Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking For Escape

The afternoon sun is still bright. I’m surprised, because the clock reads 7:30pm and I expect the moon to be out and the stars to wink and say it’s close to bedtime, but the daylight is still so bright, and, despite my mood, there still appears to be enough time to work on more projects before slumber calls me to its den.
I lay on my soft bed, paralyzed, as though I’ve awakened in another realm from a coma, only my surroundings are unpleasant, like a hospital that smells of sterilizer and death. I’ve opened my eyes from a restful nap, only to remember the cause for my unrest, the cause for my initial weariness an hour before. I lay in bed, motionless, the same frown that I wore an hour earlier still remains, the feeling that something is not quite right. The overwhelming feeling that the world around me is wrong.
I lay in bed, wondering if a shower might do the trick. Maybe I’ll snap out of it then… but the mood, the relentless malaise that is real enough to smash, and yet vaporizes as I try to find a reason for its form. It did not change when I got something tasty to eat the other day. When I felt sad and alone and just a little grimy, when I thought that surely some oral pleasure would snap me into happiness, I ate the Thai food, I ate the pupusas….what I wanted was not delivered, the noodles, the sweet soda, they looked like what I remembered, crispy and stuffed with cheese, cold and sweet. But, it just wasn’t as good as I remembered and the wait was extra long and the restaurant smelled a little weird and the traffic was bad. And after all that I wanted from that snack, placing my hope for happiness upon it, it did not come with the order. I left feeling defeated. I lay on my bed remembering
And the piece of chocolate? Try that. Maybe…I get the cookie, I take a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but I grab a spoon with the same limp arms and I put a bite on my tongue with the same sad expression tugging at the corners of my mouth. My eyes are red and the sweetness does not bring me a smile.
And the nap? I escaped the feeling momentarily, but I awoke to my neighbors screaming and they sound like chickens dying and why do they keep scraping their chairs on the ground? I escaped it for a moment with closed eyes, but it’s all here, still here.
Maybe a shower? Can’t I just rinse all this stuff off of me? Can’t I send this weirdness down the drain along with other sediment my body rejects? And I lay here, my mind strategizing for a quick fix, a lay, a bite, a laugh. But I know. It cannot be bought away, eaten away, slept away. It follows me, it’s inside me. It colors my eyes, turning my brown irises into cloudy lenses that distort the world into obstacles and enemies and everything that comes towards me is an assault to my existence. I cannot escape what’s inside, turning me into a woman lost in a house of distorted mirrors.
I know the change has to come from within, but I’m having a hard time reaching inside. I’m the shell of what I remember. The silt at the bottom of a pool that cannot be cleaned. I don’t like it, it feels awful, and only I can change it. Laying here, I wonder if I’ve actually tried. I’ve tried the old standards, the ones that never worked before, but have I tried anything new? I’ve sat in the hole all day, wondering how I’ve got here and refusing the lifelines sent to me and ignoring the ladder by my side. I need to try something new.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I ran over to touch her little feet. They were miniature toes with even tinier nails, she was just ten weeks old and still looking shocked to be in a world of sunlight and sounds that come from all directions. She looked at me with gray-blue eyes. I had been wearing my glasses all day while working in the bright rays of spring, but as I looked at her, I remembered to take my glasses off instantly. It was as if another well of knowledge opened up, the part of me that knew this was different, that this required contact without barriers.
I looked at her while her dad held still, maybe she felt his breathing, she was suspended on his chest, but whatever he was thinking about or doing, he held still and Amma and I looked at each other until she looked away. Her father wore her like a precious necklace upon his chest, or perhaps the tangible creation of his love, worn right above his heart. The baby smelled of milk and newness.
This little thing did not exist 11 months ago. Her material form, her body, her eyes, her crying, her name…none of it was here. And then she came, from a place I wish I could remember, a place I wish she could recount in colorful stories that would paint my dreams in extra dimensions. But is the price of travel paid for in language? Or did she come from a place that spoke in other ways? Without a shared language between us now, I look into her eyes and hope she sees the stars that have collided. I search in her grayness for the missing pieces of the sentence.
She is a piece of this earth now. A piece of matter that breathes and cries and sleeps and looks at her surroundings. She grew inside of a woman and came out into arms that were waiting. She took a breath and began her life here, in this place, with that little body, to these particular parents.
Is it the smallness of her, the helpless body that needs constant nourishment and attention to survive, is that what strikes me? Is it the strange materialization of a new human that is so natural and yet, so completely surreal? Where did you come from, Amma?
She looks at the trees and the faces that coo at her without judgement, she seems without character, without personality. An empty vessel which will quickly be filled with words and ideas and thoughts and taught how to count and tell time. Soon she will be polluted and the smell of milk will fade, will she be able to remember why she came and what she left behind? Will she learn to use her new language to describe her experience coming through the tunnel and filling her lungs with air?
I am filled with questions which cannot be answered with words. So I wait, and work. Soon, I will journey through that tunnel again. Maybe next time I will remember.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


My eyes are heavy with sleep. As they linger in the memories of colored dreams, my mouth yearns for the taste of black tea and cream, a signal from my tongue that morning has arrived. The day is bright and young and there are plenty of cars on the road. I am slightly startled by the realization that lots of people get up this early; when I’m usually warm and naked and covered in a heavy blanket, there is an army of school buses and brightly vested crossing guards and morning commuters with coffee for a carpool companion.
I brake at the first stop sign I see. On my left, I notice a plump orange cat trotting down the street, he’s just about to turn the corner and head south, his small padded feet are soundless on the sidewalk. Just as he’s about to pass the first house, he hops onto the house’s front stoop effortlessly, and then he continues for three trots until the step ends and then he jumps back to the sidewalk. I am struck by its fluidity. Walking, jumping, continuing on. He moves as he wants, without a second of hesitation. There’s no time for thought or calculation, he just moves as he should, so inhuman, so unlike me.
I smile as I press the gas and continue on. I make up a two-line ditty about the cat as I drive, one sentence ending in a high note, the other line ending in an extended low note.
I enter the freeway, cars pass me, I pass others. The light is bright, the golden rays hit the side of my face, I like it, but still, I move the visor to block some of its strength. The road curves, winding through the wooded hills just a couple miles from the coast. In a thicket of cypresses, I notice a slated structure of wood at the top of a hill and I’m surprised I’ve never noticed it before. Is it a sculpture? A church? My question is answered as the small gold cross comes into view.
The three lane highway gently winds and I feel my chest making itself known. I bring my attention in constantly, my face is relaxed, there’s not a sound coming from the radio. Just me and the world beyond. This drive is one I make twice a week in the early afternoon, and usually it seems as quick as a blink, but today in the early light of morning, it feels like the journey of a lifetime. For a couple of seconds I panic, wondering if I’ve passed the familiar exit, but no, I see a sign for the junction I need to take in the distance.
On my right is a pretty lake, the deserted body of blue waters that seems too picturesque to be without mansions in the hills beyond. But somehow, it has remained calm and undeveloped. Sometimes I notice hawks circling above, today, it is only my chest that circles with energy.
The well worn journey is different today, although I don’t realize it until later, until the moment has passed and I am once again “myself.” The usual commute that zips by in a whirl of daydreaming and talking voices and instrumental sounds that cascade to me from the local college radio. Today, it’s me and the world, me and my presence, me and my attention, on the lake and the cat and the sculpture of a church that sat there for years without my notice.
It’s me and everything I see…and really, it is not me, it is Us…This, Here. This morning, some of the many “I’s” are actually here, present, and we look into the world and see wonder and secrets and silent steps that are filled with a thousand teachings. The journey is long, the minutes are themselves full and expanding, pushing my perception of the world to the brink. The cars move forward and then recede from my vision. We are all here together, in this bright morning of circling energy and colored visions. Today, I can see them. Broken from the usual habit of mental chatter, I have more time, an extended reality. The drive is the same, just as many miles, just as many minutes, and yet, there is more of it today, more that I see, more that I can feel, more to take and transform with words and shapes and sounds.
How much of this have I missed through the many years of sleepwalking? How often have I truly been alive?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Objective Nature

The wind blows… down the street, through the tiny red leaves of a maple tree, pounding against the pane of glass at the end of Burwood Dr. In the driveway of 356 Burwood, I lay facedown, cold and still. The wind caresses my wavy brown hair, moving it like a tender lover’s hand, but I do not respond, I am cold and still. The wind does not cry with my mortal absence. It plays with the edge of my skirt and hardens the line of blood dripping from my mouth, turning it from red to crusted brown. The wind does not cry. The rain does not despair when it sees my vacant eyes and pale blue lips. The drizzle of raindrops vibrates against my skin, but I feel nothing. The cold does not give me goose bumps, the wind does not send my teeth chattering. The rain pours and washes the blood from my mouth. They play upon me, but they do not cry. They will not rejoice, they will not sing, they will not scream. The ants will traverse my curves, I am a new mountain to climb. Soon, the vultures will come, they have found another meal. But there will be no party and no time of mourning. Nature is neutral, a kaleidoscope of forces that move softly, that move violently, that kills and breeds and explodes into delicate layers and intricate snowflakes.

The wonderful tree we all enjoyed for its shade and regal branches and sculpted movement, it was torn down by the wind, fifty years of growth destroyed in a single stormy night. And the leaves crackled when the sun came out and we despaired that our beloved tree was gone, but the squirrels were not sad and the stray cats did not worry and the broken boughs did not laugh.

When the jasmine bush toppled under its own weight and the wind coming from the sea, I worried about the little birds that once played in its hidden chambers, would they think we destroyed their home? I regretted sawing through green vines and white flowers to clear the path, but the plant did not mourn its transformation. It grew and moved and toppled in neutrality.

Birth, death, rebirth, death. There is no intention behind it all, no malice, no pleasure. The wind simply moves. It is a force without emotion. It takes down houses and trees and telephone poles without revenge or care. It moves. Rains descend freely from thick gray clouds, giving no thought to inconvenience or floods. It comes without associations. The rain will not win any bets if we live, it cares not for our thirst or if we make lemonade. It comes from a cloud, moves down a river, down the mountain and to the reservoir, to the tap, to the pitcher, through my body and then out again, down the toilet, to the sea. It frets not for its voyage or transformation, moving from one location to another. The droplet is not tinged with salt, not a trace of sadness colors its orb while the blood is cleansed from my mouth.

In creation, there is no good or bad, these are invented words, invented perception.
There only IS.
Fire, water, life, hunger, destruction, it moves, it comes and goes and it all comes from a neutral place, neither hoping for our survival or vying for our defeat.
I lay still and cold.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Forgotten Circus

The notebook stretches its imposed lines across my field of my vision. The blue lines of formality, rigidity…they are the lines of frigid women in black dresses that reach up to their necks, the impotent men that squirm at the thought of my oozing love, enough love to cover the world if given enough time and enough fingers. But my cupboards are not filled with plain white paper, the lines of chastity are useful, despite their sexless impulse… I use them for their discipline, for their linear spankings. Order from chaos, I cast out the net into the cosmos and pull back orange starfish and leopards. Instead of hoops, I jump through a singular diamond eye and find a magician waiting for me in a metal cage. I take his top hat and shrink it, placing it on my head with a firm nod to the fashion critics who sit in the bleachers, they applaud in short bursts of excited fury, looking to each other with disbelief in one eye and tears in the other. Their moving hands hide the daggers well, their polite smiles mask the ventriloquist who has already spoken to Vogue. I cannot tell if they have drunk from the same glass as the women of the lines. “Lick it up!” I shout, “there’s more in the back!” The crowd stands to applaud. The bleachers are full and there’s a performance for the new king. The trapeze is set and taught, the elephants are glittering in their jeweled crowns and painted saddles, their riders are bejeweled in head-dresses and their faces are masked in lace and their small chests are bound in tight black bodices that describe their curves as only a true poet could. They balance on tiptoes above the great gray beasts, like fairies that ride the magic waves of night. The king is ready and seated, the jesters have finished with their truths and the jury waits to judge. The magician is full of old secrets and as the people turn towards us, we escape together through the diamond eye of the leopard, back to a room with carpets and strange light bulbs with no strings and a dry heat that smells of vitamins and soft black hair and warm welcoming arms. He holds my hand as we step through prismatic light seeped in yellow and gold, the color of tigers and opened treasure chests. He takes my hand and we step through, my blindfold forgotten on the sandy floor of the cage. My eyes remember this magic chamber of music. We have left a king waiting upon his throne, we have left sad clowns who look in desperation to their barking dogs and critics who look to their companions for ideas. We mean them no harm, but the curtain called and the lens of the crystal ball gathers us like prophecy. We are together and we disrobe, revealing our true forms, the shapeless crystals that shine more brightly than the night.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Precious Moment

The day sparkles with freshness, made new by gusts of forceful wind that rustles silvery leaves without rest. The light is high overhead, the brightness of a wish just past. My heart has been aching since the morning, noticed in a moment of stillness when all I could feel was the pounding in my toes and the ache of my wrists and the extra pressure in the center of my chest. It stays in me, a continuing presence as long as I can maintain this quiet in my mind. The sacrifices are made, held tightly inside, and I look for my ring of keys.
The day is bright, the sun is high overhead, winking its rays through the glass of the car, through the tinted lens above my eyes, through the delicate membranes that are my windows to the world. The light is clear, I feel myself in the car, aware of each turn of the wheel, aware of the narrow road down the hill with five sharp turns. I move out beyond the dotted yellow line, there are no cars coming and I’m safe, but I feel the strength of the car, I feel the weight moving at thirty miles an hour, fast enough to smash the delicate connections between fiber and blood.
There are three stop signs before I get to Mission St and as I brake at each one, the sensation of fragility compounds. Maybe it’s the man wheeling around his trashcans to the curb, maybe the woman walking across the street talking into her cell phone, or the man sitting in his car at the red light beside me.
Something comes thorough me, coming in, moving out, twirling inside. I do not name the cause, I wouldn’t reveal the source, I can only recognize the moment.
Without the radio on, without yammering or melodies…the day seems brighter, harsh in its generous opening. It’s not the strength of a fight or the pounding of a bat, it’s more like the opening of a sun that has remained shrouded in petals, the glow is harsh, the reality is painful. My chest thumps with more pain than I usually a notice, a nice, dull, achy pain that sits well, a feeling I have begun to consider a long lost friend that I welcome with a smile.
“Oh, you’re back! It’s great to have you home!”
The skin surrounding me seems so temporary… I feel the forceful weight of the car, I feel the fragility of the moment like an egg shell rolling down the street. The mortality of the breath, the temporal nature of me.
The other day, she loudly laughed and then she said, “You don’t know when you’re going to die!”
“Oh yeah,” I thought… “I can’t count on eighty more years.”
One wrong move, now, and everything could be altered. I imagine myself in the hospital on a ventilator.
I hear his voice, “We might be able to be together after this, depending on how much progress we’ve made during this cycle.”
I scan the crosswalk carefully for walkers. I check the rear view mirror. Time is precious, the body is precious. The moment is precious and delicate and I feel it as though for the first time, in the brightness of a sun high overhead, in the freshness brought about by the wind and an aching heart.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Music For The First Time

When was the last time you heard music for the first time? The notes from an old David Bowie song jump from the steel guitar strings, they rush through the air, vibrating moments apart from each other, they leap into the ears of a toddler running by. The men stand on a street that’s crowded with vendors selling the first strawberries of spring and the remnants of a short winter’s harvest. A toddler waddles by, she runs past the music and then two feet past, she stops abruptly and turns once to the right, then to the left, as though trying to identify something, looking for something she saw or felt on the edges of her consciousness. She stands still for two seconds, then turns around and runs back to the musicians, to the source of the music that fills the street. She stands still in front of them, like a small mortal at the feet of giants that reverberate in the world of sound. She stares at them, without a smile, without an indication of joy or fear, just an open mouthed stare that borders on disbelief, as though she is trying to understand her perception. I look past her and see a middle aged man sitting on the warm asphalt with two small children in his lap, their attention focused on the musicians. Is this the first time they’ve heard the orchestrated notes of a Bowie song? The first time this particular arrangement of seven notes has run through their ears? They come towards the music like strange worshipers to a stone covered in undecipherable marks. Unsure and curious. Like a vibrational comet, they fall towards the closest source of sound. They can always find an airplane in the sky or point to a pinecone perched on a table full of soap and incense. A little baby stares with wide eyes at the singing face in front of her. Her big hazel eyes take it all in, watching everything. I wonder how she senses each note. Is it a pure sensation, like touching snow? Does she see it though a lense of color and sparkles, not just hearing, but seeing the music that moves around her like a breathing story? The crowd moves past her, adults with bags full of ripe produce, ten year old children that care more for their ice cream cones than the two buskers under the full sun, children that have already begun to watch the magic drain from their bodies like bubbles from a bath swirling down the drain. The baby is in her father’s arms, she points to the music over his shoulder, but he is busy talking to an older woman in a stylish jacket, he doesn’t see her tiny hand rise up in a tight fist, she jerks it in the air, as though pounding a drum and then opens her little hand, pointing to the musicians. She stares at them, fascinated, captivated. Suddenly, she looks away. Something has broken the spell. Sooner or later, something always does.

Friday, April 10, 2009


They walk as a small group down the barricaded street. They move as a tribe, three generations of faces that have mingled with sex to produce the new human painting. The eldest has white hair, but a piece of her face is reflected in her daughter, not overtly, but the resemblance moves like a soft whisper, landing like a delicate hand upon her flesh. The daughter is wearing a summer dress, her dark brown hair is swept up in a pony tail. Her youthful reflection trails after her own daughter, a three year old that is the perfect blend of genes. With one eye, I see her father, with the other, I see her mother. A completed fusion of male and female.
Three generations share their skin, share their genes, a slight dilution with every man that enters, painting what has been with his own new brush. The genes trail over generations, each copulation resulting in a new form, slightly different than the face that came before it, but still, harboring the same set of eyes.
I watch them walk past me, undeniably a family of blood. They have transported the face and ears for millennia. They are the carriers of a line. How long has their DNA been moving, slowly, winding its way through history like a patient snake, carrying everything it requires within its code.
My own face comes from an older generation. My grandmother’s eyes, I saw them in the old photo before it blew away in the wind. I remember her eyes. The eyes of me. Passed from my father, dominated in utero…I am the result. The blend that seems to have no visible trace. The photos look like strangers, I must have come only from her, from the power in her code.
And I watch them pass, the family of blood, of shared looks, of shared traits. They smile, they know me. I see their progression, the noses, the eyebrows. The miniature lineage of looks, walking before me like a strange sideshow.
Was I once a part of their line? Did we share a distant past, a distant source? I look at them now…can we trace our steps and find a beginning?
I watch them and my mind wanders. It moves to the seashore. It moves to a great ape. It watches the dilution of river water into an ocean. The source of what? Source…is this a word with any meaning?
I stand outside and ponder. The sun moves past a dark formation of clouds. The sundress does not look as inviting.
The child runs towards a small dog whose ears reach the asphalt. What quirk of nature designed an animal whose ears drag across the ground?
“Why are they so big?” I ask in childlike wonder.
“To fly,” the girl holding the leash responds.
I can accept that answer.
Nothing is beyond possibility.
Not when we have all the time in the world.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I stood before their open front door, my face illuminated by the porch light. I was staring at the couple with a smile on my face. I was present in the cool night, my attention upon them, nodding at their words, looking into their eyes. They talked of birth order, the predisposition to be either gentle or aggressive was determined by sibling placing. The eldest…the peacemaker. Too much of a generalization to have any meaning. I agreed with them, nodding my head. But then, I broke from them and journeyed inside, wasn’t I the eldest in a family? Yes, my brain confirmed the fact. “The peacemaker” they said, I continued nodding, responding as needed to their words. I am the eldest. But I have caused the most strain, the most worry. I am the lone wolf in a family of strangers. I grew up alone, alienated from each of them. I was the caretaker of the home after school. I was the nurse when bills had to be paid, I was the companion on a street without children. My earliest friends were not made of flesh, invisible to all but me, and then even they left me alone, both of them, Domba and Mitsy…they vanished, even the memory was stolen, taken to the eternal place where little children dream about fairies and tooth collectors that come with twenty dollar bills.
Their theories crumbled in my hands. Its generalizations that smear the colors of the world with a flat paint brush, coloring it all gray. The wet stones are as different as the swirling lines of jasper. Take the cover off your eyes, we are all the same mechanical operations that function out of fear and desire, but within this nest of wires and blinking lights, we can scrounge and find the rainbows sent off by electric fish, alive and glowing with the pulsations of a rhythmic heart.
I hold both extreme points of the spectrum in my hand. I watch them turn like stones. The blend of truth beats against a sky that speaks in the seven languages of light. I stand below the sky, with my mouth open and my tongue pointed up to the fast moving clouds. Grant me the wish, send a single drop of sweet dew, my tongue is waiting, the scepter that awaits its crowning. The clouds open, and inside, waiting, is darkness…waiting like an exposed queen, her legs wide and open, but the portal leads to more nothingness.
Does this painting fit into the small world were the eldest children are kind? Does the open mouth, the wet tongue, does this fit in a world of small controlled families that dine on each other’s failings? It is a feast that is always cold, but they gather just the same.
With set tables of linens and crystal, they gather to eat the tepid turkey and drink from their glass of sadness. My eyes are hollow as I watch the scene, an unwilling participant, but my body is there nonetheless. The con continues, you call me daughter, I call you my chain. The birth portal is closed and sealed. The wet tunnel long ago condemned. The silver cords that bound us were severed decades ago when the hugs stopped and the hair on my legs became an issue and my jiggling breasts caused you to stare in revulsion. The silver cords are not buried somewhere below the surface of earth, they have disappeared from memory, the bond is gone, vaporized like my old invisible friends, thoughts tempted into existence only by the photos that I carry with sadness and wonder.
Who were those people? I recognize the faces, but the moment is buried, far away, in a place where families hold their love like weapons and children sing out of tune while they wait for their secret midnight myths to come true.