Wednesday, November 24, 2010

empty and warm

for once i don’t want to talk about remembering. i want to talk about being. i want to talk about breathing. i want to talk about seeing and feeling. i want to talk about questioning and believing. how sometimes i can feel things changing right beneath me. how sometimes i have dreams of all the people who i have lost. that’s the tricky thing about loving someone. it doesn’t always stop when it should. when a soul dies or a person moves on. people expire but the feeling doesn’t. it lingers, phantom-limbed and without argument. you try to hide it in places you hope you’ll never look. but it sneaks up on you. it wakes up next to you. it curls inside your arms and you hold it like the way you’ve always known. i want to talk about some of these things i never say. some of the things that have too many gaps to try and fit my fingers around them and show you in between my careful palms. there are these dark places i try not to go because i’ve been there before and it’s not always easy to leave. there are these stars i see sometimes and i wonder what they’re thinking when they’re patiently staring back at me. how many wars have they seen? how many gods and kings, how many nameless feelings, how many people have they watched fall to their knees hoping for a sign that these lights missing their arms will never give. how many moments have they burned through. have i been burning too? if there is a heaven and a hell will i only spit on them both and take another road? what have i been burning for? i see them, moonstruck and raw. they wink happily, indifferently. through genocide and poverty and inequality. through hope, through young love, through those gorgeous little moments we all forget when we get too old. i try to be angry sometimes, i try because everything starts to feel so fucking hopeless. but i see these stars on cold nights and i wonder how something could be so beautiful and brave. i wonder how lucky i really am. i have so much time to learn how to love everything in life before i get too old. how rare and wonderful it is to be this young, to be this healthy, to be this free, to be this alive.

Friday, November 19, 2010

i awoke and at times birds fled

i know the house you grew up in isn’t far from here. i don’t go there because i know it’s filled with ghosts. i write about you a lot and you don’t even know it. it’s hard sometimes. to say things i know you’ll never hear. i know a lot of things. like how to break a fence so that you can sneak into someone else’s pool. i know how to put it back together again quickly when it’s almost dawn and their porch lights just flickered on. i know how to pull the tail off a crawfish just right. i know that venus is the brightest planet in the sky. i know some things first hand. that the first thing you forget about a person is their voice. that sometimes you make wishes on people like they’re lost stars. how you find yourself alone at night starting to hope that when they finally fall to the earth you can collect them in the ruffles of your skirt. but sometimes they burn out before they even get that close.

i know that these knees i hold are only nineteen years old. but some of me is older.

you told me once that you loved my eye lashes and the face i made when the boys were yelling in the street and i was mystified. i’m always mystified. when real life for a fraction of a second actually feels like real life. like i know one day i’ll die and never get these things back. how sometimes summer can make a moment sizzle right before it fades.

you always sizzled just before you started to fade.

it’s hard not to cry when i think of thompson road in the passenger seat of that car you stole and your hand rolled cigarettes with their ashes floating out the window. i was electrified, i was terrified, i was young and that lonely highway didn’t mind. you were blue eyed and lovedrunk. i was fascinated. i was wide eyed and willing. i was whole and now i’m wilting. but i’m still fascinated, i’m still wide-eyed, i’m still reeling. i’m still pulling at what pleated pieces of you i’ve got left in the bottom of my pockets

because you found me and you changed me.

you were summer storms, you were swollen and sunburned, and i followed you where ever your lightening decided to strike. sometimes i tell people about you like it doesn’t hurt. like this isn’t hard. like it’s just lint, just loose change, some backyard apologies, some long lost stars we tried to collect in our collarbones once, some bottom of the ninth summer we forgot by the fall. we dug our selves a grave, took everything this world gave, never regretted a goddamn thing, we loved like it couldn’t break even when it did.

seven years. i only had you for seven years. but i did not cry. i did not mind. i was mesmerized. i felt something. it’s gone now, but it comes back in flashes. you dancing in the kitchen, getting lost in destin, the tangles in your hair, the long drive from texas, when you let me fall asleep in the space between your shoulder and your neck, when you told me i made you feel safe. you’re gone now. you’ve been gone for a long time. but i know i felt something. i didn’t cry because i know for the rest of our lives that at least once there was a moment in the middle when we felt something.

felt wrong not to swing

i know a boy who changed a part of me he’s never even seen. we were sitting indian style on those wood floors, listened to them creak like poetry in between your words. we sat in awe at the way your hands could say the things your voice could not. you smelled like weed and we tasted like beer. you turned the lights off and played music for us in the dark, said you didn’t want us to listen - you wanted us to feel. i’m always meeting people who are trying to get me to feel, like i don’t know how and they can show me the way. you spoke like you had the secrets of the universe. we all want secrets. we all follow anyone we think has the secrets. i knew a girl once with a broken heart. she used to make me come up with poems off the top of my head. i’d just end up telling her all my favorite words. i’m always giving people adjectives even though they’re all looking for verbs. one day she didn’t hurt anymore. and i stopped telling her poetry when she got so lonely she thought she would cry. i know a lot of people i fell half in love with once. i can’t remember most of their names. it doesn’t mean they weren’t important. sometimes the most important things in this life don’t need names. sometimes strangers can see us in ways no one else ever could. i hope you all know this feeling. if not now, i hope you find a moment where the experience strikes you. i hope you are startled by this life sometimes. i hope sometimes you look up at night and realize, even if just for a single second, there is an entire universe out there - and you are apart of it. you are apart of this. we are a part of this together. i hope you find the courage to keep going when you want to stop. i hope you find the strength to lose it all and start over again. sometimes i start to think that we’re just lights everyone can feel and when we hit a certain shadow, when we find a certain color, we bend into them and make this world apart of us in a way it was never supposed to be. what a happy accident it is to live, you know. what a happy accident this life is sometimes. like some handful of colors you never thought would go together.

in the morning through the window shade

there are moments in this life that are exceptional and rare. and i know we had too much vodka, but the water was so warm, the night felt so good on our fingers. everything was crooked but sometimes it’s easy to pretend it’s all okay, it’s all alright. so we leaned against the edge with our hands cupped next to our eyes. you looked like summer, with that lonely gleam, with that half smile. you said “on the count of three we’re going to look up and forget everything.” you always do things like that. take any chance to kiss regret goodbye, to leave this life behind. and after that i heard your voice but couldn’t make out the words. all i could think of is the way you held my hand underwater once. the way the stars were wet and brave. shook above us in that fucking sky we’re always trying to touch. and when i heard you shout the number one i got really scared. i felt so goddamn ashamed. because i wasn’t ready to forget. i wasn’t that brave. i wanted to remember when you told me secrets in the backyard. the way we all waded in the water with these thoughts lit up like sparklers. how you made all of us love you but it was never enough. and it always fucking hurt, this life always fucking hurts, but i am dazzled by it and i can’t help but hold it close. i can’t help but want to live even if i don’t know why. i can’t help but love this life without effort sometimes, if only for just a second, for just some cracked and crooked moment. this is hard for me. it’s hard to not be fascinated and scared when you know that your last chance to live is also your first. and all of a sudden you’re already shouting “two” and i’m thinking about the snowballs in the chinese take out boxes on plum street and the way the sun light pressed against your neck, and how your eyelashes were so close to mine. i’m thinking about the water splashing against my face when we sat too close to the waves and i laughed at the sky but all of a sudden i felt this surge of emotion and just started to cry right there. i had to turn quick before you saw and knew that i was really this fucking broken, that i was really this ugly. that i feel so many things at once and sometimes i need to know that i’m not the only one. that other people feel so fucking crazy and alone sometimes. and then you’re whispering with our mouthes barely above the water and all i can see is you crying in the theatre and all i can see is the way you looked at me when i told you that we’re all just burning buildings. but now you’re telling me about the tumor that they found in your head and i’m trying not to listen but then you’re shouting the number three and for a second, for just a second, i really did forget everything. and i was just warm water. i was dust in between the stars. i was something without moments, without thoughts, without a stupid little life, without a crooked little heart. and the second i snapped back i saw your face. and i was trying not to cry, because if i forgot everything i would never know that there are moments in this life that are exceptional and rare. i would never know what it was like to love something so fucking much that it doesn’t even matter if it’s not yours. all you know is you cannot, under any goddamn circumstances, ever let it go.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I am prepared for amazing things to happen.

"Got you. You're mine now. For the rest of the day, week, month, year, life. Have you guessed who I am? Sometimes I think you have. Sometimes when you're standing in a crowd I feel those sultry, dark eyes of yours stop on me. Are you too afraid to come up to me and let me know how you feel? I want to moan and writhe with you and I want to go up to you and kiss your mouth and pull you to me and say "I love you I love you I love you" while stripping. I want you so bad it stings. I want to kill the ugly girls that you're always with. Do you really like those boring, naive, coy, calculating girls or is it just for sex? The seeds of love have taken hold, and if we won't burn together, I'll burn alone."
--Bret Easton Ellis, 'The Rules of Attraction'

You never really existed
and neither did I
I am just a thought in your dreams
and you are a dream in my thoughts

We all need someone to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under: the first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public. That is the case with the German singer, the American actress. The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. And finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present. They are the dreamers.

"If I had a straw
I’d suck wax into my mouth, let it pool,
take shape. As tired as I am, who knows
when they’d find me, sleeping with a replica
of empty space on my tongue. After a while,
sleep comes so hard and fast you can feel
like you are falling. Everybody knows that."
--Josh Bell, 'Meditation on Insomnia'

“What is happiness? It’s the reflection of a sunbeam: you see it playing on the wall, sitting in your palm, but as soon as you clench your fist, it slips out of your hand and darts about your face and fingers.”
--Nina Lugovskaya

“Inside the heart of each and every one of us there is a longing to be understood by someone who really cares. When a person is understood, he or she can put up with almost anything in the world.”
--Ed Hird

“Give yourself up to find yourself again.”
--Li Mu Bai, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'

“I let almost no one know me, and I lost the chance to know and learn from most of my peers. It took years after I’d graduated from Amherst to realize that people were actually far more complicated and interesting than books, that almost everyone else suffered the same secret fears and inadequacies as I, and that feeling alone and inferior was actually the great valent bond between us all. I wish I’d been smart enough to understand that when I was an adolescent.”
--David Foster Wallace

“Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him. It was music. I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out. It was disgust with civilization.”
--Kurt Vonnegut

“I don’t want to have to do this living. I just walk around. I want to be swept off my feet, you know? I want my children to have magical powers. I am prepared for amazing things to happen. I can handle it.”
--'Me & You & Everyone We Know'

“Think about your life, think about the person you want to be & just start being that person. Let the places that you go add to the person you are, but don’t let them replace it — never let the place you’re from, the place you’re at or the places you’re going become the most interesting thing about you. Don’t do that.”
--James Nord

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

We contain our own future.

All quotes by author Barbara Kingsolver

"The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away."

"Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I've only found sorrow."

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."

"When we traded homemaking for careers, we were implicitly promised economic independence and worldly influence. But a devil of a bargain it has turned out to be in terms of daily life. We gave up the aroma of warm bread rising, the measured pace of nurturing routines, the creative task of molding our families' tastes and zest for life; we received in exchange the minivan and the Lunchable."

"It's what you do that makes your soul."

"What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, 'What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?"

"Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen."

"There's such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it's like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin."

"Your dreams, what you hope for and all that, it's not separate from your life. It grows right up out of it."

"Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember."

"The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes."

"There is a strange moment in time, after something horrible happens, when you know it's true, but you haven't told anyone yet."

"There were two things about Mama. One is she always expected the best out of me. And the other is that then no matter what I did, whatever I came home with, she acted like it was the moon I had just hung up in the sky and plugged in all the stars. Like I was that good."

"But I've swallowed my pride before, that's for sure. I'm practically lined with my mistakes on the inside like a bad-wallpapered bathroom."

"Thanks for this day, for all birds safe in their nests, for whatever this is, for life."

"If you want sweet dreams, you've got to live a sweet life."

"At some point in my life I'd honestly hoped love would rescue me from the cold, drafty castle I lived in. But at another point, much earlier I think, I'd quietly begun to hope for nothing at all in the way of love, so as not to be disappointed. It works. It gets to be a habit."

"As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer's long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn't touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn't stop."

"Misunderstanding is my cornerstone. It's everyone's, come to think of it. Illusions mistaken for truth are the pavement under our feet."

"I've about decided that's the main thing that separates happy people from the other people: the feeling that you're a practical item, with a use, like a sweater or a socket wrench."

"It's the one thing we never quite get over: that we contain our own future."

"It's surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time."

"Now I'm starting to think he wasn't supposed to be my whole life, he was just this doorway to me."

"Wake up now, look alive, for here is a day off work just to praise Creation: the turkey, the squash, and the corn, these things that ate and drank sunshine, grass, mud, and rain, and then in the shortening days laid down their lives for our welfare and onward resolve. There's the miracle for you, the absolute sacrifice that still holds back seed: a germ of promise to do the whole thing again, another time. . . Thanksgiving is Creation's birthday party. Praise harvest, a pause and sigh on the breath of immortality."

"Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job...And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another--that is surely the basic instinct...Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is."

"If you ask me, when something extraordinary shows up in your life in the middle of the night, you give it a name and make it the best home you can."

"She is inhumanly alone. And then, all at once, she isn't."

"For if there is any single thing that everyone hopes for most dearly, it must be this: that the youngest outlive the oldest."

"She would just be catching up when I'd go again, swimming farther out into life because I still hadn't found a rock to stand on."

"Children can be your heartache. But that doesn't matter, you have to go on and have them . . . it works out."

"My life is a pitiful, mechanical thing without a past, like a little wind-up car, ready to run in any direction someone points me."

"The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know."

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.

“Art is the reason I get up in the morning, but the definition ends there. It doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something I can’t even define.”
--Ani DiFranco

“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
--Jim Rohn

“There’s just some stuff I like, and some of that stuff is shallow, and I don’t fucking care.”
--Ryan Adams

“Don’t you, when strangers and friends come to call, straighten the cushions, kick the books under the bed and put away the letter you were writing? How many of us want any of us to see us as we really are? Isn’t the mirror hostile enough?”
--Jeanette Winterson

“I hate the idea that someone out there hates me. I even hate that Al-Qaeda hates me. I think if they got to know me they wouldn’t hate me.”
--Pam, 'The Office'

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
--Woodrow Wilson

“The unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence. When you’re unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You get to take yourself oh so very seriously.”
--Tom Robbins, 'Jitterbug Perfume'

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have."
--Steve Jobs

“There’s a thin sheet of glass between me and life. However clearly I see and understand life, I can’t touch it.”
--Fernando Pessoa, 'The Book of Disquiet'

“I’d woken up early, & I took a long time getting ready to exist.”
--Fernando Pessoa, 'The Book of Disquiet'

the colors bright red and baby blue

you used to sing blues songs to me when i’d cry into your sheets. i hear voodoo child playing now and i think of safe places, i think of your young face and when daddy had a beard. i think of the pink azaleas in bloom, our feet dangling off the porch and our eyes fading orange with the afternoon. i hear castles made of sand and i think of all the scars left still like quiet stars on the inside of your palms and how foggy your eyes could get sometimes. i see the pale shadows of what used to be freckles right beneath your lashes and i ache with this burning softness that tells me my home isn’t a place, it’s a person. you taught me things, quiet things, careful things, important things. you showed me how to paint with watercolors. you showed me how to catch dragonflies. taught me how to love a thunderstorm, read me books out loud and we’d whisper my favorite parts together.“second to the right,’ said peter, ‘and then straight on till morning.” i smell chicory coffee sometimes and i can almost see your cigarette in your left hand, i can hear my footsteps running down the hallway, i can feel the warmth of summer wrapping around me. you showed me how to listen. and that showed me how to love. you said once “we’re all broken baby. but you are more than these broken parts.” and you were right. i cried until the stars sunk into the light hiding behind the night, but you were right. i am soft and careening and nothing can stop me. this world cannot stop me. no one can stop me. because i know how to love a thunderstorm. and i can catch a dragonfly. because my mother taught me how to paint with watercolors. because i know how to listen. and i know how to love. and sometimes when i’m about to cry i start singing quietly to myself “and so castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.” because we’re all broken but we are more than these broken parts.

and my skin will rot but my energy will not. my heart will stop but my soul will not. my hopes will turn to ash but my ghost will not. my bones can break but my matter cannot. my moments will end but their marrow will not. one day i will die, but there are parts of me that cannot.

torches together.

We’re a little too tired to speak sometimes and our eyes only stare back like half-moon slivers in the inky sky. I think we’re pulling at each other like tides until we find some way to balance each other out. I can feel the glow of your ropes around my wrists and I think I’ll let you pull me up with you, and when we both run away, back to the sea, I hope we get to move as one. I like the way you’re dark like my house when I come in from outside and how my eyes have to readjust to you every time I see you again. You’re some shadow—a silhouette—on the edges of my vision and you break through my sun-soaked eyes every time. There’s something about the way you don’t care that I wear floral print while I listen to hardcore on my record player or eat all of the grapes or stay up the whole night talking your ear off. There’s something about the way you’re unafraid to bare your pale parts even though I know you think that people favor the dark. Or for the the ways you know how to untangle the worry I am always braiding into myself, for the songs you wrote and the words you spoke and how I’m used to slamming myself into people who feel like brick walls and you feel like a warm bath after a cold day—or maybe more like a cold shower after a hot one. I like the way I’m used to the searing sun and all of its aching heat and you’re more like moonlight, the way you carry the same torch that I do and how we’re well on our way down the dark and uneven path. I know I’m a little bit soft, a little too afraid, and maybe you’re rough like rock—gritty like sand. I guess we’re both a little crooked, a little weird, a little discontent, but I like the honesty in anxiety and I think the moonlight illuminates strengths that no other light can.

We must do extraordinary things.

All quotes by author Dave Eggers

"We are unusual and tragic and alive."

"Still though, I think if you're not self-obsessed, you're probably boring."

"But everyone disappears, no matter who loves them."

"All I ever wanted was to know what to do."

"We have advantages. We have a cushion to fall back on. This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. Something rare and wonderful. It's almost historically unprecedented. We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to."

"You invite things to happen. You open the door. You inhale. And if you inhale the chaos, you give the chaos, the chaos gives back."

"All we really want is for no one to have a boring life, to be impressive, so we can be impressed."
--On the friends we choose

"In all my life I'd never been approached this way, the car pulling up, the 'Where you going?' It was something I wish had happened hundreds of times. I was a looker - someone who looked over at every car at every traffic light, hoping something would happen, and almost never finding anyone looking back - always everyone looking forwards, and every time I felt stupid. Why should people look at you? Why should they care?"

"At that moment I was sure. That I belonged in my skin. That my organs were mine and my eyes were mine and my ears, which could only hear the silence of this night and my faint breathing, were mine, and I loved them and what they could do."

"People are strange, but more than that they're good. They're good first then strange."

Thursday, November 04, 2010


“Things go so fast, so many new things that you just don’t know where to put them, and while you’re deciding where to put them there are even more things and then they build up and then they get bigger and then there’s no space and it is like Tetris and you have been waiting so long for a long piece but there hasn’t been a long piece and the pile is getting higher and you have been saving a space and you think how you could really use a long piece and how much it would help and clear up so many things but the screen is getting full and then there’s only one row left and you know if the next piece isn’t a long piece then there will be no way and it will be game over and then the next piece appears and it’s coming so fast and the crazy music is making you tense and making you frantic and you’re tapping the spacebar and flipping around and now you see the new piece and oh how you hope it’s a long piece but then you see the new piece and you see it’s not a long piece but instead another square piece and there’s just no space for a square piece dammit why’d they never let you have a long piece you saved a space and waited so long and played it so well and it was all you ever needed and don’t you know it would have fit so well in the space you kept open but now the space is blocked and if you want to go on you’ll need to start another game but there’s a chance you’re all out of credits.”