mid-air mumbles

pause. sigh. go. hi.
3,153 plays

This song feels appropriate for today.    

handcraftedinvirginia:

Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson// winter song

(Source: alittlebitofeverythingglorious)

Posted at 2:36am.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my co-workers asked me if I had any Christmas plans.  I don’t know that she really wanted to know, but it was the polite thing to ask.  So many of our conversations are like that—flimsy obligations that make us feel like we’ve done our due dilligence.  

As I do most of the time, I diplomatically straddled the fence—letting the wood cut deep.  ”Oh, nothing much.”  I’ve said this more times than I can count over the last seven years.  I could just as easily say nothing, I suppose, but I’m not so much interested in making people feel bad.  

So, I laugh in that awkward way that reminds me of the shy 10 year old I once was—and I let her off the hook: “The typical stuff.”

But I know I do it more for me than her.

One time, someone asked me if I had finished all my Christmas shopping.  I remember looking at her and nodding.  I was once asked if I was Jewish.  Which made me laugh—mostly because the Jewish faith appealed to me for a long time.  I am not a practicing Christian—I’m not anything, really—but my roots are steadfastly in those traditions.  I just looked at her with an amused look on my face.  And then she said, “Well, because you hate Christmas.”

And I remember almost crying then because nothing could be further from the truth.

###

In my closet, behind lots of junk, you will find a big box that’s nothing except pictures taken on old point and shoots.  They are, by and large, all taken by my Mama.  You will find almost every embarrassing photo of me that exists, in that box.  You will find me dancing in a blow-up pool.  You will find the horrible haircut I got in 7th grade.  You will find the Aqua Net days.  And you will find me—beaming—with pincurls and red striped dresses—in front of a ridiculously decorated fake tree—with an angel on top…with tinsel on its head.  You will find me with rosy cheeks and exposed belly.  You will find me with stretched out panties soaring about my head—in a sea of blue paper and premade red bows.

You will see me: happy.

Because absolutely no one loved Christmas more than me.

###

I had reasons not to love Christmas.  So many reasons.  Life was not exactly easy for my family when I was a child.  We struggled to make ends meet.  Money was a constant factor, and my father was circling the drain of addiction.  

But, despite that, every year, I found an easy joy in the twinkle lights; in my mother’s ever-reliable penchant for the most gaudy decorations; and in the small gifts that mean everything.  I learned that time was the most valuable gift anyone could give.  I learned it was easy to make a dream come true.  You just had to love someone.  

And then, my father died two weeks before Christmas.

I’ve told this story before.  The story about how we had so little, and everything was disintegrating before my eyes—how I had given up on God and Santa Claus and parents.  How sad and broken I was.  And how good people who knew we were hurting came to our door with food and presents and money.  And they loved us—made my dreams come true.  Even when they didn’t have much either.  And, even though my Daddy was gone, and I was so sad—for one day, I didn’t feel alone.  And I felt rich.

Until 2004, that memory kept me in love with Christmas.  It was the reason I bought toys for strangers.  It was the reason I spent days cooking.  It was why I made homemade gifts and sent Christmas cards.  It’s why I went caroling and put up every decoration known to humanity.  Money or not—I always did it up.  It was almost as if I knew my time with it was limited, and I knew I had to make the most of it.

Even in the depths of my Mama’s horrible illness—even after I knew I’d be alone that year, with the news she’d be hospitalized for a while after her upcoming surgery—even then, I made plans to travel, so I’d at least have a story to share with her.  I never went anywhere, and I never accumulated happy stories.  Instead, I accumulated stories about induced comas and SICU waiting rooms—about strangers who saved my life on worst ever days—and a play about a year of cyclones.

And I broke up with Christmas.

###

This is the first year in the last seven that has even remotely reminded me of even 1/20 of the joy I used to feel.  This year, I somehow tolerated most things, and I went out of my way to tell people, “Merry Christmas.”  I decorated the house, and I indulged traditions.  And I sang.  And it sometimes hurt.

But it hurt a lot less than it used to.

And sometimes, I even found joy—found glimmers of that girl who yelled MERRY CHRISTMAS at the stroke of midnight every single year.  Giddy, wonderful joy that came from love and the simple magic of being alive.

It’s hard to associate such a day with the worst day of your entire life.  It’s hard because there is a constant reminder that you are lucky, but an intense pain that comes from being permanently displaced from normal.  

For me, it’s a permanent desire to want to be someone I can’t ever be anymore.  It’s a desire to slip into old patterns that aren’t mine, and to exist by other people’s standards for what I should make mine.  I have not yet “moved on” or made up with Christmas, but I suppose we’ve reached a truce.

###

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions and legacies…the things my parents gave me, for better or for worse…mostly because I’m trying desperately to hold on to the important things and let the other stuff go.  So, I can create a legacy that is intentional and mine.  I am still young, and I don’t have children.  But it’s important to me to create things to help me remember the important things so that those I love will love them, too—and will know some part of my parents and the person I used to be.  That girl who loved Christmas more than anyone.

This Christmas was a good one—not the same—but good.  It was my first celebrating full-throttle…or as close to full-throttle as I could get.  While, in years past, I put up Mama’s tree and decorated a bit—in an effort to approach normal and plunge back into it all—I didn’t exchange presents.  I didn’t play music.  I didn’t spend time with people or really cook.  This year, I did.  It was small and quiet—and exhausting—but also somewhat comforting—kinda like meeting a long-lost friend in a dark alley.  And it was different.  Mostly because I am different.    

Most Christmases, I find myself with some sort of illness.  True to form, I woke up with a head cold yesterday morning and felt like a truck ran me over—which promptly sent me back to bed.  That’s a new tradition, I suppose.  It made it easy to slip down that rabbit hole of “it’s not fair” that’s so easy to find on this anniversary.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and wake up some other day—pretend the whole thing didn’t exist.  But I didn’t.  In some ways, I am grateful for this because it gave me a reason to be kind to myself on a day when I am usually incapable of choosing such things.  I still beat myself up for her not being here. I still play the what if and the if only games in my head.  And I still tell myself to “just get over it.”  Being sick forces me to sit in it, and to feel it—to be frustrated and angry if I need to be.  It forces me to stop.

And, I suppose, it helped me realize that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore—that I could choose to not feel like this.  I stayed up very late and slept very late (more traditions) this morning.  I knew I probably would.  My roommate graciously agreed to get going on food since he is almost always awake before I am.  It reminded me of my Mama and how we handled dinner.

It was nice to know I could depend on him to help me through the day.  I didn’t whine about getting started with cooking, but it did take some inner peptalking.  But I was looking forward to it as much as I was dreading it.  I made peace with it and went forward.  With Christmas music going and movies at the ready.  White Christmas and The Christmas Story entertained us.  We had decided to make a pot roast in our new crockpot—the kind with pearl onions and root veggies all around.  In my adult world, Christmas was always ham or beef—usually a roast, though.  I’d make popovers and scalloped potatoes with salads and tons of vegetable sides.  Fruit salad and three different pies—one of which had to a cream pie.  New Year’s was easier—Mexican food…usually enchiladas.  And I love that, so I thought this should happen still…but smaller, easier.  More ordinary, but elevated.  

We made the same scalloped potatoes I’ve made since 1994.  I didn’t have the recipe anymore, but I remembered it well enough to fudge it, and a Martha Stewart clone helped with wet ingredient measures  It turned out messy, but tasty and looked beautiful.  I made a bacon and pea salad with a lemon mustard vinagrette, arugula, and lots of shaved parmesan.  It was bright and green.  I loved it.  It was not something old Alma would have enjoyed.  I never ate arugula until a few years ago.  I made a great sauce for the pot roast that Mama would have swooned over.  And some rosemary parmesan biscuits that sorta just popped in my head—which will probably become a new holiday mainstay.  I also really wanted to get back to making new things every holiday.  So, I decided to whoop it up with dessert—choosing baklava (one of my favorites) and a banoffee pie—which is basically toffee (for English peeps; dulce de leche for my Mexican friends).  All from scratch.  I was nervous about both and enlisted my roomie to help.  Both were good challenges—simple, but time-consuming.  And I was pleased with the results…though I still haven’t tasted the baklava.  It’s still soaking up sweetness.  Which brings us to another new tradition—a midnight snack—Sweaty Redhead drinks (something I invented that I hope tastes good) and baklava while playing Mario Kart—a new obsession and something that would never have happened when my Mama was alive.

I am learning there are new opportunities here.  Being an adult is weird sometimes because you can choose exactly what you do.  As an orphaned adult, I have no obligations.  Even though I kinda want obligations.  I miss calls to family where everyone keeps it short and sweet because it’s long distance!  I miss the intense Christmas wrapping that would happen on the floor, with homemade bows and much cursing about lack of tape.  I miss the angel at the top of the fake little tree, with tinsel on her head.  I miss giant signs taped to the wall haphazardly proclaiming, “Merry Christmas” in 50 different languages.  I miss cookies and coffee left for Santa.  

And I think I might keep those things—maybe next year when it’s a little easier—when I have people to sit with instead of just me and the roomie.  I have plans and ideas that make me smile and make me remember what I still could have.  I still guess my presents—and I’m glad they are either useful or absolutely silly…no in between.  I still love giving them more than receiving them.  I still want to share food with all my neighbors.  

Last night, as I yelled, “Merry Christmas” out the balcony door with my roomie—like I’ve done every single year of my existence (save the last 7), I  remembered exactly who I am and who I want to be.  And I was happy.  I felt joy.  And it was the most easy thing in the world.  And, in that moment, I don’t think anyone was happier than I was.  And that gave me hope.  

I am learning that it’s okay to feel what I feel—but that sharing it transforms it into something that’s powerful—something that can heal my heart and let people in.  I am learning to be patient—though I am terrible at it—and to ask for patience from others when I know I need it.  I am learning that I can take everything I used to love about this day—everything I loved about my parents—and infuse every day with it by being kind and genuine.  I am learning the lights are pretty every day, not just in December—and I can always keep that magic burning.

I am remembering that I love her—that I love him—that I love that little girl who I used to be.  That they are not gone.  That hating on Christmas denies my light—their light—our collective light.  I am choosing that—and joy and hope—because these are the things my Mama gave me.  That’s who she was for me.  And I can be those things for others, every day I’m still here.

And maybe one day I’ll even love it more than I used to.

Happy Christmas, everyone.  

Posted at 9:36pm and tagged with: Christmas, traditions, grief, loss, death, blog, orphanhood,.

12.14.11

As the date gets closer, my voice becomes more shrill—at least in my head—and the entire world starts to blur together—sorta like when you’re driving on the highway with the windows down…90 mph.  The patient noise of motion.  Until you resist red slams to breaking points and rear-ended muses.  And then there is so much quiet, you’re sure you’ve been buried alive.  People are talking, but someone turned down the volume.  And what you say is inconsequential because you are asleep.  Dead.  Maybe mute.  You’re not sure.

You awake to another you—a different you than the one that existed yesterday or in 1986 or in 1992 or maybe even 2001.  You can’t say if she is more or less you—just different and odd—and worth diving into…but you’re not sure if you’ll stay.

I roll the window down and then begin to breathe in the darkest country road and the strong scent of evergreen from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

###

Seventy-four.

It’s impossibly old.  I suppose, in my childish heart, thirty-three is, too. 

I wonder how it is those numbers are right.  I double-check with my calculator and flip lenses—jumping hastily between 16 and 31 and finally 26.

These numbers mean nothing—as much as dates on calendars.  This is what I tell myself, but I quickly know I’m full of shit when I say it.

I have a plan.

I always do, and sometimes, I even engage it.  Sometimes, it saves me.  Sometimes, I drown in it.  Flip a switch, and I am not here.  And you are not gone.  And it’s only 1993.  And I am arguing with you—insisting that is NOT me in that embarrassing sweater.

And I wonder which one of us is really 14. 

Thirty-three year old me wants to take it back.

Thirty-three year old me wonders how you’ve been gone 21% of my life.

Already.

Then looking upwards, I strain my eyes and try to tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

###

It was a day full of growling.  I flitted around like an awkward hummingbird reaching toward sky, but only getting tree branches.  Time propelled me forward, and it was time to choose something else.

Today was less about choices and more about the I shoulds I observe each day.  Tit for tat, pleasepleaseplease, drop everything, why nots.  I acted so nothing would spoil—even though I wanted to stay in bed and pretend it wasn’t almost that day.  The noise was my friend, though—I decided as much as I tried not to think the thoughts that have been bouncing around for days—months—years, maybe.  I told them to go away.

I cooked. I don’t do it enough, and truthfully, I prefer my meals mine.  I miss my flavors.  I miss how I can make my taste buds jump—how I sweat while making some spectacular something—and how proud I am when all my experimenting—and that pipedream in my head turns out better than I thought it would. 

I used to always cook.  When I lived alone.  But especially, when she existed in this world.  I would get books and choose the most ridiculous things—just to see how badly I could mess it up or to prove that I was still his daughter—even after his long nothing.  I did it because I could settle into myself and not have to say a single word to prove who I was and what I was about.

I stopped when he came here.  Because, suddenly, the kitchen wasn’t mine.  The whole thing just wasn’t mine.  And I let him own me.

And then, he didn’t anymore…and I didn’t know how to own myself anymore.  And I spent a long time just trying to find my keys. 

I don’t know why I do that.  Why I hand over things to others.  Because I never used to.  I used to hold on to everything so tightly—used to shrug anyone off who wanted to matter. 

While cooking today, I didn’t love it like I used to.  I felt the strain of it against my achy muscles.  I got tired of standing and sat down to watch television.  For just a minute.  And ended up burning a carrot.  I am good in a crisis—good at saving things before they ruin everything. 

I realized why I was fighting it—why I’ve been fighting it.  Some part of me cooks for them and the person I used to be.  Some part of me pouts because they no longer exist here, and I can’t do things the way I’ve always done them.  I can’t cook giant vats of onions and peppers.  I will be the only one who devours them, and there is no satisfaction in just me.  But I still throw them in the bowl—without realizing it’s wrong.  I find blankets to keep out the cold in my attempts to please everyone and make myself worthy.  And that’s not what I need anymore.

“Do they collide?”  I ask, and you smile—with my feet on the dash, the world doesn’t matter.

###

I have been reminded lately of the kindness of strangers.  I use the term stranger relatively loosely nowadays because almost everyone lately feels rather strange to me.  Not strange in that foreign—you’re so different from me—kind of way…but, rather, in that you’re not me sort of way.  And, I suppose, that’s a good way to feel because I’ve—honestly—mostly always preferred the company of strangers.  I find them comforting. 

I’ve been rather astonished by the random things that have happened to me lately—how certain people have gone out of their way to connect—how easily connections have happened—and how grateful I am for the small things people have sent my way.

I’ve had a lot of these things happen throughout my life, but it has been especially abundant this year—especially on days that are inexplicably hard for me.  I am not always graceful in the ways I accept them or acknowledge them.  What seems so easy is often just some halfhearted whimper.  I feel the noise overtake me some days, and no matter how loudly I shout, no one can hear what’s in my heart.

I have been alone so long—have come to expect certain things for so long—that I get lost in the noise too easily.  I get frustrated when people can’t seem to hear me.  And I long for the people who used to know without me having to explain.  I long for the days when I belonged to someone and something.  And I wish people would understand that I still do—and I still want to—even if it crushes me—even if I seem lost in the blur of cities passing by. 

I was thinking that tonight as I sank into my bath water.  I looked at our nearly-dead poinsettia—and saw a single leaf perched precariously on another.  From my angle, I could see what I couldn’t see while standing—that it wasn’t connected.  It was close enough to touch—to appear like all the others—but its ties had been severed.  Probably accidentally, by me.  I do that, too.

It reminded me of me—in some weird, small way—how I’ve appeared like everyone else for so long, but in reality, I am just existing without any tether—supported on what I happen to fall on.  Only from certain angles can you tell I’m not quite the same. 

I still want to belong—even though I’m not always sure I deserve to belong—or what belonging even means.  I want to be remembered the way I used to be—and I want people to know I want that instead of just assuming I’m okay because I always seem to be just like you.  I want someone to really look at me and know it’s nice to be considered—even if I really can’t belong.  Even if I don’t want to.

When you feel embarrassed, then I’ll be your pride.  When you need directions, then I’ll be your guide.  For all time.  For all time.

*Song lyrics courtesy of Death Cab for Cutie

Posted at 5:35pm and tagged with: full width, blog, journal, death, death cab for cutie, lyrics,.


12.14.11
As the date gets closer, my voice becomes more shrill—at least in my head—and the entire world starts to blur together—sorta like when you’re driving on the highway with the windows down…90 mph.  The patient noise of motion.  Until you resist red slams to breaking points and rear-ended muses.  And then there is so much quiet, you’re sure you’ve been buried alive.  People are talking, but someone turned down the volume.  And what you say is inconsequential because you are asleep.  Dead.  Maybe mute.  You’re not sure.
You awake to another you—a different you than the one that existed yesterday or in 1986 or in 1992 or maybe even 2001.  You can’t say if she is more or less you—just different and odd—and worth diving into…but you’re not sure if you’ll stay.
I roll the window down and then begin to breathe in the darkest country road and the strong scent of evergreen from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.
###
Seventy-four.
It’s impossibly old.  I suppose, in my childish heart, thirty-three is, too. 
I wonder how it is those numbers are right.  I double-check with my calculator and flip lenses—jumping hastily between 16 and 31 and finally 26.
These numbers mean nothing—as much as dates on calendars.  This is what I tell myself, but I quickly know I’m full of shit when I say it.
I have a plan.
I always do, and sometimes, I even engage it.  Sometimes, it saves me.  Sometimes, I drown in it.  Flip a switch, and I am not here.  And you are not gone.  And it’s only 1993.  And I am arguing with you—insisting that is NOT me in that embarrassing sweater.
And I wonder which one of us is really 14. 
Thirty-three year old me wants to take it back.
Thirty-three year old me wonders how you’ve been gone 21% of my life.
Already.
Then looking upwards, I strain my eyes and try to tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites from the passenger seat as you are driving me home.
###
It was a day full of growling.  I flitted around like an awkward hummingbird reaching toward sky, but only getting tree branches.  Time propelled me forward, and it was time to choose something else.
Today was less about choices and more about the I shoulds I observe each day.  Tit for tat, pleasepleaseplease, drop everything, why nots.  I acted so nothing would spoil—even though I wanted to stay in bed and pretend it wasn’t almost that day.  The noise was my friend, though—I decided as much as I tried not to think the thoughts that have been bouncing around for days—months—years, maybe.  I told them to go away.
I cooked. I don’t do it enough, and truthfully, I prefer my meals mine.  I miss my flavors.  I miss how I can make my taste buds jump—how I sweat while making some spectacular something—and how proud I am when all my experimenting—and that pipedream in my head turns out better than I thought it would. 
I used to always cook.  When I lived alone.  But especially, when she existed in this world.  I would get books and choose the most ridiculous things—just to see how badly I could mess it up or to prove that I was still his daughter—even after his long nothing.  I did it because I could settle into myself and not have to say a single word to prove who I was and what I was about.
I stopped when he came here.  Because, suddenly, the kitchen wasn’t mine.  The whole thing just wasn’t mine.  And I let him own me.
And then, he didn’t anymore…and I didn’t know how to own myself anymore.  And I spent a long time just trying to find my keys. 
I don’t know why I do that.  Why I hand over things to others.  Because I never used to.  I used to hold on to everything so tightly—used to shrug anyone off who wanted to matter. 
While cooking today, I didn’t love it like I used to.  I felt the strain of it against my achy muscles.  I got tired of standing and sat down to watch television.  For just a minute.  And ended up burning a carrot.  I am good in a crisis—good at saving things before they ruin everything. 
I realized why I was fighting it—why I’ve been fighting it.  Some part of me cooks for them and the person I used to be.  Some part of me pouts because they no longer exist here, and I can’t do things the way I’ve always done them.  I can’t cook giant vats of onions and peppers.  I will be the only one who devours them, and there is no satisfaction in just me.  But I still throw them in the bowl—without realizing it’s wrong.  I find blankets to keep out the cold in my attempts to please everyone and make myself worthy.  And that’s not what I need anymore.

“Do they collide?”  I ask, and you smile—with my feet on the dash, the world doesn’t matter.
###
I have been reminded lately of the kindness of strangers.  I use the term stranger relatively loosely nowadays because almost everyone lately feels rather strange to me.  Not strange in that foreign—you’re so different from me—kind of way…but, rather, in that you’re not me sort of way.  And, I suppose, that’s a good way to feel because I’ve—honestly—mostly always preferred the company of strangers.  I find them comforting. 
I’ve been rather astonished by the random things that have happened to me lately—how certain people have gone out of their way to connect—how easily connections have happened—and how grateful I am for the small things people have sent my way.
I’ve had a lot of these things happen throughout my life, but it has been especially abundant this year—especially on days that are inexplicably hard for me.  I am not always graceful in the ways I accept them or acknowledge them.  What seems so easy is often just some halfhearted whimper.  I feel the noise overtake me some days, and no matter how loudly I shout, no one can hear what’s in my heart.
I have been alone so long—have come to expect certain things for so long—that I get lost in the noise too easily.  I get frustrated when people can’t seem to hear me.  And I long for the people who used to know without me having to explain.  I long for the days when I belonged to someone and something.  And I wish people would understand that I still do—and I still want to—even if it crushes me—even if I seem lost in the blur of cities passing by. 
I was thinking that tonight as I sank into my bath water.  I looked at our nearly-dead poinsettia—and saw a single leaf perched precariously on another.  From my angle, I could see what I couldn’t see while standing—that it wasn’t connected.  It was close enough to touch—to appear like all the others—but its ties had been severed.  Probably accidentally, by me.  I do that, too.
It reminded me of me—in some weird, small way—how I’ve appeared like everyone else for so long, but in reality, I am just existing without any tether—supported on what I happen to fall on.  Only from certain angles can you tell I’m not quite the same. 
I still want to belong—even though I’m not always sure I deserve to belong—or what belonging even means.  I want to be remembered the way I used to be—and I want people to know I want that instead of just assuming I’m okay because I always seem to be just like you.  I want someone to really look at me and know it’s nice to be considered—even if I really can’t belong.  Even if I don’t want to.
When you feel embarrassed, then I’ll be your pride.  When you need directions, then I’ll be your guide.  For all time.  For all time.
*Song lyrics courtesy of Death Cab for Cutie

I send them—one after another—until my eyes cross and cloud over. My legs are aching from hours of Indian-style hunching—waiting…tick tock…for it to finallyfinallyfinally be quitting time.  No matter how good my intentions, I never log-off at four.  Usually, it’s 5:42 or maybe 5:14. Sometimes, 7:02.  Most days, I don’t really mind.

Today, it was 4:15. Exactly.  I made a date with myself earlier today—sometime between twiddling thumbs and racing toward an impossible finish line.  The way I do now.  I felt proud in that odd, masochistic way that got me through childhood.  Like I had climbed a mountain and sprinted toward Heaven.  I raced into the bathroom—grabbed the black one-piece that’s always on the back of the doorknob—grabbed a towel and a dress and shoes. Searched for keys—locked up—staked out—and pushed the door open.

The door is heavy—dark wood with the pneumatic push of an arthritic knee stepping out of gear.  Heavy chlorine pushes it back toward me like so many Marilyn Monroe vents, and I am transported to summer mornings at Garfield Park—standing in line with V—our hair wet from the public shower—quarters in hand.  

Down the steps, to the chair.  I slip the dress off and hang it on white plastic—kick shoes off—why did I wear loafers, again?—and circle to the stairs. 

I am not a diver. 

###

I can’t remember when I first started swimming.  There are pictures of me in a blow-up pool in our backyard, but that wasn’t really swimming so much as splashing.  And posing for cameras—pulling my best covergirl shot.  I’d always loved water, though.  Baths, showers, lakes, streams—you name it, I was in it.  I think my long-lost love for rippling, babbling anything came from Daddy who spent so much time in California with all its beaches.  He was a Navy man, too.  Water was in my blood.    

I suppose the swimming part came about because our house lacked any air conditioning whatsoever for most of my life.  The floor in my bedroom would actually sweat.  I’m not even kidding.  We tried fans—even bought a stupid window AC—which didn’t fit and scratched up both my arms when I lifted it the five feet to its perch—next to Mama’s violets that shriveled up two weeks later.  Our go-to cooling off strategy involved spraying cold water from a bottle directly into said box fans.  Twenty-five cents was 1/4 of an ice cream sandwich, so the pool was a big sacrifice—but I made it.  

I was old enough that Mama let me go alone with V. We would usually go to Garfield as soon as they opened—spend the whole day there—watching the lifeguards—and then walk to the penny candy store on Morrison Road.  They had a Coke phone and candy that reminded me of jewels.  We’d walk in the middle of the street, walkmen on our heads, singing some poppy song—mouths full of every candy they had.

I suppose you could say what I did wasn’t quite swimming.  More like holding on to edges.  Because I didn’t actually know how to swim. I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer that information, but I’d tell you if you asked me directly.  It was kind of embarrassing, I guess.  The pool people gave lessons to the little kids in the morning.  I remember watching them through the bars—listening intently—sure I could listen my way to knowing.  But mostly, I just held on to the edges and kicked.  And got ridiculously sunburned.

When I was 10, I went to a water park for the first time and nearly drowned three times.  No one noticed.  I didn’t let them notice.  I instead came back and kept trying to master it.  After the third time, I decided to go back to the edges.

I taught myself to swim formally in college.  I’d go when no one was there—slowly pushing away from my beloved edges.  I was still pretty terrible, but—when I eventually traveled—I didn’t die when I went snorkeling.  And then I stopped swimming—stopped for no good reason—a reason I can’t even remember.  Maybe it wasn’t hot enough in my apartment anymore (yay, AC).  

Two years ago, I moved into a building with a great big pool. And I thought to myself—“I should do that.  I like that.”  And I almost drowned the first time I went in.  After that, I stuck to the edges.  I then became obsessed with learning again—started reading swimming books and went every day.  And then, I stopped in the summer because there was HOLY MOTHER OF GOD MOTHS (AHH!) in the pool. 

###

Today was the first day I spent in the pool in like three months.  I had promised myself I’d go for about two months, but every day, I’d make an excuse or get lost in someone else’s needs.  I do that.  I get lost.  I forget I need my attention.  I forget to breathe—to exhale.

I pushed back on that door like my life depended on it, and I carefully sank into nothing.  And it was warm—like a hug from an old friend.  The pool was empty—the lobby was empty—the gym was empty.  And I sank more and more.  Yes—I held those damn edges.  

The lights were off, so all I could see was the twinkle lights from the tree in the lobby.  And the windows.  Runners passing by the lattice of our fence—the frosted glass distorting them into acrylic gazelles and the warm ember of the sun finally burning out with dark trees acting as picture frames.  

The light from the pool sparkled through bubbles and foam as I moved.  And all I could think of was my iPhone and how I could get some amazing shots.  And I wanted to run upstairs and get THIS.  But I told myself NO.  

And then I thought about writing.  

And this.

And my parents.

And anniversaries.

And how, for months now, I’ve been holding onto edges—afraid to float all by myself—and to release all of THIS somewhere.

I wrote letters and notes today.  Letters and notes about real things.  Letters about them.  And I found kindness and hope and the me that’s been floating somewhere.  And I felt myself settle into myself.  

And I kicked away from the edge.

Maybe, one day, I won’t remember it’s there.

Posted at 10:41pm and tagged with: full width, 12.12.11, photography, blog, swimming, childhood,.

I send them—one after another—until my eyes cross and cloud over. My legs are aching from hours of Indian-style hunching—waiting…tick tock…for it to finallyfinallyfinally be quitting time.  No matter how good my intentions, I never log-off at four.  Usually, it’s 5:42 or maybe 5:14. Sometimes, 7:02.  Most days, I don’t really mind.
Today, it was 4:15. Exactly.  I made a date with myself earlier today—sometime between twiddling thumbs and racing toward an impossible finish line.  The way I do now.  I felt proud in that odd, masochistic way that got me through childhood.  Like I had climbed a mountain and sprinted toward Heaven.  I raced into the bathroom—grabbed the black one-piece that’s always on the back of the doorknob—grabbed a towel and a dress and shoes. Searched for keys—locked up—staked out—and pushed the door open.
The door is heavy—dark wood with the pneumatic push of an arthritic knee stepping out of gear.  Heavy chlorine pushes it back toward me like so many Marilyn Monroe vents, and I am transported to summer mornings at Garfield Park—standing in line with V—our hair wet from the public shower—quarters in hand.  
Down the steps, to the chair.  I slip the dress off and hang it on white plastic—kick shoes off—why did I wear loafers, again?—and circle to the stairs. 
I am not a diver. 
###
I can’t remember when I first started swimming.  There are pictures of me in a blow-up pool in our backyard, but that wasn’t really swimming so much as splashing.  And posing for cameras—pulling my best covergirl shot.  I’d always loved water, though.  Baths, showers, lakes, streams—you name it, I was in it.  I think my long-lost love for rippling, babbling anything came from Daddy who spent so much time in California with all its beaches.  He was a Navy man, too.  Water was in my blood.    
I suppose the swimming part came about because our house lacked any air conditioning whatsoever for most of my life.  The floor in my bedroom would actually sweat.  I’m not even kidding.  We tried fans—even bought a stupid window AC—which didn’t fit and scratched up both my arms when I lifted it the five feet to its perch—next to Mama’s violets that shriveled up two weeks later.  Our go-to cooling off strategy involved spraying cold water from a bottle directly into said box fans.  Twenty-five cents was 1/4 of an ice cream sandwich, so the pool was a big sacrifice—but I made it.  
I was old enough that Mama let me go alone with V. We would usually go to Garfield as soon as they opened—spend the whole day there—watching the lifeguards—and then walk to the penny candy store on Morrison Road.  They had a Coke phone and candy that reminded me of jewels.  We’d walk in the middle of the street, walkmen on our heads, singing some poppy song—mouths full of every candy they had.
I suppose you could say what I did wasn’t quite swimming.  More like holding on to edges.  Because I didn’t actually know how to swim. I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer that information, but I’d tell you if you asked me directly.  It was kind of embarrassing, I guess.  The pool people gave lessons to the little kids in the morning.  I remember watching them through the bars—listening intently—sure I could listen my way to knowing.  But mostly, I just held on to the edges and kicked.  And got ridiculously sunburned.
When I was 10, I went to a water park for the first time and nearly drowned three times.  No one noticed.  I didn’t let them notice.  I instead came back and kept trying to master it.  After the third time, I decided to go back to the edges.
I taught myself to swim formally in college.  I’d go when no one was there—slowly pushing away from my beloved edges.  I was still pretty terrible, but—when I eventually traveled—I didn’t die when I went snorkeling.  And then I stopped swimming—stopped for no good reason—a reason I can’t even remember.  Maybe it wasn’t hot enough in my apartment anymore (yay, AC).  
Two years ago, I moved into a building with a great big pool. And I thought to myself—“I should do that.  I like that.”  And I almost drowned the first time I went in.  After that, I stuck to the edges.  I then became obsessed with learning again—started reading swimming books and went every day.  And then, I stopped in the summer because there was HOLY MOTHER OF GOD MOTHS (AHH!) in the pool. 
###
Today was the first day I spent in the pool in like three months.  I had promised myself I’d go for about two months, but every day, I’d make an excuse or get lost in someone else’s needs.  I do that.  I get lost.  I forget I need my attention.  I forget to breathe—to exhale.
I pushed back on that door like my life depended on it, and I carefully sank into nothing.  And it was warm—like a hug from an old friend.  The pool was empty—the lobby was empty—the gym was empty.  And I sank more and more.  Yes—I held those damn edges.  
The lights were off, so all I could see was the twinkle lights from the tree in the lobby.  And the windows.  Runners passing by the lattice of our fence—the frosted glass distorting them into acrylic gazelles and the warm ember of the sun finally burning out with dark trees acting as picture frames.  
The light from the pool sparkled through bubbles and foam as I moved.  And all I could think of was my iPhone and how I could get some amazing shots.  And I wanted to run upstairs and get THIS.  But I told myself NO.  
And then I thought about writing.  
And this.
And my parents.
And anniversaries.
And how, for months now, I’ve been holding onto edges—afraid to float all by myself—and to release all of THIS somewhere.
I wrote letters and notes today.  Letters and notes about real things.  Letters about them.  And I found kindness and hope and the me that’s been floating somewhere.  And I felt myself settle into myself.  
And I kicked away from the edge.
Maybe, one day, I won’t remember it’s there.
are these pictures yours?

Yep. Everything here is mine.

Posted at 10:53am.

In my life, July has almost universally been a month of rude awakenings—when whatever romantic viewpoint I’d adopted up until then was somehow burned to the ground.

Sometimes, it was the slow realization that—no matter how hard I tried—a love I’d invested so much time in just wasn’t worth it.  That it didn’t matter if he was four million miles away or four inches—whatever was left was a shell of what was. 

Sometimes, it was a confusing mess of not really-maybe-I don’t know.  Or I just can’t trust you.  Or you’re right for not trusting me. 

Sometimes, it was realizing that the thing I most wanted would break me—split me open like so many atomic bombs.  It was realizing that I had the right, and the obligation, to choose something else…even if it made my entire life explode.

Sometimes, it was the start of trying—for the first time—and giving in to the hope that it actually mattered.  Sometimes, it was laughing at my pussy friends who refused to dance in the rain on America’s birthday and coming home to the only fireworks he could give me.

July has been a turning point, always, in my ability to choose.  For better or for worse.  It’s always been bright and messy.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Posted at 11:00pm and tagged with: full width, prose, photography, photo, fireworks,.

In my life, July has almost universally been a month of rude awakenings—when whatever romantic viewpoint I’d adopted up until then was somehow burned to the ground.
Sometimes, it was the slow realization that—no matter how hard I tried—a love I’d invested so much time in just wasn’t worth it.  That it didn’t matter if he was four million miles away or four inches—whatever was left was a shell of what was. 
Sometimes, it was a confusing mess of not really-maybe-I don’t know.  Or I just can’t trust you.  Or you’re right for not trusting me. 
Sometimes, it was realizing that the thing I most wanted would break me—split me open like so many atomic bombs.  It was realizing that I had the right, and the obligation, to choose something else…even if it made my entire life explode.
Sometimes, it was the start of trying—for the first time—and giving in to the hope that it actually mattered.  Sometimes, it was laughing at my pussy friends who refused to dance in the rain on America’s birthday and coming home to the only fireworks he could give me.
July has been a turning point, always, in my ability to choose.  For better or for worse.  It’s always been bright and messy.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
0 plays

A poem written at sunrise.

(Sorry about the weird background noise—not sure what it was and the edited version of the file won’t upload here).

Posted at 11:26pm and tagged with: spoken word poetry, poetry, poem, audio, two minute poem, rough,.

before, I was 
the zodiac’s precocious 
bubbles.  glints in 
the eyes of five year olds watching 
summer skies, once upon 
a somewhere.  parents 
told their children to reach
for me when darkness 
came.  i made dreams come 
true.  i was 
eager, sure fingers; held 
breath; and weight lifted 
off shoulders.  i was morning 
rain in the desert and the 
long-awaited exhale.  i was 
everything the world sometimes 
isn’t.  

i was the gooey 
center and the purple pez 
dispenser and the red clay 
under the swingset in 
Westwood.  a messy miracle 
of skinned knees and a brave 
cry to stand the Hell back 
up—the hope Mama had 
for redemption—the light she 
followed as she rose out 
of the ash.  a reminder—a bullet’s graze 
next to her left temple.  she 
was still here.  after two 
babies gasped back
into twilight—slipped through 
scorching metal back 
into the abyss of not quite 
here.  that’s where she found 
me.  i was a push to keep 
climbing—the little voice saying
“jump” and “harder” and “no—not yet.”  
i whispered sweet 
nothings of the 
saved—the lies 
of her childhood –that love is 
worth it—that it exists 
here in the wrinkles 
of age.  here—in this 
smithereen heart.  dig.

i am here, 
still.  I live 
on a graveyard and pay 
homage to your reflection—in my face.  I am 
your blue eyes and your gritted teeth.  I am 
failure.  I am good intentions and one last 
try and the only one left
standing.  here.  i am 
your daughter.  i get 
the Hell back up.  i dig.

and I find 
you everywhere.  i am 
gasping, and i am 
waiting.  and i need 
you, still, in this 
shrapnel world.  i am 
breathing inside held breath, 
and I am chasing 
hailstorms.  i am the phoenix 
in the gooey center—dispensing 
my heart and flinging 
it at Daddy—as he bowls
with God in Heaven.  i am 
reaching, still, because 
you can’t.

—AIM, 4/29/11

Posted at 11:11pm and tagged with: full width, poetry, poem, mama, photo, photography, denver, westwood, huston park, tree, spring,.

before, I was the zodiac’s precocious bubbles.  glints in the eyes of five year olds watching summer skies, once upon a somewhere.  parents told their children to reachfor me when darkness came.  i made dreams come true.  i was eager, sure fingers; held breath; and weight lifted off shoulders.  i was morning rain in the desert and the long-awaited exhale.  i was everything the world sometimes isn’t.  
i was the gooey center and the purple pez dispenser and the red clay under the swingset in Westwood.  a messy miracle of skinned knees and a brave cry to stand the Hell back up—the hope Mama had for redemption—the light she followed as she rose out of the ash.  a reminder—a bullet’s graze next to her left temple.  she was still here.  after two babies gasped backinto twilight—slipped through scorching metal back into the abyss of not quite here.  that’s where she found me.  i was a push to keep climbing—the little voice saying“jump” and “harder” and “no—not yet.”  i whispered sweet nothings of the saved—the lies of her childhood –that love is worth it—that it exists here in the wrinkles of age.  here—in this smithereen heart.  dig.
i am here, still.  I live on a graveyard and pay homage to your reflection—in my face.  I am your blue eyes and your gritted teeth.  I am failure.  I am good intentions and one last try and the only one leftstanding.  here.  i am your daughter.  i get the Hell back up.  i dig.
and I find you everywhere.  i am gasping, and i am waiting.  and i need you, still, in this shrapnel world.  i am breathing inside held breath, and I am chasing hailstorms.  i am the phoenix in the gooey center—dispensing my heart and flinging it at Daddy—as he bowlswith God in Heaven.  i am reaching, still, because you can’t.
—AIM, 4/29/11

i am the salty mist
of God’s tears hitting
baked sand; the innocence of April
lilacs at 6 am on a sleepy street
in Westwood; blistered corn, swathed
in sweet butter during dog day
lullabies.  i am cinnamon bark,
nutmeg cloves, and ginger
roots drowning
in tepid Bordeaux.
i am bing cherries

in August, punched with lime; iron
in blood; cotton candy burnt
by a sculptor’s blowtorch.

i am the shrill wail of a freight
train in the distance.  i am the screen
door slamming because she is
home; the birds singing
to Fogg from the willow
tree; the motor whining
in your Mazda as the thunder broke
over Monument Valley—how you
giggled in the monsoon.  and hail
shattering my windshield.

i am purple velvet swaddling
couch cushions with
cacti poking legs—piercing—
ripping holes, but we sink
deeper.  i am Cleo’s
breath on cold foreheads.  i am
the leather of my
Mama’s face.

i am blueberries—sweet
and discrete—ripe
bruises; sunshine fields; little
girls with fuschia blush; golden,
glowing sunsets; and brown
flannel.

i am the hush of Sunday mornings
at the lake.  i am his heartbeat before
he’s awake.  i am the clatter
and clang of dishwashers.  i am
the tide and ripple of
streams in Estes.  i am ashes
descending Never Summer.  i am
flapping hawk wings in Big
Sur.  i am whispers
told to Niagra.

Posted at 7:20pm and tagged with: full width, photography, graffiti, love, poetry, poem, photo, synesthesia,.

i am the salty mist of God’s tears hitting baked sand; the innocence of April lilacs at 6 am on a sleepy street in Westwood; blistered corn, swathed in sweet butter during dog day lullabies.  i am cinnamon bark, nutmeg cloves, and ginger roots drowning in tepid Bordeaux.i am bing cherries in August, punched with lime; iron in blood; cotton candy burnt by a sculptor’s blowtorch.
i am the shrill wail of a freight train in the distance.  i am the screen door slamming because she is home; the birds singing to Fogg from the willow tree; the motor whining in your Mazda as the thunder broke over Monument Valley—how you giggled in the monsoon.  and hail shattering my windshield.
i am purple velvet swaddling couch cushions with cacti poking legs—piercing—ripping holes, but we sink deeper.  i am Cleo’s breath on cold foreheads.  i am the leather of my Mama’s face.
i am blueberries—sweet and discrete—ripe bruises; sunshine fields; little girls with fuschia blush; golden, glowing sunsets; and brown flannel.
i am the hush of Sunday mornings at the lake.  i am his heartbeat before he’s awake.  i am the clatter and clang of dishwashers.  i am the tide and ripple of streams in Estes.  i am ashes descending Never Summer.  i am flapping hawk wings in Big Sur.  i am whispers told to Niagra.

it will all be
okay. he said it
to me like he
meant it, but i could
see in his face
that he didn’t
know. i wanted him
to know, but i—
as always—knew
better…knew that
this was some sort of sincerity
i lacked.  i loved

him. in that tragic way
we sometimes do.  in
that way that causes
splintering.
like cracking a pigeon’s breastbone
during a tough
dissection. 
put some elbow into it.  and then
collapse.  faster than
you think.
like a perfect life
unraveling.

i smiled.  that tight kind
that happens when i’m
rescuing someone.  blinked
hard and sank.  inside,
not where he could
see.  i was always the one
who stood tall when
my knees were buckling. 
a tug, a squeeze, his arm
on my wrist.  i shook it clean. 
i would be alright.  the belief
mattered more than the ache
in my chest.  i felt light and warm like
bloody feathers
floating a gusty
blizzard.  again.

that room, now
so empty and
clean.  finally, mine
again.  i watched his
feet make clicks and
his hand turn
the knob.  felt the soft
down of her head and her
bright eyes watching
mine.  he didn’t.

i didn’t
get up.  didn’t
open the door.  didn’t
kiss him goodbye.  i
don’t do this.  i
don’t—goodbye is not
in here.  goodbye implies
choice, and that was not
mine.  i just
watched, like i had
so many others, and
stared straight ahead—waiting
for something i’ll never
understand.

i shook
at first, grabbed
the phone, and stared
at it.  watched
my world closely
to see if it
would boil.  it
didn’t.  i could
still breathe.  so, i stood
and locked the door. 

i didn’t
believe him when he
walked away.  it was just
another bruise to nurse
and examine.  another
indication of what is
wrong with alma.  another reason
why not.  another not good
enough.  i didn’t
want to. 

instead, i kept
my eyes shut and
the rooms dark.  i sat
and waited for something
else.  i let the wounds weep
on 16th, and i held on
to someone else till
the room stopped
spinning.

and then, i got up
again.  by myself. i
stitched the contusions
into resilient quilts, and i
kept myself warm.  and
it was.

—AIM, all rights reserved. 
Written on no sleep at 6 am this morning.  Took about two minutes.

Posted at 6:38pm and tagged with: full width, poetry, poem, love, relationships, okay, colorado, photo, photography, landscape, estes park, sunset,.

it will all beokay. he said itto me like hemeant it, but i couldsee in his facethat he didn’tknow. i wanted himto know, but i—as always—knewbetter…knew thatthis was some sort of sincerityi lacked.  i lovedhim. in that tragic waywe sometimes do.  inthat way that causessplintering.like cracking a pigeon’s breastboneduring a toughdissection.  put some elbow into it.  and thencollapse.  faster thanyou think.like a perfect lifeunraveling.
i smiled.  that tight kindthat happens when i’mrescuing someone.  blinkedhard and sank.  inside,not where he couldsee.  i was always the onewho stood tall whenmy knees were buckling.  a tug, a squeeze, his armon my wrist.  i shook it clean.  i would be alright.  the beliefmattered more than the achein my chest.  i felt light and warm likebloody feathersfloating a gustyblizzard.  again.
that room, nowso empty andclean.  finally, mineagain.  i watched hisfeet make clicks andhis hand turnthe knob.  felt the softdown of her head and herbright eyes watchingmine.  he didn’t.
i didn’tget up.  didn’topen the door.  didn’tkiss him goodbye.  idon’t do this.  idon’t—goodbye is notin here.  goodbye implieschoice, and that was notmine.  i justwatched, like i hadso many others, andstared straight ahead—waitingfor something i’ll neverunderstand.
i shookat first, grabbedthe phone, and staredat it.  watchedmy world closelyto see if itwould boil.  itdidn’t.  i couldstill breathe.  so, i stoodand locked the door.  
i didn’tbelieve him when hewalked away.  it was justanother bruise to nurseand examine.  anotherindication of what iswrong with alma.  another reasonwhy not.  another not goodenough.  i didn’twant to.  
instead, i keptmy eyes shut andthe rooms dark.  i satand waited for somethingelse.  i let the wounds weepon 16th, and i held onto someone else tillthe room stoppedspinning.
and then, i got upagain.  by myself. istitched the contusionsinto resilient quilts, and ikept myself warm.  andit was.
—AIM, all rights reserved. Written on no sleep at 6 am this morning.  Took about two minutes.

She loved gaudy, red lipstick and called my makeup “warpaint.”  She’s the reason I hardly ever wear any.  She never ever stopped moving.  She’s the reason I like to lounge.  She always had the television on, so I decided it best to read in front of it.  Her head came up to my boobs, and she said I was a giant.  She loved to read mysteries and romance novels—but she was losing her sight.  She loved country music and oldies—anything with a melody—and she would occasionally belt out Patsy Cline.  Her favorite was Randy Travis—who I called Randy Shithead.  She asked too many questions—ridiculous, crazy, totally inappropriate questions—but she said I was “nosy in the book.”  

She liked things clean, and that’s why I’m a crumb Nazi.  She hated going more than one place in a day, standing in lines, and people who tried to get something for nothing.  She was honest—bold and blunt and abrasive.  She never joked about anything, but she was incredibly funny.  Sometimes, she would just start laughing to herself—and no one would know why.  She liked to take pictures and was good at finding perfect moments.  She taught me the fine art of bathing and 7-11 picnics.  She loved all animals, but especially kitties.  She treated them like children.

Children flocked to her, and she was a natural mother.  She was protective, but she was the best listener ever—always saying what she would do…not telling you what to do.  She worried to the point of insanity.  She made peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with margarine and didn’t tell me what pork rinds were.  She loved liver sausage sandwiches and broccoli soup.  She made the worst food imaginable—something called hotdish—with burnt onions and acidic tin can tomato sauce and Velveeta.  She could bake anything.  She’s the reason I love ice cream cones.

She loved to take me to the library.  She loved Swiss Cake Rolls and candy.  Whole milk was the only way to go.  She grew up on a farm in North Dakota and got pregnant when she was 13.  She was the baby of the family, but her Mama wasn’t really her Mama.  Her real Mama died in childbirth.  She was born in a barn.  She thought she killed a cow.  She cut off all her sister’s hair.  She would wear fifty snowsuits when her Mama spanked her.  Her sister pushed her from the hayloft, breaking both her legs.  She worked for several years as a made.  She lost two children before me.  I was her miracle.  She loved my father till the day she died.  She wore a Kerry pin, even after he didn’t win the election.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her she lost.  If she had a crush on a man, she called him her honeylamb.

She carried a shopping bag—not a purse—and a gauzy scarf everywhere she went.  She felt naked without her wedding ring and her watch.  She liked glitzy jewelry.  She hated long pants and cut off things rather than tailoring them.  She still wore her clothes from the 70s.  She put on her nightgown at 4:30 pm and didn’t care if it was falling apart.  She loved slippers so much.  She was easy to please, and I loved to make her happy.

She was my sous chef—cutting up all the vegetables before I went in and made them taste good.  She liked to throw things when she was mad.  She forgave easily.  She could look at you and rip you apart.  She had the bluest eyes, brown-red hair that turned the most beautiful shade of silver, and olive skin.  She liked green and red best.  She loved Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She loved snow and hated ice.  She walked everywhere.  She couldn’t reach light bulbs.  She could corner you with one look.  She was naive and gullible.  She was often immature.  She loved movies and soap operas.  And Taco Bell.  And lasagna.  She was proud of “her girl” and took every opportunity to brag.  She loved her Mama and her Daddy and her siblings.  She always turned the other cheek.  She believed in God, but didn’t stuff it in anyone’s face.  She didn’t know many things, but she’d always admit it.  She thought she was stupid.  She smoked Misty Menthols.  She told great stories about her childhood and my father.  She combed my hair on the porch, in the dark.  She sang to me and read to me and let me watch late-night television on the weekends.  She was always, always there.

She fought for me, but she never coddled me.  She drove me crazy.  She was an alcoholic in recovery.  She laughed around men—a little too loud.  She was stubborn to the point of insanity.  Almost everyone liked her, but God help you if she didn’t like you.  But, at least, you knew it.  She hated needles.  She died too soon.

Her name was Ruth.  I called her Mama.  And I loved her.  And I miss her.  And today is her birthday.

Posted at 1:34pm and tagged with: full width, mama, birthday, photography,.

She loved gaudy, red lipstick and called my makeup “warpaint.”  She’s the  reason I hardly ever wear any.  She never ever stopped moving.  She’s the reason  I like to lounge.  She always had the television on, so I decided it best to  read in front of it.  Her head came up to my boobs, and she said I was a giant.   She loved to read mysteries and romance novels—but she was losing her sight.   She loved country music and oldies—anything with a melody—and she would  occasionally belt out Patsy Cline.  Her favorite was Randy Travis—who I called  Randy Shithead.  She asked too many questions—ridiculous, crazy, totally  inappropriate questions—but she said I was “nosy in the book.”  
She liked things clean, and that’s why I’m a crumb Nazi.  She hated going  more than one place in a day, standing in lines, and people who tried to get  something for nothing.  She was honest—bold and blunt and abrasive.  She never  joked about anything, but she was incredibly funny.  Sometimes, she would just  start laughing to herself—and no one would know why.  She liked to take  pictures and was good at finding perfect moments.  She taught me the fine art of  bathing and 7-11 picnics.  She loved all animals, but especially kitties.  She  treated them like children.
Children flocked to her, and she was a natural mother.  She was protective,  but she was the best listener ever—always saying what she would do…not  telling you what to do.  She worried to the point of insanity.  She made peanut  butter & jelly sandwiches with margarine and didn’t tell me what pork rinds  were.  She loved liver sausage sandwiches and broccoli soup.  She made the worst  food imaginable—something called hotdish—with burnt onions and acidic tin can  tomato sauce and Velveeta.  She could bake anything.  She’s the reason I love  ice cream cones.
She loved to take me to the library.  She loved Swiss Cake Rolls and candy.   Whole milk was the only way to go.  She grew up on a farm in North Dakota and  got pregnant when she was 13.  She was the baby of the family, but her Mama  wasn’t really her Mama.  Her real Mama died in childbirth.  She was born in a  barn.  She thought she killed a cow.  She cut off all her sister’s hair.  She  would wear fifty snowsuits when her Mama spanked her.  Her sister pushed her  from the hayloft, breaking both her legs.  She worked for several years as a  made.  She lost two children before me.  I was her miracle.  She loved my father  till the day she died.  She wore a Kerry pin, even after he didn’t win the  election.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her she lost.  If she had a crush on  a man, she called him her honeylamb.
She carried a shopping bag—not a purse—and a gauzy scarf everywhere she  went.  She felt naked without her wedding ring and her watch.  She liked glitzy  jewelry.  She hated long pants and cut off things rather than tailoring them.   She still wore her clothes from the 70s.  She put on her nightgown at 4:30 pm  and didn’t care if it was falling apart.  She loved slippers so much.  She was  easy to please, and I loved to make her happy.
She was my sous chef—cutting up all the vegetables before I went in and made  them taste good.  She liked to throw things when she was mad.  She forgave  easily.  She could look at you and rip you apart.  She had the bluest eyes,  brown-red hair that turned the most beautiful shade of silver, and olive skin.   She liked green and red best.  She loved Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She loved  snow and hated ice.  She walked everywhere.  She couldn’t reach light bulbs.   She could corner you with one look.  She was naive and gullible.  She was often  immature.  She loved movies and soap operas.  And Taco Bell.  And lasagna.  She  was proud of “her girl” and took every opportunity to brag.  She loved her Mama  and her Daddy and her siblings.  She always turned the other cheek.  She  believed in God, but didn’t stuff it in anyone’s face.  She didn’t know many  things, but she’d always admit it.  She thought she was stupid.  She smoked  Misty Menthols.  She told great stories about her childhood and my father.  She  combed my hair on the porch, in the dark.  She sang to me and read to me and let  me watch late-night television on the weekends.  She was always, always there.
She fought for me, but she never coddled me.  She drove me crazy.  She was an  alcoholic in recovery.  She laughed around men—a little too loud.  She was  stubborn to the point of insanity.  Almost everyone liked her, but God help you  if she didn’t like you.  But, at least, you knew it.  She hated needles.  She  died too soon.
Her name was Ruth.  I called her Mama.  And I loved her.  And I miss her.   And today is her birthday.

It was already pouring when we left my apartment, meandering the six or so blocks to St. Mark’s.  I stopped to roll my trousers up so the wet cement wouldn’t bleed onto the leg.  The rain poured down my back, soaking the white cotton of my tank, before dripping down my bare arms to my sandaled feet…just enough to make me shiver.  As always, I forgot my jacket.  I remember looking up at you and wanting to see you. 

It was approaching sunset; purple pushed blue as you reached for my hand.  Together, we sideswiped puddles on Colfax.  Inside, the emo kids typed. Outside, we slipped into each other.

Posted at 4:21pm and tagged with: short, story, moment, photo, full width, once upon a someone,.

It was already pouring when we left my apartment, meandering the six or so blocks to St. Mark’s.  I stopped to roll my trousers up so the wet cement wouldn’t bleed onto the leg.  The rain poured down my back, soaking the white cotton of my tank, before dripping down my bare arms to my sandaled feet…just enough to make me shiver.  As always, I forgot my jacket.  I remember looking up at you and wanting to see you. 
It was approaching sunset; purple pushed blue as you reached for my hand.  Together, we sideswiped puddles on Colfax.  Inside, the emo kids typed. Outside, we slipped into each other.

grief-tending
11/7/10, all rights reserved.

full eyes pregnant with
soggy stragglers—tiny fists of a
sullen six year old.
raging in her nothing,
but this nothing is too
much. flared nostrils
shoot steam up
to the sky.  we are on
fire.  at least,
that’s the aspiration.

every you, every
me—every damn
thing we could be
exists here in
these riptides.  we sink
into the rhythm and
remember
we’re still
lost.  for a while
there, we fought—for
a while—we
refused to
sink—because sinking is
dying.  isn’t it? 

we kicked and
screamed and whimpered why—
all on our way to here, only
to find the peace of
floating. 

sometimes, if
you want to live,
you give up…
for a minute…maybe five.  you let it
consume you.  you let
the current suck
you in.  and you stop
boiling long
enough to drink
its cruel warmth.

we wait for
our savior. 
we wait for
our change. 
we wail
in our lost
everything.  we kick
and we scream and still
die.  and die.  and die.  until
dying stops being
so damn comfortable. 

and then, we
realize we were living
the whole time.

Posted at 8:49pm and tagged with: full width,.

grief-tending11/7/10, all rights reserved.
full eyes pregnant withsoggy stragglers—tiny fists of asullen six year old.raging in her nothing,but this nothing is toomuch. flared nostrilsshoot steam upto the sky.  we are onfire.  at least,that’s the aspiration.
every you, everyme—every damnthing we could beexists here inthese riptides.  we sinkinto the rhythm andrememberwe’re stilllost.  for a whilethere, we fought—fora while—werefused tosink—because sinking isdying.  isn’t it?  
we kicked andscreamed and whimpered why—all on our way to here, onlyto find the peace offloating.  
sometimes, ifyou want to live,you give up…for a minute…maybe five.  you let itconsume you.  you letthe current suckyou in.  and you stopboiling longenough to drinkits cruel warmth.
we wait forour savior.  we wait forour change.  we wailin our losteverything.  we kickand we scream and stilldie.  and die.  and die.  untildying stops beingso damn comfortable.  
and then, werealize we were livingthe whole time.

same as it ever was (two-minute poem)
all rights reserved.  7.10.10

this city is full
of half lives—half-
assed someones
and somethings.  drifters and
dreamers trying
to land in someone
else’s world for just
a minute or two.  people who leave
for someones and somethings
they think are somehow
more than this—than
that—than
them.

i’ve watched them wheeze
up mountains, raise their hands
to Jesus, and think
they’re larger than life…only
to white-knuckle their way
through the switchbacks towards
home.  i’ve watched them lose
their sight in the glow
of sunrises, sunsets, and Colfax’s
twinkle parade.  all that buzzing and
fading till quiet found us—and
the noise lost its hard-won
sparkle.  none more
than you.  i’d sit
there, still—just myself
for as long as i
could—waiting
for an excuse to
sit some more.  and
you’d hide
somewhere. i couldn’t
find you.

you can find anyone
and anything here.  you
can run, too.  you can
see God in a sun flare, but
it takes courage to face yourself
in the mirror in the dead
of winter.  for a minute, i stood
right in front of you—naked
and pale—blinded by
the glare of frosting
on a purple queen
cupcake.  for a minute, i
put my hand in yours.  i let you
lead me home.  for a minute—
i saw you—the you
that exists in the dark—where
you always forgot you
lived.  the one that no
one sees.  the one you deny
in favor of someone else’s
image.

and i was stupid to do that.  because
you’re an avalanche
waiting to happen, and i am done
being buried by something
that never really existed.  and
i am sorry you wouldn’t
believe that light sometimes exists
more brightly in the shadows.
and sometimes, if you follow
them, you’ll find that
home exists when you
stop running towards every
spectacle you see.

Posted at 8:23pm and tagged with: full width,.

same as it ever was (two-minute poem)all rights reserved.  7.10.10
this city is full of half lives—half-assed someones and somethings.  drifters and dreamers trying to land in someone else’s world for just a minute or two.  people who leave for someones and somethings they think are somehow more than this—than that—than them.
i’ve watched them wheeze up mountains, raise their hands to Jesus, and think they’re larger than life…only to white-knuckle their way through the switchbacks towards home.  i’ve watched them lose their sight in the glow of sunrises, sunsets, and Colfax’s twinkle parade.  all that buzzing and fading till quiet found us—and the noise lost its hard-won sparkle.  none more than you.  i’d sit there, still—just myself for as long as icould—waiting for an excuse to sit some more.  and you’d hide somewhere. i couldn’t find you.
you can find anyone and anything here.  you can run, too.  you can see God in a sun flare, but it takes courage to face yourself in the mirror in the dead of winter.  for a minute, i stood right in front of you—naked and pale—blinded bythe glare of frosting on a purple queen cupcake.  for a minute, i put my hand in yours.  i let you lead me home.  for a minute—i saw you—the you that exists in the dark—where you always forgot you lived.  the one that no one sees.  the one you deny in favor of someone else’s image.
and i was stupid to do that.  because you’re an avalanche waiting to happen, and i am done being buried by something that never really existed.  and i am sorry you wouldn’t believe that light sometimes exists more brightly in the shadows. and sometimes, if you follow them, you’ll find that home exists when youstop running towards every spectacle you see.

this

we laugh
as the record
player scratches
the vinyl of “put your
right foot in” hokey-
pokey madness.  the green-
gray linoleum of our living
room acts as rink
to our socked
feet.  and Dixie watches
with wide-eyed alien
curiosity.  your baby

blue lasers twinkle
behind cat eyes, and he is
the tallest man on
Earth.  i put my feet on his
shoes, and we waltz
to suspicious minds.  and
then, i fly—like i know
how—and every fear
i’ve ever had finds its
place on his rickety

shoulders.  he tells me
to touch the sky, and
somehow, i believe
i can.  and somehow,
i do.

—aim, 6.15.10, all rights reserved.

(i miss you, daddy).

Posted at 1:33am and tagged with: full width, daddy, father's day, poetry, poem, photo, sky, clouds, sunset, colorado,.

this
we laughas the record player scratches the vinyl of “put your right foot in” hokey-pokey madness.  the green-gray linoleum of our living room acts as rink to our socked feet.  and Dixie watches with wide-eyed alien curiosity.  your baby blue lasers twinkle behind cat eyes, and he is the tallest man on Earth.  i put my feet on his shoes, and we waltz to suspicious minds.  and then, i fly—like i know how—and every fear i’ve ever had finds its place on his rickety shoulders.  he tells me to touch the sky, and somehow, i believe i can.  and somehow, i do.
—aim, 6.15.10, all rights reserved.
(i miss you, daddy).