February 19, 2009
She must have been at the door waiting because I hear the sound of someone breaking the seal between in and outside as I close the car door.
She’s walking across the porch toward me in pajamas and a pink house robe. It’s cold and the snow circles her, lands on her slippers.
When I get close, she takes my hand, slides something inside. Two giant gum balls, yellow and blue.
“You’re a good person,” she offers as justification for why she gives me a gift.
We talk for a bit, and when I turn to walk back to the car, she follows me to ensure I don’t slip on the two steps between her porch and the ground.
She never noticed the cold.
February 19, 2009
My eye has started to twitch lately.
Add that to my recent outbreak of shingles at the ripe age of 23 (“old people are usually the ones who get shingles. i guess for you it must be stress-related,” my doctor tells me), and the fact that my rib cage has been trying to explode its escape out of my chest lately, and it seems that most signs point to stress.
I’m not an apparently stressed out person. I’ve always considered myself rather laid-back: unconcerned about time, not too keen on planning ahead, ambling around town on my bicycle in routes that draw circles around my destinations, forgetting I own a cell phone for days at a time.
But lately I think a seemingly carefree attitude has been causing me this stress. Drifting doesn’t meld well with the day’s constant pressure to get things done. That inconsistency is maybe starting to get to me.
I can’t really tell if that’s it.
“Stress dissolves in Africa,” my doctor aunt who lived in Nigeria for years always suggests. “When you live there, problems that you never even thought were related to stress unknowingly drift away.”
I wish that “immediately ship to lovely foreign country” was a valid doctor prescription.
Since it’s not, maybe tomorrow I’m going to stop drinking coffee.
February 14, 2009
This image and song seem to fit the day.
Powder Keg by Pete Krebs:
They sound and look like the way I felt as I took a bikeride through thickly falling snowflakes and then had someone cut off all my hair.
February 13, 2009
She’s an elderly woman who I encounter about once each week, and every time she acts sporadically particular about certain things.
Today I greet her in anticipation of how she’ll act this time. She immediately states through toothless lips, “I’m not doing so good today, but I have a doctor’s appointment on this Monday upcoming. For my psyche.”
“Well,” I offer, “I hope it all works out.”
“My dad died…”
She pauses and grants me silence to ooze out a second of sympathy. “I’m sorry,” I say, feeling like I’ve been encountering sympathy-requiring situations with increasing frequency, learning how to feel comfortable settling around unfortunate life situations.
She cuts me off quick: “…when I was in seventh grade. I’ve been sick ever since.”
She blinks her old eyes and nods her head three jolting times just like she repeatedly does on each occasion I see her, her nervous tick that signals to the world she’s spent a lifetime trapped inside those words.
February 13, 2009
I work with homeless people every day. Since my job involves admitting people into a respite care program, I’ve learned how to read the life stories contained within psych evaluations and medical records like they’re novels. They contain some quite poetic phrases and life descriptions which I can’t help but scribble down at times.
Fortunately, because of the nature of the program I work with, I get to know the faces, voices, and personalities of the people who give breath to the bodies that exist more real than those official printed pages.
Today I sat down to listen to the full-length story of a man I’ve been working with because his life recently booted him from the role of successful businessman to become homelessly suicidal.
As he described both the path that led him to the side of a highway with a suicide plan and the path that allowed him to walk away from that place, he told me something beautiful about the hope that exists for the homeless, the depressed, the addicted, those who give up on caring.
He said something like this (completely paraphrased):
At first I was really bitter and could only think about how everything revolves around money. About the way that I had lost all of mine and so was excommunicated from the world of those with homes and normal lives. What saved me from this perspective that was slowly drifting me toward death wasn’t money but people. I realized that there are people in the world who care…even about poor strangers who live on the street… When people who had no obligation to me showed that they cared about what happened to me, I started to care too. And now what I care about is helping anyone I can.
It might sound hokey or oversimplified, but when we are reduced to our most basic forms, we still have the ability to care. about others and about ourselves.
but sometimes we need someone to show us how.
i think that today this lovely wise man who is now gratefully attempting to get his life back together showed me.
February 10, 2009
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars, and in the middle, you see the blue center-light pop, and everybody goes “ahh.”
(jack kerouac/on the road)
February 6, 2009
and i. what dreams had i suspended
above our short order lives
when death showered you with bells.
call her back for me
bells. call back this memory
still fresh with cactus pain.
from “kwa mama zetu waliotuzaa”
I’m finding that I have distinct and specific attatchments to some certain images. Like the effects of sunlight captured well in a photograph. Or the image of a bell ringing through the words of a poem. Or anything that looks or sounds like peace. And I only noticed these motifs because they stare at me through the picture and word images I save so I can return to them later.
I’ve jotted down my thoughts with little consistency and some organization for most of my life. I return to read the books I’ve filled with my words occasionally, and in them I discover motifs to my life that I never would have discovered had I not written them down. It’s a secret value of words that can only be found when pieces of life become a book or poem.