Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am so frustrated. 

I need to connect to someone, someone that I want to be around, who is fun to be around, whom I can be my best self around, and I can’t do that at this moment, and it frustrates me insanely. 

I am turning to substitutes to falsely fill the need and I am shaking in my chair, twitching my legs out of nervousness and anxiety, because I am so impoverished.  I don’t know how to solve this. 

I want to connect to him but he’s not reaching out back to me.  I am waiting for a response from him, but it’s been over a week and I’m still here, waiting.  He’s the only one I feel like being open to, and with.  But I sit here, unrequited.  It’s very difficult. 

I need to be being loved by someone whom I love equally as intensely. 

I need that reciprocation.  I need that reflection, that connection. 

I’m dying for a connection.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's a Slippery Little Sucker, But, It Is A Sucker.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Finally.  Today I reached it.  Ever-elusive, it evades, it saunters slowly or it sprints succinctly as you chase it down.  The closer you think you are, the further it actually is.

Today, I grabbed that light.  I put it over my knee, spanked it, and then I sent it packing with a sandwich and a juice box to elude some other poor fellow.  

Because, my friends, that poor fellow is no longer this girl, right here.  

I May Not "Get" You, But I'd Sure Like to "Own" You.

An Ode, to All Lovers Who Say One Thing, and Mean Another

If we used a translator 
in our Lincoln Navigator,
we could kick out the mediator
for wearing bogus alligator.

We could buy us a thesaurus,
Cuz you know it would work for us,
And we wouldn't be so porous 
When we singin' out the chorus.

If what I said got through to you, 
And if I heard you loud and clear,
It might mean less smelly poo 
And yucky waxes in our ear.

I know you want me,
I want you too,
but all this bullshit
Is a kick in the canoe.

So I'm-a make a declaration
Address the state of our lil' nation
Prohibit bunk retaliation
When all we wants is rhythm nation

I say some things that I don't mean
You take for truth a black smoke screen
I swear I'll cut it, make it lean
If you can give it gloss and sheen

Cuz folks like us, we know what's true
We don't play round, we don't be cruel
We got the sparks, we got the fuel
We both love films with Mercedes Ruehl.

I'm gonna give it to ya straight:
For you, I'll never have no hate
I love you straight right through the gate
So let's mellow out and marinate.

So I don't "get" you and you don't "get" me
But let's combine the family trees
I disbelieve the sweet things you say
But that don't mean I don't want to play

So let's get on with it
Don't play no games
Let's just stick with it,
And merge our names. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whatever Happened on Barry

He couldn't understand how a person could be so cavalier with the word "love."

"It's really, really hard for me to say that I love someone, cuz once I do,'s there, for, pretty much - "
"- yeah."
"I just can't understand how you could be happy with someone else not being with you."
"Because your happiness is my happiness."

What he didn't see was a girl, strutting down the street, her eyes bouncing eagerly all across an electric city avenue.  

She was walking quickly, and she was swinging her bags.  
She had on headphones.  
She was alone, but she was happy.  

This was the girl he wouldn't see, because he wasn't looking for her. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Morning Prayer

Give me a second chance, God.

Whatever you think you can send my way, I'm desperate for another shot at it.  You know my mind; you have to know my mind.  

There has been such a disconnect between the things you've sent me and what you seem to think I'm capable of holding on to.

I wonder at times if you even know me, if you even know my nature, or my thoughts, or the parts of me that I feel at times I can't even control, these empty soldiers that rise up in me to fight things, maim and destroy them, that later I end up grieving, and fruitlessly trying to nurse back to life, from death.

I need to hear you better.  I need to trust that there is a you inside of me that is my thought, that is my first instinct, that is my heart, that no part of me is stronger than my desire, and that my desires are ultimately good.  

I don't want to defeat myself again.

You have to come up with a better defense than I can protest against.  

I see what you've set up for me, I see where you've given me second chances and I see how I've been even more blind on this second time around.  I guess what I'm asking for is a third chance, a second second chance.  Please don't lead me to believe that you don't know what is lying underneath the surface of me.  That you don't know what is at the core, what is the well from which these ridiculous waves of fear seem to roll out from.  You have to be something that is all-knowing and all-powerful because you have to teach me to protect me from myself.  

Electrical Storm

“Come over here, take a look,” he said.  Because he does that, he just invites you over, it’s totally normal to him to have someone come over and take a look at his work.  I can’t understand this, this desire to have someone share in, or observe, the work I do, but this is because everything I do is about translating thought or emotion to page; there’s no process to watch that is of any interest, unless you like to watch people type, or hold a pen, pause, write, and then pause for a long time. 

I am here, at his apartment, again, because of an email.  Because I forced the moment to its crisis.  I did not understand why he never contacted me.  And why he wouldn’t even say something like “hey, good luck with your show.”  But that’s me.  I cannot empathize with someone who works 16 hours a day, according to him.  He’s right.

On the bus, on the way over, he texts me, “want to grab a bite?  I’m starving.” Should I accept this, it pushes my train departure back by another hour, at least; and though I sense I shouldn’t, I accept.

The lightening is so bright, its flash so vivid, that for one second, it is daylight; then, the black.  We sit, in the dark together, on his couch, staring at the storms intrusion. We rest our chins on our hands, which rest on the back of the leather couch. 

You are able to say you want to leave it when you have it; but when you don’t have it, you say you don’t want it.  In both ways, you don’t want it.  But it’s good for you.

When he received your card in the mail, and when he read your email, both on the same day, he called you. 

This voice kept saying in your head, “maybe he really likes you.”  And I didn’t listen. 

You now write with a semi-purpose.  You have a job.  You will likely get an apartment soon.  You are getting acting jobs.  But you have no one, whom you love, that loves you in return.  And the ones who do love you, whom you could snatch up in literally one phone call, you do not want; you’d rather never have another lover for the rest of your life than give in, out of principle, to one of these. 

He said, “maybe it’s best if you don’t see me for awhile.”  Did you bring the situation to this point, with your very thoughts, that you indulged, that you didn’t have to indulge in?  Did you bring the moment to its crisis? 

You have to show the good face around him, because if he sees that you are hurting, he won’t want to be near you. 

I do not get him.

You saw the façade of the University Club, and it made you want to leave town again.  But the part of you that has majority veto is comfortable, staying in Chicago, at the job you held before you left, playing it safe in your mother’s house, taking pills rather than selling everything you own in order to get an apartment, like a normal human being would do. 

It seems that, every opportunity you give him, bad or good, he takes; if you introduce even one element of doubt, allowing him an out, he takes that out. 

But all you can see is the bad; you are being offered things, things that you want, and you are literally taking them into your hands to throw them away.  You do this with him, all the time.  Or really, you used to, when you had the chance to do this. 

You are so used to the patterns of pain, and destruction, that when something opposes those patterns, you reject it immediately, like a food you cannot digest.  You spit on it and destroy it, because you don’t know what to do with it, because you don’t know what it is, what it means, and you are deeply, deeply afraid of it.  You are fearing the wrong things. 

You don’t even have a lot of feeling with your prayers, so it seems that they are not quite coming along like you’d like. 

“Jess, you can stay longer, you know; you don’t have to leave just because the rain has stopped.” 

“Oh, okay…but I have to…I have to wake up at five, I don’t know…I don’t know.  Hold on.”

You had a thought today that this would be the last time you’d ever see his apartment.  It was said in the same voice as when it said that you would see him that day, the day he was at the same sushi restaurant as you. 

You pray that it is not true, and, in fact, you reject it. 

You cannot quite believe that the storm is so bad that you actually ask him if you can stay at his place for a bit.  You wonder if the gods have set this up so that you would see that he actually does like you, that he is good, that you need to, literally, take a pause, rethink, and remember: "if the sky can crack, there must be some way back, to love, and only love."

And you say, ok. 

Now, you want to be the one selling his designs.  You wish you had taken him up on this, when you were at your worst, several months ago.  You wonder if your whole life is a test, and therefore, at what point are you going to get a right fucking answer?  When are you going to crack down, and understand the theorem, and fucking answer the question?

“What are your hours at work?”

“So, you think you’ll be moving into the city soon?”

“So, three months?”

         “Three months what?”

“Till you move to the city.”

         “Yeah, three, maybe four.  I think I want an apartment in Byron’s building.”

“In Byron’s?”

         “Yeah, they’ve got good spaces for cheap.”

“That’ll be explosive.” 

I think what is most telling about this last transaction is, I wanted the very thing that, if he had done, it would have been him, at his worst.

This could be good.  You could get back to it.  If you want it, you could get back to it.  It could be everything you want.  I know you refute this and you argue against it, but the truth is, you could have it.

He operates like no one you know.  You are trying to assess his English using a Chinese dictionary. 

It could be so easy.  You could love him, and you could just enjoy life, and ride your bike, and write books, and act, and make your money, and just be happy.  It actually is that easy.  You could just accept joy.  Just work hard, be normal about it, and do the things that you want, deep down, to do, but are afraid to do.  Maybe set up a challenge for yourself once a day; something you are afraid to do, that is a positive thing, something especially that you are afraid of, and don’t go to bed until you do it. 

You wish you could have the balls to say something like “I just don’t do the suburbs,” stick to it, because you have the strength of character to stick to things, like he does; where if he says he’ll do something, he does it; if he says he feels something, he means it. 

The lightening drives in at one spot, as if sticking in a knife, and twisting, and holding it there; you remember what it was like to be naked in this place; but now, he won’t even undress in front of you, and you are perplexed as to why.  And you realize, it’s because he doesn’t want to fuck with you.  This is to your benefit, because you are too wound up in him, or really, he in you. 

You think of what he accomplishes, and you are terrified at the idea of not attempting the same, of not striving for something, of not busting your ass to make a life for yourself. 

He has the coolest taste in music.  

Really, you just love every single thing about him.  

When the two of you started, it was impossible to be anything less than giddy, hovering around ecstasy whenever you were with him; he seems to conduct, as in, like a wire, electric happiness. 

But you are somewhere else, lately.  You are not walking with people.  You have chosen a different path.  One that permits you deep, deep, isolating grief.  You are walking in a valley with slate walls on either side and you know there is a stream of people beyond those walls but you disbelieve everything they say.  You know what you have done.  And no one is strong enough to convince you otherwise.

The rain has slowed.  It is no longer blowing sideways, like it was when you both ran across the street to stand under the awning of the ice cream shop, before you caught the cab that would drive you only one block up to his apartment.  

You know it is time to go, and it is the thing you want most, because this staying here, to be here with him, when he's offering, is almost more painful than you leaving. 

Your clothes are now dry; you had hung them over the edge of his bathtub.  You gather the things in the Whole Foods bag that you had come here for, the whole reason behind this meeting: a pyrex dish that you had left when you had brought him a cake you'd baked; a pack of sewing needles and thread that you intended to use to mend a shirt of his you'd torn; and boxing pads, that you brought one day when you sensed he could use a sparring partner.  

There is a loss when you walk out his door.  You can feel a vacuum created when it shuts, with no great ceremony, with no dramatic closure.  Only, the vacuum is not for him; it is in you.  There is a cavern inside you, there has been, since you began to end things, through your insecurity, your fear.  In the attempt to protect, they destroyed you further.  They saw an empty spot and they sensed he could fill it, and they sealed it off, only by protecting that hole, they made it bigger.  You don't even feel your body touch the ground as you move down the hall.  You don't feel anything, except loss.

You have been utterly ruined by the inability of everyone around you to, in fact, ground you, like a wire.  

You walk down the hallway to the elevator, and you remember the movie, and something from it that you once said to him. 

"As Ray Porter watches Mirabelle walk away, he feels a loss.  How is it possible, he thinks, to miss a woman whom he kept at a distance so that when she was gone, he would not miss her?  Only then does he realize how wanting part of her, and not all of her, had hurt them both, and how he cannot justify his actions except that, well, it was life."

Monday, May 25, 2009

You Can Charm Me Out of Pop But Not $40.

I'm walking towards the ENTER door at Jewel when I see a group of young guys leaning against the wall.  

"Hey miss, hold on a second!"

"What?  What do you need?" I say, turning, and kind of sighing cuz I know the homeslice making his way over is going to hit me up for money.

"Are you a nice and friendly person?" He asks.  He has a flaw on his lip and as he comes closer I can see it's a cut.  This guy just got into a fight recently.  
"No, no I'm not."
He blanches and seems to halt in space, mid-air in a leap, before he lands on his on his right foot and bounds over to me. 
"What's goin' on?" I ask him.  
"Hi, I'm just surveying people and - don't look at my lip, I see you looking at my lip!"
"I am looking at your lip, did you get in a fight?" 
He blinks hard and I got him. "Yeah, I did, everyone thinks this is like a cold sore or something but it's not."
"Well, did you hit the guy hard?  How's he doing?"
"Well, it was a friend of mine, but he's got this black eye and his lips are all busted up, but I walked away with this," as he points to his lip.
"Hey, good job man, I respect that," I say and reach for his hand.  We smack palms and pull away with snaps and he goes "Why, you fight?"
"No, but I box."
"Aw!  Lemme do that again" and reaches for my hand and we snap even harder, laughing.  I watch him reach towards me to handle my bicep as he says "Flex for me...hey, nice."
"Naw, this is shit, I haven't done much in awhile." 
"I'm Mike."
"I'm Jessica." 

Apparently, Mike is trying to sell magazines for a contest in his home state of Washington.  He kept pulling out a black leather bound agenda chocked with envelope-sized printed papers.  I know this, because Mike came in with me to shop for pop for my mom.  He told me he was participating in this contest to eventually pay for school.

He was a cute guy; a bit taller than me, in a crewneck DKNY sweater and baggy jeans.  He looked and moved like he could have been an extra in Step Up.  Or Step Up 2.  

We grabbed the pop and he said "let's sit down for a while, here's my office," and motioned to a display of a deck table and some chairs.   I reclined and listened to him tell me about how he had sustained an injury which depleted him of all his college scholarships for basketball.  So he'll eventually go to school to study physical therapy.  "Once you get injured, man, it's all over.  It's like nobody even wanted to talk  to me," he said about the schools that had courted him.  

Mike was a very charismatic individual, a great talker, intelligent, persistent, and he was very cute, and he seemed very honest, and I know that if we were to date, we would sure get along well and grocery shopping would be a lot of fun; I do the choosing, he'd do the lifting. 

But I don't fork out money to no one.  You've got to sleep with me to get that.   

My Destiny

Every time I come home eager to write, I feel like the Messiah is waiting to embrace me. 

It Is Written That It Is Still Unwritten

Diego and I went walking today and I found myself in familiar territory, in all sorts of ways.  

We tend to traverse the same streets, since, well, we live in a neighborhood.  

(It's a bit hard to write this, and I'm resistant to doing so, because of what it admits in me.)

So, we make a square by covering several blocks, and then Diego pulls me in the same walk the same square again.  

As we're walking, I'm kind of smirking, trying to play it off to the kids we "Heh heh!  I'm just following him!  I know we just saw you playing ball in the street.  How's it going....again?"  And it made me pause: did God lead me down this path again by utilizing my little dog?  And did I miss something that I was supposed to see the first time?  I look around me and examine the houses, the garages, the lawns, the trees and bushes, the front walks.  What did I overlook?   

Suddenly I remembered when I first came home from California about 14 months ago.  I was searching through boxes and boxes of old journals and keepsakes, reading things I recorded over a decade ago.  

Nothing had changed. 
Yes, I had hit a sort of apex in my life, going to school, moving out, and shacking up with someone I thought I was going to marry.  And then later, after all of that had either abandoned me or I'd abandoned it, moving to California, to be with someone I loved, and trying to make a fresh start.   But I've ended up back here, literally right where I began, and I'm still struggling with the same problems:  I fall for guys in the same way; I'm still feeling like I'm not living up to my potential; and I've found that, as of this year, after about a decade-long hiatus, I've got the same issues with friends.

When I read these things, and realized this a year ago, it freaked me out.  

But I've changed, over the last few weeks.  It's been somewhat immediate and somewhat a long time in the making.  It's been both all at once, and incremental.  I've done it by making small, different choices, in the simplest and seeming least-consequential moments, and forcing myself to think differently, to think dynamically, and proactively, but I've changed, and I know this.  I've come to accept certain things about myself that I've spent my whole life fighting.  I've come to realize and more importantly, embrace with two hands, elements of my nature that are beautiful, and special, and that I shouldn't try to change, even if I wanted to.   I've stopped fighting some things, and I've started fighting other things.   Basically, I'm finding it a better life to not resist: stop resisting doing the things I know I should be doing.  

I started to stop thinking that I need to be someone that I can never, ever be.  And it's a good thing.  A really good thing.  Nothing is quite so liberating as when you release yourself from an impossible demand, made impossible by nature.  Flowers can't be fish, no matter how much they try, and it's a better life for everyone that they don't try.  

I still have much to work on, but I look forward to the upcoming challenges, knowing now that there are two future worlds for me: the way I always used to do it, or the new way.  It's going to be uncomfortable, and a bit startling, and I can no longer afford to go on autopilot, but I look forward to all of this immensely.  I am piloting this ship and I can choose a different future for myself.  I am going to speak up.  If I don't want it, I am not going to go along with it.  I am not going to resist who I am, nor what I know is true and good, deep in  my heart.  This is my life, goddammit.   It is written that it is still unwritten. 

Diego and I carried along on our walk, making it towards the end of our second lap, and I found myself paused for a moment, on the sidewalk, as he sniffed around a tree.  I was standing there, rooted to the ground, like I was an oak, staring into nothing.  I wonder if I've ever stood so still in my life.  For a moment, I was literally the center of gravity.  Nothing on me nor about me moved even a millimeter.  

Finally, Diego pulled out of the range of the leash and me as a tree came to an end.  

We walked towards my house and I felt the lightest rain on my skin.  The sky has been a muted white-gray all day, and the sun was nowhere specific but had been diffused everywhere.  It was no longer a round star; it was now a round shell of white gray, covering us.  It was nowhere, and yet, everywhere. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You're a Celebrity. So, Gimme Your Playlist.

Jessica Cakuls's Playlist
Release Date: May 23, 2009
Total:  23 songs 

Jessica Cakuls currently sells bridal gowns to the tri-state area's most discerning clientele.  She can be seen in syndication on "Watching Meta Cook...and Then Eating It," "Yes, That Is a Pancake I Pulled Out of My Purse," " How to Eat Five Breakfasts on a Table for Four," and "Obsessive Painting: The Formative Years."   If you are lucky enough to catch her in the flesh, she is probably out walking her dog, and you will probably see her with her face lifted to the sky, staring at a leaf on a tree.  She will one day be a financially independent individual; how she does this is yet to be revealed to her.  She believes in love, she once thought she was Jesus Christ when she didn't sleep for two weeks straight, and to her, everything sparkles.  Literally.  

"Scythian Empires," Andrew Bird.  "Really, this whole album is just remarkable.  It was so hard to choose one track, but 'Scythian Empires' and its lyrics - 'kings of Macedonia' - reminds me of Alexander the Great, whom I'm obsessed with.  This album was playing when I first hooked up with a very dynamic guy I fell in love with, and I will always remember being in his apartment, and the blue light caused by the night's falling snow, as we kissed.  It was heaven.  I also did my first painting as an adult to this album.  Incidentally, I cannot break up a song from this album into another playlist.  To me, the album is heard in it's entirety, or not at all.  It's utterly sacred to me.  Andrew Bird, you rule!  I'll follow you anywhere." 

"Sunday Smile," Beirut.  "Again, another album which, in it's entirety, I consider to be perfection.  This is the song that drew me in, but I heard about the band from Evangeline Lilly's playlist.  I was haunted by the 30 seconds I heard.   This album has seen me through from the most carefree of afternoons, walking my dog, to crying my heart out, in the dark of night, thinking of all the things I no longer have, and the people I've done wrong.  Utterly life-changing, and so simple in how it does it." 

"Sweet Thing," Van Morrisson.  "This song is simply perfect."

"Little Star," Madonna.  "Such a different type of song for her, a lullaby, actually.  I think of it as a song to the person I know I am, the invaluable jewel, the little star that was created in love: 'may the angels protect you, and sadness forget you, little star...'  I lost a man I had loved about a year ago, and he didn't really like Madonna's music, but he absolutely loved this song, and because of him, I looked at it with new eyes.  Amazing, what another person reveals to you."

"Last Goodbye," Jeff Buckley.  "I can remember, as an insomniacal high-schooler, being awake at about 2 am one morning, and this clip of new music from then-unknown artists came on MTV, and this was a featured song.  I had to stay awake to wait to see the whole video, and it was a song that played in my head for literally weeks on end and definitely was all I could think about all that next day in class.  I was obsessed with him, and I thought that I would meet Jeff Buckley before he became really famous, which I knew he would,  and tell him how much I loved his music, and that he would fall in love with me."

"Lonely Girl," Pink.  "This song is such an anthem for me.  Starts off with uncertainty, and then she uses the same lines in the chorus to shout out her strength and defiance at the end: 'I'm just trying to make all my dreams come true....'  It's amazing, and in one song, I see for myself the journey I know I will take as a person.  Thank you, Pink!  Your grit and your angst are the hottest and finest we've got from a woman in pop today."

"Read My Mind," The Killers.   "There’s something about their guitar licks and their lyrics, to me they are on the verge of a U2-like stardom.  They have an amazing ability to be completely and even painfully honest, but there’s a hopefulness about it all that cannot be denied.  When it comes down to it, they really just make me feel so good, and so alive, and reinvigorated.  Rocking out to this tune makes me feel so inspired and alive and energized that I feel like I could fly.  I want to jump all over furniture when it plays."  

"One Tree Hill,"  U2.  "An over-looked, absolute gem off of 'Joshua Tree,' another amazing album.  Utterly impossible to choose just one from their entire repertoire.  I think they're the greatest rock band, unparalleled.  They gave dignity to rock and roll music.  You could no longer call it 'The Devil's Music' when they came onto the scene.  Any song by U2 tends to be so gripping, so emotionally intense  for me, I actually need to prepare myself before listening to them, because they're just too much.  They hit a raw nerve that I allow to be struck only every so often."

"Paper Planes," M.I.A.  "I can be fairly 'in the cave', in terms of pop culture.  When I heard this song roll out during 'Slumdog Millionaire,' I was floored, by the visuals onscreen, and by this sound: so intense, so gritty, and so totally inspiring to me.  I was utterly a changed person when I heard it.   And I feel like the biggest bad-ass whenever I hear it.   A friend of mine made up a dance to it and one of my fondest memories, ever, was when she casually performed it, at work one day.  This song resonates through my cells."

"Smooth Criminal," Michael Jackson.  "Say what you want about his recent legal problems and accusations, but this man put the 80's over his knee and spanked it, and it walked away with glitter on its ass from his glove, and we all loved him for it.   No one had better moves, no one had better production, and no one will forget his 'Thriller' album cover.  I think every current pop artist who doesn't use an electric guitar owes a lot, a lot a lot to MJ as an influence.  This song energizes me in such a way... all I want to do is dance - VICIOUSLY - when I hear it." 

"Trouble," Cat Stevens.  "This song plays in the first 'Alias' episode, when she's telling Danny about joining SD-6.  It's such a heart-wrenching song.   I knew I'd heard it before, but it's forever tied to those images, and that sadness for her character, whom I'm obsessed with - I love spy chicks.  When I'm feeling frightened or sad, this is the song I instinctively start humming, without even realizing." 

"Hey You," Madonna.  "She's the Queen, and she out-Beatled the Beatles with this one.  It's totally the opposite of everything she's done, and I think it's utterly her most inspiring, most spiritually evolved song.  It cuts me right to the grain, so I can only hear it every so often. When I first heard it, which was by watching the video, I broke down in tears and cried, literally, for hours on end.  Heartbreaking, inspiring, beautiful, hopeful, and just her!"

"The Twist," Chubby Checker.  "Probably the most classic of oldies tunes.  It puts me in a good mood immediately.  How can you not be?  The Twist is like the first dance move every single person does as a toddler!  Go Chubby C. for coining the move and making one of the happiest songs ever created.  Pure joy."

"Light My Fire," The Doors.  "My dad was the music guru in our family.  I was listening to the Doors, Carole King, Simon and Garfunkel and Cat Stevens since I've had memory.  This was always my favorite, and I'm forever grateful to my pops for introducing me to music in such an unconventional, fun, and psychedelic way.  Go dad!" 

"Girl From the North Country," Bob Dylan.   "This song kills me.  I forever associate it with the older brother of my best friend from junior high, whom I absolutely loved and adored and who I wish I still spoke to....The nostalgia of it, the heartbreak of it, the wistfulness, the bittersweet hope that Dylan clings's archetypal."

"Michaelangelo," Emmy Lou Harris.  "Off of her 'Red Dirt Girl' disc, this is my favorite song of hers, which is a very difficult statement to make, because she's an amazing voice, an amazing song-writer, and she got Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews to do back-up vocals for her.  This woman don't play.  She's a legend in country music and for good cause.  She will split your heart right open with her voice and her lyrics and you will come crawling, begging, crying for more, it's that good." 

"Lola," The Kinks.  "The first time I did karaoke, this was my song.  It always puts me in a good mood and it invigorates me like the first shot of Jameson for the evening.  Plus, the embracing of youthful trans-gender love in a big city?  Hello!  Way ahead of their time, these guys.  They rock hard and they do it with so, so much fun, you know you want to sing and dance along."

"The Zephyr Song," The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  "I imagine my dog, Diego, running around in the sand, while the sun is setting, on a beach in southern California.  I'm going to get him there someday soon, and when he's scampering around wildly, his floppy ears flying in the breeze, in front of a radiant pink-orange sunset, this song will be playing, and life is going to be utterly, divinely, perfect."

"Rainbow Connection," Kermit the Frog.  "Um, hello!!  This is the sweetest, most innocent song ever!  'Who said that every wish, would be heard and answered, when wished on the morning star?  Somebody thought of it, and someone believed it, and look what it's done so far....'  Who else but Kermie could take metaphysics and noetics and sugar it up for the Playskool crowd?  Jim Henson is a genius, as his influence still remains to this day."

"I Believe (When I Fall In Love it Will Be Forever)," Stevie Wonder.  "I heard this in 'Hi-Fidelity,' and, well, fell in love with it.  It made me believe in love again, in the possibility of it, in the existence of it, for me, and that it will be everything I want, and that God will answer my prayers.  Stevie can make you believe in anything."

"All the Umbrellas in London," The Magnetic Fields.  "This song kills me.  I don't know how they did it, but they managed to make an utterly sweet and sad ballad inspire me, and make me feel hopeful.  And the lyrics are TT: 'cause I've got a sense of perfection, and nothing makes much sense at all....' " 

"Chicago," Sufjan Stevens.  "I first heard this during a road trip to NYC.   The lyrics are amazing, because even if you haven't sold your clothes to the state, or slept in parking lots, when you hear them, you know know this guy is still describing your life.  It pushed me over the edge and I broke down in tears.  Again, another tune that is utterly brilliant in it's ability to both make me cry and yet inspire me fully.  At times I feel like he wrote it about me, and that I'm going to do something really amazing for mankind, and this song will be sung about me." 

"It's the Hard-Knock Life," 'Annie' Soundtrack.   "When I was little, I wanted to be Annie.  I wore a dress that was pink but I called it my 'Annie' dress, and I even wanted her dirty Depression-era clothes, and of course her fabulous wardrobe once she moves in with Daddy Warbucks.  I just wanted her life!  I thought I was Annie.   This soundtrack to the motion picture always, always lifts my spirits and reminds me of being a kid." 

So, fellow celebrities who are not quite as famous as you one day will be!  Let me know what you listen to and why, and why you think others should listen to it, too.  I want to know what's on your mind and on your Ipod.   Music is a gift and should be shared. 

Original Disposition

In the beginning, there was chaos.

Our philosophy class was a terrorized, perilous alternate universe smothered with villains with superpowers who were draped in the clothing of liberal arts students…and Jamie?  Jamie was Superman, striding through the door, cape flying, with a single bound he’d leap on top of the desks, and with x-ray vision and undefeated strength, he incinerated the apathy of our classmates, who thought philosophy sucked and that everything was relative – and who were mostly there because it was a required course.  Jamie had a giant, Gold “T” burning on his chest, and that T stood for Truth.  Jamie, more than our teacher, cut through the fog and cleared a shining path to the best qualities inside of us, that reminded us of what makes us good, what makes us human, and our classmates loved him for that.

He was the most courageous person I’d ever met.  He would slice your argument to the bone with the one question he knew you couldn’t answer, and it would defeat you.  And you’d either love him for it, or you’d hate him (and most people hated him).  But if he knew your argument was superior, he’d gesture with his arm, as if to say, “You…YOU deserve to go ahead of me”, and he’d praise you, with genuine kindness, and say, “That’s excellent.  I never thought of that.  That’s very good.”  And if the truth was unpleasant, and no one wanted to go near it, Jamie could deliver it. This was why I worshipped him: because he could do something that I admired, and that no one else had the strength to do. 

Jamie had another super-human ability.  See, I have this, ultra-intense, hyper-affectionate way of conducting myself in a relationship, and Jamie was the only man I’d met who could withstand hundreds of kisses in a single day, excessive petting and small headlocks in public (where I’d throw my arm around his neck, tightly, and say “I love you so much I’m gonna fucking kill you”) and phone calls on the hour asking “whatcha doin?”; it’s an infra-red type of attention, which no mortal man could digest.  Jamie not only absorbed this radiation; he’d kick back, underneath it, and toss on a pair of shades and smile.

You know those photographs of deep space that are taken with the Hubble Telescope?  With those yawning gases that are blue and pink and bright orange, stretched like gaping webs across stars and galaxies?  In my eyes, there is nothing more beautiful.  Black holes, dark matter, comets, spiraling galaxies, I think you can look to all of these, and use them to explain and understand not only life, but human behavior.  I have this book that Jamie gave me a month after we met.  We smashed ourselves on the bed together to look at it, flipping through each page, and when we were done, I kissed him square on the nose and I said “You got it.”  

The first time I got Jamie to myself was at a lounge, near school, where the drinks are 10 bucks, everyone speaks Russian, and the lighting makes your teeth a matte, white-blue.  He sat right next to me on the leopard-print couch and while I’m holding my glass, that has glowing ice cubes, I’m trying so hard to be still, I’m determined to find a way to lock myself down to the furniture, or just contort myself, over my knees, all while I’m trying to face him, because I’m vibrating SIMPLY because I’m CLOSE to him. 

I day-dreamed about an evening like this, I actually visualized it, like, creatively visualized this, while I sat in class.  I imagined blue lasers shooting out from my forehead and into Jamie’s frontal lobe, and the lasers had a ticker-tape message that said, in capital letters: COME GET A DRINK WITH ME - YOU WANT TO DATE ME - THIS COULD BE GOOD.  And now, his arm and thigh are edging in on mine, it felt awkward to be sitting next to him, because I should have been in HIS LAP.  The darkness and the black-lights have made everything contrast, our clothing, and our skin, so we are bright blue and dark magenta blobs, floating among the black, and neon.  And the alcohol?  And his body right next to mine?  And we’re talking about things we both felt we’d die to defend?  This combined to form a certainty replacing the marrow in my bones, the certainty that my life was now different.  All of it was swirling, and spiraling, and it was pulsating with a heartbeat. Jamie and I were going to leave, eventually, and we’d leave together, and we were going to combine somehow, and anything less than that would have gone against nature.

Four years later, in a café, over eggs and pancakes that we’ve barely touched, Jamie is making a face.  It’s the face you make the moment right before you vomit.  Where you can feel the bile rising?  And your mouth is turned down, as if you’re trying to hold it back, but you know you can’t, because nature is, in fact, stronger than you, and it’s going to take over; and your eyes are lowered, because anything above the ground is nauseating.

          And then his lips parted: “that’s it,” he said, and then he was silent. This is his reaction to the confession I’ve just made, about something I’ve done, that I have to tell him about, because every cell in my body that can witness something cannot bear to leave him in the dark.  Jamie’s silence is unnatural, and it causes everything around me, in the café, to shoot forward at light speed, and pass me in a blur, and only Jamie remains still, and in focus, but he won’t even look at me.

Life, and dating, after Jamie, is goal-oriented:  Search, and destroy. This is not so much a thought, as an instinct.  Develop a laser-like focus for the type of guy who is Jamie’s opposite.  Disappoint all of them – and there are many - in a uniquely devastating way, like, by getting another guys’ phone number…at the party they brought you to… while you know they’re watching.

Because you’re no longer in a relationship, you now have time to focus on yourself, so in addition to new mating habits, your hair color changes, your uniform disappears, its replaced by abbreviated clothing, you start wearing high heel boots, and one day when you look at your reflection, you actually say, out loud, “that’s not even my face.”

One year after Jamie and I dissolved, I’m standing in front of this bicycle shop that has closed for the evening, and I’m watching these gliding spots of light on the window in front of me that reflects the traffic behind me, but it’s the kind of looking where you do it to settle something inside of you, where you don’t actually care about what your eyes are resting on, but they have to rest on something, because they’re open, only you wish, in that moment, that they weren’t, because you have just heard, over the phone, that Jamie’s body has been found in his apartment, and that he had hung himself.  And that it had been days before he had been found.  Someone that you didn’t even realize you were STILL taking for granted, has just been torn out of your life…again.  

Because Jamie is gone, you desperately need everything that reminds you of him.  You search frantically through old boxes in your basement, and tears are streaming down your face because you threw away presents he had given to you, and you would trade everything to get them back.  You are not sure if you threw away love letters he had sent to you, after he broke up with you: Did he really write those?  You remember walking down the hallway of your old apartment building, reading a letter he had written you, but was it real? Or did you dream it?  You keep searching, because if it’s true, if he wrote to you, saying “I’m sorry, I changed my mind, I miss you” then you’d have to find it, because it would exist, because you wouldn’t have thrown that away, right?  You couldn’t have been that angry, and that cold, right?  But you never find the letters. 

         I’m standing at the window of my bedroom, and I’m watching this radiant, hot-pink sun setting behind the trees across the street, and I’m on the phone with a friend of mine who knows quite a bit more about physics than I do.  And we’re talking about neutrinos.  Neutrinos are these subatomic particles that are so small, that if an atom is the size of a football stadium, a neutrino is smaller than a dust mote passing over the field.  They carry the energy and momentum that results during a chemical decay, and they have this partner, called the anti-neutrino, which is it’s opposite; It’s like a negative energy.  These random chemical decays, which rarely happen given the nearly infinite amount of neutrinos in the universe, are essentially the anti-neutrino, trying to break through. 

“Neutrinos are so small, and they’re everywhere, there’s so many we shouldn’t even bother counting, we may as well just shift the decimal and look at them as something greater, or singular, like a force.  What if they physically represent something metaphysical, that we can’t control, like the existence of decay, or death?  What if they’re like a scientific metaphor for why things end?  I mean, why do things have to end?  Why do we have to die?”  At this point, I feel like I’m really onto something, like, the people at Fermilab have nothing on me.

My friend digs in.  “So you’re saying, if most humans are like neutrinos, then Jamie was like an anti-neutrino…his composition in this life was essentially an anti-neutrino trying to revert back to it’s original state, or it’s original disposition, which is the energy that we come from, but we just can’t see…by taking his own life, he returned to something that was home, because he had never felt right in this state.”  “Yes, that’s basically it.”  “Huh…” he said. “That’s…pretty good.”

My ice cubes are glowing and rattling in my glass and I have to rest my head in my hand to stop my arm from shaking.  Jamie leans into me, his highball cocked in his hand, right next to his chin.  He’s glancing around.  “You know what made Stanley Kubrick a genius?  He had the balls to say NO.  When he wanted to light a film using only candles, what do you think happened?  Someone fucking created a new camera lens for him!  When he said  ‘No’, studio executives, who would have told God to go screw himself, would say ‘Okay, Stanley, that’s fine.  YOU tell US.  We’ll just be standing over here.’  He’d do 67 takes of people walking down stairs…just walking down stairs! – to get it perfect.  It’s true!  You can read interviews with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  They were pissed. 

He knew what was at stake, and he never compromised.  He was an artist because of this, because he pursued, perfection: he pursued the truth.  It’s so intense, I LOVE IT!  You know, if a man like that defeats you in a debate, you’re a better man for it. Always, always, pursue the truth, if you’re going to be an artist, you can’t afford anything less.  And surround yourself with people who do the same.  I need another cocktail.  Let’s go.”  

Are we meant to suffer?

Here's an entry I once published on an old blog I used to have, several years ago. 

Though much time has passed, and many circumstances in my life have changed, these are still thoughts I own.  I'm glad to know some parts of me are consistent! 

5.11 pm, may 19, 2005

Last night I almost got my finger chopped off while trying to shut my living room window.  It's one of those windows that's just the huge sheet of plastic and it has two little tabs at the bottom corners that are always rusty, and you have to push them inward in order to unhinge the sliding mechanism - this is the beauty that post-modern suburbia affords  - and, wouldn't you know it, the window was stuck so I had to pull it down while engaging these tabs.  I knew, prior to conducting this exercise, exactly what was going to happen, but the sick part is that I continued, and succeeded in smashing my finger. I'm pretty sure I chipped the bone.  And I screamed the f word so many times and punched the window so many times and with such force that it not only impressed the hell out of me but it woke my boyfriend and my mother, who were taking naps (not together, though).  The f word proved to be the majority of my vocabulary for the rest of the evening, occasionally peppered by the c word, the b word, and the g/d word, almost like I was a synthesizer set on "SCREAMING SWEAR WORDS", being keyed arbitrarily like a John Zorn piece.  What hurt the most was not my finger, although I was concerned because I had an incident when I was a kid where I banged my knee on a piano bench - no cut or anything - and ended up with a bone infection.  Now, I like my left hand, so I don't want that to be repeated.  But what bothered me about the situation was that I knew, I knew that this was going to be the result.  And I still proceeded.  Why? 


I don't know about other women, but when I get hormonal, I need chocolate, sweets, and fat as though I know no other reality.  While I'm at the Krispy Kreme window, chewing on a slice of pizza, I am fully aware of what I'm doing, and I know that it is not going to be good for my constitution.  I'll get a headache from the sugar o.d., I'll get fat hands from the salt and the fat, and I'll just generally feel like I've been thrown against a wall when I come down from the high.  But I still do it.  Why?


One could, if they wanted to simplify things, simply call it masochism.  But why does that exist?  If we know that it's bad for us, but we do it anyway, fully aware that it's called masochistic behavior, well, why don't we stop?  Alcoholics Anonymous has a term for behavior that we repeatedly engage in, even when we are aware of it's undesirable consequences: insanity.  That still doesn't solve the issue.  I know it's masochistic.  I know it's insane.  I know it's harmful.  Maybe I do it because it's harmful.  Why?  Because I want to destroy myself? 


Who are the people in the world who see evil in donuts, prostitutes, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, pornography, whatever, and simply say no?  Really, if you are one of them, and you are reading this, please let me in on your secret.  You have an obligation to mankind. 


I think humans like to destroy themselves.  I think we are, at any moment, fully aware of the implicit consequences in our harmful behavior, but we still like to live life frolicking about the pond, leaping around on the closed mouths of waiting alligators and swinging from the vines.  If I feel like I've been "good," like I've been working out, eating well, reading philosophy, calling my friends, keeping my room clean, I decide that I can handle buying another pair of shoes or getting a slice of key lime cheesecake.  But what I forget is that it only takes one step off the path and then it all goes to shit.  Because I'm not going to just buy a pair of shoes, right?  I need a skirt to go with it, and while I'm there I may as well pick up a new shirt, and some lip gloss, and since the sandals come in two colors...  Similarly, you don't eat cheesecake in a vacuum.  You eat it at a restaurant, where you want some cappucino to go with it, but then you're up all night from the caffeine blast, and you've just got to get a movie to zone out to while you're digesting the atom bomb of sugar and fat in your stomach, and then you stay up until 3, but whoops you have to go to class in the morning and on and on.  This progression (or regression?) is amplified when you bring in things like infidelity, drug use, gambling, etc.  Because who does coke at confession? 


There seems to be this consciousness lately that it's not good to dichotomize good and evil.  Well, if they were meant to be gray and fuzzy, they wouldn't exist as two seperate words.  I prefer to know what is good and what is bad, so that I make no pretenses when I am about to fall.  I don't know many people who can take one step down the slippery slope and walk that fine balance.  But there's also a difference between those who take that step, and know it's just a step, and those who take that step and think "F**k!  I totally messed up!  I may as well just jump off!"  I know I'm definitely the latter.  I'm still waiting for advice from those who are the former.  


However, I've noticed that when I do one good thing, it leads to another.  I didn't feel like flossing before I went to bed last night, but I did, and then I decided to read a Martha Nussbaum essay, because I was thinking about a girl I once knew who a friend at the time said was better for this guy that I liked because she was "smarter than me" and well, I just won't stand for that, so now I have a philosophical basis, predicated on the writings of Cicero, no less, as to why we have a moral obligation to provide material aid to our international neighbors. 


All that, just from flossing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hm...sounds a lot like life.

This photo above is not really a painting of mine.  It was a phase during the life of one painting that now looks absolutely nothing like this image.  But I had to document it because, during my baby's childhood - and yes, I do refer to my paintings as my kids - this particular moment, I thought, was especially captivating; trails of paint on the canvas, with the sun streaking across it's face.  I almost wanted to stop right here.  But I kept going: first, because I didn't have the courage, and second, because I knew there was a bigger story I wanted to tell.  

Here are the things I've learned from painting.

1.  If you don't lay a proper foundation, all the work you do has to be repeated.

2. It is impossible to duplicate.  You can get something close, but even the flies who kamakaze into your painting will tell you it's not the same.

3.  You start off with one thing, and it looks good, but you know you'll feel like a cop-out if you don't take it to where you know it needs to go.

4.  When you spend a lot of time on it, it shows.  When you don't, that shows, too.

5.  When you've thought a lot about it, it shows.  When you haven't, that shows, too.

6.  Color is everything.

7.  You have to be fearless in your exploration.

8.  You cannot judge either the process nor the finished product, because if you do, you won't want to continue.

9.  Having said that, you should still, always, retain standards, and raise them, constantly.

10.  If you allow yourself to get comfortable, you're going to feel like s***, and your stuff is going to look like s***. 

11.  You have to take chances in order to get anything good.

12.  You also have to know when to stop.

13.  Sometimes you labor and labor and it's genius; and sometimes, it takes one little squeeze from a tube, and it's genius.  Don't sweat the former, and don't diminish the latter, because the best pieces tend to be a combination of these two. 

14.  You have to clean your tools constantly, or you're not giving each new work it's clean, fresh chance.  

15.  Wear the proper attire.

16.  Make sure there's fresh air circulating.

17.  Heed your instincts, because they're all you've got.

18.  You tend not to have a desire when you don't have the material with which to express. 

19.  I wouldn't know, but it's probably a lot like birth: the idea is pleasurable, but it's painful until it's completely out. 

20.  You can always paint over.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You know, shepherds used to break a sheep's legs, if they wandered off. Heh heh....

I am completely not tired at this moment, and it is 3:42 in the morning.

I have just impulsively started and finished two paintings tonight, and have two others, also begun this evening, on pause. One of these finished paintings, of which I'm especially proud, is called "I know not what I do". Oil. Black. Glossy. With blood-red splotches swimming helplessly towards an invisible vortex.

I cannot stop thinking about two people I used to be friends with, who no longer want to talk to me. I think about one of these two quite a bit more than the other, because I had been romantically involved with him, and truly believed myself to be in love with him. It is a testament to this belief that for the better part of a year since he had and I had started dating, and basically 9 months since I last heard from him, despite attempts on my part to speak, that he does not leave my mind, no matter how much I try to cancel him out, no matter how much I argue for his dismissal against my heart, and no matter how many different ways I try to mourn the loss of him, in order to just forget about him. I've prayed countless times; I've tried to tell myself he is deceased; I have written persuasive essays to myself as to why he's not worth one moment of my time...and guess the result.

It's a funny thing, how love and thought work. And, by funny, I mean, fucked up. What do we really have control over, if not our minds? And do not our feelings evolve from our minds, what we take in with our senses, what fits in like puzzle pieces to form a picture that says to us "yes, this is it, this works!"?

Moreover, in the grandest of schemes of things, what can it possibly mean, to care so much, so relentlessly, so devastatingly, for a person who doesn't even want to see your face?

I've spent much time lately taking stock of my life, of myself as a person, of my choices, my paths, and my actions, not to mention the root of it all: my thoughts.

I've arrived at this:

Change is nearly impossible, but it's not impossible.
If you desire change, you must get very, very comfortable with being incredibly, unbelievably uncomfortable, at every second of the day.

But if you are content with who you are, as well as the limits to your nature, then you accept certain outcomes for your life, and you also accept that you will not rise higher than these limits.

Now, this might make me sound like a negative nelly, so if anyone perceives that I missed a third, positive option, let me know, because I'm more than happy to be proved wrong.

So where does this leave me, a girl who, in some cases, doesn't have a clue as to what she might have done wrong? Or, in other cases, knows exactly what she did wrong, but won't be forgiven by someone? Or, is simply disliked, because of who she is?

I don't know the answers to this. It's also a lot harder to deal with people who explicitly refuse to make apologies for their behavior, even if their behavior is, on all rational counts, bogus. Because if you apologize to people like this, for errors you know you committed, this makes you weak. It's a no-win.

I've never had a relationship, in my entire life, that, if I so desired, could not be repaired.

This year, I've been blessed with four. 

Now, I have not forgotten the new relationships, and new old relationships, that have begun this year.  For those, I am exceptionally grateful.  But, the wisest person once said, even if you've got 99 sheep, when one lamb wanders off, you're going to go after it.

So, what do you do with this? With people who don't want you?

You move on. You remember that life is, fundamentally, change. That everything, as the Buddhists say, is fleeting. You cannot form attachments because there is no actual form to which you can actually attach.  I'm going to make a slogan tee: "Life makes a Buddhist of me." 

But the hardest thing for me has always been the very crux of life: impermance. I like it when the things I love stick around. But it's not to be.

Did I mention I have a real hard time with this?

How do you get wholly involved with anything, if you know that it's going to go away? Maybe the answer is, you don't. Maybe you get economic about it, and you exploit it fully, and wring it dry before you send it packing, denying it the chance to do it to you.

Maybe I already do this, and I don't even realize it. I've spent a great deal of time thinking I'm a much better person than the outcomes in my life are revealing me to be.

Or maybe I've been spared a great deal. After all, the way certain of these relationships have ended, I wonder that these people were ever emotionally involved on the level I was, and still am, with them.

It's the easiest thing in the world: you meet someone, they are nice and chatty and outgoing and you have the same interests. You hang out, you hang out some more, and about this person, you can say, "man, so-and-so is sooooo cool, I'm so glad she and I are friends!". But then so-and-so does something that chafes you, and you bring it up to her, and low and behold, so-and-so blows her top and insults you when she is confronted. This is her nature. Sure, she's real sweet when it's sunshine and rainbows, but what is that worth? You could meet a murderer on the street and be the best of friends in T-3, but does that mean they're a great person? Does it mean you should be near them when it's a full moon? H-no.

Relationships are built on the easy but they live or die by the hard. What matters is not how well you can shop or laugh together; what matters is how someone conducts themselves in a disagreement. This is the only way you can really know someone: when the gloves are on.  The good has to be good, but the bad has to be even better. 

So, after several years of two relationships, and several months of two others, I can now say that I know four people, but I know them no longer.

I know I haven't granted forgiveness to certain people in my life. And I know there are certain people that I simply have no desire to be around. I know that this is the case for the people who refuse to speak to me. After all, if you wanted to speak to someone, and have them in your life, even if they had hurt you, wouldn't you? Truly, what would stop you? Yes, some people are like crack, but either you 12-step them and get restraining orders, or they're in your cell phone. There's no in between; the desire to see them, continually, is either there or it's not.

So, for those not in someone's cell phone any longer, you move on. You find replacements, knowing that, unlike what one of these people said to you, everyone is NOT replaceable.  Every person is unique, and they, and only they, can bring certain things to your existence. If you view this any other way, you're not seeing the divinity in them. You are sorely missing the spark that makes them a unique gift, a brand-new song, a specifically radiant sort of light.

So you have to fill what these lights, now departed, left void. You have to find new music, different songs, and in your mind you may still be, all the while, humming old tunes.

Here's to new shows.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Long Way Home

I took my dog for a walk this afternoon and experienced the most beautiful things.  

An elderly man was walking behind us and soon passed us when Diego paused to survey and sniff out the grounds.  Then Diego bounded off back on his way, and shook himself exuberantly while sauntering off towards the man, and I felt for a moment that a little family had formed in this moment, on this journey, and I had to laugh joyously over how full that felt.  The spots of sunlight on the ground patterned Diego as he bounced along "after" this man, who was now oblivious to us, and for a few minutes, we were like a little trail of ducks.  

I was listening to music on my Iphone and forgot about the song "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay on the playlist to which I was listening.  "I used to rule the world..." go the lyrics and the beautiful violin and cello chords that begin the song, and it reminded me that there's so much to learn, and the first step of this is being aware that what you used to think was true was only an illusion.  

I felt that it was time to turn back on this journey and head home, and something said to me, "Take the long way."  My dog and I turned down a street we'd never walked down, and I saw it curve away at the end.  If it were a cul-de-sac, and we'd have to double back, I'd be, well, bored, but I would take it in stride.  But we walked on, and as we neared the curve, I saw that it turned out and the street continued through, and the dead-end was an illusion. 

I heard the opening chords to "Once In A Lifetime" by the Talking Heads and remembered the morning I returned to classes at UIC after missing several days, after my break-up with Dayne.  I remembered walking in the throes of a group of my classmates, all of us fresh off the train, and it was a crystal-cold day, and my heart was completely broken, but I was listening to this song, and I saw the sunlight scattered through the hair of my classmates and on their hats and heads, and there was a subtle pulse to the rhythm of our walk, and I knew then, that everything was going to be okay.  

We passed two men standing near a garage, talking.  One of them smiled at me and I smiled back.  He was Indian, and he smiled at me like we were familiar.

We passed a woman in a red jacket, standing close to the wall of her house, tending a small flowerbed in a sill raised underneath her window.   

We passed a lawn and I saw four mallards nestled in the grass; 3 drakes and a hen.  Diego didn't notice, and I was glad, because otherwise their peaceful Sunday rest would have vanished.  They looked so content, just looking out upon this lawn, at the world that lay before them.  

We passed the wall of a garage that was utterly radiated with light by the setting sun.  It was so bright and nearly blinding that the only distinction I could see were the dark parallel lines created by the siding.  I was looking at the sun, with horizontal lines drawn in black, against the wall of this garage.  It was brilliant and beautiful and it burned in my vision, and I wished I could have painted it. 

We passed a little boy, across the street, throwing a tennis ball against his garage.  I remembered doing the same to our neighbor's garage, in the alley behind our house.  The boy stopped when he saw Diego sniffing around the ground.  I smiled at him.  He watched us, the ball in hand, his little windbreaker open, his hands at his sides.

We walked on and I passed under the branches of a coniferous tree and felt the long strands tickle the top of my hairline.  

We passed another tree and I saw a scattering of baby pine cones forming.  I wondered how some formed in some places, and not in others, and thought that God must choose every single formation of these, and He must have a record of all of them, as well as His reasons for creating them in certain spots, and not in others.

We walked along the sidewalk and I realized that I was really walking vertically, only, my perspective afforded me the perception that I was walking along a level horizontal.  What an odd thing, I thought, to be in this head, and for everything to be relative to my perspective.  

We continued and I saw a silver-gold splash of light on the pavement; as we neared it I thought it must be freshly fallen water, and as we got closer, and were finally walking over it, I realized it was tar, carelessly scattered across a bit of pavement, and it was as black as night as I stepped through it's painting.  

We passed a bundle of sticks that had been gathered and bound with cord.  There was a formation of wood that looked like a rotted root, dug out of the ground.  It was gnarled and caked with dirt, and I leaned in for a closer look and saw a mountain range scattered in brown.  

I sang along to "This Must Be The Place" by the Talking Heads as we crossed the street to my house.  

Several times during this journey, I knew, that if I had taken another way, all this, I would have missed.