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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

For You, Little One

You are young. Each day you learn something new – a word, a song, a story, a life lesson you will carry with you always. The world opens itself to you. It offers up the depths of understanding it has produced and consumed since the beginning of time. It shows you what it means to learn, to listen, to love. It has saved this space for you to grow. It has waited for you to enter it, to fill it, to make something of it. It has anticipated your arrival.

And now that you are here, it rejoices. We may think it’s the foolishness of youth to be so egocentric, but you alone understand that the wind really does blow with such fervor just for you. The sun really does rise and glow just for you. The earth really does blossom just so you can watch, and pick its flowers and grass, and revel in its beauty. You will discover just how true that is someday.

You will discover too, sadly, that life will continue on without you. You will come to realize that life is both shorter and longer than you could have ever anticipated. You will understand that we are all just visitors here.

But trust me, little one, that knowledge does not mean that you should ever give up on your journey. No matter how much you may suffer, or hurt, or have your heart broken, there will always be joys that outnumber the pain, that make it all worthwhile. There will always be people who let you down, but there will also always be people who pick you back up. There will be days when you fall and wonder what the point is, but the days when you rise will answer that question for you.

You will fail and you will succeed. You will laugh and you will cry. At some point, your heart will inevitably be torn open and it will ache like nothing you’ve ever experienced. I’d like to tell you that it will again be made whole, but that’s not the case. The key is to never let it close again. The key is to leave it open and let the entirety of the universe seep in. Let the grandeur of each day soak into you. Let the suffering you feel for yourself and others mix within you until it becomes compassion. Use that compassion to take action.

Do not pity yourself too much, but do not question the validity of your emotions either. You are feeling what you feel for a reason. Accept that. Accept others. Accept yourself. You are not alone here, nor will you ever be. Make this world a pleasant place to be, not just for the sake of your happiness, but also for those around you and those who will follow you.

Love children for their innocence. Love your elders for their experience. Listen carefully to both forms of advice. Becoming wise is as simple as sitting and listening and reflecting. Becoming noble is as simple as knowing when to take a stand. Becoming loved is as simple as loving.

I guarantee you that your life will not go as you thought it would. You will transform into something new each day and your future will change along with it. Your path will curve in ways you can never prepare for and you will feel blind sighted by more than one occurrence in your lifetime. Don’t let it stop you from moving forward. I promise that your newest adventure will be one that you were meant to have.

Believe in things, but remember to be open-minded. Sometimes the most concrete things in your life can shatter as easily as glass. Still, don’t fear the ending of things at the beginning. Dive into your life as though it were invincible. Cherish your strength. It will always arise when you most need it, and even you will be amazed by its magnitude. You are stronger than you know.

You are young. Your whole life is still ahead of you. You will learn these lessons over and over again. As will I, little one, as will I.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Sometimes it feels as though you’ve forgotten that your story is my story too. Your history is my history, your present is my present, our futures are one in the same. Perhaps it’s difficult to see that, as our lives twist and turn in different directions, as we travel forward down paths that cross less and less frequently. But we have grown from the same seed. We are simply two different vines on one, singular plant. We are simply two different people on one, singular earth.

My father says that what I write often seems like it’s been written in code. While I’m writing, I’m always considering the person to whom my words are directed. I have to believe that they’ll recognize it, that they’ll understand. Perhaps my code is simply a plea to find the souls that connect with it, with me. Perhaps my whole life is one long mysterious equation, and my journey is nothing more than the search for people who can help solve it.

And there is no solution, but there is something truly beautiful about the idea that an attempt is being made. We are trying to figure it all out, together. My evolution is dependent upon teamwork. I would be stagnant without you.

It’s Christmas Eve, a time that grows increasingly difficult as my family moves further and further apart. I never thought I’d be the kind of person who cringed at the prospect of holidays. I never wanted that for myself. And it’s not as though I’ve become a grinch by any means, but there is certainly a palpable loss of spirit in me. I just don’t feel the need to celebrate.

I spent last night in Atlantic City with five of my best friends. It was wonderful and lavish and excessive in every sense of the word. It was fun in the casinos and bars and lounges and restaurants, but what I loved most was the time we spent in the hotel room, laughing and yelling and regressing back to the days of slumber party madness. We joked around and jumped on each other and had pillow fights. I haven’t laughed like that in ages.

As we left the hotel, I suddenly longed so desperately to just stay forever. Not because I particularly loved where we were, but just because I loved that we were there together. And that’s what family should be. That’s what family is.

But I can’t recall the last time I felt that way about my family. Yes, I love them, but I don’t feel for them what I feel for my friends. My life doesn’t revolve around them, include them, need them in quite the same way. Maybe that’s normal, but as I watch my friends interact with their own families, I can’t help but feel that I’m missing out on something. I can’t help but feel the lack of belonging.

Because I know I should feel like I belong to the people grown from the same seed. Their blood is my blood, their family is my family, our codes should make sense to one another. But they don’t. We are separated through distance and divorce and disinterest. Our vines have been cut and we continue to grow in different directions, searching for other vines, other plants, to cling to.

Maybe that’s why I have so many friends who mean so very much to me. Maybe that’s why I am so determined to see the best in people, to keep them in my life, to make sure our ties are never cut. Maybe that’s why I would have given anything to have stayed in that hotel room until Christmas was over, laughing with the only family I know.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Ode To Feet

I like them best this way – rough, worn out, paint chipping away at the edges. All are signs of use, productivity, and accomplishment. If I could add up all the miles they’ve journeyed throughout my lifetime, I wonder what length they would stretch. I wonder how far these feet have taken me.

I didn’t begin walking until much later than the other children. I’d sit happily, watching them all toddle around in my playgroup, or so I’m told. I’m sure my parents worried, as parents do, that I seemed to show no signs of desire to be independently mobile. But that was just me, and that same need to wait for the perfect moment to dive into something has continued to be true throughout my life.

I took my first steps in England. I just stood up and walked the length of an English garden, and that was it. I was suddenly walking. No preparation, no thought, no hesitation. I was simply ready, and so I began.

And I’ve never stopped. Sometimes all the places I’ve been and things I’ve experienced get intertwined in my mind with books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen and dreams I’ve had. Sometimes the past becomes nothing more than a series of stories I’ve heard and told.

But my feet remain the truth, the evidence, the division between fact and fiction. These feet have walked through English gardens, through Canadian forests, through the fields of India. They have hiked up the Himalayas and strolled through the streets of Paris. They have been washed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, blessed in the Ganges. They have squished in the mud of Tennessee as they danced to the hippie sounds of Bonnaroo.

They have felt the sweet coolness of summer grass and the frigidness of Michigan snow. They have been burned and soothed on the beaches of Jersey, Spain, France, Barbados and Goa. They have led me through the busy streets of Philadelphia, New York, LA, Delhi, Amsterdam, DC, Barcelona, London and Rome. They have stood with me silently and still on the hillsides of Ireland and Scotland.

They have taken me through churches and synagogues and temples. They have journeyed with me through the Sistine Chapel, the Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre and every other exhibit I’ve been fortunate enough to see. They have stomped along with cattle and sheep and horses. They have shopped in malls and open markets and yard sales. They have wandered through libraries and book stores for hours. They have sat patiently through movies and concerts and plays.

They have led me on and off the stage. They have exercised with me and meditated with me. They have run and jumped and skipped and danced. They have grown tough in the summers and soft in the winters. They have rebelled against shoes and worn nothing but slippers and socks for months at a time. They have splashed in newly formed puddles and felt the harshness of concrete on their soles. Their nails have been painted almost every color of the rainbow at least once and they have been placed in every kind of shoe imaginable. They have been cut and bruised and blistered and stung by bees, but they have also been tenderly washed and soaked and rubbed.

They have been cursed for their pain, but mostly, they have been loved for their purpose. One day in an English garden, I stood up and walked, and my life has never been the same since.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


My thoughts no longer flow the way they once seemed to. My life somehow seems so much more grounded in reality than it ever was before. Or at least, I’m more grounded, I think. And I wonder whether I’m evolving or regressing, maturing or settling, seeing the world for what it really is or simply learning to shut it out. I worry what this sense of adulthood means for me.

Because although I’ve always been mature for my age, my favorite moments have always been those of immaturity, those moments of blissful confidence where nothing seems to matter but the moment itself. The moments when I’ve danced like a fool, and jumped into freezing bodies of water with no clothes on, and laughed so loud I thought I may burst into a million tiny pieces. Those are the moments I look back on with fondness and satisfaction. Those are the moments I consider my legacy.

These past few months I’ve dedicated everything to teaching. I’ve sacrificed my writing and most of my social life. I’ve convinced myself that loving what I do was somehow more important than loving who I am, or perhaps, that loving what I do was all I needed to be happy. Of course, in so many ways it does, and I’m grateful to be able to love my job so effortlessly. Still, it isn’t enough.

I miss writing. I miss my friends both in and out of this blog world. I miss those pieces of my life I treasured so before I began this new chapter in my journey. I wonder how I could so easily dismiss them. I feel as though I’ve been really unfair.

The thing about being with children all day is that you forget yourself. For at least nine hours each day I’m thinking of no one, nothing, but those 18 little smiling faces. Which is both why I love it, and why I think it’s been so easy to ignore myself and the other aspects of my life. I’ve just had so much less time to sit and think.

And when I do stop to think, it’s about managing money and time, about lesson plans and paperwork, about what my students know and what they need to learn. And suddenly, days have gone by, weeks, months, and I haven’t called back a single friend or written a single blog or read a single book. And I worry what all of this will mean for me when I finish this chapter and move into the next, whenever that will be.

I worry that this will be time I’ll consider lost. Even if I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time, some small part of me weeps for that longing in my soul to write, to socialize, to become a better, healthier, smarter person. Some small part of me fears that I’ve narrowed the definition of myself to my occupation. Some small part of me mourns the loss.

But perhaps that’s just growing up. I watch movies from my youth, remembering a time when I promised myself I’d be the person I still aspire to be – that artsy, deep, selfless activist that I’d created in my head long ago. I never wanted to be what I considered an adult. I never wanted to settle for reality. I never wanted to become grounded.

So at least once a week, my coworker and I put on cheesy pop music or those goofy Wiggles and make our students dance with us like fools. We use them as our alibis for acting like two year olds, back before we ever worried about those frivolous things like money and paperwork and responsibility. And we dance and sing and jump, making sure to cherish the instant before our feet fall back on the earth, before we are once again grounded.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beginning Again

I have no excuse as to why I stopped writing here. I think it’s best to just begin again.

A friend of mine sent me an IM earlier this week just to let me know that the letter I wrote him quite a while ago is still sitting on his desk, the envelope smudged and bent from rain and travel. Whenever he comes home, he looks at it and smiles. He thanked me. That is, after all, what those letters are for.

I wrote you over nine months ago now, but never could figure out where to send it. After a while the letter seemed outdated, inappropriate, unparalleled to where our friendship had traveled. I tried several times to rewrite it, but it was different, difficult and forced. It wasn’t at all the ten pages that had flowed from heart to mind to paper the first time around. It wasn’t at all right.

We kept all of the promises we had made to each other before I went away. We call one another more often. The time that passes between each visit is less than it ever was before. Still, part of me – most of me – would give that up in a heartbeat for a chance to have the kind of conversations we used to have. It just feels like we’ve grown so ordinary.

Because what made this, us, so extraordinary, so unique, were those words we exchanged through writing. That’s why I began loving you. That’s why I love you still. You inspired me to be the kind of writer, the kind of thinker, the kind of person I wanted to be, and I genuinely miss that side of both of us. I miss feeling inspired by you.

Perhaps that’s unfair of me. I haven’t lost any respect for you. I don’t love you any less. It’s simply that you treat me like any other friend, and selfishly, I wanted more than that. I wanted to be the one you shared your secrets with in the middle of the night, the one you called when you were having a bad day, the one you had some special connection to. I appreciate you making me feel like your equal, but I somehow preferred looking up to you. I preferred having you as more than my friend. I preferred having you as my hero.

I think about it constantly, and I wonder if you do too. It keeps me up at night sometimes while I futilely try to pretend my insomnia has derived from something else. I get out of bed at 2am to balance my checkbook or scrub the bathtub, foolishly hoping that’s been the problem. It hasn’t. It isn’t. I just miss you. That’s all.

And it’s so frustrating that I can’t get out of bed at 2am and fix that. It’s so frustrating not to have a means of expressing that want, that longing, that loss. I wish that I were brave enough to ask of you the thing I need from you most. I wish that I could somehow say “I miss your words.” Why is that so difficult for me?

But I do. I miss them. I guess the truth is, I hadn’t realized how much I had been writing for you until our words stopped and my writing followed. I guess I know here at 1am, now that my checkbook has been balanced and my apartment is sparkling clean, that the only thing left to do is think of you. And write about it. I think it’s best to just begin again.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Her memory has shifted. It’s moved away from the day to day occurrences she needs to track, away from the past decade of family affairs and important events, away from what has happened this morning, this afternoon, ten minutes ago. It’s moved back, back, back through the timeline of her life.

She can’t recall who was on the phone when she answered a few hours ago, but she can remember the trees in her backyard in 1920s India with such fervor, such precision, that it feels as though she is creating them now, here, in front of my very eyes. The feel of their trunks, the scent of their leaves, the look of their limbs baking in the Indian heat. It’s all there. Her eyes spark up a bit. I remember now, yes, now I remember.

On Friday night, I babysat for a little girl I haven’t seen in over six months. I still call her “little,” although she had grown half a foot since I had seen her last. Little girls have a way of doing that. She lives behind the school I spent thirteen years of my life in, and we spent the night giggling about the silliness of the homecoming events taking place a few feet away. We could hear the announcer, the same man who sent his booming voice over the field in my childhood, enthusiastically call each grade up to do their cheer. We listened to their cheers. I remembered ours, the lyrics, the rhythm, the dance steps. It felt like a lifetime ago.

I spent Saturday with a friend I’ve known and loved for nineteen of my twenty-one years. We went and watched the children I teach walk down the runway in a Baby Gap fashion show, then did some fashion shopping of our own, then wandered into a Starbucks for some overpriced coffee. We caught up on everything we’d neglected to tell each other over the past few months. We reconnected. We had a day that made it feel as though not a moment had been lost between us. It was a really lovely day.

That night, we met up with two more of our girlfriends for drinks and, for whatever reason, ended up discussing old field trips, and old crushes that seem silly in retrospect, and former teachers whom we’ll never tire of teasing. We chatted for hours about our pasts, each of us remembering something different, each of us combining pieces of our memories to form a history of friendship. I realized how well we all know each other, how much we have all shared, how amazing it is to have friends like that. We laughed the night away.

I was reminded of this night at lunch the next day with my grandmother as she sorted through her memories, finding stories of India and the two china dog figurine bookends she had as a child. It was here, on her eighty-seventh birthday, that she came to remember her life at age seven and eight.

Maybe, I thought, maybe our minds really do come full circle that way. Maybe we reach a certain point in life when we begin to clean out the attic of our minds, taking down each box and going through the things we’ve stored there, piece by piece. Maybe in our final moments, we are not seeing our lives flash before our eyes, but only this one last piece. This first piece we decided to store oh so many years ago, this first image of memory that has also become our last. Maybe we build it all up only to one day take it down, clear it out, share it with others so that it may be stored in their attics, in their minds, long after we have gone from this earth.

I’d like to think that I would know the scent and feel of Indian trees whether or not I had ever dared to see one for myself. I’d like to think my grandmother knows that too.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Breathing A Little Easier

Exactly one month ago today I gave up cigarettes. I’d been meaning to for a while now, but something always seemed to bring me back to them, something more than the obvious addictive nicotine. It became a habit to have one with my coffee, to light one up along specific places on my daily route to and from work, to have one poised between my fingers as I tapped away at my keyboard. It became more about the stability of having them there than about the actual desire to have them. I suppose that’s what addiction is.

And for what felt like no particular reason, one month ago today I decided they were disgusting and I needed to move on with my life. I haven’t had one since. Nor have I really been craving them the way that I thought I would. Sure, occasionally I miss them. Long drives are difficult. Traffic’s even worse. Coffee probably won’t ever taste quite the same way again. And of course, the killer, writing sans cigarette.

Somewhere along the way smoking became a key component in my writing. We were on this journey together, nicotine and I, the smoke rising from a lit cigarette echoing my train of thought. I miss the way the tip would burn so brightly in front of the computer screen. I miss the ash hovering above the keys. I miss the way each drag seemed to signify a new depth, as though every writer in the world sat and looked and thought in this exact same way. There was something poetic about it.

And yet, one day I was just finished. That part of my life needed to come to an end, and so I said goodbye and moved on, quickly, painlessly. I find it strange that among the endless over analysis of every move I make in life, there’s still this part of me that is so incredibly impulsive. I’ve always been that way. I’m leisurely and passive (which is a nice way to say lazy, I think) and yet when I know something feels right, I just get up and do it. In retrospect, all of my life’s best decisions have been made impulsively.

My mother would probably disagree, as a lot of those decisions involved making the “wrong” choice about school. I knew I wanted to go to a small college in Michigan. I didn’t. I knew I wanted to leave and come home. I did, but not exactly. I knew I wanted to take time off for India and then more time off for work. I wanted both of those things, and I’m glad and grateful for having done them, but when does following my heart become a means of avoiding my education?

The truth is, I don’t want to be in school, but I understand how important school is. I understand how fortunate I am to have the opportunity for further education, to have a mind capable of handling the work, to have the money to pay for it, to have the whole world open to me. I understand I’m letting people down by not going and probably cutting off opportunities in the future. I understand I’m being rather selfish, but maybe right now I need to be.

The thing is, I’m happy now. I wake up each morning ready to start the day, knowing in the back of my mind that if this was class I had to go to and not my job, I’d be skipping it. I’d have too much time on my hands. I’d be depressed. I know that about myself. I’m glad I’ve made this choice, and ultimately, I have to be strong enough to defend it.

Meanwhile, I’m going through each day with a smile on my face. I’m living life. I’m breathing easier. One month down. A lifetime to go.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


It takes over an hour sometimes for the final child to drift off to sleep. I make my rounds tucking them in, kissing their foreheads, rubbing their backs with gentle goodnight whispers reminding them that they’re safe. “Sleep” I tell them, “sleep.”

Within ten minutes, I miss them. I miss their voices and cries and laughter. I miss their energy and vitality. I miss them crawling all over me demanding my attention. By the time they wake up, I have fallen in love with them all over again.

All week long I look forward to Saturday morning when I can finally sleep past 6am, and by Saturday afternoon I’m already wishing to be back at circle time, singing songs, running around on the playground. It’s funny how that happens. It’s funny how I am constantly aching for where I am not, and not in a discontented manner, but in a consistent dreamlike state of what could be.

I watch my little ones and marvel at their existences. How much they have already seen, how much they already know, how much they still have yet to discover, to learn, to understand. How similar we are. I’m not at all convinced that I know more now at age 21 than they do at age 2. It’s simply a different kind of knowledge – facts and figures and responsibilities. A belief in love shattered, a faith in absolutes obscured, an innocence lost. I wonder if such a change is inevitable.

I wonder who they will become. I wonder who it was that I was supposed to be. Did my preschool teachers look at me and see this as my future? Did they sit and watch me sleep so happily, so peacefully, that they couldn’t help but be made better because of my quiet? Sometimes I think all of the secrets in the universe reveal themselves at naptime. To watch a sleeping child may be one of the most serene experiences one can know. It’s calming, it’s moving, it’s everything.

I’ve slept better in the past three weeks than I have in the past three years (excluding India). There’s something that just feels right, at peace, at ease. Yes, there are a million things to do, and the list only seems to get longer with each passing day, but I arrive home each day feeling like I used my day wisely, feeling satisfied, feeling complete. I arrive home each day knowing I made children smile and knowing that each one of them has made me smile. Spreading happiness is like no other sensation on earth. Maybe this is it for me. Maybe this is what I wanted all along.

Who knows. Life can change in an instant, a lesson I learn a thousand times a day. Still, for the present, this is right. For the present, I am here and happy and alive. For the present, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I can sleep peacefully, knowing in my heart that it’s true.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

17 Little Someones

Yup, it’s official. Worst updater ever. I’m so sorry, but I really appreciate all the loving and concerned emails you’ve sent. You’re all wonderful, truly. When I officially hit the 20th email this morning, I figured it was time for an update. Here goes.

He told me that he didn’t believe in fate and destiny, but that clearly I was born to have 17 children. It was quite an omen. That’s exactly how many I now have. 17 toddlers to teach and play with and love. And oh, how I love them.

For reasons that I’ll write about later (really, I promise, I will), I decided not to return to school this semester. Instead, I got a job teaching preschool and I couldn’t be happier. Each day I get to play and sing and read and laugh. Each day I get to watch my children light up with the excitement of learning something new. Each day I share in the experience of a thousand little triumphs and heartbreaks and get to hug all day long because of it. Yes, clearly I was born to do this.

It’s exhausting of course, chasing after them, solving arguments, comforting tears. Sometimes I arrive home only to realize I have no recollection of how I got here, no memory of the drive back. It can be scary, and it may be the early warning signs of my slipping sanity. Still, at the end of the day, I’m tired in that good kind of accomplished way. Today I meant something to someone. 17 little someones who count on me for everything. It’s lovely to feel so needed.

The thing about children is that you can be having an awful day, a tired-crying-fit-throwing-tantrum-taming kind of day, and yet when little Alexandra calls out “Miss Frankie!” and you walk over only to discover she wants to give you a hug, well, that day is suddenly the most beautiful day you’ve ever had.

And when at circle time, you ask Brielle to say her name and she says “Brielle. I’m an easy, breezy, beautiful cover girl,” you can’t help but laugh about it no matter what comes your way. Because children have that power, that special something that brings so much light and love and laughter into this world. I am grateful for it, for them, each day.

I have tons more to say, but for now I just wanted to update a little something. Again, I’m sorry for my absence and I promise to do better in the future. Thanks again for writing and reading, dear friends. You’re all wonderful, truly.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poetry Thursday ~ Time

In the mail this afternoon, I received a package from my grandmother. I opened it to discover a collection of poetry she had written about her childhood in India. I smiled. A perfect poetry Thursday. Having fallen hopelessly behind in my blogging, I was unprepared for this week’s prompt of time, so what a treasure it was to discover this among her phenomenal collection. I couldn’t keep such a gift to myself. Enjoy.

The Time Of My Life : Eight Years Old
By Eve Stedman

From a hard, hot continent
where the garden had to be carved from dirt --
watered and nurtured twice a day --
I came to a cool island.

Moist earth crumbled under my hand
and, wonder of wonders
flowers grew on their own.
Everywhere I went
the hedges sparkled with stitchwort
slopes were golden with primrose
sunlight dappled a bluebell sea
and over the grass
strayed the milky way of daisies.

I was in heaven, in Eden
in a garden where no one said NO
where flowers could grow as they pleased --
and so could I.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Sometimes just saying it out loud is enough. Just the simple act of releasing the words into the air frees them from the mind. They become more than thoughts, more than wavering theories floating through the confines of my head, vacillating back and forth between the constructs of right and wrong. They become statements. They become real.

Already I feel freed from my own confusion. Nothing is solved. Nothing is even officially decided, but I now feel ready to begin. Begin what? I’m not sure, but something. Something more than sitting around wrestling with possibility. Something more than hovering in the entrance of my life. Something new and progressive and exciting. I’m ready to step into the next chapter.

This is the reward of honesty. It’s strange how the most difficult person to be honest with is always oneself. The truth really does have its way of setting us free, but so often I find myself afraid to admit the truth in that very statement. In truth, I lie to myself constantly.

Writing seems to know that, as though it were its own entity, with eyes that pierce my very soul and questions impossible to evade. It knows all the right things to ask. It knows exactly how I feel. It knows the truth I try so desperately to avoid. It puts us in a room together and forces me to face it. It won’t allow me to stay silent. It won’t tolerate my ignorance.

There is a love I know that continues on purely with the hope, the faith, that love will be enough. Despite all wisdom and truth, it goes on. It remains unquestioning. It obscures the troubles and disappointments and sorrows of the relationship behind a haze of adoration. In theory it is a beautiful thing, but in reality it becomes something ugly, something bitter. It is the unripe fruits I love before learning they’re not ready. It is the shock of displeasure in that first bite. It is the taste of lies.

Lies that linger on the tongue far longer than anyone would hope. They hang in air and hearts, refusing to be ignored, no matter how ardently we try. Love, sadly, in all of its glory, simply isn’t powerful enough to vanquish the truth. Instead, honesty gets buried beneath the layers and begins to burrow holes in the soul. That gap is the hurtful words he told her, the next is the embarrassment she caused him, the one after that is the tears they each shed in secret. I wonder when faith in the future stops being enough.

But this is not my story. It’s theirs. My story simply leaves me with the same question. When do hope and faith stop being enough? Because it is wonderful to dream, but dreaming can only take us so far. Eventually, we have to make a move. Eventually, we have to be honest about our next step. And there is nothing more terrifying in this world than making a decision. Even the most seemingly obvious of choices holds depths of bittersweet uncertainty, and they know that, and I know that, and I think somewhere deep down we all know that.

The question then becomes, are we brave enough to admit that we know that? Are we brave enough to move forward? And I know I have to answer yes, because although stagnancy is deceivingly comfortable, I refuse to get caught in its lies. Life is waiting, and that’s the truth. And honestly, I can't afford to waste another moment.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


And just like that, the sun broke through. Yesterday was just what I had asked for, hoped for, needed. It was a perfect day.

I arrived at work to find my email inbox bursting over with things to make me smile from my best friend. It’s fabulous how friends can do that, can sense what you need and know exactly how to fix it. I am constantly amazed anew by how blessed I am to have the people in my life that I have. Somehow, nothing else seems to matter but the relationships I cherish. Somehow, everything I could possibly feel sad or angry or upset about becomes insignificant. Somehow, my friends make my life worth living.

On my lunch break, I drove to this enchanting bush of white flowers I had passed that morning. I took pictures. I watched the bees fly from one blossom to the next, slowly and meticulously reveling in their soft white petals. I looked at the perfectly blue sky behind the hanging flowers and smiled at the way they so reminded me of clouds. I wanted to crawl inside them, to feel their smooth petals brush against my cheeks, to breathe their life into my own. I wanted, more than anything, to feel their beauty.

After work, I went downtown to meet up with a friend I haven’t spent quality time with in well over a year. It was so incredibly lovely. We went to dinner, gossiped over expensive girly drinks, laughed over a gorgeous meal, reconnected as though not a moment had passed between us. Her meal took much longer than mine to prepare, and so the manager came over to apologize and let us know the dinner was on them. As she walked away, we both looked at one another and said “sweet” simultaneously, before bursting into laughter that after all this time, we still spoke in rhythm with one another. It was perfect, just perfect.

I arrived home and changed quickly before heading out with my best friend. We went and wandered in the woods for a little while, talking beneath the grand night sky and the whispering trees around us. Our voices echoed in the silence, mixing with the natural hum of the earth. We were alone, and together, and one.

We picked up two more friends and headed down the street to go drink at an outside bar with even more of our friends. We drank and laughed and talked the night away. I thought about what I had written the night before, how these twenty-four hours had changed everything, how simply loving and feeling loved had made everything okay again. Welcome back, I thought to myself.

As I finally reached my bed some time later, I closed my eyes and let the perfection of the day wash over me. I thought of each person who had made me smile, of each event that had made me laugh, of each moment that had reminded me why I am so grateful for this little life of mine. I drifted off to sleep smiling, dreaming of white blossoms, knowing the feel of such beauty.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some Days Are Like That

It was that kind of ambiguous grey morning that taunts us. The kind that seems to hold every secret but refuses to give anything away. It could be early morning right before the sun makes her grand entrance over the world, or the very beginning of evening, when the afternoon light has only just slipped away. It could be warm outside or cold, beautiful or dreary. The day could hold anything we had ever seen and nothing we could have ever imagined. It was that kind of grey, that kind of morning.

I made my way into work and found myself to be the only person in the office for the first two hours, a situation I’ve unfortunately grown accustomed to. I tended to the tasks that beckoned my immediate attention and then just sat, and thought, and grew a little sad.

I don’t understand how I ended up back here, sitting in an office by myself, longing for the world outside my window. I don’t understand how I could allow myself to settle so quickly back into a life I was only recently so desperate to escape. I don’t understand how I betrayed myself this way.

I find myself missing people all the time, but I don’t know who and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s me. I miss versions of myself that I used to be and versions of myself that I could have been. I miss people who were never even an extremely important part of my life and I miss people who were – are – an extremely important part of my life, even when they’re standing right beside me. I don’t know why I feel such loss.

But it is that feeling, and I know it. Loss. Lost. Alone.

Even to write the word is painful. Alone. I think part of me has been unwilling to write simply out of the fear of admitting that. Sometimes I feel alone in the world. Even though everything I know to be true contradicts it, even though I have the most amazing friends in the world, and a mother who would do anything for me, and siblings I can turn to when I need them. Even though I am happy and grateful and alive, part of me still feels empty sometimes. It happens. That’s life.

And I know the feeling will pass. I do. It’s just what this day happened to bring. Some days are like that. So instead of going out with my friends tonight, I decided to stay in, and am still wondering if I would have preferred to be distracted. Sometimes I wish I had less time to think.

My office has become such a cell, a barren place where I can do nothing but sit and dwell on regret and mistakes. It’s become the place that I associate with all of my sadness, and while I only have a short while longer working there (I promise myself that), I still know I have to find the courage to leave when it’s over. Leave, and not agree to come back when I get that inevitable call. I can’t afford to betray myself again.

So this is whiney and not in the least bit articulate. I had a bad day. I’m mourning the loss. I’m moving on. Tomorrow is an opportunity for something new, something better. The sun will shine and I will smile. It will be that kind of morning.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just Like That

“Isn’t it funny” she said, “how we can just end one life and begin another, just like that?”

Yes, so funny, I thought, as we drove down the mountain towards the temple. Our program had already started to feel like a lifetime ago. We drove through the market where we had first arrived almost five weeks before. It was an odd sensation, some strange ambiguous feeling of seeing this place for what felt like the first time and somehow still knowing it by heart. The men sitting in the street, the women balancing a baby in one arm and a myriad of produce in the other, the children running and screaming down the dirt path. We floated through it, just as I had in all my dreams of home, both distant and familiar.

A lifetime ago. But then, isn’t every moment a new life unto itself? Am I not a different person now than I ever have been before or ever will be again? Do I not die and become reborn a million times a day?

I sat outside the temple. A new life began. I wrote frantically, my body so full of thought and emotion that I felt as though if my pen were to stop, my mind and heart would too. Below a sea of monks in maroon colored robes filled the courtyard, and then, just like that, seemed to vanish. Another lifetime gone. Memory plays beautiful tricks on the mind.

I moved inside. A fly wandered across the enormous marble floor. I wondered if he knew where he was, if he realized he was in a holy and spiritual place, if he was aware of this grand moment in his life. I wondered if he was better for having come here too.

He flew away as my friend’s knees hit the floor. Another lifetime gone. I watched my friend do his prostrations, up and down in prayer. I don’t know what a prayer is, but I do know what it feels like to watch someone pray. I know what it feels like to be in the presence of such peace. In silence I watched his pressed hands move from head to chin to chest to floor. I watched him rise and fall again and again, the ebbing tide of a life condensed. His faith resonated ubiquitously.

I watched it spread through the hot Indian air, so heavy with scent and sentiment, that to simply breathe became a prayer unto itself. Inhale the life that is just now beginning. Exhale the disappointments of the life now gone. Each breath it’s own preface and epilogue. Each cycle it’s own birth and death. Each moment it’s own lifetime, coming and going, rising and falling. The air lay bittersweet upon my tongue.

Something new was already beginning within me. Another lifetime gone. I looked outside to see her propped up against a pillar in her little white tunic. She looked like a rag doll I might have had in my youth, a lifetime ago, when foreign countries were under the kitchen table and couch cushions were walls for forts. She looked so wide-eyed and awake, and yet, as though her mind had already drifted from this time and place to somewhere else, somewhere new. Just like that.

The large gong sounded and the monks began to shuffle in for their midday prayer. Their chanting twisted and turned in the thickening air, mixing with every thought and hope and prayer ever sent out into it. Something wonderful was being created. A new lifetime was being formed. Another lifetime gone.

And just like that, we ended and began.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Poetry Thursday ~ Unfinished Conversations

This morning
The grass seems more alive
Than anything I have ever known.

They have so much to say,
These tiny hairs of mother earth,
Sprouting and dying by the millions.

They want to tell me everything before they go.

The first one tells me
Of the woman’s foot,
Of the heavy weight of her black shoe
Pounding on it each morning.
It shows me the scratch on its side.
It tells me it dreams of better things.

The second tells me
Of the day it rained vanilla ice cream,
And how soft and cool it glided down it,
And of the dog who came
And licked it clean.

The third tells me
Of the little ant who crawled up it
And how delightful the tickling of its tiny legs
--Oh! If only I knew such pleasure!—
And how it continues on simply with the hope
Of feeling such bliss again.

And soon the others discover that I am listening.

A chorus of stories begins.
And spreads.

I can hear from yards all over town
The discussion of when they were last cut
And how beautiful they all looked
-- Didn’t I think so? –
With their new trim, so stylish and sleek.
Admire us, they say.

I can hear the wild fields of Africa and India and Europe
Shout and sing and scream their freedom
Blowing loosely in the wind
With the hair of the hipsters
Who have spent years frolicking
Through their timeless offerings of peace.
Join us, they say.

So for a moment
I lower myself down into the grass
And I let each blade tickle me
With all of the delight of an ant’s tiny legs,
And I let each blade tell me
It’s stories of joy and sorrow,

And then I tell them mine.

And so it goes,
The old blades making their final remarks,
The new blades learning to speak,
The voices of millions exclaiming
Their hopes and fears and dreams.

The grand conversation of life continues.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The rain was moving in. I watched the darkness make its way over the top of the mountain, down over the valley below, leaving only this field illuminated, then the next, like the flashlights they used to search for her. It inched ever nearer as I sat scribbling away, determined to finish the final pages before it reached me. I raced against the elements.

There had been posters along the journey, bold face type pleading for attention, big round eyes and an inviting smile. I stared at her picture. The word “missing” dropped from my mind to my heart and quickly sunk to the depths of my soul. The word “missing” was more sorrowful and lonely than I had ever known it to be. The word “missing” had lost all of its tender hope.

It was no longer a plea -- “Find me. Help me. Please.” Instead it stood as a reminder of all that was lost. -- “I’ve left. I’ve gone. Goodbye.”

Her body was found at the bottom of the waterfall.

I didn’t know her. I can’t recall ever seeing her at the guesthouse next door, dancing with the others on the porch while they banged their drums and sang their songs to the mountains. But she could have been there. She could have been.

Or she could have already left for her walk into the woods alone. She could have already been on the path to the waterfall when the clouds, swollen with rain, began to slowly emerge above the peaks. She could have already been standing there, listening to the rushes of the cascading waterfall quicken. Faster and faster they fell.

No one could determine exactly how it was she came to fall with them. Perhaps she slipped, perhaps she jumped, perhaps the wind nudged her to the edge. No one knew if she was gone before she hit the water, or if it was instant, or if she lay there crying out for hours before the darkness came. Whatever happened, she had left this world alone.

Six large birds flew above me, hovering on the fast approaching winds, escaping those places where the rain had already begun. I wondered if they had looked for her, if they had seen her final moments on this earth. Maybe this flight was a tribute to her, or maybe, she was this flight. She was the birds and their wings and the air beneath them. She was the impending rain and the shadowed fields and the earth that shook with thunder below my naked feet. She was the final pages of my journal and the words I would fill them with. She was gone and she was here. She was no longer missing.

I do not know what death is. I have no notion as to what will happen after I’m gone, but I’d like to think, I’d like to believe, that the birds will know the second my heart stops beating. I’d like to believe that they will take me in their gentle wings and, if even for an instant, allow me to hover above this grand earth and know what it feels like to soar. I’d like to believe that I’d see below, poised on a cliff, scribbling away to evade the imminent rain, a young writer who has only just begun the long journey of her life.

I will smile. I will say “yes, I was only beginning too.”

Monday, August 07, 2006

So This Is Love

It was England I believe, but perhaps Ireland. After years of travel, the certainties of memory become obscured behind the present. I can’t remember the name of the museum or the artist, not even a single painting we saw. What I do remember, what I’ll always remember, was the couple we passed as we were leaving.

I couldn’t tell at first. They had their backs to us and were looking at some grand masterpiece on the wall. She was whispering softly to him, her wrinkled arm intertwined with his, her elderly lips pressed against his ear, breathing warmly the words of art and paint and love.

In the arm not connected with hers, he held a cane. I remember thinking how fragile he seemed, propped up between a cane and a woman, as though one unassuming gust of wind would send them tumbling like a house made of cards. And still they moved together with such ease, this serene creature on its five diminutive legs, that one could hardly dare to feel anything but peaceful and stable in its presence. Together they glided through the silent room.

They turned slowly towards us, and I found myself face to face with a pair of listless eyes. It took me a moment to realize he was blind. Blind in a museum. One of the universe’s cruel jokes on man, to place him in a world filled with colors and delicate brush strokes and intricate shapes and prevent him from seeing any of it.

But the universe has its way of correcting its mistakes. For his eyes, it sent him this woman, to be his eyes, to walk through a museum with him and whisper into his ear the things he could not see, to fill his heart with sight.

I wondered if he had always been blind. I wondered if he had ever seen anything in his life. I wondered if her descriptions of the blues and pinks and oranges meant anything, or whether they were just words whose significance he had to imagine. I wondered why he agreed to come to a museum, whether it was his idea, whether he had requested it simply to spend an afternoon with her mouth pressed so tenderly to his ear. I wondered why it all made such perfect sense.

That was the first time I remember seeing love. I mean, REALLY seeing it. Standing before me was a testament of patience, sacrifice, compromise and kindness. Standing before me was a couple who didn’t need sight, or the ability to walk with ease, or the fervor of youth to make their hearts sing. Standing before me was the secret of love, and although I had never truly seen it before, I seemed to recognize it instantly. So this is love, I thought.

Love. Long after your senses have left you and your skin has withered. Long after your days of running and dancing through the fields have gone. Long after the relationships you knew would last forever have faded into old pictures and letters tucked away in your memory chest, your heart still thrives for it, on it. Because it is love that keeps us going, and love that makes us want to stay. It is love that all of us wake up for each morning in the hopes of finding, and keeping, and cherishing. It is love that spurs us on.

And the blind man knew that, and placed it in a museum, so that the rest of us could come and look. And know. And see.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Once, I was in the dark
So my mother ached and pushed
And brought me into the light.

To see it, she gave me eyes.
To smell it, she gave me a nose.
To feel it, she gave me ten fingers,
And ten toes,
And a heart as big as the light itself.

To taste the air, she gave me lips and a tongue.
To hear her voice, she gave me ears.
To be my own unique self, she gave me a voice
For other ears to hear
And listen
And be stricken with awe.

Once, my heart was broken
So my mother gathered each piece
And meticulously glued them back together
And filled it with joyous blossoms.

The white petals were her tranquility
The blue were her deep pools of wisdom
The yellow were her promises of friendship
The red were her testimonies of love

The bouquet was a mother,
And a daughter,
And the heart that they both share.

Once, I was lost
So my mother searched for me
By allowing me to wander free
And aimlessly
In bookstores
And classrooms
And places around the world

And no matter how far I went,
We always found me.

Once, I felt like a nobody in this world
So my mother held me
As she had when she first introduced me to the light.

And I knew I was my mother’s daughter.
And I knew I was somebody.

Once, the world seemed empty
So my mother created me.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Heart To Heart

He sent me an email explaining his small epiphany. In the midst of brushing his teeth, it came to him, like an unexpected soft rain gracing a humid afternoon. We all have problems, he said.

Yes, including me. I must get annoyed, he thought, that everyone comes to me with their problems, that everyone seeks out my wisdom, my advice, when things take a turn for the worse. It must be a burden. It must be difficult to feel like the weight of the world hangs on my shoulders.

I’ll admit it. It is. It’s difficult to watch my loved ones cry, to listen to their pain, to feel my heart break in rhythm with their own. It’s painful to experience their experience. It’s agonizing to be incapable of protecting myself from the sadness in this world.

For these past couple of weeks, part of me has longed to take the easier path, to cut myself off from emotions, to become numb to the suffering that surrounds me. Part of me has wished that I didn’t know what I know, that I wasn’t the person everyone knows me to be. Because it would just be so much easier to be ignorant and self-absorbed. It would be so much easier not to care.

But I do care, and I can’t seem to ever stop myself from caring. I can’t seem to separate my own troubles from those of my friends. I can’t seem to remove myself from their hurt. I hurt too. I feel it all, and maybe sometimes, even more intensely than those going through it. I’ve spent these past few weeks being bombarded with feelings of anger and bitterness and utter devastation. I’ve lashed out at people who probably didn’t deserve it, and I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I’d care to admit. I don’t like my sorrow and it isn’t even mine.

At the same time, it is. I want my friends to come to me. I’m grateful that they come to me. I’m honored that they come to me. It's just that I’ve been wishing I knew how to protect myself. I’ve been wishing I knew how to guard my heart. I’ve been wishing I could make a distinction between their hearts and mine.

This morning I awoke to an email from another friend. It was honest and emotional and filled with the kind of reality I’m grateful my friends share with me. He’s been going through a lot this past month. What struck me most was that among the girl-trouble, and two more family divorces in the works, and struggles with missing college funds, he went on to say that he’d been up all night worrying about the war in Israel. Because their pain is his pain. Because all of human suffering is our own inherit human suffering.

And maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe the whole idea is that we are all one, and that none of us are ever truly content because we don’t live in a blissful world. Nor would we ever really want to. Life is painful. That’s how we know we’re alive. I feel that pain. That’s how I know I love.

And as appealing as it may be to shut myself off from all of that, the truth is, I would rather cry than wear an ignorant smile. I would rather feel everything than be incapable of feeling anything. I would rather have my friends weep in my arms than weep alone. I hope that they know that. I hope that I know it too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mind Control

Let’s blame it on the heat. It’s just been so insanely hot recently, and I’m convinced it’s melting my brain. There was a time in my life, not so long ago, when all I could think about was blogging, and now, for whatever reason, I have to force myself to sit down and type. It’s a really awful feeling. I miss the longing I once had to update daily. I hope it returns to me soon.

A monk once asked me “Do you control your mind or does your mind control you?” That’s how I’ve been feeling about writing here lately. Have I really lost the desire or have I only convinced myself I have? I’m fairly good at convincing myself out of things I’d really love to be doing.

Like writing. I make so many excuses about the future, but of course, as so many of you kindly suggested, I want to be a writer. I just don’t know how to begin, and more than that, I don’t believe in myself enough to begin. One of my greatest fears in life is being too afraid to go after things I really want.

One of the most wonderful things my mother ever told me was “Don’t ever convince yourself that you don’t deserve the things you want.” My mother is a very wise woman. Why do we do that to ourselves? I know I’m not the only one. There are so many of us that are somehow incapable of believing in our talents, our goodness, our dreams. I wonder why that happens.

Especially because it’s usually those same people, including me, who are so quick to believe in others. I have complete and utter faith in every person that I love, in their talents, in their goodness, in their dreams. It is my life’s endless plight to love myself the way I love them. I often fear that it’s a hopeless endeavor.

I’ve gotten such lovely emails these past few days from friends commenting on my (poorly updated) blog, and each time I think “wow, what amazing friends I have,” and never, “wow, my writing means something to them.” It worries me that such a thought never crosses my mind.

It worries me that I’m 21 years old and still haven’t learned how to take a compliment. Still, self-doubt and guilt plague me. Still, I look to others to validate who I am and what I do. I am needy and ashamed of that, no matter how often I try to convince myself I shouldn’t be. That line between independence and loneliness blurs. I need people, and I need their love, and I wonder why that’s so difficult for me to admit.

Am I controlling my emotions or am I allowing my emotions to control me?

I know that there are simple answers to these questions, simple solutions to these problems, but like most things in life, I have to be willing to hear them. I have to be willing to stand up and say –- no, shout — this is my life and I am in control of it. I just still have trouble finding the courage to understand I am worthy of such a statement. I just still have trouble taking charge of my dreams. I just still have trouble believing in me. Let’s blame it on the heat.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I would sit on the terrace with my coffee and journal each morning to greet the day. It was the first thought that crossed my mind when I opened my eyes. I had no inkling as to what it was I wanted to write, no grand story laid out in my mind, no elaborate tale waiting to be told. I had no idea what the day would bring, nor any desire to speculate on it. I reached for my pen.

The same man would appear each day with the rising sun to make pancake shaped patties out of mud. They lay on the roof of the hut below all day, baking in the sun. I had no idea what they were for, what creation he was planning to make of them, what their destiny would be. Nor did I have any desire to speculate on it.

The children made their way to school in their little uniforms and enormous bags clinging to their backs. The girls all wore little red bows in their hair. They looked like illustrations, perfectly drawn children who had wandered out of their storybooks and into our world, bounding down the dirt road in search of something more. I too, was on such a search.

And I can’t define it, what I was looking for, or what it is that I found. I can’t explain the journey of my life as though it were a storybook. The concept of time seems to slip from my reality. Everything in my life feels as though it were both yesterday and a thousand years ago, a lifetime ago.

I think about my friends who have come so far. So many of them are on the verge of deciding their futures. What will they do next? What will become of them? The musician who just stumbled upon the opportunity of a lifetime, the scholar who’s just decided there’s law school in her future, the travelers who are planning their next big adventure across the globe.

And then there’s me. It’s not that I feel as though I need some life plan. It’s not that I’d like to have some specific future I’m working towards. It’s just that, I’m not at all certain of what I want, and for whatever reason, I’m allowing that to define who I am. What do I want to be when I grow up?

In my mind, not having an answer to that question means that I wouldn’t even pass the first grade if I tried now. Why was it so much easier to think about where I’d be half way through my life at age 6 than it is at 21? Everything was so certain then. Everything was easy and possible. Everything was just the way it ought to be.

But maybe now, uncertainty is the way it ought to be. Yes, it tortures me, but it also allows me to dwell in possibility and a future filled with open doors and opportunities. It allows me to dream the same way I did in the first grade, allows me to change my answer with each passing day, allows me to believe, with all of my heart, that anything can be.

And I do believe that. Maybe my life isn’t meant to have a destination, and maybe I just need to be okay with that. Maybe I just need to be defined as the woman without a plan, to write my pages as they come, to surprise even myself with my ending. Maybe that’s my story.

Those final pages remain a mystery, a blank canvas to be filled with interesting tales and people and adventures. Those final pages are waiting and they don’t seem to mind how long I take to get there. I have no idea why they wait, nor do I have any desire to speculate on it. I am grateful for their patience.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Grateful Friday

Having dinner in Chinatown on Friday night with three of my favorite people.

Having one of them speak fluent Chinese to the waiters and waitresses.

That he's home in general.

Rekindling our youth in the Five Below store.

Spending Saturday night at a party with my best friends.

Meeting some of their new significant others.

Delicious cosmopolitans.

The girls beating the boys at flip cup (and girl power in general).

Noodle rage.

The emails we've all been sending each other that have gotten me through this work week.

Being in charge of the company for the week and having it still be standing.

Getting to bond with her over cigarette breaks.

Getiing to bond with another over coffee and cigarettes at my favorite hippie cafe.

That even though her heart was broken, her spirit remains strong.

That she and Triple A saved me when like a fool I locked my keys in the car.

Spending Wednesday night with my mom.

The beautiful paintings of Philadelphia we saw.

The dinner and drinks at her favorite French restaurant.

The Indian music concert we went to at the beautiful Kimmel center.

That we laughed our heads off waiting for it to start for 30 minutes only to realize it was already happening.

That my mother is exactly who she is.

And that I'm her daughter.

Having drinks with more of my favorite people last night.

And that I'll be seeing even more of them tonight.

And tomorrow.

And hopefully a million times more after that.

That my life is as beautiful as it is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Precious Human Life

"Every day, think as you wake up:
Today I am fortunate
to have woken up.
I am alive,
I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use
all my energies to develop myself,
to expland my heart out to others,
to achieve enlightenment for
the benefit of all beings.
I am going to have
kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry,
or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others
as much as I can."

~His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama

I was going to begin this post "I've been feeling uninspired lately," but that isn't the case at all. In truth, I think about writing in every moment of every day, and yet, something's been stopping me from blogging lately. There's no reason or rhyme to it. It's become this idea that taunts me, haunts me, hovers around me begging me to jump in. And I stand on the edge afraid.

What is it that I fear? Admitting to myself that I'm not living from the depths of me, that I'm not embracing the ideas of the quote above though I face it each morning on my wall, that I'm not who you think I am or who I want to be? The truth is, I'm perfectly content until I begin writing and discover I'm not. Writing has always been both a blessing and a curse.

It's not that I'm unhappy. What I'm feeling isn't sadness or depression, it's the sense that I'm only skimming the surface of life when my soul wants so desperately to plummet into the fullness of the world. I feel like I'm floating, drifting. I don't know exactly what I want, and what's even more frustrating than being directionless, is not knowing where to begin looking for some kind of direction, some kind of meaning. I don't know where to start.

And then I am reminded, "today I am fortunate to have woken up," and I am, and I know that. Maybe that's as good a place as any to start. Today is a brand new day, as tomorrow will be, and the day after that. Each one promises the prospect of a new beginning. Each one promises a chance to begin it all again. Perhaps my yesterdays have been filled with aimlessness, but my tomorrows hold up their cupped hands before me and invite me to crawl in. I will be safe in their custody. I will remember to breathe. I will cry and laugh and sing. I will suddenly find answers to questions that once seemed dauntingly futile to ask. I will have that epiphany, that moment of "ahh yes, this is what I'm supposed to do, this is who I'm supposed to be." And I will realize, finally, that even if that moment never arrives, I'll still be okay.

Because when it comes down to it, "I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it." I will not waste my days dwelling on yesterdays and hoping for tomorrows. My one life is far too precious for that. As is yours. As are all.

Maybe I need to drift for a while before I find my course. Maybe I just need to be content with that. Maybe life works just as this entry has, twisting and turning and ending up somewhere completely different than where it began. This is the blessing side of the bittersweet act of writing, for it is here that I feel better. For it is here that I am reborn. Today I am fortunate to have woken up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What Tomorrow Will Bring

My internet has been very “iffy” lately, so I apologize for the lack of updates. I’d like to say that it’s fixed, but who knows what tomorrow will bring.

On my way home this evening, I passed a house on the corner with three blue towels hanging from the second floor window. They looked so beautiful swinging in the hot summer air, dancing like streamers against the empty white wall.

I thought of the enchanting Indian woman in her orange dress, hanging laundry out to dry beneath the palm fronds in Goa. We were in the hospital. Poor Claire had gotten the measles from one of the children we were working with, and as she slept away her 103-degree fever, I sat watching the quietness of the world outside.

The colorful clothes swung gently on the line, back and forth, on top of what appeared to be an abandoned building. By the time I had finished fixing Claire’s IV that had managed to reverse itself, and returned to the window, the woman had vanished. A dog ran wildly about, and I wondered how he had gotten up there, and more importantly, how he planned to get down. The clothes continued to wave.

They hung everywhere, those beautiful fabrics, and while I’d always noticed them, this was the first instance I could recall being truly moved by their eloquence. There was something about the simplicity of the scene that left me with a feeling of serenity I hadn’t felt in such a very long time. I remember writing in my journal that I’d miss the exquisiteness of those kinds of daily routines when I got home.

And I did. I missed them. But when I saw those blue towels hanging there this morning, I realized it wasn’t the fabric that I missed. It wasn’t the laundry waving in the Indian wind; it was the sense of calm I felt watching it. It was the peaceful feeling that can only come from true relaxation, from taking the time to breathe in the sweetness of life.

And it isn’t America that’s forgotten how to do that. It was me. Somewhere along the way I had forgotten how to dance in the moonlight, to sing as though no one was listening, to stop and watch the universe float in the breeze. My life had once again become about money and schedules and chores. It had reverted back to what I had hoped to leave behind.

But magic doesn’t leave one’s life so easily. I can still feel it. I know it’s still there. It’s in the flowers I’ve planted in the backyard (in the picture above), and the visions of India I see when I close my eyes to sleep at night, and the blue towels hanging from the window on the corner. It’s all around me. It’s everywhere.

My life hasn’t reverted back to what I had hoped to leave behind. It can’t. It never will. I can only go forward, into today, into tomorrow, not knowing what any of it will bring. I can only continue hoping, wishing, longing, for a little more magic, a little more beauty to fill my every day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday ~ The Painting

I remember
Sitting beside him and his guitar.
That was all he needed on his journey.
I held my journal between my sun soaked fingers.
That was all I needed on mine.

The sun was setting
In the distance between an island and the shore,
As though they had separated themselves to make room
For the vibrant bursts
Of oranges and purples and pinks.
As though they knew how perfect
The golden sphere
Would look slowly dropped between them.
As though they were both
The painting and
The painter.

We told our stories
Over the background of his songs,
And more people gathered around
To share their stories,
Their songs.
Soon we were a harmonious
Group of birds
Chirping and chattering in
The arrival of the moon.

He sat above us
In the hut next to mine
Smoking his corn cob pipe.
I watched him
For much longer than I had realized
Until he looked down to notice me
Looking up.

He nodded.

I nodded back
And smiled
As he returned his gaze back out towards the sky.

I followed his example.

For I too
Longed to be
Both the painting
And the painter
Of my life.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Every Passing Minute Is Another Chance To Turn It All Around

It’s been a strange four weeks. I’ve had so much difficulty adjusting to home again, but am finally starting to feel more at ease. My life is beginning to fall back into place, or at the very least, I’m beginning to fall back into it. No, I think it’s more than that. I think I finally decided to take control of it, to step up and demand from the universe the kind of life I want for myself. I think I’m making the change I’ve been passively waiting for.

I rearranged my apartment and at long last put up the posters that have been sitting in the corner for months now. It’s starting to feel much more like the home I had envisioned for myself. It’s starting to feel much more like a reflection of me. My living room is filled with Buddha statues and prayer flags and drums and all of the quintessential hippie wealth I’ve collected over the years. It’s a nice place to be.

Maybe that’s all I’ve really been needing this past month, just a nice place to sit and think and write. Maybe all I’ve needed was a little inspiration.

And I’ve found it. Somewhere along the lines I found it. This weekend is going to include a nice trip to Trader Joe’s, the plant store, and hours upon hours of work in my garden. I think I need that. I need to feel my hands in the earth, fill my kitchen with organic foods, find that connection with the natural world I’ve been missing so desperately. My frustration hasn’t derived from being out of the environment I felt so comfortable in. It’s been my inability to see that I can create the same world here. I can be the same me here, if I choose to be. I can be the me I was so fearful of leaving behind in India. I’m still her. I’m still me.

And I’ll always be. There is no turning back. There’s only this, this moment right now, and the moment about to come, and all of the moments to follow. The future is waiting and I’m taking control of it, even if I have yet to determine any kind of destination. That somehow seems a less significant decision. All that I know for certain is that I can only take what has happened and create from it something new, something extraordinary.

That’s the plan for now, to make of each moment all that I can, to take hold of life and enjoy it as best I can, to laugh and love and live to the fullest. What else could possibly matter?

My best friend has FINALLY returned home from China after ten months. It was so wonderful to see him last night, and I think it awakened within me the motivation I’ve needed to be joyful again. I was worried I had lost that somewhere along the way.

But today, the universe seemed to once again vibrate with the kind of magic I so often feel. The purple flowers on the hillside beside my car never looked so lovely. Life stirred within me and around me. Everything is going to be okay, I thought. Everything is going to be just fine.

And it will be. Because I am me. Because I’ll always be me. Because this is my life and I refuse to let it pass without enjoyment. After all, that’s what these moments are for.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Asking Alice

The trouble with me is that
I keep looking for happiness in familiar places
Only to discover that they’ve become unfamiliar,
Like shoes I’ve outgrown but still try to force upon my feet,
Only to discover that they no longer bring me joy,
Just blisters
And pain.

I don’t fit anymore.
Into my former shoes,
Or life,
Or ways of thinking.
The change in me is palpable
Juxtaposed against the stagnancy
Of my every day life.

How did Alice return home after Wonderland?

How did she fill the void of the magic lost?
I’d really like to ask her
How it felt the next day
To walk by flowers that didn’t speak
And see cats that didn’t smile
And know that her un-birthday would pass without celebration.
I’d really like to ask her
If she spent the rest of her days searching
For another rabbit hole,
If she longed in every moment
For another escape.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Poetry Thursday

By Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Wondering And Wandering In Make-Believe

Nights like this make me wonder. Not for any significant reason. Not because something interesting or extraordinary happened today. There’s just something about the rustle of the leaves as the night winds move in beneath the overcast sky. There’s something about the way there’s no sound except for that. There’s something about the way it felt to swim alone in the silence while the fireflies swam together through the darkened outlines of the trees. There’s something about tonight that makes me wonder.

I’m house-sitting this week in a quiet suburban neighborhood. It’s lovely to have a house all to myself, and to have it be in a place that allows me to feel like I have the whole world all to myself. It’s wonderful to sit out on the back deck and hear and see nothing but the dogs pattering about inside. It’s so fun to play make believe this way.

I feel so grown up being here, but in that pretend way, in the way it felt as a little girl to put on my mother’s make-up and prance about the house in her high-heeled shoes. It’s the way we used to play house by the old chestnut tree during recess at school. It’s the way I would make feasts out of sand and sticks, and babies out of dolls, and adults out of all of my friends. It’s that kind of make believe, that kind of magic.

And I wonder if that has ever stopped, or if it will ever stop. I wonder when reality sinks in. Slowly I feel it creeping it’s way into my life as I get consumed by the responsibilities of the every day, and yet, here I am, playing house. Here I am still dreaming of being the mommy, of having tucked my children in for the night, and snuck outside for a little “me” time. Maybe I’m catching up on some report due in the office tomorrow, or perhaps I’m working on the novel in progress, or maybe I’m just writing away knowing that my children will grow all too quickly and I have to cherish every moment that I can.

Because already I’m twenty-one years old, and I know how rapidly that time passes by. Yesterday, stopped at a red light, I noticed a boy who couldn’t have been more than twelve walking his dog. In shorts and a T-shirt he strutted down the street as though he knew everything there is to be known. I thought about how that was once us, how certain we were, how much we had yet to understand. It’s unfair to say that life was simpler then, because life is never simple in the moment, but in retrospect, it almost always seems sublime. I find myself longing for that version of myself, that version of me, that little girl who knew everything there was to be known.

The children in my life that once brought me so much happiness have become a representation of the childhood gone from me. The joy they bring is now intertwined with a kind of saddened longing. I want to hold each of them close and tell them to cherish it, although I know they’ll never understand until it’s fading, as though my holding them would somehow hold time for both of us. I find myself clinging to my innocence with a kind of desperation I never knew I had.

And yet, still I get lost in these dreams of the future. Still, I find myself playing pretend, walking around in grown up clothes, worrying about work and money, living in my own home with two dogs to look after. Still I find myself watching the fireflies twinkle in the black abyss like fairies in some enchanted forest. Still I carry with me that little girl I used to be, and still am, and will always be. Still I wonder what the future holds.

And I wonder when it will stop, or if it will ever stop. And I hope, with all my heart, that I will never be finished playing make believe.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

Happy father’s day.

I saw my father on Friday for the first time in 5 months. He got remarried while I was in India. He told me in an email, a casual email updating me on the facts. He was married, and her son, my new stepbrother, was in the hospital after a terrible car crash. He died a few days later.

Having not spoken to my father in months, I didn’t know how to respond to such a thing. I didn’t know how to deal with such mixed emotions from the other side of the world. And so, I didn’t. I did nothing. I cried and wrote frantically in my journal and sought comfort in the new friends I had made, but really, I just buried all of the pain that email caused me beneath the shadows of my newfound bliss.

But it stayed here waiting for me to return. All of the anger and sadness I felt sat on my doorstep, waiting to be claimed and dealt with. I am trying to deal with it. I am trying.

I called my father and we made plans for dinner. We said nothing of the 5 months of silence that past between us. We said nothing of the marriage or the death. We said nothing of any real substance.

Not that I necessarily expected us to. I think I’ve reached the point where I can accept the fact that we’ll never have a relationship based on anything real. Still, it hurts to think that I’ve been forced to settle. It hurts to think that I probably will never have the relationship I’d like to have with him. It hurts to think that he’ll always be a part of my life, but a much smaller part than I want or need. It hurts to be my father’s daughter.

On the other hand, I’m a different person now than I was when I first realized how angry I was with him. I know who I am, and if he doesn’t like that person, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t mean anything. Not having him approve of me doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve love. It’s taken me a very long time to understand that.

And now that I do understand that, I’m okay. I’m able to talk to him, see him, have dinner with him once and a while. I’m able to let him be the small part of my life that he can be. I’m taking what I can get.

We had a nice dinner, the three of us, awkwardly dancing around any subjects that would spark discomfort. It of course, wasn’t all I would like from a dinner with my father and new stepmother, but it was a start. Maybe a type of ending as well, a peak of comfortable settling where we’ll all remain. Still, I’ll take what I can get.

Still, it was enough to allow me to call today and say happy father’s day.

Happy father’s day.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I had a craving for mangoes. I went to the store and bought two, one for today, one for tomorrow. I took out a knife and sliced into the first.

And suddenly, I was on the beach in Goa, sitting beside my friend Claire on the beautiful turquoise tapestry I had just bought (after haggling it down to half price), watching the fruit man slice the entire mango with a huge knife in four chops. Twice a day he’d walk by our hut, the sound of his voice wafting on the soft Indian breeze, “Pineapple, coconut, mango, banana!” I adored it. His yells became the soundtrack of our time there.

I stood at my kitchen counter this morning, thinking of him. I smiled, and then, for the first time since I’ve been home, was overcome with the desperation of the world’s injustice. How utterly blessed I am. Of course I felt that in India, but at the same time, I didn’t. I didn’t really think about people like him who spent their days walking on a gorgeous beach in India selling fruit. Surely there were worse ways to live. I had been living among so many less fortunate than him.

But as I stood in my kitchen this morning, I thought about where he is now. The tourist season is over. The monsoons have arrived. He’s no longer walking on the beach, chanting off a list of fruits, the only English he knows. He’s most likely left the south, returned to the desert where his family waits all season for him. He’s taken his meager earnings from the fruit he sold and buys what he can for them – food, water, little else.

And here I am, in my very own kitchen, in a thriving city, cutting mangoes that were as easy to obtain as one could imagine. And I cried into the depths of the ripe, yellow fruit. And I thought, how unfair that I should stand here longing in every moment to be there. How unfair that I should look upon their poverty as a paradise. How unfair that I am here simply because I was born to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Because no matter what anyone tries to argue about the self-inducement of poverty and inequality, the truth is, it generally just comes down to pure luck. I am so lucky. Why should I be? This question has been running through my mind since I arrived in India over three months ago, and probably long before that. Why me? Why us?

I wonder who I would be if I had been born impoverished. I wonder if I would know of the other realities that could have existed for me had things been different. I wonder if I would sit and wonder in the same way.

Sometimes I’d just sit and watch people in the streets, trying to guess what they were thinking, questioning whether they dreamed of things the same way I do. Did they want to escape their lives? Or is dreaming of escape a luxury only people who are well off can afford?

I think about how painful that is for me, to long for a life I’m not living, but I have the possibility of living it someday. I have the potential to live the life I want. I have the freedom to dream. Why me? I’ve worked so little in life. I’ve faced such minor adversity, no matter how relative we all claim it to be. I’ve taken so very much for granted.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that I have this and they have nothing. It’s not fair that they are potentially content with their lives and I complain about everything. It’s not fair that I can’t save the world, despite every effort I may make. I’m only human. But we’re all only human, and doesn’t that make us family? Doesn’t that mean we should do everything in our power to help and protect one another? Doesn’t that mean we’re all one?

But we’re not, because we live in this world that divides us. Because we live in a world more concerned with money and color and arbitrary categorization than humanity itself. Because the fruit man is in the desert with more mouths to feed, more bodies to clothe, more cries to ease, than he is capable of. And because I am here, in my kitchen, in a cutely assembled outfit paired with new shoes, eating a tear soaked mango.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poetry Thursday

I'm sorry for not updating more. I do, as usual, have so many things I'd like to write about, but haven't quite managed to get back into the routine of daily blogging. I'm getting there. I promise. For now, here's a poem for Poetry Thursday, which seems to encompass all that I'm feeling.

Wandering In The Cage
By Charles Bukowski

languid conjecture during hours of moil, trapped in the shadows
of the father
sidewalks outside of cafes are lonely
through the day.

my cat looks at me and is not sure what I am and
I look back and am pleased to feel
the same
about him...

reading two issues of a famous magazine of 40 years
ago, the writing that I felt was bad then,
I still feel
that way

and none of the writers have lasted.

sometimes there is a strange justice


grammar school was the first awakening of a long hell
to come:
meeting other beings as horrible as my

something I never thought

when I won the medal for Manual of Arms in the
I wasn't interested in

I wasn't much interested in anything, even the
girls seemed a bad game
to chase: all too much for all too

at night before sleeping I often considered what I
would do, what I would be:
bank robber, drunk, beggar, idiot, common

I settled on idiot and common laborer, it
seemed more comfortable than any of the

the best thing about near-starvation and hunger is
that when you finally
it is such a beautiful and delicious and
magical thing.

people who eat 3 meals a day throughout life
have never really

people are strange: they are constantly angered by
trivial things,
but on a major matter
totally wasting their lives,
they hardly seem to

on writers: I found out that most of them
swam together.
there were schools, establishments,
groups gathered and fought each
there was literary politics.
there was game-playing and bitterness.

I always thought writing was a
solitary profession.

still do...

animals never worry about
Heaven or Hell.

neither do

maybe that's why
get along...

when lonely people come around
I soon can understand why
other people leave them

and that which would be a
blessing to

is a horror to

poor poor Celine.
he only wrote one book.
forget the others.
but what a book it was:
Voyage au bout de la nuit.
it took everything out of
it left him a hopscotch
skittering through the
fog of

the United States is a very strange
place: it reached its apex in
and since then
for every year
it has regressed
3 years,
until now
in 1989
it is 1930
in the way of
doing things.

you don't have to go to the movies
to see a horror

there is a madhouse near the post office
where I mail my works

I never park in front of the post office,
I park in front of the madhouse
and walk down.

I walk past the madhouse.

some of the lesser mad are allowed
out on the porch.
they sit like

I feel a brotherhood with
but I don't sit with them.

I walk down and drop my works
in the first class slot.

I am supposed to know what I am

I walk back, look at them and
don't look at

I get in my car and drive

I am allowed to drive a

I drive it all the way back to my

I drive my car up the driveway,
what am I doing?

I get out of the car
and one of my 5 cats walks up to
me, he is a very fine

I reach down and touch

then I feel all right.

I am exactly what I am supposed to