Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2006 -The Old Blog

(A post from the OG Blog)


I have this great song in my head.
It's the hidden track from a matchbox 20 album.
I love it.
And it's making me think of stories to spin.
I can picture a boy, a boy who thinks he doesn't need anybody
and doesn't want anybody to need him.
A boy who claims he doesn't believe in love.
He is handsome, and so smart.
This boy, if he were real, would have a smile to light up a night sky--
a sky without city lights to drown the brilliance of the stars.
And deep, dark eyes.
It seems like this kind of boy wouldn't know what he wanted from life--
he would know better what he didn't want.
I do wonder, though, if a boy like this would ever be able to let go.
Would he be able to stop running long enough to see some of the universal truths of life--the happy kind?
Ok, so now I'm getting a crush on my imaginary friend...
I'm picturing a very sexy boy, with just the right amount of chest hair,
and a long lean body.

Maybe it's the autumn, maybe it's the moon--
but everything feels foreign lately.
The wind whispers with a thick accent,
the sky is upside down,
and my entire center of gravity is off.
I want way more than my share out of life,
and it's a heavy load to carry.
It settles over me like a lead blanket...
as I wait for an x-ray of my head to be taken;
but don't look at the results...you'll be haunted and feel hunted.
yes, I'm a hunter.
I feel like a great jungle cat, or a sharp-eyed wolf--
but I don't know what I'm hunting.
My prey is elusive and amorphous.
I want to fling my fingers from their tight grasp on this life
and
let the tornado sweep me away to my own Oz.
Instead of munchkins I would have pool boys.
Instead of the tin man, the man of steel.
Instead of the scarecrow, a stoner.
Instead of the lion, a rockstar.
The witch would be a skanky blonde.
heh.
I would vanquish her with a bucket of water--
girls like that can't live without their props: makeup, hair gunk, etc.
And the great and powerful Oz?
That would just be me, wearing those glasses with the fake nose and moustache.
And I would laugh at how hard the other me had tried to get there, to only find I had the power to
go
home
all along.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Cover up, it's cold out...

I stumbled onto some covers on YouTube,
and I can't stop clicking on the next one, and the next one.
Prince does Radiohead's "Creep" at Coachella,
Eddie Vedder & Beyonce, "Redemption Song," WHAT,
Dave Grohl and Nora Jones sing "Baby, I'm Amazed" to honor Paul McCartney at the Kennedy Center,
Dave Grohl sings "Tiny Dancer"...

I think I've been holding my breath for a long time,
trying not to actually feel things.
Because I feel too much and and if you don't know what that means, I'll tell you -
I see Dave Grohl sitting on a stool with his guitar,
and he talks about not knowing Tiny Dancer until he saw the movie Almost Famous,
and a pit of sadness opens just behind my sternum,
maybe it's not very deep, this particular pit,
but it swirls a little,
because I'm picturing how I felt about Almost Famous,
how I loved it and wanted to live inside it,
and maybe felt like I'd almost had it in my grasp--
but mostly, thinking of the movie connected me like a telegraph line to the person I'd been then...
It was startling to feel that set of emotions,
to have my perspective tilted to the orientation it once had.
So that's what made me blink a little
and wonder if I've been holding myself away from the well of deep feelings I once swam in.
Because it is very different now.
Finding my soul mate flipped all the switches,
and settled me into joyful contentment.
I've grown lazy and the only thing I feel with any sense of depth is fear--
fear of loss, fear of going back to the life where I was looking for this,
for exactly this.
The life where (most of the time) I had faith that this future existed for me,
that this love was somewhere waiting for me;
but not always.
Sometimes I was certain that everyone else was as upside down and inside out as I was,
other times I was certain that no one else ever had been or could be.
I needed to believe it was possible that I would find the man who would love me the way that all the story books and love songs insinuated, illustrated, hinted at, promised.
I never considered that I was a fool for taking art literally...
I didn't stop looking.
I looked everywhere for this love, this life.
I looked in bars, in beds, in boys, in men.
I looked across deserts, and the giant red rocks sprawled across them;
I climbed mountains, combing through underbrush and dipping into springs - seeking;
I sailed through oceans, and drove back and forth across the expanse of this country;
I reached out into the web of the wide world, hunting for love on other continents--
these forays filled me with bursts of glittering hope
(Chaz, you British biker poet, stole my heart and stood me up in Paris, you fucker)
and quiet devotion (you know who you are, ya kiwi ninja, the best matrix-bound friend and lover a girl could ask for);
without these moments, I maybe would have given up my search,
and lived the rest of my life unloved;
stuck in the wrong marriage, always searching for more.

Instead, here I am.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Winter Wondering

It was a faded world this morning,
the fields blanketed with frost,
the air thick with fog.

I didn't know how many years I'd gone without seeing fog
until I finally saw it again,
and my whole being sighed with relief.
I didn't know how many bodies of water I encountered daily at home,
until I got to the desert,
and mistook the shimmer of a wet parking lot for a pond.

Days like this make me wish I was still a housewife;
I would charge out into the day for a brisk walk,
daydreaming along with my music...
then home to write or clean or bake.
But I needed a change, I needed to be part of the world again;
I needed people and tasks.
It is good.

I'm rambling,
but I feel like it has been too many days since I've put my fingers on a keyboard.

I am homesick,
but truly, for a home that doesn't exist anymore.
I love my sweet home town -
it has turned into the idyllic place that it once only was in my mind,
from my perch in those desert mountains of the west.
It is thriving and art-filled, and I don't quite belong there anymore,
and yet...I always will.
I miss the dark blue of the angry ocean, its white caps showing its mood;
I miss the smell of salt water and decaying seaweeed;
I miss the words people use, and the way their words sound;
I miss the rocks on the beaches, rolling and tumbling in a symphony of smoothing.
I miss returning to my parents' small house on the winding road in the wooded edge of the peninsula;
I miss feeling anchored there; everything right and safe and good.
Well, I just need to wrench my heart free of Westbrook St., and allow new roots to form.
So grateful for the family that is still there,
and the friends-like-family that welcome me with the open arms of Homecoming.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Floating

I float along
on the current of sound
that fills me with images and emotions
the way only great music can.
I drift through the day,
buffered from the impact of feet on floors
and slams of doors,
insulated from voices laughing,
complaining, demanding.
The words and notes
swirl around me in the air and
filter out everyone else.
This is how I numb the need,
the shaking jones of an addict,
craving and seeking
the next fix -
I am haunted by this habit
that seeps through a crack in my foundation,
where it has been buried.
It surges to life and controls me like a puppeteer;
I am at war with myself,
wanting what I don't want,
needing what I can't have.
And then I remember...
I already have it all.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

History of a Heart

Once there was a girl
and she was sweet and quiet and happily religious.
She dreamed of falling in love every day until
she heard the new boy in school had asked about her,
and they went walking on the north shore of the harbor 
after school that one day,
with his friend and her friend.
And then she stopped dreaming of anything but him,
the cute boy that no one really knew yet,
and she kept him all to herself,
as they spent every day wrapped up in each other;
and she kept him safe until he left for the stupid Marine Corps,
and then they slowly fell apart.
But they loved each other so much that their division 
wasn't something they acknowledged;
she wrote to him and called him
and met him on leave in Harrisburg and Virginia Beach
and said yes when he offered her a beautiful diamond ring
on the cold and windy beach,
and she should have offered him her self, finally, 
after all the time they'd spent 
driving each other mad with desire;
she would regret that for many, many years.
She went home, and showed her friends the ring,
and was giddy for weeks,
but then he couldn't make it to her prom, at the last minute,
and she was devastated,
but a guy-friend saved the day 
and got the last tux in town 
and filled the evening with laughter and fun.
On her birthday, a few weeks later, 
she opened the door and almost couldn't smile,
she was so overwhelmed with joy and surprise:
he was there!
She cried with relief and happiness and held him so tightly; 
he cried, too.
They didn't leave each other's side for the whole weekend;
they walked on their favorite beach,
and talked about their future together -
vaguely and dreamily.
She didn't know it would be the last time she would kiss him,
or rest her face in the crook of his neck;
she didn't know it would be the last time she would see him smile at her
while telling her how much he loved her
(the last time she would see him at all).
She didn't know that someone would tell him
that she was cheating on him (she wasn't);
she didn't know that while she was starting her freshman year
at Brigham Young University in Utah,
and he was beginning his duties with Presidential Support in D.C.,
that he was drinking himself into oblivion,
almost ruining his career,
in order to drown out the lies he'd heard about her.
She didn't know that when he didn't come home for Christmas
he was letting go of her...
and maybe she was too wrapped up in her new life in Utah
to notice it as keenly as she should have.
They played phone tag a lot after Christmas,
and then it was February,
and she called him that one time, at the barracks,
and asked for him by rank and last name, as always,
and when they asked if she was his fiancé she said yes,
and then
then
the man's thick southern accent unscrambled itself in her ear,
and her brain registered the phrase he'd really said,
"He's with his fiancé," unbelievably,
wrongly,
broken world, broken heart set in motion with that phone call,
as she was given a glimpse of his world, 
so far away.
Phone tag that had finally yielded the game-ending, 
career-ending injury.
She cried for hours, then days.
She called again and was told he'd moved.
She asked her roommate to call the new number they gave her...
too afraid of what she would find
(the last time he'd had a new number,
it was a new barracks).
A woman answered; it was not a new barracks.
A woman answered; he was away for the next week, could she take a message?
A woman answered. A woman answered. "This is his wife."
She waited until he was back before she called a second time.
He answered, and she had prepared a cool, distant speech, 
quietly asking if he'd planned on telling her 
he'd married someone else, 
and then wishing him well,
even though her sad kindness was greeted with bitter cold.
Her heart was shredded into tiny slivers of light gone out.
She didn't know how to breathe anymore,
because her whole world had twisted into 
a grotesque impression of itself.
She told the story over and over, 
until the raw ends of her nerves dulled 
and it only felt like having a truck drive over her chest.
She cried herself to sleep every night for months.
She dreamed of him in vivid detail,
those dreams where you wake up crying,
panting from having been wrenched form the alternate reality
your brain created to soothe you...
she dreamed he had joined the CIA and needed to cut ties with his old life, 
dreamed that was why he'd taken a chainsaw to her heart,
why he'd severed their bond with the slash of a machete.
She called again, once.
She wanted him to know that he hadn't broken her, 
that she was fine without him.
She hoped it would hurt him,
or prove something -
what, exactly, she didn't know.
After that phone call,
she felt emptier than ever,
and when his letter arrived a few weeks later,
telling her to kindly fuck off,
she was angry
(HE was the one who deserved to fuck off)
but not surprised.
She went home that summer, 
and worked at her same job she'd had in high school, 
waiting tables at the western-themed restaurant, 
overlooking the achingly beautiful harbor.
She felt tiny and alone in the restaurant 
where he'd come to ask her on their first date, 
where he'd sent her roses after their second date, 
where he'd waited for her to finish work, 
so they could go walking down Main Street.
She stayed away from the place he gave her her first kiss,
on the street between the Thorndike 
and that jewelry store that isn't there anymore...
She went to work, 
and cried when she told Lisa P, and Jan, and Shirly, and Beth...
they hugged her and told her 
it would take twice as long as they'd been together 
to get over this kind of thing...
four years sounded like an eternity,
and she wasn't sure she could make it.
She let Greg and Glen make fun of him, 
because it made her smile a little through her still-puffy eyes.
She developed a crush on Glen because he wasn't out of the closet yet;
she was disappointed when he introduced her to his friend,
but the friend was almost the perfect salve for her still-crushed heart.
He wasn't her type; 
she didn't like him that much; 
but he would fall in love with her, 
and that felt like a necessary step to healing...
She felt so selfish after she broke his heart
(because it's only a matter of time 
before you break the heart of a person 
who thinks you love them).
She did throw her virginity at him 
in a lousy attempt to get back at her sweet boy 
for marrying someone else; 
it didn't work, obviously.
It did open the door for her to escape mormonism, though, 
so it wasn't a total loss.
And then...there were the Utah boys - 
long-haired stoner boys to rescue her 
from the homogenous dating landscape of BYU, 
where she had never quite belonged.
She hopped from one to the next, 
hoping that in one of their beds would be the magic potion, 
allowing her heart to heal, instead of limping along, still dripping blood.
After a while, she grew tired of the games, 
and took a break from it all, 
then met the man she would marry.
She knew as soon as they met that they would marry; 
at a certain point, she didn't really want this, 
but she felt like it was what was supposed to happen, so she did.
He was broken, and she thought she could fix him, classic story.
His childhood had been so hard, 
so she excused him for his roughness, 
for his coldness, 
for his insane jealousy.
She closed her eyes and turned her head away 
while he spent hours fucking her.
She dreamed of far away places and sweet Marine faces 
while the pain spread where pleasure should be.
She kept heaping more love on him, 
but it slid off like sand, and piled up at his feet.
She crafted a perfect life,
pushed the boulder of housewifery uphill all day every day, 
to make his home happy,
but somehow it was never enough.
She dreamed of her home in Maine,
hating the oppressive social fabric of Utah,
feeling trapped there, trapped with him.
She grew weary of not being loved, 
and of his constant accusations of infidelity.
She found herself again, when the babies were 2, 
and she started working out and writing;
she felt strong and beautiful and necessary.
She flirted with the idea of never trying to satisfy him again,
and the idea of falling in love again;
she continued to crave Maine with the fervor of an addict.
She found loopholes,
and almost slipped away from him -
in fact, she did, in her heart & her mind.
But he wasn't ready to let go,
so they tried to fall in love with each other again (for the first time).
For a few months it seemed like it had worked,
but then everything went back to the same old,
and she knew it wasn't only his fault,
that she was to blame for her own misery;
she would never be satisfied with this
(later, she would wonder why it seemed so bad, so impossible, but it was.)
She would be relieved when he finally asked for a divorce;
unaccountably, and briefly, she would be jealous of the woman
who came over the night she moved out,
the woman who replaced her in his life as seamlessly as a fulfilled warranty.
She would delight in settling into her pretty little house with her sons
and the cat they got to have since Dad was allergic,
but they didn't live with Dad anymore...
this broke her heart too much to really love the cat.
She thought about getting wings tattooed on her back,
because all she'd wanted for years was to fly away from that man,
but now she didn't need wings; she was free.
She was happy.
And then she found her soul mate, the sweetest man on earth,
who loved everything about her and was everything she'd dreamed of;
every cliché, every love song.
Miraculously, he was from her home town,
and had recently moved back;
like a dream come true, she joined him there.
Her heart was finally whole again, and she gave her entire soul to him;
this would prove too painful,
so she had to pull back a little, and keep some of herself for herself,
but it didn't diminish her love for him,
or her sense of security and blissful joy.
Blending their families was harder than she'd expected;
leaving her cherished hometown nearly broke her;
living on the plains of Iowa was as barren as it sounds.
She would follow him around the country,
like a devoted puppy,
never quite daring to put down roots,
and not even daring to hold onto her dream of returning to Maine.
She tumbled along, letting her world revolve around him,
because her heart was beating in his chest.
She was happy; he was her home.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Circle Jerks

Too many--
I would say thoughts,
but maybe it's more like emotions?
Maybe it's both;
Too many, too much--
I can't really discern through the fog of anger.

I want Louis C.K. to be treated fairly,
and I am fairly
certain
he is not.
I think women who thought he was gross
accepted his apology years ago
(years after the incident, incidentally)
and then shouted about how wrong it was
that he did the thing
he said was going to do--
the thing that they stayed and watched, while laughing,
after going back to his room for drinks.
I get that there is a level of Pressure there
that I probably don't get.
But how is making someone uncomfortable
at all the same as
a hand on a specific set of body parts 
(pushing, pulling, needing, kneading)?

I know that I would feel different if the man in question were repulsive to me,
but I would say that he wasn't repulsive to them intrinsically - 
they wanted something from him, too,
in that subtle way that life is a negotiation:
we get what we want from each other in many ways,
small and large,
pointed and subtle;
saying "please" and "thank you" gets us less spit in our hamburger,
for example,
while hugging a sad friend builds the trust and care between two people and benefits the hugger at some point--
some spectrum of this exchange is a part of so many aspects of life,
from the subconcious to the blatant.
They wanted what he had to offer (career boost) and they thought going back to his room and having a drink would lead to getting what they wanted;
instead he asked them if he could do something that is generally categorized as weird,
and they laughed because they didn't think he was serious,
and he began to undresss and do the thing he'd said he was going to do.
I can understand being surprised by this, and feeling yucky about it,
but after he called years later to apologize, why still throw it back at him?
It seems 
petty and spiteful.
It seems 
like an attention grab.
And I can't seem 
to let it go.
Because unfairness is so abhorrent to my prickly little sensors,
and because of something else, 
something I can't put my finger on, 
and so I go around and around with it,
parrying and retreating.

We have decided 
that people can decide 
so much about their own sexuality,
and that is beautiful, and wonderful, and we aren't even all the way there yet, I know,
but what about letting people have a little room for testing boundaries? 
It is unsettling to settle for 
wondering 
where those boundaries are 
as I navigate the waters myself
and attempt to usher so many sons through them, too.

Maybe I'm ruffled by the question 
"What if the roles were reversed?"
What if Lisa Lampanelli had masturbated in front of two handsome young men?
Would they be complaining?  
Maybe.
Or maybe not...
Maybe I feel like saying, 
"Why don't you talk to your therapist about how this made you uncomfortable, 
rather than ruining a guy's career because you couldn't deal??"
I just don't know.
I know that what he did is far away from 
what Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey did 
on the spectrum of misbehavior.
I know that he didn't assault anyone,
and that he thought that asking meant it was ok - 
the fact that he now realizes that was incorrect is not surprising to me; 
he is so insightful to the human condition, 
and it feels like the kind of thing he would have figured out as he matured, 
and figuring it out, he would have felt guilt,
which is what happened.

I go 'round and 'round.
I can't seem to solve this riddle.
The riddle of how to feel about this.
How to live in a world where a man like Louis 
can be villainized because some women he apologized to years ago 
decided to pile on to the "Hollywood is full of pigs" bandwagon....
fuck....around I go, again.
I worry that I can't feel settled about this because I'm wrong.
What if I'm wrong?
(or at least I suspect that all my fiercest, 
dearest friends would think so, if they knew
--knew that I don't condemn this man, that I adore him still)
What if I need to dig deeper and find unforgiveness for the man?
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
I'm not wrong.
Because Louis isn't wrong.
Maybe I'm just grieving.
(denial, bargaining)
Maybe I'm just going to have to keep readingandthinkingandtalking 
about this until it stops feeling so bad.
Fuck.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Immovable

Sometimes it makes me sad that my mother is so
immovable.
She doesn't have room in her right/wrong columns
to add anything new to her "right" side.
She can't
won't?
doesn't
conceive that there could be a reason for me to include lots of gorgeous,
richly textured FUCK words into my life, my world, my writing.
I can't imagine sharing with her the chapters I'm working on right now for my book about boys.
(especially the Frank one, where there is already lots of "fuck"ing,
soon to be lots of fucking;
or the Gary one, its ugliness almost invisible beneath the sunshine she herself created)
I can't imagine her ever being able to allow for the belief
that tattoos are holy,
that listening to fingers on ivory,
while a Russian girl sings her jagged, sparkling poetry
could be a spiritual experience.
I can't imagine my dear, sweet mother
ever sliding anything from her "wrong/naughty/bad" column
even a little closer to the line of her "acceptable/right/proper" column.
And I can't imagine
not imagining
all the wicked things
and delicious things
and beautiful, raw, wild things!
I'm grateful, though, that she doesn't push me into her columns -
which one would I fit in?
Certainly not the "acceptable/proper/right" one,
but what does that leave?
Because I don't exist in a world of black and white,
I exist in all the vivid shades of grey,
that aren't visible to my colorblind mother.

Listening to Regina Spektor last night,
my thoughts were drifting and charged -
this collection of stories,
she whispered to me that it's a kaleidescope of boys...
all the ways I've loved them
since I first started dreaming of them
as a very small child.
Has there ever been a more boy-crazy girl?
No, probably not.
I'm working through some of the hard stories right now,
but leaving the hardest for another day...for a day when I have all day to sit with it.
Because...they don't call them "daddy issues" for nothing, haha!



Lullaby Set List

Sometimes Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," comes on the radio,
or cycles through in my playlist,
and when it does,
I always smile.
I see myself sitting in the dark,
with one twin snuggled onto my lap in the rocking chair,
and the other waiting his turn in the nearby crib.
I would sing a few of the usual nursery rhymes, as well,
but the three songs that were always a part of my bedtime routine were
"Wish You Were Here,"
"Puff the Magic Dragon,"
and Suzanne Vega's "The Queen and the Soldier."
I remember looking up the lyrics for "Puff the Magic Dragon,"
so that I would know all the verses;
same for Suzanne Vega.
I remember how good it felt to sink into that chair
at the end of a long day chasing those two around.
I remember how soft their little cheeks were,
and how solid their warm little bodies were,
as we slipped into dreamland.
Now they drive themselves to work and school
and tower over me.
They are hilarious and generous and kind
and my heart is full,
but I stare longingly at their baby pictures and
wish they were here...


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tragedies

I used to think they only happened to other people,
and then I found out they happen to anyone,
anytime.
I think I kind of thought I would live forever,
or at least,
I didn't really believe that death could be so
wrenching
sudden
world-skewing.
I'm not sure how I failed to comprehend,
since I'd lost a cousin, a brother, a friend's toddler brother, a cousin's husband...
all so close to my sphere,
so young,
so unexpected.
But, I guess...just not quite close enough to my daily life,
for me to feel the impact,
for me to see the absence in every room,
in the driveway,
in my husband's eyes.
When the one lost was violently snatched from within your grasp,
from under your roof,
moments after you heard his footsteps enter and exit...
When you are the one to answer the door to the 4 men in uniforms,
and then you stand alone in that big,
emptier-than-ever house,
and try to figure out who to call first,
how to call,
how to say the words,
where to start...
He was so young, so full of potential.
But this tragedy was much less complicated for me to process than the next.
The next is far too sad,
far too filled with
all that I could have
SHOULD HAVE
done differently.
It is filled with a bond that never seemed like it was all it should be,
from the very start of my life,
and certainly wasn't, at the end of his.
I will break apart inside if I have to think about that night again.
I tried to process it all in the aftermath,
but sometimes
everyone keeps telling you there was nothing you could have done,
and they say it over and over until you want to scream at them with ragged rage,
and reject their ridiculous absolution -
they don't know that you held anger in your heart,
they don't know that you didn't know he needed help,
but that you bloody well should have.
They don't know that their forgiveness isn't what you need,
or how it feels to know you should have taken a deep breath
and forgiven him,
and been able to see how broken he was...
They are wrong.
It was definitely my fault.
This is the one I will someday
maybe
figure out how to live with.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Word Count

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.
The goal of this endeavor is to write 50,000 words during the month of November.
If I average 1,667 words per day, I will meet this goal.

Today's Word Count: 1551

11/7 Updated Word Count: 4334

I'm still behind my goal, but at least I'm writing! Woot!

11/9 Updated Word Count: 6053
11/12 Updated Word Count: 8750
11/14 Updated Word Count: 10,852

Monday, October 30, 2017

Exposure

Oh, I could tell you all the awful things,
I could tell you in a terse inventory,
titles on a playlist of pain.
But that would be searing and wounding,
rending.
I would rather use all the brushes and paints in my toolkit
to fill in the vast tableaux that make these horrors
(understandable?)
(forgivable?)
bearable.
I'm not sure I deserve the grace provided by a backstory,
but I know I can't bear to confess
without explaining how
my soul can bear the weight of all that has passed.

Grace(less)land

Tonight I got home, hungry but happy,
to find two of my three men asleep
and the other openly apathetic about dinner.
At first I was mildly annoyed, but then...
I smiled, and sank into my favorite chair,
pulling my laptop onto the top of my lap
(because...what is the bottom of one's lap??)
so that I could spend some time here.

Saturday we wound our way across a part of this state I haven't seen much of;
we went to an orchard in...Morgantown?
and then on to Bethlehem.
Not to give birth in a barn, fortunately,
but to satisfy a primal urge for pastrami.
Hot pastrami on rye, in fact--
(and this immediately brings to mind
that time, when I was 4 years old,
riding in the "way back" of my Mom's yellow Datsun station wagon,
as we rounded the north end of Rockland's Main St.
and headed back south on opposite one-way street toward home in Owl's Head;
I was looking out the back window, free-range in the glorious wild west before seat-belt-laws,
and soon I was hiding under a blanket with a song,
"Hot pastrami on rye-eye," was the refrain,
repeated over and over until I soothed myself to sleep).
So, we headed west and/or north from the apple orchards
(and their decadent donuts)
through Reading
(I love this name, because it looks like my favorite hobby)
and onward to the
gross
smoke-filled
casino
which houses the only remaining Carnegie Deli on the East Coast.
The casino was...gross, did I mention that?
Intentionally polluted air choking us as we wended our way
through the maze that couldn't outsmart us
(after all, this isn't Vegas)
and slid into a booth in a happy little slice of New York.
The sandwiches were not all that we had dreamed of,
but the pickles were,
and the sweet old lady who saw my husband taking a picture of his sandwich,
stopped by and showed him the picture she had taken of a far superior pastrami
at the 4th St. Deli in Philadlphia,
which filled us with longing....
and so...
the quest continues.

We drove home through the dark evening on the winding roads
that connect Bethlehem to wherever it is we live,
(a route I know well,
from that winter I spent driving away my worries for O.
as I drove the hour-long tortuous route once a week until he said, "Enough!"
even though it wasn't).
The Mr. and I glided over those tiny, twisting roads,
bathed in the notes of Graceland,
(with diamonds on the soles of Chevy Chase's feet, calling me Al)
and I was lost in my own thoughts and daydreams,
and everything felt golden and right.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

(Don't) Take Me to Church

When I first heard this song,
I was struck by the image of raw passion,
visions of desperate, grasping desire
spinning across the stage of my mind - 
and then I saw the video;
different from what my neurons fired at each other 
within my skull,
but not so far removed, really.



This song's title, at least,
goes well with the little snippet I pulled from my memo pad on my phone.

8/14/2016
My church is this beautiful planet - 
the rocky coastline of Maine, 
where I grew up,
its rugged terrain, its harsh winters;
berries growing in cool forests,
sea life teaming in dark grey-green water--
Maine, with its only straight lines to be found 
in the pine trees that crowd its shores; 
the red sands and arches of Utah's deserts, 
capped by rich blue skies; 
soft snow cascading down ski-able peaks, 
rivers to kayak in,
and all the animals one might be lucky enough to see. 
I've lived in 4 states so far, 
and even found serenity in the comparatively bland beauty of Iowa--
rolling green hills, crowned with rich red barns;
I'm in Pennsylania now,
and William was not exaggerating:
this is a sylvan wonderland,
rich, green forests bend low over winding roads,
like Mother Nature herself hugging the world.
This is heaven,
this is church.
And I don't believe in hell. 
For many years after leaving the church of my youth, 
of my family, 
I uneasily, defiantly,
joked about the certainty of my place in hell... 
Now, I smile, filled with peace and joy, 
because the only hell is the one we make for ourselves--
by choosing to believe that we deserve pain or punishment for simply being human.
Church is to build and test self-discipline. That is all.
Love yourself, forgive yourself. 
Be kind, be honest. The end. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Once Upon a Time...

That's how all the good stories begin, isn't it?
All the tales of fairies and such.
Sometimes the dark stories start out with hope, too.
Sometimes the fairies grow fangs and claws and loom larger than the sun...
And sometimes the witches are just misunderstood loners.

But I know one thing -
every possible iteration of each of those scenarios will be written by someone,
somewhere in the world,
during the month of November.
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.
I'll never forget my first time
(participating in this unique challenge, but also,
obviously that other event that just popped into your mind, unbidden...).
I was a sweet little housewife,
with 2-year-old twins and a work-aholic, golf-loving husband
(the state of my marriage could have still been described as "I wasn't yet willing to admit what a mistake I'd made," but that's another story for another day).
I had recently reunited with a friend from high school, via email,
and this friend played in a (fantastic heavy metal) band,
and performed stand-up comedy,
and inadvertently introduced me to Raymi the Minx -
maybe she was a fan of his music, or his comedy...?
I can't quite place the connection,
but I was riveted.
She was wild and beautiful and her writing was compelling.
I clicked on the other blogs she linked to,
and was soon following a small web of interseting folks...
one of whom was participating in NaNoWriMo,
and so,
when I first learned of this awe-inspiring challenge on November 5, 2002,
I signed on and began writing like mad.
My parents came to visit for a few days around Thanksgiving,
so all in all, I had probably 20 days of writing.
I passed the 50,000-word goal, though.
I wrote and wrote and wrote...it was an obsession,
filling every waking moment,
and many should-be-sleeping moments.
When the frenzy of it had passed,
I found myself needing to continue,
so I started that blog...
with the sassy title and url which has continued to draw people in,
for what they think it must hold.
Which it didn't at first,
but I don't think it took long before
my daydreams were making their way onto the page.
I sort of can't believe how entirely I dumped my soul onto that blog...
My wildest dreams and my many neuroses,
on full display.
I felt like I was living life on the edge of a cliff,
pirouetting in the wind, fully in control,
but
so visible...so precarious.
It was my world, but also
my diary in many ways.
I remember how proud my (then) husband was
of how sexy/edgy/cool that blog was...
which I would belatedly find out had led him to share it
with many of his friends/brothers and work associates.
I remember how it felt to walk up to the door of that huge house in the foothills,
expecting to meet the Venture Capitalist he knew through work somehow,
the man with an old man's name,
the man I'd heard of a dozen times,
and every time I heard his name,
I pictured a short, paunchy, balding, upper-middle-aged grey fellow.
I walked up to that door,
on a sunny autumn day as we took a break from house-hunting
for house #2.
I walked up to the door,
with that stodgy picture in my mind of who I was about to meet,
and the heavy oak door opened wide,
but not as wide as the smile on that
heart-stoppingly handsome man's face
or as wide as my eyes
when the first words out of his mouth were,
"I love your blog!"
I kind of wanted to die or kill or
melt into the masonry beneath my feet...
Exposed.
All of my inner thoughts and desires
already in this man's mind,
without my permission,
without my knowledge...
I was almost dizzy as I smiled back and
definitely
blushed 18 shades,
and took the hand he offered
and maybe shook it, but probably just mumbled
pre-programmed pleasantries.
My blog existed in my mind,
my mind existed on my blog...
it felt like such a betrayal for my husband to have shared that with this man,
and not warned me.
But then,
Bob was such a gregarious, gracious host
(much closer to my 30 years than I'd been picturing, too)...
And his wife's name was also Lisa,
and I loved her immediately,
and so...
I didn't die or kill or melt,
(and we had lovely dinners and languid drinks and marvelous conversations
with them over the next year or two, until our worlds shifted apart again...
I wonder where they are now?)
but, I can still remember the way I felt,
as that rug was pulled out from under me,
and how angry I was at my husband
for not understanding.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Old friends, getting older

Happy birthday to two marvelous souls, today.
Technically one birthday is on the 11th, but today is the 11th,
if you live in Auckland.
Which he does.
She is so remarkable she's practically fictional,
and he lives in the future,
like some kind of guitar-playing ninja.
She has a laugh as big as the Montana sky she lives beneath,
and he has a heart as big as the ocean that separates us.
She was my twin-of-choice for the entirety of my childhood,
and has remained the template for who I want to be when I grow up.
He was my lifeline during the chaotic and ugly end of my marriage,
and coincidentally was the template for who I wanted to marry when I grew up,
and I did.
Thanks for helping shape my life,
you two crazy kids.



Sunday, October 8, 2017

"With a handshake, your loving Vincent"



We had such a lovely time in Philadelphia yesterday. We really need to spend more time there, but when New York is only an hour futher, it is hard to resist the pull of its vibrancy, and grit...god damn, I love that city. But I digress...Philly is pretty cool, too. We went to a groovy little theater and watched this gorgeous, melancholy film about the death and life of Vincent van Gogh. I'm not here to review it, but I am so glad I saw it, and so grateful it was made.



Monday, October 2, 2017

Tom Petty and the Hearts Breaking across America

When I got in my car after work today,
Wildflowers was playing.
I smiled, turned it up,
and let it borrow a few minutes from my daily phone call to my Mom.
I let it float me down memory lane -
That song, that whole album, always reminds me of my best friend,
Jasmine, and that one summer in Utah...
can't remember which one,
but I picture us at Cecret Lake, above Alta,
first selfie ever, film camera...gorgeous hike.










I didn't know Tom Petty.
But he knows me,
or so it always seems.

This was a tough one for me.
Losing the gods of my recklessly crafted religion
is perhaps reminding me that even they aren't gods.

I am so grateful that he followed the path he did,
and created the music that wrecks me, baby...


Thank you for being, Tom...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Words on Skin

I had an idea,
and I've been savoring the process of finalizing it:
to choose a poem
to be inked 
onto my skin. 
Sherman Alexie's "Hymn" sparked the idea,
but my impulse was to have every word of it cover my body--
and it would have, because it's pages long, 
and parts of it are too timely for permanence. 
I'll have to sit with it for a while;
maybe I need his words calligraphied in gilt 
and framed, 
or stitched onto a blanket I can don like a cape
because...they tear through my core
and leave me gasping.

I have been pulled toward several Rumi pieces,
little passages shared with me by a dear friend, 
their ancient wisdom is so tattooable...
but recently I've been flipping through a book
and I don't think Rumi is
who I thought he was, 
and I don't even know
how I could have missed
the heavily religious parts, 
but it leaves me feeling less trust
for these centuries-old words...
Words that used to feel like
prayers to my own
personal
jesus...
These words now?
Sound like
all the prayers
I'll never speak again.

Emily Dickinson is on my list... 
I'm appalled, ashamed, utterly surprised 
that I don't have a favorite
burning so deeply through my chest
that it has already appeared on my skin
from the inside out.
But I don't...maybe I've never liked that her poems aren't titled?
I love so many of them--
but not like Bukowski...god damn, that ugly bastard was beautiful!

And I can easily imagine a sketch of Penobscot Bay,







with these words tracing the lines of the mountains and sea
sketched onto my shoulders:

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.

    --Edna St. Vincent Millay

But then there is Mary Oliver.
I discovered her through a trio of women
whose creativity and humanity are deeply entwined with my own:
my chosen twin sister, and her mother and (real) sister.
I grew up in their home as much as my own;
the smell of fresh garlic takes me back to their kitchen,
bedecked with tiles on the counter tops and the floor,
hand-crafted by her father, the potter.
His work filled every space -
mugs and plates and floors,
shower walls and vases;
outside, his work made their yard a magical wonderland of botany -
an arbor he built led to the small pond he'd built,
a sloping hill led to the larger pond
that we kayaked on in summer and skated on in winter.
And yet, he was always out of sight,
in his studio, spinning pots.
It was the great, whooping laughter
of the feminine side of the household
that made up the soundtrack of those days,
interspersed with Sgt. Pepper on the record player,
or Monty Python on the tiny TV hidden away
in the narrow hallway between the girls' rooms,
purposely not the center of their family life,
except for the moments when Little House
or the Monkees or Gidget
sparkled out from its screen. 

The first few lines of this poem by Mary Oliver
are among the top contenders to become a physical part of me,
or maybe all of it, because damn. 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting 
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver
Sleeping in the Forest

Monday, September 11, 2017

Raging Against Machines and such

🎶I won't do what they tell me! 🎶
Although I'm probably a part of the establishment (and pretty much always have been),
that line is still my anthem, my mantra.


I can't believe it has been 19 years!! This remains one of my most memorable concert experiences.

I worked at JB's restaurant in Spanish Fork at the time, and was a student at BYU. I was excited for an opportunity to go crash around in mosh pits with some great music by one of my new favorite bands. It was only in the week leading up to the show that one of my regulars at the restaurant showed me a newspaper article predicting mayhem and violence at the Rodeo grounds, and asked what I thought of the whole thing. I can't remember how he described it, but I remember there was some assumption that they were violent and obscene in a more...derogatory or misogynistic way--like they were being related to some other bands of the day that are slipping my mind at the moment. I laughed, cute little 20-year-old BYU Me, and said, "No, no, no, they're not like that AT ALL. They're political activists." I was able to reassure several concerned customers throughout that week, but still had no idea what was in store for us when we arrived at the venue on show night! There was triple the usual security, with separate lines for male and female so that we could be extensively searched (I know, in post-9/11 days, this is not so striking, but in those days, for a small-venue concert, this was waaaaay over-the-top). My best friend was deprived of her sentimental carabineer (from her first climb) because they insisted it was a weapon, and we both moved forward into the arena feeling utterly violated after the groping hands of middle-aged cops had made a thorough inventory of all our nooks and crannies. That remained the worst thing that happened that evening. The music was fierece, the crowd was jovial in our angst - we were laughing at the authorities who thought we were such a threat. What I find interesting is that their fear created the very environment they were seeking to squelch: subversion. That moment was one of many that, for me, began to open the door to the outside world, to open my eyes to the fact that a life of fear and suppression is no way to live.
Click here to read a great take on the facts of the case:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Autumn's sweet

(We call it fall…)

Remember that time,
When the world was upside down and inside out?
It always was, in those days.
There were no good ways 
to tell if true north even existed,
Let alone in which direction one might find it.
My north star was in the southern hemisphere,
And my home was not where my heart was.
I was addicted to the buzz of new friends, new possibilities.
10 years today, since the sun set on that life;
Its flame extinguished.
I wouldn't trade this security and fulfillment for all of that dazzle
but
I wouldn't mind recapturing a firm hold on the badass I once was,
or imagined myself to be...

****

I was listening to Bob Dylan today,
and it reminded me of that time,
you know the one.
That night, in the deepest reaches of Utah's winter,
(during the strange, hollow intermission between marriages)
when Blaine showed up on my darkened porch
(how late was it?)
with a guitar and a fidgeting need to be calmed by Dylan.
I never did turn the lights on,
but he played Tangled up in Blue in my living room,
and I almost sobbed at the way
my life was so tangled up,
even though freedom really was as sweet as I'd dreamed...
it just all felt so strange still,
to not live in fear, to not feel trapped;
but he was there,
my not-quite-boyfriend,
being so very...Blaine...
so very mystical and impish,
almost dangerous, but just out of reach;
he stopped singing abruptly and laughed.
Did I ever tell you about the time
Bobby McGee stole my shirt?
I felt trapped in my own daydream,
silently surrounded by visions of Janis
and all the stories that song had inspired in me...
and here was this imaginary man, made real, singing and laughing,
and I fell into the bubble of his memories,
(he told me about one time when he was still living in Santa Cruz,
and he was crashing at some musican's house,
and the man who'd inspired the song took a shirt from Blaine's closet)
and we stumbled up the stairs and into the bed that

the bed that...it jars me to think of now,
to try to contextualize the journey of that piece of furniture--
It was a bridge from one chapter of my life to the next,
and it is with me still (the guest bed now, but, here).
And it just seems so strange...

Blaine spent that winter sailing across the slopes on the back side of Mt. Timpanogos,
the gorgeous peaks shrugging up from the perfect little valley of Robert Redford's empire.
As winter wound down, and I was ready to move on,
he was hungry to commit.
Sorry, dude, you never really belonged in my world anyway.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Guilty Pleasure

Tonight when twin B got home from work,
he was hungry.
Dinner was put away, and didn't interest him,
and his brother was just heading to bed,
so,
with the thrill of the forbidden
I whispered,
Want a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
Our eyes lit up as we started fishing out the components,
digging deep for the jar of Skippy we'd mostly devoured while twin A was in Maine for a week last month.
I had the grape jelly spread in slippery chunks across three slices of bread,
(one for me, two for my non-allergic kiddo)
when a door slammed open and feet pounded down the stairs.
I heard impatient rummaging in a backpack,
mutters of frustration under the breath of a boy
who just remembered he hadn't finished his homework.
I froze.
Twin A skidded into the kitchen
and flopped down at the island
to jot a few vocabulary words in a notebook.
I felt like a traitor.
How could I enjoy this delicacy under his watchful,
currently-anaphylaxis-free eye?
He noticed what he'd interupted and his annoyance showed.
I thought you were in bed, I offered
(a weak apology from a weak woman).
I wish you would just eat it, what's the big deal? he countered
(a strong statement from a strong boy).
He finished his quick assignment
as I spread gobs of pureed death on soft-as-cake white bread,
2 feet away.
Goodnight, love you, he said,
as he faded back upstairs.
His brother and I sat in silence,
savoring every bite,
and maybe...feeling a little less guilty about it than we'd expected.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Holding my breath

I just outed myself as an atheist to one of my mormon nephews...
Like, just-got-back-from-a-mission,
attending-BYU kind of nephew.
He also happens to be one of the sweetest, happiest, dearest boys I've ever known.
But still...I kind of can't believe I did it!!
How many years have I spent avoiding the topic of religion with my extended family,
even my Mom??
(I accidentally told her I was an atheist once,
and for the first time in almost 20 years,
she started trying to press religion back into me,
like it was something that could ever fit again...)

I think the email will be perceived well,
but I am hoping my nephew doesn't want to try to reconvert me.
That ship has sailed, buddy.
He asked what my religious beliefs are,
in a very sweet and kind way,
allowing me the opportunity to opt out,
but I poured it all out.
I think I also did a kind and gentle job of illustrating my viewpoint, but we'll see...

I think I need to start blogging again, because I have way too much to say.
But I guess it's a dead medium.
I dunno. Maybe I can bring it back - has it been long enough to be considered "retro"??

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Life

"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a ride!'"
-- Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Stones that roll



I seriously wonder how many times
I would have to listen to Gimme Shelter
before the intro stops giving me chills.
I need it louder,
I need it to fill not just my ears,
but every corner of my cells -
it swirls in the air around me, but
it fills me up, too...
Songs like this are a drug for me,
songs that make me feel this...thing...this...
need 
to be turned inside out
and infused with their essence,
not the notes on a page,
not the distinct syllables of the poetry within them,
but to become one with the soul of the song.
I heard Jane Says on the way to work,
windows down
volume up
and I felt like I could fly.
Perry Farrell, you demon of goodness!
I half-smile, as a memory flits through me of another Perry I loved.
The smile quickly fades as I remember more;
what a wild time in my life that was...
it sometimes feels like an era that lasted so long it should require carbon dating.
I lived a lot of adventures in those short few years
between a perfectly sheltered mormon upbringing
and my first marriage.
Hiking to the hot springs with the ornithologist's son,
or with my guru,
or the time with the rattlesnake in the path,
but every
single
time
there were naked middle aged men lounging about
in the steaming water
in the deep night of Diamond Fork Canyon.













They were mostly benign,
except for that one time,
that one guy was so insistent on giving us foot massages,
even though we didn't want our feet
anywhere near his
lap.
Or the long-haired hippie boys laughing with each other and
swapping accusations of playing the skin flute,
(the first time I'd heard the term,
which conjured images of a tribal musical instrument)
and stopping them in their tracks
by softly stating my proficiency at that pursuit.
Or the time we slipped and hopped and balanced our way across the rushing water
to brave the frigid waterfall and see what was behind it.
Cold-wet-dark-rocky
ness
was behind it,
and I regretted leaving the warm embrace of the water,
and the fading sobriety of the ornithologist's son.
He slipped away,
back into the teeming valley of prim and proper students and professors
from which we'd escaped to seek out
life
and growling intensity
and wild abandonment of
everything we'd ever known.

The girl I was then:
 (showing off the wicked sunburn I got the first day in Hawaii, 1996)


(Looks like I'm repeating myself, haha!)