August 29, 2008


It's been a hectic last few weeks — getting everyone ready for the start of school. Supplies were bought. Backpacks were stuffed. Uniforms were ordered and altered. Financial aid forms signed. But this years ritual has seemed to go smoother than in the past, thanks to The Nurse's organizational prowess, not to mention her deep pockets and actual joy when it comes to buying school stuff. And she's back to school too. It's gonna be a rough year, but I know at the end of it we will truly have something to celebrate.
With all the back-to-school picnics and such, I found myself reconnecting with school parents and this year — finally came out to the few people I'd really been meaning to come out to but somehow hadn't yet. It was a huge relief, and again, I have The Nurse to thank for really pushing me here. Having her by my side has certainly made it all much easier — because I can simply introduce her as my partner and watch as the understanding spreads across their faces. But the few tough cases who still didn't "get it," well, they had to have it very clearly spelled out for them. But so far, it's been really good and all reactions have been totally positive and even loving.
With everyone now firmly entrenched in the new routines of the school year, I am trying to figure out what to do with myself. Every day is as day off and I jealously crave the routines that I am missing out on. Several potential jobs have slipped through my fingers this summer, which is something I'm sadly getting used to. And there are still more possibilities on the horizon, but there is an ever-encroaching fear just beyond that horizon. The terrible "what ifs" are just barely being held at bay by the last reserves of my optimism and the last weeks of unemployment benefits. But I can't talk about that, because if I panic (or even show the slightest concern), I will shatter the facade that holds the rest of the family together. I am strong for them, and for myself too. What other choice is there?

August 08, 2008

I finally saw Gothika....

I've been meaning to blog about this for a couple of weeks, but remembered today when I got a new comment on my most popular post. The comment was about my Anima Sola tattoo, and how it relates to the tattoo sported by the villain in the movie Gothika:
I was just going through my old movie collection and stumbled upon gothika and well, got interested to put a search...when this page came out. the tattoo in the movie seems to be different than yours. This shows a serene and heavenly beauty in chain and the other one will really make you feel that the girl is in excruciating pain..see the rocks. — Gordon

Well, Gordon (and fellow anima sola fans), I did see Gothika a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to ever since I learned that an anima sola tattoo is featured in the plot. After seeing the movie (which I thought was pretty good, btw), I can assure you that:
1) I am not a raping, murdering psychopath or maker of snuff films
2) I do not associate the anima sola image with the torture of women (and anyone who sees my tattoo and thinks I do is positively misinformed and/or crazy
3) The anima sola symbolism in the movie was twisted to fit the ideals of the villain — as is often the case with religious imagery/ideals.
Anima Sola does convey suffering, that is undeniable. The woman is in flames, after all. But she is penitent, gazing heavenward, and the flames do not consume her. Her chains are broken. It is suffering, and the release from it. Anima Sola reminds me that we punish ourselves for what we choose to punish ourselves for. Her voice rings in my head with the words "your chains are broken, darling, so why are you still standing here?"
So, I'm taking Anima Sola back from Gothika. She's mine. And she's pro-woman, beautiful, strong, and powerful. She's a survivor. She's got boundless faith, though not always in herself. Like Joan of Arc and St. Bernadette and even myself on my better days.

August 03, 2008


I am a earth sign, on the cusp with an air sign. But I've always been drawn to the water's edge, particularly in times of inner turmoil and anxiety. When I think back over some of the most traumatic experiences of my life — heartbreaks, abuse, betrayals, loss and deep sorrow — I can remember grasping for a thread of sanity or just peace and heading for one of Lake Michigan's nearby piers. And just as easily as some people "give it go God," I gave my pain and my tears to the powerful waters — sometimes quite literally casting away whatever physical remnants of loss or grief I wanted to finally be free of. But that is between me and the lake. She keeps my secrets faithfully.


I started collecting beach glass as a teenager and this summer I've probably collected more than I have in my whole life! The combination of being unemployed during the summer, and The Nurse loving the quiet Zen-like treasure-hunting as much as I, has meant many beach days for us. But she's a Pisces and nowhere more in her element than near the water. The beach is the absolute most perfect place for a water-sign Pisces, and The Nurse is blond, to boot, and is a total sun-worshiper. I can see how recharged she gets after a few hours at the beach. I'm not a sun person at all; my skin is fair and freckled and I start to burn in about 15 minutes. Still, I've been consistently drawn to the lake throughout my life, and I love to collect beach glass. Beach glass is made from discarded bottles: coca-cola, beer, and even milk of magnesia that gets broken and tumbled by the sand and water over the course of years. And after all that battering, something quite ordinary is transformed into treasure. It gives me hope. Hope that I can be transformed too — as life breaks and tumbles me in its waves and deposits me on some rocky shore. Each piece of glass that I collect is a prayer-wish, a treasure and a promise. There is beauty to be found inside, if we just persevere.

August 01, 2008

My Buddha nature, rekindled?

This morning as I was getting the kids ready for their last day of summer camp, I stepped out onto the porch and was met by an ethical dilemma. A spider had crafted a huge web overnight, right over my lawn chair, and caught in the web was a moth, still alive, flapping furiously, but to no avail. I sat in the chair next to the web and pondered the scene. The spider was nowhere in sight, and the moth was still wildly trying to fly out of the sticky mess. Should I free the moth, or, should I decline to deprive the spider from it's well-earned meal? I mean, I don't particularly feel an affinity for bugs and don't go out of my way to spare them. I step on ants. I swat flies. I smack mosquitoes. Earlier this morning I forced a giant centipede down the bathroom drain when my daughter shrieked as she met it in the shower. So why did I even think twice about it. Perhaps it was the helplessness I saw. Or the terror of the moth's certain death. Or just it's fighting spirit — still trying to escape against insurmountable odds. I wondered, is it even possible to free a moth from a spider's web? I reached out with the end of my cigarette (yes, I said cigarette) and burnt the two threads of web that anchored it to the balcony, sending the moth and web cascading gently onto the lawn chair. I bent down and picked up a stick and gently tried to loosen the moth from the web. I managed to get the moth out of the larger web, but it was still trapped in goo, and unable to fly. And it seemed more scared than ever, flapping unceasingly. I laid the whole sticky thing down on the porch post, and began the careful surgical procedure of freeing each of the moth's tiny appendages from the adhesive threads that wound around it's tiny legs and body. I used my finger and a stick to gently try to free it. I couldn't give up on this little guy now. It was still going to die if I didn't get the web off it's body. I pulled gently at the twines of web and suddenly, the moth was free, and flying! It flew right at me and clung to my sweatpants for a moment and then flew away. When I went in and told Little M what had happened, she said, "it was giving you a hug, Mommy, for saving it." I'd like to think so.