Wednesday

12292010

yesterday: i didn't sit in my office to write. or at my kitchen table. or in any of my other usual writing places. instead. i sat in my dining room. on the floor. beneath the window. in the warm blaze of sun rays streaming through the curtains. back straight up against the wall. legs bent at the knees. journal and pen in hand. and i wrote. and i wrote. and i wrote. and when i had finished writing all that my thoughts were willing to give i cracked my knuckles and made a conscious decision, as i always do, to go back and read what i had written. and as i read. i realized: where we are affects how we receive. how we perceive. and what we deliver.

Tuesday

12282010

last night
i winked
at the stars
and they
(oh stars
how could
they not?)
winked back

Monday

12272010

manipulation is as old as creation
and how vibrantly it still survives!
powerful, not by its own devices
but by those who keep it alive

though the tragedy is not that manipulation lives
but that it believes itself a winning card
or maybe those who manipulate
believe themselves the winners
the scorers, the smart

insults to the intelligence
i don't appreciate them
i don't receive
i don't indulge
i don't oblige

instead
without a moment's pause
without a second thought
i discard

Sunday

12262010

night dreams come 
in unexpected inhalations

i swallow them
i choke on them

they impose

i bow down
i don't rise

they are my jailers
they hold the keys

***

daydreams come
in expected exhalations

i propel them
i expel them

they oblige

i lift them
i drop them

they are my puppets
i pull the strings

Thursday

12232010

come
sit down
rest with me
inside a silent moment
and let your soul
rest and linger
in silence
too

Wednesday

12222010

explosion of thought
eruption of imagination 
a peace… yes, peace
that’s it... that's it
a peace that is 
here one moment
but broken the next
the disturbance of dry days 
parched... yes, parched
like desert sands 
when the mind is blank 
or lacking stimuli
those things that 
pull. trigger. shoot. 
a thought into existence 
out of the stagnant womb 
where it rests. and lingers.
and festers. and rots.

Tuesday

12212010

it’s immediate 
this desire
this urgency
this pressure 
to create
  
it’s perfect 
i see
i feel
i write
i manipulate

Monday

12202010

last night…
i opened a silver box
filled with old
black and white photos
yellowed by time
...
there were no digitals
back in the day
...
i went through the box
photo by photo
but there was one photo
of you and me
...
a photo so old
and bent and torn
about the edges
and almost sepia with age
...
a photo where you were
doing something funny
because you wanted
to make me laugh
...
and i was laughing
because the laughing
was good
and innocent
and real
...
and i held that photo
in the palm of my hand
like it was a holy relic
...
and i thought to myself,
that was a moment
in which i loved you

Saturday

12182010

i lodge myself
between your ribs
beneath your heart
inside your gut
can you feel me there?

you might not know
that much about love
so let me tell you this

if i don't hurt
like a blunt blade
thrust into your vitals
then what you feel
is not love, my love

Thursday

12162010

today. i came home early from work. intentionally. maybe it was an act of rebellion. i like to think of it as an act of self-preservation.

i came home. removed the dress pants and the heels and the earrings and the rings. jumped into my comfy clothes. went into my kitchen… my safe haven. because in my kitchen… i can hide from anyone… anything.

even in writing... i can’t hide.
even in fiction... i can’t hide.

everything i write comes from inside my mind, imprinted with the breath of my thought.

my thoughts… my words… are truths. but bread… is something else.

take one glass bowl and add warm water. sprinkle some yeast into the water and wait until the yeast foams. add the flour and sugar and start to mix the warm slop with your fingers. roll it up into a ball and knead the hell out of it. put the dough back in the bowl and drizzle it with some olive oil. cover the bowl with a towel and wait… wait... for that dough to rise. and while you’re waiting… you can read a silly book (only a silly one)… or take a nap… or watch a chick flick. and every few minutes… maybe… you can peek at your dough through the glass bowl and see how much it’s risen. because the sight of that dough inflating is almost… almost… like having a handmade bonbon inside your mouth. though you don’t want to peek too too often… because a watched pot will never boil, right? at any rate, do what you will while you wait but at all costs… do not write. do not make your mind work. the whole idea is to give your thought some rest. and once that dough is as big as a beer belly… go to town!

and a few hours later… you’re at your dinner table… chewing and gnawing on those parts of your soul that you were discarding when you were kneading that dough… when you were killing your arms… your hands… your fingers… killing the thoughts that needed to be strangled. because… they were trying to strangle you.

i write… to examine my mind.
i cook… to purge my soul.

and the more there is to purge… the more food ends up on the table.

and so, tonight: crusty bread… arugula salad… fennel au gratin… braised mushrooms… spatchcocked cornish hens… rise pilaf… and strawberry tarts.

but… back up. while i kneaded and stirred and chopped and split and diced and rubbed and stuffed… and purged… the hour grew late… dusk arrived… and then night. and in came my husband jingling his keys and saying, what smells so delicious? aren’t you cooking up a storm! and when we sat at the table with all the food laid out in front of us, he said, what are we going to do with all this food, nevine? and i said, we’re going to eat it. because food… especially food consumed in the company of loved ones… is solace. not only for the belly. but for the soul. the purged soul. purged… and empty… and needing to be refilled.

and given that so much purging had needed to be done, today… one short afternoon following a long day of work would never have sufficed. so, i told them… at work… i said, i have a personal emergency to attend to. and… did i lie?

ME is a personal emergency.
and ME will not wait, anymore.

Wednesday

12152010

if i wait for you 
to make me happy
i will be waiting... 
and waiting... 
and waiting... 
forever

Sunday

12122010

there are days
where happiness
comes
from nowhere
throbs
like a pulse
in my vein
and i walk with it
as it leads me
i don’t know where
i don’t know why
until
my surroundings
dissolve
and i am
immersed
inside a golden moment
of molten joy
that drowns
the black-rimmed doubt
lurking
in the shadows
of this
my glimmering place

Thursday

12092010

my eyes are glass windows through which i see… and they are large… wide open… and clean.

but... someone comes along... with a handful of rocks… and an intent to shatter my windows.

and i know that if my windows were to shatter… i would see no more. 

but… just because i can’t see… doesn’t mean that what’s there to be seen... no longer exists. 

and if it exists… but i can’t see it with my eyes…

i will hear it in my ears…
i will taste it on my tongue…
i will smell it in my nose…
i will touch it with my fingers…
i will clasp it in my hand… 
tuck it into the empty sockets where my glass windows used to be… 
and i will say to the one with the rocks… 
i dare you to come and take what’s mine.

and i will laugh inside myself… because they do not know… nor will i tell them...

my glass eyes were cloistered rooms… but my empty sockets are open sky.

Tuesday

12072010

do i want to be a man?

this question was on my mind all day, triggered by a situation i observed in the hall between classes. picture this:

a girl is speed-walking to her next class. she drops her binder. and papers… pencils… photos… are scattered everywhere. a boy stops. puts his binder on the ground. and starts to help the girl pick up her stuff and put everything back together. i join them. and, a sharpener… a couple of pens… a couple of sheets of paper later… the girl has everything back inside her binder… and she’s ready to head to her next class. she starts to stand up… loses her balance… and the binder goes tumbling… again.

the girl begins to cry. the boy stops… frozen. he stares at her face… rapt. he has a look of such anguish on his face. and the girl is crying… with abandon. what’s the matter? i ask her. i’m gonna be late for my next class, and this will be my third tardy so i’ll get detention again and my parents are gonna get me in real big trouble! yes. a dilemma, for her. besides... who wants to stay after school for an hour and a half with the ogress from outer space… the one with the beady eyes and hair that looks like it’s been held in place by fluffed up egg whites? not me, for sure. don’t worry. i’ll write you a pass. now, stop crying. leave your binder here and go wash your face, i tell her.

and that was the end of that part of the deal.

but the boy. he’s the one who really caught my eye… and my mind. the look on his face was… beautiful. it’s not that i reveled in his anguish. oh, no! it’s just that he stopped what he was doing… didn’t think twice about being late for class and getting into trouble, himself. he automatically did what he thought was right.. he stopped to help a girl with her mess. and that… to me… was… gallant.

gallantry is almost non-existent, nowadays. in fact, i think the word probably sounds archaic to most people, and i really think it’s on its way to becoming obsolete. but, i like a boy who’s gallant… because… he reminds me that i'm a girl.

in this day and age, where women talk about wanting to be “men’s equals,” i baulk at such statements! i don’t want to be a man’s equal. sure, i want to have equal rights as a man… in terms of work… and social dynamics… and pay… and all those other things we have rights to… but that’s not the same thing as being a man’s equal. underneath the straight-lacedness of a business suit or a collared shirt and dress pants with my badge being my jewelry… i… am… a… girl. i beam inside my heart when my husband opens the car door for me… or pulls out my chair at a restaurant. i burn with love and joy when he comes home with flowers… not because there's an occasion… but because i was thinking about you. imagine me coming home one day with flowers for my husband!

i’m quite content with my husband washing the cars while i cook dinner for the two of us. no, i don’t want to get my polished fingernails all busted and grimy with car oil and mud. but i’ll stick my fingers in dough, anytime!!!

in moments of desperation, i feel like some women are losing their grip on their femininity. like i said, i can have my rights and my entitlements. i have a job and an income and i am independent and successful and happy. but still… because i’m a true girl… if you’re a man… i’ll always want you to be gallant… i’ll always want you to open the car door for me, thank you very much. and i will never forget you if you do. because a man who's gallant... is a rare gem!

Monday

12062010


i caress you
like the sun caresses a lake at dawn
you kiss my lingering half-smile
and the shy wrinkles around my eyes
they were not always there, i say
and you say, we gave them life together

and now, like two teenagers
we giggle about our impending age
as though it were a hidden blessing

Saturday

12042010

this morning. a vivid memory: when i was six, my parents took me to paris for the first time. we checked into a very chic hotel on the very chic ave. victor hugo, and the first thing i wanted to do was explore. my first stop in exploring a hotel room or suite is always the bathroom… because i've always loved baths.

i walked into a nice and inviting setting… large white towels… small bottles of colorful liquids on the sink and by the tub… and two large terry robes. i decided that i wanted to enjoy a bubble bath using some of the enticing-looking gel sitting in a basket on the edge of the tub. i plugged up the tub… turned on the hot and cold water taps… opened the bubble bath gel bottle… and poured the contents into the tub. and i sat there and watched as the mirror began to steam up… and the bubbles to rise… and then… dip!... i was inside. yum!

afterwards, i wrapped myself up in one of the too-many-sizes-too-big-for-me robes and went back into the room.

i sat on the edge of the bed. i remember feeling antsy… like any child of six would feel… antsy and wanting to do something with my idle hands. i noticed a wall-mounted radio… basically a speaker with buttons programmed to play different stations… nailed to the wall. i turned on the radio. i don’t remember what was playing… the singer… the song… i don’t remember. but i do remember this: bending down to look through the slotted front of the speaker… and seeing… in a childhood fugue of imagination… the singer… the band… the stage… the glimmer… the glamour.

i realize, now, that it was the dazzling effect of the expensive wallpaper… seen through the gaps on the speaker. but when you’re six… it’s all about the dream that’s sitting behind your eyes… waiting to be released. and you can’t deny that dream… because… when you’re six… you don’t want to.

Thursday

12022010

yesterday.
and today.
and tomorrow.

vivaldi.

for fire.
and darkness.
and passion.

beethoven.

for lust.
and insanity.
and sanity.

Wednesday

12012010

it happens almost certainly. almost. that the very qualities someone admires in you when they first meet you... become the very qualities they come to despise in you. if a certain person likes... let's say... the way you tilt your head slightly to the left when you laugh... they will come to hate that very slight gesture in you... more eloquently... more fluently... when the time for the hating arrives. if that person... let's suppose... admires your intelligence... they will begin to loathe what they will call your cockiness and presumptuousness. they might even question why they ever thought you intelligent, in the first place. and that... when the time for the hating arrives.

but, then. must the time for hating arrive? isn't it possible to keep liking and admiring and enjoying forever and ever? why must it begin with, oh, i so like the way she shuts her eyes and curls her shoulders when she's happy, and end with, and that stupid eye-shoulder thing she does when she pretends joy. what a moron!

how do we go from admiration to detestation? are we that erratic?

it's easy for us to say, well, it's her fault for being such a fake. but isn't it a bit of my fault, too? for falling for it? or how about... let's say... maybe... that i am the one to be blamed? oh, no. not i! we're so quick to say. we don't want to be at fault. we readily... so readily... reject blame.

maybe we are products of our environment. but are we really victims of 'the circumstances'? those circumstances that always bear a THE before them rather than an OUR - our very first step in the process of rejecting them. a sort of 'wash my hands clean.' a sort of... denial.

are we victims? i often wonder. but do i really want to know?

Monday

11292010

my mind goes wherever it wills...
whenever it wishes...
and who am i...
to impose borders or curfews?

Sunday

11282010

today
the sun glows
in a cool
but not indifferent
sky
and i
am a star
invisible 
in the light
of the sky
until night
when i shine
with brilliance
and i burn
to cinders
those dying stars
that throw
their shadows
upon my light

Tuesday

11232010

when it rains
when the eyes of heaven
cry on my face
when the resolve of the sky
crumbles and dissolves
my hair becomes charged
with a
vibrant
dazzling
scintillating
electricity
that strikes the face of conformity
and leaves it smarting with shame

Sunday

11212010

morning
sun rises
inside a receptacle
of sanctified silence
of sunday morning

the faithful
awaken
and go to church

the faithless
sleep and dream
of suns rising
inside receptacles
of sanctified silences
with mischievous smiles
in their puffy eyes

Thursday

11182010

today. i was doing lunch duty in the school cafeteria. and i saw the kids try to wait for their friends after they'd gotten their food. students will go to their seats immediately after receiving their food trays. students must sit in the first available seat, by rows. students must eat quietly, and if they wish to rise from their seats, they must first raise their hands and get teacher permission. instructions for packaging sardines. or for towing away prisoners. assigned seating in class. and assigned seating at lunch. and if they break the rules, they can't go outside for the five minutes that they are allowed... whose sole purpose is not to give the kids a chance to run and chase one another and let their hair fly in the wind and let out some of their inexhaustible teen energy... but just to get them in line so they can file back into the building silently. like prisoners. students will stand in line without speaking. and if they speak they don't get to return to their group cell. they get to go to solitary confinement, instead.

and so. i have become the rebellious one. silently. furtively. when i see the kids trying to form their little groups after they've gotten their food trays, i turn a blind eye. when a kid throws a grape at her friend and her friend throws a wedge of cucumber back, i giggle inside my heart. because they're just being kids. and if they can't have some harmless freedom, then let them steal it, already! let them be renegade kids grabbing a moment of joy by the neck and declaring it "mine!"

why are schools becoming prisons, and students becoming prisoners? why are teachers becoming jail wardens and no longer educators? why is running around in the sun and playing tag a crime? why is sitting beside your friends for lunch considered breaking the rules? and what is it they say about the self-fulfilling prophecy: treat a person like a criminal and he will become a criminal. it's that simple.

i am not a prison guard or warden. i am not a law enforcer or punisher. i am a human. and these kids are humans, too. and if they have to steal their precious moments of joy from between the teeth of THE SYSTEM, i will gladly be an accomplice.

Wednesday

11172010

i know
no person
is an island
unto herself

but

if i could be

sometimes
sometimes

i think
i would be

11102010

at this time of year. as the days grow shorter. and the nights grow longer. and the air becomes more crisp. and the winds become more cruel. i like to read doyle. and dickens. and poe. i love the beauty of the victorian era in literature. i love the crispness of the language. i love how it mirrors the crispness in the air. i love christina rossetti's the goblin market and how it haunts. but delights. i love the brontë sisters' rich and entertaining novels. i love sheridan le fanu's in a glass darkly with its mystifying supernatural aura.

victorian literature is alive with an acute perception and understanding of the human element. and when i am outdoors less. and indoors more. i am most keen on unraveling everything human.

in the cold
in the dark
in the night
i am alone
with me
and i want 
to know
just who
i am

Monday

11082010

this evening. something happened. something strange. how do i describe it? there was something sinister about it that made me turn away from it. something dark that made me want to ignore it. to pretend it did not happen. but then, maybe i should flip it on its head, i thought.

here, then. it all began on friday evening: after sharing a bottle of wine with my husband. i washed our two wine glasses. dried them carefully. put them back in the crystal cabinet. and that was that.

this evening. i pulled out the very same two glasses. in preparation for sharing another bottle of wine. and i filled one glass with the drink. and as i prepared to fill the other. i realized the glass was chipped. no. not chipped. broken. the width of a lip at the rim. as if someone had bitten into the glass. and removed that chunk. removed it in anger. or frustration. or... some other unspeakable emotion.

i have a superstition. a cultural superstition ingrained in me. though i am not a superstitious person. but still. i have chosen certain superstitions to believe in. because superstitions keep life interesting. and because they keep me on my toes. and this is one of these superstitions i have chosen: when something made of glass... or porcelain... or crystal... breaks. we say, khadit el sharr wi rahit - it took the evil away.

and i believe it did.

i am sad to have lost a crystal glass. but happy if losing it took an evil away. and happier yet to still have a good that i might have lost instead.

evil is evil.
crystal is crystal.
good is good.

Saturday

11062010

this morning. i awakened with a question on my mind: what color is my psyche? but i stopped myself short before offering my question a hasty response. i said to myself: there are stereotypes even for colors. red is for anger, fire, courage. black is for death, plague, grief. white is for purity... and so on and so forth. why should i define my psyche by a color that is already defined by stereotypes? why not define my psyche by... a vibration?


the new question, then: to what does my psyche vibrate? or maybe vibrate is too strong a word? how about: to what does my psyche hum? hum is a word that evokes song... harmony... elation. but yet. i have not answered the question: to what does my psyche hum?


i wanted to answer this question. but now i don't want to answer it anymore. to answer it would be to place definitions... parameters... upon my psyche. to answer it would be to create a new stereotype. and i don't want for my psyche to be a blueprint for stereotypes. i can't to do that to my psyche. i won't do that to my psyche. because. if i do. my psyche will hum no more.

Thursday

11042010

LETTER TO A DYING CHARACTER. SENTENCED TO OBLIVION. MORTALITY. FINALITY:

you were conceived by a miracle
a true immaculate conception, you were
a speck of flesh stimulated 
by the pleasures of my mind
ejaculated onto a field of brilliant white
in a climax as shimmering as one million stars
forever memorialized... cannonized
but now you burden me with your presence
your inconvenience... and your weight
as you refuse to cooperate
and you taunt me... and elude me... and hide
do you fancy yourself a true child
you are but the offspring of whim and fantasy
i gave you life... after all
but you are inconsiderate... ungrateful... unkind


and so, though i made you up
here, i am bringing you down

Tuesday

11022010

you
of long ago
your name no longer passes
against my breath
nor does it linger
inside my mouth
where
once upon a time
it lived and flew
like an angel of eden
with iridescent wings
and it settled in sweetness
upon my tongue


but now
i crave the taste of salt
upon my lips
and inside my eyes
i crave salt's
puckering effects
upon the walls of my mouth
perhaps as a distraction
perhaps as a denial
perhaps to make me forget you
perhaps to make me remember you more

Saturday

10302010

i. am. published.
this is surreal.
unbelievable.
i. am. published.
i need to repeat it.
so i can believe it.
i. am. published.
i need to taste it.
so i can know it.

I. AM. PUBLISHED.

and i'm off to celebrate.

aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!

(yes. that was a scream. of utter joy! and boundless elation!)

Friday

10292010

this evening. i made a gruesome discovery. about myself. a gruesome truth: i have lost my innocence.

this is the time of year. when it is a pleasure to watch a horror movie. or two. this has always been the time of year. while intimations of halloween are in the air. and i have always been afraid. and thrilled. and elated. with the delights of darkness. and the bloodrush of terror.

but. this evening. something new. happened. i watched a movie that had always terrified me. and i was unafraid. i found it silly. ridiculous. childish.

is this what happens when we get older and begin to think with more logic and less fantasy? does fantasy lose its credibility? do we lose a sliver of our imagination? does the world of inspiration become moot? do we lose our ability to be moved by something we don't believe to be true? do we lose joy with more thought... and less play?

when i was a child. i did not know to think or make logic out of a horror film. my mind believed what my eyes saw... even on a screen. my mind also believed what my mind wanted to believe. now. i only believe what i see... in real life. and i even question that... it seems. what happens inside us? why do we release that last bit of innocence? and do we release it? or does it release us? is this an inevitability?

it is quite a sad thing to no longer fear... or be moved... by fantasy. it is a sad thing. to no longer fear. period. and if there is anything. now. that scares. and terrifies. and petrifies. and compels me to be afraid. it is this loss. quite simply. of being afraid. and if there is anything. now. that saddens. and dejects. it is this loss. quite simply. of innocence.

Wednesday

10272010

new color. black. to white. though my mind is not monochromatic. still, the monochrome helps me focus. on the color inside my head. vivid. vivid. vivid. and loud. so loud, i sometimes wish to silence it.

but color cannot be silenced. nor can the imagination be put to sleep. both can only be manipulated. and so. to lessen the clamor. black was chosen. black. because it is the color of manipulation. black. because it is no color. and all color.

but then. the nights grow longer. and the days become more shy. and i long for a certain brightness that can't be found in black. and so. for now. i am shedding the black. and dressing in white. i am changing. from manipulation. to energization.

light shines brighter in the darkness. yes. this i know. but that is the eye playing tricks on the mind.

so.

let the light shine in white.
let it shine pure.
let it shine naked.
let it shine bright.

Sunday

10242010

yesterday morning. i went to the hair salon. snip snip snip. i closed my eyes so i could hear the sound more clearly. and the sound was sharp. and clean. just like i wanted to look. and feel. when my trim was done. and she asked me, my hair stylist: so, what are you doing today, nevine? and i said the first thing that came to mind: relaxing. and she giggled. and said: my boyfriend and i just came back from a four-day trip, and i am exhausted. that's exactly what i need to do, too. relax. and i smiled, and opened my eyes, and said: i lied. i wish i was relaxing, today. but the truth is i have things to do. errands to run. and so, no relaxing for me. and she said: how come you don't just go on strike? and i said, what? and she said: yeah. go on strike. don't do the errands. i mean, it can all wait, you know. gosh, sometimes i just need to say it and believe it, nevine. and i thought about it for a moment. and said: okay. i'll go on strike. i won't do the errands. or the chores. or whatever else needs to be done. i'll go home and spend a relaxing afternoon doing things i enjoy doing. 

and so. yesterday afternoon. i was on strike. i didn't do anything. except what i like to do. and without a morsel of guilt.

and today. i am on strike again. without a morsel of guilt.

trimmed hair. clean lines. a smiling face. a happy nevine.

and a humbling... and humble... thought: sometimes i go away. and when i do the walls do not come tumbling down.

Wednesday

10202010

sometimes. when i write. where there is nothing around. but the scraping of my pen. and the rustling of the paper. and the padded clamor inside my head. i hear another voice. dissuading me. interrupting my flow. i know it's the voice of my doubts. trying to work its way inside my mind. trying to work its way inside my psyche. trying to overwhelm me. and defeat me. but. this can only happen. if. i allow it. and. i do not. allow it.

Monday

10182010

i stop
i sit
i listen
i hear
a silence
with a hum
the ticking
of a clock
my heart
inside my chest
the monotony
of my breathing
i feel
an emptiness
filling up
with
curiosity
and hope
and wonder
a hole
becoming plump
and round
and satisfied

Friday

10152010

when i was a child: i used to go out and catch butterflies. i would wait for them to rest on a bush. i would creep up on them. catch their delicate wings between my fingers. and press lightly. then. i would walk home. take a square of aluminum foil. lay the butterfly down upon it. and seal the creature inside. i would open up my dictionary to a random spot. and place the aluminum foil between the pages. and close the heavy tome.

this was a hobby.

one day: many years later. as i was preparing for my wedding. and for moving into a new home. i was going through my things. what will i take with me to my new life? i went through my books. flipped through my dictionary. forgetting about all the swaths of foil inside. and the dead butterflies came fluttering out. deadweights in my lap.

and the memories came flooding back. and i cried. but these were not sad tears. they were nostalgic tears. emotion washed out of my eyes. for days gone by. beautiful days when my heart was innocent. and freedom was captured between fingertips. innocently.

i still have my dead butterflies. i still cry when i look at them. but not because i am feeling nostalgic. no. not that, anymore. i cry because i killed so many butterflies. so many years ago.

i will always keep the tokens. so i can always remember. and one day. i will forgive myself. for taking a helpless creature from nature's freedom. and stifling her between the mash of murdered trees. and the stiffness of fabricated words.

Wednesday

10132010

today. late afternoon. i went to a bookstore. i love bookstores. but i especially love used bookstores. i love them because they smell like... books. and that is an intoxicating smell for me. more intoxicating than the dearest perfume. so. i walked about the store. in between the many shelves stacked from floor to ceiling with treasures. and i picked out what i wanted to my heart's delight. and then. i found myself a small piece of floor. sat myself down with my little gems. and began to sniff. sift. sliver. sip. and i made my final selections. took my six books up to the cash register. paid for them. carried them out to the back seat of my car. and drove home. the experience should've ended there. but it didn't.

i have the habit of penning the date and place of every new book i purchase into the front page. and so. this evening. i opened each cover gently. with reverence. and delight. book one. book two. and as i opened the cover for book three and prepared to pen my words, i found this:


November 23, 1995


Dear Daddy,
                   I hope you enjoy this book. I have not read it, but I've read two of Peter Hoeg's other works - and he is a truly remarkable writer.
                                         
                                         Much love,
                                         Megan

and my stomach clenched. and my jaw hardened. and my first thought was: how insensitive of this "daddy" to give away a book his daughter had offered him as a gift. why would he do such a thing? but my next thought was: thank god i'm not megan.


a judgmental first thought. and a selfish second thought. yes. i know. but this is the type of judgmental thought and twisted gratitude that marks a lot of human existence. we are grateful for the gifts we have. but. often. we are more grateful for the curses we don't have. especially when we find those curses in another's life. and we see that those curses are alive and well. and we thank our lucky stars those curses have not found us. have somehow missed us. and attached themselves to another. drifting into an existence that is far away from us. and sparing us the burden of their existence in our existence.

i am thankful for having escaped one of megan's curses. but i am quite sure megan would be thankful for having escaped a few of mine.

Monday

10112010

you: your eyes are stars. your body is the sky. and i: i still dream of you. though you are in my life. i still believe you a magic. a spell. a sigh.

we: we touched hands. touched eyes. touched lips. nothing: nothing in eternity. can capture. or rupture. or imprison. that moment. fleeting. but memorized. 

you. and me. no. you and me. with nothing to separate us.

we.

nothing: nothing in eternity. can break our moment. but the gravity of the moment. the gravity. as it happens. as it pulls. as it holds. you. and me.

no. you and me. us.

you and me you and me you and me you and me you and me.

we: we sit. in the dark. we whisper. into the air. our voices. rise into the night. and light it up. like roman candles. fizzing. our voices. singing. 

fizzing. singing.
you and me.
you are.
i am.
we are.
singing.

Saturday

10092010

sometimes. i don't want to write. i just want to read. to go inside the mind of another. and unravel it. and learn what drives it. i want to be a secret intruder poring over the words born of someone else's inspiration. sometimes. my own expression does not satisfy me. i need to experience the expression of another. sometimes. my own thought is inspired by the thought of another. by the outpouring of a great mind.

today. i did not want to write. i wanted to sit alone. in silence. and quiet. and read. while drinking tea. and so. i sat. and drank. and while i drank. i read. dostoyevsky. notes from underground. and i read this: i swear to you that to think too much is a disease, a real, actual disease.  and i stopped reading. and got to thinking. thinking about thinking. about whether or not it is, in fact, a disease. because. if it is. then i am afflicted by this disease.

i think. too much. i think while i am eating. reading. cooking. writing. driving. exercising. sleeping. even while i am dreaming. i think.

some mornings. i wake up and tell my husband: last night, as i was sleeping but not sleeping, i got to thinking.... and he always smiles at me. and says: princess, don't you know how to relax? but i never tell him. because he already knows. the answer to his question is: no. i don't know how to relax. because. i'm always thinking. and i can't stop.

i am afflicted. by this disease dostoyevsky wrote about. afflicted. infected. obsessed. possessed. and nothing. nothing will cure me.

Wednesday

10062010

this evening. i did it again. i went out for a walk. a very long walk. but there was something different about this walk. i did not allow the road to lead me. i led the road. i walked with intent. and determination. and a solid end in mind. that house. that one on the quiet hill. with the neglected garden. and the weeds and all. i was hoping for an encore of the performance from a few days before. i was hoping for the lovely lilt of music once more. and i was hoping. too. that this time. i would see a face. fingers. a smile. from behind a window. so i walked. and walked. and walked. and when i arrived. the windows were latched. the lights were extinguished. and there was nothing. but me. and the tall weeds. and the hammer of the silence inside my body.

Tuesday

10052010

once upon a time. when i was younger. when i was a teen. i didn't give a damn about explaining myself. having to explain myself. to explain WHY. required too much thought. and i couldn't be bothered. then. when i got older. in my twenties. and in my early thirties. things changed. i felt it was necessary. critical. a responsibility. a duty. for me to explain myself. to explain WHY. i felt it was CORRECT. and PROPER. now. as i prepare to enter my forties. i find myself reverting to my teen rebelliousness. i don't give a damn about explaining myself. having to explain myself requires not only thought. but time. and a certain dedication. i find myself asking myself, must i? and why? and to whom do i owe such loyalty and allegiance as to require this explanation? and the answers always leave me with a most certain resolve: i am not required to explain myself. i do not wish to explain myself. i do not owe it to anyone, but a select few, to explain myself. and so. i do not explain myself.

Sunday

10032010

there is a house
on a quiet hill
far from my home
where i ventured
while walking
earlier this evening
an old house
with a neglected garden
weeds ten feet tall
but a vibrant peach tree
flesh-colored fruit
amidst yellow dandelion
i did not know
whose house this was
but i gazed
at the dusty windows
hoping for a glimpse or a glimmer
of open eyes or parted lips
or a curious look on a human face
but not a shadow
or the mist of a breath
came from this shelter
though i searched with my eyes
but i heard in my bones
the softloud music
drum of black and white
piano... forte
streaming from a window ajar
quivering on the autumn air
crescendo
diminuendo
d.c. al coda
and it was not for
eyes
or lips
or human face
to anoint my soul
but rather for fingers
to leave me trembling
in the wake of
their holy hammer

Friday

10012010

there are smiles that are born when our hearts are caressed by joy. there are smiles that are born when our minds are tickled by humor. there are smiles that are born when we wish to deceive... delude... mislead. but. there are smiles... that are born of their own volition. born of an inner something that can't be explained. they appear on our lips... and in our eyes... and fill the air with light.

this morning: i awakened with a smile on my face. and i touched my smile. and smiled some more. and throughout the day. i kept touching my smile. as if i wished to explore. and every time i touched my smile. my smile touched me back.

i am still smiling. and nothing can take that away.

Tuesday

09282010

let the light in.
let the sky open.
let the dawn unfold.
let the morning awaken.
let the clouds fall asunder.
let the mists decline.
let the breeze flow.
let the air delight.
let the day begin.

and never end.

Sunday

Friday

09242010

in a crowd
sometimes
i hear my name
as though i have been recognized
and i smile to myself
secretly
with cunning
and guile
and i stall
and face you
with a puzzled expression
while pretending
i am trying to remember
who you are

Thursday

09232010

trapped: a word that claps with finality. phonetically. it has an ominous sound. but i speak the word. trapped. out loud. trapped. by speaking it. trapped. uttering it. trapped. i am setting it in stone. not for glorification. but for paralysis.

i keep the light on. and it burns. bright. undeterred.

naked.

Wednesday

09222010

an affirmation: i allow myself to think and dream and believe and live... and love... in unlimited ways.

Tuesday

09212010

when i love you. when i say i love you. is it because i love you? or is it because i love myself more? when i worry about you? is it because i worry about you? or is it because i worry about myself more?

i've always wanted to believe that love is unconditional. but it isn't. if you stop loving me. if. you know. i will start to feel sorry for myself. i will indulge in self-pity. and that will make me hate you. because i love me more. i will tell myself that you are not good for me. and that will make me hate you. because i love me more.

when i was a child: i used to worry about my mother. i used to worry about my father, too. but i worried about my mother more. the mother-child relationship is that symbiotic. so. i worried about something happening to my mother. i used to think: if something happened to my mama, what would happen to me?

it is a terrible truth that i love me more. it is terrible. but i must admit it to myself.

it is a terrible truth that love is not unconditional. but i must admit it to myself.

love is not unconditional.

Monday

09202010

i've a bruise on my arm. a small bruise... but not inconspicuous. a love bruise... made from the bonding of body to body. a blue bruise... like the color of the flame that lit our love.

today: i rested my arm against a cushion. my bruise clamored... reminding me it was there... and of how it had come to be. i need but rest my arm against something: a table... a sofa... myself. and the reminder is there. bolder than the moment that created it.

my kneecaps are shot. too many years of sprinting. the doctor once told me not to squat down if i can help it. i can help it. but i don't want to. i squat down on my shot knees so i can see this bruise better in a certain angle of light.

i squat down. and nothing will bring me up.

i am down: with bruise. with pain. with memory. with you.

Sunday

09192010

a lady: she was talking to me. we were chatting about jewelry. when suddenly. our conversation went from jingles to shambles. she told me about how she stopped wearing jewelry. and why. she talked about grief. lost her son. then lost her husband. and didn't allow the grief inside. nine months later. it fell on her. is there another verb? i say it fell, as if to remove any guilt from her shoulders. she used the words i was immersed in it. a violent image. a violent thought. to be immersed in grief. because you did not allow it in. a contradiction, almost. but would you open the door? would you plunge? into a black vacuum? voluntarily?

you would have to be obtuse.

Saturday

09182010

beauty: it is not a sudden happening. it is a quiet shuddering. and it unfolds. like a sky rising out of the sea.

Friday

09172010

last night. i told myself before i went to bed that i would wake up in the dead of night. and listen. my mind must have that much power. my body responded. i awakened. at 2:41 a.m. i opened my eyes. and lay in the dark. and looked at the ceiling. but didn't see until my eyes adjusted. i saw patterns. and my mind drifted. but i was not awake to dream. i was awake to listen. so i pulled my eyes back from their reverie. closed them tight. and listened. and i heard my voice. as if from far away. i heard it calling me. telling me to come look what i found. and i was afraid. when i meet my double in the dark of night, i am afraid to speak with her. she tells me things i don't wish to hear. she tells me. and i have no choice but to listen. it is just me. and her. and me. and no one to separate. or mediate. or soften the blows.

Thursday

09162010

i am haunted. by slivers of music. they follow me. surround me. inhale me. and then exhale me. i am inside the walls of that music that has no walls. no bounds. no edges. no definition. there is only flow. liquid. flame. i can't get out. but i can see outside. this is not a prison. but a spiritual engagement. a compulsion of the soul. a bending of the senses to nonexistent angles. the pulling back from passion. only to plunge into it once more. with more violence. and brilliance. this is exile. and its inversion.

Wednesday

09152010

this is a day i will never forget.

Tuesday

09142010

thoughts. padded and stuttery. not allowed their full expression. when i am busy with what matters more than ME, i can't focus on what really matters... ME.

Monday

09132010

i remember. certain days. in the past. tomorrow seemed a long distance away. and filled to the brim with today. and yesterday.

unsettling... the thought that the future will hold some of the present. and the past. unsettling... these memories. and yet, they exist. and i am helpless to remove them from my reality.

this is how the past exists in the future.

Sunday

09122010

waiting room. i am waiting my turn. others are waiting their turns, as well. each person has come armed with a weapon. the lady across from me has a book. the man to my right has a cell phone. the lady to my left has a cell phone. and... just in case someone forgot their prop, there are four computers against the back wall, three of which are already occupied. we can't be without our weapons and security blankets and defenses. they save us from having to speak with one another. they save us from having to make eye contact. they allow us our own little bubble... invisible, yes... but there. i have my face in my book/phone/computer. you can't talk to me. i am occupied.

i am the only one who has come without a prop. i have no book. i have my phone. but i have never been one to use it for any other purpose than making or receiving a call. i also have a small notebook that i always carry with me... in case i should get a thought i don't wish to forget. shall i pull out my notebook? but... how awkward. it's not as if my muse has just attacked with a slew of inspiration. in fact, i am quite numbed by my surroundings. all i can do is stare wide-eyed at this scene and shake my head (but only to myself, because no one would notice me anyway). though i feel like the proverbial sore thumb because i have no prop, no one acknowledges my presence, or anyone else's for that matter.

i think to myself: if i were to get up and dance like a madwoman, i would get maybe one quick glance from one person or the other before their eyes drifted back to their props.

i ask myself: am i living in the wrong time? or am i in the wrong place?

i hear my name. i have been summoned. i have been saved. this time from my own questions.

Friday

09102010

i have two windows in my kitchen. i like my windows. when i come home from work, i:

drop my keys on the bed
take off my shoes
take off my clothes
turn on some calming music
walk to my kitchen window that looks out into my back porch. from this window, i can see the world around me. i can see my trees. i can see my flowers. i can see my neighbor's yard.

one day. i looked into my neighbor's yard. and saw her. i started to create a life for her inside my head. we spend our days conjuring scenarios for ourselves and others, and then the master plan falls into place and declares itself. usually, it is not a master plan that we have imagined... or created, but a master plan that dances to its own rhythm. we may choose to dance along. or. we may choose to rebel. or. we may choose to do nothing. but the master plan stops for no one.

today. i looked into my neighbor's yard. again. i saw her. again. when thoughts of a master plan for her came into my head, i shooed them away.

i am tired. and i have exhausted the air around me.

Thursday

09092010

a long day ahead. and what day isn't long? time doesn't travel in straight lines. nothing is straight. even light bends. but when time bends, it hides within cracks that i can't go inside. i have to wait for it to remember me... and find me. unfortunate. i am always aware of time's existence... its passage. it is always there to remind me of itself. the ticking of a clock. the movement of the sun. the light chill that touches the air when the day is coming to a close. the droop of my eyes at bedtime. if i were as oblivious to time as it is to me... but. i abort this thought. the long day is waiting for me to begin it. as if it won't begin without me.

Wednesday

09082010...2

today. one of my students said to me. miss, did you ever lie to your mother? she was standing by the door, waiting for the bell to ring. and i was standing with her. i was baffled by her question. stunned into speechlessness. what should i tell her, i thought. should i lie and tell her i had never lied to my mother? or should i tell the truth and... what kind of role model would that make me? i was saved by the sound of the bell. and by her flitty nature. she's a teen. carefree. questions are asked without a real concern for an answer. i remember those days.

09082010

this is not a journal. or a beautiful writing space. or a space for beautiful writing, for that matter. this is me. these are my words. naked. these are my thoughts. unraveled. nothing else. no beautiful art images to dazzle the eye. no elegant twists of metaphor to bend the mind. no dreams. no fiction. only experience. raw. honest. and words. uninhibited. liberated.