Welcome To My Bed

New year, empire state of mind.

This post is nearly a week over-due, but I am still basking in the afterglow of all the wonderful that took place between December 31st and January 2nd. I was telling my friend Brian about it last night at the Cantab and he literally said, "I don't think I've been more jealous of anyone in my life. I am restraining myself from pushing you off your chair out of spite."

Anyway, let's get into it. New year, new decade, new everything--well, not exactly. I thought I was leaving the trial and tribulation of the 365 project behind with 2009, but I just don't know when to quit and have signed on for another year. We'll see if I can make it through this second round.

I rang in the shift of time with Sean and Sophia in Manhattan and Brooklyn, my first New York New Years ever, a criminal situation since the city and I have been loving neighbors to one another my entire life. It was time to break my former tradition of quiet evenings at home with Dick Clark and cheap champagne, so I made it a saucy evening in Clinton Hill at Roger Bonair-Agard's brownstone dancing the night away with the New York all-stars. One of my favorites moments of the night--Roger's mother joining us on the dance floor and looking like she was having the time of her life. Another that I'll never forget or be able to replicate--the midnight champagne toast turning into an "Empire State of Mind" sing-along where absolutely everybody knew the words and absolutely everybody was on their feet having the best possible time.

After the party, Sean, Sophia and I hopped on the subway back to Sophia's apartment and continued our festivities more quietly, sharing a hot pretzel, going for a late night walk in the park, letting our cases of the champagne sillies get the best of us. The next morning after homemade waffles, Sean hopped on the Holtz's grand piano and played an epic medley of his old standards. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to harmonize, being that we don't get our car-radio diva sessions nearly enough.

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After the private concert, we had a hearty diner meal and a healthy gossip session (as poets tend to do whenever there are several in one place). I could help but smile, no matter where the conversation turned. It's so seldom that we get to spend any substantial amount of time with Sean. New York isn't terribly far from Massachusetts, but it's far enough to keep our lives too separate for my taste.

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But with not even twenty-four hours-worth of reunion, Sean was Boston-bound to do some more visiting, so Sophia and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm January weather and went for a walk around her neighborhood, eventually stopping in at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of her favorite places, to do some talking and marvel at the architecture.

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When I have my first Christmas tree, whenever that may be, I want it to be a huge nest of paper cranes like this one. I was so taken by the sight of this one in the church--like a bunch of wishes floated down from wherever just to roost in the tree. I am getting all romantic about then for literally no reason, but I love them. They literally made my day.

Sophia's parents invited me to stay for my very first Shabbat dinner, and after a glass of wine and lots of laughs and stories of the most famous Israeli poet and his attendance at dinner parties, I made my way back to Brooklyn to drop in on Evan and James for a long overdue visit. Also, Theodore was there, adorable as always, and probably twice the size he was when I last saw him in September.

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The next morning, the subways back to Manhattan were all wacky with service interrupted on at least four different lines out of Brooklyn for track repairs, but I eventually made it back to New Jersey in one piece in time for a family dinner and some more champagne to finish out the week. If I'm not careful, I'm going to start getting used to the stuff.

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I have my fingers crossed that the sun will keep shining on me as brightly as it's been since the first. I am so grateful to have kicked off this very important year with good friends and a clear head. At lunch with one of my high school English teachers on New Year's Eve, I got a compliment I wouldn't have known how to take a year ago--that I am "empty and marvelous". I am going to keep that in mind from now on, that emptiness isn't negative, just a better state from which to accept all the lemons Life juggles and then drops into your lap when you least expect them. Empty, I can easily be a pitcher of lemonade with a little elbow grease.

VLOG # 4



Reminiscences best describes what's on our plate tonight. High school reminiscences.

The weekend, in brief.

Kidnapped Cassandra. Got BK. Hydroplaned coming off the bridge in NoHo. Rear-ended some French Canadians. Drove home anyway. Watched Drop Dead Gorgeous. Passed out in the living room. Slept through the entire morning. Watched Entourage. Ate mozzarella sticks for brunch. Went on a thrifting adventure. Scored driving gloves, more tops that facilitate super sock-wearing, quality time. Delicious assembled frozen dinner. Project Runway and Deadly Women on Lifetime until exhausted. Slept for 13 hours. Diner lunch mid-afternoon. Cigarettes for under six bucks. Typewriter quest. Read aloud from my high school life. Walk around the block/finger-freeze time. Chex Mix. Work out playlist while silently coexisting, unmoving. This is Jersey.

I can't believe you kiss your car goodnight.

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I may be absolutely, totally, and unquestionably in love right now. I know it's crazy. I don't quite believe it myself. I've been single for such a serious amount of time (the longest since...two years ago? Jeez...) that I almost didn't remember what it felt like. But I got my proof last night.

I drove to Allston, as I do most Wednesday nights, and when we were all about to hop in Wendeline and get on our way to the Cantab for an AMAZING feature and slam, among other wonderful things (like copious amounts of Cherry Coke), she wouldn't start. No matter how much I implored her. Thankfully, the walk there and back was lovely, and I was smart enough not to worry about it at the time. I love wandering around cities with friends, even more so when it takes on an air of exploring. "Urban explorer" is my secret profession after all. But what is truly amazing and hysterical and perhaps would have been frustrating to anybody but me is the fact that upon returning to Chester Street after our night on the town, Wendy started up like nothing had ever happened. Now, I know that my car is old and needs a bit of a tune up if I'm going to keep galavanting all over New England like I do, but this seemed magical to me for some reason. She was simply overheated, but that mechanical issue gave me a really fantastic journey and lots of wonderful sidewalk hang out time. It was as if she knew that was exactly what I needed to turn around an otherwise bad/stressful day. I love my car, idiosyncratic function issues and all.

In other news, the countdown to semi-voluntary eviction from Providence is getting dangerously slim. Three days left. I took my final spin up and down Thayer of the summer just for old time's sake, savoring what down time I have left. Tonight after work, though I will be wallowing in a serious pool of exhaustion, I really need to pack up my books and the rest of the ephemera I spewed all over the apartment immediately upon moving in. I hate moving. I hate moving. I hate moving.

Chore-charted waters & the nag of distant academia.

Whenever I have a day off from work, I always get very overwhelmed by the space of it. This usually results in me spending at least half of said day in bed, either asleep or pretending to be. But today I resolved to fill every free moment with something that needed to get done, and I'm pretty sure I succeeded. I did three loads of laundry, mailed the first check I've ever written, wrote three poems (much overdue - I was close to losing my lead on the 365 project!), washed a million dishes, cleaned out the refrigerator, changed my sheets, basically got serious about chore time. And I feel great because of it.

This man -

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- has been staring at me all day. I guess it's not a typical occurrence for anyone to be home with him all day long, so he must be at least slightly confused. I've been trying to catch him to snuggle for the better part of the night, but in spite of being fat, he is a lot faster than he seems.

Off in academia (yeah, I forgot I was a part of such blustering too...), my schedule for the semester keeps getting turned on its ear, and then its nose, and then its elbow, and so on. A few days ago, one of the professors I'm close with emailed me to invite me to TA a first-year tutorial on inclusive fiction (what a wonderful phrase), and I obviously got very excited. As a close second to writing, I love assisting others in their own writing above most other things. Besides bacon, long highway drives, and finishing novels of course. In corresponding with her about the course and what my responsibilities would be, she inquired about my intentions for scheduling, specifically if I was planning on taking the Div III creative writing research seminar in the fall. I immediately pulled up my iCal and made the according alterations. So much for this being a relaxing last year. Although I'm fairly certain that if I got back to Hampshire and suddenly wasn't busting my ass, I would become very disoriented, if not outright despondent. So I am mentally preparing myself for some serious juggling. I would be lying if I said I wasn't thrilled about this.

Tomorrow is "Day Off: Part 2", and I'm not entirely sure how to spend it after running all of my errands today. The summer is quickly winding down (soon the juggling will commence!), and I'm not sure where exactly it got to. Thankfully, I went swimming for the second time of the season (criminal!!) Wednesday night after Kait and I finished breaking down from a wine tasting we worked together. We bring bathing suits in the car with us always, so we decided that as a remedy to the unbearable humidity we were just going to jump in the ocean. Nevermind that we did not have towels. Such formality has never concerned us before. And that swim was one of the best choices I've ever made. I don't think I've ever felt more refreshed in my life. It was the perfect cap to an otherwise perfect day (I sat in the Gansett laundromat and wrote for hours before work, and one of the owners of the restaurant told me that I had a job there indefinitely if I wanted it). I am a happy camper, to say the least. Now all I need is a giant cup of White Electric coffee and some non-neurotic to snuggle with occasionally and I will be the happiest I could possibly be.

I leave you with the soundtrack to this happiness, my Last.fm Top Ten from the past week.

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Happy Friday!

Lockout.

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This would only ever happen to me. I was so excited for my first Providence poetry reading (and so flustered by the fucked up directions that Google Maps gave me to get there) that I locked my keys in the car. Thankfully, Geico roadside assistance came to my rescue free of charge in less than half an hour, so I pretty much love my car insurance and that silly green gecko a lot right now.

Blue State Coffee had a really nice vibe and very interesting voices, so I'll definitely be making it a regular stop on my highly limited social calendar. Ryk McIntyre, one of the hosts, has essentially booked me for the 23rd of June, which I am thrilled about, because it's a low key and loving place and I feel very at home there. Highlight of the evening: during the last poem of Patrick S's feature, a Providence police officer wandered in to use the bathroom. This last poem happened to be about the many flavors of Smurf sex, which was hilarious in isolation to begin with. But when the police officer emerged from the bathroom, he stayed to listen to what everyone was laughing about and turned many shades of horrified when he realized what was being discussed. Everyone in my corner of the room nearly died when he left before the poem was even over. I wish he had stayed even a few more seconds, because then he would have been there to witness the line, "Who's Papa Smurf now? Who's Papa Smurf now? Say it!" and all hell probably would have broken loose.

Needless to say, tonight has been memorable, and I can't wait for more nights like this one. Although hopefully not involving tow companies if possible. Tomorrow is the Cantab, my home away from home. And then Thursday night is AS 220, if actually decide to go, which would make three nights in a row of poetry for me. I should be so lucky on a regular basis.

Adventures in form.

So I wrote my first ever sestina today. I wake up most mornings during the working week around seven so that I don't waste the day (and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays I shelve books and sort newspapers at the library from eight to ten), and to make the best possible use of such a jump start, I decided it was time I revisited form. Other than the occassional haiku, I haven't written in form since at least the middle of high school, but most likely as far back as middle school English class when we were attempting to write sonnets in order to better understand Shakespeare. (It didn't help much.)

I had been looking over a poetry anthology from my class on Black Mountain College from last spring and stumbled across my favorite thing that I read that whole semester, a poem by Denise Levertov called "The Sharks", which inspired some thinking on how overwhlemed I've been lately. And thus, my first sestina was born in the very early hours of this morning.

And just so you can judge my first foray in form in god-knows-how-long, here it is.


I am out of my depth,
sand bar dropping from under me,
yawning mouth lacking the teeth
I need for traction; toes
drag along the floor
and I want steady.

The breakers keep even pace, steady
as I tread and they carve more sand away, the depth
of sound swallowed doplar of a marble rolling across the floor.
It seems the sea will swallow me,
head first, ending with the toes,
never remembering to gnash its teeth.

But it isn't just the empty gums, the absence of teeth
that is worrisome; the danger is comfort, steady,
like familiar sand scratch between toes.
I wish I had remembered my height, the depth
I could dive, how my lungs would press me
towards surface, when all I want is floor.

Treading water, I can't help missing the kitchen floor,
grateful constancy that received my baby teeth.
Like the sand at the water line, it likely holds no memory of me,
but its forgetfulness is steady,
unfathomable as the precise depth
of these trenches gargling salt just below my toes.

The puckering of the skin of my toes
has caused them to forget even sea floor,
all salt instead of depth
of purpose. Only watery teeth
repeat themselves like footsteps, steady
pace that's only lulling me.

The tide will soon enfold me,
all but the buoy tips of my toes,
and only then will I feel steady
in its belly of a floor
wreathed in grainy teeth
at some unknown league or depth.

It worries me, the sudden increase in depth of panic -
I am reduced to just teeth and dangling toes for anything to devour
and only the fins gliding across the floor give me pause, steady me at all.

Yummm.

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Apparently freedom tastes like acid yellow yarn (80% Pima cotton/20% wool) on sale for less that $4 a hank at Webs. With a rare empty afternoon, I went and got a long overdue haircut - it's been over two years since the last time a professional has handled my hair...since senior prom. I shiver at the thought of such disasters, although that was probably one of the best haircuts I've ever had. Also, that weekend someone tried to hit on me in a Starbucks by telling me to give him a call if I ever had "the jungle fever". I kid you not. So probably one of the more memorable periods in my life, to be sure. Anyway, new haircut, but I'll only show you when I have found the perfect amount of wax-like products to put in it to make it not look like I'm a member of the Jetson family. Not that I mind such things. I just don't think it's a good everyday way to be. (I am clearly getting delirious as a result of the time of night; feel free to stop reading at any time).

I wrote a five page scene for my film class this afternoon, and in spite of its obviously flaws, I'm pretty proud of myself for churning out a chunk of solid dialogue without months of coaxing. As I said to James last night, it took me years to get the characters in my book to want to talk to each other, so fictional conversation is definitely not my strong suit.

Anyway, I have to get up at 7 AM. Oh how I love January. Just another two weeks and it will all be turned on it's ear again. We start shooting Evan's movie on Friday, and I could not be more nervous or excited. Acting is such a strange new fish.

Nifty gifties.

I spent last night at Maggie's helping her wrap gifts for her family in Cape Cod, but mostly just drinking rum toddies and telling stories. She and her mom gave my half of my gifts, and I ended up with the coolest pair of rain boots of all time (see below).

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And an Indiana Jones calendar, because I talk about Harrison Ford quite a bit around the two of them. He is one of my only loves.

But the real gift was spending time together, as corny as it sounds. I drove Maggie to Port Authority this morning so she could hop a bus to Boston, where she'll meet up with her dad. It felt weird, standing in the interminable line to keep her company. It was the first time I had ever driven into New York on my own, but that wasn't it really. I just felt more like an adult than I ever have, giving my friend a ride to the bus station. I have to think about it some more to completely process the situation. Maybe I was just out of it. I'm going to use that excuse for not knowing what side of my sister's car contains the gas tank, and getting onto Rt. 1 & 9 instead of the turnpike after I got out of the Lincoln Tunnel. I need a nap. Tonight is midnight mass (against my will) and then late night diner with my dad, a new tradition started last Christmas eve.

Right now we're trimming the tree, which is fun mostly because I get to look at all the ornaments I made in elementary school that have my picture on them. My current haircut is eerily similar to the one I had in sixth grade.

Rewind.

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As if spending the better part of last night at my grade/middle school wasn't enough, now I am taking it just that much further. I'm going back to my high school too. Not such a big deal, because I went there often enough last year to visit a teacher I hang out with from time to time. And thankfully, it's not the school from the above picture. I had the privilege of attending two high schools, because the first one held the belief that writing wasn't worth my time. I have half a mind to write that guidance counselor and tell her I'll be graduating a semester early and have accomplished semi-great things already. Sort of.

Anyway, bet you can't guess which one is me!

At last.

I procrastinate. It's just in me. But when I get going on something, it is difficult to stop me. Take tonight for instance. Caroline Harvey's feature blew my mind like it hasn't be blown since the first time I saw James Caroline perform. I wrote half a new poem during the feature, drove around with Sam after the diner for at least two hours, and then I came home with two other poems in my head. So I wrote them. And then a third. And then I decided it was time for a chapbook.

Now, I have been talking about such things since last fall when I first started writing poetry seriously. Maggie tells me that if I get famous one day, I will have a more heavily recorded life than Buckminster Fuller on the day that I die, and she's probably right. I journal every day without fail. Sam reminded me tonight that as the most prolific poet he knows, I had the material for a whole library of chapbooks, and that it would be best to get underway before it became too difficult to start. And so I did, because tonight (of all nights) I have adopted some of James' recent insomnia. My brain is too full for me to stop.

Here it is, in all its glory:

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It's called Welcome To My Bed, after this old blog, because Grace always used to tease me last year that if I ever had a chapbook, it would be called that. I adopted the insult and made it my own, which makes me proud. If you look closely, you can see that the cover photo is the header photo (a little different) from the top of this page. Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever posted any of the poems in it here. Anyway, table of contents:

Someone Else's Driveway
Crystal Methadone
Kentucky
Mermaid
Drive Me Home
Tight Jeans
Bali Shag
Quiet All Talk
Epilogue (or, Someone Else's Driveway Pt. II)

Most of the poems were slammed at various locations over the course of last year. I know for a fact that most people in New England have heard Someone Else's Driveway and got sick of hearing it, because it was the one piece I had that was almost guaranteed to score well no matter where I was competing. Epilogue is a bookend for it, a little closure for the thought I started in writing the first piece at all. And the rest have their own stories.

James always says that it's impossible for me to write anything that doesn't come from a place of love, and I think that this book contains the poems that made me realize that. Next project, making more than ten copies of this thing. I desktop published using Word and my now-sleepy Canon Pixma, so I had to limit myself. After I make more copies, I will assemble my next effort, which was actually in the works since before this one, entitled Name Without a Place, which is mostly comprised of pieces from last spring through this summer and early fall, although the mental line-up I have for it changes almost daily, especially with all the new stuff I wrote today.

I don't know how I'm ever going to get to bed. I cannot wind down from this day.

A year later.

Two very special anniversaries today.

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The first, my only tattoo, a ribcage and spine that I doodled in Maggie's high school art room one Monday last fall while visiting her in Westwood. I have had ink under my skin for a full year now. And because of that accomplishment, I think I am finally ready to get another. There has been enough time spent ruminating.

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The second, and decidedly more important one, is my anniversary with James. I don't think of it as a simple accomplishment. I have made notoriously poor relationship choices in the past, and only once has a relationship made it past this year marker (only by one day; it's a complicated story). I was fifteen at the time. I have an inkling that this time it means a helluva lot more. But removing all romantic implications of this day, I am just happy/thankful/proud to have James around in whatever capacity. We are such close friends, have survived living with each other, living on opposite coasts, me liking Britney Spears, and countless other obstacles.

In honor of these two events, I'd like to toast to permanence and adaptation; may there always be a rock to steady yourself, but may you always be open to erosion, avalanche, volcanic eruption, and earthquake. No matter what, you will still have your rock, as long as you continued to fight to hold on to it.

Music to clean to.

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Normally, as soon as I get home at the end of the night, I pass out. However, I was able to spic-n-span my room up with very little effort at all, just by listening to this album. Maybe I don't need caffeine to keep me awake after all. Just ridiculous mash-up albums. It was nice to bring back a summer jam. All I could think of listening to it was Nicki waking up in the car on the way home from Seaside just to sing "throw some D's on that bitch". And the part with "Jesse's Girl" will never ever ever get old.

Halloweennn!

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Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought I'd whip out a picture from a World Inferno Friendship Society show about two years ago, maybe more. Because they seem Halloween appropriate. Also, Matt texted me last night just to check in, and I was looking through pictures of us and getting nostalgic just now.

I am on track with all my work, but I feel mildly ridiculous, because I lost my ticket voucher for Halloween. I've been cleaning my room mercilessly the past few days, but it still hasn't turned up. This upsets me.

Oh well. Shower, and then back to business.

Craning necks.

I have been getting too nostalgic too often lately. Even though there are a lot of reasons why growing up in New Jersey should not be so memorable, I find myself reminiscing about my emo period of roughly five or six years, where all I did was listen to bands from Long Island and/or Everclear and write truly awful poetry on a daily basis. In a way, it is still weird for me to be spending the bulk of my time in Western Massachusetts. I guess I've been thinking about this more heavily recently because I have been going through the process of registering to vote.

I have never participated in an election, an important one, ever. Yes, there were school elections. I usually pocketed my ballot and ignored them. And once, my dad tried to get me to impersonate my sister on election day because she had forgotten to request an absentee ballot, and he wanted another red drop in the bucket for our always-blue state. I refused. And now, it is down to the wire, and I filled out a registration card today. For Massachusetts. Needless to say, it is surreal. Otherwise I wouldn't be talking about it. For now, this is where I live. Four years from now, I have no idea where I'll be in terms of residency (or otherwise really). There are far-off, grandiose plans for an apartment in the New York area with Maggie, a place where we will paint and write and get our goldfish stoned (she had a very vivid dream concerning this aspect in July), and if that happens, maybe I'll try to get a job in publishing. But otherwise, who has any idea? It could be Boston. It could be back to Jersey and the basement for awhile. It will most certainly not be Los Angeles. But at this point, anything is fair game. This declaration of permanence, even if it's only a claim that I will be in this area on election day, and for the majority of the year, just freaks me out.

But really, I just miss the diners, the ones with food that I actually like. Every time I go to eat at the diner on Route 9, I get so excited because in my brain, I see the menus of all the diners in Bergen County. And then I get there, and there is nothing on the menu that I ever want to eat. Massachusetts has nothing on the Happy Waitress Special. Or the strawberry cheesecake we ate in spite of its questionable freshness.

P.S. There's a really awesome article over on the Tamur blog about the music industry's slow reaction to the forever-decline of CD sales. They link is in the sidebar, and you should check it out!

Beginning again.

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And so now I am a year older, just like that. Above, that's me, different in a way nobody can tell by looking at me, holding cards from my grandma and my Uncle John that I picked up from my box after the strangest yoga class of my life. There was definitely country music, which I am not opposed to in certain cases (like Ryan Adams), but doing yoga to country music just seems utterly ridiculous. And then there came a point where we had to tie our knees together and roll up the wall. It was odd, to say the very least. But, at any rate, I am already having an awesome day. And I know it will only get better. That is how today usually works.

A year ago today, I was a bald freshman at my first non-dorm party, dancing and drunk on a forty of Steel Reserve. I had eaten a pomegranate for breakfast on the quad, gotten my nose pierced, and bummed my Camel Filters to Sean before we were friends, finally feeling like I was worthy of talking to upperclassmen. Things are so different now, so much more settled. Last night I watched Casino Royale, my first Bond experience, with James. And he was the first person to say "happy birthday"; it reminded me that I haven't had somebody care about me the way he does on my birthday in a very long time. It's been since I was sixteen, a lifetime ago.

But even on birthdays, there is homework, and my job, and welding class tonight. No rest for the old. I'm glad I don't mind so much.

Picture in picture.

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Yesterday, my sister came up from Providence to celebrate my birthday a little earlier than we should have (t-minus one day and counting now!), and we climbed Bare Mountain, which I'm pretty sure is one of the tallest mountains around here. My legs are still sore today, owing mostly to the fact that mountain-climbing is not an every day activity for me. But I feel amazing. We had such a good time scaling rocks and laughing at the odd people we met on the trail. James came along as well, and the tree of us had a picnic lunch of peanut noodles at the summit, looking out over the whole Pioneer Valley. When I get my first roll of film from my new/old Olympus developed, I'll find a way to scan everything so that it'll be more clear how high up we were.

Post-mountain, Kaitlin and I went shopping, and saw many many horrific things in the process, including a blouse that looked like it had teeth. Dinner at Amherst Brewing Company, for the burgers that taste like fall. I felt left out, being the only one unable to drink. It's so odd to me that James is equidistant in age from myself and my sister, but I only really felt the weirdness of it when they were talking about The X-Files while we were walking through a corn field on the way back from the mountain. I was hardly ever allowed to watch The X-Files when I was little, and I never saw the first movie; Kaitlin and James were both obsessed. Two years matters so much more when you're little.

After burning Kaitlin the first car mix she's gotten from me in awhile, I dispatched her to her cats before she got a parking ticket, and then headed over to James's house to get silly. I drank my forty quietly and watched the first to episodes of Upstaged!, a show about theater and the weird people involved with it that James and our friend Evan made last year. I have a very small role. This year, Evan wrote me in as a butch lesbian, a role he thought I could do in my sleep, especially because when he last saw me, my hair was probably about an inch long. Imagine his surprise when I returned to school this fall looking like a girl again. We can make it work though, I'm sure of it. Anyway, James and Evan's housemate Micah was watching the show with his friend Dan ("Man Beast"), and Evan and James decided to do live director commentary while we were all shit-faced. It was the best way I could think of to end a very full and fulfilling day.

As I expected to, I slept so well last night. But really, I cannot wait for more birthday festivities. Entering my twentieth year, also know as turning nineteen, has already yielded me two season's of Dawson's Creek, a new journal, the promise of dinner at Olive Garden, and so much more. One of the many reasons why I adore fall.

Owen.

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Every twenty minutes
he asked us to stop,
the dark circles around eleven-year-old eyes
the thing that convinced the woman in Georgetown,
behind bulletproof glass with the Marlboros,
to let him use her bathroom.
But he kept asking all the way up 95.
We thought we could appease him
by switching drivers more often, but it didn't help;
we handed him bottles, but he blushed;
pulled over on the shoulder to try to make it better,
and still it was every twenty minutes.
Those numbers don't lie.

I asked him what the meter said
with fingers crossed behind my back,
and he didn't know enough to lie,
just said, "323".
And I asked where our sisters were
to keep from coughing despair into his eyes.
I met the driveway for gasping,
met my sister and lied through my teeth from her shoulder.
"Everything's going to be fine, it's all going to be fine."

And while I was sharing a forty in a smokey basement,
she met my mother in the driveway
and they ferried him to emergency room shortened breath,
and the last sister sobbed into me ear from far away
while I clutched fence posts
and tried not to redefine panic.
She was trapped, a car accident, I was trapped,
we were all counting down and getting distracted:
none of us could stay,
none of us could save any of the others.
I had forgotten what it felt like to pick up pieces.

On the way to the hospital
I took the turns from faded memory,
trying to recall the love that brought me here
the first time.
I counted through CD tracks,
sang as loudly as possible to keep tears back.
Parking garage gave way to front desk,
and then elevator,
and then I saw him.
So much smaller in that folded up bed,
tubes and wires leading away from his too-thin arms
trying to call back the weight that melted away with each summer month.

My mother and I walk to Starbucks, counting steps,
trying to reassure each other while he slept
in a pool of numbers,
the things he would have to remember
when they'd let him go
and the numbers would be his to hold,
the minutes to count between needle and meal.
I sat in the window
and counted back to the age of six,
the last time summer gave way to calculation,
to search and rescue,
to asking for bathrooms too frequently to be well.
I counted back to the couch in the trailer park,
to the minutes before his sleep
when I sang until it seemed
like numbers couldn't possibly matter.
And then, they really didn't.

I'd like to blame the number of exits
for the number of times her asked us to stop driving.
The number of hours, the number of bottles of milk he drank,
but now I can only thank
the number of clicks
that will keep him from having to count too high.
But i can't help wishing i could take all the numbers away.

Vacations of olde.

My sister, the one who I'll be moving in with in a couple weeks, just called to ask me if I remembered family vacations from when we were little and how the houses always had like eight decks and how our grandpa wouldn't let us onto the deck unless we asked, "Permission to come aboard!" I countered with asking if she remembered how we used to have performances from those very same decks, which we would make our parents and relatives watch from the driveway. I remembered, and so did she. I told her that we should repeat these same behaviors this summer on the next family vacation. She laughed and told me she had to get ready for work.

All of this really makes me want to go to the beach. But I need to buy a new bathing suit first. Is it practical to spend $40 on such a thing? I really want this one from Victoria's Secret but I'm not sure I should spend so much...

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But it's so cute...I don't know. None of my suits from last year really fit me. We'll see. I'm working a lot this week, and hopefully I'll make good money. Tonight is an engagement party for some pretty wealthy people, so I hope they're big tippers.

Sleep deprived.

Soon, there will be insomnia. The fleeting memory of sleep is already trickling out of my life slowly but surely. Three or so weeks left, and I have to organize four final portfolios on top of my retrospective for the year. And there are two final papers and a final project. So much writing. I foresee a flurry of manilla envelopes and three rings binders and so so much printer ink.

May will be so gratifying, once all of this needless paper is out of my life.

Last night Kaitlin and I talked for a long time, laughing more than planning. Something about mattresses was discussed, but mostly I cried remembering the people she used to know in high school and the clothes that she would wear. I can't believe that was all over five years ago. I was reading an article for one of my classes this morning and it seemed utterly ridiculous that 1999 is nearly ten years ago. I have no concept of time.

I am losing track of people and of myself, and I don't have enough hands to hold on.

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Everything is a blur, but whirlwinds all settle eventually.