About leahmarie

I am an aspiring creative and freelance writer/world embracer/human rights activist/day to day explorer. My inspiration usually announces itself softly and silently but makes great shockwaves. My words are a sort of paint or plaster--they are strong sturdy, and permanent, but they often stain surfaces abruptly and in violent and magnificent shades. I'm inspired by brilliance, by self-creating philosophies, and strong women. Most of all, I'm inspired by indecision, by disappointment, by confusion, loss, and awakenings that often come wrapped in bad news. Having recently claimed Washington, DC as my residence, I am steeped in a blissful bedlam of "I don't knows." I am no longer swearing off the economy, I am not projecting frustrations, and my hot head has ceased ballooning. There is truth within the wait, within the "I don't know." The "I don't know" is where baby steps become coronary leaps and spiritual treks. It is the Presence of the Caterpillar.

Why it’s Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound

Mama, do you love me?

Yes I do, Dear One.

How much?

I love you more than the raven loves his treasure, more than the dog loves his tail, more than the whale loves his spout.
What if I turned into a polar bear, and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp, shiny teeth, and I chased you into your tent and you cried?

Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you.

Womb Of Light

What many people do not realize is that the core issue at the center of women’s empowerment is the mother wound.

ElizabethBauman

Difficulty and challenges between mothers and daughters are rampant and widespread but not openly spoken about. The taboo about speaking about the pain of the mother wound is what keeps it in place and keeps it hidden in shadow, festering and out of view.

What exactly is the mother wound?

The mother wound is the pain of being a woman passed down through generations of women in patriarchal cultures. And it includes the dysfunctional coping mechanisms that are used to process that pain.

The mother wound includes the pain of:

  • Comparison: not feeling good enough
  • Shame: consistent background sense that there is something wrong with you
  • Attenuation: Feeling you must remain small in order to be loved
  • Persistent sense of guilt for wanting more than you currently have

The…

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Days I’ve Watched Myself Move

Days I’ve Watched Myself Move

It’s a Saturday afternoon around 3:15 pm.  I had arrived promptly at 2:45 to begin my nine-hour shift at the restaurant.  Table 24 looks at me; it’s apparent they’re ready to order, which would make sense since they’ve likely been waiting for their hungover brunch for two hours now.  I waddle sheepishly toward the young pair, who are accordingly outfitted in last night’s trousers and bundled from naval to throat in fleece armor.  The female’s hair rests atop her head in perfect asymmetry between coordinates A and B: two glossy pearl earrings.  I am forced to bear witness to this same sort of disheveled beauty that plagued my teenage interactions and left me handicapped and shrunken at the sight of starry-eyed softball players in sweatpants.  Still, she speaks sweetly, her bumbling beau the less attentive of the two.  I speak softly and calculated: but my speech, as usual, is delayed.  I am leaning to the right then fidgeting with my hands behind my back, yet also tucking my hair behind my ear.  But maybe—maybe I should move back to center.  “For our brunch special today we have—“ I can’t seem to say the word “eggs,” mostly because they’re both staring into my eyes and I’m just sort of blinking and turning away in response.  Sometimes when I do get the words out—“How would you like your eggs cooked?”  They happen like this: “owwoo lie eggs?”  They stare in confusion, I’m just happy I said anything, and I have time to recover with a smart-sounding excuse like “sorry, the acoustics in here are sometimes a bit screwy.”  They believe me and each let out a sympathy laugh that is more like a grumble and I walk away with the left foot first:  step, together, step, together.  Hands hang at my sides, until I decide I can’t have them just hang there, so I clasp them tightly behind my back—fingers laced, or maybe just hands cupped…

My hands are the least and most awkward part of me because I can make them do the most and occupy them often, yet I am also forced to deal with them when there is nothing there to hold, touch, move, or place.  I must make them mean something when they are not performing their regulatory tasks.  I suppose when not in use, they still engage in the most menial of nerve responses.  For instance, my fingers touch each other when they’re nervous, which is often because I’m not good in my body.  What I mean by not good is I feel intensely uncomfortable with the idea of being inside this body that I’m supposed to control and move with grace, appendices in tow, immediate frame moving subtly and communicating presence, womanhood, sexual prowess.  Despite the ways in which my hands deter from my executing elegance in movement, I can still engage them more than any other part of myself, contorting them in all sort of ways without incurrence of stress fractures or muscular wreckage or even mere humiliation at my inability to pose, exact perfect stationary position or flawless inertia.

My whole body is not unlike my hands.  I fine that I am often viewing my stance and positioning as awkward when I am ultra aware of my actions.  The questions stands, though, as to whether my heightened sense of consciousness actually limits or expands and increases my ability to enact intentional self-oriented movement.  It is seemingly a silly question, and even as a religious critical thinker and dissector, the question of calculated and rehearsed movement only came to the fore of my mind when the superficial functions of my job as a restaurant sever seemed to come down to me moving and others watching my movements.  I started thinking more about my movements, signs, signals, and motions once I’d moved to DC in June.  Increased time spent alone, which is exactly what happened to me as I started work at a restaurant and friends started work that revolved more so around a daily grind—the typical metro riding, morning grogginess, late afternoon angst—sort of schedule.  All of it gave me time to saunter slowly down busy streets and those more quiet and examine all the physical nuances of my walk—the curves of my hips, how much I chose to allow my arms to swing—the way in which the wind blew my hair and whether I shirked back, viciously forced my hair to remain tucked behind my ear, or spread my arms delicately in an attempt to just exist, to just be with the wind.  I’d start thinking about my decision to stunt cognition, disallowing my hair from its involuntary movement through employing a well-calculated transaction of hand reaching into air and grasping onto something that was moving at no one’s will, really.

capturing-motion-in-photography

In Carl Ginsberg’s essay, “Body Movement, Image and Consciousness,” the thinker and subscriber to the Feldenkrais method of awareness through movement discusses the development of movement and awareness working in tandem with one another to create a seamless sort of cura personalis in which persons can nourish themselves simply by injecting critical thought and deduction into menial motion.  C. Ginsberg writes:

When I erect myself in gravity, I normally direct myself to do so.  I might on the other hand be in a somnambulistic state. […] I can stand up without paying mind to my action and act habitually and probably inefficiently.  On the other hand I can develop my awareness in such a way that my experience of my acting is rich with knowing my self-orientation, my relation to space and gravity, my sense of timing, and I will stand elegantly using a minimum of muscular effort.

As someone who undertook several trial runs of popular childhood sports and recreational activities (and ultimately, failed), I can faintly remember early experiences of learning and adapting to the inevitable marriage of cognition and movement in a less oblique sense than the harmonious cause-and-effect relationship of head and hand which I now experience while walking, standing or sitting still.  In sport, the relationship seemed more elementary, more within grasp.  For instance, I’d cradle my lacrosse stick, amplifying my capabilities, in a desperate unspoken plea of capability, then, all at once I’d say to myself: I will now, in one fell swoop, slow my pace, turn my net to face my partner, throw-catch, throw-catch, and the ball will sail briskly through the milky autumn sky.  Now I have applied the banal, yet fruitful lessons of adolescence to daily activity, which I, by my own will, have hoped to convert from arbitrary to intentional: I will now, in one fell swoop, swing my backpack over my achy right shoulder, furrow my brow, and not just clomp my boots, but really stomp them, out of this small café, because not only do I use their internet, but I use their floors to make sounds and noises that make me feel like one authoritative bitch.

 

I can either spin my awareness as intentionality or dangerous hyperconsciousness.  When aware of the way in which I fold my hands behind my back when walking briskly by flocks of gluttonous tourists I am almost crippled by my attention to every subtle twitch and turn of my inelegant body.  But, when I decide that my steps, the way I open my eyes, the way I motion for a taxi are not just mere means, but are rather standalone, substantial acts and proclamations, I have injected my perceptively miniscule actions with meaning and direction.  Suddenly, I’m walking and motioning with grace and poise, and not really because it even appears as poised movement, but because I believe it to be beautiful, and so it is.

 

Recently, I discovered the redemptive qualities, despite the overuse of cellular data, of listening to podcasts while transporting myself around DC.  As my mind has felt unusually malnourished as of late, it helps to be able to learn about an interesting topic or two while moving myself from here to there.  I’ve become particularly interested in NPR’s new Ted Radio Hour show, in which the host, Guy Rozz, plays segments of several TED Talks, which culminate under a selective umbrella topic.  Rozz, takes a moment to sit with each speaker for a personal interview, in which he instigates a bit deeper into the promoting factors for and their desire to give each respective talk.  As I have possessed a longstanding interest in language and communication, I downloaded the Ted Radio Hour podcast entitled “Spoken and Unspoken” on a whim and found myself beguiled by each speaker’s very personalized and well-crafted hypothesis on everything from alienation and unity through language, foreign dialects, texting, and even a real life application of the subjunctive mood.  And then—the very last speaker’s talk almost serendipitously emphasized the “unspoken” component of language.

Amy Cuddy’s talk, “Does Body Language Shape Who You Are?” may at first seem to accentuate the ideals reaped from overpriced group therapy sessions or freshman year orientation.  But, throughout my second, third, and fourth times listening to Rozz’s interview with Cuddy, I’ve kept my interest in conscious movement at the forefront of my thoughts and it has proven to allow me to intake Cuddy’s thesis on body language and evocation of self.

Rozz introduced Cuddy and her talk: Up until this point the kind of communication we’ve been hearing about is language […], basically things we have near complete control over, but the thing is you don’t have complete control over how you communicate because a big part of it happens unconsciously.

Rozz continues, discussing how Cuddy studies nonverbal communication.  Quite literally, this woman received her Ph.D. in the scrutiny of that which makes me cringe at my own existence.  Cuddy was listed Number One on Time Magazine’s list of Game Changers.  She studies body language in regards to something she calls “power poses,” discovering that after two minutes of high power posing (ie: standing like wonder woman or a reclining CEO), testosterone levels actually go up in individuals assuming self-assured stances.  Ultimately Cuddy, though a psychologist, is a modern day Philosopher and student of the Feldenkrais method: a savant and pioneer of conscious movement and attentiveness to the body.

I’d imagine, though the pressure is more overt when one is placed in an occupation in which her or she is constantly being watched, that being conscious of one’s movements is more difficult when sitting desk-side, in a barometric pressured nightmare of an office, where no one can see you.  There is no accountability for slouching; there is no one to even silently penalize you when you’ve become a lidless, typing machine.  To be watchful when alone is wholly learned: half beautiful, half rigorous.

 

I often find my consciousness especially heightened when I perceive my own movement in congruence with that of others.  My obsession with synchronization is further realized whenever I walk behind or beside a pair of feet audibly hitting the ground on the offbeat of my own personal metronomic steps.  I am currently on the last hours of a week and a half spent in my hometown right outside of Philadelphia.  Before my arrival, my developmentally disabled aunt had just had a traumatic fall and suffered several compression fractures of the spine, and since she was essentially confined to the living room sofa for the course of her holiday season visit (which, incidentally began on my mother’s birthday), I felt inclined to sweetly and desperately plea, at the very last minute, for a transient stay at my childhood home and a heftier-than-usual time-off request from work.

There’s also a slight chance that I impulsively ran from my unfulfilled life in Washington, DC to seek temporary refuge in a place where I could maybe just feed my mind with a some familiar food, perhaps something that tasted, even the tiniest bit, like a pure and untainted version of myself—a self that really wanted something, something with which I’d been terribly out of touch.  My last night was a Sunday night is tonight, December 29th.  I’d already taken the Amtrak just two days ago from DC and back in a single day for an interview for a position with a nonprofit for which the impending victim, I mean “fellow,” was to be paid a stipend that amounted to not even three quarters of the poverty line minimum salary.  I have an interview with a staffing firm on the 31st  and am heading back for that and of course, get back to work again; but most of all, I need to start reconciling myself with the present condition of things and keep moving.

Anyways—synchronization of movement.

My last day home is today, a Sunday.  The weather was both persistent and static all day, robbing every bit of color from our immediate stratosphere.  It had, instead, affixed a perfect penumbra of elusive liquid casting itself into an arc-like pocket within the mostly hazy horizon.  My mother and I had gone to the movies to see Dame Judy Dench, as she gave voice to Philomena Lee, an elderly Irish woman searching for her son who’d been stolen from her while she was forced to perform expiation for her sin, which was plainly and simply, having sex out of wedlock, via performing chores, ruthlessly inflicted by nuns of the Rosecrea Abbey, for years of her young adult life.  Following the film, we fled through the marathon of mist to the grocery store in the pouring rain, where we acquired various ingredients for dinner.  My mom and I indulged in our regular bickering.  I, at my own confession, muttering endless provocations in the form of short, snippy insults akin to her various habits (ballooned, at my will, to a superlative degree), such as the briskness of her step, the sharpness of her speech, or inability to, in the manner of a mesmerized child, listen to one of my twice-told tales.

You see, my mother and I bear uncanny resemblance in regards to our strong-witted mentalities, superficially standoffish attitudes, marrow-deep care for our loved ones and those unknown to us, and our general way of being able to be picked up and set off, stretched between emotional and mental polarities at even the most minutely questionable stare or remark.  At the end of the grocery belt sat the paper bag filled with delicate components to my mother’s rainy day stew.  I lifted it, my hands still rain-sprinkled, my mind still fixed on Philomena and her rigorous journey, wrought on wholly by love, wonder, innocence.  Her movements, intensely intentional, wholly self conscious—each stride in the name of an unproved presence.

I wipe my right hand against my camel, swing coat, which, expectedly, is also wet.  Self-consciously I continue to stroke my hand against my coat while my mother grasps her receipt and folds it into unpretty fourths.  I spread my fingers, and I can’t help but notice how a finger fits in between each finger.  I want to fold my hands now, like I would at the restaurant, whenever I am awkwardly empty handed and blubberishly pleading “How is everything so far???”  Nodding and nodding, with lack of any genuinely interested-sounding response.  My fingertips curl beneath the brown paper handle and wrap around to meet the base of my palm, immediately above the tip of the palm’s triangle.  Scalene, I believe, it is.  The triangle of my own hand contains a right angle and two other angles of unequal measurements.  There is correctness and exactness of my hand, and there is also misalignment and incongruence.  I am enveloped in the 180 degree centerpiece of my least and most awkward appendage as I trudge, head down, un-power-posed, in the grey water parade.

I watch my mother’s feet, the audible clomp of a stylish boot echoes through a parking lot of Honda CRVs and eager Sunday shoppers.  There is wild dissonance.  I watch my feet, as I take three steps then allow the fourth to soar ungracefully over each sidewalk crack.  Still watching our feet: 1. My mother’s first step, 2. Then my first, 3. Mother, 4. Mine.  I am uncomfortable with our disallowance of space and silence.  I come to a halt.  And our walk, then, even unbeknownst to my mother, becomes so much more.  The synchronization of movement is the unalloyed incarnation of Amy Cuddy’s thesis that the prevalence of unconscious communication near parallels the ultimacy of speech.  The synchronization of movement is the verbally unstated physical overstatement of desired togetherness, association, and communion.

 
This is my left foot.  It will now step, I will hear the sound of my boot—the small wooden heel—hitting the ground.  And the sound will not be alone.  I am swinging my left arm, and my right arm lays beside me, yet at elbow begins to hang several inches from my hip and thigh, hand holds bag handle firmly, as fingertips meet the crevices of my palm, angles alike and unalike.  This is my right foot.  It will musically join my mother’s in a fell swoop of sidewalk thrashing—music.  I am besotted with movement, with saying things I’m too afraid to forcibly shimmy from larynx to mouth, a mouth I can’t even move right.  I am bewitched by the communion formed by a step or stare.  I am entirely taken with the sublimity of my and your own ability to verbalize through our precious nonverbals.  Because not only do I walk just to walk; I walk to say a few things.  I walk to move.

Recovery

I spend a lot of nights making horse-like sounds as I tromp up the creaky steps of my Washington, DC townhouse, my sandy leather backpack slung over one shoulder, ballooning and nearly bursting open from its contents: my server’s uniform, consisting of a crusty, browning white button-down, an ankle-length apron, splattered with ink-markings, brushed about the surface like spin art in accidental waves of black and blue, and unbearable black shoes, wreaking and stale.  It’s on these nights that I breathe heavy, sometimes I cry.  I often don’t know why, sometimes things just get leaky up there late at night.  I like to lay down and look at my ceiling because it reminds me of limits, and I like to think about limits but then also imagine—launching, movement, surging speeds escaping boundaries and gracefully expanding the skies.  Sometimes my cat licks my face, presses his paws into my sweater, and coos softly.  This is his bliss, though it may not be mine.

I do quite a bit of recovering.  I’m getting very good at it; that’s not to say I brave the storm of various traumatic events that require recovery.  There’s something in between doing and not doing, and it’s recovering.  It’s not often spoken of, but it’s a state of being.  Even when recovery is discussed in an applicable context, it is inferred as rehabilitation or moving forward, moving on before looking at the limits and envisioning the breakthrough.  I’ve watched the ceiling quite a bit, it’s where I learn the most about myself; that and this playlist on Songza called Music for a Woodland Clearing, which is essentially Van Morrison sprinkled with near miniscule flavor bursts from other woodsy artists.  Regardless of its semi prosaic musical DNA, it helps me to learn about myself, and all things considered, it evokes wild and diverse spiritedness and life, which I’m desiring more than usual today.

I’ve received a few job rejections now.  I almost have to run back into the house each morning to grab my coat of resiliency.  I’m rather calculated now as I dress myself as someone whose cares are less numerous than they are when dressed in doubt and fear.  I’m afraid to face anything that might’ve once seen me as seamlessly and conventionally successful: the buildings, the faces, the mentors.  Sometimes I sit down to write thinking maybe I could write the story of non-success, maybe I could write my own story with more grace and beauty than failure and pain.  But the words are too close and not yet far enough to become story or tale.  I think maybe one day when recovery is past, when I’m not staring at the ceiling, concocting innovations and mental revelries of my untold flight through ceiling, stars, through woodland clearing, I’ll have moved enough to write the story of untraditional success—a sort of success that occurs when nothing else does.  When I’m walking up the steps late at night…

My mother sent me an inspirational yet delightfully childlike piece about her own life told in the fairy princess and her kingdom and castle-style.  She, the fair maiden, was described as having lost control over her kingdom, then claiming ownership over a kingdom that wasn’t fully realized until she believed in her ability to rule what was hers.  I, like the princess, need to rule that which is mine: myself, my time, my late night walks up the stairs, in the dark, with tears welling up in the pit of my stomach.  I have gifts of words like paint, voice like movement and song, hands accountable for change I can feel before envisioning it.  I make decisions like paintings.  It’s not even real yet, but I know it, think it, then it is realized like the artist, like the princess who decided life: the inner the outer—it was all hers.

Anyways, my mom doesn’t like Bob Dylan, but I bet the princess would like this song that makes me think of all I can do.  It’s simple, but really I feel the message of what one can do rather than not do is tantamount

She’s got everything she needs

She’s an artist, she don’t look back

She can take the dark out of nighttime

And paint the daytime black.

Recovery is in realizing that it’s all there; it just has to be taken and held in one’s arms, wrapped up and called “my own.”

Reflections at Francis Scott Key Park

Today I walked by this miniature labyrinth on my way back from an afternoon in Georgetown.  I simply sat for about seven minutes and wrote these lines.  I watched several people walk through and stare out at the river and look up and the vines, their eyes scaling down the sides of the columns.

Image

Reflections at Francis Scott Key Park

This is musical:

the romance and reticence between

my paper and I.

I like the quiet because

of the sounds it makes.

I like it because its sweeping haze

brought me here

to an umbra of creeping jenny—

a silent striker, a perennial genius.

We are resilient animals

when hiding beneath twig and brush.

The jenny’s leaves are the smallest

and loudest sound in this space;

they move rapidly against

a metronome of wind.

This is the way music sounds

when I’m not hearing anything

but the earth resting and rising again.

Rain & Ropes

I have had love for you like rain

like a violent rain,

once it even ruptured my insides;

that was before it poured

I have had love for you for years

it is a painful kind that curves in and out

sometimes I cant see it but I can touch it with

half-hearted fingertips.

It takes half of it to be twisted

half of it to be thrown around,

whipped about like a taut rope

that’s only really breaking strands as a form of movement.

Love like rain and ropes, my love:

this is how we love.

the things that end our lives make them whole,

like loving someone ‘till your swinging,

bound by wind, jumping ropes that emit

little stringed shards;

this is what my body does when I’m

dying for something that loves me so much

I fall apart.

Human All Too Waitress (A Poem, Again)

Human All Too Waitress

While we may all wear uniforms,

mine is perhaps of the most uniformed.

I’m outfitted in irony, emoting robot dialect—

I’m a frail child wrapped up in an unbound straightjacket,

painted with stained blue jeans,

anchored to works shoes, with molded crannies,

tightened by a necktie, a man’s nightmare, a woman’s stranger.

I’m an odd representation of the normative,

but I’m not normal.

I am very not normal, as I stand beside you,

maybe spilling your glass, maybe stumbling over my words.

I have seen my own face several times on other bodies:

the ones who pour me a glass

and pray, with fingers crossed:

maybe I’ll be the one to understand

the plight of the hopeless entrepreneur.

I’ll remember the out-of-body experience—

every time I breathe in.

Remembering—it’s not over yet, but maybe this will be the last time:

My name is Leah and I’ll be your server.

Palm Reading and the Poets (A Poem)

Palm Reading and the Poets

Plath was right: these are my hands,

i am the only keeper of my limbs

Berryman was right: if we don’t travel in the direction of our fear

we’re not even moving at all

Bishop was right: the art of losing isn’t hard to master

i’ve done it ten times over

I could list it in plainer terms than Oxford Press:

I won’t produce indices on end

I won’t beat biographies into the ground

like the dead horse—

maybe I’m the dead horse.

Because the way they beat me

The way the great poets wake me up

is like waking on tundra,

Alive and surprised I didn’t die,

but transported to a new state of living—

Where I’m feeling cold, awake, perplexed,

strangely submissive.

They can tell me my thoughts,

they can write me into existence.

ReBlog: McSweeny’s “A Rejected Essay to NPR’s ‘This I Believe'”

A REJECTED SUBMISSION TO NPR’S “THIS I BELIEVE.”

BY 

– – – –

I believe fat cats make good pillows. They are round. Soft. Firm yet resilient. They naturally cradle the head, provide unparalleled neck support, and promote vigorous digestion. Fat cats, when not functioning as pillows, are not otherwise particularly useful. Certainly they can prop open a door, or hold down a newspaper on a windy day. But cannot a rotund pussycat aspire to more? This is why I believe fat cats should be drafted into service of the uncradled and pillowless: every creature deserves the opportunity to rise to his or her highest and best use.

Bestof_jacket_final_pr_a_copy

Best of McSweeney’ssigned & personalized!

This is why I also believe that instant coffee deserves a place in the pantheon of socially acceptable beverages. History has burdened it with a heavy cross: the name “coffee,” which stirs certain expectations of aroma, depth of flavor, and heartiness. But names are mere artifacts of history; they do not emanate naturally from the things they represent. Do we malign French toast because it is neither French nor toast? Do we malign the noble Pekingese dog even though she is probably actually Pekingese-American, and even though Peking does not actually exist? As Edward Said so brilliantly showed inOrientalism, names reveal more about the namer than the named. Someone utters the words “instant coffee” and a diverse landscape of flavor crystals, each with his or her own unique qualities and histories, now comes into being as a class. Thusly lumped, the crystals can be set beside their whole-bean half sisters and ruled the inferior. Instant coffee cannot judge; it is only judged. It cannot taste; it is only tasted. That is why I believe the thingness of instant coffee must be sliced away from the name imposed upon it by outsiders. Like any living creature, it must be judged on its own merits.

Which is why I believe the phrase “the writing life” should not exist. I don’t know who came up with this treacly trope, so redolent of cats on the lap and tea steaming in the mug. So evocative of gazing out the window thinking writerly thoughts, such as “What is the meaning of life?” or “Now that Inspector Bunchybottoms has discovered the meat cleaver behind the potted palm, whatever shall she do next?” or “My butt is sore. I want a sandwich.” Writing, however, is not life. It’s not even very much fun. It’s like standing in a dark cave with an entire colony of Mexican fruit bats and trying to catch them with a butterfly net. They’re zooming here and swooping there; they’re smacking you with their wings. They’re getting tangled in your hair, they probably have rabies, and they want to suck your blood, but you just keep swinging the net over and over and over, and yet the net remains empty. If, wonder of wonders, you do catch a bat, you will bask blissfully in the knowledge that you have netted the most perfect specimen of Chiroptera ever known. You’ll bask for exactly five minutes. Then you’ll start worrying that you’ll have no one to admire your bat, your perfect, perfect bat. Or, if you do, that people will think it’s a sucky bat, or that it should have been bigger, or furrier. Or that Jonathan Franzen’s bat was better, even though you know your bat was every bit as squeaky and fuzzy and crinkly-nosed as any other bat. So then you realize that world just isn’t fair. But then you realize your bat does, in fact, suck. Then you realize your bat is actually a fine, fine bat but the problem is that the world doesn’t actually need any more bats, so maybe you should just put down the net and take up needlepoint. Of course, if there’s anything worse than a writer preening about writing, it’s a writer bitching about writing, which is why I believe writers really just shouldn’t talk at all.

And that is why I believe I should abandon this essay and go make a sandwich. I believe the best sandwiches are made on toast. I believe they include hummus, and sprouts, and perhaps a tomato. But, above all, I believe the best sandwiches are served with a pickle. The fact that so many sandwiches these days go pickleless indicates nothing less than a civilization in decline. Back when I was young, a cook would no sooner send a pickleless plate out of a kitchen than he would show up to work in a scuba suit. Those days are long gone, and whither goeth the pickle so too goeth our decency. Soon we will see Mexican beers served without lime wedges, and strawberry daiquiris served without those tiny, fragile paper umbrellas. This is why I believe that all sandwiches, everywhere, should go nowhere without a pickle. In fact, not only pickles but every asset of this great nation must be put toward its highest and best use immediately and without further ado. This is why I believe that fat cats make good pillows. They offer rest for the weary. They are flavor crystals for the soul. Metaphoric pickles for the metaphorically pickleless. They have no higher calling. We have no greater need. This I believe.

We Were Rosy

**Note: Thank you to the gods of inspiration, that bolt has finally hit me.  in the past couple week, this blog has hit 3,000 views and the views keep rising.  Hopefully one day I’ll be able to have a whole website.  In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who has shown genuine interest in my thoughts/beliefs and feelings about life and the world.  This next one is so extremely important to what I do and who I’ve become.  At this stage in the game, writing about love is writing about life.  To Paul: I love you, dude.**

We Were Rosy

We were rosy-cheek in love, listening to songs just to get back in one another’s head just in case one of us snuck out.  We used to talk about us before you and I, as if the components didn’t even exist.  We used to entwine ourselves with more ferocity as if we were slipping from one another.  I could paint a scene of love imperfect.  I could attempt to make it beautiful: the way literature makes a car crash perfect.  But perfect wasn’t right.

I can remember age eighteen with frightening clarity—meeting a man when men had formerly wreaked taboo.  I’d never chalked the world up to something celestial until I came face-to-face with the only worthwhile stuff of the universe.  Individuals: faces and eyes that make one understand why Zarathustra came down (I remember my Nietzsche professor couldn’t stress that enough—the guy came down!).  So, when I met him, he made the world more of a place for me to state my intent, to be myself, execute the deepest desires of my heart.

Time allegedly heals, but I find it likelier that it smears a coat of BIC brand white out over a wound’s surface.  Time wears and chips away the wood.  If a fine-crafted mahogany table is a sweet November stroll through the oaky, shaded-over neighborhoods of Roland Park circa 2009, then my four-year-long relationship is that same table after a number of moves across country in the back of a Uhaul, having incurred the stamina to handle vases and hideous cross-generational accoutrements, ranging from Lalique to Precious Moments.  We will continue to transport that table, keeping it close, despite its watermarks and chipped edges.

I will carry the table; I will carry you.

I can recall the early fights: me muffling his voice anytime so much as a friendly confrontation came forth from his nervous lips.  I’d do anything to maintain our status as that flawlessly alluring couple that graced an otherwise Playboy campus brimming with modern day oligarchs in oxfords.  I’d mitigate, in efforts to brush the white out over the smeared pen, only to find that this would be my first go around at throwing non literal gasoline on the non literal fire of my relationship.  All I needed to do was let the fire crackle—perhaps blow it about a bit, so it could electrify and affect a chain reaction.  This is the stuff of the earth, the flames I must let go but can’t bear watch burn.  It would take awhile until I was good at this—using words, allowing love to arrive gradually out of strife, rather than quelling fighting words that make the times of peace more lit up: robust with pale brilliance.

I remember the first 9 months together, six of which were spent with him in Scotland. I’d write him long letters of how we’d one day counter the prototypical numbed middle-aged couple.  I’d talk about how lively we’d be—how innocently in love we’d find ourselves even after 10, 20, 60 years.  I’d loved him like a child: fully, but closed to any indication that I was wrong.  I would love, but I didn’t want to work, I didn’t want to turn my gaze toward the truth: that my inability to open myself to the possibility that I was wrong had created a one-way street—the kind one doesn’t automatically perceive and begins to turn down, only to realize its there, just barely executing a 7-point turn in the middle of the road, ashamed, confused, and unable to grasp how a smart, perceptive individual, would ever turn down this street.  For me, feigning euphoria seemed like a better choice than acknowledging what I’d later learn was life and realism disguised by my ballooned perceptions as a faulty relationship.

I first watched the flames flicker during a miniature Renaissance at the start of the Fall.  I was Michelangelo, furiously breaking my back, painting “I’m Sorry” on the ceiling like a heart-sleeved maniac.  Sitting by his door with my hands folded was “I’m sorry for saying that.”  My tears, the film’s epilogue, were “I’m sorry I did that.”  Using words without the words was the best thing I’d ever done.  Now, we’d each have our turn to start the fire: he’d be the gas-thrower, me: the extinguisher.  Then, like the best painters and artists we’d invent our love story with erratic brushstrokes and zigzagging chalk lines: this goes here and maybe that’ll come in way down there.  It had plenty of seams, but that was all right.

Now when I redden with frustration, he’ll likely shake his head and walk away, but it’s cold outside now, and we’ll take November walks, our cheeks rosy but mostly from the cold and our eyes lit up, knowing we wont be here forever.  I will not turn down that road again; I will not make 7-point turns.  Instead, before I blame him for my lost tube of chapstick, I will ask him about this constellation, and we will walk like careful giants, up the stairs of the Library of Congress, through this city, it could be any city really, but it’s this one and it’s ours.  They’ll put scaffolding up on the Capitol building soon, but we’ll have the night to remember when it was just another bit of the troposphere.  And that’s where we are too, frozen on earth, which is really the only celestial body for which we’ve got to live.  You’re the sky, I’m the sky, and so is this building.  And I don’t have to write sorry in the stars, not yet, not tonight.