Monday, June 29, 2009

'Chelle on the beach

(Pre-script: This post comes alive if you listen to the song, " Bring Me To Life," #37 on the playlist, OR "How to Save a Life," #35 on the list, while reading it, so go down to the playlist, click on that song or that song, then come back and resume reading. Come on just try it, I dare ya. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I am a recovered sea shell collector. I used to collect those sharp, fragile pretty things that something once lived inside, simply because they had the name "shell," and I had the name, "'chelle." I used to joke that when I died, I would take something with me, I would take a shell, the "'chelle" in my name. This is a 7 year old's joke, and it is hilarious to 7 year olds. Never mind that the word "shell" is completely different than the word"'chelle," definition wise.:

Shell: "A hard, often fragile thing that is pretty, but hollow and echoey inside, where something once lived. Some are broken, chipped, and sharp. Some are whole, but still dead. Can be found on the beach."

-This definition describes many people, also, and I hope that this was not my subconscious aspiration as a 7 year old girl who ventured out on this shell collecting quest.

'Chelle: "A beautifully spelled french word that means...blah blah blah, something, something French, girl. I think she is an alive girl, a wholly whole girl, with a lot going on inside, who is still able to listen to the hollow echo of the ocean, but is also able to speak in her own voice. This 'chelle is also capable of being found on a beach, but is not solely defined by it."

- I hope that my 7 year old self was aspiring to become THAT 'chelle. I think she was. She just had yet to learn French. What, she was only 7. "Don't judge me, don't you judge me"*

(It should be noted that all definitions written herein have been garnered from the vast voluminous encyclopedias of my mind, and are entirely theoretical in nature.)

What I did with the seashells I collected was to put them on in a shoebox that I kept under my bed. Periodically, I would take the box out and count the shells. I had over 700 at one time, but my counting was also not that great, because I counted the broken pieced shells as well. I was an equal shell-ortunist, like "bring me your broken, chipped, and faded," a sort of Statue of Liberty, if the Statue of Liberty could morph into a 7 year old beach comber...and let's not forget, the Statue of Liberty originated in France.

(It should be noted that while I did not originate in France, my name did. So as you can see, the connections are everywhere.)

Eventually I stopped collecting shells, broken and otherwise. A girl reaches a point where she wants to do more with her life than just keep empty dead things in a box under her bed. At least, that is the goal.
But now that I said that, I realize that many people always only keep empty dead things in the boxes under their beds, and never ever get up and go on with their lives.


*Classic Kelly Ripa quote; I like to dust it off and use it for my own purposes from time to time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Roots (There I was, languishing)

(Pre-Script: The song of this post is most definitely "Winter," by Joshua Radin, #30 on the playlist, so go there, click it on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (... Still waiting...)

I was born in an igloo on an iceberg in the North Pole, to an Eskimo couple who worked hard to make sure they had enough pelts to keep my baby self wrapped up in that first year of my life. Most of the pelts were made out of polar bear fur, and to this day, if I see a picture of a polar bear on TV or in a magazine, I get a warm feeling deep inside, from some memory I do not remember. Sometimes my dad would find a beached whale, drag it home, say something corny like, "Look what the cat dragged in!" and we'd have whale blubber fill in the blank for months at a time, which is good, because it got us through the coldest part of the winter. Whale blubber stew, whale blubber sandwiches with cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and stuffing, whale blubber casserole with potato chips crumbled on top, blubber and eggs, spam and blubber, blubber jerky, blubber and rice, you name it, we ate it. Well, my parents ate it, anyway; I was just a tiny baby, so I drank the rich, creamy, abundant breast milk that whale blubber -Surprise!- is good for producing. You never heard that before because no one but Eskimos know this, because no one but Eskimos eat whale blubber. Now you know. At night, we would sit in front of a cozy fire, in our snug igloo, and I would fall asleep on my father's chest as he hummed me an ancient Eskimo tune which his own father had hummed to him, and his father had hummed to him, and on and on for many generations of Eskimo infants falling asleep on their father's shoulders wrapped in polar bear pelts in front of a cozy fire in a snug igloo, accompanied only by the sound of the wild coyotes howling along outside.

No one has ever told me this part of my history, but they didn't need to. I could read it between the lines of the version they actually told me, which went something like, "You were born in Portland, Oregon, your brother was born 15 months later, then we all moved to San Jose, California, when you were just 2 years old." Blink blink. "Oh, and here's the birth certificate to prove it." Blink blink. Well, I don't remember any of it, so I am sticking with my Eskimo story.

"But Michelle, um, excuse me?"

OH, there is my Imaginary Reader chiming in, yes, Imaginary Reader, what is it?

"Michelle, the Oregon to California story makes more sense; there is a birth certificate, after all, and here you are, in San Jose, California to this day."

"Gentle Imaginary Reader, Don't you know, haven't you heard? Eskimos don't use birth certificates, at least my parents didn't. My "parents" could have doctored up the "birth certificate" they showed me, just to make me believe it.

"But Michelle, do you even remember the North Pole?"

I just told you, Gentle Reader, I know it in my bones."

"But Michelle, the North Pole is just frozen ocean, it is not a land mass. Babies are not born there."

I was.

"But Michelle, they have the birth certificate, and..."

Oh, BITE ME, Gentle Reader, go ahead, you know, the whole birth certificate business, I bet that my current parents adopted me from my Eskimo parents when I was two, and they had flown in to Portland to purchase supplies to last through the springtime, produced a phony document, then moved me to California, to be farther away from the North Pole."

"But Michelle,"

Oh, what is it NOW, Gentle Reader??

"Michelle, if this is true, then how is it that your daughter looks like your mother?"

Gentle Reader, talk to the wrist, 'cause the hand ain't listening.


And also, Gentle Reader, don't be a playa hayta, sweetie.

Ahem, again.

I am so sorry to be so graphic. That Imaginary Reader who sometimes interrupts has a way of getting to me, though, and I think she knows it, too. Still, the rest of you should not have to read such harsh language, and for that I apologize. I must explain here how I realized the truth of the Eskimo theory. You see, I may have lived in California since I was two, and the weather may be very nice here most days of the year and all, but the moment we DO have a hot day?? I wither. I freak out. I become incensed and can't see or think straight. I instead think "Get me out of this great oppression called "heat," no matter how dry and non humid, for I shall surely wilt and die otherwise." And that's my point, you would think that after living here for so long I would naturally adjust, at some point, to the climate, right? RIGHT??? NOT when you have Eskimo blood you don't. Trust me on this.

So to my long lost Eskimo parents: You did a good job taking care of me that first year or two of my life, and if I had grown up with you, I am sure that I would have gotten very good at mucking and quilt making, and chopping perfectly square ice block bricks for igloos. You would have gotten tired of how often I asked for a Wooly Mammoth for a pet. I am sure that I would also be so good at capturing snow rabbits for light soup on days when the temperature gets above zero. I want you to know that your baby girl is doing well in California, as long as it is not a hot day. Oh, and sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up to the memory of having been hummed to, that sweet, sweet, ancient Eskimo tune, and I will not soon forget it. Yes, there is the matter of my daughter resembling my mother, but that is just a technicality.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Einstein's comb

(Pre-Script: Wanna be startin' something? Then pair the song, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" with this post...go down to the playlist, click it on, it's #53, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I can listen to a song I love over and over. I think that's a cool feature of mine, it makes it so I learn the songs layer by layer, each background "Ooh" and bass riff, guess what, I learn it. I sing along or strum along to it. If I am tired of the song, then I move on. This can take a while. I can be this way with my clothes, too....I can get to dressing in a uniform because I have, a ha!!, found the perfect clothes, and I embrace that about myself, I wear it proud and with confidence, until the next perfect outfit comes along. I am also quite deliberate about my accessories. Each one is perfectly "me, at this precise moment," somehow. Children understand this concept. My four year old Ethan lives by this concept. His current uniform is a green long sleeved t-shirt that says "Step up to the plate" in orange letters on the front which I bought off of the Old Navy clearance rack 3 or 4 years ago for his older brother because it was, like, 2 or 3 dollars. The shirt is cool because it now has holes in the cuffs, perfectly placed where Ethan can stick his thumbs through. He pairs this shirt with green sweat shorts that I bought last year, also in an Old Navy sale. The greens clash. On top of this, Ethan usually wears a baseball cap that he got at a car show over a year ago. It's black with the word "Scion" in white on the front. Sometimes he prefers to have his sister Mohawk his hair instead, and on those days he doesn't wear the hat. His shoes are either blue crocs which he picked out himself at Target, or flip flops, usually whichever he can find the fastest. At this point in his life, this outfit is what he wants to wear, as long as it is clean, which is about every other day. He has high aspirations of becoming a rock star someday, he says, and if he realizes this dream, he'll be wearing whatever his style has morphed into at that point, since personal style tends to morph, and people will define him by it, and some people who do not have a clear view of who they themselves are will rush out to buy clothes and accessories to dress just like him, and other people who do not have a clear view of who they themselves are will criticize and put down his style, and other people who have a clear view of who they themselves are will either not emulate his style, but respect him for being who he is, or will like his style, and find ways to incorporate his style into their own style. so he'd better have a good sense of who he is and what he wants to wear. I'm just saying. Children understand this concept, but sometimes let go of it during that hazy period, called "Junior High and High School." (Shiver.) I was not immune to this. I was an American Teenager, but I was not good at being a cool one. It doesn't mean I didn't pour my heart and soul into trying. The societally acceptable mold at 13 was puffy bangs and double layer different colored socks in white Keds with no laces. I think my brain stopped working under all of that Aqua Net and I just nodded and agreed. which was stupid, because even my best attempts left me on the "outside," but I just kept trying to get into the "inside" anyway...I did not see that the "inside" was a tight little claustrophobic space where it's hard to breath or tell who ends where and who begins where.

The air quality has improved greatly since I turned some grown up age and started unleashing myself, instead of trying to keep my true self in a cage. The current perfect outfit that I am wearing over and over happened quite on accident, as such things, when they are genuine, tend to. It started last summer when I decided that I needed shorts. But all I could find in the stores were shorts with imaginary inseams, of the "The Emperor Has no clothes" variety. But Homey don't play that. So this year, I thought "Gosh, I need to get some shorts." But then in a moment of sheer genius, I decided instead to take 3 pairs of jeans that I only semi liked as long pants and cut them into cut offs, just like all the other 12 year olds. (coincidentally, of course.) What these jeans could never be as long pants they now more than surpass as cut off shorts. There is one pair that I like better than the others, so they are usually the ones that I wear. I also have a favorite tank top that I discovered in the spring, and liked so much that I now own 3 identical tanks..but one is somehow better than the others, and I know which one it is, so I usually wear that one. They cost $4.50 each. So my most-day-uniform is not only making me happy every day, it is also quite cost effective, but that is just a side note. I also daily switch between 2 pairs of sandals, and I am also deliberate about my jewelry. My point is, peeps, that I do not wear anything on accident, or because it was the first thing I found in the pile. I wear what feels like perfect clothes. I like my style. When I put mine on, it's done, then I don't have to think about or be self conscious, because I just own it. When you find clothing perfection, embrace it, wherever you find it, baby.
I think that letting your eccentricities, quirks, and tics out is actually a form of brilliance. NOT in a way where you are acting weird and crazy just for the point of being weird and crazy, that's just annoying to be around. True genuine eccentricities are not so contrived, and it is easy to spot the difference; when a person is acting on pure eccentricities uncontrived, it just feels, to everyone around, like he or she is simply breathing...and this is just what happened when he or she exhaled. It feels refreshing, not contrived. The contrived kind feels contrived.

I mean, look at Albert Einstein. He was a brilliant genius. He had eccentric hair. I don't know if he wore his hair that way because he didn't like to cut it, that's just how it grew, and he never gave it a second thought, or if he deliberately liked to leave it that way, but the fact is, he was Albert Einstein, and he had that hair, and now you can say, "Albert Einstein hair" and everyone knows what you are talking about. It doesn't matter any more whether you like it or not, it's not about is it stylish or not, you just know and respect that that is a piece of what Albert Einstein was.


P.S. Ethan and I are both the 3rd born out of 4 siblings, so that explains us somewhat.

Don't hate me because I'll never hand model...(hate me because I never wanted to. I think.)

(Pre-Script: This post is the most pleasing and attractive when paired with the song, "Single Ladies," #43 on the playlist, OR " Not Your Average Girl," #14 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on those songs, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

And now let's get back to the to the business at hand.

Which is the business of hands.

Two of my fingers are crooked. I will never be a hand model. I have never wanted to be a hand model. Consciously, at least. This is probably crushing to some unconscious part of myself, some "inner child" I have yet to discover who is hiding in a dusty corner of my mind, back there behind the self esteem tapes and what not...she keeps pushing "play" on the tape, then sulking in her corner with her arms crossed and a pout as she silently nurses her dream that cannot be. She is sitting with all of the other inner children, each one baring a separate unmet dream I do not consciously realize I am nursing. All my nursing babies, sulking in the hopeless dreams corner. 'wonder how many of them there are in there...

"But Michelle,"

I can just hear my Imaginary Reader interrupting,
"Michelle, have you considered that your inner child may be neglected because while the rest of the world moved on to C.D.'s and mp3's and whatnot, she is still listening to "tapes,"did you ever think of that, Michelle?"
That would be a good point, Gentle Reader, except that if she is my inner child, then she is therefore stuck in the age I was when my Outer was also a child, which was when tapes were progressive, the next big thing since records.
"Wow, Michelle, I did not even think about that. Sorry to have interrupted, please continue."
Thank you, Gentle Reader. I will.
Yeah, probably, or maybe not. I think I'm pretty aware of my unmet dreams. Like that one about...- OH, OH, and that other one about...-Yeah, those are good dreams. Hand modeling was never one of them. I mean, think about it, can you imagine being one of those people who have certain body parts insured? It would make you consider how much that finger or toe is worth to you, and if it is worth allowing some injury to take place, if the insurance money is more than what you estimate that body part to be worth. This quick money making scheme will not work if you realize that all of your parts are priceless. I think that I am one of those who believes that all of my body parts are priceless...but then again, no one has ever offered to insure any of my parts. Maybe I'll change my mind if anyone ever offers. Oh, relax, relax, don't get yourself all worked up that I just said that, I'm just kidding, I'm sure that I am just kidding. But then again, NO ONE HAS EVER OFFERED....
(are you paying attention, agent who is looking to photograph hands with crookedness in the two fingers and other issues? In my defense, the fingernails are unusually strong and fast growing. One press on my nails, and you will swear I do nothing but eat jello all day. But I digress.)
I mean, What If you were sitting at a restaurant drinking a soda, and just the right person saw you holding your can, and the way you tipped it, and said to you, "That hand is exactly what I am looking for, I want to take pictures of it all day long, and I will pay you a hefty sum of money just because you were born with that particular feature, then ate lunch at this particular restaurant on this particular day when I ate lunch here, too." I guess that is how you become a hand model. It's improbable, but not impossible. NOTHING is impossible. Don't ever give up on your dreams.
(Cue the Miss America Music to a slow fade out...let the tears flow freely as your inner children all uniformly rise and begin to chant inside your mind, "they like me, they really, really like me...")


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peanut Butter Jar (For J.)

(Pre-Script: The jelly for this post is the song, "Talk," #18 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

He will have to make his own way
as if he is swimming through a jar of peanut butter
and the lid is a screw on lid, not a flip top,
and he has to unscrew it from the inside,
after he eats all the peanut butter first.

It's going to be hard.
Not impossible,
even when he thinks he's suffocating.
even when he is banging the sides of the glass
from the inside,
and hitting solid things on the outside,
even then. Even now,
large hands are working at the seal of the lid from the outside,
working to loosen it,
even if it seems, to him, that those hands are trying to squash him there,
and any view of sunlight he can see
from the inside.

When he gets out, he'll take a huge breath,
blink a few times, fall back, relax.
We'll place the jar on a high shelf,
somewhere the sunlight will reach it,
shine through the cracks at the rim, make it glow.
and then we'll close the door to that room
and go outside.


P.S. (Once there was a boy who got stuck in a jar of peanut butter. All of the brokenness inside will spill out like softened glowing pieces of sea glass once the lid is removed.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

True Colors vs. Self Tanner

(Pre-Script: For the true colors of this post to shine through, first go down to the playlist, click on the song, "Black or White," #52 on the playlist, then come back and let it play as you read the post. Go ahead and do that, I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

On Friday, I acquired a sunburn on my chest, my right forearm, and the back of my calves. The right calf is worse than the left calf. I am a fastidious applier of sunscreen, but even those of us with such proactive diligence get the "sunburned in strange places" blues. My right arm has a pale stripe where my bracelet was. red/white/red. It could be the flag of a country, or a chant that the cheerleaders cheer at high school basketball games. Today, I noticed that the burned places are starting to turn brown. This would be good if only I had evenly burned the entire sheet of skin the rest of me resides beneath, for now I am now a different kind of striped. brown/white/brown. A different small country's flag, the opposing basketball team's cheer.
I no longer try to tan myself, as I did when I was 12, and there was the great fake tan debacle, where in my hands ended up orange stained for a week. I will not go into it here, except to say that one could do worse than be a 13 year old girl with hands stained orange from self tanner, but not much.
Okay, okay, I did it because I thought it was regular sunscreen, and also because it promised to make my skin tan in 2-4 hours, and I wanted so badly for that promise to be true. I was tired of being called "Casper the Friendly Ghost," by the immature 13 year old boys. Whoever tells 13 year old girls that 13 year old boys only tease them because they like them is lying. If a 13 year old boy is interested in a girl, he says "Will you go around with me," at least he did circa 1989. If he thought something about her was unflattering, he would make fun of it. He would call her "Casper the Friendly Ghost."
When I was 20 or 21, circa 1996 0r '97, someone looked at my arm and validated it's color for the first time ever. I believe he said "You do not need to tan this. It is beautiful. Not everyone can have this kind of skin." Well, sweet potato pie and shut my mouth, I decided that I just might as well believe him. It sure beat hating myself for being what I was.
Which is also good because the application of self tanner has many downfalls as well. Most people will not get orange hands from self tanner, if they remember to wash their hands after applying it to themselves, as it says right there on the bottle. But there is also the issue of knowing where exactly to put the self tanner, knowing if you have evenly and accurately rubbed it in, since the tan does not show up right away. This is as hard as trying to remember 7 times 8 on the spur of the moment. When anyone asks me what 7 times 8 is, which is just about never, I am immediately transported back to 3rd grade, on a day when Mrs. Watson is the substitute teacher. Mrs. Watson's days spent substitute teaching flip flopped between listening to her life stories and being grilled on our times tables. She was particularly fond of the times tables for the number 8. Oh, how my nine year old self hated the number 8 for it's times tables. But Mrs. Watson would grill us and tell us how important it would be when we were grownups to know our times tables. Then she would grill us again. She must have been confusing our class of 3rd graders for that other class of 3rd graders, the ones who would grow up to be grown ups who threw wild raucous parties where everyone drank root beer and recited times tables to each other. But we were not that class. We were the class who grew up to become the grown ups who only use times tables when grilling our own children for their 3rd grade homework, while simultaneously telling them now important these are to know, how often they will need them as adults. Maybe about as often as they will need sunless self tanner.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Attention anyone...

I am working on a new header picture for this blog. I have the vision in mind, and my friend Olish is going to help me with it...I hope to have it up by Tuesday...the other picture in the VW bus was cool, but too, too big. Peace out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What I Never Had

(Pre-Script: This post is best paired with the song, "Winter, " by Tori Amos, #33 on the playlist, or "Landslide," #19 on the playlist, So go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When I am standing near you I know

right where I am,

(I am here, standing near you)

even when my heart, my mind are

over there, and way off there...

but when I am alone,

I'm just a little confused about where to go-

I'm bumping into walls and

the walls aren't opening up into doors, or

they are paper walls so I smash right through

in the shape of me, in the shape I am in.

(what I never had is never

in these rooms though;)

what I never had

can never be that easily obtained, and if it was

I would not trust it,

could not trust the solid form

of something

that never was meant to be solid;

never meant to have it's own shadow, but

to be something that slips over me, through, and around me,

breathed in, bled out,

wept upon,

even as it

shines down on my withered form.


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Girl Beyond Knowing

(Pre-Script: Every song works with this post, and so does every picture.)

Who is that girl
face on fire
raw untended
chest on fire
on bleeding fire
blazing eyes
of two
different sizes
she is fragile
but with bones
slight but sturdily
constructed marble
cool hard glowing
draped in
warm satin
painted porceline
she dwells
in the attic
and basement
of an impeccable house
with no numbers
(but there are
two cockroaches
and a daddylonglegs
in her garage
who walk around
when the light
is off
but run
to hide
when the light
turns on
or when
it is day
and she
is singed
with the knowledge
of their memory.)


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Uncaged Wild Things

(Pre-Script: This post will cause the least disturbance to your psyche when paired with the song, "The End of the Innocence," #41 on the playlist, so scroll down and click it on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I was driving in the middle of the large city where I live when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a vulture, nibbling on some road kill. I immediately did a mental life review :
"This is not the African Savannah just after the lions have feasted. This is not even the Oakland Zoo. This is the middle of San Jose, California, on an industrial street. There is a Target right there, and houses, lots of houses. And traffic. How in tarnation did a VULTURE get here?"
When I think of birds, I think of pretty, flying, small, colorfully feathered creatures that chirp, warble, and live in nests where they feed their little babies the worms they have caught. But let us not forget that there are other kinds of birds, the kind that caw, eat rotting flesh, perch upon high places all clustered together waiting for rotting flesh to appear, and genuinely look like death personified. Well, No, they cannot look like death personified, can they, since they are not "persons;" They look like death birdonified.
I am not at all comfortable with this level of uncaged wildness living around me, Since you will recall I am not living in the African Savannah or the middle of the Oakland Zoo.
In this city, the most stressful wildlife I encounter is Police Cars and Wasps. Diving anywhere near a police car always makes me nervous. If I see that a Police car is behind me, I turn onto the nearest street so as to avoid being followed by the Police car. All that Police Officer has to do is turn on his light, and I am a pulled over driver. I hate being a pulled over driver. Most of the time it will not happen, but it has happened enough that I do everything I can to avoid driving in front of Police Cars. I avoid them like wasps. Seeing wasps gives me the same sensation of heart palpitations and a rapid need to escape. That part of city dwelling is stressful enough without the added worry of large wild animals who are closer in physical proximity to me than I am aware.

"But Michelle,"

interjects my imaginary reader,

"Michelle, what about the roadkill?"

the roadkill, Gentle Reader?

"Yes, Michelle, the roadkill that the Vulture was snacking on?"

Oh, yes, that.
well, Gentle Imaginary Reader, roadkill does not generally bother me. It might make me curious, though, like "Oh, look, it's a raccoon/possum/fox. Wait, a raccoon/possum/fox?! Who knew there were wild raccoons or possums or foxes living around here, so close to the mall." Where have they been hiding??
Maybe the city needs to pump in music throughout the city with subliminal messages that would play on a constant loop. It would be like the '80's, when the parents could blame all of their teenager's rebellious acts on the music they were listening to, which may have sounded like harmless hateful heavy metal when played forward, but if you played it backwards, there were alleged subliminal messages the teenagers were supposedly absorbing at a subconscious level, then obeying, with no choice in the matter whatsoever.
The subliminal message you would hear when playing the City's piped in music backwards would be:
"Attention Wildlife: This is not the Oakland Zoo, The San Diego Zoo, The Chicago Zoo, any zoo, any jungle, any desert, or the African Savannah. This is not a veld. This is the city. The type of birds that live in the city are supposed to be the pretty, colorful ones who eat worms and warble. The rodents are supposed to stay relatively small, hide underground, and stay there. If you are a crazy wild thing, make a note of it."
You never know what is hiding, living, breathing, and breeding just under, over, behind and beyond, but always way too close to you.

Blink, blink.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


(Pre-Script: This post will knock you over when paired with the song, "Blackbird," #15, on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

this swollen spot

purply bruised

will be brownish tomorrow

greenish the next day

smaller each day

'til gone

then a tender spot

that throbs

on cloudy days before the rain

but is otherwise calm.


Monday, June 15, 2009


(Pre-Script: The background music to pair with this post is"Blackbird," #15, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

these brittle crooked bones;
set them straight while I lay on your table
I scream, the ache,
in places still unstable
I'll stand and walk again when I am able

the small fly in my car

keeps bumping into windows

sees the freedom it can't get to and the light

so it flies from window to window

I do not want a fly in my car

I open the windows, it darts out barely,

back in again, then out, fast and sure this time, all the way out, I

close the windows so that even if it flew stupidly back, it would not get in


it would bump the glass from the other side and bounce back off

with no choice but to participate

in the vastness of it's own freedom.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

There's a song that's inside of my soul

(Pre-Script: This post harmonizes and accessorises well with the song, "Only Hope, #49 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading...or the entire post just won't "look" right...or "sound" go ahead, I'll wait...OH, and when 49 is over, click on song #51, it's perfect for practicing your shower/car/interpretive dance/etc. Trust me.) (...still waiting...)**

As a Professional Sociologist*, I would describe Santa Cruz, California style as Surfer/Hippy/Rasta/Hemp-is-natural-so-are-dread-locks-so-am-I meets designer jeans and flip flops. The more tattoos the merrier. I delight in watching a culture's cultural dress and accessories. It's about as fun as when you are singing in the car and you go over a bumpy spot and the vibrations of the car cause your voice to have a vibrato to it that other people's voices have naturally, or because they have trained their voices through years of vocal practice and singing lessons. Don't you just love that? I love that. Especially when you are alone in the car, with no pitch perfect musician friends or offspring in the car who roll their eyes and tell you that you do not sound good, in a variety of words, and groaning too deep for words.
I am a recovered childhood solo and duet singer, forced to sing on stage by my parents and choir directors when I was too young to speak up for myself, say no, or no thank you, or please oh please do not make me do this, or tell them I didn't mind doing the group numbers but the individual numbers were killing my sense of self worth. So I sang the dang blasted solos. I think a lot of kids sing the dang blasted solos and their parents tell them how great they are, because they are soooo cute, and little kids don't have to sound good, anyway, they get by on the fact that they are cute little kids, there is no skill involved there, unless they can stop their own personal time clocks, then it would be a skill. The problem is when the compliments get into a kids head in such a way that he or she believes that these compliments apply to his or her adult voice, as well, when in fact, it may not. It probably does not. Usually it does not. You can never go by the sound you hear with your own ears, that is not at all accurate. No sir. To your own ears, you sound just like the guy on the radio, especially the louder you get. You forget that the rest of the world does not live inside your ears.
Here's the thing: I do not mind bad singing in and of itself. I think that bad singing makes for the best kind of karaoke. I just mind bad singing by people who think they are singing well. I know a person who loudly sings through his or her nose, and thinks it's a good sounding singing voice. I know, because I have heard him or her brag about his or her great singing voice. Well, guess what, he or she sings through his or her nose. Enough said. And if you are the paranoid type, no I am not talking about you, or you, or that person you think I am talking about. I am talking about someone else entirely whom you could never even fathom in your wildest dreams, so just forget about it already, Oh, forget I even said that, gosh.

And stop taking yourself so seriously, sometimes.

To make up for that last paragraph, I will now confess embarrassing truths about myself: I make up stupid interpretive dance moves to go with the songs I am badly singing loudly in the car as I drive to Santa Cruz...and guess what, judging by the blank stares of the other drivers stuck at the red lights next to me, my inner Professional Sociologist* observes that even in an "anything goes" kind of culture, there is still an expected form of "norm." There is still a vibe, and when you don't jive to the vibe, it is apparent that apparently, you've been singing in the shower to the beat of your own drum. Sing it out, baby, sing it loud and proud. Snap your fingers, even, I do that too, just...don't kid yourself, okay hot stuff? You are only as good as you are.



*I'm not really a Sociologist, I just play one whenever I'm ...anywhere that I am.
**This picture was taken in Santa Cruz. If you can identify the exact location, you will win a special prize.***
***(Special Prize subject to change based on the author's whim at the time of the decision making.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

The mind of a girl

(Pre-Script: This post is disarmingly fun and flirty when paired with the song, " Suddenly I See," #36 on the playlists,so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

Who can know the mind of a girl?
Yesterday my friend told me that she feels haggard. This is disturbing because she is 4 months younger than I am. It is also disturbing because I do not see it with my own eyes. Also, I do not want to see myself as "haggard," ever ever, even when I am ninety six and three quarter years old. I mean, sure, my hands have been insulted as "Old Lady Hands" by the man who wanted me to agree to marry him so he would not be deported to Mexico, and sure, my own offspring whom I spawned may have told me that I look "evil," after a hair appointment when I came home with experimental dark hair, and I certainly have looked evil in many of my pictures, because Picasa on my computer does not always take out the red eyes as I would like, which is why I often end up just giving up and making them black and white or sepia... And you thought I was just being artistic. I wanted you to think that. I'm glad it worked. It was probably more because I couldn't get rid of the red eyes, and did not want to be called evil. I did not want to be called "haggard." But see, my friend describes herself as "haggard." I just don't see it in her. Shudder.
Who has known the mind of a girl?
Today I am suffering from a case of do-I-really-like-this-outfit-itis. I have worn it before, but do I like it TODAY. So I take a picture with my phone. But I am holding the camera phone myself, so I don't get the right angle in the picture I take. I cannot see my sandals in this shot. Also, it's a horrible angle, and I would not like how any outfit looks draped on my body from this angle. Please oh please let there not be an awkwardly tall person who gets this close to me with his or her head tilted just awkwardly so that he or she views me from this angle. Shudder at the thought. So I take a different picture, this time I hold the camera differently so that my sandals are visible in the picture. I like how it all looks together. I like this angle. Please oh please let there be an awkwardly short person who gets this close to me and tilts his or her head awkwardly to the left and is forced to view me from this angle.

"But Michelle,"
Hey, I hear my imaginary reader calling, can't you hear her, too?
"Michelle, what's so great about this outfit? I mean, really."
Gentle reader, I wasn't going to go there.
"Oh Michelle, but I think you should go there."
You think?
"Yes, Michelle, I really do. Take us all there, with you, please. We can handle it."
Gentle Reader, I was not going to go there, but you've twisted my arm. Now please quietly listen while I describe the outfit to you.
" Okay, Michelle, I will not say another word."
The outfit I am wearing is the exact same outfit that every other girl is wearing, but some of the girls feel pretty and some just feel...haggard.

Pause, blink, blink.
And that is the mind of a girl.
Blink, blink.
Amen, let us pray.


Deep Sea Dreaming

(Pre-Script: This post's best swim mate is the song,"Bring Me To Life," #37 on the playlist, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

In my dreams, I am an unwilling unprepared deep sea diver who is always uncomfortably too close to the tidal wave that is about to pummel me then drag me out to the deepest depths of the ocean. In my dreams, this is terrifying. Usually the sky is dark gray, the vibe is stormy, the idea being "Get as far inland as you possibly can as quickly as you can." But in my dreams, I cannot. The waves are high and fast, but I cannot will myself to any sort of safe distance away from them. In my dreams, this terror represents so many, many possibilities. I have never actually been pummeled in these dreams, just the threat in them is always very close and real, and I have not been able to escape.

I tell you the truth: A sure way to dispel fear is to let yourself be completely embraced in the knowledge of God's love. To be completely embraced in love, one can feel every feeling that has been camped and hiding out in her heart. Her heart might be an ocean in which she fears drowning, but when little by little she learns to sit in the feelings there in, the feeling works itself out, much like a storm in the ocean; the waves recede, the sky clears, the sun emerges, The water warms. It doesn't always work out as fast or as comfortably as I would have hoped, and I find myself screaming at God, "You said you would meet me here, so where are you? I can't go anywhere else. I am clinging to you to hold me here and keep me from going under. I am counting on you to pull me out and help me breathe. I am counting on you and putting all of my weight on you, because the other option is only just drowning, and I am not brave enough for that."

Just the other night, I had another sea dream. In this one, the sun was shining, even though it was almost nighttime, the tide was calm, and I was standing on the edge of it's vastness, but I felt no fear; I was there on purpose, not because I could not run away, but because I was looking for treasure only to be found there; sea glass, and broken pieces of ancient pottery that had been buried there for centuries. The next morning, I knew that the water was going to recede, all the way to the very center of the sea, and I would have all day to explore as far out as that. The deeper I would be willing to explore, the greater my chance of ever finding the most beautiful, rare, and large pieces of sea glass and archaeological broken pottery. I knew I was going to go as far as I could. There was no fear. There was no anxiety. Just the knowledge that I was deeply loved, and safe.

What if what I had feared finding so long was really something beautiful, the most beautiful treasure I could never have imagined for myself in the first place? How many people live right there, stuck on the edge, unable to move, frozen in fear from the threat of waves which would carry them out to deep places inside they fear will overwhelm and kill? What if what you fear the most turns out to be your greatest adventure, your greatest treasure, your greatest potential for beauty?
After the storm is when the shore is littered with treasure, when the sea gives up it's best kept secrets.
I am no longer afraid of the ocean inside of me. My dreams have
been reminding me of just that.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jean Pocket

(Pre-Script: I recommend you read this poem as the song, "Closer," by Joshua Radin, #32 on the playlist, plays in the background. If that is too slow for you, then play #51, "Here in your arms," again...simply because I am feeling the vibe of that song this week, so it goes with ALL of my posts. Go down to the playlist, click it on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When you've been flipped inside out

and shaken

like a pocket in your jeans

what remains there?

not the lint,

not the crumbs from yesteday's snack,

not the dirt that fell off of rocks

you have collected there

not the lose change you were saving

for a rainy day

or a stick of gum.

When you have been

Flipped out like the pocket of your jeans

and shaken

there is just the pocket

that's attatched to the inside

of the pants,

so make sure you are sewn securely

into a decent pair.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clue's for you.

(Pre-Script: I interrupt this post long enough to tell you to first go down to the playlist, click on the song, "The Heart of the Matter," #40 on the playlist, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

So I am on the phone. I am on the phone because it rang and I answered it. Silly girl. I should have known better. How long will I strive with myself, how long will I remain patient with my own inability to learn my own lessons and follow through with them? It's hard to say. I tend to be very forgiving, of my own shortcomings, at least.
This particular lesson I failed to follow is to never answer the phone if I do not recognize the number. Sometimes I do anyway. I answer by saying "Hello," in various tones of voice, depending on the mood I am trying to convey.
Sometimes it's a simple "Hello?"
questioning sweetly, Innocently.
Sometimes it's more like "Hello!"
like, "Here I am, answering your call in all of my confident assurance."
Sometimes it's more of a sing song, "Hello," or "Hello, or "Hello,"
there are several sing songy variations.
So imagine my surprise when I pull the exact right "Hello," the one I am feeling is perfect for the moment, when what I hear back is at first silence, then
"Please hold and wait to hear an important announcement."
Um, no.
NO, no no no no.
Honey, you don't call me and then put me on hold. If you have an important thing to tell me, call me in person. I hang up every time. In the rare case that maybe it IS a real emergency, I'll see it on CNN. Oh wait, I never watch CNN, so I will see it when they interrupt Regis and Kelly to tell me about it. They tend to interrupt Regis and Kelly to say "We interrupt this program to bring you a Special Announcement" and it's never a Special Announcement, it's a political speech, again. If I wanted to hear the speech someone is giving at this exact moment or whatever, I would be watching CNN. But you see, I am watching Regis and Kelly, because I want to see Regis and Kelly, I do not want to watch the speech currently in progress and then 10 people's commentary and then an interview with a bystander. If I wanted to see that, I would be watching CNN, like I said, but I am saying it a fourth time here for emphasis in the hopes that a TV programmer will read this and get the clue phone, it is ringing, it is ringing loudly for you, it is a Special Announcement for YOU...or else it is a different kind of Special Announcement, which is probably that vacuum cleaners are on sale two for one this weekend only.
So I am on the phone, and whenever this happens and I am in the United States of America, which is always, I think it is obvious that we will be conversing in English, so I am disturbed when I am actually asked to press 1 for English. I think it should be the assumed fall back language that we will be conversing in, since we did win that war all those years ago. Because what if I intend to press "1" but my finger slips and I accidentally press "4?" I will be stuck listening to you talk to me in Cantonese, and I will have no idea how to properly respond, and I will be so frustrated by that.
Clue phone, it's for me, I never learned Cantonese, DOH!

So I am on the phone, and the sales person on the other end wants to sell me something SOOOOO BAD!! So he is talk talk talking at me at rapid speed without a break or even taking a breath, and I am expected to listen intently, then to purchase an item or 5.
Oh honey, No.
No, no no no no.
There is a specific Clue Phone with your name etched permanently into it.
It rings incessantly.
Answer it, quick...
...and don't take it personally when I hang up; it's not you, I do this to every stranger who tries
to get my attention by ignoring me, then running his mouth.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oh, My Aching Stars

(Pre-script: This post just might maybe in some way heal you if you listen to it while listening to the song,"My Name Is Luca," #13 on the playlist, in the background. So please go turn it on now, and I'll wait here for you to come back and resume reading.) (...still waiting...)
The only bone I ever broke was in my pinkie toe when I was 18. Until then, I used to brag that the fact that I had never broken a bone made me more Christ like, in stature at least, if not in character. Word to the wise: If you have never broken a bone, do not start bragging about it now. But like I said, I was only 18, I had only ever been 18 or younger, so I wasn't very mature, either. I am still not very mature, but now I have to come up with new excuses for my immaturity.
Actually, I am not sure that I broke the toe, I just was really sure it was broken when I couldn't move it, it swelled, the whole foot bruised up horribly, and I had an awkward, embarrassing limp for a week. The alleged toe breakage occurred when I was running to answer the phone in socks or barefooted, I forget which, and I was on a good direct route to the phone, which was hanging on the wall, I could see it there, my focus was clear, and nothing, NOTHING was going to get between me and my determination. I did get it off of the hook, I did, but not before slamming my pinkie into the solid wood of a kitchen chair leg. In that instant, I knew that whoever had fashioned that particular chair leg had done an excellent, fine job.

Blink, blink.

Oh my aching stars. Yowza.

I remember that I instantly fell to the floor, phone barely in my hand, said "hello" into the receiver, heard my younger brother say something like "is Dad there," and my only response was to drop the phone, call out "Dad! It's for you!" before hobble crawling to my bedroom to wait for the pain to subside. It did not subside. I turned my 6 CD changer on Shuffle mode, to distract myself and chill out, and also because at 18, that was just what I did at 4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon. The pain did not subside. This was my first clue that something might be broken. So I crab crawled my way out of the bedroom and declared to anyone in the house who might be listening, "I think I broke my toe." this was met by the typical skepticism of my know it all oldest brother, who responded thusly: "No, you did not break your toe." Years of dumb boy wrestling stunts and stupid kid stunts mixed with school team sports had rendered him a medical expert. He was practically ready for his residency. Apparently one of the rules of medical expertise is that when your sister says "I think I broke my toe," or "I think that I sprained my wrist," or "I think that I might maybe in any form or fashion have injured myself," the accurate response is always, always to instantly declare that No, no your sister is not in any way injured, she has no idea what real pain is, either. She obviously just wants to be like her brother, her big brother, who has broken several bones and sprained and torn himself in many places, then gone back for a second helping of pain, all for the sheer love of the game. Never mind the fact that he never actually in any way examines sister in the area where she says she is hurt. Any pain she feels is psychosomatic. End of story.
Well, Maybe so.

But all I know is that when I finally had the courage to look down at my toe, it looked about less than one inch long. This was shocking because it felt about 258 feet long. Who would have ever thought it possible to feel the pain of the entire world compacted into such a tiny space on your body. Friends, I am here to tell it is possible.
It is also possible for medication to ease the pain after about 15-30 minutes, just like it says on the bottle, and especially if you double up on the dose when it does not instantly remove the pain the exact instant you swallow the pill. I am not going to mention which brand of pain medication I took for fear that the drug companies will sue me for either gross abuse of their product or for the royalties of printing their name here. I am sure that the 9 people who read this every day would drum up enough business that it would make a difference in their sales. But that's not really my job, anyway.
It is also possible that the toe was not actually broken, since I never had it x-rayed. However, I can honestly testify that for years after the injury, that particular pinkie toe would ache on cloudy days or just before it was about to rain.

You'll just have to take my word for it, Gosh!

Time heals a lot of things.

Just because something hurts doesn't mean it's broken, needs to be fixed, or that there is in any way anything wrong with it. It does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with you. It might just maybe mean that everything in you is working properly, as it was meant to function, and your body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul were just checking in.

The part that hurts might could be the healthiest part of you.
Think about it, peeps.

Think hard; do not be hardly thinking.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Earth on Earth

(Pre-Script: Want to know why I chose the song, "Here in Your Arms," by Hellogoodbye, #51 on the playlist, as the song for this post? Because I think it is an ideal background song, it makes me happy every time I hear it, makes me want to do some goofy made up dance, so I keep listening to it over and over, and it is a perfect song to run very fast to. so go down and click it on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...Still waiting...)

I regularly run 13-14 miles on the highest incline of the treadmill. It takes about 11o -114 minutes, give or take a few. Let's get this straight: No one runs 13-14 miles uphill on accident. When I am pumping out this type of workout, I feel like I am literally pulling myself out of myself. This statement will only make sense if you have ever been there, done that. My mind is pulling for my body: "Come on, come on, you can do it, yes you can, so it hurts, a lot of things hurt, that does not mean that you are damaged; you are not damaged, but you do have to pump it out, and you are not done yet."

The other thing is this: In order to complete this workout, you have to be at least a little bit crazy. This is probably why people look at me like I am crazy and say to me: "You are crazy."

Why Yes! yes, I am.*

There have been parts of my own life that have been wholly unswallowable,

so I have been digesting them in pieces, one layer at a time.

It's like I'm walking down the road, and there's a breadcrumb in front of me, and I have to swallow it, and keep going. It is the only way to maintain my energy along the trail, the only way to not get stuck in one spot. It also tells me I'm going in the right direction, and if I keep moving forward from here, I will get to the next breadcrumb. Some of the crumbs are bitter, some make me want to gag, but all must be swallowed and digested in order to keep going. Eventually I will have eaten an entire cake, the cake of my life, some parts dry and stale, some sickly sweet, but some perfectly moist and delicious . So I savor those bites, and remember them often, and it helps me swallow the bitter bites, when they come, helps me refrain from puking my guts all over the path. But even still there are moments when I have to puke my guts out over the the path and collapse in a heap until I get my strength back to continue walking ahead. Then I continue on again.

When you spend your life waiting around for some allusive "someday," you wake up suddenly to find that you've spent your entire life. Now if you'll please excuse me, I have to run and catch up with myself...

Oh look, here I am!


*This line was directly inspired by the show Phineas and Ferb.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stuck behind the Slow-skis

(Pre-Script: This post makes the most sense if you have ever been inside of my head. In lieu of that, you will need to read it as the song, "Mysterious Ways," by U2, plays in the background, so go down to the playlist, click on that song, #24, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

I have a tendency to be a fast walker, or at least I like to maintain a brisk, steady pace, especially when my final destination is leading me to gelato and chocolate cake. So there I was, marching once again to the beat of the very loud and fast drum which apparently no one can hear but me when suddenly,

... SCREECH...

I got stuck behind the Slowskis. I think they were out for a walk while they were waiting for their Internet to boot up. You know who the Slowski's are; they are also sometimes known as the Spread-Out-Across-The-Entire-Walkway-ski's. Apparently the Slowski's all hear the same drum, the one that tells them never to go out walking unless they are in a whole group together. Even just two Slowski's can make up an entire group, as long as they take up the entire width of the particular walkway we all are on. Their drum also tells them to stop and notice everything around them except for the faster walkers behind and rapidly approaching them who only want to pass without being hit by oncoming traffic on one side or smashed into a wall on the other.
So there I was behind the Slowski's trying to decide the value of my life thus far, and if it was worth the risk of possibly being pummeled by oncoming traffic to try and pass. I did some mental math: how old am I now, 33? Yes, I am 33, although at about 32 I reached the point where I forget exactly what number in the 30's I am, and actually have to stop and think sometimes when people ask. Remember when there was a TV show called Thirty something? I remember thinking "That sounds so...OLD" but now I say "Thirty something" because you know without thinking that at some point you turned 30, and you know without thinking that you have not yet gotten to 40, but the exact number in between you sometimes have to think about.
So there I was, thinking, "I am 33, not yet 33.5, but beyond that, is it worth risking my life when this could possibly be my last earthy encounter with gelato on this earth?" I have not even been to Italy yet to taste the gelato there. Maybe if I were in Italy, and had just eaten gelato there, instead of Los Gatos, California, where I actually was, and I was stuck behind the Italian Slowski's, I would be more willing to risk my life, a happy and contented woman with a smile on my face.
So then there I was, realizing that the Slowski's are everywhere on this planet, they are unavoidable if you ever plan to actually step outside of your own house. In fact, it is possible that the name "Slowski" originated in Italy, since it ends in a vowel. All Italian names end in a vowel.
Think about it.
Depending on where you are in the world, and at what age, navigating to get in front of the Slowski's for gelato may or may not be worth risking your life for. So far, it has not been worth it to me, although I am quite certain that any gelato in Heaven has got to be at least a million times bigger and better than all the gelato in Italy and Los Gatos, California combined. I am also quite certain that in Heaven, you do not have to wait behind the Slowski's.
I remember when I was kid imagining that in Heaven, the golden rule applies, so two kids would be standing in line for the drinking fountain, and the first kid would say to the kid behind him, "you go first," and the kid behind him would say, "No you, go first" and the first kid would say "no, YOU go first, please" and on and on and back and forth for eternity.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What to do with the words that get stuck

(Pre-script: This post uncorks and flows freely when paired with the song," Closer," #17 on the playlist, so go down, click that song on, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

At the end of the day

when you are left with the words

that never got said

that got stuck on your tongue

that got drowned in your blubbering

distracted by your wondering, wandering thoughts

squelched, suffocated by self conscious insecurity

pour them out on the page

pour them out with the tears

let the storm sweep you up

wash you down the river

out to sea

let the waves roll you

over and over yourself again and again

and again and

leave you wrecked and exhausted

and spent

on the shore

some shore of your mind

solid as the sand that shifts beneath you

open your hand, look and see what remains, open

your heart, touch and feel

what has been softened, restored,

open your mouth,

let what is falling off your tongue

fall freely, finally


you dig your toes deeper in to the solid something underneath

open your eyes,

and watch

the rising sun

even as the wind

blows you senselessly silly.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't it always seem to go

(Pre-Script: This post best encapsulated in the song, "100 Years," #2 on the playlist, so please go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait.) (...still waiting...)

("...That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone"*
-fought til it's won,
-sought 'til it's dawn,
and the path is in front of you,
illuminated by sweat...)

I remember driving past the snow on the hills in some state that was not my own.

Look at the snow out the window

as you are driven past it

in a warm car

brother's knees bumping into your knees

with the heater on

and the 8 track player playing songs you can sing along to

Things were legal then that are now illegal

like 8 tracks,

and station wagons,

and children in the way back

smashed up against the window but never claustrophobic

now the children have to be buckled tightly in a 5 point harness until they are 17

or 700 lbs

whichever comes first

and these days, you never know which will come first

it's because the children all eat red food coloring and blue yogurt, and someone (gasp) gave them a piece of candy instead of a carrot stick,

someone said, "sure, have the gluten full white flour rich birthday cake with sugar and butter"

when I was a kid we ate the birthday cake

and the carrots

and did not get fat

and did not get fat

and rode our bikes without helmets

and jumped out of trees without helmets

and loved where old trees pushed their roots up under the sidewalk, nature working with the modern era to create a bike ramp, what else are tree roots under the sidewalk good for?

I used to ride around the block around and around and around

singing some made up song or other

used to roller skate without padding down the driveway over and over

falling down, getting back up

scrapes and bruises everywhere, and Dad would paint orange Mercurochrome
in the shape of a tree
right on the scraped spot;
he always said it wouldn't hurt, but it always did, just a little
but a little was plenty.

I ate the mulberries right off of the mulberry tree without washing them

stained my fingers mulberry color, then wiped my fingers on my jeans and shirt;

eventually all of my clothes were grass stained or mulberry stained


My cat was a cat with a collar but no tags

who adopted me

by hanging out on my porch every day until

I adopted him back

even when he scratched my face

and got shot with a bee bee gun

and got trapped in the neighbors rabbit trap for 2 days

I still loved him.
when he showed up dead in a neighbors yard a year later, he received a proper

backyard burial

I wrote the epitaph myself, pinned it to his little grave marker myself, too

and when I climbed the mulberry tree to the highest branch I could climb

and jumped out,

it felt like I was flying, I was flying

for a split second but then

my teeth landed in the soft pillow of my tongue

I cried and cried, so hurt and defeated, but

the next morning, my bruised tongue was the proudest trophy I owned, and I showed it off and bragged loudly on the school playground

I still have the scar

it reminds me of that time when I was not afraid to climb

as high as I could, let go, push out, and jump.

The very highest tree in the yard was not climbable, though;

It shot straight up and I remember thinking

that if I could climb to the top of it, I would be in the clouds

I would be floating up there, waving with God in the sky down to the little ant people stuck on the ground below.


*Lyrics from "Big Yellow Taxi"