Archive for ‘Senses’


October 12th, 2010

I went to the beach to watch the sunset with friends a few days ago, and we agreed this sign should be handed out in the form of an instruction sheet as we leave childhood. There are no lifeguards on duty 24/7, and even if there were, many of us would probably ignore them and head straight for the areas of life most likely to contain drop-offs, deep holes and strong currents. It’s not that we have death wishes, but the danger zones are also where we find the most intensity, the most risk, the biggest surge of adrenaline. We just can’t help being drawn to them. And who’s to say we won’t survive a rip tide that carries us off course or a whirlpool that keeps us going in circles instead of finding a way forward out of predicaments or relationships that threaten to pull us under? We’re all swimming at our own risk from the time we exit the womb to the day we return to the Great Mother, and no matter how religiously we put our faith in seatbelts, bike helmets, fluoride toothpaste, college degrees and antioxidants, safety has never been part of our birthright.

Calling All Angels

September 20th, 2010

If you pulled your bike out of my spider-webbed shed and rode it a few blocks from my house, this is the view you’d find. Because we’re entering the days of splendor in the marsh grass and fiery fall skies in my part of the country.  Soon there will be goblin moons suspended above the ocean, and I heard yesterday there were dozens and dozens of spinner sharks driven shoreward from the passing hurricane, leaping out of the water like star-spangled acrobats. I daydream about living another life, a bigger life, in a different place, and then I remember William Blake never traveling anywhere and seeing angels everywhere. They must be here, too — it’s just my vision that’s faulty.

Lipstick Bravado

September 18th, 2010

What is it about red lipstick? I never wear it. I always thought it was for women with more self-confidence or bigger lips than I have, but today I bought a tube on a whim. And I love it. With this stuff on, I think I could run a company (oops I’ve already done that), get the best table in a restaurant, wear a nipped-in-the-waist suit, write a country western song, not fall down in high heels, be seductive instead of stupidly shy, have a secret and dangerous lust affair, drink port and smoke cigarillos after dinner, lead a revolution, write a erotica or a bodice ripper, not give a fuck, host  a sunday salon of intellectuals, move to Paris, understand Foucault, fall in love with a bullfighter, write a poem like “Howl,”  stride down a street like I own it, live by myself on a houseboat or in the desert, learn to fly a plane (wearing a shearling/leather aviator jacket of course), talk back, be a hermit, be a rock star, be the me that lives under my skin.


September 1st, 2010

Screening is too easy, and I don’t mean just screening calls. It’s screening the unspoken messages that you aren’t good enough or cool enough or just enough. My doctor, who I love and who is so incredibly human and humane and innovative, always asks me if I’m seeing “someone.” I’m glad he does, because he’s just keeping tabs on my social life to make sure that I  have one, that I’m not isolated or hermiting. How many docs bother? But when other people ask me that and the answer is “no,” I always feel somehow that it’s my fault. Why don’t I meet any men, why aren’t I on, what’s wrong with me?  So I’m trying to look at it from a different point of view: How great it is that my friends and acquaintances believe I’m capable of attracting a “someone.” So many things in life benefit from standing on the other side of the window and looking outside in, instead of always from the inside out.

Little Girl World

August 30th, 2010

I’ve been thinking really hard lately about greening, about trying to resensitize myself to the world around me, to somehow get back to a five-year-old’s matter-of-fact oneness with it. Of course, I can’t ignore the layers of experience that have built up around my soul since I was five, that have muffled the message of the beautiful old world, but there are certain objects, colors, sounds, words that call them up still. The green leaves of the basil plant on my porch remind me of the big, velvety green leaves of the tobacco plants that hung from the rafters of my grandfather’s barn. A poem like The Healing Time by Pesha Gertler that breaks through the carapace formed by being one of the living wounded (aren’t we all?!) to make me cry. Coming across a paper garland on Etsy made out of pages of a book I first read in front of the fireplace in my grandmother’s bedroom, which also functioned as living/sitting/center of the world room in her house. Remembering that aside from stabbing my playmate in the scalp with a No. 2 pencil I was a dreamy, quiet kid who had a rockin’ interior life and vivid imagination. That I loved cutting and pasting more than anything, and whenever I can do it now, I regain fragments of that state of mind. Scissors, please.

The Hush

April 27th, 2010

This morning I was rushing around the house because I was late as usual, trying to make a sandwich, take my blood pressure for a chart I’m keeping for my doctor and apply self-tanner, all more or less simultaneously. Then I exploded from the house like someone shot from a cannon. Later, I came across old photos from Italy and found this one of the cat that belonged to the villa where I stayed. So peaceful that just looking at it made me exhale all the worry and tension that keeps my shoulders standing at attention in anticipation of the next brouhaha. I remembered watching how slowly the night came down and how it smelled and the long vistas across the hills at blue dusk. The silence was bone-deep — no TV, radio, music. How many times does that actually happen in our daily lives?  We’ve managed to distract the whole planet with our Stuff. At night, our stars are put in the shade by the ambient glow of electric lights, and even if  the TV is off, chances are the dishwasher is running or the dryer is whirring or cars are passing the house. And, of course, the usual chorus of sirens, garbage trucks, leaf blowers and chain saws. I’m so unused to silence that I don’t even miss it until I’m reminded of how it didn’t sound.

Fridaville Friday

March 5th, 2010

Moving into a newly designed web site is daunting…my words seem to rattle around and disappear in so much white space. I’m used  to the happy shack above, all neon-soul and prayer flags and twinkle lights. And that’s the Fridaville I want to preserve because that’s where my imagination rents a room. In the color of the cherry blossoms in spring, the smell of the rosemary bush by the gate and the songs of the wind chimes on a blow-your-house-down winter night. A Fridaville Friday means latching the gate behind me, going through the mail, pouring a glass of wine, putting on the softest rattiest pajamas I can find, reading poetry or People magazine, eating cheese toast with fig jam for dinner and watching a cheesy true crime TV show. In Fridaville, Friday night is a holy  threshold between work time and rest time…the best time of the week.

Morning Meaning

February 28th, 2010

Do you ever get tired of the morning routine of wake up, shower, shampoo, brush teeth, dry hair, moisturize and maybe makeup?  Sometimes I wonder how to be more awake to life when I walk through the same monotonous steps over and over every morning. There’s one morning ritual that I almost look forward to though — using the squeegee on the glass shower doors. I love being enveloped in hot steam and water and then wiping the slate clean before I step back into the world. While I’m in the shower my wanders lazily and daydreams furiously about projects I’ve started or want to start. From the inside looking out, the room, the day ahead is a blur, a mirage. Taking time to clear the shower doors with the rubber blade prepares me to cross the threshhold into the day, to take those ideas and dreams out into the world where they might gather shape and form and color. A tiny meditative practice that adds a bit of meaning to my morning. Do you  have a ritual that prepares you to meet the day?

My Happy Hour

September 7th, 2009

When I had lung surgery in 1996, I went right back to work after a couple of weeks even though though my body felt invaded and wounded. My one-woman office and apartment were both located on a little SC barrier island, and at lunch I would take a chair down to the beach and sit in the sun. My body needed to be kneaded by the sun and lathered with light. Between then and now, I’ve been back to the beach so many times, even after I moved off the island–spending Sunday afternoons with my friends, going skinny dipping with my book club, taking off my clothes and lying in the moonlight late at night. Recently, though, I’ve put the beach in my back pocket, shoved it to the back of the closet along with my old bathing suits, ignored the mute message of the beach chairs beached against the picket fence in my suburban yard. But this weekend, I packed a tiny bag with the NY Times crossword puzzle, a magazine, a zip lock with my iPhone and spf Fresh lip balm, a journal and pen, a lime green beach chair and drove to the beach. The first day I only stayed an hour, didn’t read, just sat and stared at the water. Maybe I had a tiny inkling of a panic attack at so little to do, nothing needed of me, only just sitting still with my thoughts. Today, I packed the same tiny bag, Vogue Living Australia, a bottle of water and headed back to Station 19, my favorite path to the water. Again, I sat, did nothing, opened my arms to embrace Vitamin D. Scraps of words torn from nearby conversations blew past me on the breeze. Voices were drowsy–bodies were slack, lazy, sun swollen.. I closed my eyes and saw a yellow bowl against my eyelids and wished I could make one on a wheel. A bird sang on the edge of my consciousness. A giant gray container ship rose over the horizon, massive as the heavy rain clouds coming in off the ocean. The scouring sand blew down the beach, reminding us that Tuesday comes. But until then, Unlabor Day is now and now and now.

Savoring Italy

March 7th, 2009

This photo was taken in a house in Siena, late lazy afternoon. I think I slowed down in some fundamental way in Italy–yes, I was writing furiously every day, drinking in new experiences and landscapes, feeling the usual unsettledness that comes over me when I travel, but I also tasted things deeply, lingered over aromas (the smell of crushed herbs — chamomile? — in the lawn will stay with me forever), felt the lens of my eye opening wider. Today I went to a wine tasting at noon–unholy hour for wine–but it was so dramatically different from  gulping a glass at a party for the fortitude to face strangers or mindlessly pouring a glass when I get home from work. Because we were sipping, I could take time to smell the ocean in the white wine from Italy, feel the sun and wind and earth of Tuscany. As one of  the American wines opened up, its aroma shifted from a strong goatish whiff to subtle (sweat on the skin of someone you love) to sublime (an orchard of ripe fruit with drunken wasps reeling about in the summer sun). I’m sure that’s not how the winemakers would describe their bottles, but slowing down to savor stirred my sense memories on this ordinary Saturday afternoon and took me to so many places in my past and my dreams.