Miles

I am never separated from people anymore, even when I fly far away from them.

Not that it's not different, being friends with someone faraway as opposed to someone close, but I have a cell phone and a webcam and so does most everyone I know; we don't lose each other.

So I only leave places, not people, which is maybe why it hurts so much: because I'm not used to having to give one thing up to have another, but that's what you have to do when you go, because we still haven't figured out how to be in all the places we love at once.

I'm a San Franciscan; it comes naturally to me to think of leaving my heart when I leave places I love (we have that song and all). And it hurts, like I imagine it used to hurt when you left a person you loved: an obsolete ache that has been felt by too much of humanity for too much of history to dissipate so quickly — so it echoes.

Escaping / (freedom is seeing what is)

"it is looking in the mirror. seeing what's there. not seeing what your mind sees. seeing what is physically in front of you. that reflection is ok. that reflection is perfect. that is what you learn. and you keep looking. at each limb. at each freckle. at each hair. at each curl. each wrinkle. each line. each curve. and you look. and you see. and you learn. you are more than enough. you have the strength to be you.

"focus not on the walls but the gaps in the fences. for they are always there."

Liv

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A letter from Jeanima: 3/24/2012

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text:
Jeanima is very pleased to write you this letter. She greets you in Jesus' name. Her family and she are doing well. She's doing well in school. She got her passing grade in the first term exams. People are rebuilding a part of the church. Do you have any gardens? Please pray God to guide her in everything she does. She is praying God to keep you safe and healthy in everything you do. She wishes you Happy Easter 2012. May God's peace be with you!
As always, if you have ever helped pay her sponsorship fees, consider it addressed to you.

Following my feet

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Sometimes I just need to get outside, and my feet know exactly where to go.

A confession regarding travel

I am torn about going to Ireland this year...I am always torn about international travel, since early in 2010 when I made a decision to reconsider it.*

I have a sense that international travel has become the new "doesn't count as consumerist" consumer good for Classy, Educated, otherwise non-acquisitive people.

But I don't think it is an unquestionably fine choice to make. And while I pass no judgment on you, it's really important to me to be consistent in practicing what I believe.

There the issue of environmental realism, for one. Flying from one continent to another uses up a lot of petroleum (see also: oil wars) and emits some truly nefarious gases.

There is the question of how I, a person who aspires to live simply and in a way that does not belie my support for economic redistribution, ought to earn and use money.

I want to practice contentment. I don't want to consume senselessly, even of things like travel that I really enjoy. I don't want to accept my entitlement to do things that, in an equitable world, everyone could not expect to be able to do.

Certainly what one person chooses to do has little effect on the rest of the world, but still. Impact aside, being consistent, asking the questions, makes me much happier than having everything I "want" does.

I still have not made a permanent decision about international travel, but the question and the unease will not leave me alone. (It's part of the reason why I turned down the internship in Uganda last summer.) So I take it seriously.


*I say "international" because in a USian context that's mostly synonymous with intercontinental/really long-distance. I'm not sure where I would draw the lines. 

Glashaus

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I told you about this place a couple years ago. I returned this spring with two friends visiting from the Midwest, this time with my film SLR.

Read in April 2012

As always, titles link to the pertinent Goodreads page — feel free to add me as a friend on there if you have a Goodreads account.

1. A Prayerbook for Spiritual Friends, by Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw
I liked this more as a portrayal of the friendship of these two women — both writers and poets, in the later part of their life — than as a devotional work. As the latter, it's nice, but pretty light.

2. The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson
Ambivalent. If you've read this, I'd be interested to hear what you thought.

3. Woman Hating, by Andrea Dworkin [free download]
Strong, compelling, clean analysis. The opening section on fairy tales was particularly brilliant. I felt a little skeptical about the claims and declarations she makes in the last twenty or thirty pages, though.

4. The Rosary for Episcopalians/Anglicans, by Thomas Schultz
Good basic primer, with some alternative rosaries to pray, e.g. one inspired by St. Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love.

5. The Book of Folly, by Anne Sexton
I don't remember. But I like her, and I finished it, so it couldn't have been worse than "pretty good."

6. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
Also ambivalent to this one, at least to the plot. The characters were realistic, quirky, and rather dear. I thought his portrayal of the subculture that arises among seriously ill children and teens was so interesting: the frequent experience of "cancer perks," doubts about the way cancer victims are made into saints, doubts about the meaning ascribed to their young lives because of their illnesses.

7.  Eight1011, by Sui Solitaire [Pay as you can here]
A polished, atmospheric collection of semi-/quasi-confessional poems. Somewhat dark, with an absorbing flow.

8. The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
Reread. Always gorgeous (a retold fairy tale). I was particularly struck this time by how cinematic the imagery was.

9. The Depression Book, by Cheri Huber
This Zen/mindfulness (a.k.a. tangerine-eating) perspective has significantly altered my own perspective on coping with depression, for the better, I think. Her approach to depression and other negative emotional experiences is unconventional but empowering, and pretty darn functional. If you deal with depression or anxiety, I highly recommend this.

An itch

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I have a bit of an itch to be making things lately. My hands don't know quite what to do with themselves. What are you bringing into existence?

Friday night

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Untitled: a collaborative poem

A series of captured moments, exchanged between me and Maya Ganesan over a period of eight months.

May Day:
lights turned to heartbeats in the
night-wide ceiling...

inexplicable dead flower petals on the floor when I wake.

...

breath of a cold memory,
falling across my lips —
& outside, the world slips by:
broken photo frames, shattered laugh,

...

beheading

dead roses and facts, a childish
axe before I park my own
head in some liquid
state

...

the air is cold
but i do not
b r e a t h e
i blush daydrops into the windows
of cars as i pass by:
destruction part deux.

...

wind
and all lean with lowered lids
our faces into
the sun

...

searching for something
else behind light
erasing shadows
from the corners of our eyes

...

late light running along behind the trees,
behind the train's windows.
"I've never ridden this train before dark before."
my fingertips here under your eyes are words. I promise.
(tastes something like soju,)
promise me you'll listen, tired as you are.

...

a story behind this madness.
leave the glitter behind and open the window,
the wind is a free child tangling our hair.

...

evening-deep
in the Atlantic — am I
swallowed by the sea
or wearing it?

...

the neon lights dance,
spreading into a wasteland of
gold and silver.

...

under a canopy of electric
lights and
skirts, reading and rereading,
for the memories my eyelids carry,
A Prayer In Time Of Trouble

Consciousness

The waters of my brain are too murky lately to write easily to anyone but myself.


I'm still very young, but the world seems to have darkened significantly over the past several years as my understanding of it has grown.

I still believe that to see truly is the heart of all mercies. That seeing is where hope and possibility begin. First comes the clarity of sight — then hope. But there's pain between, in the space of gaining clarity.

And my body is so heavy from the pain of this work lately. I do not want to see any more    this society is terrible, I get it, and now there is so little left for me to stand on. I trust that with greater understanding, though, hope will return. Like second simplicity. Second hope.

So I am saying every day to myself, Do not run. Wider. Open your eyes.

Constellations

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Constellations of photographer and subjects, of mothers and a grandmother and a granddaughter and a niece, and sisters and daughters. With a spring sun glancing off the Pacific.

In California, joy is burritos

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The soft noise that eats words, thoughts of three friends tonight

i would like you to know
that i still light fires
sometimes,
outside of locked or
unlocked
doors
and the scent of
burning paper
in the night air,
the heat, even,
against my face,
for a few moments —
a small tumbleweed
of flame
and paper —
is the same, each time.
this is to you, for recollections shared,
this is to you, a benediction,
this is to you, with light in your eyes.

Camellia

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Work, work

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My second full-time job, and the first one at a desk. Data entry. It should last for a week or two more.

It made my back ache quite badly at first, but then I realized I just needed to lower my chair. It has made me screamingly bored on some days, but I've learned how to mark the passing of time with a fresh mug of tea twice a day, a new podcast or some music to listen to on the half hour. Those things make a big difference.

The people are kind, and the pay is very good.

And soon, soon, I will fly away. I will return before autumn, though, for two joyous occasions: a wedding and a birth.

1. Please recommend your favorite podcasts.
2. Who here has been to Ireland?

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