Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Staying connected

Alyssa Chandler's photo.
Me and one of my favorite former students, Alyssa Chandler.

One of the best parts of being a teacher is seeing your former students turn into adults. The 14-year-old  girl who sat in my communication arts class eight years ago  is now a mature 22-year-old young woman and fabulous mom to cutie-patootie Ivan. This picture was taken at Ivan's second birthday party mid-June. I was thrilled to have been invited.

Dangit, Harper

I was excited to get it; I was disappointed to read it. The much anticipated "follow up" to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is no follow-up at all; rather, Go Set a Watchman is the rough draft of Lee's famous (iconic) work -- before editors, Lee's rewrites, and Capote (I dare say) got to it. I'd been hoping for a completely different book, or a stand-on-its-own sequel. Sadly, Watchman is a lumpy, disconnected "collection" of small-town vignettes --no plot, really, unless you count the angry politicizing the young adult Jean Louise (fresh out of New York, back home for a visit) hurls at her father, her suitor, her Uncle Jack and her Aunt Alexandra. Go Set a Watchman wasn't published before now because it wasn't a well-developed, interesting, memorable read. The only reason it's being published now is to sell millions of copies to Mockingbird fans who were excited to discover their beloved Harper Lee had written something --anything -- else, even if this something else turned out to be a novice writer's first (polished) draft. Go Set a Watchman isn't horrible. It just isn't very good.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Deciding to be happy

A few weeks ago, a trusted friend, who enjoys research of the psychological, informed me that happiness is 50 percent genetic, 10 percent circumstantial, and 40 percent intentional. Initially, I thought I was screwed, doomed to a life of heavy-eyelidded, slow-motion existence, the kind where wallowing in bed takes up a good portion of one's day. Look. My dad suffered all his life from Major Depressive Disorder, a genetic hand-me-down that he got from his dad, possibly his mother, and then passed on to me, which I then passed on to my son. (Sorry, kid.)
Fifty percent, huh?
No wonder life seems harder for me than many (most?) people in my inner circle. Whereas they seem to just wake up happy, I have to consciously decide to 1) wake up at all; and 2) attempt to go about my day without dragging other people down with me.
For people who consider me Happy-Go-Lucky and have no idea that I have carried the heavy blanket of depression All My Life --and it's a damn heavy covering -- reading this post will come as a surprise. I come across all Smile-y and Optimistic, don't I? Let me tell you: it's work. It is intentional. That's the 40 percent that keeps me lugging my dark-cloud blankie around, that keeps me around at all.
So this morning I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and got the coffee pot brewing. Put on yesterday's dog-walking clothes. Logged on to and perused new listings --these days I am JONESING to live in a high-rise condo near the Country Club Plaza. Drank a cup of not-hot-enough coffee. Cursed my cheap coffee pot. Buzzed my cup in the microwave for 45 seconds. Settled in for residential fantasies. Gave myself twenty minutes. Intentionally walked away from my laptop.
Headed outside. Beckoned my cocker spaniel and mounted my bicycle. Millie and I did some laps around the cul de sac. Exercise is good for depression, don't you know.
Back to the house. It's 9:10 a.m. and I'm on my second cup of coffee. I got out of bed today.
It's something.