days to say they'd lost their jobs.
The first was in sales for a global manufacturer. Top producer, but the product she sold faces declining demand. "It's a blessing, really" she said. She is also a luthier, and is thinking of working part -time and apprenticing to a master. She's resilient and not dependent on her job to provide her place in the world.
The second was an executive in a financial organization. She got a big buyout that relieves immediate financial pressure. But she went through this three years ago, and it took a full year to find another job. The consulting firm that she might sign on with has cut back too. It's not her style to show anxiety, but this time, things are different.
Happy New Year and PESCAJMBA to you too!
Like many women, I conduct closet purges, enjoying the effect of space between hangers, and the small pleasure of carrying several trash bags to Goodwill. Many contributions are unworn: gifts, bargains that lost their allure, ill-fitting mistakes. I stuffed a turquoise-patterned wool scarf, bought on a boring trip to Cape Cod, into one trash bag. It was striking, but for me imbued with the memory of that trip, when I visited an chronically unhappy friend and shopped to distract her from tiresome complaints.
I wondered who would find it at Goodwill. I always hope it's someone in need, rather than a picker who will resell it in a fancy vintage clothing shop.
At my health club, I overheard a mother dressing her three year old son. It's a production: clothes, boots, jacket, scarf, hat.
"There!" she said, "You're ready to rumble!"
His small voice repeated what he'd heard, reaching for the word and her tone of bright enthusiasm. But from him, the subtlest tone of doubt trailed behind the excitement: "Rungle!?"
His tone: valiant, compliant, eager, and in a tiny corner of his new psyche, a bit lost. I could almost hear him thinking, "Sounds good, but what is it?"
The willlingness to get out there, try, and trust that the one providing the experience will lead you on some kind of worthwhile path. Or that you'll be able to cope with it. At three, what choice do you have? You're new, every day there are strange stimuli and sights. Catching hold of life is pretty much your agenda.
"Traditional music does not belong to me. I belong to it. The same as the land...Words particularly English words are not enough. They have been used to lie on a grand scale. They continue to be used to manipulate and confuse. Music has a purpose that remains to be seen. The potential is beyond imagination. "
- Liam O Maonlai
Gives me hope.
My son Etienne showed this to me and I wanted to post it here!
What do you await with intense excitement, awe, wonder?
In late childhood, did you wonder about your future of work, community, or a partner? I did, and was so unformed I had little idea of what I longed for. Awaiting the birth of my sons (I knew they were twin boys) was almost unbearable, till I did bear them, wriggling, inscrutable persons.
Will I get that job? Is my idea as great as I think? Will the rain hold off, the flight be on time? Over the years, living in the Now has been a goal, a mantra, a fond wish. But I keep slipping into anticipation, into the unmeasurable curiosity of the next moment.
As I prepare to return to Paris, my heart turns to this bittersweet Aznavour masterpiece.
The election, the Wall Street debacle: bookends of despair, countless op-ed pieces, recycled quotes, dire predictions not unfounded. The blunt instrument of disappointment, the bludgeon of fear.
During the Depression, did our parents or grandparents just tire of the subject?
I'll be out of the country times two for the election: I've lived outside in Canada since '71, and on the eve of the election, I'll be in Europe. Yet I'm tied to the country, both because of citizenship and the indelible emotional connection. Somehow I just keep thinking of people in streets. The last year I lived in the US, citizens were in the streets regularly, marching, demonstrating, sitting-in.
My mother retained a depression mentality all her life.
She saved thumbtacks; I once found a matchbox full of apple seeds. She would drive, to our intense mortification, to a bakery outlet in her Cadillac to buy day-old bread. My father finally forbade it: "Evlin, leave that bread for poor people."
Even in prosperity, she turned his collars, darned socks, hand knit our mittens. She would retrieve crumpled but clean kleenex from the bootom of a bag, press it, and hand it back to you. But she considered kleenex a luxury, rather affected.
She was forever telling me I had to tighten my belt. She just missed living long enough to see what I always suspected was her favourite era- hard times- return in force. Mentored so unceasingly, I am already adjusting to being poorer. I was on this road anyway, edging toward retirement and thinking it's healthier and saner to spend less than to keep driving hard to make money.
My Sunday morning yoga class draws the people too busy to make time during the week. The teacher is a woman of sixty, experienced, grounded, encouraging.
Mostly middle-aged, some students, we're there to coax more flexibility and stamina out of too-sedentary bodies. Maybe a few have a serious practice, involving all eight limbs of the yoga tradition.
Into this mix, a month or so ago, came James, maybe 23. Simply put, he does not follow the unwritten conventions of the class: maintain silence unless you have a question of the teacher, follow along or rest quietly, do not engage other people in conversation, do not leave the class unless it's necessary. As we begin a series of sun salutations, he says (peevishly) HOW MANY OF THESE DO WE HAVE TO DO? "Five", replies the teacher, calmly, "And you can rest any time you wish".
"I used to have a sign over my computer that read OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS, but lately I sometimes ask myself how many more new tricks I want to learn. Wouldn’t it be easier just to be outdated?”- Ram Dass
My bank, usually uninterested in me (as I keep a very low balance in a checking account) sent a letter inviting me to switch to a "Senior Advantage" account. My first thought: "Why are they sending this to ME?", then I realized that they knew I had just turned 60. Fine, I'll take any discounts offered, but it did feel weird to step up for my first age-related deal.
I danced to this in the parking lot of a Florida Gulf Coast clam bar and it forever brings back summer for me. The 80's weren't totally a musical wasteland.
I'm sitting here at work writing this. That's right, work. Except of course I'm not working and I don't plan to be doing anything remotely productive for at least an hour, or several hours if I can help it. Then it will be time to find some like-minded person and go for coffee.
I'll try to find the rare smoker because they like to stretch our coffee with a cigarette (hey I'm not enabling, they're gonna do it anyway), or someone dedicated to the espresso from a little indy shop an extra two blocks away.
Because it is the season of the Secret Sloth: summer in Canada. We may discuss something significant (this morning's editorial about Insite, the controversial safe-injection facility in Vancouver) or light (the new Batman). I am 100% sure we will not discuss the next meeting, the project or our US owner's latest visit.
This morning I picked up the paper (Globe & Mail) and skimmed a review of a 25-year old book by William Bridges, "Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes".
The author says every transition has three clear stages: an ending, a neutral period, and a beginning. When I got to work, I heard that the company where I've worked part-time for 11 years will not be hiring me in '09; not unexpected, but the last day is now in sight. I feel oddly exhilarated, and confident that new work will arise.
Yesterday, one of my sons began a job at an art-movie rental store and cafe. He is ecstatic; gets to talk to people about film, make espressos, and play his music- and it's an 8 minute walk from home. I thought of Weems, Monica and Stephen and probably others in this community, doing what they enjoy, though it isn't easy or perfect.
Their experience is inspiring me to courage and curiosity, which I hope endures over this rare, soft Canadian summer.
If you have a chosen occupation, you will work and work in your field, layer on skill, nourish your talents, hang in through the dry patches.
And whether you are a painter, a programmer or a waiter, people will evaluate your work. If you are your own sole evaluator, you enjoy a rare work eco-system. The rest of are measured by performance reviews, customer comments, job offers, sales stats, court decisions, balanced scorecards- we serve somebody and then hear how satisfied they are.
Edward Weston said, "When I can hear a Bach fugue in my work I know I have arrived."
I experience work as service, work as love, about 60% of the time. Other times it's a transaction. The more external measures are laid on me, the less connected I feel to my work, the harder it is to achieve the flow state, and the fewer ideas are available.
On Canada Day, journalists vie to define the country's identity. Dr. James Orbinski says it is the principle of fairness (or what I would call the principle of mutual caretaking): what is good for me should be good for you- that is practiced here better than most places in the world.
(I recommend his book, "An Imperfect Offering" about his time as chief of mission for Medecins sans frontieres during the 1994 Rwanda genocide.)
I agree. That principle results in a very high personal income tax rate that largely funds universal health care, generous parental leaves and other social programs, our peacekeeping role and multicultural society.
When I came here 37 years ago, during the Vietnam War, I thought I'd spend a few years, then return home. I found a more sympatico and sane place than I ever imagined. (Though hardly not perfect, as Canada's record of treatment of aboriginals attests, among other shortcomings.)
On Sunday, I thought of my father, a doctor who took such deep meaning and confirmation from his work that he continued in an administrative role after he couldn't perform surgery anymore, into his 80s.
I always said, I'd retire when I turned 60 (next month) and live on whatever I had by then. My old assumptions have proven (once again) to be only cherished and fragile myths.
Last night I lay awake in a wild electric storm and while the sky strobed, realized I like my work, I just don't like the setting. I'm disenchanted with the behaviours of the megacorporations I've worked with, despite the 'values' they espouse. And I am not their employee- they hire me for projects. I determined to seek more congruent work- not to stop working.
Over the past few weeks, as I listen closely to a few friends, and to myself, intrigued by how we struggle with taking responsibility for our lives.
Our language forms help us wriggle out: "I had to take care of the client"; "I would have left her, but we owned property together", "They made me take that job", "I was following the rules", "I'd buy a fuel-efficient car but I need the SUV for ski trips."
Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lacey's "How the Words We Use Can Change The Way We Work" has been useful to me in thinking about all this.
Stevie Winwood from his days with Traffic. We saw him last night... his voice is still as supple and keening.
I let a friend of mine have it the other day and I regret my choice of words and (especially) tone of voice. I've said I'm sorry, but only sort of am. She has two behaviours that I do not like, and that stimulated me to the point of berating her.
First, she has a partner for whom she expresses only contempt, disdain and aversion (when he is not around), and does not take responsibity for addressing this, only complains.
But second (and what ostensibly set me off) is that she just bought a huge SUV, her second one. I told her it was a crime against the environment (along with all the usual stats.) When she told me she 'needs' it to go skiing, to take her child to camp, etc. I told her she had her head up her butt and said, "No one needs these. Why don't you just admit you like it, you want it?"
Right when I thought the drama of the last fifteen years (since my mother was widowed) was laid to rest with her, it comes roaring back in the form of her will. Without going into the legalese, two spectacularly inattentive grandsons (my deceased sister's sons) will receive a windfall, because of dispositions my father made years ago.
So I have had the spiritual practice of observing my reaction to this. I don't like one nephew, and though I am close to the other and like him, I deeply wish both had been kinder, more present for her. She longed for contact with them.
At first I was annoyed, lost sleep, ranted. Then I crossed some kind of spiritual stream. I sensed that my father, still mouring my sister (who died about 15 years before he made this will), wanted to honour and care for all his children.
Just for fun, see if she got yours right (eh)?