Monday, February 28, 2011

American Girl

yellow, 2011

I was in the back seat, beside him, listening to The Black Crowes and gazing out the window onto the bleak landscape. We were going skiing, sort of, if you call skiing in Wisconsin skiing. One of my best friends sat up front. The conversation had dwindled and we rested in the quiet. My mind was whirling, as it tends to on road trips. Without thought I blurted what was on my mind.

What if one day I just want to run away, hop on a plane and escape?

No one really knew how to respond. Maybe they didn't care, maybe such statements were just too misaligned with Midwestern manners to warrant a response. He was less than pleased.

I'd completely forgotten about that day, that ride, but she reminded me of it recently, my friend in the front seat. He's no longer in the picture, but she is. I still see her from time to time, we click right into our former roles and talk as if no time at all has passed. True friendships work this way.

As anticipated, I did escape, but not by plane. It was hurried and by car. He'd gone to 7-11, for what I cannot recall, while I jammed all I could into a suitcase and drove away. I soon found myself in the lobby of a nice generic hotel downtown, checking in under a false name, only leaving my room to visit a nearby Thai restaurant where I felt safe. No one knew where I'd gone. Not this friend I refer to, not even my parents. I needed time alone, to sort things out.

Eventually I moved into an attic above the rooms of two Chinese friends. They were sisters. They introduced me to dim sum. They couldn't bear watching me pay to live in a hotel as if it were an apartment. I was only with them briefly before finding my own space, a quaint little apartment, mostly empty, all mine.

Back then I wanted to erase the last year and a half of my life, but I accept it all now. It's part of who I've become, and I quite like her, usually.

In trying to determine where my dreams of breaking away originated, they've been with me for quite a long time, I returned to a pivotal point I believe to have taken place very close to, if not in, my 10th year. Complete blame rests upon From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Gosh, I loved that book. A brother and sister moving into the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- taking baths in a fountain and dreaming upon antique beds. I couldn't have imagined a more exciting and elaborate way of running away.

Soon after my reading I wrote up a plan to run away and live in a nearby grocery store. Not as glamorous, yet quite practical. The museum was obviously more brilliant, but I didn't want to be a copycat. Unfortunately, I couldn't interest my sister, or my cousins.

While single and living in Chicago, I entertained the idea of leaving Corporate America and running away to Italy. I'd be a a waitress. I'd start a new life. I'd worked as a waitress one summer in college, so I had the experience. It was the perfect plan, collecting my pay in cash, strolling through olive groves, and living quietly beneath the radar.

How about moving to San Francisco with someone I'd only known for six months, leaving my career behind, and going back to school full-time to earn my MFA? Oh, that one really happened.

I've imagined my sister on a train, far far away, watching the sun drenched countryside from her window. She stops in a rural town and begins a new life, happily employed by a small bakery.

And then there is the scenario where my mother accepts a position in an ad I read. She moves to the rolling hills of Olema, CA and lives in an Airstream. Room and board in exchange for caring for the horses, a little gardening, and helping maintain a small property. She's happy. I can see her smiling sun-kissed face.

I've envisioned another good friend of mine in a snippet of an alternate life. It's kind of retro 70s music video style. She's laughing and running through what seems a never ending field of yellow flowers, topless and free, her long hair flowing, the sun shining. It's all happening in slow motion and takes place to the soundtrack of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' American Girl.

American Girl (studio version)

* more poppies and other blooms over at Jane's today *

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To Fill the Silence

Quiet, 2011

We walked on glass,
or was it ice?

waiting for the other,
afraid to move too soon.

Fear filled the room each time one of us spoke,
fear in the form of figures.

identical and dark,
like Katharina's rats.

Their shoulders touching ours,
hot breath on our necks.

They would dissipate when we parted,
but return to fill the silence of the following day.

Knitting and Promises

Knitting in Paris, 2011

Remember my going on about my love of knitting, simple knitting, knitting as meditation? Remember the promise I made, the one that included a visit to Churchmouse? The ferry ride to Bainbridge Island? The search for the perfect Brooklyn Tweed? Well, it seems someone in Norway likes soot, Jared Flood's interpretation of the color soot. And she has such good taste in bookstores. I'm so very pleased.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Table for one, please., 2011

Don't forget to love yourself. From what I can tell, it makes you more lovable. Enjoy today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Simple Beauty of the Blood Orange

sunrise, 2011

Blood Orange Juice
serves 1 (but leaves one wanting more)

3 blood oranges

Learn from my mistake and wear proper attire (old t-shirt or perhaps something red -- this can be messy). Slice oranges in half. Remove juice from oranges (I like to use a simple and quiet manual juicer). Pour juice into glass of choice. Serve Immediately.

serving suggestion: drink while looking out of a window at sunrise

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Reading

34, rue Saint-Louis en l´├«le, 2011

January 31, 2011

They've gone. I am alone now. Having grown used to such fullness, each day bulging with activity, today feels quite hollow. It grows later, yet I hesitate. A reading. Do I really want to leave my new apartment? It will be my home for such a short time. It's terribly warm and comforting and I'm feeling rather lazy. Yes, yes. I should go. No, don't make it a should. Make it a want. Okay, I want to go. I'll be happy. I know I will. Up already. I go. It is cold, very cold, but my journey is brief. I settle into one of the last available seats and soon she is before me, just a few feet away. It is an intimate space. A tiny Left Bank bookstore brimming with books and people. She begins. Her voice, at first curt and British, a bit rough, is soon reined in to soft. And then she finds it, she's exactly where she wants to be. Her voice sways with perfect cadence and the chill I've brought inside with me begins to dissipate. All that was rigid is now relaxed and I begin to take in my surroundings. Books, old and new, stacked to the ceiling, uneven columns on the verge of collapse. It is dusty and warm. The eyes around me look tired and hungry, yet patient, fully willing to wait for food and sleep. I sit quietly against the west wall of books, their spines making faint impressions in mine. The lower shelf I sit upon seems to become harder as the night progresses and I strain to keep my shifting silent. Climbing into her world is difficult, as I am so immersed in my own. So much new. Her voice slows and then finishes. There are questions. Why do they always seem to disappoint? And then it is over and I am jolted as all of the bodies stand at once and the wine begins to flow. But this is not my ending. I wrap myself up beneath the necessary layers, push through the crowd, and hurry into the icy night air beside the river. Quiet, cold, the traffic a simple hum. Lights twinkle all around me and scattered flakes of snow fall slowly as I cross the bridge and head back toward the island. I climb what seem a great many well worn steps and then I am sealed tightly inside, four stories up, behind my cerulean door.

The Still Point