The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Month: December, 2007

Why does an Atheist celebrate Christmas?

We celebrate christmas because we love life.  If all our loved ones celebrate something, we want to celebrate with them.  We can celebrate our love for our loved ones, we can celebrate our time together, we can even celebrate the great ideals that are embodied in the idea of christmas.  I think that’s as legitimate a reason as any.

Doesn’t really matter to me that I stopped going to church when I was 17, I still have celebrated christmas every year.  Sometimes I have felt guilty, but when you think about it, who am I accountable to for celebrating something that I don’t really believe the basis of?  Only myself.  And why would I deny myself the opportunity to show love and be loved?  That would be counterintuitive.

🙂  I got good gifts from my husby.  Mostly cds, which is slightly suspicious because he really likes music, so it’s almost like they’re for him.  But he did get me some Beastie Boys, and I know that’s not for himself.  ;0  kbye sheila



Hi friends. 

Whew, I’ve had a grumpy morning.  Luckily, I started to explore on the internet, looking for inspiration… and I found some.  There’s this, and I love it.  Suzi put me in a good mood and she reminded me to let my muse out a bit.  So I’ma gonna go paint a bit now, I think I need it.  I also feel inspired to start making my blog include pictures and maybe videos.  I don’t really know how to do those things, but soon, soon. 

Ok – why don’t you go create something right now, too?  There’s no time like … (cliche prepackaged in yer brain) k – see u soon. sheila

Reading old journal entries.

Hey what up, yo?

I feel melancholy right now.  I was just scanning through a couple of older journals – back when I used to write by hand, ah the good old days.  I ran across a couple of entries from March of ’04.  That was the month in which I was pregnant for a couple of days.  The night I found out about the pregnancy, I was alone at our apartment, so of course I called several loved ones, and then I sat down and wrote.  What I wrote was in the form of a letter to my supposed future child.  I think I’ll enter it here, just for posterity:

3/19/04  Hi baby.  I just found out about you – just found out that I’m pregnant.  Pregnant.  I like that word – full of possibilities – full – your dad doesn’t even know about you yet.  Your Aunt Cheryl does, grandma Linda, I’ve been trying to call Grandma and Grandpa Path, but their phone is busy.  of all times.  Usually I can get through with no problem.  But that’s the way it goes, I guess.  Whenever you want to talk to someone… 🙂 plus, it is Friday night.  So maybe there should be a Friday night that they’re busy.  O <- you’re not even this big!  Isabella Freya or…?  we have to come up with some good boy names!  We had some… I like Thomas…K bye Love Mom

3/21/04  Well.  Day 2 of knowing about you is over.  Your Aunt Cheryl  already gave me your first present – a baby smock and little hat with Pooh on them.  Yaye!  And she gave me a yoga deck.  We saw one set of your grandparents today – Jim and Linda.  They were very warm and welcoming to you.  They are very happy for us and say that this will be the best time of our lives.  I’m sure they’re right.  We talked about possibly naming you Andrew if you are a boy.  That’s the plan.  They had a beloved son named Andrew who took his own life.  Jim today said that he’d give both arms to have him back, he loves and misses him so much.  They both said they would be honored if we remembered him in that way.  So it’s a possibility.  The girl name we like is Isabella Freya, after my Grandma Path – it’s her middle name – Margaret Isabella.  Freya is Erikka’s middle name.  She’s my close friend from college…

You get the idea.  It goes on a bit more, but I feel more morose as I type, so I thought perhaps I should take a break.  I guess that’s the risk you take when you dig through old journals looking for poems and such to include in a blog.

I haven’t gotten pregnant since I found out on the 22nd of that same month that it was over.  And even though I really did accept the reality right away, a part of me is still mourning the lost possibilities.  Even now, today, I had my niece and nephew and great-nephew over, I was thinking ‘gee, I’m glad I don’t have to do all this work all the time’ I knew that taking on that attitude is just something I tell myself to do… it still makes me sad.

Not having children is such an awkward thing to share with people, too.  Maybe because we’re Americans, everyone thinks they need to tell you their ‘solution’ to the ‘problem.’ But as far as I’m concerned right now, there is no solution.  I’m not willing to go medical, and I’m not ready to adopt – although I feel myself coming around to that idea more and more.  For now, I guess I can content myself with helping to raise the teenagers at my very small high school where I know all of the kids by name.

It’s not enough, but in a way it is.  I hope that you don’t feel that I’m a cliche straight out of the musical Fame now… because I would hate it if you thought that.

Ok, it’s almost 2 a.m., I’m sort of tapped out writing.  Good night and thanks for reading. Sheila

I just saw Juno

Hi friends and others.  Jay and I just got home from seeing Juno.  It’s been a while since I have so thoroughly enjoyed a movie.  I think part of me was in there – not literally, of course, I just really related to the Vanessa character, if I were more like my sister, it would be a perfect fit.  But my personality is more like the the kid played by Michael Cera; at least when I was that age, that’s pretty much how I acted – paralyzed by people I liked.  Anyway, I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so maybe you should just go see the movie.

I like movies that try to get to the root of what love is.  I like seeing movies with that theme with my live-in boyfriend/husband, Jay.  Jay and I have a really good and happy relationship.  It’s actually sort of shocking to be a part of something that’s so right when all around are examples of relationships that are damaging and sad.  I feel a little guilty or something, like I got the biggest piece of the pie; but I can’t help it if I recognized him as my partner.  And as sheepish as I sometimes feel about telling other people about it, I believe that I got the best of all possible worlds for me in the love category.  So yaye me.  Love at first sight turns out to be my forte.  Of course it’s a skill you only need once, so that’s maybe a waste or something.  But I’m not complaining.

Ok, have a nice night.  Oh – I’m on winter break now from school, so you can be expecting lots of poems to be entered in the near future.  Sheila

Balancing emotions with academics at school

Hi. I thought I’d throw in a quick one.  The dog is outside doing his business, it’s three am, and I haven’t written for two days.  It was a busy day at school, we threw a holiday party for the students, it was fun and it went well.  I like planning days like today.  There was a little chaos, but I don’t think anything untoward happened, and it’s good for the students to have some fun together at school.

It’s so hard to keep a balance between having fun, learning, being nice to each other, and moving forward academically.  I will have to explore  that one later, when I feel up to it, not on a fly by night entry – but I will confess that I find it very difficult sometimes to balance everything.  Either I get all about academics, which makes me too uptight, or all about emotions, which makes me maybe too relaxed about academics.  But I do believe that you can’t learn at all if your emotions are raging out of control.  And one emotion that students have is stress – maybe a little stress is good, but I am constantly seeing kids “stress out” about school, and when they are in that state, are they actually learning?  I doubt it.

Anyway, it’s late, the dog is finally in, and if I don’t get as much sleep as I can at this point, I’m liable to be grumpy in class, and that wouldn’t be good on the last day before the holiday break.  I should tell you my theory about how much teacher can accomplish when they are stressed out… but I don’t want this to be a lesson in irony, so good night to you!  🙂 Sheila

Good day to you.

It’s the 19th of December, and it doesn’t feel like Christmas to me yet.  It seems that as I get older, the years go by faster and the anticipation that I used to feel really disappears.  I am saddened by this, becuase I used to really savor the month of December. 

Maybe it’s because everything is so much easier these days – after all, when I wanted to buy gifts as a kid, I was severly limited as to where I could go.  I couldn’t just hop in the car and go to whatever mall was closest – it was a family trip to Kmart.  Having money saved up was also different.  My parents would start reminding us at least as far back as early November that there was planning to be done – we would draw names with the cousins to see who got whom, and then we were responsible to save enough for a decent gift (under $5, though) for that person. 

I usually managed to draw or trade for my cousin Walter, and the thing that he seemed to like the most in the world was Mountain Dew, so I would buy him a 12 pack and wrap it up.

Not the most festive of gifts, I suppose, but he really appreciated it.  And it felt like it meant more, somehow.  Nowadays, gift shopping is more of a chore than a joy.  It’s still fun to think about what people might want, and I like wrapping gifts, but the more important aspect by far is getting together with friends and loved ones. 

It doesn’t seem like Christmas should be the only time we see certain people.  Maybe this year I will work to change it so that Christmas warmth and cheer gets spread more evenly through the rest of the year.

Good night. Sheila

A couple of older poems I wrote

Hi all.  I just got home from work.  It’s only a week before the winter break, so a lot of people at my school are wigging out.  It’s a weird time of year, the week before winter holiday.  I have been feeling great, though.  I think that I am not really in the game as far as teaching goes, but I feel really good, so that might count for something.

I found a couple of poems that I had written a while ago, so I was thinking that I would enter them here.  I’m not sure whether they should be under their own sections as poetry – now that I think about it, I  believe I will enter them as seperate posts under their titles.  (there.  done.)  Kinda weird having my work just out there for anyone to read.  I like it, though.

Jay is worried that people might copy my work and say it’s theirs.  I hope that none of you do that! 🙂  I’m not really worried about it, though.  I don’t see myself having those types of problems.

Today it felt as though there was a force working in me; it felt like I was doing yoga all day; I felt calm and detached; I felt connected to everyone; it seems like there’s nothing I can’t do.  It’s strange to feel so good, but it feels natural, too.  It also seems that my mental state has nothing to do with my physical state. By that I mean, I am still sick, I even have a minor headache, but I still feel euphoric.  And of course, I am sober – I think I’m high on life.  High on possibilities.  High on writing. 

So maybe I should keep writing and getting others to write.  I like how it feels.  Now I feel that I am rambling unforgivably.  I think I’ll go off and let my friends know that I’ve started a blog.  Good night, dear friends.


Recycling Life

i’d love to take the long lines
            at the grocery store
and transform them
                  into lines of poetry
or lines drawn in great art
              my winding path to the cashier at Cub
could be the horizon as defined by a mountain range.

if each trudging footstep on the way to work
             was a blob of paint
spattered on a grand canvas
               every movement – every moment
in life – fast or show
            staccatoed or stationary
were translated into
              paint, ink, or pigment
what art
              life would be
                                    and is
                                              if we can but see.

C 2007 sheila mcmahon

I had plans once, Isabella

I had plans once, Isabella


I had plans, once.

They were simple, really.

Paint a room, refinish a rocking chair

Knit some booties.


There has not been a reason to follow through

Seeds have not started to grow

I gave you a second chance, a third, to show.

Sometimes I feel it like a plague

Other times my feelings are hazily vague.


Some months the sight of that blood brings bright, spiky pain

Others, I feel a contempt for the fool that I have been again.

The sorrow that I have could fill up a lake

Sometimes it’s a lot to take


And then there are times

When I think of all those plans

They stand boldly contrasting the life I have lived,

I have to think that this is the way it’s supposed to be

Even though it’s not what I thought I wanted

There’s nothing wrong with me,

And I am thankful


Thankful even for the sorrow of your loss by default

Because it defines me, Isa,

And you’re still in my heart, in the vault.


C 2006 Sheila McMahon

Memories of writing

Good morning.  I’m thinking that I’m going to try to do a daily blog just to warm myself up in the morning, get in the habit of writing every day, and see where the wind takes me.

 I have been having a lot of dreams that resemble movies lately.  These are atypical dreams for me.  Last night, I was in what seemed to be a next installment of Charlie’s Angels, but without the humor that you would expect.  I seemed to be the Cameron Diaz character.  The dream went on for a very long time, and of course I don’t remember all of the details, but it was at a football game and I was seen from an overhead shot, just like the movies. 

I don’t really like those kind of dreams, because it seems that it really has nothing to do with me.  I’d rather have something to think about and wonder whether it symbolized this that or the other thing in my life.  Movie-dreams just make me feel like I watch too much t.v.

Jay and I did go for about 9 months without cable a couple of years ago.  It felt great.  We still had a small tv with a built in vcr, so we watched that once in a while, but there was really no mindless consumption of television, since there was literally no way to watch it.

Not like these days.  I have been watching tv a lot more than I care to admit.  I end up taking naps in front of the darn thing, thinking that I will be able to rest.  I find, though, that I can’t really rest, and I end up feeling worse than when I laid down.

I have a lot of fond memories of staying at my friend Erikka’s house in college, she had a tv, but it was in a back room that I never went into.  She was in a small bungalow in St. Paul, the walls were white, well, maybe cream colored, and there was dark woodwork; there was a gold Chinese screen over the cuoch, and a large mirror with a dark frame over the fireplace.  The mantle had a few framed pictures of family and friends.   Everything was very tidy and economical, and it was a wonderful place to write.  I was in a poetry class at the time,  and I remember sitting at her dining room table writing.  Now when I get writer’s block, I try to conjure up the image of that room so I can feel free to write.

Maybe that’s what I should look for when Jay and I go to sell this house and buy a new place – a writing sanctuary first and a living space as a secondary consideration.  I think that would be practical since we are both writers.

I just had to smile, buecase thinking about Erikka’s old place made me pause to look at the environment in which I am writing at the moment.   I am in our “computer room” in our ranch house in the burbs of Mpls, it’s dark, I’m at a computer desk which has random unnecessary clutter all about it, and my dog is barking his head off. 

Maybe I’ll work on the unnecessary clutter for a bit, and then if I think of anything fascinating to write about, I’ll be back.  Thanks for reading! 🙂 Sheila

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