Linda posts the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday on Friday so that people have a chance to mull the prompt before writing the post, which is stream of consciousness so no editing allowed.
Confession: Sometimes, I write the post on Friday and just schedule it to come out on Saturday.
Second Confession: Sometimes, I plan the post in my head more than I probably should to be true stream of consciousness.
I usually do, though, manage to have some thoughts about the prompt or I just don’t participate that week.
Because it’s Just Jot It January and because I already didn’t do Stream of Consciousness one week because I had a post of my own I wanted to get out, I really wanted to do SoCS this week.
The prompt is to use “count on it” in the post.
When I read it Friday morning, I thought that it would be pretty straightforward. Something would pop into my head as the focus for the post.
But that didn’t happen.
A lot of things that I can no longer count on came into my head, but it seemed too unsettling to write about that.
I think the combination of personal losses, the pandemic, the divisiveness of the United States, and the feeling that I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop – and it does – have left me unsure that there is anything I can count on.
Once upon a time, I lived in a town of about 200 people in western Massachusetts. Well, 200 if you counted the people in the prison camp up on the hill, who lived in what had been built as lodgings for CCC workers back in ’30s. When I was in Girl Scouts, we used to go to the camp for lessons in ceramics and jewelry making and such. My daughter has a tooled leather belt that my sister made there. The crafts kept the prisoners occupied and they sold some beautiful pieces in their gift shop.
We had a grammar school in town. Four grades in one room downstairs and the four older grades in a classroom upstairs. The school was also built in the ’30s by the WPA. Jobs that helped workers during the Depression and that helped the town for decades after. My father lived in town then and was in school when they moved to the new building.
The largest employer in town was a paper mill along the river which made specialty papers, like the glassine that used to cover envelope windows before there were plastics. They used to make the wrappers for Necco wafers; I remember seeing them made on a school field trip to the mill.
Life was good. Everyone knew everyone. We were probably a bit behind the times but no one much cared about that.
Greater forces did impact us over time, though.
Jobs were moving South. The owners of the mill closed it. Some jobs and the people that filled them moved to Georgia. Some other folks found jobs locally, although other towns were also losing their mills, so jobs weren’t easy to come by. Even the prison camp closed.
The town got smaller. When there were only seven kids left in town who were in K-8, the school closed and the students were bussed to a neighboring town. Eventually, even the post office closed.
The town is still there, though. The people are resilient. Everyone knows everyone. They recently celebrated the town’s bicentennial.
On the one hand, I’m worn out by feeling that I can’t make long term plans and that I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. There have been so many years of uncertainty both on a personal and a community/national/global level that I would welcome a sense of stability.
On the other hand, it would be terrifying and/or depressing to know that things are going to go badly and that there would be no way to ameliorate or avert them.
So, I guess I will remain in my state of unknowing, making plans, then modifying or dropping them when the next unexpected thing occurs.
I’ve got too much on my plate – and my blogging has been suffering because of it.
I’ve been busy with poetry, singing, family activities, and chores and a lot of the other things on my plate, like blogging and doing poetry submissions have been pushed off to the side.
As is often the case, it’s not so much that I need more time as that I need more brain power. While I thought that I had gotten through the alternating bouts of numbness and thought-swirl that happen from grieving, this fall has shown that I was mistaken. I have only limited time when I can concentrate well enough to write – and some days that doesn’t come at all.
I know better than to make promises about catching up on blog posts.
I do have a few submissions that will be coming up on deadlines that need to get moved up on the list of tasks – or to the center of the plate if I can make myself return to the original metaphor – and I will need to work on holiday cards, which are a high priority item for me.
I’m hoping that I will have a couple of poems published in December, so there will be posts for those.
If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get my mind in a more stable place and clear some of the items off my plate.
(She writes, really trying to do stream of consciousness metaphor…)
Over the last ten or so years, I’ve spent a lot more time thinking about methane than most people.
This is due to the fighting against fracking here in my region with the Marcellus shale, in the shale plays in the US, and the export of the technology around the world.
I will spare you all the detailed things I learned about fracking and methane’s effects on climate from Bob Howarth, Tony Ingraffea, Sandra Steingraber, Walter Hang, and so many others back in the thick of the fight in New York State, which led to first an administrative ban and later a legislative one. One of my roles at the time was to comment on media articles as part of a rapid response team. I learned to argue from economic, health, environmental, social, and other perspectives, depending on the circumstances.
N0t really. It was super stressful. It was also important to get accurate information out into the public and I was very grateful that we were able to get some better policies in place.
Unfortunately, the damage done by fracking and by methane leakage is still with us, widespread and massive.
Atmospheric methane levels are at record highs and are part of the supercharging of global warming that we are seeing now. As a greenhouse gas, methane is more short-lived in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but it is much more powerful in the near term. In a ten-year timeframe, methane is about a hundred times more powerful than carbon dioxide, so it is imperative to cut emissions of it now to avert various tipping points.
There was a major methane reduction initiative signed last year, which is good. The problem is that emissions have not been carefully measured or monitored by governments and the fossil fuel industry and estimates have been much lower than what some scientific studies have shown. I was just reading about a study earlier in the week and will try to insert the link after I’m done stream-of-conscious-ing.
It’s cold comfort that the problems the scientists and environmentalists have been pointing out for years are finally being more widely acknowledged when so much damage that could have been averted has already been done.
We need to stop adding fossil methane to our climate system in order to have any hope of meeting the 1.5 degree C level in the Paris accord.
I am very distressed about the breaks in the Nordstream pipelines. Every time I see video of the roiling, methane-saturated sea water, I feel sick, knowing how dangerous it is. It’s especially upsetting to see it in juxtaposition with the footage of the devastation caused by hurricane Ian. Most media coverage is finally acknowledging the role of climate change in supercharging storms but I wish they had been doing it years ago when it would have been easier to avert this level of greenhouse gases. We finally have some decent federal legislation in place but the scope of the problem outstrips that level of spending. The damage estimates from Ian will be higher than the climate spending in the law.
Our family over these last years has taken steps to stop using methane. When we installed a geothermal heat pump a few years ago, we were able to disconnect from the methane system. Our electricity comes from either our solar panels or a 100% renewable grid supplier, so we aren’t using electricity generated from burning fossil fuels. I continue to advocate for the transition away from methane and other fossil fuels.
Silent letters are one of the difficulties in learning written English.
There are a lot of them! (There are a lot of other weird features to spelling in English, too. I pity anyone having to learn it as a second, third, or fourth language.)
I realize other languages have them, too. I never studied French but occasionally have to sing in it. I’m always having to cross out letters that aren’t pronounced.
The first opportunity I had to study a second language was in high school. I chose Italian for a number of reasons. My mom’s grandparents spoke it, although in dialect which is not what you learn in school. Also, Italian is used extensively in music markings. In the US, Latin is sung using Italianate pronunciation and I often have call to sing in Latin.
Learning to spell and pronounce words in Italian is much more straightforward than in English. There are almost no silent letters. H is the letter that is sometimes silent and sometimes a signifier of a change to another consonant sound. Once you learn the pure vowel sounds and a few little rules, it is very easy to read a text in Italian. You might not know what you are saying, but it will sound beautiful! ***** Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “a word with a silent letter.” We could write about it or about silent letters in general. Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/09/09/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-10-2022/
“Why (this, that, or the other thing)?” is a question I try not to ask.
When I was a kid, the answer to “Why?” was often “Because” which could lead to a succession of “Because whys?” which were meant to be taken as a joke, but were really just frustrating.
“Why” questions are often unanswerable. I’m thinking of questions like “Why do people suffer?” and other existential things like that. Maybe “Because” is the appropriate answer. Because that is the way it is. Because this is reality. There isn’t really a reason or logic involved. It just is.
Sometimes, people use why to introduce a questioning of someone else’s motives or behavior. “Why did they do that or say that or think that?” The questioner often seems to not want an answer as much as voicing disapproval.
Where “why” questions seem most helpful to me are in fields like science where they can spur research that leads to actual answers. Most of our understanding of the universe started with asking why.
Now that I’m thinking about it, another useful realm for “why” questions is introspection. Unlike someone else questioning or speculating about my motives, I find it helpful to ask myself why I do or think or say certain things. The better that I can understand myself, the more likely I am to be able to learn and improve and be of help to others. ***** Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is start a post with the word “why.” Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/09/02/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-3-2022/
Earlier this year, I joined the Madrigal Choir of Binghamton and was somewhat shocked but definitely honored to be offered a seat on their board.
I’ve never been on a board before, although I’ve been on lots of committees. Even though I don’t think being on committees is my strong suit, I did accept.
I haven’t had enough time to figure out yet if it was a mistake.
It’s not that I don’t have ideas to contribute. It’s more the incredible stress of trying to get them out.
I’m an introvert who finds talking to more than two people at a time really stressful. So a board meeting where I know almost no one is daunting. Add in being thrown into the midst of discussions that had been ongoing and for which I have limited background and the stress level goes up exponentially.
I am, however, determined and dogged and faithful, so I will try to do my best to contribute and be a good board member.
At least, for now.
We are coming up on the one year anniversary of my father’s death. After the months of having to deal with all the paperwork and estate settling, I had been trying to re-prioritize my commitments. I thought that I would be doing mostly solitary activities, other than poetry workshopping. Well, and rehearsing with Madrigal Choir.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
Besides Madrigal Choir Board, I’ve been involved with the Creation Care Team at my church, which has now also morphed into involvement with the diocesan creation care task force. Dealing with anything on the diocesan level is fraught for me for more complex reasons than I could possibly tackle in SoC.
For sanity’s sake, I know I should scale back, but will I?
When I saw that Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week was “key,” I knew that this would be another intersection with JC’s Confessions, my occasional series in which I “confess” to things that aren’t really sins but that I feel vaguely guilty about. (I’ll paste the usual intro to JC’s Confessions at the end of this post.)
I sometimes wear my Phi Beta Kappa key when I am nervous about a challenging meeting as a confidence booster. It’s on a necklace chain, so it isn’t that noticeable and, if someone does notice it, they are likely to think that it’s just my sorority or my husband’s fraternity key. (This would only be possible if the person doesn’t know us. I went to Smith College, which does not have sororities. B’s university did have fraternities but he would never have considered joining one.)
I think the origin of my feeling guilty about it is that I’m wearing it as a secret reminder that I am intelligent in the best liberal-artsy way, that I can use those skills to delve into new terrain, and that I can contribute to solutions to complicated problems.
That I want my membership in Phi Beta Kappa to be a secret is the problem.
So, I was always a good student. I was valedictorian of my high school class. I graduated summa cum laude from Smith College, which, at that time, placed me in the top 1% of my class. I made first election to Phi Beta Kappa in the fall of my senior year.
There is somehow in the United States an undercurrent of suspicion of people who are “smart.” Having been a good student is taken to mean that you must hold yourself above others. This is not at all true of me but others may assume it is and react in a hostile way.
I nearly always kept my little secret undetected. The one time someone noticed and commented on my key was when I was serving as a parent volunteer on a school district committee doing curriculum work. It was daunting for me to be the one person who was not a professional educator. We did do training together for the work but I had to rely on my personal skills and intellect rather than on pertinent academic background in education. Thus, my need to boost my confidence with my key.
During a break, one of the teachers commented on my Phi Beta Kappa. I probably blushed! In retrospect, it shouldn’t have surprised me, as he earned a couple of degrees from Harvard himself and would certainly have known those Greek letters when he saw them.
It was nice to have someone in on my secret that day, someone who understood what it meant without thinking I was being a show-off.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve worn my Phi Beta Kappa key. My life has been much more contained, especially since COVID appeared.
Maybe I’ll wear it someday not as a confidence booster but as a celebration of my now long ago academic past.
In the first few seasons of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert did a recurring skit, then a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.