Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'll go

I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed by life right now.

I just ate corn chips IN MY BED and somehow wasted 45 minutes. The power went out in the middle of the night again so my alarm got reset. Now I have to go take the fastest shower in the universe.

I sort of just want to do a deep clean and purge EVERYTHING - or at least everything unnecessary - from my life and apartment, but I don't know when or even if that could happen. I am carrying too much, I can feel it, and it is wearing me out, and I don't know if I should purge the physical first, or if that is just a symptom.

Maybe Wednesday.

I need to eat some molasses and other iron-rich food so hopefully I can donate blood this time. I was rejected last time I tried, (the first time I was rejected in YEARS). Sigh. Universal donor. They'll just keep calling me... okay, I'll go I'll go I'll go I'll go. I'll go.

I need to be purified.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Prayer for Saturday, Late March, Near the Brighton-Brookline Border

I can't decide if I think this is dumb or love it. Maybe a little of both.

Bless the pavement, brick, and concrete.
Bless amber bottles redeemed at five cents apiece.
Bless the mail carrier.

Bless the brass penguin,
the painted gnome.
Bless the home they guard.
Bless its tiny yard, its lawn – still dead.
Yes, bless.

Bless this blinding birch, echo of the snow.
Bless the sun that makes it gleam.
Bless all the trees with their naked branches,
roots burrowing through swollen dark soil,
buds soon to adorn their tips.

Bless dead leaves from last fall.
Bless the fall. Bless it all. Bless it all.

Bless this sweat that's sharp and salty on my lips.
Bless lips
Bless tongue.

Bless kissing and tasting.
Bless my own blood
blood that bubbles and races through narrow veins
clear like wine, thick like mud.

Bless these lungs
this rhythm, these breaths, these steps
these calves and ankles and quadriceps.
Bless these sneakers.
Bless tying laces.

Bless this hill I climb.
Bless this child I carry inside.
Bless the wild.
Bless time.

Bless the winds – still cool
but mild.

Bless the rain that will come tomorrow.
Bless memories of snow and dreams of the oceans.
Bless joy and sorrow.

Bless all the Jews, families,
walking home from their devotions.

Bless other joggers. Bless yuppies. Bless left turn only.

Bless dogs with jingling tags.
Bless $1 canvas bags.
Bless Washington Square.
Bless custom bridal alterations.
Bless the C-Line
and the B-Line too but maybe not as much
or maybe more because it probably needs all the blessings it can get.

Bless Jesse's Girl.
Bless a woman like that.

Bless parks with swings.
Bless croquet.
Bless today. Bless today. Bless today.

Bless cool water that hisses down my throat.
Bless these burning palms.

Bless no pants.
Bless going pee.

Bless me. Bless me. Bless me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just for You

I am going to the WTS (Women's Transportation Seminar) luncheon today. I plucked my eyebrows and am wearing nylons, just for you, WTS.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I know that I made some mistakes, BIG TIME. He mumbles, pleads - a garbled soliloquy. His are eyes that stare with a kind of vacant earnestness into the past or at realities unknown to the rest of us passengers.

I know I made some mistakes, but the thing is I LOVE you. His voice breaks, and we pretend not to notice as he gazes across the aisle at the vacant seats. Though these words are not meant for us, we cannot help but hear them. It is late and the car is mostly empty. A couple of headscarved girls board - laugh and speak to one another in foreign sentences, yet unaware of the man's open sorrow. His skin is rough, stubbly, leathery. Please. Take me back, he whispers as we pull away from the platform with a jerk.

The voice raises with dramatic arcs, only occasionally audible over the rumbling of the train car.

If you love me at all
I want you to know that I love you more.

I'll love you until I die.

You're one of a kind.

Take me back.

And I just wish we could all disappear.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Selective Memory

Like almost every evening before and after that, my dad had unlaced his shoes, stretched out on his back on the sofa, and begun to watch the news "with his eyes closed," flannel shirt unbuttoned and exposing a white thermal undershirt. If one were to listen carefully, after awhile, one would begin to hear a faint growl from somewhere under that thick mustache each time his lungs emptied.

Now, when I was very young, my parents called me the porcupine, first of all because of the slender quills growing from my back which would detach and embed themselves in unsuspecting animals, but also because I was a child who did not like being touched (who am I kidding? I am now an adult who only sometimes likes it). Apparently I would bristle and occasionally even sneer when people, even family members, attempted to express unwanted physical affection. Perhaps it goes back to being insanely tickelish...?

Anyway, returning to the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (whose opening strains are forever engraved onto my soul; in fact I do believe if you were to draw a phonograph needle across my few memories of those early years, between the collection of poorly-understood Little Mermaid songs and Bruce Springsteen, you'd hear the entire intro theme to that show with its triumphant brass and rousing tempo, ushering in a deeper look at the most important news stories of the day). . . although on this day, as was NOT mentioned on the news hour but as occasionally happens to younguns, I had been knocked off my feet by a stomach bug which left me feeling pretty crummy and strangely cuddly. I saw him lying there, wanted some comfort in my state of misery, and crawled up on top of him, a little beetle of probably only three or four, to snuggle against his warm chest. My father, only dimly aware of his surroundings, put a hand on that tiny back, and returned to watching the news, pleased, nevertheless, that I was showing such physical affection.

And that is how, several years later, my dad recalled the story. How sweet, right?

"Hon," my mom interrupted, in disbelief, "what about the rest of the story? Do you not remember the part when she began throwing up and you used your shirt to catch the vomit so it wouldn't get all over the sofa?"

Apparently he did not.

I spewed chunks of warm, half-processed toddler food all over him. It was soaking through his undershirt and dribbling down his torso, but my father was so delighted at this rare moment of intimacy with his young daughter that through the years his memory only preserved the part where we cuddled.

Sort of gross but sort of really tender.

This post is part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise, and Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment. This week's theme: 'childhood'.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Never Gets Old

Giraffes in the air. Every time I return to it, it is just as good as that first time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Space Between

This morning I came out of my building and saw two cars, the one parked uncomfortably close behind the other. It was so funny and also strikingly beautiful, the crumpled license plate, the proximity of the front and back bumpers, silhouetted by the morning rays, like one of those figure-ground vase pictures. If I had had my camera, I'd have taken a couple pictures and posted on One Little Joy under the title "Kiss my Butt." I almost went back upstairs to do just that, but I was already barely going to make it to work by nine.

Alas. Instead, I just describe it to you and leave you with a little snippet of Taoist philosophy:
Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
but the empty space between them
is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,
but the empty space between it
is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house,
but the empty space within it
is the essence of the house.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make Your Own

My sister and I made up a game, on the train, on the way to a friend's party the other day. Homemade proverbs. There are several formulas you can use.
Both people think of predicate clauses which you link and place after the words "she who" or "he who." (e.g. He who keeps a tidy home... grows accustomed to false promises.)

Both people think of predicate clauses connected by "is to." (e.g. To reach for the heavens is to unwind yesterday's thread.)

Or have one person think of the subject and the other thinks of the predicate, and you simply link them:
(e.g. Every disaster... shines on in the book of eternities.)

Or two subjects, connected by "is like":
(e.g. A simple word is like a pig's eye.)
Some end up so funny, some even sounding sort-of wise. And of course some make no sense at all. There were also brief plans of referring to me as 'The Oracle' for the evening ("why yes, I would like some punch, as would The Oracle," at which point I would recite one of the proverbs we had created), but I just kept forgetting them or laughing when we would try to rehearse.

Beth offered to be The Oracle, but I pointed out that I wouldn't even be able to say The Oracle with a straight face . . .

Monday, March 16, 2009


It had begun to snow a little bit by the time we stopped for gas in the town of Asbestos, on the way home from the Carnival. Swirling snow that slips lightly through the air, never seeming to accumulate on the road or landscape.

Yes the town is named for its abundance of the carcinogenic mineral, and we had to admit, it wasn't much to speak of: the canopy over the gas pumps, the small convenience store with the single stall bathroom which I called toilee instead of toilette, and the restaurant which adjoined the convenience store and looked as though it hadn't received diners for over a decade. . . these seemed to comprise the entirety of the town. We were surprised it was even on the map, but apparently even a gas station is a big deal in this part of the country.

As my friends stretched their cramped muscles or purchased Pringles chips, I attempted to take photographs of the snowflakes as they landed delicately on the windshield of the car. They were so beautiful, hovering for only one brief moment, perfectly six-pointed, outlined through the glass against the dark interior of the car, before shrinking to tiny drops of water. Not even enough time to point the camera at the right spot. So I just watched them appear, unassumingly, and then swiftly, silently fade.

One by one.

This post is part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise, and Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment. This week's theme: 'snowflakes'.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


By the time the check came we were already gently in pain, full of yummy food and stuffing ourselves further with the last few mouthfuls of tiramisu. Beth had warned us that Mitch would want to pick up the tab, even though it was his birthday. In referring to my sisters and me, he uses the term 'girls' instead of 'guys' as in, "are you girls heading home now?" And he always holds the door and probably would take your coat and open the car door for you. Beth had accepted Mitch's gentlemanly behaviors a long time ago. Em and I, though, were not pleased with the idea of him paying for everything on HIS BIRTHDAY.

The waitress laid down the bill, a piece of paper, just as I was about to consume my last mouthful of the heavenly, lightly-sweetened, espresso-drenched confection. I paused. If I grabbed it now, I could easily pick up the tab. But that bite of tiramisu was hovering on my spoon, just inches from my mouth. I hesitated one second too long and Mitch took the bill and got out his wallet.

"Mitch, it's your birthday. We'll pay," I protested, reaching across the table for the check.

He held it out of my reach "No you will not."

"Come onnnn," I said. Beth laughed and pointed out that this is the argument I always use on her which never works. Not helping, Beth. I grabbed for the bill once more, caught it. But Mitch was holding too tightly. It ripped in half.

In shock, I placed my half of the bill on the table and sank into my chair a little bit. At this moment, the waitress returned. She picked up our friend's credit card and the two pieces of the check, looked at me, looked at Mitch and said, in her deep smoker's voice, "UH-oh," before disappearing off behind the bar. The four of us looked at each other for a moment and burst out laughing. It was too much. That one simple interjection: UH-oh, first syllable heavily emphasized, the clipped 'oh' pronounced at a much lower pitch. That tone, as though she KNEW what had happened, even though she hadn't witnessed it.

... or had she? UH-oh, we kept repeating under our breaths to each other, snickering, trying not to disrupt the other guests too much. UH-oh. When our server returned, the paper was taped back together. Taped together. UH-oh. We could barely contain ourselves and we stumbled out into the March evening.


(I know, I know tiramisu is technically dessert, but it was a birthday, and I guess I've decided to exclude birthdays and funerals from my Lenten fast)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Trends of Life

So, I've found that my life follows this beautiful current of curiosity and discovery, where seasons colored by different themes bleed into one another, forming an eternal chain, present seasons illuminating the previous ones and informing those subsequent.

But ah, the questions. How we wrestle together, those open-ended statements and I. How we tear at each other, how we cry out into the night, how we carry each other around silently, secretly. The contradictions, the paradoxes leap out at me, they yell my name. They drag me down, down, down, sometimes, but other times buoy me up and fill me with light. I cannot help the questions. They just come, forming like condensation on the edge of my awareness and dripping to a puddle at my feet. This mind, this swirling spirit is forever yearning, hopeful, sometimes terrifyingly tireless, but always, always questioning. If I try to stifle it (and I have tried at times), I hurt. If I work at things, I find myself growing and expanding. If I find someone to share in them, I am delighted, overjoyed, blessed beyond measure.

And of course there are times when nothing comes to me but I try to continue anyway. I wear myself down to a thin echo, pushing, pushing forward until my faculties are near collapse and the immensity of it all forces me to rest.

And yet recently I find a new trend entering my life, a new current. Something like a new peace I have found. The questions remain of course, constantly refining themselves, multiplying, morphing, but we - they and I - are learning to coexist. I am finally beginning to grasp in small ways the refined art of moderation. Of course, I still crave understanding, still thirst for comprehension, for what I call resonance, more than pretty much anything, but it is a more dignified feeling, a hunger tempered by patience, if only to a small degree currently. Though I want them and seek them with my entire being, I don't feel so anxious for the answers. I can sense a little earlier in the process when I am pushing too hard, I can sense the need for respite, for time to heal, to breathe, to just - as Mother Mary says - let it be.

And recently I even find myself at times possessing sufficient wisdom and love to allow it, myself, the questions, to just be.

This post is part of the Blue-Beta Blog Coordination, a continuing series of content coordinated by theme or motif with posts from Confuzzled of I Keep Wondering, Gromit of The Dancing Newt, Redoubt of Redoubt Redux, Third Mango of Funkadelic Freestylings of Another Sort, Yarjka of Sour Mayonnaise, and Xanthippe of Let’s Save Our Hallmark Moment. This week's theme: 'trends'.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thoughts from a Dirty Liberal Mormon on Gays and Family

As a follower of a traditionally conservative faith who also happens to be quite liberal, I find myself continuously faced with reconciling a lot of conflicting ideas, really having to sort out what I believe from both cultures. Due to where I find myself in life (whatever that means) I cannot bring myself to fully deny either, and I'm learning to find peace despite - or possibly IN - the tension.

I understand and value the focus on families that my religion places. I believe that adults, when they choose to become parents, should place their children's needs among their highest priorities, that parents can have a huge effect on (and carry tremendous responsibility for) the moral and psychological development of their children. And, if I end up finding an intelligent and virtuous man whom I end up marrying, then I too would love to embark on the journey of parenthood with him, to teach the next generation about what we know pertaining to truth and love and virtuous living.

I have to admit, however, that I was immensely hurt and frustrated when I learned of the role of the LDS church in defeating Proposition 8 in California. It shook me to the core that my religious leaders would encourage the members to monetarily support such legislation, that funds from sacred religious offerings were being used (albeit indirectly) in the media campaign against a proposition which I did not and would never support. Like many other liberal-minded folk, I was baffled at how people's value of children and family life could be at odds with the legal status of homosexuals to marry. Utterly flabbergasted. The two could not have been more unrelated in my mind. All of this "protect the family" logic seemed totally out of left field (or RIGHT field? har har har). I have thought about this deeply and for a long time and I think I understand the direction from which they approach the issue. Bear with me, this might be a little bit wordy.

Okay, as background, it seems there has been a philosophical shift regarding marriage in the past half century or so. In previous times, marriage was almost inextricably connected with child-raising. Sure, unofficial hetero- and homo- sexual unions occured, but traditional heterosexual marriage was created to guarantee paternity of the children, and to create a pretty stable environment for them in which to be raised.

Until recently there didn't seem to be a reason for homosexuals to want to be married, as marriage was pretty much ONLY for creating the next generation of humans.

The feminist movement and modern contraceptive measures, most notably the birth control pill, seem to have shifted the focus of heterosexual marriage in our culture away from propagation of the species toward sexual and emotional fulfillment of the two parties, since pregnancy was no longer the automatic effect of heterosexual intercourse. However, I would guess that a large proportion of hetero couples still find the child production/raising to be an important part of the union (just not the PRIMARY purpose).

Regardless, once marriage became refocused in our culture on the emotional fulfillment of the adult parties, it makes sense that couples would get married for that reason alone, and it makes additional sense that couples who were previously excluded from this category would want to join it.

The issue that religious folks have seems to be that they oppose this shift itself, not necessarily the gay movement. They believe that marriage should be first and foremost for the production and raising of children. They see this shift as a negative one, a selfish one, and one which will lead to the breakdown of our society. It is true that self-centered parents and unstable home situations can and usually do have a negative impact on the children involved. So I agree that in many ways the shift is a negative one, as the emphasis goes from the children's emotional needs to those of the parents (I am not certain that emphasis on parents' emotional needs is a bad thing, but I also do not think it should occur at the expense of the children). Anyway, in terms of the religious right --- including the majority of mainstream LDS --- who perceive this as an overall negative societal shift, "the legalization of gay marriage" is something that is easier to "fight" than something like "parents who are not dedicated to their children" or "parents who are not dedicated to each other" or "lack of societal support for working parents." These issues are more complicated and are difficult to package into a bite-sized idea, whereas the gay marriage issue is a tangible, discrete battle with quantifiable results. Are we not all guilty of this type of reasoning at one time or another?

Anyway, hopefully I am not being offensive here. What I am trying to get to is that somehow, for me, understanding the greater issue at stake here, for which gay marriage is primarily a simplified proxy, helps me to understand better where my fellow churchgoers are coming from. When I look at it this way, even though I feel the efforts are misdirected, I can surely appreciate the motivations. It helps me to feel less anxious and troubled, helps me to feel a greater peace with events that have transpired.

In other words, there is a great deal of common ground between the two sides, and that is what keeps my thoughts and opinions at least somewhat consistent as I daily try to balance myself between these oft-seeming opposing forces my identity. I guess what it boils down to is that I truly believe that strengthening ALL families is the direction we must head as a culture and as a nation.

There is a lot I haven't mentioned here: homosexuals who desire to raise children of their own, through adoption or artificial insemination, the LDS doctrine of eternal gender identity (which still has never been sufficiently explained to me, but which is often used in the argument against gay marriage), etc. I never intended this to be a thorough treatise on the subject, however. I am greatly interested in your opinions and comments, but please be kind and respectful.

Friday, March 6, 2009


At the end of my lunchtime walk, I came upon this old guy, stopped on my side of the path with an old plastic file box at his feet. Reveling in the darkened beauty of the still damp tree limbs, awakened by the cool March air, the dribble of melting snow, and the grey-white sky intensifying every shade around me - in the midst of all of this I barely gave the man a second thought. In the course of stepping around him, I suddenly noticed what had caught his attention.

A hawk was perched in the bare tree, sandy brown with its powerful wings folded at rest. It was tearing at the branch with its beak a little. I am not sure to which end. Other people paused to gaze upward and admire the fierce and wild creature. It dropped a strand of tree bark, which floated down and landed on the eight-inch lens of a young photographer's camera.

A hawk in the middle of the Common. And it could care less what any of us thought or did.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I should probably do it, since I believe it has been THREE WEEKS and I legitimately have NO clean underwear or socks.