Walking

Come talk a walk with me, amiga. It is a December afternoon in San Francisco, heading towards evening. The air is cool and soft, and when we reach the top of a hill, you'll see it's clear on the horizon, no haze as on warmer days. The trees and gardens are greener than ever, soaking up the wet of our mild winters. People are wearing their coats and scarves because they like to, but they're unlined, and it's really only fifty or fifty-five degrees. A gentle season. We'll stop by the post office to drop off these packages (belated Christmas gifts) and maybe see how the pomegranates are at the produce store across the street...

Second winter

It used to be hard for me to understand how a single being could contain both happiness and sadness. I learned that it's not a paradox.

The paradox now is doubting with faith. Or doubting faithfully.
/
Considering: Perth, Berlin, Munich, Sydney, Santa Fe. The next two years.
/
"What was it I was going to ask you?....Oh yeah. Are you a—" "Lesbian?" "No—" "Oh." "A pothead."

A couple different people have called me chill this year. I like it because it really surprises me.
/
Having graduated, there is a fantastic spaciousness to my life, something I would dance around in yelling "sixty years, sixty years, free free free anything I want, anywhere" but even that wouldn't really communicate to you how I feel. There is just so much time! I mean, what can't you do, with that amount of time? I've never been one to talk about "life" or "the real world" as something distinct from life-before-college-graduation, but at the moment it really does feel like the beginning of something truly mine.

I've been sick for the past week and a half, but it's pretty great to be alive/me/here.

There is no season like winter in San Francisco.

Déjà vu

San Francisco, December 2011.

Illinois, May 2011.

Strip mall

In January, we are all going back to Maui together: swimming in the ocean + TEN DAYS with these dears.

Gratitudes + things that are making me happy

• hot lemon water

• halving the number of Tumblr blogs I follow

• a possible loan of my DREAM camera from a Flickr neighbor and acquaintance-of-a-friend (which is slightly making me freak out)

• and speaking of amazing internet folk, the gift of a Flickr pro account through 2013 from Erin and Will, jeez!

• being done with school

• waking up with the Pacific on the horizon

• my first cup of green chai, courtesy of Ellie

• possibilities and freedom

• retrospect

free Beach House tracks including my addiction "Zebra"

• our little me-sized Christmas tree

Another Thanksgiving cemetary

"My sister thinks it's so awful that I sit on the graves when I read here..."  
Noel putting some juniper, I think, in her hair  
the oldest headstone in the graveyard  
accidentally looking like a sour hipster

From "A Long Conversation"

All kinds of language fly into poetry, like it or not, or even if you’re
only
as we were     trying
          to keep an eye
         on the weapons on the street
     and under the street

Just here, our friend L.: bony, nerve-driven, closeted, working as a nurse when he can’t get teaching jobs. Jew from a dynasty of converts, philosopher trained as an engineer, he can’t fit in where his brilliant and privileged childhood pointed him. He too is losing patience: What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc . . . & if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any journalist in the use of the dangerous phrases such people use for their own ends?

You see, I know that it’s difficult to think well about “certainty,” “probability,” perception, etc. But it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life and other people’s lives. And thinking about these things is NOT THRILLING, but often downright nasty. And when it’s nasty then it’s MOST important.

His high-pitched voice with its darker, hoarse undertone.

At least he didn’t walk out, he stayed, long fingers drumming.

– Adrienne Rich
in Midnight Salvage

Thanksgiving was like this


first I hosted


then we drove


there were dear kittens


lovely siblings-of-my-friend


we celebrated in a big house on the prairie


(I wish I'd been thoughtful about this light, sigh)


and then some more in the suburbs

Additionally: hymns / parents / grandparents / slouching / pie crusts / hummus / tea / tea / reading aloud...

You can see my hostfriend Noel's pictures here.

Read in November 2011

1. Dear Germany: Eine Amerikanerin in Deutschland, by Carol Kloeppel
"An American in Germany." Meh eh. I don't really like her voice; it has a (culturally) patronizing tone.

2. The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
Recommendations as to what recording of it to watch now, anyone?

3. Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray
Definitely froth. (Liberal USian) Feminist revenge fantasy? Some of it's kind of profound, some of it's eye-roll-inducing. On a micro level, the voice reminds me more of Meg Cabot more than of the Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy.

Goodbye, Chicago

I don't love this city, and of course it feels better to leave than to be left, but still it's not simple leaving it.

I'm returning to San Francisco today. My home-city. Maybe for a few months, maybe for forever. I don't know — we'll see.

You / I

"do you remember the way the girls
would call out 'love you!'
conveniently leaving out the 'I'
as if they didn’t want to commit
to their own declarations."

– David Berman (via)

My thoughts as I read this:

1. I do that.

2. It does feel more comfortable and less meaningful.

3. Resolved: no longer. Subject pronouns or bust. Let words have weight; I love you.

Playing / kiss

These are from October. My sister and her daughter. It never felt weird to say that she was expecting a baby, but thinking that she was going to be a mother did. It still surprises me when I phrase it that way to myself.

I find them fascinating in stills — it makes me notice the way they relate to each other, the faint human electricity that you find between people who are really close to each other. The force of their mutual awareness. In their attention, the opening and closing of space between them, their eyes — and they in particular have spent so long in each other's company, with one of them still mostly wordless...

Happiness and gratitudes

• good memories that give me energy in the present

• my public speaking prof. told me in my assessment, "You seem quite comfortable in front of an audience," which surprised me

• the times when I'm able to take pleasure in studying

• the many, many uses of apple cider vinegar

• the odd, non-idiomatic English that I speak when I'm tired

• smirking

• fresh guided meditations

• bundled-up walks during the last hour of (cold, still-golden, deeply angled) winter sunlight

• that I get to hang out with Little Sister soon

Food and time

I wrote on Wednesday:

I've thrown so much time away simply because I thought it wasn't mine — time when I was "supposed" to be doing other things. Why is it a rule that when you're procrastinating, you have to be numbing your brain, bouncing around from website to website or similar? It's not. It's stupid. It results in nothing worth remembering, and it's not even enjoyable.
and I wanted to elaborate on that and connect it with eating as Sui did in her comment.

In Intuitive Eating the authors mention several adolescent clients who had gotten into the habit of overeating after school because as long as they were eating, their parents didn't make them do homework. In other words, their right to nourishment was acknowledged, but not their right to leisure time, and the result was that they tried to suppress one need by oversatisfying another.

I've realized that I can fall into a similar trap. When I'm willing to acknowledge my need for, say, an internet break "just to check my email" (ahem) but not my need to do something ACTUALLY enjoyable, like have tea with a friend, or ride my bike, or do some pleasure reading — then I overdo the internet surfing in an attempt to satisfy my chocolate craving with rice cakes. Falling into the black hole that is the internet can take longer than a real break would have, and it's way less satisfying.

I think this also has to do with the fact that I can avoid some of the responsibility for "procrastinating" by blaming the internet's addictive and time-warping qualities. (One earth hour = sixteen internet minutes, to quote my high school government teacher.)

And yet all that's needed to make taking that responsibility less dreadnacious is to accept that taking breaks is allowed — yes, even long unscheduled ones — and that I don't have to guilt-trip myself by labeling them "procrastination." That it really is okay to set aside a paper in order to go for a bike ride. (Appeal to pragmatic side: After all, if that's what I'm craving, then that's probably what will best refresh me and and re-energize me for more paper-writing later.)

Back to the food. I'd like to propose an analogy:

Unrealistic dedication to productivity is to wasting time as dieting is to overeating.

And what is the way out? Intuitive living, something like intuitive eating but bigger? Are there thoughts as trustworthy as the body's hungers?

I think so. I'm experimenting.

California live oaks


This is the other roll of film from the day we woke up at four a.m. The monastery grounds and the diner.

With love and vigor

Not long till solstice and still no snow.


This year when I'm deciding what to do with my hours, I have been thinking about what will be worth remembering and what the vigorous thing to do would be. (I love that word. I love vigorous people. I hope I am one.) It often runs contrary to what would feel most comfortable, but it doesn't feel like fighting with myself; it feels more like clearing away the junk from around my intuition.

I've thrown so much time away simply because I thought it wasn't mine — time when I was "supposed" to be doing other things. Why is it a rule that when you're procrastinating, you have to be numbing your brain, bouncing around from website to website or similar? That's not how it has to be. It's stupid. It results in nothing worth remembering, and it's not even enjoyable. More about that later.

Tonight I walked home at a leisurely pace, in the middle of the street and singing. Twenty-five degrees. Orion has swung to the south, and my voice was echoing off of...something. I went past my house to the end of the block before turning back, because it was a good song.

I might remember that someday. I might remember this fall as the one I spent singing, because I was finding out that my voice is not as bad as I'd always thought. I wouldn't mind that.

November hours

Happiness and gratitudes

• hospitality

• winter

• that a shower and stepping outside for a few moments makes everything better

• a care package of tangerines

• sleeping on campus during the day sometimes instead of in my room at night

• my new pets, which are two star-shaped foil balloons

• how many options I already have for next year

"Near Town," by The Amazing Broken Man

• bike rides when I get cabin fever late at night, and the combination of emptiness and dark in the streets

• soccer-field stargazing for too long and my toes going numb

• a feeling of soon-will-have-smashed-something-edness

• emailing with Sui

• long Skypes with my Bostonian contesserate

• pesto/tomato grilled cheese

• soon I'll have my degree

Cat and Contesserate by the sea




August, because a fine glittery snow is dusting down tonight and I just talked to that Cat. We hadn't seen her in three years until that day. We picnicked and I stepped on a fish hook, which was exciting, and we watched a seagull smash a quahog. I'm not sure why I had difficulty exposing these correctly, but I like them anyway.

Read in October 2011

1. Fox Poems, 1998-2000, by Adrienne Rich
Not my favorite of hers.

2. Rose, by Li-Young Lee
Poetry. Romantic and image-driven. I posted a section from the long title poem.

3. Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
I absolutely love their approach to recovering from the diet mentality (which I'd say almost every US American has, apart from actual dieting). Essentially, it's about re-learning to eat the way that we were born knowing how to: eating what our body wants when we're hungry and stopping when we've had enough. The book outlines their core principles (which are smart and kind and utterly sustainable) and the process of becoming an intuitive eater.

4. The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis
Dense with insights. I could definitely read this again. Exposition on four categories of love — affection, friendship, romance, and charity — and what they show us about God, as well as the particular opportunities in each for idolatry. Anytime he mentions gender, he tends to say something misogynistic, though.

5. Riptide: Struggling with and Resurfacing from a Daughter's Eating Disorder, by Barbara Hale-Seubert
I had a lot to say about this book, so it'll get its own post soon.

6. The Beautiful Between, by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
YA, set in a Manhattan high school. Not terribly memorable, but written with heart.

Waiting on a drawbridge with Noel

Recognizing what I need tonight

(I needed to take the time to think about what I needed, for starters, so thank you, Sui.)

To wait to revise blog posts until tomorrow, because I can't revise well at this time of night.

To face my assignments, because being afraid of them makes me literally ill, so kindness and mindfulness ought to take the form of Biting the Bullet.

To begin again simply, and read Paul's letter to the Hebrews. To taste my old practices again, thoughtfully  the things that "being a Christian" used to imply for me.

To respect the bedtimes that work for me, regardless of how productive or unproductive I have been with my evening.

And a dose of negative capability.

You?

At 22, in the company of so great a cloud of witnesses

1.
The father gets custody; the guard is not fired. 

2.
Two levels of amazement: at these things, and that it shocks me at all. Still young enough to be almost speechless at such amazing and everyday injustice! Well, we sigh about how jaded we are, but that's the giveaway. Because, to feel jaded? There's no such thing. It's a very precise catch-22.

Just like with feeling desensitized. I grew up
in San Francisco, and when I was little,
seeing panhandlers made me cry with empathy
and sorrow. When I was somewhat bigger, I was sad
instead about the fact that their suffering no longer
saddened me. Then I just stopped being sad.
Between caring and not-caring, there's
caring-that-you-no-longer-care. But if you're not
back-pedaling from there, you're moving forward:
we may make it to actually jaded.

3.
So don't be speechless. Finding words will matter. Listen:

At such amazing (language the flesh
dressing the bones of a common
frame of reference, and language the bones
themselves:
also young
enough to know I
can use this word because
this amazement as well will be shared,
not by everyone, but by some
of us) injustice...

Remember, there is this word amaze and this other one injustice, which tell us we could not do anything to make ourselves alone in seeing and knowing the referents. There exist these words, and we could not exist apart from everyone else who has said them (is saying them), or from the fact that we are all trusting these words, these bones, like the earth that we walk on.

4.
In your youngness

do not be cynical;
do not be lonely.

We are not the only ones talking about
injustice, feardoubt or any of the things
that are filling your skull —

The words themselves are proof of
the passage of so many others
here.

Happiness and gratitudes

• The Antlers

• Mary Daly

• occasionally being the THE FEMINIST MOLE at my college

• recovery

• deep thinking and connections

• voicing my opinions

• Anna

• sharing the yoga/dance studio with a guy messing around to this new-to-me and unforgettable lovely song

• my big beautiful Paul Madonna book

• unseasonably mild weather

• south-facing windows

• fear lists

• singing on my bike, drinking tea on my bike, stargazing on my bike

• clear nights and constellations

• yarn browsing

A brief PSA to my fellow USians

There is some legislation being considered right now which would allow the government to begin censoring the internet.

It's aimed at preventing copyright infringement, but there is enormous potential for abuse, and it will likely affect you.

 It is really important that we all:

1) Follow what's going on with the Stop Internet Piracy and the PROTECT IP Acts.

And

2) Contact our reps to tell them to vote against this bill.

This legislation currently has far too much support and is, in fact, expected to pass. Congress is holding hearings on it today. In response to this outrageous tomfoolery, today has been designated American Censorship Day, a day of action.

Get on it, my comrades of internetty goodness.

#friendscallmethings

Sui's idea.

Tell me some nice things that people have said about you. The compliments that have stuck with you. Let's have some warm fuzzies and remember how proud we can be to know each other.

These are the mine:

"You are the perfect balance of reason and emotion." – Former suitemate
"Youth is not wasted on you." – SL
"I like how you don't take shit from anybody."  One of my supervisors at my last job

Your turn.

xo.

The day we woke up at four a.m.

We drove to the monastery only to find that the main gate was still closed / Napped in the car in the pre-dawn dark / Had breakfast at a diner lit with the first slanting rays of daylight, where our waitress told us to have as much hot tea as we liked / Listened to a glorious remix of a song we both love / She guessed the combination to the gate by pure luck / We drove up high into the North County hills / And over a speed bump with BUMP OF MINDFULNESS painted on it / Where we met a young Buddhist nun with a laughing face and shaved head who called to us, Good morning, sisters!

And where there is rain

This is what I love about his poems, that they are like photographs. Or small in-between moments from a beautiful movie. An aching clarity.


Always a Rose: 6

Not for the golden pears, rotten on the ground —
their sweetness their secret — not for the scent
of their dying did I go back to my father's house. Not for the grass
grown wild as his beard in his last few months,
nor for the hard, little apples that littered the yard,
and vines, rampant on the porch, tying the door shut,
did I stand there, late, rain arriving.
The rain came. And where there is rain,
there is time, and memory, and sometimes sweetness.
Where there is a son, there is a father.
And if there is love there is
no forgetting, but regret rending
two shaggy hearts.
I said good-bye to the forsythia, flowerless for years.
I turned from the hive-laden pine.
Then, I saw it — you, actually.
Past the choked rhododendrons,
behind the perishing gladiolas, there
in the far corner of the yard, you, my rose,
lovely for nothing, lonely for no one,
stunning the afternoon
with your single flower ablaze.
I left that place, I let the rain
meditate on the brilliance of one blossom
quivering in the beginning of downpour.

– Li-Young Lee
from  Rose

Designer drugs


"I don't take drugs; I am drugs." – Salvador Dali

Two a.m. showers in the dark are my favorite now. In the dark means, by the light that comes in the bathroom window from the suburban night sky (a hazy pinkish-gray).

As my hair is drying I open an umbrella the color of that sky and pad barefoot out to the middle of the backyard lawn. From above, no one would be able to see me.

A thin November rain throughout the night, so I keep my windows open to the cold for the sake of its sound on the remaining leaves. (Are the yellow ones always the last to fall? Plastering the pavement, striking in the streetlights...)

I smell like incense.

October weekend


Happiness and gratitudes

• wrapping up in a big shawl to read or blog

• the German word for "litigious" is "lawsuit-addicted." As my professor used to say, deutsche Sprache, schöne Sprache.

• Mary Daly

• the assigned ethnographies in my anthro elective

• nightclouds

• fisherman pants

• Mozilla Thunderbird

• golden leaves against moody gray skies

• tea and blankets with a friend on the grass/under the trees/in the backyard

• Sui's Letter

• finding a quality travel mug at the campus donation center, and how much it improves my quality of life

• the gift of trust from others

• a silly addictive teen gymnastics drama on instant streaming

Our tentative and groping words

"Women have been driven mad, 'gaslighted,' for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each others' sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other.

"Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other...

"Truthfulness anywhere means a heightened complexity. But it is a movement into evolution. Women are only beginning to uncover our own truths; many of us would be grateful for some rest in that struggle, would be glad just to lie down with the sherds we have painfully unearthed, and be satisfied with those. Often I feel this like an exhaustion in my own body.

"The politics worth having, the relationships worth having, demand that we delve still deeper.

...

"It isn't that to have an honorable relationship with you, I have to understand everything, or tell you everything at once, or that I can know, beforehand, everything I want to tell you.

"It means that most of the time I am eager, longing for the possibility of telling you. That these possibilities may seem frightening, but not destructive, to me. That I feel strong enough to hear your tentative and groping words. That we both know we are trying, all the time, to extend the possibilities of truth between us.

"The possibility of life between us."

– Adrienne Rich
"Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying"

Echoing

Bitterness: As soon as you consciously wish to forget something, it becomes almost impossible.

It's hard for me to remember physical pain once it's passed, but I can remember how it felt to be profoundly depressed, and re-collecting the original pain, holding it whole again in my hands — old, but whole — strikes an echo hurt, a meta-pain.

Melissa wrote [trigger warning for eating disorders] that this grief for the past self and for those unforgettable things is a good sign, even when it hurts deeply. Because it means that sympathy has grown where the hatred used to be.

You should read Lexi's post too, about the mean reds vs. the blues and "it's like depression has its own version of ptsd." I'm grateful for her brain.

In what sense can you leave it behind, the days of leaving scars, of wanting to be dead? And how, without forgetting, without pretending that I don't still have to watch against depression?

I want to say, Too much lost. That's part of the pain.

What lost? Some innocence, I guess. Hatred and violence and hopelessness put an end to a certain type of innocence, and those have had their place in parts of my saga with depression.

And so much to leave behind.

Theodicy. Is it the essence of evil, that suffering is meaningless?

"Humans, including women, construct meaning. That means that when something happens to us, when we have experiences, we try to find in them some reason for them, some significance that they have to us or for us. Humans find meaning in poverty and tyranny and the atrocities of history; those who have suffered most still construct meaning; and those who know nothing take their ignorance as if it were a precious, rare clay and they too construct meaning. In this way, humans assert that we have worth; what has happened to us matters; our time here on earth is not entirely filled with random events and spurious pain. On the contrary, we can understand some things if we try hard to learn empathy; we can seek freedom and honor and dignity; that we care about meaning gives us a human pride that has the fragility of a butterfly and the strength of tempered steel."
– Andrea Dworkin
  Intercourse

The evangelical in me says that that's what grace means here, that this will all mean something, and that it's not just self-illusion to think so.

I have to believe that. In an integrity of experience and purpose that will be clear in the end, with enough distance, or in those rare minutes. That there will be a story to this, to me, and that it will not be senseless.

Asleep or awake,/what difference does it make?

One of last fall's songs + one of this summer's songs.

Not sleeping — or living — very well lately. Except for when I'm hyper on caffeine, I feel sluggish and dull, suffocating on food and screen time, suffocating inside my prickly layers in this cold room. I don't really have enough of a courseload to keep me busy, though I'm hardly doing as much as I could for the ones I do have.

hate waking up in the afternoon, and I hate too-long or inadvertent naps. I don't want this groggy restless feeling; I want to feel alert and awake and properly alive. It's so easy to be bored (how is it that "entertainment" is not the opposite of boredom?), but so shameful. What a WASTE. I won't live like this, I refuse to live like this...

Tea and friends

IMG_0002
It's important to have tea, and it's important to have friends. And when you get to have tea with your friends, that's the best of all.

Read in September 2011

1. Intercourse, by Andrea Dworkin
The political implications of intercourse from a radical feminist perspective. The first half of the book examines different (male) authors' views of sex; the second is all her. Quite a fiery analysis, quite absorbing. It made me despair at times of the male sex, but it's not really fair to count that against it.

2. The Weather of the Heart, by Madeleine L'Engle
I've posted two poems from this book before, here and here. Her spiritual musings are highly intellectual/her intellectual musings are highly spiritual; and she has a naturally lyrical voice.

3. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
Like a literary lovechild of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Emily Brontë. Such lovely prose...not flowery, but beautiful, to fit the elegance of life at a seaside manor in 1920s England. Very period-atmospheric, and sort of nouveau-Gothic.

4. The Dream of a Common Language: Poems, 1974-1977, by Adrienne Rich
I like pretty much all her writings, but I love her seventies/eighties work. Lesbian feminist thought/poetry at its glorious and incisive best.

5. The Stepford Wives, by Ira Levin
Funky retro satire-thriller slash conspiracy novel...contemporary to the second-wave feminist movement and mostly just amusing, but the penultimate scene was a bit too real to be funny. I read it in about an hour and a half (unfortunately, because I had chosen it for a five-hour flight...).

6. Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life, by Jenni Schaefer
Quite conversational (a bajillion short chapters) without being light on content. Made me realize that there are still aspects of the ED/diet mentality in my brain/life that I hadn't recognized as such and was still tolerating. That's not discouraging, though — what's discouraging is thinking that a sometimes-mediocre recovery is as good as it gets.

7. Trickster's Queen, by Tamora Pierce
A favorite fantasy author from my childhood, i.e. always good.

8. love belongs to those who do the feeling, by Judy Grahn
More lesbian-feminist poems from another second-waver, yes. (I've been utterly absorbed by the questions and ideas of the seventies this summer.) Very spell-like, influenced by myth and ideas of ritual. Her work was recommended to me by the two Canadian sisters.

By the light the clouds through my window hold at night

The universe is a single room in which

a woman, falling asleep,
rubs one foot against the other.

Dawn and Noel on the Golden Gate

On Noel's last morning in San Francisco we woke early and drove to the bridge, where we walked out as far as the first tower to watch the sky and bay and city grow light. A chilly dawn. Did it leave a breeze in our hair, or was it still? Afterward we went back to bed with the heater on. She got up again first, and in the waking spaces between my dreams I watched her look at my bookshelves, running her fingers across the spines and sliding this and that book halfway out before selecting an E. Nesbit for the morning.



 
And with the shutter on B (that is, longer exposure, it's not really any lighter):

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