Patience in a Cup of Tea

I guess the universe had something it needed to tell me about this patience stuff.

Cuties coffee mug full of Dandelion Root Tea with quote on the little tea flag (technical term) from Lao Tzu, which is transcribed below.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

Lao Tzu

I sipped this tea while working on the novel I have been struggling with for coming up on two years. I want it to be in a place where I’m tinkering with it but not making wholesale changes to plot, past, and person. I want it just to be beautiful and ready and fucking finished, but it’s not.

In my room, I have four plants, and on my balcony I have a ficus I rescued from the garbage (her name is TrashPlant) and a Monkey Cups (a carnivorous plant) to help with the summer bugs. I am a fairly new plant parent, so these plants have all had some setbacks. Leaves fell. Whole sections died. There was a lot of trimming (read: hacking). They are not as lush and vibrant as I hoped they would be, but they are mine, so kept learning and doing my best to care for them, expecting that this was going to be how it was.

Starting last month, they started growing. All of them. The Monkey Cups are about to open up several new cups. TrashPlant killed off a ton of leaves to turn around and throw up two whole new trunks with leaves bigger than my hand! The plants in my bedroom are tossing out new leaves left and right.

My best friend once told me, when she was helping figure out how to help my plants, “We forget there is so much going on beneath the soil and focus only on what’s going on above ground.” And that’s what I’ve been doing with this book. With so much of my life, really. Focusing on the leaves and the flowers (and the lack thereof), when the work, the growth, is happening in the roots. Losing patience because I can’t (or won’t) see what’s happening before things bloom. Now is a good time to trust the roots.

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Considering Patience

I am not a patient person. Perhaps not the most impatient (although saying that makes my competitive brain wake the fuck up and say “We’ll see about that!”), but I do not like to wait. I suppose people could see this as a result of growing up and living in a Now! Now! Now! culture, where that Now! has become faster and faster to the point that the space between one Now! and the next has essentially disappeared. Sure. That’s part of it, but not all of it. Some of it is just me.

Spring blooms on a morning walk

And now we are here. All of us experiencing varying levels of stay at home and physical distancing and face covering. Going to the grocery store is a marathon of stress management. Packages are taking longer, and when we get them, sit for days, hoping that the pathogens wither and die before we open then. Washing and washing and washing again our hands. We are being forced to slow down, to be patient.

This is difficult for me. I started stay at home before my office and LA itself mandated it. (I read a lot of dystopian novels and am privileged to have a job that already allowed work from home.) Since then, I have been dealing with personal tragedies that have taken up so much space in my life that I haven’t experienced the slowing and stretching of time without an end in sight the way others have. The impact of these tragedies have waned, and now I find myself there, craving this whole thing to end.

I am alert for any signposts that this is working, that we have turned a corner. The curve seems to be flattening as the stay-at-home order extends to mid-May here in LA. I need something to do to distract that craving. Something bound by this crisis, of it and in it.

So, I am going to explore patience. I don’t know what this exploration will entail or how it will manifest. I will simply give it a portion of this slow and stretchy time, and share what I find there. Care to join me?

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California Trees

We are surrounded by gentle giants. But it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles that I realized. Branches and leaves reach up to the sky from the patch of land between the concret slabs. They fan out over homes, and cut their shadows across the dry desert heat.

New York races its buildings past the treetops to scratch the sky, so though I’ve hidden from the rain, huddled against their trunks, they never struck me as big. The suburban pines of my childhood decorated the background of my consciousness, seen but unseen.

Except for one, proud in a pasture, preening for all who drove by, but far enough away that she never seemed big. She shrunk in on herself after a flood or a drought stole her leaves and eventually brought her down.

But LA’s trees are new. They fan their roots over and under the urban terrain; they are still here, still here, no matter what you do. And I see them. The new ones and the old ones, and wave hello on my commute. They smile down as my bike makes the hard right at the bottom of the hill, cutting in quickly to avoid the cars, and wave me on my way home.

The End In the Middle Of It All

When you get to the end in the middle of it all and there is still more, so much more, but it’ll be over soon, but you are so tired and you’ll regret this break tomorrow and the next day and over the weekend when you’re trying to get everything back running but right now. right now. you just need to stop.

You push. Look for something simple, something easy. That thing you can do to check just one thing off the CVS receipt of your to-do list. Do that and then break. Do that first though. Do that first.

But. I don’t want to.

The Worreativity Stone

The stone found me in Greece.

Slipped in a pocket; ported over borders and borders and oceans and lands

Four smooth grooves

(Or two depending on who’s counting)

Perfect for the shape of my stubby thumb

Cupped neatly in the valley of my palms

Taking on the wear and tear that would rip me apart



like diamonds

The Rush of a Quiet Storm

The hill tips over a points it’s way down through a jungle of lights and cars and shadowed pedestrians. On the days when it’s perfect, after the rush of the hours at work after the rush of the cars driving home, when the rush is the blur of the lights that stay green.

Down the slope and sweep juuust to the left and the earth tips down again and pulls you into her heart.

You could ride the momentum down and up again but this way, this way creates a storm in your ears and everything falls away as everything pulls to the present and it is you and the road and the risk and the blood in your veins and the beat of your heart.

The earth tips up again.

You whisper thanks to your guardian angel as you pump her pedals over the crest of the hill and past the tent city with flags crying for Argentina and through the light at the top as it turns to yellow.

What Would You Do If

There’s that old question that is supposed to help you get at what it is in life you really want to be doing. You know the one: What would you do if money were not a problem? There’s a variation on it where success is guaranteed.

A few years ago, I came across another question: What would you do even if you knew you would never succeed? This was a good one for me. My mind tried to reject it and persisted in resisting it. Why do anything if you can’t be successful at it?

Continue reading “What Would You Do If”

Productivity is an ecosystem 

I’ve been reading a lot about productivity lately. I spent the winter beating myself up about not getting through as much as I wanted to personally and professionally, all while being exhausted from the demands of my professional life plus generalized winter lethargy. Once I recognized the self-flagellation, I took to the internet. If I want to be more productive, maybe I should not try to reinvent the wheel. The internet did not disappoint. There are so many articles and apps and tests and planners and blogposts and studies to send you on your way to being your most productive self. Great! Except in reading and trying and testing a plethora of suggestions, I discovered that the framework in which people discuss productivity isn’t quite right.Continue reading “Productivity is an ecosystem “

Pro Tips For Dudes Who Run

I’m going to make an assumption here about dudes who run: most of y’all ain’t trying to scare the shit outta women who run. But maybe you didn’t realize that some of the shit you do is fucking scary. This post is for you. 

First, don’t be moving around like your feet are wading through drying concrete and then suddenly (!) pick up your pace to a normal run as a lone female jogger is crossing a short but unlit bridge.

Second, when said jogger picks up her pace because she fucking hears you behind her, don’t pick up your pace exactly that much. 

Third, when she crosses the bridge and into a street so the 1 to 2 people around and any potential cars see her (and your fucking ass), don’t wait until those people are gone to FUCKING PACE HER JUST OUT OF HER PERIPHERAL VISION!

Finally, when she yells at you to fucking pass her, don’t fucking give her that look. The cornered animal here is her, and she is ready to do whatever damage she needs to do to survive (and she ready because she has been through this or something like this so. many. times. She is practiced. You will not be ready.)

tl;dr: Women exist in a world differently than you do. Learn it. Pay attention. Don’t be an asshole. 

In Mourning 

Twenty sixteen has been a nightmare of passings. We have been in shock over the loss of our artists, of our journalists, of our heroes. And then the Brexit. And then election. The fucking election.

After it was over and the results were called, I sprinted out of my comfortable existence, understanding in my skin that I was no longer safe. I was searching desperately for the thing I could to do to fix this. The country that had given me some relative sense of security (subject to exceptions based on gender and sexuality) was not the country in which I actually lived. America had revealed her true self to us.

People of color – specifically Black people – have been telling us about America for decades. They are the Scooby Squad unmasking the kyriarchical ghost to reveal that it was America all along, over and over and over again. And we White people have been fooled by the mask, over and over and over again.

The mask is off, and it ain’t going back on. Any belief that we had that the arc of the moral universe magically bent toward justice, instead of having to be forged by the fire and lives of multitudes who refuse to let it bend back, has to be set aside now.

My logic brain knows this.

And yet, I mourn.

I mourn the America that elected and reelected a Black man to the White House. I mourn the America that found its way to marriage equality. I mourn the America that looked ready to elect an imperfect White woman as president. I desperately mourn for the America of possibility, where our national ethos of all people being created equal, equal in rights and equal in dignity, was more than a pipe dream.

I believed in that America. I – a very imperfect White woman – lived and worked for that reality. And right now, all of those dreams and all that work has gone to shit.

America, my America, the one that I have been intensely privileged to have, is dead. She died on November 9, 2016. Something of me died with her, and my grief has been unfathomable.

I want to end this post with a call to action. With a rousing cry that we will not let America the Beautiful rest in peace, that we will revive her and fight for her and make her better than my naïve experience of her ever was.

I want to, and I’ll get there, but not now. My sprint has ended, and I have to catch my breath. One foot in front of the other, I am traveling down a road I cannot see and have no idea how or where it ends. It is dark and I am terrified, but we have miles to go before we sleep and stopping is not an option.