Tag Archives: spirituality

Salutations 2015

Oh! Hey there 2015! You startled me!
How are you? Five months old already? Wow. Where does the time go….
Me? Oh yeah, well, you can say I’ve been a little busy.

I don’t know if anyone told you, but I enrolled in college last summer. Adults go back to school all the time, I know, but in my case it wasn’t so much the going back thing as it was more the just going to part. I wasn’t picking up from where I left off at 19 or 20, because at 19 and 20 I didn’t believe in the future. I believed in part-time jobs, all night parties and never marrying or (shudder to think) having children. Little Niki was kind of a shithead, but we forgive her.

All these years later, my placement test slated me for college-level English and Dumb Blonde Math. About two weeks into Dumb Blonde Math I posted the following: “Quotients are welcome to shove an integer up their respective prime factorizations.” My attitude has yet to improve.

There are three remedial math classes I need to complete before tackling a mandatory pummeling in college algebra. I knocked out the first course last semester. This semester, however, I floundered hopelessly in what I believe was the equivalent of 11th grade algebra and/or Dante’s Seventh Circle of the X Y Interception of Hell. Somewhere along the way, I started to write a blog called “7F{(6u+4.2c)-13k(4M-12a+1t)+3.7h = F*ckM*th” but the title alone exhausted me and I passed out in a pool of my own dim-witted tears.

You see, I just took on too much this semester. I assumed, because I’d managed an English and Math course last semester, with an A and B respectively, that I was a not only a mega-genius but also some kind of full-time-working-mother-super-hero-lady-pants.

Which reminds me, at our marriage counselor’s office (don’t worry, we’re fine, we simply require a communication tune-up every now and then) there’s this series of mental health statements you have to rate via electronic tablet before every session. Ranging from “I feel good today,” to “I want to stab my boss in his/her yapping face hole,” – Strongly AgreeAgree; Undecided; Disagree; Strongly Disagree.
The one that never fails to amuse goes: “I feel like I have special powers.”
Yet, next time we go in for a tune-up, there will be no giggles from me. Just a reluctant admission of “Strongly Agree.”

I strongly agree that I thought I had special powers when I took on four online courses – to include Biology 100 and Dumb Blonde Math II – while still a full-time employee, still a full-time mother to a kindergartner and a 13 year old (ALL THE HORMONES), all during the months when my husband retired from a 24 year career in the military (ALL THE MID-LIFE CRISIS) and our lives changed forever. But, to my dismay, I did not manifest the necessary super human strength, and it turns out that I also need to sleep sometimes. Who knew.

Oh, guess what else? Within the framework of a self-paced online math course, it seems my individual pace is “NO.”
Intermingled with “Fuck this shit” and “I wish I were dead.”

So yes, you could say It’s been a rough five months. Far more difficult than I thought it would be, even though I’ve seen people struggle through it before. When I think of the friends and family who worked toward their degrees in similar situations, they have my eternal respect. Heroes and martyrs – all of them.

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In other news, life is good. My girls are still happy, healthy, and doing great in school, and my husband is slowly but surely navigating life as a civilian – the first step of which appears to be mandatory beard growth (which I thought I’d mind at first …but it’s kinda hot). We’re planning to move this summer. Whether that means locally in AZ or ending up on one of the coasts is, as yet, unknown. In fact, there are so many unknowns just now that if I dwell on them for long enough my chest starts pounding and it gets harder and harder to breathe so, I avoid that. I’m keeping the “future-tripping” to a minimum, and the “right now” on blast. A greatly matured yet slightly suspicious Little Niki lives on.

Also, I’m taking a break from school. Not giving up, just pausing for air. I’ll be one of the “go-backers” next year.
But, do me a favor, will you?  Please tell 2016 to be kind to me?
Thanks, 2015. You’re a peach.

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Dumb Deer Diary

Around 7:20 AM, going 65 mph, heading west on Arizona Highway 90, with the sun – having just finished its dawn-makin’ business in New Mexico – rising in my rear-view, I saw an impressively large male deer leap across the pavement before me.
And stop.
In my lane.

There were no other cars, though traffic was quickly rounding the bend behind me. And while I had my headlights on, he didn’t appear mesmerized by them. He came to a halt  (this breathtaking buck; this absolutely magnificent creature, with his enormous antlers, his soulful eyes) about ten feet from the hood of my car (my car…. the one with the awesome brakes) and he slowly turned his massive head my way. Nonchalant. If I spoke deer, I bet he would’ve said,”‘sup.”

My hurtling black death machine was purely an afterthought to him. And when I try to understand the reason behind his sudden, dangerous pit stop, I try to imagine his thought-process…and it sounds like this (…and he’s very fancy): “Alas, weary am I from all this graceful jaunting, to and fro, in forest-like peace and tranquility. Hark! Tis civilization, yonder! Me thinks I shall rest these weary antlers… but where?  Hmmm, I see a fast approaching contraption of certain death. What luck! I shall stop right in front of it. Splendid!”

My oh my, he was GORGEOUS. His gaze was the gaze of the ages.
And he was very stupid. And he is very, very lucky to be alive.

As traffic caught up to us, I held my right hand high over the passenger seat; Jedi-forcing the oncoming traffic to slow their mornin’ roll – which they did. And after that beautiful buck had properly assessed me, with all the interest his fairy-tail ass could muster, he bounded the remaining lanes of the highway, toward safety.

Actually, he headed toward a suburban development. So, probably not safety. But that’s okay because, as we all know, you don’t have to be smart when you’re that pretty.

I drove away from the encounter awe-struck; nearly convinced of it’s spiritual import.  A random AM eye-lock with the glorious divine. But the rest of the day proved far less enigmatic. In fact, the overwhelming theme of the office that day ( and I’m working again….but we’ll talk about that later) seemed to be that of rampant stupidity. Not by way of my co-workers, but rather their overall report of the active corporate world at large. Shocker, I know.

So was my handsome buck a celestial totem, or just the universe presenting me with its official Ambassador of Dumbass; warning me of the day ahead. Or, of course, he could just have been a deer, doing what deer have done since the dawn of motorized vehicles. But, my goodness, he was a joy to behold!
And magical. And I’m going with that.

Gary Larson's The Far Side®Gary Larson’s The Far Side®

Smile

On the corner of Valencia and Alvernon, on a 72 degree Tucson, Arizona winter’s day, stood a familiar sight; the scruffy looking man holding a cardboard sign. The poor soul wasn’t standing on the corner, exactly; he was pacing the median to my left as I was approaching the stoplight, waiting to make a turn in that direction.

A month previous, my daughter and I were exiting a shopping center and drove by a forlorn-looking gentleman clutching that infamous cardboard. As we passed, I made no eye contact, and I realized my daughter has learned to do the same. It occurred to me that she’s never seen me be charitable to a homeless person on the street. She missed those days. The days when I was younger and less cynical. The days when I lived in a city and I spared my change. That fact, combined with it being Christmas time, was enough to get me to drive a circle – through two traffic lights, and holiday shopping parking lots – just to give the four dollars cash I had on hand to the middle-aged man with the sign.

I’m aware of the idea/myth/possible reality that many homeless persons with “Will work for food.”, “Children starving, please help.”, “Hungry veteran. This is humiliating.” signs are just duplicitously playing on your sympathies and, in fact, make more in a day on the freeway exit ramp than you do all week. But I’ve never been quite sure how much of that is true or how much of that is something we tell ourselves so we don’t have to feel bad – or, worse, make eye contact.

So, as I sat in the left turn lane, at the corner of Valencia and Alvernon, with my two children in the backseat, the man with sign approached my window and I stared stoically ahead at a light that could not turn green fast enough. He was the most aggressive panhandler I’d ever known. The minute we stopped he rushed my window, practically pasting his sign on my driver’s side glass. So aggressive that I was compelled to turn my head and read it.

It said, “Smile.”

With a little smiley face beneath the single word. And I did. I smiled. More accurately, I smirked – in the caught-off-guard, “Ah, you got me good” way. And I made my left turn with all sorts of philosophical thoughts about the wackiness of the world. But I think I smiled most at the thought, “Hipster or homeless?”

In a Suburb of the Soul

I watched my two girls play in the backyard while I scrubbed soiled dishes. I watched them through my small kitchen window. My eldest, catching me spying, decided to improvise a play. The toddler, having no idea what a play is, devotedly and obediently looked to big sissy for stage direction. And mostly she just emulated her older sister’s every move. Pure idolization.

As often it does, my heart swelled at the sight of them.

At the same time I gave thought to the countless throngs of suburban mothers who have similarly watched their beautiful children at play through kitchen windows – since the dawn of the suburbs themselves – and it may sound very common, and it may seem ever so unspectacular, but that’s where you are mistaken.

Because it was, and is, extraordinary. It was singularly magical and whole.

And in that moment I knew we’d be okay, no matter how it rings of cliché (or attempts to rhyme). We’ll make it, just the three of us, while he’s away. And I can only hope these happy days, these shining moments that come alive in things like kitchen windows, take shape someplace eternal and scared. That, as they say, wouldn’t suck.