Thursday, March 27, 2014

mouth full of mountain

It is light. The kind of blue at dawn and simmering yellow right before dusk. It is barely a thing you can point to. It will not be fibbed with watercolors. A collection of sound? Maybe. It is a bit of the charred wreckage from that which burned you before. It is a victory in the most unexpected of moments. It is the understanding that bravery breathes deep in that which trusts and believes. Love is never the flexed arm hang. Love is letting go.

Love is not the romanticized drama daydreamed in my youth--cinematic scenes of bar, perfect halves of grapefruit in an all white kitchen, stories built on typewriters with too long descriptions of a lover's autumn hair or wrapped legs. Love is not just red. She's got stacks of teeth and some are soft. It is the surreal terrain of our skin. The cul-de-sac of a lover's elbow. Hum-stumble of heart. Sun staggering our faces on left turns.

Love is holding up in moment of weakness. Those moments when I feel like my skin is missing and my nerves are connecting with all outside surfaces and I can't control it. When I am bent in half in pain and there aren't words. Just sounds. And the sounds could call whales, and the sweat sprouting up the spine could be slid into a cup, a manmade lake of pain. It is the hand finding mine in this moment. Or knuckles guiding a wet rag along neck and forehead. It is encouragement, quiet, or it is the silence needed and never said. Never requested. It is presence for the dark.

I run out of words. I circle the instinct of my feelings, both prey and fascination. When I shake from the fading awful, I curl to fit your quadricep and hip. I ask you, tiny-voiced, to tell me a story from your own life. And you do. Without hesitation, you do.

Friday, March 21, 2014

driftspin snowsun

this morning's sun, from my work window 31 floors up

Yesterday was the first day of spring. It was also the first day of the Persian New Year, Nowruz. This morning felt like a beautiful reflection of a new season starting until oh, about 10:30. Then it started to snow. Thirty-one floors up at work, the snow appeared to be flying up from the ground, ascending instead of falling. I'm no longer surprised when the weather does this.

This winter has been the worst I can ever remember experiencing. In 2010 we had a massive amount of snow dumped on us and the city ground to a halt for a few days. The University(my work) was closed for 3 days and that is unheard of. I was stranded(happily) at a friend's house, and a group of us walked in the middle of the street when we went out exploring. It was the easiest way to get around and there weren't any cars on the street. Inconvenient, but a lot of fun. And, eventually, the snow melted and time moved on.

We've had a fair amount of snow this winter, but what bothered me the most? A steady stockpile of negative degree days. A week with one day in the 50s and the next in the 'teens. I say to friends this season broke me, and I know it's true.

I wait for spring like a fool. I hear birds in the morning and get all dizzy in the chest. Light fades later each evening. We are slowly but surely emerging from our frigid wreckage. I glare at my sweaters and I glare at my unworn sandals. I want to look up and be surprised by the buds of leaves on the trees. But no. Not yet.

Every late spring, when the trees are just getting their full heads of hair, I take note of the brand new leaves still slightly pinched together on the branches. They start small and almost folded, heads bowed. They start in such a newborn green--the color of growth. A color that only nature can manage. I take note of them, and imagine their months going forward. The summer thunderstorms that will whip them into shape. The blaring sun that might bleach their tips, darken their middles. Someone's absent-minded gesture of reaching up to snap one off while walking. That smell of soil, of green, that sweet sweet wind. And, at the end of every summer, I consider those same leaves as they begin to turn to fire and drift to the ground. The summer they have lived through. Their sun-tired forms, final au revoir to branches. Brittle piles of another season under the belt. The cycle is a miracle to me.

Near my house, I cross a small bridge on my bike ride into work. I have rode across it in all sorts of weather--pouring rain, twenty degrees, sunrises, dusk, pitch black after a late class. I always glance at the trees on either side. Nature is as much a witness as we are. We burst forth in similar fashions. We are influenced by the elements around us. And right when we think we can't be anymore green, we turn to fire and sunsets; we match beloved bark in shades of caramel, chocolate. We part with branches, our placement. And the wind might ask: where would you like to go?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

a propelled self.

I have never been one to stay still. I've inherited my mother's nervous twitch/swing/bounce of a foot or leg. I also have my father's ease of distraction--interjecting car conversation to point out the bonehead driver in front of me. I've developed my own too fast way of walking--a habit truly perfected in my high school days when you had 3 minutes to get from one class to the next in a very, very overcrowded building. When I recount something hilarious, my voice picks up speed and volume as I get to the end, surely cracking my own self up. I enjoy the routine of a monotonous act--like stuffing envelopes at work. An action I can turn into a blur.

Then how, I wonder, did I manage to stay in one city for 12.5 years?

I've never been one to know if I am a city person or a country person, a mover or a stayer. Perhaps a part of me simply assumes that others know this, as pure as the color of their eyes or freckles on a face. I grew up in a small town with plenty of farmland. As a young thing we had one stoplight. The summers were full of green space, crickets, quiet. I have also lived in a city. It is here too that I love the heat and smog of summer months, the swoosh of traffic, the shock of seeing lightning bugs in a space so crowded and full of things. In the city I miss things about the country and vice versa. Especially the daily sound of a train. I really, really miss the trains.

I look back on my 20's and tend to overlook the stagnant nature of my location. I have experienced so much within my twelve years of city-living. I've taken risks and made mistakes. That decade was so full of life, so full of immediate and yes and moments. And nearly every month for all those years I made a trip to visit my family back home, in the small town I came from. I was usually startled by the change occurring there--the spawn of subdivisions, stoplights added, new schools built and highways widened. There should be nothing strange about change--it is our only certainty--yet watching my hometown swell and spill over its old borders brought a melancholy to my surface. My old stomping grounds were new developments. And, like my father used to do when I was little, I could point to old neighborhoods and corners and say I used to run this road every single is where I had my first is where a group of us roamed the neighborhood like a gang of carefree misfits. Some things I can't even point to anymore. What was there is no longer, as if never.

Obviously I'm thinking A LOT currently because I'm gearing up to move, and movement provokes memory.

photo by JG

My trip to Egypt over Christmas break was life changing for me in a few ways. I've never traveled outside the U.S. This was my first experience abroad. I fell in love with Cairo almost immediately. I loved all the little differences--most of what I was accustomed to was gone. Surprisingly, it didn't throw me off too much. Again, I've never really dealt with myself in some unfamiliar territory--I wasn't sure how I would handle it or react. I told myself going into it to keep an open mind, to do my best and be myself. I left Egypt with my heart swollen to five times it size--I was(and am) ready for more experience like this. It made me question: what is my comfort zone? Turns out it is not what I thought, or what others might have told me. In the past I've been hesitant to rely on myself. My inner critic shoved itself between me and opportunity many times. It's like buying a boat, but keeping it docked--just sitting in it every now and then. And then graduating to untying the boat but navigating the same tight circle of water over and over because the unknown is...too unknown. It has taken me longer than I am proud of to understand I can rely on myself. I have witnessed and been through some very trying things--the road has not been an easy one, even in regards to routines. Going abroad, I think, returned me to the root of who I am and what makes me, me. I am a survivor. I love adventure. I love new territory and spaces. I love not knowing but trying to figure it out. And, it turns out, I love to rely on myself. I enjoy the strange of a new place--I love to fall in love with something new, to feel the heart dip and grow and get wild for something I've never fallen for before. It is still possible.

My twenties were fat with experience. I am thankful for this. I can wade around and consider "lost time," but I never had a boring year here in this city I've called home for so long. Even when I started to detach myself and grow restless--even those days are significant and necessary to the journey. My twenties were also very full of wanting, and while I still want, I am now understanding what it is that I need. I have never been one to stay still. I have never been one to fully accept pride in myself without the addition of some guilt. Oh but how necessary that acceptance turns out to be. How wild we are when we live without a cage. How strong we become when we nurture that which is our root, ourselves, our spirit.

So ready for all that is next. So ready and full of love & light.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

hum of what we sling

When you thought you were alone, you were not. Even when the ocean pulled back your footprints as fast as skin could fill them. Even when you came home from work and fell across the bed, coat still on, crying without sound and the silence of that made your tears fall hotter, faster.

I say this to myself on days when the sky is so blue that it is cartoon. Like today. I lean on the window at work for minutes at a time, palm cooled by the pane as my stomach plays acrobat and my mind tumble dries the what-ifs, the have-nots. The roses on my desk smell delicious. Today I drank pineapple juice until the roof of my mouth started to itch. All I want is all the fruit in the world.

When the lonelies are too much I think of all of us, flailing in our own quiet, unsure what to do with our hands or mouths or talents. I think of the odd things that might make me sad--a mechanical pencil out of lead, the bare flint of empty lighter, the credits on a movie I wasn't ready for. An older man hunched and caught in bad weather, the day sucking me in and sucking me out like a bank teller's tube, like I'm not really anywhere just traveling between points on a map. The echoed sound in my chest, my grandmother singing under her breath as she creates breakfast. She used to pour an extra bowl of Rice Krispies for me just so I could hear them speak--my own bowl always dry. Where are your little things?

I thought by adulthood my mind would align itself to some mainstream mold, an acceptable chronological ballet of rational and purpose. I assumed lost was a thing of youth for the longest time, naive to the marks growth will leave, to the coiling we do around that which is still as we climb.

Sometimes honey my heart swings at my knees. During others I might fashion slipknot, lasso her in spinning blur above my head. She goes so fast before she's flung; she hums.

Monday, March 17, 2014

carving of the caravan

I haven't been very diligent with my updates here. 2014, the year of the leap, the Sphinx, the space in the lifeline break on my right palm, has been quite busy and emotional. No excuse, just truth.

I'm preparing to move. A slow but certain act which involves a lot of wondering how the hell I came to acquire so many things, though I know damn well how it happened. I know I have always been one for momentos, a packrat clutterbug tendency. I can talk myself out of throwing anything away, if given the chance. So when I clean it has to be deep and thorough--preferably with music blasting to distract my internal excuses for posession. This trait of mine has gotten better with age, a little more refined. In junior high I would frequently keep the cap to a soda bottle if something monumental happened while it was being consumed or handled(sometimes I'd keep entire cans with the date sharpied along the side so I wouldn't forget). For years I kept an empty Tide box full of notes passed to me during numerous semesters, classes, hallways. The top of my dresser would be cluttered with what is, at its basic level, known as trash. A small tin container of movie stubs, gum wrappers from a night I was kissed, a penny found somewhere bizarre. Over time I started to trust my memory more and let go of the objects. Or write about it, which becomes its own form of preservation.

Things I own now are quite beloved, used often, or were gifted to me. There is still a massive release of things that will have to happen. The hardest will be that which I own the most of, aka my books. This is where I will lean heavy on technology for the bulk of it--an Ipad will allow me to have most of my books without the space-taking. This is a positive thing, though part of me will always resist anything that takes me away from the act of turning pages. There is such a ritual in that for me, a sacred act of physical book in my hands. As a shy bookworm growing up, they were my worlds, my friends, my reliable escape for always. It's hard to think about my bookshelves being mostly empty. This will be an emotional parting. Through all of this I try to remind myself: paring down is necessary for where I'm going next, and objects do not make or contain my memories. I am what knows, holds, remembers. Yet still. It feels a little strange.

A few weeks ago I said goodbye to my suitcase record player and records. I passed them along to my friend Greg, a musician who will certainly make use of them. He is the only recipient that makes sense and, in this case, I was more than happy to let them go/hand them over. It's a good lesson in how to lighten the load--seek places or people who will make the most of ownership.

Books and paper. The majority of what I own. Each weekend I've been sorting through old notebooks, stacks of finished and unfinished poems and stories to find what I want to keep and what I can let go of. Things to keep go to the Google Drive. I save the majority of my writing because I always manage to convince myself that this ONE INCOMPLETE LINE will someday become THE EXACT ONE LINE I need to complete some masterpiece that has yet to exist. It feels like a sin to discard work. Oh, writers. Through the process of archiving I'm surprised to see how little I do want to hold onto. Pages saved for years and years now read insignificant. I still have the notebook I journaled in during my first ever National Poetry Slam in 2001. It was my first time on a plane, first time to the west coast--I held onto it not just for the memories within but also for the feeling I had when I wrote down those memories. Remembered emotions, my nesting dolls. Do I read the entire thing one more time and then put it in the trash? Do I archive the entries? Do I not even take that last look? Perhaps I think too much about this sort of thing but a lot of it presents itself as pieces of map leading back to various rooms in the heart. Some things I fear forgetting. Some things I would never remember without my instinct to jot it down. Some are only remembered because they were never archived to begin with.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


As of 3/9/2014 12:45:16 PM EST
You are 32 years old.
You are 394 months old.
You are 1,710 weeks old.
You are 11,970 days old.
You are 287,292 hours old.
You are 17,237,565 minutes old.
You are 1,034,253,916 seconds old.

The moon's phase on the day you were
born was waning crescent.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

ven diagram

At the coffee shop listening to old songs of soul--sometimes I find myself doing exactly what I thought I might be doing in my imagined future. Back when I didn't drive and held two person interviews with myself, pausing perfect. I assumed by then I would master controlling myself, that this restraint would be my trademark, noticed. I wasn't just a dreamer, friend--I was an escape artist.

All of this is not how it is, of course. But for a moment there is this ever-so brief eclipse of yesterday's future and my right now.