an afternoon walk

My phone can identify birds by their songs, but my body can identify children by their laughing and cars by their rate of acceleration. Trees by the wandering shape of their tiny new branches and flowers by the way they droop or stand up straight.
My eyes and ears, my heart and feet as I walk the asphalt or the cobbles or the stones embedded in cement. The pressure of my bladder because I drank too much water.

I absorb the sliver of moon that looks like a perfect, impossible fingernail tip. The quiet that isn’t really quiet because it includes the prop plane overhead and the heater keeping cozy people warm. The dog inside barking because they want to come out and play, and the silent cat outside lording it over them. Trees in every state from bare to green, with old leaves from last year still holding on while the rest of us wait for new green shoots. Magnolia buds that I always think are pussy willow and I guess I don’t know what a pussy willow is.

The sun is starting to set, now tiny lights illuminate intimate corners of homes and lives. Holiday lights are still celebrating seasons past while the new one is right here, snowdrops and hellebores.

Is this the way? Attempt #1

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? (Mary Oliver)

I’m looking for a real conversion, I want to a new approach to living. I’m quitting my real job to get my head out of that space that’s been so shitty. The world is shitty in other ways, and I feel like the goddess is letting that fucknut burn Twitter to the ground so I will stop spending my time there – that’s how impossible it has been for me to stop, regardless of its effect on me.

But ‘not working’ is an absence, not a presence. How do I adjust my relationship to myself and also the world I inhabit. I’m planning some travel, but the world I’m trying to explore is really inside my head. Or something.

Words have always been my jam. But words hide as much as they reveal, and you can indeed say a thousand words and never get to the picture’s truth.

But poetry.

Poetry is using language to hide the words while revealing the meaning of things.

And since I always say I have no discipline (because I do not), and yet always try to ‘improve’ myself by saying I’ll write every day or paint every day or draw every day and quite literally never manage it – I clearly need to make such a plan again.

Read: poetry every day (ok, this is so doable – I do literally read every day, and poems are mostly very short!)

Write: poetry every day. (again, probably doable, see above re: length of poems). Notice I did not say write ‘good’ poetry.

I was listening to a podcast where poets Saeed Jones (who I’m familiar with) and Rachel Zucker (unknown to me) are discussing Saeed’s poetry collection & memoir. My brain & my heart both felt like connections were made that had never existed before in either of them. And that is exactly what I’m trying to build into my life and my future. More light, more connection, evolution.

I was going to share the poem I wrote, but I think I need this to be about the process, not the product, for the moment.

So please -share a favorite poem or poet or poetry collection. I will need something to feed the machine.

A Solitary Existence

One. Single. Rose

I like to think of myself as brave and strong and independent.

That independent part should probably be first. None of us are truly independent, of course, but some of us pretend harder than others. That’s not what I came here to write about though.

The thing is… romantic relationships. I’m not good at them? Of course, I really haven’t had much practice. And I’m not good at trusting (most) people with my real feelings, and I’m bad at acknowledging that I have needs, let alone insisting that they be met.

But also – I’m tough to match, I guess? Three long-term (romantic) relationship in 53 years is not a lot! And none of those could be considered a good relationship. I’ve had several other… crushes? interludes? with men that I thought would be great matches, but nothing came of those. And I can’t remember the last time I clicked with someone.

Okay, that’s a lie, of course I remember. I mean, IT HARDLY EVERY HAPPENS. That makes it VERY MEMORABLE. But – obviously – that didn’t work out (there has to be romantic interest on BOTH sides).

And the thing is, I’m not getting any easier to match. It seems like the more I grow as a person (and literally just age), the smaller the dating pool is. I can’t remember the last time that mild flirting didn’t end in my blocking/ unfriending. walking away because the dude in question was racist/ sexist/ some other kind of immature bullshit.

I have a good life. I for sure have a better life than my parents had at this age, even with this never-ending COVID mess.

I just wanted it to be good in this other way, too.

PS: I am not accepting any dating advice. But if you want to fix me up with someone, let me know. Seriously

Anti-capitalist musings

I’ve become detached from the strict flow of a business day and a work week.

I am fulling rested, regularly, I think for the first time in my life. I stay up late, I wake without an alarm, work and chores get done at various times. It matters less and less what particular day it is. It’s colder or warmer, the sun is up early or late. Most days are good – filled with music and books and shows and work.

I’m trying to lean into that rhythm, to make choices based on what impulses arise, not to let the clock dictate the activity whenever it can be avoided. Eat when hungry, sleep when tired. If you must work, take a break for food and a walk and even chores, if it breaks up the drudgery or resets the mental focus. Watch the birds, water the plants, walk the neighborhood, then back to the tasks that earn the roof over my head and food in my kitchen. The work is not unpleasant, the numbers line up clean and true, the cycle predictable and mastered and returning again to be conquered, coworkers to share the work and the perspective, mutual support in face of all else.

I can almost see what it would be, to have a life that was dictated by the needs of the body and the mind, not by the machine of industry. A tiny glimpse, since the work always comes back around to interrupt the flow of time, imposing the fiction of calendars and economies on an existence that requires neither to be getting on with. The web of thoughts and desires and inclinations overwritten by the requirements of deadlines and meetings and the unspoken threat of the loss of all that is necessary to support the body, while stripping the mind and soul of pieces of itself. Losses I wasn’t even aware of for most of my life and now resented mightily – now that it’s a smaller loss than ever before.

Time, the clocks and the lies they tell

I stopped wearing a watch almost 20 years ago. The one I loved broke and I never found one I liked to replace it with.

It turns out you can live by the clock without wearing one on your wrist – your car probably has one, now you carry a phone that knows what time it is better than you ever could. Banks like to put big clocks on their buildings, probably because their livelihood depends on your timed labor. My friends and supervisors might say that this explains my supposed tardiness, but that’s no different pre-watch or post.

The tyranny of the clock has felt worse in a COVID-dominated world. It was the only thing that seemed to move from one moment to the next for those of us in lock-down. It seemed to be describing so much more time that there used to be in a day, and less to fill it with. Combine that with work that was less about when I started and stopped and more about getting things done on any given day, and evenings that were indistinguishable from work hours, and I was going a bit nuts there for a while.

I started doing puzzles, one right after another. Finally, I’d found something that pulled my attention away from the minutes ticking away, telling me how many I’d used up and how few I might have left to exist in. I measured time by the image taking shape and the ache in my back from being hunched over so long. It helped.

I moved apartments last fall – out of a place near the heart of the city where I used to leave home to work in an office – a beautiful old apartment with hardwood floors, old fixtures and no outdoor space to call my own. The new place has many great features, but the best is the yard. I bought plants and patio furniture and started feeding the birds. I can eat breakfast while watching them every single day. The plants had flowers and leaves, and then they had bare branches. There was an old, neglected rose bush that bloomed once I trimmed and watered it a bit. I planted a tree, hoping for future shade.

When winter came, I started buying indoor plants. I left my old place with four, and now I have more than 30. Caring for them – propagating and trimming and counting new leaves – is more time spent not looking at the clock, watching the slow but steady rewards of time spent focusing on things which don’t respond to minutes and tasks, but seasons and sunlight.

It’s spring now, and I’m watching the trees around me sprout flowers – a magic I never get tired of. I planted new shrubs and cleaned up winter damage, hoping for new life from old. Soon, I’ll be eating outside and wishing someone would come mow the grass.

Two years have crawled like glaciers and yet also seem not to have happened at all. 53 years have passed in fits and starts. There are likely only a few decades left for me, and yet it seems I’ve only just reached adulthood.

Physicists have determined that time moves faster closer to the gravity of an object than farther away. How can we trust any of it? How can it really mean anything, that ticking clock?