coffee & recycled air

The air here smells like coffee and ventilation units. It’s beginning to sink into me, stain my skin and my neurons with familiarity. I think of the school days that seemed so infinite then, so distant now and sip my tea behind a window pane, watch the world wake up without me: the sun and the sky and the wind and the water. No one ever tells you what it’s going to be like to grow up, not really. They just hand you a pack of pretty lies but lies nevertheless. I turn them over in my head as I watch the clouds, frozen high in the sky so bright. Perhaps they’re filthy lies after all…

| 27.9.2018 |

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meanwhile, the earth burns

I spent this past week in a blur of trying to put myself together. These things happen sometimes. The heartbeats we ignore just trying to catch our breaths. I watched the sunsets from my car driving home every evening, wondering if the years would disappear as quickly as the days. I spent the nights alternately searching for something lost or something not needed, staring into my own eyes in photos from the near-past and drowning in the glow of other lives. These photos we take with increasing frequency, thousands of them, desperate, as if we can hold down the moment with pixels, preserve it, freeze time, as if we have tomorrow…We never have tomorrow…

The maple tree on the street outside is curling at the fingertips. People I don’t know yearn for an imagined autumn, the one in photos, all warm hues and desaturated skies. Cute girls in cozy sweaters. The grocery store aisles gorge themselves on a fever-pitch obsession. These fantasies created in intoxicating images, now desperate dreams, as if through sheer will-power, the process can be reversed so that we may convert unreality into reality…

Meanwhile, the Earth burns.

late response

How do you do it? you asked, like I had any idea,
because I didn’t, not really. It was just a thing my brain did.
Because you were right, absolutely. The moment you start wondering
if it’s good enough, if it’s clever enough,
is the moment you start losing the soul that drove it all.

labor day

Hot like death rowing hard with life. Sprawled in the car, I can’t get cool, sweating like it’s mid-July. It’s September. We wade through the throngs in the grocery stores, celebrating the workers by making them work. It’s madness, like the heat has infiltrated all of our brains. We wander the aisles lost and determined. I get distracted by a batch of pretentious candles, inhaling an autumn that’s refusing to come.

Maybe the world as we know it won’t ever come back. I pretend the bustle around me can’t see me or feel me. Maybe the air will never cool, and the leaves will turn in vain; the apples trees will bear no fruit; the maple trees will wither. Maybe the wolves will move up north, and the pine cones won’t ever see another snow. The hot, sticky summers amidst the palm trees haunt me. I fear the rhythms of my life have dissipated, never to return, sucked down a wormhole like water down a drain. I open another candle and clutch at an aroma. What if the wind never changes, never grows wilder and colder and faster? What if the nights don’t turn to magic, and the afternoons to yearning melodies of mortality? What if my years stall forever here in a world that’s grown hateful and bitter and unkind?

Maybe then happiness, pure, full, true happiness, won’t ever come back.

| 3.9.2018 |

old August

The quaking aspens nodding in the wind remind me of home. Old home, the place where I eroded for the first time. Beneath the window glass, my mind wanders, a creature in captivity daydreaming. I can almost smell the change of seasons ruffling the sylvan crowns. The air is bright, the wind playful. Giants race puffy cloud chariots across an azure sky. If I could only join them, ride the gusts and the breeze, I’d be content to have spent another day, another set of precious heartbeats.

I let it linger because I know these breaths are wasted on filtered air. I let it linger because I know that out there it’s too hot for late August, too summer, but from where I sit, I can pretend. I can live in my mind in a past and a world where the Earth has not slid into its decline, where the seasons and the rhythms and the way air and sun and sky feel are still what they used to be.

| 30.8.2018 |

RBG | the movie you need to see ASAP

RBG is a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the icon, the human. And it is everything we need right now; it does what stories at their best do. It affected: emotionally, intellectually, and in some other, more subtle, more human way. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to go see it.

I laughed. I cried. I applauded. I felt such pride and inspiration. As a girl who was raised on the belief that I can do absolutely anything with my life but who has struggled so much with the emotional toll of pursuing a field still so close-minded at times about women, this movie was an absolute inspiration, a reminder that we can. A reminder that all of us, regardless of gender, can be…the best of humanity. The best. That we can strive for our dreams. That our ideals, our towering hopes need not be lost even in these trying times. I am sitting in my car as I type this, just after watching this movie, and I still feel the urge to cry: in joy, in wonder, in an overwhelming sense of emotional resonance and inspiration. The sheer conviction that things can and do improve but only if we require them to do so. Only if we give our best to the world no matter how trying it can be. I hope this movie inspires people to step up and be the best they can be, to resist the pull of an era that tells us all quietly to give up and give in. Be lawyers. Be engineers and scientists. Be artists and writers. Be business-people. Be the best you you can be. It’s worth it.

I could not have planned a more perfect, more fitting way to celebrate this fourth of July.

rush

The wind in my hair…

The ocean looked so much better up close, tangible and vital, pulsing and lapping and crashing and dipping below my feet. Now unfathomable and a blue so dark it was almost black. Now reflective, prismatic, silver breaking and mending among diamonds of wavering navy. I hadn’t felt this happy in a while. Scrambling and awkward amongst the pitching and sandpapery roughness. An unsteadiness steadying my mind. It was a rush in my bones nobody could take from me.

Who could know from the outside which of us lives for moments spent teetering on edges?

The slaps of cold sprays reminded me of a book I’d read: “It’s a tango, don’t you find? Sometimes dramatic, sometimes quiet, but always with a few good hard slaps thrown in.1

1The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

loneliness | 8 PM & the fog

Arms draped… in the fading light. The gray hits the back of the kitchen walls and
slides down dully. Here… and then there again… waking up from a too-long
slumber of the mind.

The ocean does not end, nor does the sky begin. Somehow, the street lights still crisp on the water dance out. Seagulls smudge into the clouds.

Loneliness stifling my heart. The yellow incandescence bleeds. Heartbeat out of sync and haunted.

The road is invisible in the darkness and the fog, but we still ride it.

 

the Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

“What is it like, we wonder at each meeting, in shared meals and secrets and silences, with each touch and glance, to be you?”
~ p.29

I had not been reading the Soul of an Octopus long when I began to slip between its words into another book, floating just beneath the surface, exploring not the secret lives of octopuses but of humans from a distinctly not-human lens. It was then that I realized this book was going to be so much more than a romp through octopus-land.

Of course, the book, by its own declaration, involves much octopus-romping, great, fun octopus-romping. I learned so much about the mysterious, dazzling, fantastical eight-armed alien-wizard-shape-shifters of the oceans. I’ve never been terribly fascinated with octopuses and certainly have never wished to touch one if I met one, but this book has challenged all of that. Befriending an octopus suddenly seems intriguing, adventurous, and possibly worth the risks. That’s partly thanks to the octopus, as a collective set of creatures, for being awe-inspiring and awfully good subject material. That’s also largely thanks to Sy Montgomery, our intrepid author, for being good at writing. Through her beautiful use of language and personable narration, Montgomery takes us by the hand on a trip to the New England Aquarium and Beyond. She vividly portrays the personalities and quirks, the decisions and actions of the octopuses she meets and slips biological trivia in amongst the romping. Thus, the ordinarily dry and vibe-killing business of factual information kills no vibes. Cleverly, Montgomery structures the narrative around meeting and getting to know individual octopuses and parallels the octopuses’ arcs with the lives of the people she meets in the process. Thus, for all of the barriers separating us from octopuses (they live in water; we don’t. they have eight arms; we don’t. they have dexterous suckers; we don’t.), entering their world in the Soul of an Octopus feels easy, natural.

For me, The most fascinating, eye-opening moments were when my view as a human and as a creature on this planet were expanded simply from thinking about humans and human life from the perspective of the non-human world.

However, if all you want is a fun, engaging read to pass the nights, the Soul of an Octopus delivers; there’s adventure, emotion, humor, the mysterious and unexpected. If animals or marine biology are your thing, this book is no let-down. If you’re like me, and you enjoy thinking about everything, turning it inside out and backwards just to see what you can glean from it, then, too, this book will be a joy to read.

The octopus the Myth has served as the basis for so many creators of fantasy and science fiction creatures throughout the years. The octopus the Cephalopod, observant inhabitant of the oceans of the Earth, is just as fantastical but, amazingly, marvelously, excitingly, real. So go ahead. Add the Soul of an Octopus to your list, even if you’ll only get to it three years later (like I did 🙂 ).