Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I Journal

For a good decade or so, I went about my life in a tunnel. I could only see one short step ahead and when I dared to dream, I’d be crushed when it collapsed or worse yet, evaporated like a fine mist in a desert summer. I drank heavily. I slept away most of my free time. I was glued to the television. I was short-tempered and cried easily. And through it all, I stayed married, raised my daughter, kept employed and paid my bills. It was hell. It was hell for my family, too. What it was that prompted me to pick up a notebook in the drugstore one day, I don’t know. But that simple purchase is what saved my life. I’m convinced of it.

I started writing. The great American novel it surely was not. To be honest, I don’t remember what I wrote. Where I wrote, I can tell you. I wrote everywhere. I wrote at work when everyone was gone and my duties were done. I wrote while sitting on a sidewalk curbing waiting for my daughter to get out of school. I wrote at the bus stop and on the bus. I wrote in the living room late at night when I couldn’t sleep. I wrote at home, at the library, and once I even wrote in the middle of a store while shopping.

I wrote myself to a place where I could consult my doctor, then to a therapist who told me I was already doing what I needed to be doing. Several years later, I wrote myself off the medication that the doctor prescribed. I took journaling classes, too. They taught me there is only one rule for journaling: there are no rules. Just write.

I’m not cured of depression by any means. No, depression is like other diseases, alcoholism and drug addiction, in that you take it one day at a time. My coping mechanism is my journal. My journal is my life.

Monday, April 26, 2010

One Arizona Citizen's Story

On April 23, 2010, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer did two things. One, she signed Senate Bill 1070 into law and two, proved that Arizona has its head up its ass. SB 1070 requires police to ask for documentation when they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the U.S. illegally. The bill has been hotly contested. Opponents claim it will lead to racial profiling. Supporters say action is needed to stem illegal immigration in light of the federal government's failure to take action.

I’m a white woman who was born and raised in the United States of America. That makes me a citizen. My bloodline is a mixture of Swedish, Norwegian, and German; northern European. Given the geographic locations of these countries, let me say that I’m about as white as you can get. You can’t find us in a snowdrift, that’s how white. I remember as a young teenager, sitting at the kitchen table talking to my German-born grandfather. He was three years old when he arrived in the United States. He also revealed a fact about his father that didn’t really bother me until today: great grandfather was an illegal alien.

Great grandpa sailed over from Germany with a cargo of workhorses. In those days, immigration law said you had to have family members or someone already here to take responsibility for you. But there was no one like that for great grandpa. He jumped ship and the rest is family history.

Great grandpa came here because things were not so good at home. He jumped ship to be able to provide a better life for his family. He could have been a criminal in Germany, who knows? But here he worked hard and created the life he wanted then sent for his wife and son. He saw his family succeed and prosper.

If those politicians and other people who pushed this law into existence really thought about it, I’m sure they would find a similar family history. This country was founded by people who didn’t like the way things were in their own countries. They emigrated to have the life they wanted. Just like the ones we are trying to keep out now.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Economic Downturn Doldrums

The sound of water running in our pipes is loud and sometimes overwhelming. I do my best to ignore it, however, because I’m determined to improve the condition of our front yard. It’s an almost bare dirt lot with a sickly shrub here and there. Last weekend I tore out some dead plants and cleaned up the planters and beds. It is for my personal well-being and that of the neighborhood.

This aspect of psychology came up at work recently when the interior painting project was cancelled. The budget is so tight that staff has not had raises for three years. One position was eliminated and the executive vice president took a voluntary pay cut. Maintenance is limited to the essentials only, leaving the interior neglected. While one of my groups refuses to meet there again, the dingy carpets and walls are beginning to take the most notable toll on the employees.

It goes the same at home. We don’t have ready cash or the DIY know how to fix up the house. (My hubby calls himself “Mr. Bad Wrench.”) And we, reflecting our surroundings, become tired, dingy, and worn out, too. So the least I can try is to bring back some of the lawn. Water is still somewhat cheap and so far, there are no restrictions on outdoor watering.

What are you doing to keep your good spirits?

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Life in Sepia Tones

It’s time for another high school class reunion. The email chains are growing longer than I am old. Names spark memories and scenes from those days that I thought I buried long ago. Time has softened those harsh teenaged edges and after 35 years, they don’t seem so bad.

Geometry class. The teacher would draw chalk diagrams on the walls and into the corners so that we would be able to better visualize the 3D problems. Students loved him. The janitors hated him.

Physics class. My lab partner and I were stuck with broken equipment and as a result flunked a key project. My grousing earned me the label of “Senior Class Crab.” I remember being more upset because my lab partner flunked it than I was upset for myself. She was a good friend and a sweet girl who was also incredibly smart. I let her down.

Latin class. I admit it. I cheated my way through half of the first year and the entire second year and I bet the teacher knew it, too. Then there were the long class periods we spent in the tiny upstairs teachers’ lounge reading Julius Caesar’s The Gallic Wars aloud to each other and fighting to stay awake.

Social Studies/History classes. I watched hours of filmstrips and ancient brittle movies so the teacher could be an athletic coach instead of a teacher. Some of it was seen through the taped-together lenses of my glasses because my family could not afford to get them fixed.

There are more, too. They paraded through my head today as I watched my lunch slowly spin in the office microwave. Some scenes are better off reburied in the little grey cells. Oh yes they are.

I lost my senior yearbook ages ago in one of my many moves. It’s only now that I miss it. We were such dorks and nerds back in 1975, but judging by the emails, we’ve grown up and left it all behind. Huzzah! Unfortunately, a trip back “home” is not possible. To top it off, this is the first time I really felt like I wanted to go. Perhaps I’ll be able to make it to my 40th reunion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ode to My High School English Teachers

Barbara Abercrombie from Writing Time posted the perfect poem.  I wish, oh! how I wish, I had read this in high school!  I might even enjoy TS Elliot today if I had read this poem.

How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual by Pamela Spiro Wagner


Head on over to read it at Writing Time and see what I mean!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ink-Anon

Hi. My name is JoniB and I’m an ink addict.

It started out with the innocent reading of a book. Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. I needed a fast pen, she told me and then bragged that she used fountain pens. That nagged in the back of my head until one day at Staples, there was the Parker Reflex, a cheap starter fountain pen. Yeah, I know, I know. Office supply stores are not kind to people like me. I should have walked away.

One pen. One stupid fountain pen! That’s all I wanted. But it wasn’t enough. Before I knew it, I bought two more. And the cartridges! Oh my, I loaded up on the cartridges at every opportunity. I’d even drive out of my way to pick up another pack.

Then it was Quill. An online office supply company. They carried the Varsity. In six colors. I ordered them all. Soon I was trolling the ‘net, looking for more. Exotic fixes of pens. It was a dark night when I came across the Hero pen from China. Only four or five dollars each. No ink cartridges for this pen, oh no. It wanted, nay! demanded, bottled ink. But from where? The art supply store had Pelikan ink. Just one bottle, I rationalized, and I’ll be happy. Just one. But by this time I was in too deep. There was no turning back.

Today, I confess all to you. I have seven bottles of ink and fourteen fountain pens with number fifteen in the mail. Oh sure. I can say that my most expensive pen is my bright red Lamy Safari with the 1.1 steel italic nib and feel all superior. But when the light of day shines on that padded drawer in my desk, I have to admit it.

I’m an inkaholic. And I need help.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring in the Desert (or Pass the Antihistamines, Dear Heart)

EVERYONE is suffering with allergies including yours truly. But, I have to confess, the drive up to Payson to visit my mother last weekend was so beautiful.  All the rain we had in March gave us not only the allergies, but wildflowers like I’ve not seen before. The desert is blanketed with yellows, purples, and reds.

I drove Highway 87, also known as the Beeline, and up to the Bush Highway overpass cars were stopped along the shoulders so the kids could pick huge bouquets and bury their faces in them. Photographers were leaning in to get close-ups or climbing the small rises to get their landscapes. Bikers, both pedal and motor, were weaving around the scores of trucks towing ATVs and boats along with more than a few motor homes and trailers heading north.

Ah, spring in the desert! (Aaaaachooo!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Non-entity

About 10 years ago I decided it was time to be honest not only with myself but with the world. I stopped coloring my hair. In doing so, an interesting result has me rethinking that decision. I’ve become a non-entity. Sometimes it manifests in disregarding my opinion or my professional expertise. Other times I am simply invisible.

I have an expertise in a certain type of educational credits. When I try to convey the nuances and intricacies of it to someone who would like to take advantage of these credits I am dismissed out of hand. Another colleague who is older than I but thinner, dresses more expensively (because she can), and colors her hair is more believable even when saying the exact words I just said.

When I cross an intersection alone, more often than not I have to dodge cars that are turning right or left. One morning the driver of one car did stop, roll down her window and call out, “I’m sorry! I didn’t see you!”

When I stand in line at the library or in a grocery store, I am invisible to men who walk directly in front of me and stand as if I was never there. I clear my throat but remain ignored. One time I did say something and the man turned and frowned at me and said, “I just want to ask a question.”

So, if I color my hair again (Oy! the mess, the expense, the goofs!) will that return me to the land of the credible and visible? The weird thing is that I love my hair! I love watching the white slowly replacing the dark brown. But my self-esteem is slowly being eaten away.

So, what would you choose?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Religion vs. Retail

Easter Sunday when you aren't a Christian can get rather funny.  No, I am NOT slamming the religion here.  I have a personal code: I respect your beliefs but you must respect mine, too.  What I am slamming is the commercialization of religion. 

Yes, this topic is addressed often, mostly at Christmas, when blatent aim is taken on symbolism and sentimentality of the partakers.  I am reminded of that story when Jesus got pissed off and cleared the temple of money changers and the other vendors.  So when I saw the trays of buns in the bakery department of the grocery store, I burst out laughing.  Dark buns placed in the shape of a cross were surrounded by white buns.  How hokey can you get?  Judging by the display, not many customers fell for it.

Remember a few years ago when a Danish (I think) cartoonist mocked the Prophet Mohammed in an editorial cartoon?  The Muslims are still fuming.  Can you just imagine the total world chaos that would ensue if our retailers turned the same commercial marketing on a Muslim holiday that they give Christmas?

Holy crap!  Yeah, you bettcha!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm a Green Inker!?!

Green happens to be my favorite color as you’ve probably guessed by the theme on this blog. So, it won’t surprise you that I recently purchased a bottle of Diamine Old English Emerald ink. I’d been searching for a shade of green that wouldn’t make my teeth grind by the second paragraph. Most greens I’ve used have tested out as a pretty shade but half way down the page my eyes crossed and I had to either change inks or squint until I was able to turn the page. My desk drawer is filled with green pens and my fountain pen drawer has several packages of green ink cartridges. Therefore, the hunt for the perfect green ink was on.

I sat down and Googled “green ink” and while the hits were not overwhelming, I encountered some interesting information. Green Ink Tees is a Colorado company that is using ecologically friendly inks to create interesting T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other clothing.  Green Inker blog does not exist any longer.

However, the most interesting one was listed towards the top. Good old Wikipedia came up with a full entry on “Green Ink.” It seems the term “green inker” is not a nice moniker to be labeled with according to British journalists. It refers to loony readers who, using green ink, either scrawl all over the paper and mail it back, or write bizarre letters to the editor. Then I ran across the Green Inker tattoo at SkinU the Tattoo Store  where you see a tattoo of a twisted ballpoint pen with green gas coming out of the top.

I stopped the search. Do I really want to be labeled as a crazy person just for writing with green ink? I set aside the whole thing for a while. Then, the other week I started again. I restated my search in Google to include “ink reviews” and was blessed by a hit from “Spiritual Evolution of the Bean” (one of my favorite blog sites) and lo and behold, there was a list of all the ink reviews she has done. After some browsing, I discovered my green. The good news is that I’ve been using it for a few days now and I’m pleased to say that I haven’t had any urges to write in to our local newspaper.