Archive for February, 2011

To the Text


To the Text:

I am in this world of words, where everything comes together in a burst of thought. It begins as a steady drip. Skin. Fracture. Connection. Body. Space. Home. Heart. I nibble at the ideas. Peck at my thoughts. When the words start to rush forward, the brain is bypassed.

You have entered my system at night. You exit me before dawn. I am thankful for this cycle of events. I anticipate the dark, knowing this is when we shine best together. I go to sleep hoping to awake earlier than the already early hour to which I have set my alarm. I want more time.

My body has adjusted. It senses the rhythm of my mind. It knows when you are coming, when you are ready to arrive at this space with me. And it responds. Each night, an initial hour and a half of sleep, then I awake. Light a candle to ease open my eyes. This is the time when I feel still. When there is nothing but a small flickering light in the air between you and I. We connect. For a small chunk of time I move my fingers toward you. For the small amount of time before my mind realizes anything is moving. I giggle as I get away with something others might be jealous of.

And after the climax of this moment, after you have expressed yourself to me and I have taken note of all that we made together, of our words, I turn everything back over to the hours I should be sleeping. Forcing myself back into sleep, I drift away with the knowledge that you will be there, waiting for me to come back. A few hours pass like moments, and I return. Round two. You are there, like I knew you would be. We go at it again. The candles, the guiding words in the still dark. I settle into you. You find yourself in me. We find new meanings to what words can create.


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When Your Therapist Tells You to Put Lotion On Your Scars to Help Soothe Anxiety 

I need a language to feel what it is I am trying to understand.

I want it to sound like piano keys playing softly under my fingers.

Waking up at 3am to lit candles, an open notebook, and soft blue pen strokes, I want this language to emerge from sleepy visions, to sense the stillness, and to create.

The earthy taste of tea swishing around my cheeks, I want it to soothe.

My favorite hoodie, gray, cotton, relaxed. A patch sewn on the front that reads “you can’t hug with nuclear arms.” I want it in the fabric, in the texture of its message.

The swirl of my favorite ring, sturdy, silver and oscillating with my moods, I want it to sway with emotion. To take pride in its authenticity. To honor the captivation.

More than a hug, I want to be enveloped.

I want the soft scars to start feeling soft, and the harsh realities to stop feeling as harsh.

I want those words to live in me, to feel them flow with a stoic sense of yes.

To tend to what feels tender.

Settled. Stable. Sound.

Satisfying may be a reach, but stretching is a start.

Lotion can only be so helpful.

Step one: learn to touch.

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Written last week when the high for the day was 4, with a wind chill of -16.

It’s cold. It’s the kind of cold that strips away your skin. It freezes the ink in my pen.

I walk outside and for a second I have to check to make sure I remembered to put on pants. It’s the kind of cold that makes you feel naked to the world.

It’s the kind of cold that takes away your breath, and that is not a metaphor.

But it is a romantic cold. We are all in this together. We bundle up under heat lamps, squishing our heads into our necks, like pigeons hunkering down. We welcome more bodies into our space, because we can create heat and generate a common goal. It’s too cold to not get along. We carry the weight of layers. We are protected in other ways now. We don’t need fists to feel a stinging punch. So our eyes smile at each other above our face masks and scarves.

It’s the kind of cold that hurts your eyeballs. It makes you hopeful that the temperature tomorrow will reach up to 8. This single digit number is comfort in this type of cold.

But it is also a privilege to live through this cold, to know that you have warmth to return to at the end of the day. We are thankful to know that eventually this, too, shall pass.

That is not a cliche.

Or maybe it is, and we need the metaphors and cliches to defrost our frozen minds, to help us think until we can melt away from hibernation.

Because it is too cold to think of much else.

It is just that kind of cold.

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It is night, -5 degrees outside, and I smoke a cigarette in my apartment because I can.

I awoke to my dog howling at my neighbor, who was also howling. The cops were not howling. They were stern, yet curious. No, not curious. Confused and entertained. I was not entertained, but I was confused. And at 3:30 in the morning, surprisingly not tired any more.

I don’t know why she was howling, my neighbor not the dog, but I do know she was drunk. The officers established this. I do not know how drunk she was, but very.

I have heard fists and plates of spaghetti hit the faces and walls of other neighbors in other cities.

I also feel like I have at times forgotten that I have neighbors, because of their lack of noise. Actually, I think that is a lie. We all have our sounds. One neighbor snores through my walls, another has sex through my ceilings. I do not know what people can hear of me.

I’m cautious. Sometimes I do not want to be heard.

I creep.

I watch my neighbor howling through my peephole, because I do not know what else to do. I do not want to disturb her.

I’m sure I make noises my neighbors also don’t want to disturb. Maybe the noises disturb them, like the sound of a plate of spaghetti hitting a wall did to me years ago.

I wanted to live alone so I didn’t have to be quiet anymore. I have found out that I am more quiet when I am alone.

I can hear my cigarette ash hiss in the cup of water I use as an ashtray. Because I can. I am intimate when I am alone. I don’t hold back my own howling. Or, maybe I hold it inside. Holding it inside makes it grow louder.

I wonder who I am through my walls.

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Prompt that I turned to in my writing book at 2am when I woke up from a bad dream and couldn’t get back to sleep:

What tortures you and awakens you at night?

Considering it’s 2:30am as I write this, because I had a horrible and irritating dream about filling out a check request form at work in the wrong way, and thus not being able to buy the youth grilled cheese sandwiches that the restaurant didn’t even have, and thus messing it all up, because I also didn’t have any of my own personal money to sacrifice to save my ass in this situation and satisfy the grilled cheese sandwich-hungry youth, because my landlord charged my account twice for rent this month so my bank account is -$650 (this is actually true). So I’m awake, and a bit tortured.

What’s harder than that, though, is why I can’t get back to sleep. It’s starting again. But unlike the anxious dreams, the thought of her eyes that keep me awake are a different kind of torture. The last eyes that did this to me were a deep shade of brown. Black, almost. These eyes are lighter, but with huge pupils that can at times also make them look black, almost. It’s not just her eyes that are keeping me awake, but it’s what I want to do with the mind and body connected to those eyes.

I hope this whole affair doesn’t ruin my writing.

Because I don’t want eyes to be all that I can write about. Can I be obsessed with—or tortured by—something and still write about other subjects?

It’s all in my head.

I imagine you lying in my bed at the beginning of something that might evolve into a you and me sort of thing, and you ask me to tell you a story, because you hate your body and it’s keeping you from falling asleep. I know what this feels like. So I mull over which story to tell you, because I want it to feel good on your skin. I want to skip the sad parts, but also not get too funny with it, because after all we are trying to get to sleep. Which is something we’ve both had a hard time with lately. Our minds keep us awake.

I want to tell you a story that’s kind and curious—full of wonder and calm. I also want it to be one of my stories, because after all, we are just starting to get to know one another, so if I’m going to tell you something, it needs to be good and it needs to be about me.

I choose the story about the forest I used to walk through alone when I was eight. The forest sat right next to my house in Colorado. As I’m lying there, holding the pillow I know is too small to be your body—and that doesn’t phase me at all because it could feel like a part of you, so I’ll go with that, and besides the color of the pillow case looks like the darker ring of brown that circles your pupils before jumping into the almost black—and I begin to rock you to sleep with words about space and nature and childhood independence. I tell you about the road that was more like a path, the rickety swing set with butt-piercing splinters, and big bumblebees. And in all of these details about rooms and yards and yucca plants and gardens and imagined tree houses, my mind suddenly recalls how the neighbors at the end of our long gravel driveway raised peacocks.

I’m more awake now than I meant to be when I started telling you—the you who doesn’t even know she’s here—about my forest. This peacock detail throws me off guard, because here I was telling you who’s really a pillow about my childhood, and now there’s this brilliantly colored exotic bird sitting in the middle of it, and it all feels so fantastical. As if it’s too much to be real, because now in my made-up conversations with you who’s not really here, I’m concerned with telling the facts. Suddenly I want to text my mom and ask her if our neighbors in Elizabeth did indeed raise peacocks. But it’s late, and what if my mother answers with, “What the hell are you talking about?” How could I fit that into my story for you? I wanted to tell you something that was comfortable and soothing, but now I have this bizarre story about exotic animals that just shouldn’t exist in small town Colorado.

But then again I did tell you the detail of finding the random bowling pin in the middle of my forest, so I guess the sensible lullaby was shot to hell long before I got to the peacock.

This story keeps us awake and giggling, and I kiss the soft pillow that is not the top of your head, and realize I’m torturing myself by imaging something I am only dreaming is there.

Because for a second the brown pillow and one way giggles actually feel more real and plausible than the peacock. But in my head, I know the peacock was most likely there, and I know for a fact that you are not here. This tortures me.

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