Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Imagine

"Active 56 minutes ago"
And then I wonder,
so where is he now?
Did he take the dog for a walk
through the sharp night air?
Did he remember his gloves,
or is he cursing the rough chill on fingers entwined in a leash?
Is he making love to his wife
(because it's Wednesday,
so sex is on the schedule)?
Or is he ending her argument with the kids to
GO TO BED
because dads have a way of winning those fights.
And how about now?
Is he taking off his pants,
and climbing beneath a heavy quilt,
as the drafts in his old house
whisper from corners and hover in hallways.
Is he thinking of that girl at the office,
the one that is too pretty to be real,
but too sweet to be fake?
Does he picture her in quiet, rhythmic moments?
Or has someone else captured his imagination?
...he said he doesn't have an imagination anymore.
He said it like he believed that having an imagination
wasn't safe, or maybe just didn't have value.
I wanted to grab his face between my hands
(I imagine palms on furry cheeks, and how his eyes would look that close up)
and say to him,
"Of course you have an imagination--
you can't love music like you do without one!
You can't make jokes like you do without one,
or leap into mine like you have...without one."
But I didn't move,
and I only said the first two things.
Because that is how we behave in Real Life Grown-Up Land.
Or so I'm told.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rosetta Stoned

Sometimes the words claw at my insides,
trying to get out.
Usually, they just float around,
in a holding pattern behind my ears,
beneath my tongue.
When finally there is just me and
music
they line up eagerly, like dancers auditioning for Broadway and the Rockettes, all in one.
They unfold and spread themselves before me,
a sacred offering
of letters and spaces, rhythm and flavor.
They flow and pop,
luring me deeper into my own mind -
lulling me into a sense of security in their
false embrace.
They are only words.
...words are everything.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sunday Night Blues (or is it Greens?)

Earlier tonight,
I swam in layers of inspiration and memory,
thoughts swirling around,
offering themselves to me in turns.
I couldn't catch them all
as they slid through my fingers and fell away like liquid sand.
Now I sit, music pumped in through the speakers pressed closely to my ears,
mostly blocking out the husband's incessant televised noise consumption.
He is mostly perfect,
so I mostly don't complain...
But this is a battle I don't bother to fight very often.
Although,
when I do,
I remember without fail
that it is a battle as easily navigated as
floating downriver on a sunny summer day.
It isn't a battle at all
it is just a different path,
as easily walked as the other.
But much more satisfying.
So here I sit, joyful in my cocoon of sound and keyboard.

I have spent much of this weekend lost in a fog of my own thoughts.
I haunt myself and turn my hunting inward.
I flit from the poetry of Mary Oliver to Charles Bukowski,
I drink chai latte and feel impatient to fill the day with more than it can hold;
I run away to the hill and ski down it as many times as I can
before my quads feel like jelly,
and I lie on the massage table
and let the friendly chat with my long-time therapist die out,
and I let her hands push the aches and knots out of me,
falling in a heap on the floor.
From beneath my layers of thinking and dreaming and remembering,
I celebrate with friends their decision to bind themselves together as a family,
and by Sunday night, I find myself immersed in the music of a large,
bearded man whom I wouldn't normally have chosen,
but
after seeing him perform on Saturday Night Live,
I can't shake him,
so I download his latest album and let it press against me
like an awkward dance partner
until the track comes on that I heard on the show,
and it's like noticing that dance partner's boner is against my thigh -
a sly smile crosses my face
and a flush flutters across my cheeks as I lean into him.
This artist is a welcome intruder to my world of rock and rap.

Monday, you're on deck.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Baby Boys

Today I thought of the blog I briefly used for writing about my boys.
I read it all, and loved the memories that fluttered about as I did.
I wish I'd done more journaling during those years, 
more stories of our life, for me.

They are my sunshines, my son-shines...
They teased me tonight about desperately grasping for time with them before they evaporate in a cloud of adulthood...
I'm guessing that like all other mothers throughout the history of the planet,
I will eventually recover from this upheaval.
But I would rather travel backwards and savor them just a little more before that day.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wish I Knew You

This song is currently haunting me.
I'm not even sure who it makes me think of,
but it reaches into me and stirs something.
Somehow makes me wish I had one more memory to savor,
one more friendship with slivers of
shivers of
something else.
This song makes me look back on that missing moment in my life -
the shadow of a decision I made once, way back when,
rippling out in its own little butterfly effect,
shaping my life around this absence,
letting me move forward with most of the same experiences,
but with this one chapter deleted.
The waters of life flowed around the vacuum,
but I feel it now.
"I wish I knew you when I was young,
we coulda got so high..."
I am sure there are chances I didn't take,
roads-less-traveled that I left untraveled,
and maybe you were one of them.







Saturday, January 6, 2018

Armenian Lover

I really dig that phrase -
Armenian lover.
It says so much, doesn't it?
You can almost see his swarthy sexiness, can't you?
I have the advantage, of course,
since I'm drawing on memory not imagination.
He was born in Armenia to an Armenian mother,
but his father was Greek.
He was a demi-god rising from the rubble of the collapsed Soviet Union.
He had eyes as dark as my soul,
a smile as bright as my heart...
Ok, I'm romanticizing something that doesn't need any gilt.
Although, it could've used a bit more guilt...but I digress.
This boy was a passage for me,
the door out of a life I called my white picket fence prison.
He was sexy and strong,
troubled and innocent,
but the best thing about him was that I couldn't fall in love with him.
He was almost not real,
but definitely not a real option for my future -
just someone who wanted to fuck me,
and that is always very attractive...
I would go to his apartment and
fuck him then sneak out while he slept.
Later,
the grapevine would whisper to me
of the pure wonder and delight on his face as he would say,
"Straight fuck me and leave, she did!"
He thought I was such a badass.
They all did - his Armenian best friend, and my Arizonian best friend who was dating him;
the (holy fucking hot) Russians, and that sassy gay Venezuelan that always hung around them.
I don't know why they believed the hard edge of me that I showed them,
because it was only a sliver of who I really was,
but it thrilled me to be seen that way.
I've written about him a lot,
or I did back then.
It was a strange time in my life -
such a rending of bonds,
and a grueling ascent out of hell
(one I'd built for myself),
all swirled with the crippling grief I experienced at the death of a brother,
and the exhilaration I experienced from returning to college,
and writing for the newspaper.
I'm not sure what made me think of him today,
but cheers to my Armenian lover, wherever he may be.
I hope he is happy and well.

Sweet (Sour) Caroline

Neil Diamond is a complex subject for me.
I didn't grow up with his music,
and by the time it was popular in a retro way,
his legacy had been tainted for me.
Gary.
I still cringe/shudder/gag at the name,
the images it conjures.
He never did anything to me,
let me just say that right up front.
And maybe I'm a flaming asshole
for even describing him with the precision that I will.
But.
He remains the most repulsive person I've ever encountered.
And he lived in my parents' basement for a while.
He was a member of their church,
and he needed a place to stay -
TEMPORARILY
(which turned into several YEARS).
When I was a teenager, and still a member of that church,
he was a fixture of horror for all the children and teenagers -
we made a play on his last name,
turning it from Bartrug to Bugrug,
and just generally being nasty mean children behind his back.
I'm not proud of this,
but to be fair,
he was repellant.
His skin was waxy and pock-marked,
his hair was slicked back with a layer of what appeared to be lard
(and what I later discovered was actually from the fact that he didn't bathe, period).
Not only was he physcially off-putting,
but his personality lacked any of the charms that might have tipped the balance.
He loomed high above us, with a large round belly,
making odd comments and repeating things he overheard us saying, like he was one of us -
a 50-something man, trying to fit in with teenage girls?? Um, no.
Fast forward to my first year away from home.
I called home from college,
in the (least) wild (part of the) west,
and my mother dropped this rancid,
curdled news on me like a gallon of sour milk from a balcony:
Gary would be staying in the bedroom in our dank, dark basement for a little while,
while he got his feet under him.
I was mortified, horrified, and quite unable to accept it.
I got home for the summer and pretended he wasn't there.
He worked nights and slept all day,
so I rarely encountered him.
After demanding answers from my mother about why he was there,
and how long he would be,
and how could she STAND IT???,
she finally admitted that it wasn't great.
She admitted that he made her uncomfortable, too,
and that even my dad wasn't a fan.
She said that she had give him a set of towels
and they had never been touched.
That the shower never ran.
The smell that emanated from the basement was a low, steady wave of human grease.
And the sound?
The sound I could only associate with his awful face for so long afterward?
Neil Diamond's greatest hits.
(shudder)
On his day off, he would crank that album so that it shook our living room floor.
I felt trapped, assaulted.
This sound was the most solid reminder that this unpleasant person
was sharing my most intimate space, my home.
For years, any Neil Diamond music would make my skin crawl.
I couldn't listen to it at all.
I wanted to love it, in all its campy, nostalgic glory like many of my peers did.
I wanted to get sappy and sway back and forth when "Sweet Caroline" filled a stadium or an ice rink,
but instead I had to close my eyes and try to choke back the bile.

Finally, enough time has passed that I can smile past the faded memories of my overly dramatic response to some poor (icky) man in need of a helping hand.
Cheers, Neil Diamond.
Welcome to acceptability.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Rainbow Soul

I grew up wrapped in layers of “shoulds” and “mustn’ts,” 
and consequently, 
I have spent many years disentangling myself from their gauzy grasp, 
trying to stand free and strong. 
This journey necessarily started by leaping out 
             and away from the path 
that had been set before me by my loving, kind, patient mother. 
She designed a happy web of rules to keep me safe, 
and to lead me onward, 
marching dutifully toward the eternal salvation she so comfortably believes in. 
I once believed, too, 
but there was no room for me in that structured world of black and white. 
I am all the shades in the spectrum 
from pure white, 
on through all of the rich red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purples 
to the deepest shade of absence of light. 
I have a bit of everything in me, 
and I have spent too many years feeling broken 
because of those nuances of brilliance and opacity. 
And now I know that if the god my mother so firmly acknowledges 
is a real being in any sense, 
that he/she/it could not possibly want me to be unhappy 
through my inability to reach the mostly arbitrary standards 
set by some old white dudes in Salt Lake. 
But before there was relief and acceptance and joy, 
there were the years of uncovering those varied shades on my soul, 
like all the strokes of Monet’s brush, 
layered over each other in one girl-shaped palette. 


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Books of Wisdom

An old blogger buddy was talking about a magazine he once ran.
I think I wrote something for it once.
If I'm remembering correctly,
it was a magazine of anonymous confessions,
and I contributed an ugly secret.

Today he mentioned that magazine and the bible in the same post,
and I said:
I remember the magazine,
and the bible.
I also remember the day I turned and flew toward the stars with Neil Degrasse Tyson instead.
The clarity and solidity of physics is a far greater comfort to me than the poems of liars and charlatans...
There is no good, there is no bad.
There are only the places in between.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Home/Away

Words have such different meanings sometimes.
Like brother, or cousin.
My oldest brother feels more like a cousin,
and my two closest cousins feel more like sisters.
My family is a big mix of half-siblings and step-siblings and double cousins;
we are close, but not weirdly - this is New England, so emotions aren't really allowed;
we have superfluous drama,
and actual trauma.
We are a family like any other,
but sometimes I feel like the only things that make sense in this world are the things that I knew as a child, or the way that I perceived the world and my connections to it, as a child.

Those cousins who lived next door, and spent so much time with my sister and I, they felt like an obvious extension of our family;
the (half) brothers who lived with us felt like brothers,
but they were gone every summer,
and graduated and moved away by the time I was 6;
the (half) brothers who didn’t live with us felt so much like cousins that I sometimes couldn’t remember, of all my male cousins which two were actually my father’s oldest children.
Their names both started with the same letter as my father’s, which may have been the first pneumonic device I ever used, long before I knew the term.

And so, on this Christmas Day, I spent some time adding to the slow building of a relationship with the oldest (half) brother, whom I never lived with as a child.
He lives on the same quiet, winding street as my in-laws, a street that leads a short distance away from the great, teeming sea in which my brother and our father and our cousins and uncles and grandfather all made their living from the helm of a lobster boat.
We share bowls of seafood chowder, and tell stories - similar but distinct memories of our father and the other members of our family that we took turns knowing.
As the goodbye hugs are being liberally shared, I say to his sweet wife, “I was thinking I might like to borrow my Dad for a while…”
“Of course,” she said. “Robbie won’t mind.” She led me upstairs, smiling as she acknowledged that it probably seemed like a strange place to keep him, but didn’t hesitate to lead me into the happy and real space of their lives, clean but laundry-strewn, and pointing to the dresser where his urn sat.
She asked if I wanted some time alone with my Dad,
which caught me off guard;
that would have been far too much for my carefully constructed walls to withstand
So I just shook my head and blurted out, “No, I’m not ready for that,” with a half-laugh.
I touched the smooth metal and smiled a little:
I hadn’t remembered it as being so big;
I loved the simplicity of the details on the vessel.
“Why don’t you run it by him after I leave? I don’t want him to feel pressured,” I said.
“Sure,” she nodded.
I couldn’t really look at her. I wanted to leave.
It felt like I was being selfish by wanting to have him, when I was his final child,
not the son he’d given his own name to.

I left, and she texted a little while later to let me know that I could stop in any time,
the house would be open.
I’ll pick up the urn tomorrow,
And tuck it into the pile of luggage and Christmas gifts in various stages of dishabille that fill the cargo space of my car, and take him with me to a home he never knew. 
Maybe this one would have been more hospitable.



Related image
Owls Head Light, Owls Head, Maine.
This lighthouse stands guard over the waters my family fishes,
and has fished for...really, about a hundred years.