We Live Here Now (after @weliveherenow)


We live here now. House of brick, black shutters, screened in side porch, slate walkway. A kind of corner lot, but not really. On one side there’s a gravel alley and on the other side Alice and her husband live in a house that looks like ours. She blows the leaves around and empties the bag of leaves onto the yard full of leaves. I’m not sure of her method, but the husband’s is more clear. He sits on the back stoop and smokes for long stretches of time, hunched over a newspaper. The other day you told me you like his look: Big gray beard, faded red Patagonia jacket, a cap pulled down low over his eyes. We watch them from our kitchen window, bare without curtains or a shade. You want more privacy, so people can’t look in the way we look out, but I wave it off. We’re neighbors, right? And this is the city. Of course it’s not the city like I knew once, apartments so close I could reach my arm out my bedroom window, swat a pigeon away, and nearly reach into another person’s living room. It wasn’t even a bedroom, not really, but that was a kind of city life I don’t think you’d ever want. I close my eyes and try to remember all three of my city addresses, but they’ve mostly faded. How many addresses have we shared? This one makes five: One for every year we’ve been together. Today I washed the blinds for hours while the painter worked in the dining room smoothing Alpaca gray on the walls behind my piano and you rode your bike in the park with my brother. I worked so long I forgot how angry I’ve been for weeks now. How everything irritates me and my whole body is a bottomless well of frustration and tension. A friend sent me a message that said you look so happy lately in your pictures! And I said actually I’m not and then wondered if maybe she isn’t right and social media is just one stupid, wishful layer of the truth. I admire my work on the blinds, the faint smell of bleach and wood and dust tracing my skin. In the bathroom upstairs, I see particles of dust forming again already on the blinds I wiped there just yesterday, when I started cleaning. I laugh to myself. Force the smile and let it spread. A new practice I’m trying; a kind of disruption. When you come home I tell you this dumb story of the cycle of dirt and dust and chores as if to say look how much I’ve done! And also look how it’s never done. But we live here now and I want it to be beautiful. We keep walking into the electric green-blue on the kitchen walls now and think beautiful. Coastal Aqua. Expansive and hopeful. Or that’s how I think of it. Surprised every time I turn the corner. That we did it. That we made it. That we live here now. That love feeds us enough to go on. That love finds us in every corner, despite every inch of dust growing there constantly, begging to be wiped away.

Finding Flo...

All week you anticipate a hurricane but today it is simply the storm that wasn’t. Or, rather the storm that was somewhere else. There is a vague sense of guilt surrounding your relief. Knowing disaster is unfolding somewhere else, to other people and homes and lives. How can we ever truly be glad when the storm passes if it still exists elsewhere? All week you tell your students to keep their pens and pencils moving during journal writes. Don’t stop! Even if you have to write nonsense in order to keep going! You suggest a kind of urgency must spring from their words, but is it true? You are amazed at how many of them want it regardless, how easily most of them bow their heads and move their hands in this continuous rhythm. You write with them too. You told yourself you’d write every single day with them, which is already a failure but one you can reinvent. When you look up and scan the room occasionally you notice the ones that have in fact stopped. The one or two bodies that resist this altogether, or stop to edit even though you warned them not to, the ones that gaze listlessly—you wonder how vain you are to think that all of them must do anything at all. All week you eat too many carbs and not enough coffee and you fight a cold. You bear nearly unbearable pain in your jaw and face and you persistently wonder where it comes from in your body, your mind. You understand it’s all connected which is both helpful and not. At the dentist’s office the doctor asks you if you’ve had any stressful events in your life recently and you say a new job, but think to yourself how you like this job, maybe even love it, and you wonder too why even good things can be stressful. You wonder if you don’t know how to not feel stress. No matter how much you’ve learned about how to shift it out of the body, the mind. It feels like it’s been held in your body for so long that it has become home. You wonder if it isn’t a little like waiting for a storm that never comes. Always holding, anticipating, expecting the worst. Not trusting. Yes that’s it. Not joy. Not really living at all. You wonder if that scenario isn’t a little grim, and so you task yourself with cultivating a new scenario. Isn’t all of it a series of storms passing? You hesitate to push the analogy too far, but you still wonder. You wonder. You watch the branches and the leaves all day to see how much they tremble, how violent they might become. You absorb the gray skies, the damp ground. You embody the weather. Raging, faltering, wondering, changing course, holding fast.

An Open Letter

Dear Someone,

So much of what we inherit we cannot see. I think about this lately—emotional lineage, the weight of grief and wonder and joy that gets passed down, how we carry it forward. What I’m really thinking about is how much inheritance is actually narrative and story, which is no small thing. How we can decide at any point to leave certain inherited things behind, even if it’s felt sense. Especially if it’s that. Changing the narrative. We decide what we carry forward, and what we don’t. I inherited a love for letters from my mother. I don’t remember the exact moment, but I know she taught her children to write thank you notes and cards. We were not an overly decorous bunch, but thank you notes were imperative. My mother’s penmanship, with its neat lines and fluid curves, is unwavering in my mind. We’ve written to each other for decades, since I left for college and throughout every subsequent move afterward, and nearly every time she opens with a reference to the weather. Is this some 1960s salutatory throat-clearing? A contextual grounding in the moment? Either way, it is both beautiful and heartbreaking, for the weather changes continuously once the letter is sealed and sent, rendering a little bit of the missive a moot point, though surely it remains a testament to the moment in which it was written, which must matter more. The urge to sit and communicate, and describe one’s surroundings. How it bleeds into the rest of the letter’s narrative. How weather and temperament so often parallel. Of course letters are mostly a novelty now, an almost anachronistic nod to less technologically saturated times, for we fill the spaces in between letters with texts and emails. The whole letter could be a moot point by the time you receive it, some momentary giddiness when it’s in your hands, and then a text saying got your note! Still this does not lessen my love for the practice. Still I long to write and receive said notes.

What can I say about the weather here, now? It rained so much in May I began to call it the rainy season in my mind. Weeks of afternoon downpours, brief but big thunder and lightning storms. I saw the small forest we have in the park nearby transform into a verdant jungle. Trees laid on their sides after roots were too wet to stay rooted. The dogs and I climbed over and under them during our walks. Everywhere a faint smell of almost-rot, like overripe fruit. Enormous amounts of trash from nearby streets and neighborhoods lined the banks of the creek and the lake, stranded and tangled in weeds. I feasted on endless green—the wild mess of bushes and vines, trees overfull so much that their branches sagged and made a dense canopy for light to creep through in skinny beams, sometimes seemingly backlit by yellow heat.

Eventually the rain stopped. Nothing left but the unyielding humidity I’m convinced gets worse each year. Just this morning I stood in the backyard before coffee and let myself be enveloped with the dank force of it, kindling my headache, squinting against the June haze. I’ve stopped and started so many things this year. Do you do this? Don’t we all? In a recent session with a hypnotherapist I was seeing here, she suggested that the work we do is like turning the soil. You begin with a particular intention, and often so many other things get stirred up in the process. Everything turns over. I think about that constantly since she mentioned it. Another form of practice, in a way. Of process. I am uninterested in progress, in holding myself up against timelines and goals and boxes to be checked, but it’s hard to let go that pressure. I want to be the turning soil, embodying change and emotion and vulnerability. Maybe I am. Some mornings when I actually wake up from a deep sleep it shocks me. Most of the time I am restless and wake too easily. Several times recently when I laid awake in bed poem ideas washed over me, whole lines and titles even, and my heart pounded in recognition. I wish I could say I remembered them or sat up to write them down. But everything I know about this process reminds me not to wait for inspiration, to sit in devotion instead. To commit to practice. I am more fearful of wasting time these days than anything else. But what if it’s feeling I’m wasting? Too sad, too self-absorbed. Haven't I learned that attachment to anything causes suffering? Maybe I’m feeling my age, my mortality. Maybe I'm so in love with the world I'm terrified to let go of it. But I remember letting go every day. How imperative. Still, I’m so tender it nearly kills me.

A couple of nights ago I took the dogs into the park late, after dusk. The dark came on in a way that should have scared me, but didn’t. We made our usual loop around the periphery of the park, and down to the paved paths that encircle the lake. When I say I cried the whole time I mean I let the tenderness guide me. Who could hurt me then? Here, the crescent moon like a brilliant toenail. Here, wild chorus of crickets and katydids calling to me. The bullfrog’s croak like a sonorous pluck of an upright bass string. Here, the heady scent of beloved honeysuckle and gardenia. Here, the rushing creek over ancient boulders. I gave myself to this night. I nearly screamed SAME at the cacophony of insects and animals and tears and what turned within me. Can you imagine life without these moments of exposure and disregard for shame? Can you imagine an even more radical implementation of forgiveness and attention and joy? I care only for this. Tell me where you feel it. That’s all I want to write about anymore. In every letter, poem, text, list, book. Turning and turning and turning. All soil all the time. Is it possible this is something I inherited, too? A tenderness that moves me each day? Once I feared such tenderness, but I don’t now. What about this attention to small things, which will always reveal the bigness to me? Do you feel that, too? I like to think I learned these things through practice, but I wonder if I’m not just unearthing what was already there. An ancient lineage of waking, and I’m awake to it.



once I wrote a poem called salt season and I thought of it today when this came through

Will I accidentally live forever / And be sentenced to smile at men / I wish were dead

Morgan Parker


summer arrives blunt-edged overbearing   your therapist suggests a test for hsp or highly sensitive people and you smirk as if you need this test you know your sensitivity is an overgrown garden you soaked Bukowski-like in brown liquor and cheap wine for years but that which you can not kill only grows like a weed   yesterday you tromp thru woods hauling the dogs sweat beading upon your brow and in between breasts oh this again  beating feet to keep up with your man who blazes before you threatening to catch this whole green sea on fire for a moment the shade opens up to a field of honeysuckle that which you die for one redeeming summer signal one repeat offender you crave wanting to cover you over with it string it from your neck your wrists a whole pyre of such unlikely kindling how does your garden grow now   now that you don’t drink it dry now that you peel back layers of steel and iron skin a whole unending pasture of sensitive regenerative cells underneath waiting for your kiss your hot breath your attention   lately you bathe in new hip hop royalty you relearn yoga in your living room you fear something terrible is happening in the world today you hear the muted cries on the radio before you turn the whole thing off and feel okay about it because the test suggests that an hsp such as yourself is bothered by intense stimuli like loud noises or chaotic scenes  you wonder too how long it will take before you quit your job because you can’t stomach one more night of your boss saying   if you weren’t such a bitch about everything it would be nice or perhaps you should just try being nice or have you ever thought smiling more it’s nicer that way    you go back to that particular field of tangled honeysuckle brush at the edge of the woods near the elementary school fence and roll your body around until the scent covers your skin like your dog does with something dead in the yard   you reek with pungent flowers then your sensitivity spilling out of your pores like sweat like river like ocean  that which you can no longer hold inside that which you can only drink from and grow

what & where?

On the day you turn 40

you want blue skies that invite surrender that fill your lungs with blue a school of orange fish swimming their hearts out a flock of smallest songbirds also shades of blue fluttering inside your fluttering \\

double orchid bloom arms to squeeze out all of your exaltations and odes and perhaps an elegy too for all the sad things but on this day which is the day after the first day of spring not in fact the actual first day you quickly learn it is a day like any other day despite your expectations built strong as a sailboat underneath such blue sky days \\

this second day of spring wet snow falls for hours limbs sag with the heaviness of wet snow and flowering buds some in fact already in full bloom for it is March and warm days arrive early now you feel a twist of fear in your crown for the flowers \\

on the day you turn 40 it snows and your list of plans dissipates like the snow itself eventually will you have coffee in bed and read essays and pet your dog which already has the essence of every other day though you return to the idea of celebration and wonder if this isn’t the very thing you must not let pass by like seasons like fire like every other ending or series of endings \\

you talk to your girlfriends on the phone exchange well wishes and attention to the extraordinary efforts of women and your shared language and hearts as full as the sails of those boats gusting across the bay in deep summer oh this is celebration then you decide \\

over soggy eggs with your husband your eyes dart around the room at couples eating and you laugh some and inhale the noise gusting a bit inside you remember the phrases that sing in between recently what do you feel and where do you feel it \\

you walk the dogs in the slushy snow watch them run you celebrate this too you feel it here and truth be told you wanted something to shock you awake as if the freezing cold day can’t suffice as if you don’t spend enough hours paying attention to feelings and where and why \\

you go to the movies alone and see the film about two men who fall in love for a summer beautiful Italian countryside soft warm tones the edges smoothed out with fat brushstrokes orchards heavy with peaches and apricots and lust you cry alone in the dark theater just another one of your pleasures another real truth \\

what is not to celebrate about this moment and the heartbreak on display you are reminded of love like that you both know and will never know you are reminded of the constant intersection of sorrow and joy which you write to and speak to in everything it is so often both things at once like Ross Gay says and his poems prove to you \\

you aren’t sure at the end if when the young lover cries in front of the fireplace you are crying too because he didn’t turn his feelings off and what a radical act that is or because his parents were unlike the parents you had or most people you know had or if it’s because you will never be 17 again \\

you decide nothing turns out the way you want it today you cancel the dinner reservations you don’t eat dinner at all just cupcakes you allow yourself to be taken into the arms of an actual person that loves you not the orchid arms not the empty sailboat but still blue and surrendering you chide your expectations fluttering like confetti to the ground like melting snow \\

you turn to the page you turn off your phone you craft a tiny ode in your head after the film to Frank O’Hara for he floods in whenever you feel the mirror of attention is unjust and tulips both in bloom and not in bloom you are both you feel it here swimming in the bay here in the messiness of your memory here in the soft skin on your cheek here in the stale popcorn and cherry cola oh how you celebrate the ordinary now its wide possibility both astounding and disappointing you every day you make room for it and you look steadily at the unending horizon of ordinary things and will for forty more years if given the chance

Body My House

How will it be

to lie in the sky

without roof or door  

and wind for an eye

-May Swenson


Here’s a story of what I did today, the whole while with varying degrees of a chronic tension headache, which is how I live most days of my life:

I stay in bed for too long. It’s a Saturday. I have only lived in Richmond for three weeks and I still have no job to speak of. My mother texts me to ask if I still have my wisdom teeth. I write I think I have one left. She’s read something about a man who had his removed and as a result, his migraines improved or maybe disappeared, I don’t know.

I don’t have anywhere I have to be and the truth is, I love lying in bed reading in the mornings for as long as I can because I don’t tend to fall asleep in my book like I do at night. I let the dogs out and Hank and I promptly get back in bed, opening the blinds first to let in natural light. I prop myself up and we read. I slept like shit the night before. Too hot from layers of wool blankets and the air blowing all night. Too stressed from restaurant dreams and the constant running, stumbling, not knowing. Too worried (who worries in their sleep?) about climate change like always and how much power we use, when it will run out. It’s insane. Without coffee, without brushing my teeth, I read. I look at my phone for a bit. The usual stuff. Except the government is shut down. Women’s marches are scheduled all over the country. I read. I notice my headache.

I eventually get up, but I only sort of have to. The boys want to go to the climbing gym. I make a cup of instant coffee, slather wheat toast with peanut butter and honey, and cut an orange into quartered segments like my mother would do. Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is a little too loud but I leave it. I stand in the kitchen and eat and fuss around which is my usual manner of eating and doing morning coffee stuff. This house is tiny and the kitchen is a little galley and I love pivoting from one counter to the other without much movement. It feels safe and familiar already. We will probably leave this house in a year because it is only a rental, but we won’t leave Richmond. I can’t move anymore. I want this to be home.

I don’t tell people I have headaches. I don’t talk about it much, only to certain people and maybe only in passing. Occasionally I do because I want someone to know something about me that’s intimate and almost taboo. Sometimes it’s just to feel a shred of relief, just in the saying of it. It’s true that sometimes I say it to be comforted. To relieve myself a bit. But you must understand that I never tell people I have headaches in order to incur pity or even sympathy. Quite honestly it’s sort of the opposite that prevents me from mentioning it most of the time. I don’t want suggested remedies or advice or sorrow. I don’t want a million questions about why or where or how often. I don’t want to explain the difference between migraines and tension headaches. I don’t want to talk about the fact that I believe my headaches are caused by emotional pain in my body, a long history of grief and stress held in my muscles, because most people look a little puzzled by that or even roll their eyes a bit.

Still, sometimes I do say it, and sometimes the telling feels good. And I’m writing this now because I realize that I’m changing, I feel a shift in the way I relate to and experience my headaches, in the way I talk about them, or don’t. I realize my silence around them is laced with a complexity of feeling that includes pride, shame, embarrassment, confusion, grief, and plenty more. I realize, with some recent therapy that gifted me true emotional intelligence, that my pain isn’t my fault. And these days I’m feeling really committed to the power of voice and narrative and the capacity women have for sharing the breadth of our experiences, be it traumatic, joyful, curious, unsure, angry, demanding, you name it. I want to hear it. I want to encourage it. I can’t exclude myself from this. I won’t. I will never accept that some stories are worth telling and others aren’t. God who the hell gets to decide such a thing anyway? This week I was lucky enough to take a writing workshop with a local woman who champions story and voice and writing for everyone. She teaches these beautiful classes where everyone writes and everyone shares and she listened to each one of us and then looked us directly in the eye and said supportive and encouraging things about every piece of writing she heard. And we all heard each other. The writing was outrageous in its honesty and emotion. Every piece. My skepticism fell away in an instant. It made me want to forget everything I know about criticism and commentary. It also made me want to listen to others more and stay open. Really open. I knew in those three hours that I was home, that writing could be whatever I want it to be, but it must be shared and it must feel supported. In me, first.

We rock climb today. Walk dogs. Eat sandwiches at the coffee shop. Talk to strangers. Play in the muddy backyard of our little rental house with my brother and his son and my husband and his son and all of the dogs run wild and eat sticks. The sun is warm and the snow is mostly gone. The boys sweat and get dirty and I watch and talk and my brother tells me we have all these dogwood trees in our yard that I didn’t recognize because of the bare branches but god I hope they will bloom in the spring. I want to witness the white blossoms and bury my face in them. I have a headache through all of this, the whole day. I am not in staggering pain and there are moments when I forget it altogether, but it rarely leaves me. You must understand that comparing this pain to the pain other people feel is foolish and impossible. I know others hurt more, and others hurt less. I know it pains my mother deeply to know I feel physical discomfort on a regular basis. She wants to fix it for me, and I understand that’s her instinct. But what if this pain isn’t easily fixable? I have to live with it. I am learning to befriend it. When I refuse pain reliever she chides me and says I don’t know why you want to suffer. Which is a fascinating and complicated question, too. You must understand that the easy and obvious answer is of course I don’t want to suffer. Of course I don’t want to have pain, but my acceptance of it, my surrendering of the fight against it, has been an integral part of my healing. I have learned to acknowledge my pain and even cultivate a curiosity around it that feels less rooted in judgment and fear, and this is less of a cure and more of a balm for me. A sort of antidote that I can’t and don’t necessarily want to explain. Sometimes my silence around it is driven by this internal work, which is just the nature of the thing. But I also know I don’t have to hold it all in and keep quiet. It’s a choice really, and it changes day to day. But underneath that there is also a strange and somewhat addicting identification with one’s pain. I’m not sure if that’s me or not, but I’m also not so foolish to suggest that no one wants to feel pain. I can’t say that for sure, certainly not for other people.

What I do know is that I don’t want to prevent myself from living my life and having a good day like I did today. I had a gorgeous vegan dinner tonight with my cousin and we ate from tiny little plates heaped with hummus and winter slaw and turnips and oyster mushroom and yam and sunchoke pudding. After, I drove the streets slowly so I could peer into restaurant and apartment windows of my new old city and felt at home. Again. Like I had several times today already. I had a headache during most of these moments, and while I don’t feel sorry for myself, I will neither romanticize nor diminish this pain anymore. A long time ago, probably while studying yoga, I learned the phrase: I am not this body, I am not this pain. That’s so damn helpful. And so I’m expanding my thinking now to include silence. I am not my shame, I am not my silence. Sharing story is not self-serving (like I sometimes convince myself). Story doesn’t have to be trauma-filled in order to be shared. Story doesn’t have to be polished, finished, or logical. Story doesn’t have to have a cure or a moral. Story doesn’t have to be exceptional, and it doesn’t have to be interesting to everybody at every moment. I like ordinary stories best. Ordinary bodies in ordinary time, paying attention to what ails us, and what allows us to feel free.

A Reflection

What did you make this year? What did you learn? What big, loud idea took hold of you? What tiny note of truth found its way to your lips?

This year I made more room in my story, which is my life, which is my heart, which is this moment; all the same. In order to make room I had to shift, get rid of some things, allow some new things in. Here, a wave of incredible discomfort. The good stuff. What I’ve been waiting for. I learned that story is both real and unreal. Right now: The wind knocks snow from the branches of trees outside my window, a new window with a view I’ve not yet become familiar. My dog snores in between my legs atop a heavy wool blanket my mother gave me years ago. In the other room my husband sighs. The radio hums. My ears ring and buzz and it’s the loudest thing in this story. All of it real. Immediate. I’ve learned what’s less real are the thoughts that persist—binaries of good/bad, silent judgments of me and my work, of this page, of the relationships I cherish. All of it hinged on fear. I’ve learned to feel it coming on. To speak to it in kind, quiet tones that murmur hey, not today. I’m telling a different story now. Is there a bigger idea than this? Not for me, not right now. My ideas are not so loud these days but they grip me with a force I can’t understand. I am strong and soft. I am a sensitive being. I feel everything. I am not wrong. I am here. I don’t need to know anything about tomorrow or next week. I’ve always been fine. Truth, truth, truth. Tiny notes. Quiet notes.

What is on your  2017 "ta-da!" list?

I don’t know.

That’s the biggest one. That I simply don’t know. Also that I am sad, that my grief is multi-faceted and authentic. That I am happy, too. That I am both, all the time, and so is everyone. I look for it in you, in me. Pulsating spectrum of emotion in the body, skin, face, eyes. There.

What brought you the most joy this year?

Every single day that I look at my dog and watch his belly expand and contract, I feel a rush of joy. When I watch him growl at the wind, at the mailperson. At me when I tease him. For me this is nurture at its best, my one foray into motherhood. My heart is wider now. When Tommy and I laugh, when we make fun of each other and of this life, I feel deep joy. It is enough, I’m beginning to know.

What did you read? What did you write? What did you watch?

I read memoirs and books about memoir and memoir by women. I started a list of these books in January and never finished it. This year I’ll try again. I read op-eds and headlines and novels and self-help and poems. Always poems. I still read too many books at a time. I still don’t finish many of them. I still devour some of them in one day. If you ask me what I want to spend my days with I’ll always say books. And coffee. And a warm blanket. I wrote poems about marriage, I wrote poems as furious letters to the president, I wrote letters and postcards and pages of notes in my computer for a book, for a journal, for this. I wrote blog entries and made them public despite feeling self-conscious and narcissistic and afraid. I wrote emails to students. I wrote text messages to most people I love, and often. I wrote. And I will keep writing. I watched bad movies on the couch with my husband and some good TV shows, too. I watched our dogs play for hours, every week. Mesmerized by their energy. I watched a sea of women in pink hats move in synchronicity toward something they believed in. I watched myself age a bit, fine lines of gray in my hair, fine lines etched more and more into my face. I watched the astonishing mountain ranges in Colorado rise up to my view as I drove west several times a week this fall. I watched them disappear in my rearview as I drove back home.

What has made you feel most alive?

Change. Constant change. Out of control change. Out of control everything. Knowing that.

Moving my whole life and home and family to Colorado and then moving back again 8 months later. A story both real and unreal. Walking across the stage to receive my second degree. Hiking up 12,000 feet in the thinnest air I’ve ever breathed. Hating and loving every single step. Watching my husband move with beauty and fearlessness up the same mountain. He could run laps around me and seeing how alive he is there makes me feel more alive, too.

Paying attention.

Feeling my feelings. Talking about them out loud in therapy, with my dearest friends, to my dog.

My headaches make me feel more alive, my daily frustration, my anger at injustice, my fear for the planet and its dwindling resources, my inability to let go of control, my tiny steps I make toward letting go anyway.

**What are your DESIRES / intentions for the new year 2018?

I’ve been writing to-do lists since I can remember. As a young girl until now. When did I learn to do that? Each list stitched together with the finest efforts to improve, get things done, make neat and clean, feel content. How I love her, still. More.

And I won’t stop making lists.


There is a wellspring of desire in me that I will no longer ignore. Rumi said desire is something like an energy body inside us, informing everything we do. Moving us forward. I feel that. I don’t want to reduce it to what I should do. What I have or haven’t done. Those stories aren’t real. The only real story for me is vulnerability, the ways in which I resist it and embrace it. The ways I feel it in my body, the ways I try not to feel it because of some old story, the ways I honor that, too. The moment in which I share it, and see it in others. The moment when I give up, start over, make peace, fall down in sadness and exhaustion, fall back in giddiness and joy, crumple to the floor, my whole body like any body that breathes and knows little of why.

DAY 30

How long the day. How few memories. Sun shines warm enough to lay in the grass and watch the dogs fight and play. Over and over. Until no more.

DAY 29

I cry in my car. Because the songs are sad. Because the mountains are so huge and beautiful and covered with snow looming beyond the foothills. Because all of these women. Because silence. Because countless men. Things aren't looking up. But I am looking up tonight. It shines like always.

DAY 28

There's a fly in Bruce's hair. I stare at it for half a minute or more. Also there's a crumb. I wonder about the flies in the bar today. How it was 75 and sunny yesterday and today it's freezing. It's almost December. I watch a video online that tells me 200 species a day go extinct. Every day. I keep seeing a picture of fish swarming the stark blue ocean over and over. How there are half the amount of fish there now than before. When's before? I don't know. I don't know how to unsee these videos. These pictures of blue and fish. I don't know how to preserve the ocean and keep it for myself and everybody. I don't know how to not feel mountainous despair. How to not be guilt-ridden and sad. What do you do to make yourself not feel terrible? Or, what do you do to make a difference? Oh, to change. A woman I like sits at the bar and eats 1 slider and 3 deviled eggs. She swats occasionally at a fly near her face, her food. Her lipstick today is darker than before.

DAY 27

Sometimes I see my students' faces and all of their desire and fear and mistrust. They want to say things but they don't. They don't know how good they are. I get down close beside them and say too much. Fill the space. Look at their faces. One looks at me today as if I am telling her things she already knows, or doesn't want to know. I keep talking. I walk away. Today I saw two of them in the hallway and one walked right past me and another looked at me and smiled nervously and I held her gaze for a second to smile back. We don't know how good we are.

DAY 26

So little of what I observe is terrible, grotesque, or even out of the ordinary. To what do I bear witness, and what does it reveal about me? That I only register the mundane? This evening after I finished work a guy at the bar said--Look outside at the light right now, I'm going to go see it. I went out after him and it was deep pink touching down on cars and sidewalks in front of the hotel and lasted like two more minutes. I got in my car and drove to pick up dinner and the sky truly was spectacular. I kept saying to myself--isn't this just like a painting. The clouds really looked like brushstrokes of grayish-pink and they rolled toward the mountains like live currents. I looked away from all the blinding artificial lights on every store and house and kept my gaze upward once I parked. Would I rather this be something awful? Would I rather tell you that I suffered? Would I rather have not seen it at all? But I can only see what I'm awake to. I can't not see the sky tonight.

DAY 25

Not a winter sky, not yet. But a fat toenail of a moon and a slip of cloud in the blue-black night. Clear. Cold. Not all the way winter, not yet. We are still here.

DAY 24

I look at you two sleeping together and it looks like love. A twitch or shudder across the eyelid, the lip. A jerk of the shoulder. Is it restlessness underneath the spell of sleep, or a need to move, to stir, to change. Subterranean desire. You curl toward him; he curls toward you. Man and dog. On the blanket the swirl of a green leaves I trace with my finger. Smell of your skin. Your feet move beneath the sheets like swimming and I wonder how far there is to go.

DAY 23

thanks to the man with the harry potter glasses and his daughter he was so proud of thanks to the bandaid on my finger and for not making a deeper cut thanks for pie and standing outside with Travis while he smoked a cigarette thanks for my friends feeling better thanks for the news not being so terrifying or maybe thanks for not reading too deeply sorry but I can't thanks for my dogs deep snore and his fat belly thanks for breath pretty much that's all the steadiest thing

DAY 22

scanning through my mind's eye for today's image a bowl of halo oranges a pot of simmering cranberries the dogs gnawing on sticks the lack of people in the neighborhood in the green space outside quiet days loud nights a circle of hands around our plates say grace someone says and I repeat the words my grandmother says knowing it is and isn't a prayer clean dishes dirty dishes again again full trash empty trash everything the same and in juxtaposition mundane extraordinary mundane extraordinary domestic global global domestic close one eye open the other what's the difference in the days from one to the next mood heart waving open

DAY 21

drive into the city listening to Dylan's Freewheelin' for the first time in too long still the same gold as ever after the reading I slow cruise up the block past the Denver Rescue Mission and the Catholic Charities and a Jesus Saves neon sign blares its wares I always have a good chuckle at this one but Corrina Corrina saves me instead just in the nick of time

DAY 20

what if life mattering is only a 50/50 chance

or less  meaning half the time this is important and half the time

it isn't  or

it only halfway matters all the time or

tonight I saw two cars driving with only one headlight

one after the other

50/50 light & dark

traveling without fear is how I imagined it

some sort of freedom


DAY 18

nearly every night, the same image: my little black and white dog curled into a letter c in between my legs on top of the gold blanket. ears perked up. breath steady and deep. an occasional whimper, a heavier sigh. as long as I am still he is still. the real sleep of the night is predictable in a different way. these days it's all turmoil. tangled blankets, ringing ears, wild mind. wild. up and down. all of it. how to anchor myself down? smooth the sails? when?