Sunday, June 30, 2013

post retreat

I get as far as opening my mouth; I get as far as shutting my eyes and smiling. This weekend was tremendous. And even tremendous is too microscopic for it. I have no words.

I am completely drained. Everything out of me leaving only the basics. I am taking my time returning. Oh this retreat. Oh these women, our words, our strength. I am changed.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA Defeated!!!

Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court strikes down key part of DOMA

By David G. Savage
June 26, 2013, 7:06 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.

The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.

At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.

Full coverage: Prop. 8 and DOMA

Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.

"By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute" violates the Constitution, he said.

Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

The ruling means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.

Four years ago, several gay couples who were married in Massachusetts launched a lawsuit to challenge DOMA, arguing it denied them equal protection of the laws. They won before a federal judge in Boston and before the federal appeals court there.

Their win prompted the Obama administration to switch course and join with the challengers, who said the law was discriminatory. House Republicans voted to take up the legal defense of the law.

When the issue reached the Supreme Court, the justices voted to decide a case brought by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who was sent a $363,000 estate tax bill by the Internal Revenue Service after her wife died in 2009.

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

HUGE DAY! So happy. In tears.

Change rooms in your mind for a day. --Hafiz

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This might be the best moment. The moment before departure, when the top layer of action is all about getting things done and running around like an idiot to cross things off the to-do list. A frantic churning of instruction and preparing. However under that madness is this amazing mixture of calm and electric...half radio, half bath water. This layer of knowing what is ahead no matter what--it's just a matter of getting there. Like the night before you are due to spend an entire day riding coasters and being free. The prefix of pure excitement. I'm all about it.

I leave for Rochester on Thursday. My only nerves orbit the logistics--making sure I don't get lost on my way, putting up my tent in the dark. The cat is being watched. Bags are being packed. I feel almost sick with thrill to leave my routine for ten entire days. It's the appropriate time to step away, I believe. I'm tired. I'm quite obviously going through the motions with some things. Likewise there are some wonderful new things that require some distance to fully appreciate, I think. The best thing, for all of it, is space. Space, adventure, and new experiences.

After the retreat I'm going straight to Ohio to spend a week with the family, and to see my dear lovely Jon who will be in town visiting his own relatives before heading off to his new post in Cairo, Egypt. I have missed him so very much. Then 4th of July with the kids, and then...

And then indeed. I don't know what is next, really. I'm perfectly fine with not knowing. I'm not in a rush to get there, to the unknown. I want to enjoy every inch of this build up--this moment before the moment. When you can feel change building its arrival, like a wave slowly/surely gathering its breath for the big curve and push to shore. All of it deserves attention, care, and enjoyment.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

writing exercise

This writing exercise was a little different.

Via Rachel McKibbens' blog, exercise 83:

Write a poem built out of four (or however many) cinquains that tell the story of someone getting old. Make sure one of the things that made them old was something they ate. Something they saw. Something they heard. Something they felt. A fragrance. Have the first line be the person's name. If you want each cinquain to be about a different person, cool. Oh, and if you forgot what a cinquain was, here's the format:

line 1 - 2 syllables
line 2 - 4 syllables
line 3 - 6 syllables
line 4 - 8 syllables
line 5 - 2 syllables

Never tried a cinquain before. I tried three. Here's what immediately arrived:

eats apple stems
hair shot grey as he chews
comma backbone over blue cane,

Touches puddle
Beauty queen wrinkle deep
Ankle bones click and shift to dust,
Bed rot

Sniffs bonfire
Trembles with the buttons
Yellow nail living will, torn heart

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

darling of the dmv

Wondering, briefly, the shape of you. A capsule of sharks, cartilage bodies clattering and the soft punches of tail against teeth. I ordered a drink next to you once. Neon behind the bar bathing your cheek all blue, your grip of teeth rhythm-clenched.

I am stuck with the heart I broke. The sleeping bullet in my hip that we don’t want to wake up. Other mistake shrapnel for freckles. Littered this way. Road covered in a rainbow of glass, unwalkable but pretty.

This is not the cinema. It dawns on me now and then, when a part pans back and I catch myself, reel it back in.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

a favorite

This is my favorite piece of music, ever.

I've posted about this piece a time or two on my site, but it never hurts to do it again. I am constantly rediscovering how important this work is to my life. I can't count the number of poems it has pulled outta me...

via Pitchfork(November 2012, box set is released):

The Disintegration Loops arrived with a story that was beautiful and heartbreaking in its own right. It's been repeated so many times that Basinski himself has grown weary of telling it: in the 1980s, he constructed a series of tape loops consisting of processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. When going through his archives in 2001, he decided to digitize the decades-old loops to preserve them. He started a loop on his digital recorder and left it running, and when he returned a short while later, he noticed that the tape was gradually crumbling as it played. The fine coating of magnetized metal was slivering off, and the music was decaying slightly with each pass through the spindle. Astonished, Basinski repeated the process with other loops and obtained similar results.

Shortly after Basinski digitized his loops came the September 11 attacks. From the roof of his space in Brooklyn, he put a video camera on a tripod and captured the final hour of daylight on that day, pointing the camera at a smoldering lower Manhattan. On September 12, he cued the first of his newly created sound pieces and listened to it while watching the footage. The impossibly melancholy music, the gradual fade, and the images of ruin: the project suddenly had a sense of purpose.


There's an irony to the four volumes of The Disintegration Loops appearing here on vinyl for the first time, since the defiantly analog origin of the music is central to its appeal. Even 10 years later, the internet is generally a poor space for contemplating the end; there are few digital metaphors for the process of dying. With Basinski's pieces, the metaphor couldn't be more simple. This music reminds us of how everything eventually falls apart and returns to dust. We're listening to music as it disappears in front of us. Hearing the music on vinyl, with its inherent imperfections, and imagining the records changing over time, lends another layer of poignancy.

Given the central idea behind the project, the length of the individual tracks is important. The first, "Dlp 1.1", is just over an hour long, and its source only lasts a few seconds. To listen to the entire piece is to hear that segment many hundreds of times, and the progression from "music" to silence happens incrementally with each play. But the loops don't fade linearly. It often takes a few minutes for the obvious cracks to appear, and then the tumble toward the void speeds up at the end, presumably because the cumulative runs against the tape head had loosened even the bits of tape that were still hanging on. The process is so gradual it focuses attention in unique way; I find myself examining each new cycle to discover what is left and what has vanished.

The rest of the article is (click)here

Monday, June 10, 2013


Last night's/today's migraine brought on heavy sleep(thanks melatonin) and strange dreams(for the majority of one I was searching for Viagra). The past few hours have been the "fun part." The coming-back-to-life part. These things include: taking care of the trash can full of vomit, attempts to get food back in my stomach, and dealing with the strange twilight-bewilderment that is my head. The pain goes slow, inches its way out into the horizon. It has yet to disappear completely. I had to call off work and I can't afford to. The house will have to stay a mess for another day while I get my bearings and nudge my way back into reality. It's all quiet here, except for the box fan. The cold wash rag has yet to leave my forehead, and the cat has yet to leave my side.

It's been a day, that's for sure.

Coming back always hurts a bit but I'm thankful to return. Pain will steal your compass and run. It's nice to get it back, to find the right direction and get to walking again.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

a slice of life

I was dating someone but that ended on Thursday evening. My response was to put on shoes and drive to Ava for the open mic, heart still stinging and radio off because an influence from music was the last thing I needed. Dumped, I told Pete. I went to the mic and hacked off another slice of heart, a marbled hunk that hit and bounced into the shadows. It helped a bit.

These things happen.

I went dancing last night and a woman dancing next to me started waving her shirt around her head. Unexpected boobs on a crowded dance floor.

This thing happens too.

The sky was getting lighter and the birds were singing their good mornings as I was going to bed.

And this.

Renee reached across the table and held my hand while I tried not to cry during dinner.

And that

I wait for my ride to the symphony while my neighbor's television sings. The earth slowly rotates.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Don’t ask us what it’s like
in that moment when the body
skitters away
from that stupid
sheepy shape of breath.

Down here, no one asks.

We all died

boot to throat.

We all went out
shrieking some bloody name.

Our tongues swelled,

you kissed
our numb fingers.

It was all
very touching.

The creak of your sob
in your stupid face,

your wooden gait
on the frosty hillside.

No one axe.
No one chitters
at all.

The Dead Girls Speak in Unison, Danielle Pafunda

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I'm sure I was shadow-stained from far away as I opened up my front door full of arrows. I hauled my bike up the stairs and the arrows kept flying. Fwunk, into banister, almost to bone. Another hits my messenger bag. One punctures my hamstring. By the time I get inside and see mirror I'm a porcupine. I drop the bag and helmet and get into bed. Abacus nudges my elbow--the sun shines and my head pounds in time to heartbeat. So I am one big drum. The urge to cry keeps washing over me and I fall asleep like that, diagonal on bed with my shoes still on.

I give myself close to forty minutes and then I get up and get on with it. Head still blaring. I make dinner, slowly, and it bleats on. I sauté garlic just to smell it.

This is what pain does. Puts a bounty on your head. Gives you space. Feeds you a rhythm. Denies gravity permission to hold you upright. It will also unlock certain things. A curiosity for resilience. Access to the white horrible heat that is excruciating pain. Is it a room, a planet? A sunken part of the floor? A place I can describe in writhing only.

Monday, June 3, 2013


(a draft)

the fight

Blades punch material,
chewed apart.
Lanes on a highway.

She carves a blank moon
under each arm.
Flays their backs,
marks of shark.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

show, woods, action

I had a great birthday. Stupendous mood all day. Rode the bike to work--while zipping down Forbes I caught myself smiling. I was all, "hey I'm smiling!" and then a bug flew right into my teeth. Steve came to Oakland for lunch, a present and tofu wrap in tow. Rode home, showered, went to the gig in a nice dress.

I had a blast at 720 Records. I did two sets, which worked out well since the audience completely changed between them...though I wish I had gone with my gut and brought a thicker stack of options. I was pretty beat by the second time on stage, I'll admit. Nothing another iced coffee couldn't cure. JB was there which was lovely--we were partners in crime in the audience. And the audience itself--the majority of the seats were filled with women and I loved it. Vie was an amazing host, engaging the crowd and running a solid show. And Selecta was, of course, amazing. I forgot how damn good he is--his spot-on style seemed like a punctuation to each reader. Special shout-out to that bagel with mustard too, as it saved me from epic stomach growling. I love love love 720 Records.

Around midnight I met up with my buddy Luke at Ava. We ran into Noah, a fellow soccer player, and his friend Jess. At closing time we made a beeline for the comfort of a 24 hour diner(aka Ritters). Also met Jess' dog Bear who eats the face off of every toy in his possession(but only the face). I fell into my bed just after 4:30 in the morning. The birds were chirping was we went our separate ways(Luke: what is that? Me: It's morning.).

Today was another epic hike. I can't stay indoors, and I can't stay outta the woods. There was a day last week, post-work, when I went to the park and sat on a flat rock in the middle of a bustling creek, squinting and scribbling in my notebook. Today I marveled at the twisted and broken structure of a tree recently hit by lightning. The way the initial thick branch fell to split another tree below it in was like following a tangle of wires or decoding dominoes. The sun burned my shoulders and lips. I'm so lucky to live next to a giant park where I can get lost in the greenery. It is definitely something I miss about living in the country. That and the crickets, and stars.

I will admit that I was a bit grumpy today because my mom didn't contact me at all on my birthday, but I can't say I'm surprised. It's a messy bramble of feelings, that one. To not be surprised by the absence, to be hurt about not being surprised, etc. It is what it is. I still had a great day for myself.

Operation Save a Life has a round on the South Side this week so I'll be joining them, and next weekend I start volunteer orientation at RMHC. I'm really excited. They provide a great service for families that temporarily live away from home when a seriously ill child needs to travel for treatment. It's been pretty awesome, taking action. As opposed to reading the news and stewing in my own exasperation and feelings of helplessness. Helping others helps me make sense of things too. It pulls me out of my head and does my heart mighty good. I love getting in there and seeing what is going on. Plus I've been meeting some fascinating people via volunteering(not to mention getting to hang out on the set of WQED's cooking show--I was genuinely excited to see the kitchen in person and it did not disappoint).

If you live in Pittsburgh and are curious about volunteering and helping others, I highly recommend This is a great database resource for ongoing opportunities. We all tend to stay in our private bubbles of routine, ease and privilege--it's worth getting out and gaining some perspective.