Thursday, June 25, 2009

Guardian Angel

I take the next exit and don't believe what I see a red car coming towards me at full speed driving the wrong way on a main highway and nothing exists outside of this moment everything falls away work my inbox my voice mail the perpetual concern over my family’s safety my propensity towards insomnia any residue of anger the good book that sits on my bedside table the minor cruelties I witness every day the pain between my eyebrows your love that sits like an angel between my shoulder blades there is nothing but the steering wheel and veering left and slamming on the breaks and knowing there is no way out of this one and closing my eyes and bracing for the impact that never comes and wondering if your love actually is an angel sitting between my shoulder blades 


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Weightless is what I want to be completely free so I forgive my mother for not giving me her beautiful full lips forgive my father for passing on to me the genes that make me anxious and apprehensive forgive my husband for every business trip he’s taken without me I forgive every twenty- something who doesn’t notice me anymore my best friend for the distance between us I forgive my teacher for that accumulated indifference my memory for taking specific events and wearing them thin and slippery and treacherous I forgive myself for not always being productive for wanting to watch TV sometimes for not possessing the esthetic sense to know what color to paint my dining room wall

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flotation devices

The storm was so bad the plane couldn't land. It tried to - for more than an hour it tried to, while passengers whimpered, gasped, prayed, heaved into their air sickness bags. I was sitting next to a small boy. He looked over at me and put his hand in mine. It felt fragile and cold, like a bird. I noticed my skin, dry and taught over my knuckles.

Everyone tells me I look exactly like my father, but my hands are my mother's hands. Hers are bigger, stronger, but I can see how mine were made using hers as a model. I see her in other places too - in my back and shoulders. I know I'm the spitting image of my father, but I'm my mother's daughter too.

My parents love me. Today, years later, while I pick fruit at the supermarket or slide something into the oven or straighten out my desk at the office I am often struck by this knowledge that comes out of nowhere and envelops me completely.

The very first time I tasted coffee was at my grandfather's house. We went to visit him and the next day I got up very early and he was already up. He was standing alone in the kitchen. He pulled out a chair so I could sit down and set a big mug in front of me. He poured boiling, frothy milk into it, from a battered metal pot. He added one large spoonful of sugar. Then, a touch of coffee, the black liquid barely coloring the white. I still drink it the same way.

There was a boy I liked in school, right at the time when girls liked boys and boys thought girls were gross. He had black hair and green eyes and wore heavy metal t-shirts. In the search for something to talk to him about I introduced myself to what is now referred to as classic rock. My preference for rock outlived my interest in the boy.

When I lived in Beijing I had a dear friend who was a DJ. He used to play whatever song my friend Mimi and I wanted, and we stayed out as late as my father would let me (which was never very late) dancing with abandon in a nearly empty disco in China in 1988.

Right away I loved going to work. The structure of it, its demands on one's character. I love getting up in the morning and walking outside in my pajamas to get the newspaper, the smell of the clean ocean air. I love glancing over the business section over my breakfast of toast and blueberries. I love showering and getting dressed and showing up and getting paid for something I love doing, which mostly involves expressing my opinion. I look at my paycheck and think, "Ha! What a deal".

To my complete surprise, I’m really good at this thing called marriage. I often get asked if I thought my husband was handsome the first time I saw him. What I thought, with a giddy, somewhat sick feeling, was "I love him". I loved him fiercely straight away and I still do, for the same reasons and different reasons, reasons I couldn't have predicted in that meeting room in Austin, Texas. I was 28 years old.

On the plane, with the pilot trying to land in the middle of that storm, I looked down at the San Francisco Bay and worried that the water would be really cold. I wondered if I'd manage to get out of my seat belt. If the cushion could really be used as a flotation device. It's funny how it's always the little things that matter the most.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


As long as you are here there will never be a drought no shortage of things to write about my new lipstick the smell of taxis in Canada the shape of the pasta Paola made for us the night we arrived back pain and how it’s changed the light in the photograph you took of all of us around the dinner table that looks like a Rembrandt the metal spirals of barbed wire lined with razors installed on top of fences in countries everywhere the virtues and pitfalls of orange paint and expensive furniture wanting new things parts of me that still surprise me do we ever really get to know ourselves

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I can hear the rain drop against the ceiling gush down the gutters stream down the street it makes so much noise it fills my ears and yet my blood runs through my veins and doesn't make a sound