The Reflection

The image in the mirror

is of a woman unknown to me.

Her outline is familiar

but her eyes hold questions unanswerable.

Her definition has changed

in words yet to be expressed.

Her reflection merges

with the immaterial and the unknown.

She fades.

Searching for the Past

Yesterday I watched Who Do You Think You Are? where Lisa Kudrow searched for her father’s family, and discovered a long-lost family member.  Today, as a means to distract myself, I decided I wanted to learn more about my family. I have a copy of my family tree on my mother’s side, through my Grandmother (it appears that we are from Filipow, Poland on that side), but I don’t know about anything else. I’ve always wanted to know. I may not get anywhere, but hopefully it will be an interesting and distracting search.

I wonder why people have become so fascinated with the past, with discovering their ancestry. I know that I should be living in the present, and according to everyone, envisioning the future so it manifests itself. I’m trying to do that, but I really want to know where I came from. Is anyone else fascinated by finding out their roots?

On Dreaming in Japanese

Sign from Seattle's old Japanese-language libr...

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When I lived in Japan, I started dreaming in Japanese. I believed that was the sign that I was finally becoming fluent. Years later, Japanese only pops into my head occasionally, and the phrases aren’t very fluent. Last night, I found myself in the top floor of an old library.  While there were comfy chairs to sit in, this place wasn’t one of these clear, bright, modern libraries that I go to now. This was more like the library of my childhood, that smelled like books and dust the minute you walked into the door.  I was with a few people, although I’m not sure who (my mother-in-law?) one of whom knew I spoke Japanese. The others were Japanese, and started testing me. They also kept handing me books. Books that creaked open and had cobwebs holding them together. Now, mind you that even when I was pretty fluent, I could only read about 1000 kanji (which is only about a fifth grade level I believe) so these library books would have been beyond my capabilities even then. But, out of respect for my insistent friends I struggled through reading and conversing in a language no longer comfortable for me.

What does this dream mean? It could simply be a reaction to the beginning of a long overdue e-mail conversation with one of my best friends in this world who still lives in Japan. Or, maybe it is my subconscious telling me to pull out the dusty books of educational desire and start embracing learning for learnings sake again. I didn’t study Japanese because I had to (there were plenty of gaijin who got through their time in Japan speaking as few phrases as possible). I did it because I love learning, I love language, and I love words. So, maybe my next step involves dusting off some old dreams and pursuing something new.  Suggestions, anyone?

On Tax Refunds, Coffee Shops, and Random Thoughts

I admit it, I’ve always wanted to be Carrie Bradshaw. Okay, maybe not exactly Carrie Bradshaw in terms of crazy sex life, super high heels, and high fashion in New York City (although I’m sure that, for a short time at least, that would be fun), but the Carrie Bradshaw who sits in a coffee shop in the middle of New York City writing about whatever she feels like at the moment. And getting paid for it!

So today, after finding out that we actually are getting a decent tax refund, I decided that I will pay myself, by sitting in a coffee shop and writing about whatever I feel like at the moment. I also decided I’ve written too many depressing blogs lately, and that I need to envision  what I really want for my life. So here it is, I want to be able to sit in a coffee shop, writing, and get paid for it.  There, I said it.  But, the question is, what do I want to write?

I already have one novel written (for middle-grade readers) although I still have to find a publisher. I have several others started, although they seem to have stalled out as I face this complex search for a new job, a new career, and a new life. And in this blog you can see several attempts at poetry (although definitely not my best).  I used to want to be a journalist, but is that even an option now, with newspapers and magazines suffering along with the rest of the economy?  I’m writing this blog, but where will that lead?  I doubt very much that I will be the next writer of Julie & Julia merely based on blog posts (although I won’t deny that the fantasy of that is there). Who wouldn’t like to be discovered unexpectedly, just based on the random thoughts she places in a blog?  I’ve imagined being discovered in so many moments of my life . . . but that’s a rare occurence of course, and I recognize that hard work is the more likely road to success.

But, then again, the unanswerable question for me is how do I define success?  Do I have to be published and become a recognizable name? Or can I ever be satisfied simply doing good work and being acknowledged by my peers?  I can’t answer that question at the moment, because I haven’t allowed for the possibility that I am successful in my life already. Is that because I strive for perfection, which I can never achieve? Or am I allowing an outside definition of success to dictate who I am and what I become?

I think that, here and now, I want to create my own definition of success.  One that applies to me, and makes me feel proud of who I am regardless of where I am and what others say. So, from now on my definition of success includes sitting in a coffee shop, writing!  Hey, look at that, I’m successful!

On Reading Essays in Your Sleep

I was wondering if I should start reading and grading student essays in my sleep?  I mean, seriously, half the time it seems like my students write them in their sleep. Several of them have admitted to writing only after a few drinks, or (for those who have that magic medical card) on some other mind altering substance. So, wouldn’t my grading go better if I did it in my sleep?  I’d have much more creative responses.  Depending on the type of sleep I’m having, they might even be less harsh.

Just something to think about. Or maybe dream about. Good night.

Re-defining Self

Who am I?

This is a question many people ask themselves, but is there one simple answer? I don’t believe so.  I certainly can’t define myself. Especially now.  I have tried to define myself in CV form, or in a professional letter, or in essays on applications . . . but are those the sum of me? In American society it sometimes feels as if you are only defined but what you do, but is that really who you are?

I want to re-define myself. I don’t know where that re-definition begins, but I know that it is necessary. I can no longer even say anymore who I am professionally, because the path I have taken has gone in so many directions. Sometimes I wish that someone could define me to me, and maybe I would know where to start.

What Makes me Lucky

My daughter is going to be writing an essay in school today that explains what makes her lucky, so I thought maybe that is something we should all do.  I’d like to ask all my readers, the billions of you out there of course :),   to make a list below of things that make you lucky.  Here is mine:

  • I’m lucky because I have been able to follow and complete many of my dreams (directed plays, acted in plays, wrote a book, travelled the world, learned different languages).  Of course I haven’t gotten completely where I’d like them to go (I really want to find a publisher) but I’m still lucky to have done so much.
  • I’m lucky that I have lived in some interesting and beautiful places.  I may not have found home yet, but I have been really lucky in the places I’ve searched.
  • I’m lucky to have met so many wonderful people in this world. Some have become true friends, some where just a passage in my story, but I’m lucky to have met them all.
  • I’m lucky to have an intelligent, sweet, beautiful daughter who is going to rock the world someday.
  • I’m lucky to have a husband who cares.
  • I’m lucky to be able to wake up every morning and write, even if nobody every reads my words.
  • I’m lucky to have two fuzzy, annoying dogs because they ultimately give me the most unconditional love (although it is improved if they are provided with extra carrots).
  • I’m lucky that I am an intelligent, creative woman, who can take on any challenge in this world.

I’m sure I could keep writing, but I’d love to hear some of the things that make you feel lucky!

The Never-Ending Search

I know that I’m not alone in this, because so many people have lost jobs in this economy, but can I just say that job searching is hell!  I know I’m talented, qualified, and good at what I do . . . but it seems almost impossible to show all of that in a cover letter and a cv.  Those are pieces of paper, not true depictions of who someone is. And yet, that is what is needed to get in the door. And, in academia at least, if you can get through that door, than usually you are one of three, all of whom are qualified, talented people. So then the choice comes down to personality and fit. There’s no way of knowing or preparing for that really, all you can do is your best. It has to be the most frustrating process in the world. Not that I can think of a better way, but I just wish there was one.

This is the Year

42, The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Lif...

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42

“The answer to life the universe and everything”

This is the year that everything changes

only in positive ways.

This is the year I will find answers

and perhaps create new questions.

This is the year old dreams may die,

but new dreams will form and become powerful.

This it the year I will grow in health, strength, and attitude.

This is the year I will face challenges with grace

and not let them get me down.

This is the year I will guide my daughter on the next steps towards

the wonderful woman she will become.

This is the year  I will  laugh, sing, and smile

even in the face of adversity.

This is the year I will strengthen relationships

let go of the past

and welcome new joys.

This is the year.

Happy Birthday to Me.

A Mental Cleanse

I’ve heard of those drinks where you

purge your body of all toxins.

Green goop that goes in and out

in a couple of days.

What kind of concoction

or device

can purge your mind of all negatives?

I want something

to scrub it clean and shiny.

Reach into all the nooks and crannies

and wipe out any hidden negativity

doubt

or fears

that sneak out at inopportune moments

sabotaging dreams

or sometimes daily thoughts.

I need a complete

mental cleanse.

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