Monday, August 29, 2011


in an unexpected turn of events- i am now driving a 1990 vw jetta.  mostly.  the minivan is still an option.  the white minivan, that seats seven, has a storage bullet on top, automatic windows and locks, adjustable gas peddle, and all the other gizmos Ford thought to put in a minivan made for american families right around y2k.  it is reliable and sensible and totally awesome in so many ways.  and makes me feel like a 37 year old mother of two.

ingrid- the jetta- was new in the year i turned 16.  she is now 21 years old.  her spirit is wild, although her body is showing her age.  she has a sun roof that begs to frame the bright stars at night for anyone interested in tipping back and looking up. 

do you imagine doing this?  what's in your hand while you do this? beer, cigarette, joint...this car begs to be owned by a rebel.  this is why i like her.  ingrid is somewhat of a temptress.  she dares you to drive faster than you should, have music louder than you should and be gone longer than you should. 

also have a roomy trunk for trips to goodwill.

and ingrid has a stick shift.  along with that- a clutch.  i learned to drive a stick shift in my early twenties on basheeba loop-loop.  an elephant disguised as an Isuzu Trooper- circa 87?- she was a lovely beast.  A trip to the store felt like a jungle sarafi adventure, and getting her in gear was not always easy.

same goes for ingrid but the difference is that she is not about safari.  as i mentioned already- she's more about cruising, speed, sharp turns and seeing if you really can go 140 mph- because that's how far the speedometer reads.  with loud music.  and slightly frightened children in the backseat.

i like the business of shifting that requires engagement with the task of driving.  i have to decide when and how.  how loud do i want to rev it?  how quick do i want to pass that motor home?  i am Driver.  i like third gear the best.

actually- i just like shifting in general.

except when typing.  the keyboard i mostly use for typing no longer sports the shift key on the left.  i think cyrus ate it.  well, he probably didn't eat it...but he most certainly flipped it off.  and the little rubber circle is gone too.  as he did to the arrow keys and the comma and the N...and the other key that i don't really know what it is anymore....except that it sends me to the next line when i touch it, but it's not return key.  so i don't touch it often. but all those keys have the little rubber circle which still does what i want when i touch it.  not the shift key on the left- it does nothing when i touch it.  even if i whisper at it first. 

when the shift key went missing i stopped capitalizing the letter i because i type that with my right hand and it's too awkward to hit the shift key with my pinkie and the i key with my pointer.  try it.  not smooth at all.

so "screw it" i thought.  why do i need to be I?  i can just be i, right?  little i is the same as big I.  i.  I.  you get the idea either way.  now and then i started a sentence with "in" or "instead" or "ice berg."  ok- maybe not ice berg, but whatever i-word it was it was not I-word.  it was just i-word.  and i started to like it.  so i started to stop capitalizing completely.

e.e. cummings, for example.  if i ever had a reason to write that name before now i don't remember doing so.  but it looks so much nicer than E. E. Cummings.  doesn't it?

my name: nancylee bouscher has a better form than Nancy Lee Bouscher.  Although that L is looking lean and proud, i notice.  but the second option requires much too much shifting.  nancylee bouscher.  i can type that really, really fast.

not capitalizing wasn't about denying my ego or wanting to look different or anything other than lazy fingers.  and a missing shift key.  it's to the point now that when i type of computers with left shift keys- i completely ignore them.  even if they whisper at me.

and now i get the added benefit or having another way to add Emphasis to a word.  like in winnie-the-pooh, how milne would capitalize very Important Ideas now and then.  ideas that adults really liked mostly, if i remember right- and often i don't.  so feel free to look that claim up.

besides both being called shifting, i'm not sure what these two acts- going from first to second gear and capitalizing letters- has much to do with me, except that i am currently doing and not doing a lot of them.  and i'm in control of doing or not doing them.

and in a world where a small child can come and flip off letters from a mama writer's keyboard- well, hell, it's important to exercise those Shifting Abilities.

Friday, August 19, 2011

junk in the trunk

sometimes it's hard to know where The Teacher is going to pop up.  sometimes i go somewhere thinking The Teacher will be there and She's not.  most of the time this really bothers me.  like a junky, i get irritated and itchy because i was soooo ready to learn, to evolve, to grow, to open, to bloom.  but The Teacher wasn't there.  fuck it, i don't want to learn anyway.

and then She shows up in these moments so subtly that i'm not even sure if it is Her at first.  like, really?  in this drunken scrawl on the metal door of a bathroom stall?  this is where i transcend.  The Teacher picks her classroom.  even after years of experiencing this- i still am caught off guard easily.

She knows how to get my attention though.

this lesson starts with a car.  a 1990, not a 91, jetta that needs to be sold on the fly because people essentially didn't do what they said they would.  the car that was supposed to wind up in tucson sat in anacortes instead.  the owner sits in tucson excited to start a new job- fretful because she's got no wheels to get to the rez school where she'll oversee lost teeth, belly aches and give pills to children for all the reasons adults have for doing such a thing.  the important thing to know here- is that the car is not in "selling" condition.  none the less, we buy it.

we didn't really need a car, exactly.  we have a truck and a van- both with big old straws that suck up a lot of gasoline.  and both with more than 200k miles on 'em.  we have a plan for this jetta and it gives us some cushion if The Teacher decides to mess with that plan too.

first, we got to clean out the trunk.  and when i say "we" i really mean "me."  somehow everyone falls asleep before me one night and the trunk calls to me from the darkness of our driveway.  this trunk is completely packed, by the way.  when you open it you mostly see plastic garbage bags stuffed full with bits of fabric waving at you, rigid corners of forgotten bill envelopes, a seductive curve of a mug handle...and there's smell too.  trunks always have a smell.

i also should add that the owner feels really badly about this.  she offers to pay me to drive to the dump and just throw everything away- a chore i never could do for several reasons.  first, there's the mystery.  i love a good mystery.  ever since my first nancy drew book i've been hoping for this kind of opportunity.  second, there's the fact that i can't throw out anything that has a use.  for good or bad.  (except for legos left on the floor- i have no problem chucking out those feet killers). maybe you've already heard about the king size futon mattress i deconstructed on the back porch to avoid taking it to the dump?  well, it was extreme...far more so than pulling in one of those garbage bags into my living room at about 10 pm one night last week.

which is exactly what i did...

if i had known The Teacher was going to be there, stuffed between old work files, swimsuits and a barbie tin of glitter nail polish- i would have taken notes.  i would have slowed down into a meditative state and really paid attention to every moment.  but as it often is- i just thought i was doing a chore.  so i plodded forward, head down, hands busy.

it became very clear that i need a couple of bags to sort into.  there was the trash- into it went candy wrappers, napkins, and the like.  the paper recycling- the largest of the bags- where all the receipts, science class notes, birthday cards and more were deposited.   then there was the pile of cool stuff that i didn't want...or stuff i had no idea what it actually was- small black t-shirts, a dinner plate with a country apple painted on it, a handmade ceramic jar full of green pennies and 1 small agate, and this large black plastic thingy my son tells me is a paintball gun loader.  and the pile of stuff i thought was cool and wanted to keep- more about this later.

as i sorted through this stuff The Teacher began to circle the room, her eyebrow arched, leather shoes softly touching the ground in a steady rhythm of observation:

"see?" she said, "life gives everyone a lot of stuff to deal with."

"notice," she mentioned, "that sometimes things we care about get lost."

"imagine," she whispered, "what it would be like to have stranger's hands on your forgotten things."

and that's what i did.  i imagined what it would be like if suddenly my trunk was open for all to examine.  if my junk, from closets, old suitcases, under the bed, beneath the house was all laid out for someone else to sort through.

what would that feel like?

what would they learn about me?

most of the things i pulled from the trunk confirmed my impressive of the owner of the car- who i had only ever met once before, and had talked to a handful of times on the phone since then.  she's passionate in a way that causes her to forget all else.  she is drawn to bold colors and watery sparkles like a bird from a desert.  she has good taste in music.  she loves her children.  she yearns for something and then goes to it. she reminds me of myself in many ways.

and she likes red shoes.

cuz missing shoes means someone hopping around, i think.  because pairs go together.  but i am so used, after the second hour of sorting, of finding only one shoe of each pair- i am not excited at first when i see the tip of red dansko clog.

i am shocked though.  it is candy apple red- with only a little scuffing on the toe, a wad of old grass clinging to the sole, the black piping bold.  i used to own these shoes.  i bought myself a pair so long ago i don't know when.  i remember the store and ordering them.  i bought them as a birthday present for myself and it was the most money i had spent on shoes in a very long time.  i don't think i have spend that much since.  i wore these shoes raw.  i loved everything about these clogs- and i could the strut my stuff in them like i never had a care in the world- until one day, i was over them.

one day, i pulled them out of my closet and they were too old, too worn, too used.  they flopped on my feet with their skin faded to a dark, dirty brownish red.  rather than seeing everywhere they had been- i just saw everywhere they would never take me.  so i got rid of them.

i do this.  i get rid of things i treasure.  most of the time i completely forget about them until i see a picture of them or stumble into a memory of their importance or until i find an exact replica in an old trunk.

i was excited.  i scrambled through the bag, casting aside fleece gloves, blue tank top, purple binder, searching for the mate.  you know what i was thinking? i hope they fit me.  i wanted a pair of red clogs.  i remember recently when getting dressed i yearned for a pair of red clogs-  my old clogs- and now here was a pair!  yes, a pair!

two red clogs and me.

i put them on and stood.  like cinderella, i so much wanting to be just like cinderella.  they are a size 39, euro.  and while this works good in some brands, in dansko i need a 40.  but i didn't want to believe it.  why would the universe put a beautiful pair of red clogs in the trunk of a car i bought for no damn good reason and then not have them fit me?

i walked around the house trying to calculate how long i could wear them before my left big toe would complain?  a few hours...maybe.  if i went to a movie- sure, of course- no one could see them, but i could do it.  wear them to work- never make it to my first break.  dancing?  nope- never happen.

as excited as i to find these clogs- i was now equally distraught.  because those red clogs reminded me so much about myself- and i wanted to be able to wear that knowledge around a bit longer.

then The Teacher, She smiles, and asks- the best teachers ask the best questions- "well, nancylee, whose clogs are these?"

i picture the gal who sold me this car.  no doubt she misses these clogs and what they remind her about herself.  maybe she doesn't even know they are missing.  maybe she's going to wear her long black skirt today and is hunting around for them as i type.  or maybe they aren't even her clogs at all but a girlfriend's or a lover's or her mother's or her daughter's.

but the point is- these are not my clogs.

and then The Teacher, walks real close to me so that i can smell her fragrance and know that she is so much more than a teacher- and she says with firm love, "you need to get your own clogs."

saturday is payday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

picture this

the thing about a blog without pictures is that you have to create one with words.  i envy picture blogs sometimes- a photo of child with chicken and a catchy caption.  how long does that take exactly?  especially if your phone takes pictures, with cool retro effects, and you just email off to your blog site as you wait at a red light somewhere between here and there.

and i love those blogs.

but this blog has more struggle to it- that's my way, i guess.  like now- i've been up since 3 am and even before that i didn't sleep well.  i went to bed by 9 with a stabbing pain in my back.  woke up at 11:34 because my left was suddenly weepy and stinging- only to find that my eldest was still awake, despite my very clear instruction to all that it was to be an early night.  and then at 2:48 the toddler waddles in the bedroom, determined to nurse me out of any chance of sleep.

whereas years before i would have sipped tea, read a book or written in a journal- i go to check me email, do a few quick errands via this wooden chair and the keyboard, and then decide to write in the blog.  a fairly egocentric affair, i feel at times.  what makes me think i've got anything worth while to say?  at least when you write in a journal you don't need to really say anything.  hell, you don't even ever have to read it again!

but since i'm here- and so are you.  i'm gonna do my bestest to make this worth our while.

when i woke up at 3 am- my brain is not a happy place- that's why i'm awake.  in that fuzzy space my head does this fucked up mind trip where all is wrong.  it's like eeyore, without his tail, his house blown down, on his birthday with no thistles to eat....times five thousand.  the list i start to make could be titled "why everything i have ever done was a clausal mistake."  it is ridiculous.  but at 3 am, laying in bed with sore back and weepy eye ("well, maybe if you took better care of yourself...." says my brain) it's hard to pull myself out of it.  until i just pull myself out of bed.

the bad mood lingers- i critiqued everything i see.  it's grouchy.  if it were a color it would be puke green.  it is were a smell it would be puke green.  but it's in my head- and harder to get rid of than puke- of any color.


there's this tiny laugh somewhere between my ears.  it's kinda like the laugh of yoda or the dalai lama (as if those are two separate entities).  i ignore this giggle at first.  i throw some puke green thoughts at it.  this makes it laugh even harder.  the chuckles turn the green less pukey.  i shrug, roll my eyes- like a teenager determined to be pissed long after i even remember what the hell made me so angry.

this causes more laughing.  i cringe.  more laughing. i smile.  more laughing.  until this laughter says to me: none of that matters.  i try a few more...what about THIS green puke thought?

nope.  doesn't matter. giggle.

how about when this smelly funked out shit happened?

sorry.  irrelevant.  snort.

ummm, ok- well, remember how i still haven't done XYZ?

(wheezing sound of breathless laughter with subtle thuds of fist banging on wooden floor).

and then, my tail is back on, my house is rebuilt, i'm singing happy birthday to myself, and a patch of thistles sprouts at my feet.  because it doesn't really matter that i have no idea where find clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow, or that my son stayed up too late and will be a lumpy mess of complaints when  i wake him up, or that i didn't drink enough water yesterday, or that i forgot to pay the dentist....again, or that i don't know how to properly train a parakeet.

all that matters is that i am here.  whatever "i" means anyway.  all that matters is that i am still on this journey.  that i am awake is a gift a thousand people didn't open this morning.  all that matters is that i can feel puke green or zesty orange or beige.  i can feel beige, damnit.  that's something to a beige sort of way.

all that really matters is that i can hear that laugh.  over all the other noise- i can still hear the giggle of redemption- some call it amazing grace.

and even though there are a lot of great photos in the world, on blogs, tucked inside greeting cards, tattooed over the scars of battles fought and lost or won or never taken on-  there's no way i could have shown you that laugh without these words.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Crossing the Road

On the evening of my 37th birthday, after eating grilled salmon in the backyard- not in the least bit worried about the thistles and the morning glory- the family decided to go for a walk.  Well, Seren rode his bike- a light blue, lower rider style- complete with those low swooping gorilla handlebars, and I pushed Cyrus in his stroller.

Our route is predictable- an L shaped street, about 1/4 mile each length and the back again.  This road dissects two much busier county roads and is dotted with homes on large lots along with an organic farm, raspberry and potato fields, and a horse ranch.  The sky stretches huge over the green plants- this big sky- one of the gifts of living in farm land.  When we go to the forest Seren disappears into the fern and moss- and will later express heartfelt desire to live in the trees.  I get that.  But the open sky is hard to leave behind.

We walk westward- into the setting sun.  It is the first hot summer evening of the year- and no one is outside.  Or maybe there are outside elsewhere, but it is uncommonly quite on our walk.  There are no dogs on leashes, moms with strollers, people in pairs- just the four of us, chatting or not, as we settle into that fine feeling of contentment.

Seren is up ahead- and has rounded the corner of the L- now headed south.  There used to be two old horses in that field.  One blind- the other sway back and skiddish, but I haven't seen them in a while.  Maybe they've moved on.  The new horse stables have been built by the mysterious millionaires who buy up land like they are starting a compound.  Maybe they are.  We look at the stables from our living room window- the horses small wild animals dancing about the grass.  They are young and strong- one has a white crescent moon on his forehead and he is not skiddish at all.

When we round the curve, Seren's bike is propped on the drunken cedar fence, held together by rusty barbed wire and he is crouched down staring at the asphalt- chasing frogs.  His eyes are lit with wonder- a glow I will never grow tired of seeing.  His sneakers can't carry him fast enough to us where he reveals his delicate treasure in cupped hands- the smallest frog (or maybe a toad), smaller than a nickle with a tiny tail still poking out of his backside. 

As we scan the road- they are everywhere.  Each baby wildly chaotically hoping and hopping in a chorus to cross the road- from one thick of grass to another.  The gray bodies of a few fallen frogs lay and bake in the sun while a murder of crows call from the trees overhead.  So we hunch to pick up frogs and deliver them safely to the over side- some we just shoo a bit.  I laugh at the bliss of being a frog crossing guard- and am thankful no cars come traveling along- for there is no frog-free space to drive through.  In a minute though- they are all safely hidden in tall grass- and you can hear them rustling through the leaves- toward some pond I have never seen.

It's trite to say the best presents don't come with a bow. But I'll say it anyways.  Because when you get to see an exodus like and be the first, and maybe only, human to hold a frog- and to watch your boys give small kisses on their heads before they lay them gently down- something clicks in your heart.  Something clicked in mine- more than just the beauty of nature- it was the reassurance that we all need help, we all can give help, and we all can witness.  Everyday we can witness.


"seems like everywhere i go, the more i see the less i know..." michael franti