Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Put a Spell on You

I have suffered through my fair share of accusations.  Not the least of which is the usually entertaining (sometimes a poor attempt at romancing a witch ;)) : 'did you put a spell on me?'

The answer, always, is 'no.'

First of all, I rarely cast.  Secondly- when it comes to casting I have two ironclad rules: I don't cast for hearts and I don't cast for harm (only my own- on both counts).

The last time I cast was, actually, last night.  I lay on the floor, feeling like my heart was being pulled out of my chest, feeling like the vice grip that has been around it for some time now was tightening and tightening and that my soul was losing some battle that I knew I was fighting, but did not know the length of or strategy for.  I lay on the floor, feeling my heart constrict and my soul constrict and losing my breath and I put my right hand over my heart, my left hand on top of the right and pressed with every ounce of myself that I had.  The spell I cast?  Some secrets I keep, but it boiled down to: 'Let me keep it a little longer, let me protect it a little longer.'  I looked out the window and the wind started tearing through the trees- and that was me.  That was that spell erupting from me and swirling around in the universe.

The thing about casting for me is that it is more like begging- like praying.  I cast for protection, I cast for strength. I beg for protection, I pray for strength.  I pull energy from the earth, from the wind and water and burning fire and wrap it around me like a cloak- as though I could build myself into something more natural and thus stronger, wiser, more crucial and vital.  And, as I said before, I don't often do it.  I know my limitations, I know my power, I know what I ask when I am asking (because there is ALWAYS danger in the asking).

But I have an airy soul; a breathy soul which flows wherever it wants.  I don't really mind that it is away from me from time to time, I don't mind where it goes and who or what it touches.  It goes where it needs to, it goes where it is needed.  But then there are times…

And when I cast it is because I Need (yes, capital N) to call it back, that impossible soul.  I Need to beg it back fully so that it is fully mine while I am less strong or Need to be strongest for another.  When I cast it is for something or someone who Needs all of me.

So no, I did not put a spell on you.

I put a spell on me.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Late April Obsessions...

Apologies... it has been a while since I last forced you all to acknowledge my current obsessions.  The most recent was called 'L Words'- or something to that effect.  Ah but now, now you are subject to late April's whim... and we all know that April is the cruelest month. And while we are on Eliot, I may as well let you know that East Coker recently came back into play in my mind and won't seem to quit:

I said to my soul be still, and wait without hope

And repeat.

But back to it...

Let me begin with the music- just to get it out of the way.  This song currently makes me dance like a little kid around my empty apartment.  I know I'm late in the game- but seriously... I am always late in the game when it comes to the pop cultures. (Also... even though this is an obsessional confessional... I very nearly did not admit that one just because of the American Idol situation... eww.).

Kodaline is also new to me- but this song has been on the radio every time I have needed to hear it. 

And, finally on the music front is Coldplay's Magic.  It almost did not happen.  It took a listen with open ears, eyes, and heart to get what was going on with this one. And when I finally did... I got it.  I don't know, maybe it's the heart in this witch, but I want that magic.  I want the magic of swaying and the magic of knowing.

Atlas.* Atlas Atlas Atlas.  I f*cking love that word.  I have long been obsessed with individual words.  That, I do not believe, will come as a surprise to any single soul who follows this blog with any faith. 

But sometimes I get hooked, really hooked and reeled in by a word.  Atlas was, and is now again, one of those words.  I adore every meaning of it- I could very well get drunk on this word. Much to my parents' and friends' (and potential future son's) chagrin, at one point I was so obsessed with it that I considered naming a boy just that.  Atlas.  What a name, what a burden, what a book.  What a word(!)- all of my passion and pain concentrated into two syllables.

To change tack, I am also a little obsessed with the possibility of the impossible.  I can't stop wondering how impossible exists.  The sun revolved around the earth until it didn't... so why are we so impossibly used to resigning ourselves to the thought that the impossible cannot be?  So maybe my obsession is more about pondering big universal loopholes- but it always comes back to impossible.

This is going to sound weird- but I'm going for it anyway.  One of my major obsessions this month has been my clogs.  I kid you not, I think it has to do with going through the unpacking process up here.  In their own way, all of my danskos have a story- which, when strung together, become a timeline of sorts.  The first pair I ever bought was a college graduation gift to myself.  I have worn the hell out of them- the toe box in the left shoe is starting to wrinkle and corrupt and the tread is finally Finally starting to wear down.  I am wearing them today, typing this.  And they are like old friends.  My toes know exactly where to curl in them when I walk, I know how the ball of my foot will feel pushing off into a jog in them.  I know the origin of every scuff mark, I can recall each blister they ever gave me.  I tripped on a sidewalk in Dublin in these shoes.  I drove hundreds of miles in the same pair. 

And that's just one pair.  I have six or seven at this point.... eight if you count the boots my mom bought me as a 'break up' present a few years ago.  Each with their own unique series of scars, scuffs, and memories.  Oh shoes.

Okay, I think that is all for now.  And Papa, if you call to tell me all of my grammar mistakes... it's on.

April Obsessions bring May Longings.

*Okay.  I really did just search my own blog just to make sure I had not, in fact, ranted about this one previously. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I wrote this a few days ago, but life has been strange of late.  But tonight, of all nights, it should be posted:

I don't know why, but whenever there is a storm rolling in or clouds gathering, I think of the sky as being bruised.  I love that word to begin with… bruise…  I think of it as a bruised sky.  Maybe because I've had thundercloud black bruises on myself… I don't know. 

But it is a bruised sky here today.  And these days are my favorite in New England. Watching all of this energy gather, made manifest in these charcoal-colored clouds.   They make me think of Washington Irving and Sleepy Hollow.  And then I really let my mind go.

I love colonial history. I really love colonial New England.  It has a lot to do with me being a nerd.  It has a lot to do with the perceived romance of that era.  It has a lot to do with what I can sense of it.  I let my mind go on days like today and consider what it must have been like.  Those first few months of settlement. 

I let my mind swirl around the feelings of not knowing my surroundings- the darkness of the nights and how bright the stars must have been.  What it must have felt like to look at those stars from a foreign land.  I imagine laying on a cot, barely asleep to begin and hearing a twig snap.  There's no sleeping after that.   Funny how something as innocent, as innocuous can become so terrifying in an alien land. 

People ask why I came to New Hampshire and I think- it's because I am finally in a space where I can let the potency of nature wash over me and I can feel the power of earth beating like a great heart beneath me and I can see history. 

I love bruised-sky days.

And until next time, I love you all. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, The Bob

I have long referred to my father as the love of my life.  And he is.  And today is his birthday- so this is for him.

It's lately been a topic of discussion- expectations, ideas.  What to expect from loved ones, what to expect from less than loved ones… what is an expectation to begin with?!?

And here's the deal:

Daughters of great fathers are doomed.

We are doomed for several reasons.  Great fathers create impossible expectations for their daughters.  Great fathers are the guys who come through for you when you desperately need something printed and have no ink left in your printer so leave them a frenic email with sixteen attachments.

Great fathers are the guys who pick up the phone when you are a million miles away from them, stuck on the side of the road with an overheated jeep, and talk to you.  They give you lists that they know you full well will not remember in your state of distress and that you will have to call them back to get the list again, when you are safe and sound.

Great fathers are the guys who pick up the phone when you are a million miles away from them in the other direction, on the side of a different road, with the same jeep- broken down in a different way- and talk to you.  They remind you that it's not a good idea to be standing near the jeep when you are dead weight on a blind curve of I-10 into New Orleans.

Great fathers are the guys who carry you, as a sleeping toddler, from the car to the house.  And who reassure you that he will, indeed, go get Mommy.

Great fathers are the guys who move you every time you ask them to- no matter how far or how much else is happening. They are the guys who google 'futons' because you have no furniture and they want to make sure you can at least have something.  They are the guys who sit with you in the urgent care after falling off a bench, or sit with you in the surgeons office when you need a quick fix on an old ankle injury.

They are the guys who encourage you to be yourself and create your own expectations.  Great fathers teach daughters to pull no punches, command a room, and be bold, terrifying and self-reliant.  They are the guys who love beyond love you.

Great fathers are the ones who make soul-mates and partners and potentials seem impossible (boyfriends seem like boys, not men).  No great father can raise a daughter who doesn't expect the same treatment and care and concern.  And it's impossible.  Because great fathers love daughters the way no other man can.  And daughters of great fathers return that love the way no one else can.

Daughters of Great Fathers are Doomed.

I love you, Daddy.  Happy Birthday.

<<Big kisses and hugs from me and Henry from Windsor, VT. >>

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Terra Incognita

Full Disclosure:  I stole that phrase- obviously (but no so obviously because I stole it from another's blog)- but I stole it because it works perfectly here.

A friend of mine in grad school once told me that a four-word line of poetry I wrote sounded good.  And he meant it literally.  Spoken aloud it sounded good, made good noise in his ears.  So I said the line to myself (probably walking across campus, probably looking like a loon):

Oh Atlas, I lied. 

And he was right, it sounded good; it sounds good.  The words flowed out of my mouth and into the air around me. I tried it in different accents, with different pauses and emphases (I'm telling you that I genuinely looked like a loon).  Oh Atlas, I lied.  Four words that I have used in at least ten different journal entries, poems, stories.  I love those four words for the same reason that I love all words: because they are.  And I love them because they are not four words.  They are my words.

But I digress.  I have been pondering and chatting and discussing a lot, lately, about words- spoken and written.  Not exactly terra incognita (say it OUT LOUD) for me or my partner  in crime here (another writer- and yes I say that humbly acknowledging that I really have no right to identify my self as the other to 'another writer'), but absorbing to us each nonetheless.

I rarely read what I write out loud.  I rarely read anything aloud- it hardly seems necessary because I am usually reading by myself, or in a crowd, or in some space that precludes speaking the word aloud (thank you Eliot).

But now I find that I am wanting to give voice to every passage on which I lay my eyes. I want to read Robert Hass in whispered tones to myself and the people I love who love him.  Or shout out the dark passages of John Donne because he writes creepy and terribly lovely things. I want those around me to know that Rilke said 'every angel is terrifying' because every angel is.  And because it sounds good.  I want to be able to recreate what Shel Silverstein thought when he wrote about the moon bird, resting from flight, to cool in the peppermint wind (OUT LOUD SERIOUSLY)

When I lend my voice to beautiful words, dear words- they come to life.  They become conversations over dinner, whispers in bed, debates about infinity, spirituality, goodness, badness, nonsense.  Words become us, in a way.   I think of my favorite words and they are favored because they feel good on my fingers to type or write; because they taste good on my lips to say and echo pleasantly in my ears upon hearing them: Wilderness, brutality, cognizance.  There are far too many to list all- but those are a few to try out.

Ah words.

Until next time, Dear Hearts…

(just try it out- find your favorite book and read one line out loud- it makes such a difference).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On Flailing

What happens when someone who should properly be in a looney bin starts to tailspin? 

Excellent question. And one for which I have an answer because my mind is nothing if not currently spinning its tail...

This someone starts flailing.  And flailing is not necessarily a good thing.  Especially for me. 

I am generally a non-violent person.  I don't yell in anger, only in enthusiasm.  I don't hit anything unless it's called for in sport or game (kicking your foot up to love-tap someone in the bum does not, to my mind, count as violence).  I hate dodgeball. 

But then one of those spectacularly dizzying tailspins begin and I find that I want to smash every mirror, break every reflective surface; I want do dig my heels in somewhere, open my mouth and let out a wail to challenge banshee's.  I want to take all of this essential nonviolence and channel it into a vicious, uncomfortable show of rage.  I want to break bones and hearts and become the Fe Fi Fo Fum giant.  I want to lash out at the people who love me and I want to dive headlong into badness because I don't want to be me anymore.  I don't want to see me anymore.

None of this, however, is appropriate when you are staying in someone else's condo.  A word to the wise- it is generally considered impolite to break things that are not yours.

You can't shatter a world that doesn't belong to you.

So you (I) close your (my) eyes when you (I) brush your (my) teeth, you (I) don't look down in the shower because the crisis brought on by that vision is more than you (I) can bear; you (I) grind every inch of yourself (myself) back into place and plaster a smile on your (my) face.  You (I) drink out of plastic cups.

You (I) pray at the end of every day that the next will be better.  That you (I) will be better. 

And then you (I) wait. Because tailspins do not, in fact, go on forever.  They end eventually- either in a spectacularly dizzying crash, or a quiet slowing-down.

Until that happens, though, here's to plastic cups.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sometimes My Emails Become My Blog Posts-

-Because I'm sometimes a better writer than even I expect, without even thinking it through.

Earlier today a good friend allowed me to preview something he wrote (he's far wiser than I and his writing proves it fairly consistently.  Although, to be fair, there are toddlers who are far wiser than I) and it started my gears turning.

In response, I sent him an email:

I find myself getting irrationally mad at people, lately.  

I find myself doing this because people are still treating me like I should have a fainting couch or something.  

First of all- I have never fainted, not once.  Passed out cold from lack of sleep during a way-too-long layover in Heathrow Airport, yes.  Fainted, no. 

I have these moments when I just want to start yelling at people- that it doesn't matter than I'm sick- it's MY SICKNESS TO HEAL AND IT'S MY FIGHT TO WIN (or lose as it were)- that it doesn't matter that I was frail for a little while, EVERYONE IS FRAIL AT SOME POINT! 

Again, probably not the response you were truly looking for, but a response nonetheless. I think your line about owning your scars brought it on.  I love my scars.  Each and every one of them, whether self induced (yep, got a couple of those) or from falling down stairs (more than a couple of those) or some other mischief.  I love them because they make me feel strong and they remind me of all the grand trouble into which I have gotten myself.  They are as important to me as my passport stamps. 

Does that make any sense whatsoever?


And in the end, I stand by my email.  I stand by it because Frustration, Loneliness, Fear, Irritation, and Clouded, Lousy Judgment are all a part of life.  And they are beautiful parts of life which reveal the grandeur and depth of the human psyche.  We are allowed to be frustrated, to feel lonely and scared, to find ourselves irritated- both at ourselves and at others.

It is the luxury of being spirited- having feeling.  And we can, and we should, feel all good things and all bad things.  And all things in between.

Until next time.