Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring

Spring is here, although it often feels like it is playing a trick on us--
peeking out, only to slink away again, hiding through another cold and windy day.

Condensation on my skin feels like a whispered memory, rather than present tense
Perhaps I thought that winter would last forever.

Changing colors usher us into the Now, 
and I am chanting my mantra internally, waiting for good news. 
Not because I deserve it. Because it might come to pass. 

Changing lenses, I realize that I am not set up for failure,
 so much as I set myself up for endless possibility. 

One day, chance and good energy and opportunity will align,


For now, I sip my water and try not to sink.
It is Spring. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

on the prolonged and overlapping manner of grief.

There was a time that grief, confusion, distraction--motivated a kind of creative flow within me.
I can remember moments in which I had pure, rabid focus, so determined I was to forget my present circumstances, and delve into a world that I could predict, control.

To craft a sentence that states more than one thing.
To sing a song, which speaks to more than one person.
To make a play that says mouthfuls upon mouthfuls. Words that tell a story, a story that holds meaning.

Today, I stare at half-finished projects, listless resume spaces--unfinished and clumsy songs.
some internal strings have been cut, the hardware is outdated, dusty, ill-fitting.

How do I relate?
How do I tell you that our lives have felt the same struggles over the past year, only in different circumstances? Over the past five years, have we really been the same? Just in different keys?

Perhaps we have been singing a different tune all along.

It is as though
I am standing with my nose nearly touching a painting, unable to see the full picture in front of me. And if I step away, my nearsightedness is so demanding that the whole thing jumbles in patternlessness, it is meaningless.

How do I tell you that it feels as though the whole world is slapping my cheeks and telling me to wake up, get up, starting moving, keep moving, be strong..
And yet.
My first love. My best friend. My father. Gone in such different, yet permanent ways.

~~

Yesterday, I saw a girl that looked like you. Same hair, same clothes, and with a similar manner of speaking.

I thought I was hallucinating, and momentarily wondered if  I have finally cracked,  tipping the scales of grief and tumbling into a sort of madness.

"excuse me, but you look like someone I used to know"

I discreetly take pictures, seeking confirmation of this fact from far away informants. I am relieved to find some level of commiseration. Deciding that this is not, in fact, a hallucination, makes conversation easier.

"you--actually, you look like someone I know as well",
she says.

It is a bricolage of memory-- pieces taken from different inhalations in time. There are parts missing---the gender is inverted and the hair colored in opposite-- like the negative of a photograph.

 The now and then smash together for a quick kiss before parting.

In an instant, I am reminded of the time he switched his black hair to white, and the white to black, only to be disappointed that it took me weeks to notice the difference.

we smile at one another, and I think about my past life for a moment longer, before I am flung back into the now. My nose trained, once again, to a dot on the painting.

~~

I have a love. i have a family. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am doing the best that I can. My mantra, a flimsy protection against the will to never leave bed.


My father, my best friend, my first love.

My friend. My friend. My friend.

A person. A person. A person.

Again. Again. Again.

This too, will not pass.
He too, will never disappear from our lives.

We will carry them on our backs, stacked three high, and our muscles must become stronger. Our throats must learn not to close from sadness. our skin must toughen--it cannot turn to hives any longer. After enough time,there are no more allergic reactions to absence.

But it is an indiscriminate, an unpredictable time.

I do my job, but not much else. I come home. Depress guitar strings, but my father is at finger's reach, and I am quickly fatigued from the stretching.

Well-worn songs promote blindness. Certain stretches of highway may cause spontaneous combustion. Photographs are suspect. Ambition is arsenic.

She's given up, but not before a monstrous fight.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On Student Loans.

Let's take a moment to talk about Student Loans.

Let's talk about how everyone told us they were "no big deal", essentially "good debt" .
because they went toward expanding our opportunities in adult life.

Let's talk about how they tricked us. They duped us into believing that they could buy us stability, happiness, and the life we always dreamt.

Let's talk about how Student Loans can decide how much you can afford to pay, regardless of residential situation.

Let's talk about the moment you feel like you might be safe, able to save money, able to take a pay cut for a job you like--

--they rear their ugly heads in a stream of anxiety and panic, and quadruple in size.

Let's talk about Sisyphus and his boulder.

Let's talk about how we keep  aspirational, low-income Americans stuck in a cycle of debt and disappointment, while the upper-middle class shrugs its shoulders and continues to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots.


let's talk about why I hate unpaid internships.
Let's talk about how truly evil they are.
How they dangle opportunities in front of our faces, only to pull them away at the last moment.
There are no guarantees.


There are no guarantees.

Let's talk about how four years in Ann Arbor got me $30,000 in debt and a job as a glorified secretary at an elementary school.

Meanwhile, my friends ask why I stay in a job where I'm so miserable, where my zest for life went, where my passion and plans flew away to.

they're in my wallet. They're draining out of my wallet. They drain it all, along with 20% of my paycheck.

And you wonder why I'm so bitter.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I don't know.



some rhymes that came to mind when I was sitting in pidgeon pose and suddenly started bawling at around 7PM last night: 



I hold my grief in my hips
and my lies on my lips
but if you give me a kiss
they'll come tumbling away.

I keep my strength in my thighs
and my tears in my eyes
but Still  no will to disguise
the strength of  my memory.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow days now, then, and before.

The blizzard of '15 sounds like a Victorian short story, hand-printed on some antique magazine, full of words that common folk couldn't pronounce, yet strangely fixated on the lives of those same commoners.

There are eight inches of snow on the ground. The blizzard, like the city, is not really much to write home about, after the hype dies down and we see it for what it is. But I am grateful for the odd quiet over Brooklyn. The only sound punctuating this blanketed silence is that of a man shoveling snow. He is doing this as the snow falls, scraping every thirty minutes, in Sisyphean repetition.

I resent him for the shoveling, the reminder that underneath my feet is not grass but concrete and asphalt. The soft snowy down underfoot helps me forget.

Snow days (most days) remind me of my father. For once, these memories make me smile rather than lay back down and sigh and try to get up once the feeling has subsided. He loved any excuse to eschew his hour long drive to Virginia, any excuse to get out the sleds and nearly concuss us all by group sledding into the woods by our house. A few times, the Appalachian Mountains  that stood guard over valley where we lived would let a little extra snow pass through, allowing for snow forts and full weeks without school. One of my earliest memories is  that of a blizzard of  a foot of snow or more. Dad had to pick me up and carry me to an igloo he built with my older sisters. When I walked, the snow buckled my knees and made  me fall. Everyone laughed, but I remember the snow burning my cheeks and nose and turning the inside of my mouth cold.

 Snow ice cream--maple syrup drizzled over the cleanest snow we could find--was always an appetizer for midday pancakes or oatmeal cookies. Long days spent reading books from start to finish, because we didn't really have a TV. Perhaps these memories make me smile because they feel as long ago as Laura Ingalls Wilder tales, a family homesteading in the great wilderness. In my childhood memories, it is always Fall in Shepherdstown , Winter at the Lloyd house, Spring in my grandparents' backyard, and Summer at Camp Frame. A constant cycle of moments that weave together a tale I did not realize was ending until it was long gone.

I can recall the first and last time my father and I paddled the Potomac in our canoe; The first snowfall in my mind has his grey-brown hat bobbing up and down the driveway just as it did this time last year, when I was home and lost and trying not to be afraid of adult life. I cannot remember the first time we played music together, but those songs weave through every memory, a soundtrack to our time together I am a child, I'll last a while, you can't conceive of the pleasure in my smile--you hold my hand, rough up my hair, it's lots of fun to have you there.

The memories, like smoke, are visible but neither tangible or traversable.
I can stare into the fire,  make them known on paper, or stuff them down into a drawer until one day, I finally clean it all out, and it ignites sparks of sadness and reminiscence all at once.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A note to my father, on the occasion of his Birthday.

trying to play my dad's song about the moon that he so meticulously taught me during our last meeting. The chords are simple but are tripping me up. The story I know. The melody I have inhaled and exhaled every day since that last day, when he bent his poor body over his Taylor for one last jam session, to make sure that I knew those words and chords. Someday I'll be ready to play it, because I think that was his intention, for it to continue to be played. He was, i think, passing it down in a sense. An honor I only slightly deserve by virtue of my acoustic preferences.

 Today I cannot get through it. Yesterday I could not finish. Tomorrow will likely be the same. But in that moment, not quite three months ago, he knew that a time would come when my tears would dry and my whole body would not shake at the thought of his absence, and I would be ready to remind everyone that Greg Lloyd wrote a song. A pretty damn good song.

And so I keep practicing, Dad. Because despite the fact that this feels like an endless pit into nothingness and more sadness and a life that is just empty, empty empty---you seemed to believe otherwise. Even in your last days--you seemed to know that we would all wake up one day with light hearts and eyes not so red and puffy from tears, and we might want to hear that song you used to play so often in our living room, sweat wicked away by old bandanas, yellow light twinkling off of your eyeglasses, dancing along to the rhythm. Somehow, you knew that it would one day bring me joy, instead of this keening sadness. Despite the wretched illness, despite the sorrow creeping into my throat even then, as I saw you so sick, and realized that it might be the last time-- those months not so long ago.

And so I'll keep playing. Just so I don't forget  when the time comes. For once, you were right.

Monday, January 12, 2015

When I'm Fat.

I want you to track all of my movements in the same way that you read my e-mails, my tweets, my LinkedIn account.

I want you to record it all.
"January 5th. Half Mile. Lost car somewhere on Flatbush. 45 calories."
"January 6th, 90 minutes Bikram yoga.  Misguided New Years' Resolution. 300 calories." 
"January 4th, 10 minutes, rigorous sexual activity, interrupted by dog barging in and pissing on the duvet. 76 calories." 

I want it on a public file somewhere, so when I am over 30  years old and 15 pounds overweight, people will see that I do a moderate amount of exercise. This includes (but is not limited to) the  occasional bike-to-work day.  On further inspection, they can see that I eat (and cook) fresh vegetables, although my one weakness is pizza.

This information will flash across the screens of passing strangers'  Google Glasses (or whatever screen-stalking technology is currently en vogue), so that judgement can be reserved for the more lethargic fatty a few blocks over.

That way people will know that, despite being overweight, I am a functional human. There is substance beneath the rolls and cellulite.

I want "she's okay, considering everything",
to roll across the screen every time I turn a corner and run into a stranger while my thighs rub Indian burns onto one another, and my ass cheeks sweat Rorschach prints into my fruit-of-the-loom panties.

I will have a fully functional online body-profile. Not only will you see the stats, but while you are staring with disgust at my swollen ankle, there will be a recording of my voice, repeating:

I  eat grass fed beef, goddammit. I buy quinoa instead of pasta, despite possible economic consequences for Peruvian farming communities. My eggs are cooked in coconut oil.

It is time to let the world know, as they tap on their their illuminated screens, attempting to make me shame-famous on their twitter account: I have done my part in eliminating global unsightliness. My failings are less willpower, and more genetic. I have resolved to marry a skinny man. I am doing my part.
 For the most part,I try to be a happy, healthy member of society.

Otherwise, how would they know?