June 29, 2012

let's thank our mistakes, let's bless them
for their humanity, their terribly weak chins.
we should offer them our gratitude and admiration
for giving us our clefts and scarring us with
embarrassment, the hot flash of confession.
thank you, transgressions! for making us so right
in our imperfections. less flawed, we might have
turned away, feeling too fit, our desires looking
for better directions. without them, we might have
passed the place where one of us stood, watching
someone else walk away, and followed them,
while our perfect mistake walked straight towards us,
walked right into our cluttered, ordered lives
that could have been closed but were not,
that could have been asleep, but instead
stayed up, all night, forgetting the pill,
the good book, the necessary eight hours,
and lay there – in the middle of the bed –
keeping the heart awake - open and stunned,
stunning. how unhappy perfection must be
over there on the shelf without a crack, without
this critical break – this falling – this sudden, thrilling draft.

--elaine sexton, 'rethinking regrets'

June 28, 2012

so far

days have included:
12 hours of TV
the reading of books
coffee
an endless overabundance of berries (rasp, straw)
a meander through powell's
mistaking wednesday for the weekend, already
eating a whole pizza
standard lady date night, where we have moved from ad execs and petulant kings to sexy vampires
sitting in my swimsuit by the river, where unfortunately it clouded over the moment I arrived
a rainy afternoon with a friend, drinking cappuccinos
a 60-mile bike ride to the gorge

at crown point
the view from hwy 30
crossing the sandy river
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blue lake
BFFs forever

took the bike in today for its 30-day tune-up (standard issue on new bikes, when all the new cables stretch out a little). might have developed an instant crush on the bike tech, who asked me (when he saw my email address), "are you really a librarian?!" he's going to install shims so the brake levers fit my hands better -- my only complaint about the bike. the BIKE, my bff.

so much to say. not much to say. it takes awhile to unwind myself from the idea of "I have to go to work." I feel a little bit better now than on monday, when I kept being struck by awful guilt, of I should be there. now the prevailing worry is summer already feels too short. hopeless.

June 19, 2012

writing is difficult lately. I am very up down up down. admittedly this time of year is always hard on me; at heart, in early summer I am still a marylander, craving 85 degrees and that sticky humidity, snowballs, lightning bugs. portland always holds out on us for as long as possible, although we have had some good days.

we have had some good days. I could tell you about them, in the way I usually do: walking up and down the street, eating ice cream with a friend, casually bumping shoulders, one hand holding the hem of my dress. a long sunny bike ride where I inevitably make a couple of exploratory turns and lose track of where I am until I am really far from my house -- a method of bike riding which I prefer above all others. (45 miles later, I was, admittedly, pretty glad to be home). a morning spent crouched in the strawberry fields, listening to nearby kids strategize on how to find the best berries. "you have to find a really good bush, that's the key," one says, and they all begin to echo their consent. I could say how hard I laughed with a friend as she told me how she tried to describe me to a coworker who is single; how she said "she runs and rides horses" as a way of describing my particular body parts and how, she said, all six people listening said, "oooh." I could tell you about the way the breeze felt on my blessedly bare legs as I walked through the fields; I could tell you about the humor of the two guys I passed on the hawthorne bridge at the start of the naked bike ride, how they were sitting in the median, eating sandwiches. about the rain on my bare back, coasting on my bike in nothing but a pair of deliberately scandalous underwear, or how, upon retelling this story to the kids at the barn, they laughed in awe and horror.

I could also tell you how I came home from work last night intent on getting things done, finally, but how instead I took off all my clothes and curled up into my bed and lay there until dark. no TV, no phone, no book. it was out of a certain kind of inexpressible ennui. I didn't want to do nothing but there was nothing I wanted to do. I slept fitfully, tried to get up, decided against it, felt terrible.

sleepy morning

three more days of work. it's a blessing and a curse. I am stressed beyond all imagination. then: time. the most elusive of commodities.

all the songs I have spent listening to on repeat have grown tired. what is this feeling? I don't have a name for it. I spend many moments thinking about the risks we take in this life, what our greatest leaps are worth. how we console ourselves in moments of cowardice by saying, "next time." how we take for granted that a tomorrow will come, and another, and another. again, wondering about urgency. standing in a coworker's office last week, I joked that I don't know how to be still and do nothing. "I'll teach you," one person said, and the minute she offered, I thought, 'maybe I don't want to learn.'

once, as I was writing furiously in my notebook at the coffee shop I practically lived in all through college, a guy came up and handed me his number. he and a friend had awkwardly engaged me in conversation earlier in the evening. later, with a guy friend, I laughed it off. the guy who asked me out -- his name, I remember, was clint. john, my friend, said something I'll never forget. "give clint a chance," he said. "give, give, give. maybe someday someone will give to you."

June 12, 2012

some recent observations:

• when you haven't packed your breeches and boots because you think you're not going to ride your horse (and you've just done all the laundry and haven't put them back in the car), but then you get to the barn and you really want to ride your horse, you can ride in old athletic shorts and knee high socks and borrowed paddock boots. without breeches your shorts will ride up to the point of being scandalous and you will stick to the saddle in ways you never thought possible. it will be hard to keep your toes in the stirrups because you're so stuck to the saddle leather you can't lengthen your legs any farther, so you can either shorten them a ridiculous amount or, better, drop them altogether. strangely, riding with basically no pants works your muscles totally differently than riding in breeches.

• it's ten degrees colder in the music library than anywhere else in the opera building and unfortunately drinking copious amounts of powdered cocoa from the break room will temporarily make you warmer. somehow this seems marginally better than cookies but actually I doubt it.

• running in a track meet when you are 31 and have been injured almost consistently for 2 years is an extreme lesson in humility, particularly when you're competing against 14-year-olds. (notably, however, in the 100m you still have them all beat).

- related: my memories of competing in high school track -- being a lithe, unbreakable 16-year-old; snapping around the turn in the 200m; breaking the school records in three events; passing the baton to our relay anchor while yelling STICK! as loud as possible -- conveniently fail to include the debilitating shin splints I suffered part of sophomore and all of junior year, which were severe enough that I was allowed by my doctor to run one last meet (the state meet, where my 800m relay team took 4th place) and was then instructed to take an extended leave from running, because I was a hair's breadth away from fracturing my fibula.

track night

- also related: my mile time is at least 30 seconds slower than last year, which is not even remotely a surprise, considering that I am topping out at six miles a week and basically haven't run with any consistency since november. that said, I still feel disappointed in my lack of superhero powers. hence: lesson in humility.

• procrastination is hilarious. doing a complete inventory of the music library has been on my to-do list for all seven seasons I've worked here, but it felt too monumental to take on mid-production and there have always seemed to be more important things to do. but then I had to pull five or six sets of parts out to prep for next fall's gala and I thought, why not? and in the end the full inventory of everything we own took just two and a half days. that is ridiculous.

June 10, 2012

this weekend: coffee and pajamas, planting seeds in the garden, washing piles of lettuce. a solo movie, chewing my pizza thoughtfully, slowly drinking a beer. doing some things alone produces a certain singular deliciousness; movies are one of those things. like everything slows down so that you can feel it all better. I don't really know what I'm saying but maybe you understand. afterwards I came home and nestled into my big comforter and read the end of my book.

then sunshine, the barn, a lazy horse. there's some quiet comfort in knowing all the barn kids so well. mackenzie comes to get me as I am lathering up cookie's mane in the wash rack. "can you help me?" she's eleven and her horse towers over her; she can't even lift her western saddle, let alone reach his back to get it up there. I loop a stirrup over the horn and put it on hunter's back. she calls thank you as she walks out, horse in hand. the others, older, come in later and ezra, the troubled kid, says, "hey." he's sixteen. I've known him since he was eleven. somehow I manage to always feel simultaneously like a grown up and a kid when I'm there.

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a forty mile bike ride. no destination and no directions. just: east, north, west, south.

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best way to travel, I think
this mohawked guy on a skateboard was using his pit bull to propel him. the dog looked ecstatic. they were going so fast I struggled to pass them on my bike. the guy looked tough until he turned around and saw me grinning at them; then he burst out laughing.

june has been rainy, as always. for the most part it hasn't bothered me, except to make me feel ponderous and uninspired, a feeling that's seeped into me so slowly that once again I find myself asking, "is it the weather?"

free evenings at home continue to feel like an extravagance, a dream. at night I lay on the floor and stretch, trying as always to rehab everything. there are still plenty of nights -- most of them -- where I don't get home until well past dinner, but the freedom of softball and horses and dancing lies in such stark contrast to rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal that I still have not fully gotten used to it. I work for ten more days and then I'm off until august.

my mom texted me this week. did I tell you I bought her a cherry tree for mother's day? there used to be an apple tree in the backyard, just down the hill from the kitchen window. then, last fall, it had to be taken down. always trying to give gifts that are consumable (or, at least, that don't clutter up the house), I got the sudden notion to send her a fruit tree. but apples don't self-pollinate, which is why the only fruit that tree ever produced were tiny, tart, mealy apples. so I bought her a cherry tree instead. I called my kid sister and told her I needed her to dig a hole. "okay. when?" she didn't even need more explanation. when it arrived, it was a bare tree as tall as my mom. along with my uncle (who used to work for a nursery), my siblings helped plant it.

"she's blooming," my mom wrote. "I named her charlotte." I cannot tell you what joy this brought me. charlotte. this is how I know she loves it.

the cherry tree

June 6, 2012

"not a sparrow," tess gallagher

Just when I think the Buddhists
are wrong and life is not mostly suffering,
I find a dead finch near the feeder.
How sullen, how free of regret, this death
that sinks worlds. I bury her near
the bicycle shed and return to care for
my aged mother, whose suffering
is such oxygen we do not consider it,
meaning life at any point exceeds
the price. A little more. A little more.

That same afternoon, having restored balance,
I discover a junco fallen on its back, beak
to air, rain pelting the prospect. Does
my feeder tempt flight through windows?
And, despite evidence, do some
accomplish it?

Digging a hole for the second bird, I find
the first gone. If I don’t think “raccoons”
or “dogs,” I can have a quiet, unwitnessed
miracle. Not a feather remains.
In goes the junco. I swipe earth over it,
set a pot on top. Time
to admit the limitations of death as
admonition.

Still, two dead birds in an afternoon
lets strange sky into the mind: birds flying
through windows, flying through
earth. Suffering must be like that too: equipped
with inexplicable escapes where the mind
watches the hand level dirt over the emptied grave
and, overpowered by the idea of wings,
keeps right on flying.

June 3, 2012

showmanship
in the announcer booth
nervous face
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awards
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(the elegant way of remembering which classes you entered)

saddle sweat
big winner

horse show yesterday. our first time off the property in two years. as usual, on Friday night Cookie was a nervous wreck, terrified of all the new sights and sounds. my heart clenched; I remember being a little kid, scared at my first sleepover. she was well-behaved, for the most part, on Saturday, with a few explosions in some of our later classes. but I didn't scratch any of them and we won four riding ribbons and a halter ribbon, marking the first time I've won more ribbons than she has. "he really liked you," I said to her after placing fourth in one of the big equitation classes, as we walked back and forth outside the arena, waiting for our next one. "or actually, come to think of it, I guess he liked me."

I came home at 8 after 13 hours at the show. I was light-headed from fatigue and dropped to bed at 10. today I am not terribly sore (miraculously) but so tired I can't even make myself drive to the garden to pick lettuce. thank god for sundays.