The Happy Story of the Tiny German Hedgehog

"It was in a park between nondescript German apartment buildings. Block structures built in the 1950s after the war and then painted blues and pinks to look more friendly. My one friend had gotten a dorm room out there, whereas my roommate and I were in the medieval part of town where everything was picturesque. I think that day we had been at the US Army base, looking for grits. Had a craving. Turns out there are none in Germany, so we went to the army base, but came up empty-handed. So we were kinda dejected and just roaming. We found a zipline in the park and tried it out a few times, but it didn't really help the mood. So we kept walking. It was late summer, and so the sun was going down pretty late still. Maybe around 9 pm or so. And it was starting to get cold at night. I was wearing some wooly mittens I had bought in town at the market. Then, over in the distance I saw a shadowy little thing moving around. There are tons of moles -- and molehills -- everywhere over there, so at first I thought it might be a mole (maybe a cold mole...aren't they quick? This thing was really slow.) Anyhow, I approached it and saw the little spikes. They look like a hairbrush, and the thing was really tiny. When it saw us it froze in its tracks and curled up in a tiny ball. I'm not sure why, but I reached down with my mitten-hands and picked him up. They really are spiky. And it just stayed curled in the ball until I put it down. Made an otherwise dreary and unsuccessful day (of searching for grits) much better somehow."

I think we all want a soft spot to land
where we are held in a safe, warm hand with love and curiosity -
the way you might gently hold a small newly-discovered creature when you are a child
just to examine it because it fascinates you.

And I believe that if you are held with love long enough,
you become brave enough to unfurl, which shows more of the beautifully surprising parts of you.
But I guess if you have been held roughly, or not held at all,
you curl more and more tightly.

I wonder...
Am I the cozy mitten or the tight little hedgehog.  I have a feeling that everyone is both at different times.  And it's just something to consider as we move through the world,
nudging up against one another.

I've always suspected that if a person seems "boring" or mean or puzzling to you,
maybe you just need to be an even cozier mitten to discover the truth.

But what do I know?  I'm hopelessly optimistic.


every person is, at once, a complex mysterious visitor from a far away land,
but also, a kindred spirit and sibling-
none of them boring.
but a few are way more kindred-ish than others - be very very thankful for these.

About me and maybe you?

I have an idea, neither new nor clever.  However, that never hinders my pontification.

A word to the people who do well in writing...
I don't mean you write well necessarily.  I mean you do well emotionally, mentally or intellectually when you write.  I think it's true for me. 

I wonder whether writing helps us tell the truth. 
In person, maybe you are the funny guy who jokes and keeps things light.  Or, conversely, you are a quiet type who'd rather observe and listen.  Either way, you might have trouble saying what you think when it comes to discussing serious issues or expressing vulnerability.  I do, and did even more so in the past.

In a group, I feel genuinely happy and excited to be there.  I joke a lot.  I joke so much so, that once in a bible study, I started to cry and everyone started laughing because they thought I was kidding.  Don't feel badly when you read that - it makes me laugh really hard now.  I guess they'd never seen my face do that, and thought, "What's she got going this time?  This is gonna be funny."  And then two minutes later, when they realized I was crying, they thought, "Oh shit.  She's not joking.  Abort, abort!  Arrange faces in empathetic expression fast!"  I could see the back-peddling happening, which was so fascinating, I almost stopped crying.  However, I also remember thinking, "Wow.  People don't know me at all."

I can't speak for the quiet types who mask their feelings or opinions.  I love you dearly and am drawn to you, but I love you because you are foreign and exotic, like a rare beautiful bird.  Or a hedgehog. 

Regardless of your personality type, maybe writing helps us practice truth-telling.  In a journal or a blog, the exercise of writing words that are hard to verbalize seems less intimidating...well, over time, I mean.  Sometimes, even in my journal, I lie.  I used to write pages, before I'd get around to writing the truth - which is usually way shorter: 
I am sad; and
I am lonely; or
I am scared I am a bad parent, and not in the cute normal way everyone else jokes about.

Writing seems like a safe way to practice truth and vulnerability.  The magical bonus gravy, however, is that the more I practice in fonts, the more I can do it in voice and relationships.  Maybe not everyone needs to go around blasting the truth at others and pontificating.  I mean, I enjoy it, but it's not for everyone.  But maybe getting to the point where, at least, we tell ourselves the truth is of the utmost importance. 

And then if we need to, we can share it with the people who matter. 

flowers in the window

"There is no reason to feel bad,
but there are many seasons to feel glad, sad, mad
It's just a bunch of feelings that we have to hold,
But I am here to help you with the load."

[from Flowers in the Window by Travis]

Ted Hughes & Sylvia Plath

"If I had grasped that whatever comes with
    a fox
Is what tests marriage and proves it a
I would not have failed the test."
                         Ted Hughes

Am I saying I blame Hughes?
Of course not.  I am saying only that it's really hard for me to love him.

The January issue of The Atlantic has an interesting article about Hughes' poetry before, during and after his marriage to Plath which, bless his heart, is pretty much how we define him.
Sorry bastard.


Me explaining to Thoreau that there is always room for a hot tub,
you just have to know how to plan your space.

to go or not to go into the wild

Sometimes I get a glimpse of what we should be doing
I see the secret and almost catch it by the wispy tip of its tail.
I am the only one who sees it drifting past and I don't know whether to point it out or not
the way out
the way free
to head into the woods and save all four of us from the rest of our lives.

People have done it, you know,
packed up and left us all behind-
to live on the land, in sun, with the birds
weaving their way through the earth like water.

It sounds like a lark
but it tugs like salvation
and I smell the hint of it close,
I even tickle the idea with a comment to you, but I don't sell it hard
and the vapor passes on.

But you've seen it too, haven't you?
Looking back, I have seen in your eyes, what aches behind mine now,
I didn't recognize what you were peddling then,
and now it's my turn and you aren't buying either,
not because you don't want it, just timing's against us,
or for us

And consider the littles...
they neither toil nor spin,
but shouldn't they be?
Or is taking them stealing their childhoods?
Erasing their proms and rites,
changing them in ways so fundamental that, when we return
they will never fit again
And what if they hate us for it?

Can't chance it
or won't,
so we go on and on
we do everything safe and right for them,
even though they never asked us.
Sometimes I wonder if their bleary-eyed gazes are a plea that we
grab onto the wisp, lock hands and be yanked free once and for all.

What if we are depriving while we strive to provide? and
Anyway, so what if none of us fits when we return?
Who says we will return?
Who says we fit now?
In the end, we will land somewhere more fit for us-
Maybe this is our head start.