Category Archives: School

Pollyanna versus the Ancient Judgements of Doom

Lyda here.

This week, someone I know put pesticide on their lawn to get rid of the bugs. They used a mild, pet- and child-safe spray to get rid of bugs that were biting the pets and children.

Who knew that this small thing would trigger such big stuff within me?

(My teachers. Because they are wise, they know stuff comes up, and because they are amazing, they gave me tools to deal with it. Seriously, y’all, go to USM.)

See, this is the story.

When I was young, our dog Happy ate some grass in someone else’s yard.

This was the sixties. No one in our little Iowa town had fences in their yards. Pets and children were free to roam about the neighborhood. But I digress…

Unfortunately, Happy chose a yard that had just had pesticide sprayed on it. She died of poisoning.

I don’t tell you this to bum you out.

I tell you this because, when my friend sprayed their grass, that day that my dog died came back to me, all the feelings and judgements as clear and powerful as I had felt them 45 years ago.

I remember searching with my little brother, and singing “Where oh where has our little dog gone?” as we looked. I hated myself for that, after our dog died.

I remember crying as I stood with my dad and watched the vet put our dog in the back of his station wagon and drive away. I remember she was panting really heavily, and I remember being sure that my dad and the vet could make her all better. And being furious that they didn’t.

I remember the man watching this, and saying something about spraying his yard to my dad. I hated the man for killing our dog. And my hatred scared me.

Today I realized that I was still carrying all of these emotions inside me.

All the powerful feelings and ancient judgements made by a child who did not understand why she was losing her dog.

Today I realized that I could let it all go.

Judgements and anger directed at this man who accidentally killed our dog. Judgements of the vet and my parents, who could not save her. Judgements of myself and my brother for making a game of it and singing as we searched.

I feel compassion for those adults, who watched the grief of small children and the suffering of a good dog, and who knew they were helpless to change the outcome. How hard it must have been to do the right thing, to put the dog out of her suffering, and to know that the children could not understand.

I feel compassion for those small children, facing death and not understanding. And compassion for those children who innocently made a game of looking for their dog, and who later hated themselves for it.

I forgive myself for all the judgements, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations of reality connected to this. And I forgive myself for judging myself for holding on to all of this for so long.

Rest in peace, Happy.

Finally.

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Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part 3

Lyda here.

I finally completed the seemingly-endless Reading on Discworld Challenge which was inspired by the books of Terry Pratchett. I wanted to read new books for the challenge, which is why it took me so long. Oh yeah, plus getting my masters. And life. I already reported here on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15, and here on the books I read for item #s 6, 8, 12 & 14.

These are the remaining parts of the challenge that I completed:

3. ‘Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?” Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?” There was silence. Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ‘em right.”’  Mort

Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about. What is string theory, really? Who was Deep Throat? And, now that we’re thinking about such things (y’all know you are)… How have attitudes and morals about sex varied and changed by country and era? (That book was my sister’s college graduation present to me – my first graduate course, she said.) Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Pyramids” (mathematics, philosophers, why camels look smug, and what really happens to mummies), “Monstrous Regiment” (why military intelligence isn’t always an oxymoron).

I read “The Walking Dead  – Compendium One” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn.

What? I’ve always wondered about graphic novels – I had never really read any before – and specifically, I wondered about these graphic novels.

I love “The Walking Dead” TV series, and I knew from watching “The Talking Dead” that the graphic novels (on which the show is based) were different. Some of the characters and their character development are different, important plot points are completely different, and reading the graphic novels is a totally different experience from watching the show. They are both excellent, too.

7. ‘The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.’  Guards! Guards!

Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf  and read it. One way to do this is to look in the new books section, and pick something from a category you don’t usually read. Just don’t interfere with the nature of causality while you’re there. Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Good Omens”, “Nation”.

I read “The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size” by Julia Cameron. (I actually bought this book, so I can use it over and over like her other books.) Y’all, I never ever read diet books. But this one is different. For one thing, it is written by one of my favorite authors, who wrote “The Artist’s Way” and many other awesome books about which I

just (blog post link #1)

won’t (blog post link #2)

shut (blog post link #3)

up (blog post link #4).

This book is really about expanding one’s creativity and shrinking one’s use of food as a block to emotions and creativity. It does not contain a food plan or rules. Instead, it give tools to use to explore one’s relationship to food and get free of old patterns and unhealthy habits. Those familiar with Julia Cameron’s work will recognize some of the tools, like Morning Pages, and find new tools, like keeping a food journal.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try out the program.

13. ‘It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.’  Equal Rites

Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics. I think y’all can find one of these on your own. Terry Pratchett book suggestion:  “Equal Rites”, “Sourcery”.

I read “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide” by Maurine Dowd. I wasn’t crazy about this book. Some of the science is out of date, and I didn’t agree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, she quotes a survey that found that 86% of women would quit their jobs if they didn’t need the money. This supposedly shows that women are less invested in their jobs than men are. But I immediately wanted to know: what percentage of men in equivalent jobs would quit if they didn’t need the money? I’m guessing it would be neck-and-neck.

But agreeing with her is not the point. She made me think, and that is the point. Plus, she is a good and occasionally funny writer. While discussing the ‘war between the sexes’ she says, “Will there ever be peace? I doubt it. But there should always be laughter.” And I’ll drink to that.

16. ‘To Rincewind’s annoyance the Luggage barreled after her, cushioning its fall by dropping heavily onto a slaver, and adding to the sudden panic of the invaders because, while it was bad enough to be attacked with deadly and ferocious accuracy by a rather pretty girl in a white dress with flowers on it, it was even worse for the male ego to be tripped up and beaten by a travel accessory; it was pretty bad for all the rest of the male, too.’  Sourcery

Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, or any of the books with the Luggage in them.

I read “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind. There is a sword that is essential to the plot, and is practically alive. Plus, there is a talking magical doll in it. I realize as I’m typing this that “talking magical doll” sounds really creepy, but in this story it actually isn’t. No, really.

17. ‘ “It would seem you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said.
“Have you thought about going into teaching?” ‘  Mort

Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.  Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (you will find out more about rats than you ever thought there was to know).

I read “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I feel as if I found my homeland – it is a land of truly weird stuff and wonderful off-kilter people, and Jenny is our leader. Also, I learned quite a lot of very bizarre and not-useful stuff, including things about taxidermy. See this post for my full review.

18. ‘… human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium…’  Pyramids

.

‘It’s not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It’s because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations.’  Pyramids

.

‘It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.

‘Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected.’  Small Gods

Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Small Gods”, “Good Omens”, “Wee Free Men”… really, any of his books.

I read “River Flow: New & Selected Poems” by David Whyte. I love his writing. It feeds my soul. I discovered his work at school, where several of his books are required reading. Which shows you how awesome my school is.

19. ‘He [Vimes] wasn’t strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (Did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?)’  The Fifth Elephant

Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Fifth Elephant”, “Thud!”.

I read “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s not a traditional mystery, but it definitely fits the bill. The plot twists like a corkscrew, the characters are unique, the ending is surprising, and the world is fascinating.

————————————————–

I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. Witness the digressions…

When Pollyannas Collide…

From the dusty archives of our Drafts folder:

This is what happens when the Pollyannas met up on Facebook late one night… The colors let you know which Pollyanna is which. Also, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Not us. Our families, silly.

Anna-Liza:     Hey there – are you really on right now? Or is it just a Facebook illusion?

Lyda:              Yes, I’m on.

I went and started a cooking project and now I have to stay up ’til I’m done.

How much longer are you going to be up?

Hoping less than half an hour. I have something simmering – have to check it once in a while. Then I can pour it in a jar and let it cool and go to bed.

Not too much longer, then.  Hey, I graduated.

I saw! Congratulations!

It’s kind of weird. It felt like this huge thing before it happened, and hardly anyone has even acknowledged it. I thought the people at work would all sign a card or something.

Wow. Nothing?  Although it’s not totally surprising, I guess.

Nope. 

Then again, there’s that whole karma around getting validation from outside.  Bleh. 

People keep asking me “What are you going to do now?” and the truth is I have no idea. I’d like to do something completely different, but I’m not sure what.

I’m hoping that, now that the kids are in school again, life will be less crazy and I can indulge myself with a call to you once in awhile again.

And, in re: “boring job,” you *must* read “Radical Homemakers.”

That would be awesome! I miss our long talks. I saw your note [on Facebook] about “Radical Homemakers.” Sounds interesting.

It’s a quick, but sort of intense, read. I think it will weirdly fit in with your studies.

My son the Sith Master thinks I should be a teacher and teach English so kids will learn to love books and reading and writing, instead of learning to hate it.  I don’t know though.

I have to do some posts on the blog…

God, I am not even sure when the last time I posted was. Blogging is another thing I want to get back into.

And I’ve started making these cute little stitch markers that my knitting group is “test driving” for me. If they work well, I’m thinking of selling them on Etsy.

Me too. I need to post about graduating, for one, and check off a big thing off my Bucket list. I did do this.

To jump around a little, one of the big reasons we like living in our own house is that we can garden a lot more extensively. We want to do an “urban homestead” kind of thing with a lot of edible landscaping.

Stitch markers – cool! I haven’t knitted in so long. It’s finally cool today, so I can think about dusting the needles off. I’m thinking I’ll just make a scarf with yarn I have, and then give it away to someone…

Maybe even backyard chickens eventually.  A scarf’s a good way to get back into knitting.

“Urban homestead” – I like it. Edible landscaping is a terrific idea.

You know those books about women’s knitting or quilting groups? I swear our knitting group could inspire one of those.

There you go, something else to do in your copious free time. And hey, while we’re at it, we really should write a book together too.

We’re growing pole beans on our front porch railing, and we’ve been getting really tasty green beans.

[about writing the book together] Yep.

Something with lots of sex in it. I’m not having any right now, so at least I can live vicariously by writing about it.

Hee!

I can’t write well about sex – it always comes out too serious.

Or just stupid.

“Mmmmmmmm .. Mmmm … Mmmmmmm … ” Didn’t we make fun of some book like that way back when?

I know – comes out serious, stupid, or insipid when I write about it. Maybe together we can keep it fun and funny.

 “RRRRRRrrrrrrr …. VVVVVVVVVv”

Sorry. Got carried away there.

You are cracking me up!  “And she arched her back and screamed like a lioness…”

Do lionesses scream, exactly?

I’ve always wondered…

The scream thing annoys me. How many women actually scream when they orgasm?

Probably not so many.

Well, mountain lions scream, or so they say. I haven’t heard if they scream during sex, though. On the nature shows, the lioness always just looks bored during sex.

Yeah, she does. Lions seem a lot like this one guy I dated…

[On “How many women really scream during sex?”]  Good question. Probably less than men pretend they do. But is that because the women are worried about someone hearing, or are they thinking, “I’d scream, but it would be stupid”?

Or it’s just not a natural response.

Moaning, gasping … “Mmmm”ing … seem more real.

OMG, I think we should do a whole chapter of the book comparing old lovers to animals from the nature channel.

Brilliant!

Names or aliases? I think names could cause problems…

Yeah, moaning, gasping is more real. I think Playboy started the screaming rumor, and some women just play along. Probably most women don’t even talk except to say “yes yes more more” but really, what else do you need to say?

Definitely aliases. We might want to visit Texas again someday.

[On what else women need to say during sex]  “Stop that”

“Get off me”

“I told you not to do that”

Hopefully followed by “do this instead,” or “let me be on top now.”

Yeah, but I wonder if men hear it after “stop that”. It would be a turn-off to hear her say “I hate when you do that”… or maybe not, what the hell do I know?

I think we have a blog post here.

I don’t think I’d say that during the act…

Well, “stop” if something hurt or was really unpleasant.

At least one! Hey, let’s just turn it into a knitting / quilting / urbanhomemaking / sex blog.

Isn’t it that already? Well, maybe the urban home thingy not as much.

I keep having this image of two very proper people explicitly discussing sexual acts over the tea and crumpets. Sounds like a Monty Python skit.

Which is actually not a bad idea…  I mean, if you really need to give detailed feedback or suggest something complex, maybe it’s better to discuss away from bed.

The Radical Homemaker thing is about disengaging as much as possible from what the author calls the “extractive economy” and engaging in the creating of a “life-serving economy.” Backing off from consuming…

Yeah, I guess the urban home not so much, especially since I stopped writing about cleaning too.

And yes, discussing away from bed is probably best.

Wait; let’s go back to talking about sex.

Nothing like a serious discussion to kill the mood.

We should just copy and paste this chat to the blog.

True. Et voila!

And when discussing one’s partner’s technique, they might feel safer if they have their clothes on. Of course, the dinner table might not be the place either… not if there are knives on the table. Better to serve pasta…

Or gazpacho.

Yeah, hot soup would be a bad idea….

This one time, the bed collapsed. I thought that was pretty frickin’ hilarious. How can you not laugh when the damn bed collapses? The man in question, however, did not think it was funny. An important clue that this was not the guy for me.

So another chapter in the book = funny, embarrassing, weird moments in sex.

Hey, are you done cooking yet? And by that, I mean on the stove…

How could we not? I remember the bed collapsing story – still can’t believe he didn’t think it was funny. That happened in a production of Fiddler on the Roof I did makeup for – Tevye’s dream sequence. He ran and jumped into the bed, and it collapsed.

Yes, the jars are cooling now.

Oh wow. I bet everyone working the show still tells that story.

Cool. We can work on the post tomorrow. Or I should say “I can work on it tomorrow.” Since I’m not the one with two active kids at home…

Probably. “Tevye” is now a voice actor in CA. Works for Disney, done some good stuff.

And I’m babysitting AND Very Superior Husband is doing a weekend retreat up at the cabin.

I sometimes wonder if I’ll run into one of our theatrical classmates out here but hasn’t happened.

Speaking of sex… you could go jump in bed with your gorgeous husband now. But… don’t jump too hard.

And no I can’t – he’s at the cabin.

You see how I did that with the bed-collapsing reference? I’m so good.

Which is probably why I’m up late cooking.

[finally getting a clue] Oh. Well. He’s at the cabin and you aren’t?

[about the “I’m so good” thing] Yes! You are!

And he’s doing a retreat.

So you are herding the kidlets alone this weekend? Wish we could do it together. Damn I miss living in the same city as you. Stupid pointy mountains!

Pollyanna versus the Outsider Syndrome of Doom

Lyda here.

Check out this post by Havi of The Fluent Self:  Clan of the Outsider. She makes an excellent point:  Everyone thinks they are an outsider.

I certainly spent my life thinking I was an outsider. My family was weird. I was weird. Different. Perhaps even… special. Oh, that “s” word!

And I thought my pain was special too.

I thought my pain – emotional, psychological, spiritual – childhood pain, teenage pain, adult pain – every kind of pain – was too different  for others to comprehend. And certainly too vast to ever heal.

That made me feel like an outsider. “They would never understand” kept me from being open, from being honest, from reaching out.

I had a death-grip on my pain, cradling it inside me, too often withdrawing to lick my wounds, too frequently snapping at anyone that came too close like a feral dog.

And then I went to USM. And I learned to think differently about my pain.

I learned to share my pain. Haltingly at first, starting with smaller wounds. Working my way up to the pain that condemned me as weak, horrible, and repellant. Or so I thought.

I learned to listen. Really listen. And I heard the pain of others. And it was not different than mine. Not less than, not more than. Not different.

Their pain inspired not horror, but compassion. Not repulsion, but love. And so did mine.

I learned to forgive myself for judging others. Including forgiving myself for judging them as being unable to love me exactly as I am. Pain and all.

I learned that it was arrogant and selfish to think that my pain was different, or that it could never be healed. To think that others could not feel compassion and love for me. To set myself apart from everyone else.

I learned to forgive myself for judging myself as wounded and as unlovable.

And with forgiveness, came healing.

I learned compassion. Not only for others, but – this took much longer – compassion for myself.

I even learned to love myself.

And y’all know what RuPaul says: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Also, y’all remember, don’t be jealous of my boogie!

But I digress…

And in almost-unrelated digressions…

Havi also led me to the Pulp-O-Mizer.

Because everything is better as a pulp fiction cover, right?

Pulp-O-Mizer_Pollyanna

Go play, y’all.

Pollyanna Cleans up her act… uh, any day now…

Or at least tries to…

Lyda here.

My room is a complete shambles.

And, no, Anna-Liza, I don’t mean my usual “oh, I need to get some filing done and straighten the books” that usually gets me crazy –  and which for most people would not even be considered “messy.

No. It’s a disaster.

There are teetering piles of papers, books, and assorted school debris all over every available flat surface.  Mixed into the piles are old family photos, a huge unwieldy family tree, art supplies, drawings, clippings… all of them related to one school project or another.  The desk – one corner of which serves as my nightstand – is covered with pens, pencils, markers, post-its, and – on the corner that serves as my nightstand – an ever-more precarious pile of Terry Pratchett paperbacks. The table is piled with binders, notebooks, and more papers – and a salt shaker, fabric napkins, and chopsticks, since I eat here too.

There are towels on the back of the chair. There is a pile of discarded papers on the floor next to the trash can (the trash can itself being full).  I haven’t seen my sewing machine in months (I know it’s in the room somewhere). The bed has been in a permanent state of unmade since before finals started two months ago.

And there is a thick blanket of dust everywhere. I’m sure it has been seven or eight months since I dusted and maybe longer since I vaccuumed.

As Bette Davis would say, “What a dump.”

This morning, there was a knock on my door and the two exchange students were there, wondering about hooking up to the innernets and needing some code that was mysteriouslyhidden in the wires and such on the desk.

And I was embarassed to let them into the room.

Thankfully, the fabric and yarn is all neatly organized and stashed in the closet, safe from dust and possible coveting by the Danes. At least I have  my priorities straight.

So, this weekend I’ll be trying to restore some order to the chaos. And possibly finding the floor.

When the going gets tough, the tough… go on the innernets.

To find out  what the mess means about me.  Hmm. Funny, they don’t mention “stressed out grad student” as one of the reasons for the mess…

Okay. Time to get to it.

As soon as I finish this quiz:  What’s Your Cleaning Style?

It turns out that I’m an “easy breezy cleaner” at this point in my life.

I know. I would usually land solidly in the “crazy cleaning obsession” category, but I’ve just been too busy with school and I’ve learned to let the cleaning slide a bit.

See? Grad school has been good for me.

But I digress…

 

Pollyanna and the Return of Random Weirdness Wednesday!

Lyda here.

Yes, I’m back, and so is Random Weirdness Wednesday!

Y’all can breathe again.

I finished my finals, attended my last long weekend class, and – this morning, gang – completed my Masters Comprehensive Exam. Assuming I passed that last one, all I have to do is attend the August practicum (which goes on for a week), and then walk across that stage and get my diploma!

I can almost taste the Masters in Spiritual Psychology now.

And it tastes like Panda Express…

Wait, that was my lunch…

But, all that aside, let’s get to the important stuff:  Random Weirdness Wednesday!

1.) This little piggy went to market, and this little piggie got all wrinkly in the pool… Stole this from someone on Facebook, and I would credit them if I had a clue who it was. I also like the name of the page:  “The Body Odd.”

Notice how I got the piggies in early?

I know what y’all like.

b.)  Speaking of piggies, the Orange County Fair opens on July 15th. One of the features of the website is the live Pig Cam.

cucumber.)  One of the features of the actual Fair will be MY photo of tree bark, which will be on display with the other entries in the amateur photography competition.

No foolin’.

I don’t know about y’all, but that seems pretty weird to me.

Next year, maybe I’ll actually enter a quilt.

Or then again, I might enter the table decoration contest. Y’all know I love that one.

duck.) What is the perfect Mother’s Day present?

My son gave it to me this year.

My very own copy of “Shaun of the Dead.”

Who loves his mum?

“You’ve got red on you.”

Pollyanna Caught in a Whirlwind

It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.
Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected.
  –    Terry Pratchett, “Small Gods”

Lyda here.

I got a spam message in my email with this title: “sked his tall aunt, the Ostrich,”.

I don’t think I know anyone whose aunt is an ostrich.

But that would be an interesting family tree.

Or savannah, as the case may be.

But I digress.

I’m crazy busy with school and homework and school projects (did I mention the projects? HUGE projects, lots of time required) and project team meetings, and work (did I mention my boss is on leave and I’m now half her and half me and wholly crazy?) which is why I haven’t posted lately and I hope you all will forgive me but I have to go now and prepare for two workshops I am facilitating on Monday for work, and also find time to eat and possibly shower.

How are y’all?