Thursday, September 30, 2010


Trump, 2010

al·ter verb \ˈol-tər\

al·tered | al·ter·ing

Definition of ALTER

transitive verb
1 : to make different without changing into something else


You know how having a cold can alter your existence? Suddenly the clear headed you is viewing your days through a fog or murkiness of some sort. Basically, everything looks a little blurry. This is not always a bad thing. It's a new perspective, like squinting while looking at a painting or photograph to see the composition without the details. I've been squinting these last few days. I've also been away from home.

I had the surreal experience of reading Annie Dillard's Aces and Eights with a view of the manufactured landscape above, my hotel chair positioned in front of this odd frame. Bizarre. By the way, Aces and Eights is excellent. Thanks, Shari. But I really didn't like staying in the room.

I probably should have been in bed, beneath the covers, but something about this particular room, most hotel rooms really, made me antsy. I need functional windows. I need fresh air, sort of desperately.

So I'd wake up early while the rest of the city was sleeping off the night before and I'd sit at the pool, fully dressed, in the shade. The weather was perfect. I could sit for hours and I'd only see two or three other people, at the most. It was just a sea of empty chairs and quiet.

I cultivated a routine: flip through magazine, watch window washers scale giant hotel before me, look at sky, and then back to magazine. Lots of sniffles in between. The window washers and the sky were most interesting.

Out of my entire thick glossy magazine I only tore a photo of a woman with bangs I liked, someone's dream holiday that appealed to me, and a little blurb about custom fit Levi's. I haven't worn Levi's in a long time. They bring back good memories. That's it.

It's been a strange few days, but I'm confident that there is something of substance percolating in my subconscious. I have three library books on crochet and am contemplating teaching myself some basics if I can slow down my incessant need for a tissue. It's really getting old.

Remember this scene from When Harry Met Sally? No, no, not that fake orgasm in the deli scene. This one was much better, I think.
(Casablanca ends with "I think this is the beginning of a
beautiful friendship.")
Harry: Mmm, best last line of a movie ever.
Sally: Hmm....
Harry: I'm definitely coming down with something.
Probably a twenty four hour tumor. They're going around.
Sally: You don't have a tumor.
Harry: How do you know?
Sally: If you're so worried go see a doctor.
Harry: No, he'll just tell me it's nothing.
Sally: Will you be able to sleep?
Harry: If not I'll be OK.
Sally: What will you do?
Harry: I'll stay up and moan. May be I should practice
Sally: Goodnight Harry.
Harry: Goodnight.
(Both hang up the phone)
(Sally's light is out)
(Harry keeps moaning...and eventually lights out)
I kind of feel like Harry. Maybe I should forget crochet and just crawl into bed and watch Enchanted April. This is always helpful. Lottie makes me happy.
(Denise moans, sniffles, continues moaning...and
eventually you move on to read another blog)
Results, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Or maybe I was just lucky.

A Sunday in September, 2010

The details of the world seem magnified when I am alone. I experience the world differently than I would if I were with someone else, and I feel the world experiences me differently as well. Today, a young man sat on the sidewalk rattling change in a can outside the entrance of my local drug store. I took particular note of him as I walked into the store. What happened? crossed my mind. When I exited, he said have a nice day. I stood close to him, unwrapping my new package of gum, and depositing the wrapper into a trash can. I looked him in the eye and asked would you like a piece of gum? A bright eyed oh, yeah followed. As I handed him the gum I noticed how dirty his hands were and the fine dark debris beneath his fingernails and I took care not to touch his hand while very consciously trying to play it cool and pretend I took no notice of the dirt or debris. As I walked away I felt sort of ill, completely disoriented. Why did I have to avoid his hand? This certainly wasn't the most pleasant part of my personality on display, sort of shallow really. The worst part is that I'm pretty sure I'd feel the same way if I found myself in front of that store tomorrow. Who was this guy? Why was he on the street with that can? When he accepted my offer of gum he answered identically in voice and manner to someone who could run in my socioeconomic circle, but then his hands. They seemed out of context. A block or so from the drugstore a slow moving older man wearing a straw Panama hat and a loose cardigan bent over toward the sidewalk. As I drew closer I noticed he was picking up a penny. I smiled and wished him luck, took two steps, and saw another penny. I picked up mine and he smiled and said good luck to you too. We both chuckled and I was on my way, thinking of my grandfather, and the good luck I'd always had when we'd walk together. Every time we went out for a stroll I'd find coins on the ground, often half dollar coins and silver dollars. It wasn't until Grandpa had passed away and I was much older that I realized he must have been tossing those coins on the ground when I wasn't looking. He liked making me happy. Or maybe I was just lucky.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Homage to Mr. Williams and Apology to Chris

There Was Only One

I have eaten
the Early Girl
that was on
the counter

and which
you were probably
for pleasure

Forgive me
it was delicious
so juicy
dripping sweet

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

Monday, September 20, 2010

while looking back

The Gulf of Poets, 2010
Image courtesy of Christopher Parsons

I wanted to feel new. I wasn't seeking a complete transformation, but a way to combine the me from before with what I'd learned. I didn't want to settle back into what was and allow the new pieces of me to become submerged.

I woke quickly and easily yesterday at 3:44 am, something I did not know at the time, thoughts whirling, and immediately wanting to walk in the fresh morning air. I brushed my teeth and placed a small lens on each eye. I splashed some water on my face and then looked at the clock. Oh I thought it seems a little more like middle of the night than first thing in the morning, although not technically, but still. I placed the lenses back in their case and crawled back into bed. Today I woke at 4:15.

It started in Liguria. I usually sleep through the night and become very unfriendly when my sleep is disrupted, but something changed while I was there.

I never checked the clock, but my waking was always in the shapeless black of night. Suspended it darkness I would contemplate farmers, nomads, and men who fish with light.

I'd ponder how to recount my journey. There were so many ways to begin, none of them right. To describe the stone walls and terraced hillsides, the grapevines, olive groves, and lemon trees, or the immaculate beauty of fresh anchovies with nothing more than lemon and olive oil, it all seemed to echo some sort of Disney narration.

It's not so much the physical aspects of a place that seep into who we are, although they do factor into the equation, at least in part. There are also the invisible traces of those who have walked, fished, farmed, wrote, and simply thought in the space. And for me, there are also the books I read while I am there. Claudia Emerson's Late Wife is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. Hemingway's The Garden of Eden circled a love triangle I found difficult to tolerate, but the way his main character structured his days around his writing and respected his craft were unforgettable.

I was different there. I knew I couldn't take it all home with me, but I also knew I was not the same.

There is a wrinkled scrap of paper tucked into my small and most often used piece of luggage. Each time I travel I stumble upon this scrap of paper and smile as I read the words. I originally read them during a solo trip to Italy, about ten years ago. I jotted them down and placed them in my suitcase when I returned home.

No matter how you travel, how ‘successful’ your tour, or how foreshortened, you always learn something and learn to change your thoughts.”
Jack Kerouac, Satori in Paris

I still love it.
I've found that those changes are near impossible to see as they occur. Patterns, threads, and shifts in a life are revealed later, while looking back. Taking steps to feel new or transformed in some way, trying to restructure my days to retrieve what I experienced, or attempting to analyze what has occurred is futile at this juncture, delineating space for change is not.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

All I need...

Complete, 2010

A good man, fresh bread, and pesto.

View of the Ligurian Sea optional