I’m not sure how much time I will have for this space over the next several months, but I don’t want to entirely neglect it. I thought I might share a poem or essay with you on Fridays which reflects what I’ve been working on during the week.
This week I’ve been reading Alice Walker. I had only ever read The Color Purple before, several years ago. I am immersing myself in her poetry and personal accounts of her activism and bearing witness in Gaza, in particular. “Working Class Hero” is a poem I keep wandering back to, to reimmerse myself in its vast tenderness.
http://www.khabaryalnews.com/poetry/poetrydetail/love-poetry/working-class-hero-poem-by-alice-walker
Happy weekend, everyone

Advertisements

Hi Internet! I promised a summer hiatus, and despite the fact that Seattle is in a “heat wave” right now with dry, warm days on end, everyone is starting to talk about fall, so here we are and here I am.

I said Seattle, and you may not be surprised to know that I moved back here at the beginning of August. My return to Minneapolis never really took. I struggled with unbelonging, unemployment, and an unease that I could stuff down for a little while but never left me in peace entirely. At the risk of sounding over dramatic, I explained it to people as a feeling of being “haunted” by the past life I’d lived there. I came back in 2016 expecting everything to be like 2014. I was ready to pick up where I left, but everyone and everything had moved on, which is one of the most obvious things about this situation that I completely, willfully missed. It simply reached the point where there seemed to be no reason to stay. I’m definitely grateful for the friendships I rekindled and the new friends I made in my year back there, but feel I can still maintain them even if we are not in the same physical location.

So, at the end of July I trekked back West. I’m currently staying in a house with a lavender jungle in the front yard, shady trees and a hammock around back, a deck that gets full sun midmorning, and a nearly bottomless coffee pot gurgling in the kitchen. I have a lot to do this fall. I’m currently working on the first of two grad school theses, and I need to find a permanent place to live. There’s also still that unemployment thing. And there are self-care things to square away, like exercise and social time and time for jamming and pickling and music and walking.

It feels a bit overwhelming most days, to be honest. Still, sometimes I walk outside and run my hands through the lavender stretching towards me on my way down the stairs, and I have to stop and remind myself that this is mine again. This city that’s green all winter, whose steep hills and winding water make me feel inexplicably alive, I am here to stay now. Maybe not forever, maybe only for years, not decades. Who knows? I know that I am inherently restless, that my contentment now does not mean my contentment forever. But instead of that knowledge feeling scary, as it often does, I feel thankful to be here for now, right now. I am where I want to be.

I’m doing well. I hope you are, too.

I walked down a big, big hill, behind a chatty woman with three small dogs on continuously tangling leashes. They frequently stopped to pee. My dog frequently sniffed them from behind because she does not understand consent. We talked about snow and dogs and pleasantries with no substance, but it was easy like drinking a beer under a shady tree. We got to the bottom, slunk down four crumbling steps, and came out to the right close to downtown. She crossed over shortly, bidding farewell.

I kept on, alone, my body wired with the tension of navigating a new place. I stepped gingerly, my face in the wind, down to the intersection at State with the loud “clack-clack” to let me know it wasn’t yet time. As the light change, bells in downtown Montpelier began “My Country Tis of Thee.” For the 4th of July, tomorrow.

Often, people tell me I am so brave to do what I do. Especially, to navigate unknown cities. What I think they are actually in awe of is that I do these things and I EXPECT them to go smoothly. Or, if not smoothly, at least I keep trying. I realize, suddenly, humbly, that perhaps everyone is right. Perhaps the most radically brave thing I can do right now is walk with my head high in a place that I don’t know, in a world that is not built for me, with freedom bells in my ears and a dog jumpy with excitement at my side. And through grit and attention I’ll find what I’m looking for, a gastropub snug in the heart of Main Street, and I’ll sit in the window of the crowded room and drink an IPA whose bitterness fills my nose, and eat a plate of skinny fries doused in mustard, mine all mine. You, little bird, you with your curiosity and your hunger for life, you are the bravest one in this room right now.

I’m back in Vermont for residency, staying at an adorable bed and breakfast close to campus. I’ve never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, and I feel pleased that my first time is now and here, paid for with my own dwindling savings, made possible by my own desperately underused agency and will. It’s going to be a week of rest, of writing, of thinking, of quiet, of planning, of talking, of songbirds, of sunlight and rain, and of breakfast every day that I don’t have to make.

I’m popping into say that this blog is going on hiatus for the summer. One thing I love about this space is the freedom to write as I wish, without the scrutiny or desires of advisors or critique partners. It’s been a struggle to keep up with lately, though. There have been so many things I’ve wanted to say that I haven’t known how to put into words, or haven’t had the courage to try. This space has started to feel somewhat inauthentic, and I never want my writing to be a reflection of my inauthenticity.

It was my birthday on Friday, and a friend I don’t talk to often sent me a list of very lovely birthday wishes. Among them, she hoped I would have “an omnipresent reminder that you are you and you are doing just fine in this life and you are a wonderful person.” I mention that she and I don’t talk much simply to say that I am always shocked when unlikely people have the knack for telling me what I am longing to hear. I’m going to use this hiatus to try to get to that place of omnipresence, to know in my bones that I am doing just fine, that I am doing the best I can and being as good as I can to my loved ones and to the world.

Thank you for reading and for sticking by me this past rollercoaster year. I’ll be back in a few months with stories to tell.

For the Summer Solstice, I thought I’d pay homage to a little patch of green outside the back entrance to my apartment. I’ve dreamed of having green space ever since I moved into my first solo apartment seven years ago. Two apartments later, I finally have somewhat of a “backyard”, a large fenced-in sprawl of grass and winding sidewalks leading to separate dwellings. It’s one of the reasons I picked this apartment, (the other reason being, mainly, I have no time to make a choice and this is good enough).

This spring, I’ve settled into making this space a place I want to be. In past years, in order to get enough time outside in the warmer months, I’d go to a coffee shop with a patio and stay as long as I felt it was acceptable before I should either leave or order another drink. Or I’d sit on my front stoop and brush Kiva for an hour. Or I’d walk. But I longed for a place to sit and read and write and eat and drink my coffee for as long as I pleased, without worrying over capitalist or social pressures. I’ve borrowed a swing and an outdoor table from my parents, and planted some tomatoes, basil, and marjoram in pots beside them. I’m not confident I will get tomatoes, but I love the smell of their leaves and their fuzzy stems and remembering my parents’ tomato-filled garden from years past. I like to wander out my back door and pick basil and marjoram for salad or scrambled eggs. Or clip lemon verbena from its pot on the windowsill for tea. It’s such a small thing. Yet it’s big because it is one thing in my life that is truly mine.

Usually during the day, when the sun is high and relentless, I sit on the swing while Kiva runs around taking care of dog business: sniffing everything to make sure it’s where it should be, eating grass, peeing on stuff. I’ve gotten more sunburns than I care to admit in those quiet minutes. It’s peaceful. It’s luxurious. I am so grateful to have it.

Tell me what you’ve planted this season, what you’re hoping to grow, what you’re planning to do? How will you celebrate this summer?

I am haunted by something I read, by a thing a white person said,
“I refuse to be abused because of the color of my skin.”
… um …
That’s nice white person but what if you had no choice?
What if the system said your skin was so abhorrent that you couldn’t get a job and you couldn’t live in a safe house and your babies would go hungry and no white person had your back, really had your back, so you were just fucked all the ways but especially sideways and constantly, and no matter how hard you work and how much you bleed and how much you want it the system says no justice because the system is afraid of you
the system says you don’t matter because the system is afraid of you
the system cakes your wounds with salt
and no white middle class person does a damn thing that would actually matter
because what’s happening to you doesn’t directly affect them
and they’re safe in their own work-family-love-success-buying-things so who cares what’s going on in the streets
white people, we are complicit
we are all complicit
and these words that I’m writing will do nothing to change that
I am haunted by what you said
and how
I still
do nothing.

I am picking up my first CSA delivery tomorrow. I got an email yesterday, saying that the boxes would be labeled with our names and that we would need to check off our names on a clipboard. The delivery is to a house, so there didn’t seem to be a guarantee that there would be anyone around to assist me. (the delivery hours are 2 to 9, so that’s a pretty big unknown window.)
I emailed back to see if there was any accommodation we could make with my box so I could find it. They got back to me right away, cheerfully said they would put a ribbon on the box, set it at the front of the stack, and could let me know when the driver dropped off the delivery so I could come meet him and get my box directly from him. As for the checking my name off, don’t worry about it.
No freaking out. No flailing. No “we don’t know how to deal with this.” No “you should have let us know sooner.”
In case anyone was wondering, this is how it should always, always be done. Treat people with mindfulness, dignity, and be willing to change your procedures and perspective. Change is good.
I know this is such a little thing, but I’ve been smiling about it for an hour. Think how happy I’d be if this were my life every day!