07 March 2004

The weather this weekend has been unspeakably beautiful! Yesterday I spent part of the afternoon sun-bathing in my backyard. As we used to say when pressed for words, AMAZING! At one point, Danielle and her mother came out onto the back patio and asked, "Isn't it a bit cold for sunning?" I said, "You forget I'm from the deep north. It doesn't get this warm there until June!"

Truly, yesterday was a day for Mac Field. On such a day in Grinnell, everyone would be out on Mac Field, lying on blankets pretending to study, or napping, or playing frisbee. At least one person would be sitting under the giant old oak tree with a guitar, strumming to an audience of a few friends. Possibly some Blue House types would have dragged a couch and/or a keg out onto the field. At least one loggia dweller would be blasting his stereo out through his window, maybe from Langan or Clark, and the field would be filled with the sounds of the mingling musics, the shouting from frisbee players, the laughing and chatting of people gathered around this or that blanket....

For some reason, it makes me think of this Johnny Cavalier strip, mainly for the shot of Mac Field.


Looks like Ila and David may be coming out to meet my beloved mountains in a few weeks! Whoo hoo! It's all a part of my diabolical plan to get everyone I love to move out here, so I can be surrounded by cool folks without leaving New Mexico. Fools! I'll snare them all! Mwa ha ha!


Last night I got to talk to my Carrie for hours, hooray! She's just moved to North Carolina, and so I got to play mentor to her experiment in uprooting one's self. Been-there-done-that. It was interesting to talk to her, because it helped me to realize how settled I've become here in many ways, and how tied to home I still am in others. Too, it's interesting that many of my friends seem to be having similar crises just now: lacking direction, lacking the easy path school offers, many of us feel driftless, aimless, worried. It's hard not to be tied down. It's hard to have such shallow roots that you could move at any time to any place -- because it means that no one needs you.

Getting married and going to graduate school seem to be ways of fighting this, the terror of an empty life. I think there's something valuable in facing the emptiness, though. I think there's something to be gained in living through the sense of aimlessness, because it means facing the ways in which you're beholden to yourself, and honoring them. I don't know, though. Talking to Carrie, I remembered that not everyone is on a life-long quest of -- for lack of a better term I'll say self-improvement -- as I am. The writer in me wants to keep pushing me into situations that scare me so I'll be forced to grow, with the rationale that every lesson I learn and every experience I have will feed my writing. The teacher in me does the same. Not everyone has that, I am reminded, and so not everyone is content to take time to explore the world and follow paths that may not lead to specific goal fulfillment. Working at Talking Talons probably won't help me get into graduate school, for example, but I do think it will help me to be a better writer and a better teacher.

All this is not to say, of course, that I do not have moments of sheer terror at the lack of long-term structure my life has. I do. I often find myself in envy of those people in my life who know roughly what they'll be doing ten years from now. Cindy for example: ten years from now she'll be busy raising a 15-year-old. There's safety in that knowledge, and comfort. And yes, I do realize that anything could happen at any time to change even the most structured of lives, and no, I don't want to be raising a 15-year-old ten years from now, but... even so, there are times when the knowledge that my future and the course of my life depend entirely on me, the knowledge that I'm the one who will have to decide the path my life takes -- there are times when that knowledge hangs heavy.

Post-graduation stress syndrome? :-)


Oh, and I've been meaning to post this for a long time. It was written by my friend Kate Herold, a Grinnell alum who worked at Planned Parenthood in both Chicago and Des Moines:

people i have met that have shaken up my worldview:
the 12-year-old girl who was raped by the man her
parents paid to sneak her into the united states
and by the time she figure out she was pregnant it
was too far to have an abortion ~ the woman who was
beaten up so badly it was difficult for her to sit
down and stand up for all the different steps of
the procedure ~ the woman who manuevered around the
clinic on crutches and had had knee surgery because
her husband had pushed her out the second-floor
window ~ the woman who was pregnant because her
husband had destroyed all her birth control pills
and he doesn't give her any money so she can't buy
more birth control, and she can't call the abortion
loan fund because they don't have long distance
service and he monitors her phone calls and her two
oldest children have already been taken by social
services because of the violence in the home and he
has told her that he's going to buy a gun but she
insists she has to go home after her abortion
because that's where her baby is and she doesn't
want to lose him too ~ the woman who wanted nothing
more than to have a child but she'd been diagnosed
with breast cancer and she had to choose between
the pregnancy she'd already conceived and her own
chemo ~ the woman who'd had trouble conceiving for
years and now that she had done so accidentally had
to terminate the pregnancy because she'd been
taking accutane and the child would have had severe
internal and external birth defects and she cried
the whole three hours she was in the clinic ~ all
the women who have an abortion to keep their
boyfriend/husband/partner happy and then the guy
leaves her anyway ~ all the women who have the baby
because their boyfriend/husband/partner is opposed
to abortion and then the guy leaves her and the
baby anyway ~ the woman whose partner left in a
huff the night she told him she thought she had
herpes because he figured it meant she'd cheated on
him when in fact you can have herpes a long time
without knowing, hell, he might have given it to
her ~ all the women who come in asking for std
tests because their partners have cheated and come
home again to give them an infection ~ all the
fourteen year old girls having sex not because it
feels good for them but because they're afraid
they'll be left all alone if they say no ~ the
woman who, right before her abortion, asked if she
was going to die and really really believed she
probably would but that was the risk she was
willing to take--that's how important it was for
her not to have one more child--she was ready to
die as long as she could not have one more child
and THAT is why every woman in every state must
have access to safe legal abortion and unbiased
information about birth control and sexually
transmitted infections because if women are
expected by society to be nothing but attractive
bodies to fuck and machines to pump out babies and
we buy into it so wholesale that we are having sex
by fourteen and having babies by sixteen and it
will change the course of our lives forever then we
need to have that information upfront or we will
never be equal. If we don't have access to
education and reproductive healthcare we will never
ever have a chance at equality.

So there you have it.