Monday, December 26, 2011


For the feeling after yoga to last all day grounded and peaceful for one night of deep uninterrupted sleep for a dark corner in a hotel bar (or any sacred place) where your hand might touch my arm again for a pause button (I could have said rewind) a stop button for the way things used to be back when my parents had superpowers framed my paintings tucked me in tight for how fresh everything looks for travel for music my headphones for a place to hide or not need to for good food we never shared but most of all for Sundays with you

Monday, December 19, 2011

Imaginary friend

I have always had imaginary friends. The first one’s name was Clementina. She had chin length orange hair, smooth and straight, and when she came to visit the first thing she would do was stretch out alongside me on our bedroom floor and help me design blueprints for future department buildings.  

I picked my most recent imaginary friend out of a catalog, and now he lives within me. Instead of coming and going at will like that childhood friend who only visited every other week, he is ever-present and exists in what feels like a thick rope wrapped around my spinal cord. 

He runs the flat palm of his hand over my upper arm even though I have never told anyone that is the only part of me that feels empty. He whispers answers into my ear before any of the thousands of questions I want to ask have been formulated, or when in my apartment I am kept awake by the sound of floorboards creaking under the weight of dreams I haven’t had yet.

The structure of his thoughts is very different from mine (his ancestral, labyrinth-like, horizontal, elaborate; mine recent, smooth, simple, vertical) and yet his heart and mine pulse so similarly it’s hard to tell them apart.

In the early morning, when I can’t sleep, he repeats in that rhythmical way of his, always out loud, everything I try to hide, like a mantra, like an affirmation, like a lone witness to this new person I am becoming.

And this is how I know for certain I need nothing beyond the strength his presence brings me - clear, saline and invisible. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I don't remember

You'll be with someone else someday

She'll ask you about me you'll search inside your head and look back at her with those liquid eyes and say I honestly don't remember

I don't remember her why I loved her what we did on Saturday mornings why we fought why we left each other you'll look at our life together thousands of photographs and wonder why you saved them you'll keep the ones I took of you against so many ruins all that sand and delete the ones with our arms around each other

Make a note of this put it somewhere where you won't lose it

I will always remember

Photo - Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Saturday, March 12, 2011


About eight months ago, after exhibiting a rather odd assortment of symptoms, I went to see a doctor. My regular medical practitioner was not available but I got a last minute appointment with her partner to get checked out.

15 minutes later I was diagnosed with a progressive, painful, long term, incurable disease that affects, among other things, your internal organs (like the heart and lungs) and is one of the leading causes of complete disability in the United States.  (“But, are you certain?” I asked. “Pretty much”, he replied. “I’m sorry”.)

The side effects of the medication prescribed to control the symptoms (such as liver damage) left me questioning if the cure was worse than the disorder.  Not taking the medication early leads to irreversible damage and deformity.

Before leaving the doctor’s office I made another appointment with my regular MD to get a second opinion. Then, I took a deep dive into learning everything I could about the diagnosis.

I have always considered myself clear-headed. It didn’t take long for the information I was taking in to turn me into an ineffective mass of nerves.

Have you ever felt a full-blown panic attack? Heart beating out of your chest, a thirst impossible to quench, shaky hands, burning eyes, a stress-induced fever? I felt like that every second of the following four days. I couldn’t sleep more than two hours at a time. I lost half a pound a day.

I arrived a few days later for my second opinion. My regular doctor began by saying it had been inappropriate to arrive at the above conclusion without running the corresponding tests, yet conceded the symptoms I was still experiencing where consistent with the diagnosis. I went to the lab, drew three vials of blood, then had to wait 7 days to get what she said might be inconclusive results.

I left the office and did more research. When you investigate a medical condition on the Internet, there is a fine line between “information is power” (my regular modus operandi) and driving yourself crazy. I crossed it. I could not stop myself.

By Monday evening, I had not slept in four nights. Wednesday morning, I felt like death would be an optimistic outcome.  This feeling was more pragmatic than depressive.  The disease leaves you crippled. Which meant not only that I’d be in unbearable pain and unable to do anything for myself, but that I’d take down with me the people that I love, who’d have to take care of me. Full time. I’d had a wonderful life. Would it be worth living unable to clean myself after going to the bathroom? (Sorry. Too graphic?)

A few days later I went to another doctor, a specialist in homeopathy, because I wanted to explore all my options.  The gradual process of finding other alternatives (and feeling better as a result of them) gave me a spark of hope, not just in that the diagnosis might be incorrect, but that if it was accurate, I’d find my way.

I got my blood test results ten days later. They were clean. No evidence of the disease. No evidence of many others my doctor had decided to test for to “rule out”. I cried.

To this day, I still have unexplained symptoms and am under homeopathic treatment, taking my health – what I eat, how I approach exercise – more seriously than ever. Most of the time, I don’t even think about the fact I still don’t feel 100% like myself.

I can’t summarize – not today, maybe not ever - all the things that went through my head when I believed my life was over. The fatal sadness and terrifying empathy I now feel for people who are correctly diagnosed with the most terrible illnesses.

How the cornerstones of our lives are so intolerably fragile that we are conditioned to not think about it in order to make life bearable.

For now I’ll say this much: if you have your health, everything else is solvable. Everything.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Einstein's Dreams/The center of time

There is a place where time stands still. Raindrops hang motionless in air. Pendulums of clocks float mid-swing. Dogs raise their muzzles in silent howls. Pedestrians are frozen on the dusty streets, their legs cocked as if held by strings. The aromas of dates, mangoes, coriander, cumin are suspended in space.
As a traveler approaches this place from any direction, he moves more and more slowly. His heartbeats grow farther apart, his breathing slackens, his temperature drops, his thoughts diminish, until he reaches dead center and stops. For this is the center of time. From this place, time travels outward in concentric circles–at rest at the center, slowly picking up speed at greater diameters.
Who would make pilgrimage to the center of time? Parents with children, and lovers.
And so, at the place where time stands still, one sees parents clutching their children, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The beautiful young daughter with blue eyes and blond hair will never stop smiling the smile she smiles now, will never lose this soft pink glow on her cheeks, will never grow wrinkled or tired, will never get injured, will never unlearn what her parents have taught her, will never think thoughts that her parents don’t know, will never know evil, will never tell her parents that she does not love them, will never leave her room with the view of the ocean, will never stop touching her parents as she does now.
And at the place where time stands still, one sees lovers kissing in the shadows of buildings, in a frozen embrace that will never let go. The loved one will never take his arms from where they are now, will never give back the bracelet of memories, will never journey far from his lover, will never place himself in danger of self-sacrifice, will never fail to show his love, will never become jealous, will never fall in love with someone else, will never lose the passion of this instant in time.
One must consider that these statues are illuminated by only the most feeble red light, for light is diminished almost to nothing at the center of time, its vibrations slowed to echoes in vast canyons, its intensity reduced to the faint glow of fireflies.
Those not quite at dead center do indeed move, but at the pace of glaciers. A brush of the hair might take a year, a kiss might take a thousand. While a smile is returned, seasons pass in the outer world. While a child is hugged, bridges rise. While a goodbye is said, cities crumble and are forgotten.
And those who return to the outer world…Children grow rapidly, forget the centuries-long embrace from their parents, which to them lasted but seconds. Children become adults, live far from their parents, live in their own houses, learn ways of their own, suffer pain, grow old. Children curse their parents for trying to hold them forever, curse time for their own wrinkled skin and hoarse voices. These now old children also want to stop time, but at another time. They want to freeze their own children at the center of time.
Lover who return find their friends are long gone. After all, lifetimes have passed. They move in a world they do not recognize. Lovers who return still embrace in the shadow of buildings, but now their embraces seem empty and alone. Soon they forget centuries-long promises, which to them lasted only seconds. They become jealous even among strangers, say hateful things to each other, lose passion, drift apart, grow old and alone in a world they do not know.
Some say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of sadness, but it is noble to live life, and without time there is no life. Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a case.

Alan Lightman
Einstein's Dreams (The center of time.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


When I was a little girl my mom told me that using body cream was very important. I don't remember how old I was; I must have been six or seven. I have a clear memory of watching her slather it on her legs, then hold the open jar in front of me so that I would do the same. Putting on cream is something I do every day right after I get out of the shower. All these years I've never questioned if I need to do it or if my skin is dry. It's automatic, like brushing my teeth or pulling the sheets up over my ears.

It was my father who taught me the importance of drying my feet thoroughly and running the corner of the bath towel back and forth between my toes after every shower. I remember him declaring, in that inarguable way of his, that water between my toes was bad for me. (He explained it could cause the skin to split, which to this day makes me wince). When I get out of the shower, I indeed take the corner of the towel and run it back and forth between each toe (somewhat obsessively - I wonder where that came from?), even when I'm in a mad hurry. I can guarantee it: no residue of humidity on my feet, ever.

It's odd, the bits of programming our parents leave in us. 

It occurred to me recently that these two rituals ensure I start each day with the omnipresence of the two people who love me most in the world.

A gift of deep caring, all wrapped and handed to me every morning before I even make it out of my house, and I only just realized it. 

And you wonder why I'm grateful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I will always take care of you I will never this is forever this is constant under control I am alone nobody would understand this is unequivocal absolute unsolvable unforgivable that is impossible this is a principle a cornerstone The Truth my Truth there are two sides to every story (two sides couldn’t quite cover any story)

I prefer now I prefer you a room with a view (not just any view) a walk in the rain (which was a cliché until you were holding the umbrella) help taking my boots off at the end of that long walk

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The luckiest person in the world

I am not afraid to say that I believe I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

Well, OK. I am afraid.

In fact, the concept kind of freaks me out.

The thoughts that race through my head are: Why me? Whatever did I do to deserve such a huge amount of blissful blessings? And, perhaps more importantly, when is the other shoe going to drop, in the manifestation of some calamity? Will my luck run out? Will my fortune change course? (For a while there I believed it had. I don’t wish hopelessness on anyone.)

I've decided that I have a choice. I can torture myself with the thoughts in the paragraph above. Take in my luck and react to it with panic, with a sense that I might lose everything I have at any moment (which is always possible). And in doing so, successfully jeopardize the delight derived in what is bestowed on me.

But, wouldn’t this be the clear opposite of gratitude? In other words, wouldn’t this diminish me, make me an ungrateful person?

Or, (gasp) I can assume that there is a reason I have what I do, and that someone somewhere determined that I deserve it. (To whom it may concern: thank you.)

That I believe every being on the planet deserves abundance and good fortune, so why should I be the exception?

So today (and every day) I make the decision to not allow myself to be stressed by what life gives me. Instead, I will let this enormous feeling of gratitude that I carry with me wash over me, in a ritual at least as frequent as my twice-daily shower.

And relish every gift that comes my way, and honor the bestower by doing so with a thankful, awed, open heart.