Thursday, November 29, 2007

Never better

I'm never quite sure which one of us enjoys the cabin more, her or me. But if she had had the camera Wednesday, the grin she would have captured on my face would be the same as hers here. Save the tongue. And the ear. But other than that...


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A very little Feliz Navidad


Has a teeny tiny green frog every wished you Feliz Navidad before? No? Not ever? Not even one time? Well, welcome to a new experience.

I could not help myself, I just couldn't. Happily, the little guy has no idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The break of morning

The morning air is cold, frost covers the grass, save for the footprints Cheyenne has left behind as she's torn across the land, sprinting, circling, pausing to look back at me. I delight in the crunch of her feet running through the fallen Sycamore leaves; the sound is one of my favorites. The sun rises across the river and peeks through the trees, about to take the grey blue of the dawn into the gold of morning. So many birds chirp and call, pop and twitter, coo and caw. A formation of Geese travels overhead, high above the hawk sitting on a Live Oak branch surveying the land beneath. The big river moves slow and deep, cold and quiet, swirls of steam rising here and there. As I breathe in this scene, I remember. Nothing is permanent. Everything is in movement; nothing remains the same save the constants of faith and love. I realize that peace takes work, and I am humbled by the beauty before me, and ashamed that I've thought the gift of my burdens to be handicaps that hold me down rather than challenges to move me forward. I am tapped on the heart and told I do not walk alone.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

This is about my loving you and you not listening

Every time you say you will call and you do not, everytime you make a promise and you do not keep it, you break my heart. Every morning, I pray. For you, for me. Every morning I call for your savior. Every morning, I try to find a new door, into your life. I try to understand how your mind works, how your heart works, how inside of each, it's apparently acceptable, the things you do. Every morning I know, no matter where you go, I'll go on loving you. No matter how much it takes from me. That's how it is with you. I hope you never know, but one day you'll understand. It's bigger than me, bigger than you. It's how life works.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fresh brew

For about four years now, I've quietly pursued the perfect cup of coffee, available to me in my own kitchen. I've tried this coffee maker and that -- percolator, drip, you name it. I've gone through mesh filters and paper filters. And I'm sure fifty brands of coffee as well. During my search, I became convinced it's not the coffee so much as the coffee maker. Good coffee is abundant these days, but the same cannot be said about good coffee makers... wait, good affordable coffee makers. But on Friday, I found the one. The perfect coffee maker, providing me with one perfect cup of coffee after another, cup by frothy cup.

Life is good

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Late yesterday afternoon, I had lunch with a friend. After lunch she wanted me to meet a guy she's dating, so we went to the restaurant he manages and had a drink. When I met him, my eyes bugged out of my head and I may have even backed away a bit. Why? Because his eyebrows meet in the middle. Besides not liking that look, it creeps me out and actually frightens me a bit. I blame that on a movie, In the Company of Wolves, I saw years ago.

It's a dark movie, adapted from a short story of the same name by Angela Carter. On the outside, it's Little Red Riding Hood gone film noir. It's actually several stories woven together, of a girl's transformation into a woman and of sexual initiation, veiled in metaphors of several fairy tales, and taking place is an other-world forest.

A particularly memorable line for me was this one: Never stray from the path, never eat a windfall apple and never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle. Meaning, in the context of the movie, that the brow is the sign of the wolf within the man.

My friend asked me what I thought of the guy, who honestly was nice enough, but rather than tell her that, I told her about the movie and my concerns for her, and added that since she has red hair I was particularly concerned, to which she shook her head in a way that said, You need help.

And then I recited to her my favorite lines from the movie, when Granny was explaining to Rosaleen (LRRH) brow meeting in the middle signified:

Little girls, this seems to say
Never stop upon the way
Never trust a stranger friend
No-one knows where it may end
As you're pretty, so be wise
wolves may lurk in every guise
Now as then, 'tis simple truth
Sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth

Unbelievably, my friend still was not afraid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Altered view

The title of the holiday does not escape me. I didn't always approach this day with an inventory state of mind. When I was younger, my father called upon us at dinner to say aloud what we were thankful for, and it needed to be real, mind you, not something like, say, Um, I don't know, not having to go to school until Monday? Which, truthfully, I was thankful for, but it wasn't a deep gratitude, and it wasn't in recognition of the many blessings in life.

Today, I awoke to a cold snap in the air, bright sunshine through my open windows and the sound of rustling leaves along the driveway. Despite the emotional struggles of the year, I have much to be thankful for, and as I considered my blessings, I thought what I would say today if my father called upon me to speak: I am thankful for:

- the struggles, for one, because they alter the perspective and bring on a deeper appreciation

- being adopted by my parents

- learning from my father what unconditional love really is

- my mother being safe and here

- my niece and nephew together and safe

- my brother's slow but definite recovery from surgery

- my sister, against all probability, finding love again

- the group of friends I call my own

- my dog, Cheyenne

- having a secure job

- the ability to pay my bills

- having a roof over my head

- my desire - and ability - to help others

- this day

- this glorious morning

Happy Thanksgiving to you. May you too know your blessings.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Say what?

Since he was five hours old, I've loved him. I fed him, burped him, changed him, held his hand when he toddled his first steps. When he was two, I helped him sort shapes into letters and numbers. When he was four, my father taught him about fishing while my friend taught him about climbing trees and t-ball. When he was five years of age, he'd smile and hug me when I told him I loved him. And we taught him how to ride a bike.

When he was seven, his life changed and his tricks and tests began. I responded by loving him more, hugging him more, but he didn't trust that, or wasn't interested in that, and he developed an incredible skill for lies over the next couple years. And those lies forged a path he still travels, still suffers. What I did at the time was respond by telling him that it would always be okay for him to tell me the truth. I said over and over again that I might not like what he had to say but that I would always respect his right to be himself. I told him that I wanted his honesty and would always be open to his words as long as they were true. I said it so early in his life because I wanted him to trust it, to recognize the safety as much as he recognized me. Later in his years I explained to him that without his truth, I would never know him, and later still in his life, I explained that without his truth I would never be able to help him.

Through the years, I based my trust in him on his response to that open door. For the most part he understood me and would confess pulled hair or homework undone. When his behavior was more, well, ill-behaved, when his life's challenges became more than ultimately harmless poor decisions, he'd shut down. He would not respond with anything beyond what he thought I wanted to hear. Meaning, a thick line of his big lies began to separate us.

For years the separation.

He tested me, to be sure. But that's how it is when you love a child, when a child launches your heart, when everything good about you and everything right and wonderful that you know keeps you up at night because how the hell can you possibly be worthy of raising this young life and how can you possibly give him the magic that was given you? That's what you ask yourself when you say the Lord's Prayer, holding his little hand and wondering if it's wrong that the two of you giggle because you are running back and forth between his and his sister's room and they laugh at your pace. And all you want to do is scoop them both up in your arms forever, for these are the shining moments of your life but you know that you want them to be the saving moments of theirs. I remember those days, my crossing that risky bridge between what I knew about their little lives and what I hoped for their enormous futures.

Never did I think he'd test the belief I'd expressed to him his entire life, that I'd doubt my ability to accept his truths, that he'd throw me upside down by his confessions, his tears, by the whole of his present expressed, or the courage it took for him to risk our relationship by speaking his truth out loud during lunch on an otherwise meaningless Sunday afternoon. Never did I think that my gift would be returned with such weight and need. I could not have imagined the trouble he would be in, the behavior he would embrace, the tears of his confession, or the moment which he chose to reveal his life to me, his concerns for that life, and his fears that tomorrow or the next day he might not have a life.

How he got here, I don't know. What I can do to help him? I don't know that either. But I know I have to and I know I will.

I've never really known fear before today. I've walked through a dark alley at midnight. I've stood frozen and hidden (at six years of age) behind the curtains while my house was being robbed. I've seen a pistol held to my father's head, a knife held to my niece's throad, and I've stared at the worst of myself in the mirror and had the worst of me tell her to just Fuck off. I've held my father's lifeless hand, and I am right now watching the sparkle of life leave my mother's eyes, but nothing, nothing I experience or can drum up in my mind can measure up to the terror I felt when I heard his words today, to the chill in my spine on hearing them.

When you ask for the truth, it might be years and years before you hear it, but you need to brace yourself for the day that you do. When you finally do hear it, all the fears that you've imagined the worst to be, they are kitten paws. They are Barbie dolls writing love letters in the sand compared to what you hear.

When you hear the truth, when it spills from his mouth onto the table and the floor and the room and your ears, put your mind not on how he got here but how in the world you can get him safe again.

And then crawl in bed, pull the pillow over your head and think about when he weighed all of ten pounds and you held him and burped him, about when he was too young for words or lies. Think about when saving him meant holding his hand during the Lord's prayer and reminding him the words. Think about that night you took him for a walk and he exploded your heart with joy when he decided to re-name all the stars in the sky.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Business hours or emotional/proximity scheduling

Sign taped to front door of restaurant in my neighborhood:
We will be close on Thanksgiving day and Christmas day.
On Christmas Eve we will be close at 6:00 p.m

I stood at the door and wondered, But what if I want to be close the day after Thanksgiving? Or at 7:00 on Christmas eve?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fool in the rain

Come on, talk to me. Be honest with me. I see you, peeking out beneath your sulk, looking towards me, shoulders low, brow angry in defiance. Heavy heart hidden beneath your baggy t-shirt. Waiting for someone to save you, something to hatch in your head and heart, something to click and make sense.

You wait for home to find you, for where you belong to find you. None of this makes sense. How did you get here? You sit beside me and wonder. I sit and wonder too.

How can I save you? How can you save yourself?

Your insistence is loud. It will be you who saves you, or doesn't. I could do it, I could, but you won't let me. Nature won't let me. You make me understand my parents more than anyone ever has or could, or hopefully will again. You make me understand what I did, how I hurt them by defiance I thought was individuality, by my insistence on doing things my own way. You will not understand this until today is a memory, until you've loved a child as your own.

You, you cannot read a book for the truth, listen to words for enlightenment, or wrap your arms around your faith. You cannot skip over the lessons by carving them into your heart, tattooing words into your skin. You cannot own what you have not learned. You have to put your toe in the water, touch the wet paint, pet the rabid dog, love the wrong girl. Just to see, just to learn for yourself. Just to see if you fit where you already know you do not belong.

I hurt for you, for your loneliness. People line up to be near you and not a single one worthy of you, no one to open the door for you, to thank you, to see you. No one to ask who you are, how you are.

You text me that you are the only one to fix your happiness, that every time you get away from someone who brings you down, another person comes into your life and you try again, to trust, but it never works. You tell me that I don't know. I do know, love, I do know. I know you now. As I knew myself then. We roll the dice, all of us. We risk, we pray, reach and we trust.

We hope that what we believe in is true. Even when the leaks seep through the cracks. Even when we get soaked by the evidence. We drown in that hope. We do.

Lacing up

I'm getting out there again. Out on the road. Feet to pavement, as it is. I've slumbered through so many early morning hours over the past several months that I'd forgotten how breathtaking the morning at sunlight. This morning, there it was, that velvet hour of the breaking dawn. That hour where the trees have no shadows, where their great limbs make lacy patterns above my head, where everything is quiet. Where the world is a joy forever.

Good morning!

Friday, November 09, 2007

House guest

These two are two peas in a pod. They are Frick and Frack. She is Jenny to his Forest. They drive each other nuts, they do. But every now and then when he's visiting, I come home, go upstairs, flip on the lights, and discover their secret. They love each other.

It's kinda cool.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


The distance between hurdles is getting shorter. I sit beside her in the OR Waiting Room. The clock ticks. Tocks. Ticks. The hands move but time does not. We've been here for what? One, two, three? Four hours. She's been in surgery for longer than that. There are four of us sitting here, thinking about her, here for her. One more so than the others, for this one, it's her love in there, her heart and her life, her partner. Maybe we're here for that one. The one in surgery, after all, doesn't really know who sits outside, just so that someone is, so that someone will be there.

We wait.


I sit beside a friend I've known for almost half my life. I sit with her brother. I sit with another friend I've know almost as long as the one we're here for.


It's not what you want to imagine, a friend's body cut open, pieces being removed, surgeons hovering. I can't help but put my mind in the room, imagining the surgery. Get it out, get every bit of it out. I say it over and over again in my heart.

Tick. Tock.

Another group of people, a large family, fills a corner of the room. They spill from the chairs and the couches, eat dinner, feed the babies, sleep. They await the announcement of a birth. They're joyful, hopeful, warm, connected. In contrast, we are quiet, pour coffee, read, glance at each other, bits of conversation and an occasional laugh, then falling back to the quiet. We are solemn.



The surgeons enter the room and they and my friend disappear behind a close the door.

Tick. Tock.

It was bad, but they got most of it, my friend tells me, it's grains of sand left. The doctor says that Chemo should get that. I look at her, fragile and tough, standing strong. It's a long road, this one. This is the beginning.

Driving home, I turn left onto a side street to avoid the traffic. Did I do this on purpose when I set out, going down this street? I look at the apartment complex still standing after 20 years, and it was old then, remember a keg party I went to, one she and her roommate threw. I remember sitting on the couch, drunk and laughing. I remember the neighbors complaining. I remember being young and not having a care, not knowing that one person in the room would travel my life with me, or that one day I'd sit in a waiting room with her while her heart balanced between breaking and hope. I look over at the building, think of the long journey between then and now, how far I've gone in age and experience, how much of this life I've held, how much of this world I've tasted, and yet here I am again, on this street in front of those apartments.

I pull from the little street onto the main road, leave that memory behind, focus on the present day and hour, reality and hope, prayers.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Lone Star Pride and Prejudice

I am often in denial when I travel. Usually, it's outward. Like for instance with cab drivers. Cab drivers always want to know where I'm from. When I travel internationally, I used to casually say the states, and those cab drivers, they would know the exact collective body of states to which I was referring. And when I was in the mood to chat up the cab driver, I'd answer with Texas, because everybody loves Texas and wants to talk about the cowboys, and the horses and the guns that each and every one of us carry in our holsters.

After our questionably-elected leader of the land of the free squashed an entire world's full of post-9/11 sympathy and support with amazing and swift deftness, I stopped saying the states, because that got all sorts of grumbling. I would grumble back, saying, I'm not here representing the Government, I'm just here on business. So I started responding with Texas again, but I'd still get grumbling. Seems that unbeknownst to me, when a cab driver hears that you're from Texas, what he also hears is that you're related to (and responsible for) the President himself. This past June, I answered, Rhode Island. It did not invite continued conversation.

[Side note: In Boston a couple years ago, walking downtown, an elderly woman said, Excuse me dear, and asked me for directions to a certain restaurant. I told her that I did not know how to direct her because I wasn't from there, and then I foolishly added, I'm from Texas. To which she spat back with disgust, What do you know then? Bush is from Texas. And then she hissed at me and stormed off, as much as an elderly lady with a cane can storm off. And I yelled out, I'm not representing the President! I'm just here on business!]

Yesterday, on the way to the rental car lot from the airport, the shuttle driver complained to me of the cold. I hadn't been out in it long enough to know I should be complaining as well, and told him I liked it, that I was from Texas and it was warm there right now, so the cold was a nice break. And then I realized what I'd said, that I'd just admitted I was from Texas. I braced myself for his response.

He smiled and said, I like Texas.

Relief fell over me. He continued, Do you know why? Ask my why. Ask me why I like Texas. I pushed back in my seat a bit, wanting to avoid his eager ask me, ask me, ask me excitement.

Why do you like Texas?

He smiled at me again, said It's not because of the horses or the cowboys.

I played along, Is it the cowgirls?

No, not the cowgirls.

He sat there looking out over the road, waiting for me to ask him again.

An unwitting participant in this volley, I went ahead and again asked, Why do you like Texas?

He flashed a big grin, and proudly stated, Because of Mr. Bush, our President. Smart man. Good man. Religious man. Good President.

I shook my head, said, I'm not here representing the President. I'm just here on business.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Lessons not yet learned, still

I'm in Chicago, yes I am. It's cold here. It's lightly snowing here. I wish I would have brought my coat here. My brain is apparently unable to compute that different locations around the country or around the world have different temperatures than what I have at home the day I pack my bags. How can it be cold in Chicago if it's 80 in Houston? How cold is cold, anyway? It cannot be that cold. They must be wrong. And off I go in my soon to be freezing my behind off idiocy. Ah, denial. A cold cup of coffee, it is.

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Anjou, or maybe Bosc

You were in my dreams again last night. We were in Brighton, sitting together on the rocky beach between the two piers. You were wearing a white button down shirt, untucked, and faded loose jeans. Your feet were bare. I was looking at you, studying you, not sure how it was that I was there with you, and you turned to me and kissed me.

I smiled and told you that you taste like pears and sunshine.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


In my email this morning, from a friend. It makes me smile.

I had a dream similar to the one I wrote about last year.

I remember it was night again, the kind that creeps up on you and keeps you looking over your shoulder. We did something, like shopping for something in particular though you would not tell me what you were looking for. I acted like it didn't bother me but I was lying.

This time you looked like you, yet even though you were right beside me you were kinda indistinct like I was looking at you from far away. We took a cab to a book store and I told you one of my dreams was to be a cabbie in New York sometime before I die. You laughed and asked me not to do it.

After the book store I was alone with a piece of cheesecake and one of your gloves. It smelled like cinnamon.