October 3, 2009
My last apple eaten was an after-school snack in 11th grade. There was the breathlessness of dancing, flinging my body repeatedly over and across the shaggy orange carpet of my parent’s basement and the subsequent grabbing of the apple I had left waiting for me on the surface of their wooden entertainment center. I ate and my throat swelled its disapproval. The threat of strangling from the inside scared me away from apples for the next six years.
My ultra-recent revelation: I can eat apple meat as long as I skip the peel. Today I plucked apples from rows of trees illuminated by the autumn day and sunk my teeth into the taste of juicy content that’s been contained inside a high school memory for too long. It devoured me.
May 26, 2009
“If you’re ambitious you’ll have a career path set by your 30s,” the kindly retired man offered in response to my verbalized indecision. His voice had a rambling tone that nearly disguised the knowledge burrowed deep inside of what he said.
He winked his next sentence toward me with new clarity: “Of course, there’s no law that says you have to be ambitous.”
If was liberation to hear aged advice from an older adult that resonated with my now: it’s okay to have an unconventional life’s plan; it’s worth devoting time to poetry if the prospect of it makes me fall in love with mornings; it’s important that our ways to live keep us actually alive.
But the important decision isn’t whether or not to shirk ambition, but to choose what to be amibitious about. Even if it’s something abstract, undefined… ambitious for a feeling that comes from something like sleeping inside warm rain or for a carefree attitude that sings summer or for forgetting about boundaries (like time, like routine) that can’t control as much if we give them less credit.
Our ambition’s directedness creates for ourselves a something to be known.
May 13, 2009
I started writing a poem with kaleidoscope imagery yesterday. It made me realize that it’s been too long since I’ve held a kaleidescope in my hands, pointed it up to the sky and spun colors around for exclusively my eye, consented to let mirrors trick me into seeing glimmering patterns change when I look at a rolling pile of beads.
May 7, 2009
I stepped off the elevator and directly into a dilemma.
A bird flew inside through the window next to me and cut off my path like he was challenging me to a race. He continued a confused hop all the way down the outrageously long hallway as I hesitantly trailed him. He stopped in front of the very last door, the exact apartment where I needed to deliver the meal I was carrying.
I took one step closer, and the bird went crazy. He flitted his wings ceaselessly and nose-dived into the door, rebounded and slammed into the door on the other side of the hallway, and set himself in repeat mode for this painfully back-and-forth pattern.
This moment verified my suspected terror of birds in enclosed human spaces.
Only yesterday a woman discussed with me her suspicion that the tiny brains of birds who bang their heads on windows and walls experience something like shaken baby syndrome. This makes them go crazy and (I might be slightly exaggerating this part) their mushed brains force them to peck out human eyes.
But if I didn’t get past this now-crazy bird, an elderly man would have no food. I took a deep breath, clutched the meal container in front of my eyes to shield them, and stepped forward. The mess of wings shot toward me. I started swinging food and running the other way until the two of us were right back where we started.
I left the apartment building to enlist help. My driver was a very kind and very small Russian man named Yuri, and I explained the situation to him twice because the word “bird” didn’t translate well between our different accents. “Ohhh, you are too scared!” he said and resolved to heroically save me from my fears.
I led Yuri to the bird-infested hallway and watched from around the corner as he marched into the path of the likely eye-hungry bird. The bird just flitted past him. Yuri was clearly not going to allow a bird to continue haunting the hallway and scaring helpless people like me, and so, after delivering the meal, he chased the bird.
As Yuri pushed the bird into the main hallway, a woman and her small child stepped off the elevator. “There’s a bird in the hallway!” the little boy excitedly screeched with giant eyes. He then thrust his hands upward and yelled, “I’m superman!”
Our small crowd watched as Yuri caught the bird in his hands and released him out the window. While we rode the elevator safely away from the situation, I added “birds with shaken baby syndrome” to the list of things I’m afraid of which now includes choking, knives pointing at me, owning expensive things, and birds with shaken baby syndrome.
I also added both Yuri and kids who think they’re superman to my list of useful people to have around in times of crisis.
May 4, 2009
She parked the car on a side street and the three of us spilled out of it, locking locks and slamming car doors in our wake.
As we collected ourselves on the sidewalk, another car paused mid-street in the space next to us. A girl who stood near us with a broken umbrella over-protecting her from the barely rain reached for the car handle and attempted to stuff herself and her stretched-too-high rain equipment inside. She began to reshape the open car into closed but her arm barricaded her intent, extended above the door boundaries with the curved umbrella handle gripped still in her hand.
“This umbrella is a joke,” she announced to the dark, wet sky and let go of everything that held her back.
She threw the umbrella and sped off in the car while the quick reflexes of the wind caught it and carried it for a moment. The wind soon considered the contents of its grip equally as useless, and everyone walked away with the broken umbrella abandoned to the middle of an empty street.
April 29, 2009
I set out in sun to walk to the post office.
Half way down an alley lined with dumpsters, the wind whips through and the sky quickly closes its eyes to light. Garbage goes up into everywhere.
I start racing the rain to the post office while wind holds my hair out of my face and lets me experiment with leaning forward without the risk to fall.
The rain wins. It starts to brush me lightly like a hesitant painter on a pressingly white canvas. Then it has a couple drinks and lets loose. Warm water streams and I run.
And I laugh. There are guidelines for how and why we should quickly end our encounter with wet. I break them. I wish the people I pass would throw down their umbrellas and understand.
Images flash of other moments like these where my legs pound quickly across ground, my body gets clothed in water, and my laughter rings loud like song—each run in the rain so vividly alive.
While I run and cling to those images I reside inside subtle contentment until the sky runs out of water. I play no role, have no definition.
I become just laughter with water dripping down its face and arms.
April 24, 2009
Yesterday I felt trapped in a frigidly endless cold winter.
Today it’s hot. I stepped into the middle of summer and I’m ready to jump in a pool.
And so we did the only thing you can at a job that’s responsible for feeding a group of homeless people lunch every day: we had a cook-out.
Hamburger and hot dog-scented smoke filled East Liberty, and people appeared from every direction in search of the source. Our meager group sat at the corner picnic table, handing out our extra food to people visiting us with hungry eyes, and getting burned by unfamiliar sun.
Something about sun and outside makes life taste liberating.
April 23, 2009
Today is my lovely older sister’s birthday. She’s a kindergarten teacher, and everyone in her immediate family individually decided that the perfect gift was sending flowers to her classroom. She likes flowers. But as she received her birthday bouquets, she made the mistake of saying it out loud.
“I just love flowers!” I can imagine her saying in her always-enthusiastic kindergarten-teacher voice. The kindergartner kids are constant spies. They hear everything she says. And remember it.
And so later, when they went outside, the children approached her with vivid excitement and smiles grasping bouquets of yellow dandelions in their little hands, glad to grant her just what she loves.
As my sister told me this story, we laughed, remembering how happy we used to get when life was little and bursts of yellow appeared in the yard. We ran in the grass barefoot, collected them carefully, and gave them to our mom.
I wish I would still look at a dandelion and see a flower.