Sunday, November 30, 2014

good things

I felt pretty rotten after updating my blog on Saturday. Pain made me such a grump. Today is about the positive.

I love the things I love. Like the satisfaction in slicing open on time avocados(and random hand freckles).



Or views of the world between destinations and when bits of frost collect on airplane windows.





Drinking in unexpected reflections...



...and the way light will fight through the dark.




The beauty of strangers in strange places.



& every now and then a smash of red.








Saturday, November 29, 2014

just call it hmmph.

I'm at the coffee shop, a spinning still present on the edges of vision, temples still lit with villainous fuzz. If I didn't get out of bed though I would've never left it, so I'm here sipping from a large mug trying to will away the impending pain. Sometimes migraines are like hangovers without the wild night. Sometimes I get really bitter about that, how my previous actions never asked for it. Shoot, I went to bed early.

But I know this, I always know this--everyone who suffers from them knows this. You can avoid all that might summon them and they'll still arrive. They'll hatchet down the front door and claw through the drywall. They stay for as long as they fuckin' want.

I feel like this week was one big ache, so maybe today's pain is fitting.

I did not write enough. Instead I worked ten hour days and felt way too sensitive for the world. Last night Janay Rice was on television, defending her reason for staying with Ray Rice after he clocked her in an elevator. Worth noting: I purposely avoided the security footage. And then one day the news played it as a preview. "Coming next on the news..." style. I think it was a super inappropriate move on the channel's part--the footage is awful and triggering. That still bothers me. Last night I hurriedly turned off Janay's interview because she too is triggering to me. There is no justification that might emit from her lips--I will never, ever agree with her decision to stay with her abuser. I do not want or need to hear her reasons. I want to say I feel sorry for her and leave it at that, but I also feel complete disgust.

My blood seemed half a degree from boiling all week. I can't stand blatant disrespect and that's a common theme in my work environment. The job is temporary and necessary and I remind myself of this multiple times a day. I arrive in the dark and leave in the dark and grip my sanity in between 'til the knuckles sing sore. And then here I am on my day off with my head crashing in on itself. The sky is a loaded gray like right before a big rain and that's pretty much how today feels.

It does me good to get this out. My coffee cup is empty. Time for some frozen yogurt, family time, and self-care. I'll come back when I feel better.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

injustice

I have a lot of emotions/rage about the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown. Above it all I feel heartbroken and exhausted. I can't gather up words to put here without the anger and tears. I want to write more, but for now I will leave it at that.

Here is the official statement from Mike Brown's family:






Friday, November 21, 2014

Today is my day off, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally sit down with a cup of coffee and my writing. I dropped the ball on NaNoWriMo(a poem-a-day version). Not even dropped but threw it into the ground. I did write through my Pittsburgh trip. Lots of scribbling in the notebook in between moments of going to see a friend or waiting to see another one. Oh Pittsburgh. It was such a great visit. My dance card was full, as I intended her to be(though I didn't get to see everyone). Ah, and the babies--a few new kids on the block. I rocked a newborn in my arms and swooned over the chillest one month old I've ever seen. It's so wonderful to see friends become parents. I did feel overwhelmed by it at one point--late Saturday afternoon. I referenced the phrase "emotionally exhausted" a lot. Just tired and needing that moment to lay on Jason's couch, scribbling in silence. On one page I wrote

                    I am ready to write about you

and that felt good because it is the truth. Then I spent a good ten minutes writing about potholes and favorite streets and trial and error. Heartbreak parking lots and magnolias and how the city gave me great legs. And then when I grew tired of scribbling I drove myself to Spaks. I devoured a seitan melt standing up in Jason's kitchen. Another thing worth noting: I had a bit of a mission to eat all of my favorites while I was there, and this mission was very much accomplished. Thai food and blessed conversation with my insister, that gorgeous n' quick Spak moment, hot bar at the co-op, and a holy jumble of tofu tacos for Sunday lunch. Amen.


Thank you, Mad Mex.

I had a great time. When it was time to go I was ready to do so. I was hellbent on beating the snow heading in my direction but I locked my keys in my car at a Pilot station in Cambridge. Oh boy. Luckily the ladies at the station were amazing, and a local tow company had me back on the road 36.50 and 30 minutes later, and I walked in the door as rain turned to sleet. This is what the next morning looked like:



I'm getting married in one month, and "I'm getting married" still sounds funny leaving my mouth. But yes. I'm committing to a partner in crime for all the adventure ahead. My habibi for always. My best friend. My ride or die. The Beyonce to my...Beyonce. Yes we are both Beyonces.

Because of this, we've had to do this bizarre thing known as planning your wedding. Or "planning the manner of which you will be marrying." J and I are on the same page with this stuff which is the most important thing. It will be small, intimate, simple. Most of our people are flung out geographically--shit, even him and I live in different countries.

I've worried about "doing it right." I don't understand this worry, not one bit. It's incredibly strange how such a big tradition can mess with your head, even when you don't think it could possibly happen to you. I wasn't a child who dreamed of her wedding. I was fascinated with intimacy and falling in love but marriage itself was a concept lost on me. I did enjoy attending them, for the most part. Most of them were gorgeous celebrations. I dig inspiring environments inspired by love. I didn't expect to feel this brief pressure...not until people started asking me how/when/what we were getting married. Then I found myself worrying about disappointing people. Really, Nikki? Of all the times to worry about what other people might think?

I ran with this worry for a short while and then I promptly squashed it. There are things I want. I want to be with my family. I want to feel my heart thumping madly with love when I get married. I want to be with my best friend and do this thing. And yes--I want to look like a badass doing it and I might want a fistful of roses that are a red fresh from the vein. There is nothing wrong with any of this because it is what I want. My want is not wrong. At 33 I am still learning this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm back buuuuut

...I just started a seasonal job to keep ends meeting until I leave the states for good in January, so I'm on a new level of busy. So I'll have a better update as soon as I get a little more acquainted with my new schedule.

The trip to Pittsburgh was great. I knew this would be my last trip for the foreseeable future, and knowing that made it pretty tough. But tough or not, the visit did my heart so much good. More on that soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Radio silence

Sorry for the radio silence. I'm in Pittsburgh visiting friends, holding babies. I'll be back to it soon. It's been a really, really good trip, even though I'm exhausted and emotionally pretty tired. It's my last foreseeable visit here, so I'm trying to make it count.

I want to properly show my love for all my people here without getting sentimental or weepy but it's very difficult. 

Sigh. More soon. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

bluishgreen 2014

About to put this year to bed. For the occasion, I made a playlist. Enjoy.

11.12 - NaNoWriMo

(12)

He woke with a quote bubble of vomit
soaking the carpet//no this is not true--
I woke and saw this, he slept. I punched
cloud of my coat under arm and quietly
left. Image stayed stitched as I steered--
knew turns without knowing, took long way
home. Phone rings and rings and rings.
I let her. Apologies follow in person, a
crescent of scar splitting brow where ring
was. I don't know why or what or how or
who he said. That day. That month. Full year.
Tiger in our penny jar. I mouth your name to
the sink full of booze. By then cerulean eyes over
shoe polish grins. We remove ripped magazine
pages from the wall with more care than
we ever kissed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11.11 - NaNoWriMo

today's poem is about long distance relationships. my partner and i have lived countries apart for over a year. it is the hardest and most rewarding thing, and very soon we will be closing the miles between us. my heart, she sings.


(11)

Things you do

you read the news of certain region, stories you know passed desk,
his eyes. A story his brain worked. You consider
flow of sentence, what line is there to greet you.
Maybe mutter a quote he might have whispered
as he wrote.

These are the things--


you forget about proximity
though everything becomes it,
the distance/the closeness
you define by space between
mass of object be damned

you research “how to overcome fear of flying”
because one winter’s turbulence
demands you have it.
you count hours on fingers
and hold them up to your family
when they ask
what time is it where--
and you glare at the moon
on lonely nights that are his mornings,
you learn to love technology loathed
because some days
it is all you’ve got.
you buy lingerie and practice undressing yourself
you get brave for the camera
and write better than you have in years
you talk every day
and you stay pretty bad at saying goodbye
but make connecting flights
and sleep sitting up like a pro
you get really good
at hellos
learn to say it
whole body
all lungs, fingerprints,
brain folds--

you grow guts
and get steady
your skin grows thick
where previous you picked it
red raw gone
you say
what is on your mind
when your mind is on it
restraint is not a game for many miles
words and access
become blue red blood
to surface as soon
as cut occurs
love
becomes tough
and yet
remains
a strawberry
staining fingers
surprised
again and again
by the boundless
of her sweetness.

Monday, November 10, 2014

11.10 - NaNoWriMo

(10)

dubai
1.

We play push-pull with the sea;
squint out exoskeletons on the sandbar.
Bent lit cranes bow like brachiosaurus
and I pocket a shell with busted jaw,
foamed edge of our kicks
leaving bleats in seersucker sand.

Seven hours somewhere,
future on other planet type place,
location settled only when sidewalk ends and
sand declares ground,
brick grows
each blink.

The heat peels you--
sweating blues. Not a cloud in reach.
I practice making routes familiar,
daydream a work shift ending, some event
four stops away
on the train in a party dress
three burners in on dinner or
reading in bed
buzzed on balcony
writing odes to winters I'll never forget

Sunday, November 9, 2014

09 - NaNoWriMo

I missed a few days due to being down & out with a migraine. It happens. I'm upright today and that's all I really want to focus on right now.



(9)
(draft)

(untitled)

There was a clasp on a coin purse that
I couldn't undo. I would bruise my fingertips
trying to move it--

shells with personalities, ceramics just as
wild with frozen smirks and sacks slung permanent
on patched shoulder--someone took the time to
paint this collarbone


And moss. Always ripping sheets of it
to bring indoors and place dirt down
in shoebox(the babies need blankets too)--

The sun, some song, brown of my knees
swayed as summer posed in the halfbeat between
wind and interstate



she goes fast
like first loves
and other languages

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dubai, part 2

Getting around was exceptionally easy in Dubai. The metro system is impressive--it's a driverless rail system with two lines functional and three more planned by 2020. They run elevated and underground. During rush hour(in mornings and evenings) there are cars for women & children travelers. Here's a pic of the metro car's interior(not my photo):



No gum chewing or food on the train--unless you want to be fined. The cars themselves get pretty crowded. J and I purchased Nol cards for our trip. You can fill/refill them with currency as needed. They look like this(not my hand, by the way har har):


These cards can also be used on the public busses. We took a bus to The Greens one day, and it was an easy(and spotless) ride. The bus drivers navigate the roadways much like the taxi cabs: FAST. Driving in Dubai is fast fast fast. There is absolutely no other word for it(and yes you have to say it three times for the full effect of just how fast it truly is).

This is a shot of the main road--in Dubai, it is called Sheikh Zayed Road. As a whole, it is known as E11 and is the longest road in the Emirates. The name varies depending on which area you are traveling through. Much of it is six lanes in each direction. I took this photo from a walkway that connected the metro stop to the mall:


A lot of places are connected in Dubai. This makes sense--Dubai is in the desert and is always hot. Some months are hotter than others(months that are, from all my sources, damn near unbearable when you're outside). August is the hottest while January is the coldest(with lows of 66 F). One could go an entire day without stepping outside--a lot of residential towers and hotels are connected to metro stations as well as grocery stores and shopping centers. This connectivity makes total sense in a place so hot. At first I found it a little disorienting, but this disappeared quickly when I considered being outdoors vs. indoors.

The malls here are not like the malls of the western world. The malls have your typical "mall" stores(clothing, books, furniture) but also have grocery stores, movie theaters and entire wings dedicated to designers only. I walked past names I've only heard about in fashion magazines--collections I've only seen on models. It was fascinating to see that stuff up close and personal(J and I looked at the prices of Gucci suits just for the hell of it--we touched the sleeve of a $3,000 sports jacket and my brain quietly exploded). The food court is sprawling and phenomenal(any food you want is there--in the Mall of Emirates we had sushi at a restaurant that looked out over the indoor ski slope). Yes, there was a ski slope. Here's part of it:


We peeked in on a few fashion shows:


Here is(most of) the directory at Mall of Dubai:


Oh, and there's a big ass aquarium:

photo by JG, bc his eye is sharper than mine

I snapped this one:


We would walk miles and miles in the mall alone. We saw a movie, ate italian food, and played in a toy store that spanned three stories. J and I also had fun walking through furniture stores and pointing out tables and couches we liked. The little things we never have a chance to do, being so far apart. I tried not to point and say "ooh look at that!" too much, but it was difficult. How do you not point at a candy store like Candylicious?


Prada:


Inside the Mall of Emirates:


Some quick things:

Mall of Dubai - world's largest mall(based on area). Opened in 2008. Also includes a 250 room luxury hotel, 22 screen cinema, an aquarium and underwater zoo, as well as (gulp) 14,000 parking spaces. Contains more than 1,200 shops, including world's largest candy store(Candylicious, pictured above).

Mall of Emirates - Opened in 2005. Includes more than 700 stores, a ski resort/slope, and 14 screen cinema. There is an indoor family entertainment center called Magic Planet which includes a bowling alley, 4D theater, and racing simulators. There are also 2 international food courts.





11.6 - NaNoWriMo

(6)

Our cast is scattered, flung and clustered like constellations of salt. And each of us have our own plays and stage direction--bits part bigger or barely there at all, not knowing really what you are to anyone. There are blackened bridges, obituaries, children. Everything as if suddenly different.

We wrote our poems on back decks and in driveways, Van Morrison summer nights and Dylan Thomas sunrises. Lunch breaks resting chin on buzz cut head, sweating. Every experience spiked with urgency--keep them coming. The sharp edges cut us and youth kept us moving(when it wasn't holding us in place). I stayed too long sometimes, dabbing wounds with whiskey stretched out on wheat carpet making mixed tapes for exes--feeling feeling always feeling.

There is bliss in our maps. Some big red dots, the tender dark we followed for pen's sake. I am here and I remember. But why did I give it a suitcase? In the gold is garbage, folded all important.

Now the thief raising boys. The arthritic cowboy and ex-marine stuck on video games--ghost of a girl with bark-colored hair endlessly leaning over him. His forever wind. The regulars I remember, the vets mouthing along to Cash on a Thursday night. Where is Jane now? When they tore your building down did you twitch somewhere far away and unready? Your last strumming and the bartender's first child. I do not know you--not where it counts.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

11.5 - NaNoWriMo

(5)

I've been living in Trenton, Ohio for 5 months now. Trenton is the town I grew up in. An example: I live right around the corner from the parents of the guy I dated when I was sixteen years old. I spent many high school summer days there, and is it weird? I guess. It's strange because I've been gone long enough to make it so. It is strange to go driving and run into so many memories. It is strange because I am a writer who believes in the ghost of things, at least in mind(or on page). Coming back answered some questions, I guess.

I moved away 15 years ago, and some things are very much the same. You'll always see someone sporting camouflage at the gas station. You've still got your good ol' boys in their pick up trucks, their ball cap brims curved to cup their faces. The soybean and corn fields are still there. Well, most of them. Some have been sold and swallowed up by stock footage houses. It is still a small town, though she may burst at some seams.

In sixth grade I took a horrific spill on my bike--bad enough to make me avoid riding on two wheels for 5-ish years. The scene of the accident was a dentist's parking lot. I drove by this lot yesterday and imagined a little me, limping home with my bent steed. Memory is everywhere. My hippocampus is lit like brushfire.

This summer I ran into 4 former classmates within the span of 24 hours. That was a little wild, watching myths of others go up in smoke or shrink drastically--all those maybe-futures I imagined turning real or dissipating. I remember being young and hearing my dad talk about old classmates--we'd drive through his old stomping ground and he'd point out where the store used to be, or at a busy park that once was just a field. I get that now. I catch myself doing it. I recall those times I felt confined by my environment. I'd go driving because driving always felt like freedom. Now I navigate those same roads and feel miles of things. I'm much more free, much more filled. Yet I still feel protective when I think of that young me, still in there and fidgeting.

There is a bit of comfort in being back, though it is an unusual transitional period of my life. I wouldn't expect anything less for this year--2014 has been the pendulum's brutal swing, both extremes and in-betweens. Big things. I go back to the break in my lifeline on my right palm and nod. The break, the space, the leap with no net below. It's an appropriate time to practice surviving.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

11.4 - NaNoWriMo

(4)


tumble out, full mouthed--rows of gymnasts rise the hills, leotards to war all walking on toes. calves taut, the bullets in their cheeks glow. spider reds form sprawled like palms along the temples, clavicle, american flag hips. my girls stride exact in tendon's tremble, ground soft as toothless gums. all jaws as sharp as the cliff they dive from.

Monday, November 3, 2014

11.3 - NaNoWriMo

For today's poem I used a writing exercise. This is probably my all-time favorite exercise, actually. I've used it a number of times to jumpstart my brain. Exercise located here(click)


(3)

Conversations with haunted things

(in the middle of a cornfield, magic hour, mid-October)

Wolf slips on a woman’s ankle-length silk, slowly snaps the back of pearl earring, careful claw reflected; applies red riding’s hue to prickled lips and waits.

There is an orchestra of instrument and argument, a thing both blaring out and barely--our heartbeats sounding like punk song and crickets.

When I let go, what will I miss the most? The tigers in your fingers? The way all nightmares stood arms open just after the threshold, pain pouring out of pockets in the drawers?

The apple browns around the teeth marks, wobbles on ground among husks like the pages of our story maybe a hundred revolutions from now.

Here. Let me walk you home.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dubai, part 1

I was very nervous about going to Dubai. I was nervous the way anyone would be when venturing a place you've never been that will probably be the next place you will call your home. You want to arrive hopeful, positive, completely open to what you experience. But you are also already practicing familiar eyes--eyes that will perhaps one day view these new routes and visuals as run-of-the-mill scenery...the building you walk by on your way to work, or the stops you pass daily on the metro. At least that's what I found myself doing--seeing the unfamiliar and trying to familiarize it("Oh my, there's the tallest building in the world" vs "Oh that old thing?").

I probably think too much about, well, everything, but this is how my mind was spinning just before our arrival.

J and I went to dinner with a colleague before we flew to Dubai, someone who lived there and was happy to let us pick their brain about living there. It was a wonderful meal coupled with interesting conversation and I walked away that night feeling even more excited about our trip. The flight from Cairo to Dubai was about three hours, and admittedly a rough one for me. It pains me to admit it, but I find myself disliking flying more and more every time I do it. J is so patient and sweet when dealing with me and my flying anxiety, and even though we were not sitting near a window, he helped me determine the exact moment our plane's wheels would kiss down on the runway upon arrival(a super gentle landing, by the way). The airport was easy to navigate, though blood sugars ran dangerously low in passport check, and by the time we grabbed a taxi I was pretty grumbly and over it. I tried to flex past my mood by looking out the window. I felt like my eyes couldn't keep up with the amount of skyscrapers and construction we passed--it reminded me of driving between Minneapolis and St. Paul, how it felt almost ridiculous to see one cluster of city and then in a few moments pass another healthy bundle of buildings. There is "downtown Dubai" but there are also so many sub cities: Media City, Deira, Jumeira, Marina, The Greens. As the car sped towards our hotel(in Media City), my mouth fell open and stayed open. My first impression of Dubai was this: a strange new planet that humans were just starting to inhabit. A land of everything. The future...uture...uture...ture...ture...ure...re(that's a dramatic echo, by the way).

I was definitely not in Egypt anymore.

J arranged for our trip to Dubai to fall near the end of the month, right before I went back to the states. At this point, I had been in Egypt for about three weeks(including our trip to Luxor) and was for the most part acclimated to how things worked there. As a woman, life in Cairo is much different than it might be for me in Dubai. I stay more covered in Cairo, and I don't feel comfortable venturing out as often by myself(this is mostly due to my limited Arabic skill). A lot of things in third world countries simply do not work, or do not work the way you might want them to or expect them to. You get used to this, for the most part. For example, the elevator in J's building was broken--they were replacing the motor and we were told it would be down for a few days. The few days turned into a few weeks, which meant climbing flights of stairs to the fifth floor at least once a day(this was finally fixed shortly after I left, and J happened to be in the hallway when they needed someone to test it. Oh boy. Luckily it ran smoothly and did not plummet).

I say this to note that Dubai is very first world, and I felt absolutely stunned walking into it straight out of Cairo.


a shot of Media City. Not my photo, by the way. This is from travelingthemiddleeast.com

Our first hotel room was just two floors above the pool area. I say first because after that night we realized the bass from the deejay two floors below late into the night was too much for us old folks--we ended up swapping for a floor higher up. That was the surreal thing--each night our hotel turned into a club of sorts. It wasn't just a place to check in and sleep, but a destination for a night out. They even had themed nights of the week that they encouraged all patrons to join. Mondays were Mad Men nights(for the gents), and Wednesdays were promoted on bright pink flyers labeled GOSSIP, aka ladies' night. This was apparently the real party night of them all, as ladies could score two free drinks in the lobby bar and then make their way to the pool area for 2-3 more free drinks. Every evening we would go to the lobby to check our email/etc before heading out to explore/have dinner, and every evening there would be a strange brigade of women teetering in too-high heels and absurdly short dresses(crotch skimmers, if you want a word for it). Two quick things about this: one, this was a shock for me coming straight out of Cairo where I kept my legs and arms/tattoos covered at all times. You get used to not seeing skin. And two, this was a shock to me because all of the women were incredibly made-up--from perfectly coiffed hair to the immaculate make-up to exquisitely arched feet in perfect shiny heels...I am not a person who has ever been done up in such a fashion(nor would I be comfortable doing so) and I've never been a clubbing kinda gal yet it still managed to make me feel super scruffy and inadequate. I state this little side note because it was such a ridiculous sight AND a ridiculous reaction on my part to feel at all inferior or not-up-to-par around such...illusion. But, nevertheless, I am human and it got to me a bit.

The entire rule of attire thing confused me. Before going to Dubai, most things I read on expat forums/etc suggested keeping knees and shoulders covered, so I figured it wasn't as conservative as things in Egypt, but still fairly subdued. Once there, however, it became apparent that each person kind of set their own standard about it--I saw young women in cut off shorts as well as women covered head to toe, and everything in between. I brought zero shorts overseas, so I stuck to jeans or slacks and felt fine about it. I also noted plenty of people with visible tattoos, so that made me feel a little better about my own peeking out.

Whew. This entry is getting a bit wordy. I'll pause here. Next up: malls and transportation.

11.2 - NaNoWriMo

(2)


I am confusing my streetlight and teeth, both swaying wild figure eights in the storm that is above--the one that borrows head for tunnel, whistling slate swells growling rotten upon exit like turned tide of Alice, her tears, the keyholed saint. Weights and measured--brain on car disconnected, heart bound to track getting plenty of splinters in her wriggles.

The windows and doors were left open and that with the wet beckoned moss--I was grown all over, confined to a room full of box, brine, used litmus and habits so worn their elastic bits could thrice hula hoop my hips. Lost thought in a zipper. When it gets dark stays dark no matter how high and might the sun.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

11.1 - NaNoWriMo


(1)

sandwiches
haiku


loaf, olive,
like mold.
waves of smoke
hickory,
a muffled rye of bones.