Apr 23, 2012

Where I wake up.

There is a Rich Mullins song that begins like this: “And the moon is a sliver of silver. Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter’s shop. Every house must have it’s builder. And I awoke in the house of God.”
“And I awoke in the house of God.”
I think of that last line a lot. 
It is one of those phrases that comes to me and captures my reminiscing and washes stroke of light over some of the most beautiful moments I have experienced in this life. Moments in the house of God.
Most of these moments have been in spectacular places. Places that were new, adventurous, and beautiful. Because in these settings, one is usually removed from routine, stress, tasks...free to explore and experience. 
My memories of awareness of waking in the house of God have been in different countries, at the tops of mountains, in ancient cathedrals and at the shores of stormy beaches. In my travels. In my time “away”. At rest. Removed.
Until last week. I have been following (or at least struggling and trying to follow) the Christian faith for fifteen years, and I cannot remember a single instance of stopping and knowing that “I awoke in the house of God” in my daily routine. 
Maybe I have. But when I look back to try to remember, all that comes to me are the aforementioned spectacular moments. 
I feel I must fight my memory- it are so intent on dwelling on the extreme. How can I train it to search and clear away the dazzling and instead dust off and cradle some of the more simple, feeble reminiscences of sitting in a quiet empty apartment or walking to the bus stop and knowing that I awoke in the house of God? 
My days are spent trying to reason with stubborn, jaded teenagers. In the hours that I am not with the kids, I am in front of a computer or on the phone, doing my part to help keep our teen center afloat and functioning. I work hard at this, so that I may spend those precious hours each afternoon banging my head against a brick wall and trying to help 150 thirteen to nineteen year olds develop into productive members of society. 
My moments of awe and wonder do tend to get buried under the overwhelming burden of discouragement and frustration that comes with hoping that these kids end up all right and that I am doing the best I can to help that happen. 
But I found one last week.
We took the kids on a field trip. Always a very exhausting venture. We took 40 teens on a bus to downtown Boston to see a music performance from some of the local youth music programs, including three of their peers from our music program. They were loud (normal, so was everyone else). They were pretty obnoxious, yelling and talking when people were trying to make announcements (you can shhh and give the “I am not happy” face for a while, but eventually you sit down, roll your eyes, sigh, and wait for the event to end). Still, once the music started I was actually able to enjoy myself. As lights flashed and terrible teen rap thundered throughout the auditorium, I was able to laugh and smile as I looked around me at the teens going crazy.
And that is where I found a moment, a very fragile yet powerful second, where I stood and let my life and daily routine swirl around me and I took a quick breath and murmured that line of the song that so intrigues me. 
And I awoke in the house of God.
It was a very strange place to find it.

Mar 8, 2012

Art imitates nature. Or does Art imitate freaks of nature...?

I must be going to bed soon. On nights when I get home from dance rehearsals that run until 10:00, I like to eat a bowl of cereal whilst perusing facebook and friends' blogs. Somehow, this means that I tend to stay awake much later than this nearly thirty-youth worker Jessica normally does.
Tonight at rehearsal we danced like creatures. This specific creature is the most accurate


I swear we are trained and disciplined artists. Something beautiful (albeit potentially creepy) and visually intriguing will emerge from the madness. But in the process, we looked like 9 pygmy jerboas.
And I think I chipped a piece of bone off of my elbow as I was deep at work capturing my inner jerboa essence. If not, it will at least be a very dark bruise in the morning.

So that is the story of today. In four minutes it will be Friday and it will start to rain. And I will lay awake listening to the pounding downpour and trying not to let those beady little creature eyes bore their way into my already ridiculous dreams.

Nov 17, 2010

Pooh, acts of nature and cocoa crunchers.

Contemplativeness continues. Can't shut of the contemplations long enough to watch a tv show. So I am sitting here in silence.
I have a knot in my back, longest lasting knot I've EVER had, going on a week now. No amount of hot showers, heating packs, stretching, rolling around on a tennis ball or back rubs from my sympathetic husband will kill this thing. It is a monster.
I swear it is poking me in the lungs sometimes.

Or maybe I'm just having trouble breathing.
A tree is about to fall on our car and start an electrical fire on the way down, after all. It is blustery tonight. Makes me want to watch out the window for a pooh bear to go whooshing by. I hope that someday I will have children who are just as enchanted by A.A. Milne's delightful little critters as I was and continue to be.

This is what free writing turns out to be. And my past-midnight during a windstorm head is a free-writing goldmine-a deep, rich bowl of noodles and tangents and fluffy-tailed wandering.

My husband is usually the nervous one, but he is sleeping soundly. And silently. This household does not currently snore. (tag for reference 10 years from now).

eyes are burning, I am not used to being awake this late on a weeknight. But there is little sense in giving into the sleep when every scuffle of leaves, every cracking branch and every lung-poking shift of that annoying muscle knot will wake me again. With all of these disturbances, how would I ever achieve deep REM and the fanstastical sleep world where I often wear mint green polo shirts and I know how to prevent terrorist attacks.

There is always the option of another bowl of Target-brand cocoa crunchers cereal and a half-hour spent perusing through new Facebook pictures of all of my friends cute babies. I am a cute baby Facebook stalker. Cocoa cereal does have caffeine and sugar, and that might keep me awake until the electrical company gets here to rescue our car.

Happy Windsday, Piglet.

Feb 27, 2010

The puzzling mosaic...

Life has been different this year, with a very distinct shape and movement to it.

My junior year of college I arrived at my on-campus suite to discover that one of my suite-mates had developed an addiction to jigsaw puzzles over the summer. Lining the walls of the corridor were about twenty puzzles, glued and matted to boards and hung for all to see. I remember a picture of a giant panda chewing on bamboo. You would walk by it (oh, that's cute), and then stop and realize (ah, much more interesting) that each puzzle piece was a different picture of a chinese fan, strategically arranged by their colors. Alongside that very cool panda print were several less-exciting kitten in basket, puppy running through the field variety puzzles. Some art prints. One or two that were almost all ocean or sky, with very little color variance, that would lead anyone who has ever spent time doing puzzles to appreciate the intense patience and concentration (or, I suppose, thorough boredom) needed to complete such a project. And still, beyond all of the the completed masterpieces, was the large wicker basket in the living room, stashed and overflowing with boxes of future jigsaw challenges. That was the year my roommate Kiki tried to bring back the lost and under-appreciated art of the puzzle.

That very summer after living in the land of jigsaw puzzles, I went to spend teaching dance in Massachusetts. For three weeks of my time there I lived with a lovely, petite, blonde South African woman. She was an inquisitive and overwhelmingly hospitable hummingbird of a person. She was an artist. Her art-studio garage was one of the most exciting spaces I have ever seen in a house. With the paint splattered cement floor and shelves teetering under the weight of buckets, easels, paints, pottery and just about every material needed for unbounded creativity, it actually gave me butterflies in my stomach when I walked in. (I very clearly recall that glorious room filled with the deep murmur of new, unique, and beautiful. That swirling warm-cool-warm of time and labor and imagination. Ahh, I love it.)

While I was there, my artist-hostess was working on a project outside of the studio. For almost a year she had been collecting. The front entryway of the house was crammed with plastic milk crates full of pottery tiles. She got almost all of them for free, lucky discoveries in dumpsters and roadsides. The expanse of brick that made up the base of the large covered front porch of her home was to be a mosaic of a hillside horizon. She vividly described to me the way you see the different colors and clarity of the rolling hills as they fade into the distance from close up, all the way to the wavy skyline stretching out beyond. A porch-wide panoramic view of one of her favorite sights.
So, she organized the colors and textures of the tiles. She stacked them. She went to work with a chisel and hammer, carefully breaking up larger pieces to smaller, or simply shaping them to use in more dominant, wide-expanse areas. Many mosaics are made up of pieces that are all the same shape, simply varying in color. I loved hers, though, because the pieces were both big and small. It was unpredictable. She glued them up and then slowly and deliberately filled in the cracks with grout, smoothing and shaping her picture as she went.

Well, this past year has been large pieces. I got engaged, moved back to the states, planned a wedding, worked a new job, adjusted back to my home culture, got married, drove 1500 miles across the US with my new husband to the tiny, slanty, New England apartment where we have begun our lives together.

And now I am here.
And sometimes, I'm not really sure what happened.

And maybe tomorrow will be a small piece with a picture of a bright green chinese fan.

Feb 16, 2009

From my little corner of the world.

Ars Escuela de Música y Danza. (school of music and dance, and Ars is latin for creativity, though perhaps to english ears it does not sound so lovely). 
Four claustrophobic little music classrooms and a dance classroom with a scuffed wooden floor and smudged, uneven wall mirrors. There are glaring fluorescent lights and a heating and air conditioning system that leaves every room either sweat-dripping hot or joint-stiffening cold. 
It falls a bit short of glamorous.
It is simply where I am, most days, for hours on end. 

It is my little world, which I have realized anew, fits me like a glove (one of those 3 dollar stretchy ones that come in every possible color, but sometimes doesn't come all the way to your knuckles on every finger). 

I am sitting and trying my hardest to form a bunch of numbers into a spreadsheet...I am always easily distracted during such tasks...when through the air and also through our supposedly soundproof walls (umm, who did we pay for that job?) drifts a hauntingly beautiful piano piece. Then I hear the distinct high pitched exclamation of a teacher who is seeing the reward for their labors. So I slip out of the office into the entryway just outside of the classroom of a teenage piano student, Maria.
Slowly, doors to some of the music rooms begin to open as people are drawn by the melody to the classroom. People begin surrounding the piano and peering over shoulders in the doorway. She keeps playing...her teacher, Isabel, is bursting with pride and slipping in little comments to her student as fingers glide over the keys. 
As the song finishes and the "audience" cheers for this accomplished teenager, I pause to take it all in. Maria's face is flushed from deep concentration and all the compliments that follow. Across the hall there is the resonant zip of the strings from the electric guitar class, it is almost overpowered by the loud stomping of the nail-soled flamenco shoes against the floor of the dance classroom, though their force is softened by the accompanying sweet clack of the castanets. 
Our little school is filled with people who cannot stay away. 
it is Art. 
Creativity and beauty, hard work and accomplishment. Art can seem so frivolous, somewhat dispensable, when in truth it is completely intrinsic and necessary. It very much is. Why on earth would people pay so much money  for piano lessons in the middle of a crashing economy? Why would a middle aged woman sign up for ballet classes for the first time in her life? Not because they will necessarily learn a trade that will help them pay the bills. Not because they will all leave professionals. 
They do it because they simply must.

I absolutely love this. Taking in this picture of our little academy, I could feel my heart beat a little more clearly in the sweet recognition of that fact.
Mopping the floors, doing administrative work, answering phones...the majority of my hours are absorbed in the mundane. But then, these banal hours are so clearly outweighed by the satisfying moments I find watching my little girls master a lovely arabesque, losing myself in the rich movement of my modern dance class, or crowding into the little classroom in order to witness the impromptu piano recital. 

So, I am feeling a little sentimental about it all. (hey, I'm an artist...) I can't help but believe we should all have these moments in our life. Find our little corner of the world and find contentment in that. Be inspired by what we spend our hours on, inspired enough to write such a sappy blog about it. 

Maybe it will help to reread this tomorrow when I am not able to focus on those spreadsheets...?

Dec 18, 2008

airplane scramblings...

I still haven’t slept. I am writing this from the plane. I am listening to Amos Lee and getting shivers from the incredible orange horizon stretching out over the clouds. The sun is setting and the clouds are so thick it looks like a perfect snow covered field covering as far as the eye can see.

 The guy giving me the  “international security interview” before I boarded the plane seemed much more intrigued by the idea that this American girl had been living in Spain for three years and was teaching dance there than he was in  the fact that someone had asked me to carry an unmarked package onto the plane and say it was mine.

 Sleep would be nice.

 Another milemarker, I suppose. I am on yet another trans-atlantic flight, winging my way towards the Tracy homestead in the peaceful United states Midwest. Spent a few hours in Holland this morning. Very nice, ate some interesting food. I love trying out the food in European countries, as it is not usually drastically different from what I am used to, but just distinct enough to be interesting.

 As we are stopping over in Memphis, I am just thankful I am not stuck sitting next to the southern frat boys I encountered at the gate. I saw them. I heard them. I had that unnerving annoyance well up inside of me, as it never seems to fail that fate has placed us in the same row on that HUGE plane.

Phew, relief. I suppose it doesn’t matter anyway. They were just going to “dude, drink a beer or a shot first thing and get so f*%#ing wasted”


 I am dressed like a total spaz today. I play this game with myself when I travel through other European countries, trying to not be pegged as an American. Today I wore a semi-ridiculous outfit, partially because I was up so late packing last night that I forgot to take into account that I would need to wear something today.

 No good movies on the plane today. I might need to pop a few antihistamines to force myself to sleep. I know I must be tired. I really only slept one hour. It felt more like when you fall asleep in class with your head propped up on your hand and then suddenly your head drops and knocks itself out of your palm and you wake up in abrupt agony.

That’s what the alarm clock did to me this morning. Knocked my head out of my hand and sent me hurtling into a long and goopy day of exhausted journeying.

 Put shave gel in my hair this morning in the shower. At least I didn’t fall asleep in there and drown.


Sep 8, 2008

I would rather be on top of the world.

If I seem distracted, it's because most of the time, in my head, this is what I am doing.
If not, well, then it's what I want to be doing.

Aug 28, 2008


that's all I needed to do. Ratować się ucieczką...everything.
How do you say "supreme  lethargy" in Polish?

I can remember the last time I ever sat and watched a TV show in hour-long marathons. August. It only happens in August. 
Fans blasting.
Shades drawn.
Patrick Dempsey is saving lives.
We like it when Patrick Dempsey saves lives.

Despite the beautiful lethargic hours and the gallon of Pasión de Café ice cream in the freezer, I am excited to go back to work in the coming days.
My muscles are going to atrophy if I don't.
Plus, I have read some new thoughts, been inspired by countless hours of new music, picked the brains of both new and long-time friends, climbed to gorgeous heights with awe-inspiring views, penned many new chapters and verses and ramblings of my brain, and because of all that...
I feel ready to jump in to both creating and creatively instructing again. 

So I say today.

Ask me again tomorrow.

Things making me smile at this moment: 

-A gigantic king james reference Bible 
-Wearing hand-me-down clothes 
-my roomate's baking impulses
-my Polish heritage
-drinking something with the word "spritzer" in the title
-savoring the last few days of 25-ness
-the cinematic orchestra