V-day for real

This morning I wake up twice. Once, briefly as my husband dresses in partial light. The second time to the sound of my phone seizing on by bedside table.
8:00.
Love Calling.

I answer and E tells me Happy Valentines Day, tells me he’s on his way to the second meeting of the day.

 Valentines Day? Oh, yes. Valentines Day.
I was going to make brownies! Do I have ingredients?
I was going to blog about Saint Valentine. Nobody knows who he really was though…
I was going to do something super thoughtful for… for lots of people.

I stumble to the kitchen, to the bathroom, back to the kitchen. Hot coffee, my laptop, some really nasty/healthy oatmeal and the worst work out of my life, then I’m in the kitchen again. Powdered sugar is everywhere and I’m butchering the brownies into a cheesy heart-shaped one for E, some smaller ones for the office.

Why?
I don’t know. I really really don’t know.

Because if he comes home, and takes off his works socks in kitchen, draping them over one of the stools for me to pick up later, and I say nothing…
if I ask him how work was and really, really listen…
if I let my mind draw near to his victories & hardships
he’d be loved.

And if we really loved then all the other stuff, the 1.whatever billion Americans spend on candy and crappy toys, it would fall away. Swallowed up by real.

A valentine’s blessing…
For the singles feeling slightly anxious and the doubles feeling less-than satisfied– for us– may we cling to the real. May we cherish the memories when we felt love drape us, a silk-lined perfect fit; may we hold to the moments we hewed out little pieces of our own hearts and minds to fully love another. May we cling to the real.

And when we see Love calling in many forms, may we always, always let Real Love in.

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Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too
my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blue black cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the
cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently
to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Tonight, E tells me, “do something you enjoy,” and “come back before it’s too dark.” So I take the spare key, swing onto my bike, and hit the trails.
I could think about the smells of roasted sugar-summer air, or the colors of retreating sun. But it’s 8 o’clock. All I really think about is that my face is now a death sentence for the unsuspecting flea and mosquito parade just beginning. I fear for my nostrils, keep my head down.

Despite the distractions,  fresh air helps me think. And on a bike or a walk is when most ideas come to me. Some are terrible, I should admit,* but tonight I decide I am going to resurrect my childhood dream of becoming an “artiste” (I still can’t spell) which has morphed many times, but is not completely lost– so long as I do not let it be. I decide I am going to write a zine.

I live by the sweetest paths!-- here's some pics of a zine I love
the paths I love and the zine that helped inspire me

On Dreams

Children—classmates, and kid-neighbors, little cousins, and daycare buddies—all of them future firefighters, inventors, astronauts, presidents. Many of them now slipping so silently into turtle shells of adulthood apathy. It’s me too. I have a stinky, confining shell, it’s illusion of safety and responsibility too easy to believe. I want out. I want to dream

To let a dream shift and change with time, I think is almost necessity, but to lose it altogether? Nothing less than living in fear, or worse, apathy.

And this is why I’ve decided [finally and with no compulsion or sanity whatsoever] to write a zine. “What’s that? And “Why?” (you probably won’t, but possibly might ask).  I’m not entirely sure. I just know that a zine can be anything, though it usually comes in the form of a smallish, hand-made/self-published booklet. Maybe I should call this a chapbook? Doesn’t really change a thing either way. The best part about all of this… I’m going to do it here, sharing this process with whoever wants to see it– because writing is a conversation. So I fully expect that what I initially write and what I eventually print, fold, staple and probably never sell, will be a constantly change form. And boy does this excite me.

* I once had a mini-dream to tweet for big bird. Not mimicking a bird-call, but  creating 144 characters about the life of an over-sized, misunderstood golden condor.  I thought it would be fun, semi-ingenious, appealing to the masses of millennials who worshiped his (its?) synthetic feathers. Tweeting on the struggles of life without giant bird seed, the joys and perils of livin’ on the street? Somehow, I never got around to it.

Walking Miss Daisy

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. – James Oppenheim

Walking with a dog is something I never thought I could love. My family’s dog is anxious and desperate, constantly pulling at his leash, choking himself as I grit my teeth.
And yet here I am–happy–walking an old, loving Golden, watching our feet blur in tandem, feeling my nose grow stiff in the cold. The neighborhood is laced in fall colors, a dusky blue sky pronounces the cool perfectly.

I lose track of street names, how many times I’ve turned right or left. We are in a maze of cul-de-sacs and developments and then, this sudden, almost misplaced hill on our right. Maybe it’s part of someone’s yard, maybe not. Either way, it is so strange and disconnected; it seems fair game for footing.

I find myself speaking aloud to the river of gold-auburn fur beside me.  “Do you want to go up Daisy? Yea, girl?” She lunges ahead.

I agree. Something feels right about climbing to higher ground.

It’s a steep climb, requires a lot of toe and calf work, even a bit of deeper breathing.
I find myself imaging a giant tribal chief buried beneath the soil, remembering the Indian
burial mounds on the land where my father grew up.

At the top, I turn and look.

It’s not looking down the tops of red and brown-tinted trees that gets me. Not even how wonderfully part of the elements I feel–the wind abrasive and untamed. It is nothing I can define or express. I am glad for no other reason than simply being.

Rest

This story could be about suffering or pain. To me it’s about rest. I pray we all learn to truly–body, heart and soul– rest.

 I will make them lie down…

My father sits with his head down next to the hospital bed. His hand rests lightly on my forearm. It is just us, so when he speaks of his mother—her restfulness in life—he allows his eyes to run over.

I can feel where the synthetic tubes enter and leave me, can feel the cold fluids pass into me, the constant thrum of pain behind my skin, in tandem with my heart.
I can also feel his thumb. Moving slowly, moving in circles on my arm.
He will comfort me. This man without a mother.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “for the pain.”
I cannot speak, so together, we weep.

Come lie down in meadows green. Come lie
as only lovers
and those dying do.

She dies when I lie, fever beating behind my eyes, face and neck and eyelids swollen to shine red. She feels the expand—this earth’s air—filling her lungs for the last time.
I am glad for her going.

I will lie here and let all my bones–all my strength and sorrow– melt into you.

I have a choice, now.  I can fight to speak, fight to swallow without shuddering. I can let  thoughts of golden streets distract me–so I am never really here, never really hurting.
Or I can slip out of my tattered facade, leave it in a heap on the floor and own
my heavy robe of weakness.
I decide.
Feel my body and mind unravel into His chest. Feel the fraility of my simple, changing frame. He is always true,
today, in weakness, I am too.
I find my rest.

 

Things on rest (that I love): Hibernation, thoughts on rest from a friend, AND
this great poem by Mary Karr

A Cord of Three Then Fraying

I am remembering those nights when

after soup

in the dim of our kitchen,

 

our father

would rise

reach for his coat,

find our fingers, mine and yours,

somewhere in our sleeves.

 

Stepping into the night

slowly,

the air                   the right kind of cold.

 

You and I,

walking in his wake

mint gum, cracked leather, cologne

 

 

 

Or maybe this:

bright flakes

maze the black,

contested

by stars

and stars

and my breath—

caged in

 

my soul’s own night

 

and you,

with our father,

 

now far ahead.

 

Challis Idaho Stanzas

I visited Idaho for only a week or so, Challis was one of the places we stayed. The beauty of the landscape and people who lived there was captivating. If you ever get the chance, go.

Morning

The Sawtooth Mountains rise on all sides, giant piles of fine dust. Closer hills reveal their stalagmite structures, layered, leaving furrows where red rock can only spill. Statuesque, a lone bird rests, unruffled from his perch on the log fence in front of me. No breeze disturbs us; only the sprinklers stop the silence,

try to quench the thirsty earth.

Midday

By ten the sun has no shield, the sky coal-white melting into blue. Crab grass feeds on faucet water, clings to red earth with frail white fingers. I drag my chair, stirring up dust, down the sloping bank, sturdy it on the slimy rock bed, and sit in the river. The cool water running over my ankles hardly satisfies. Soon, I abandoned my chair for the smooth, furred rocks of the riverbed. It’s bliss—sun on my shoulders, on the rivers surface, my submerged skin. All gleam. All seem to shine from within sun-lit centers. Today, I know I am living.

Evening

From where we stand, the basin is the color of fallen pines dyed to earthy browns. A few russet roads run like tiny ant trails from our position on the mountain’s side. Other peaks rise parallel and perpendicular to ours, sea greens and grey, static waves in the dusty sky.

Morning

My mother and I scour the aisles of a local grocery store, the only one in Challis. It smells like moldy cardboard and linoleum tile cleaner. A Native American girl, doubtless a descendant of the Nez Perce who once owned this valley, stocks twelve foot shelves. Tells me the nearest town is an hour away. She laughs when my eyes widen.

It’s no secret this city is dead. After the miners left only the ranchers and trappers stayed. A man, his denim worn to brown, approaches us outside the store. Shoshone or Nez Perce? His face sags as he tells my mom his story. No job, no money. My mother listens, stands in front of me.  When this happens, we usually buy them food, nourish their stomach and not their obsession, but this time is different.

He stayed too.