The man at the pond

What moved you? What made you laugh or cry today? What did you notice?

Sometimes I ask myself those questions. They help me not take my life for granted. They help me feel more connected. And sometimes they make me bow.

But yesterday morning these questions were the last thing on my mind. In fact, not much other than a very grumpy mood was on my mind as I set out on my run. But that was about to change… And last night, remembering my questions, I bowed to the man at the pond. And then I gave my memory of it all a pen:

The pond has been frozen for several days now. Yesterday afternoon there were many children and puppies and peoples skating and slipping and sliding gleefully around on the ice, but this morning, it being Monday, a work- and school-day, not so many. This morning, after my run, I stopped at the pond again.

In the distance, a handful of skaters: one skating in smooth circles on a cleared patch to my right; in the middle distance to my left two others skating on another smooth patch; and closest to where I stood, on the right, a man and his boy simply laughing and rolling around on the ice. It was all quite enjoyable to watch in an absentminded, daydreamy way, but the person who really drew my attention stood a mere few feet to my left, doing nothing more than gazing at the skaters, and in particular one girl-woman who was too far for me to be able to tell her age, but by the way she moved, I’d say she was, at most, in her 20′s and possibly even, still in her teens.

The man was short, Latino-looking, and somewhere between mid-age and going-on-oldish age. A couple of feet behind us, on the bench, sat a very quiet boy, sucking his thumb, wrapped in several jackets including a woman’s coat. I wondered if the girl-woman was the boy’s mom. I wondered if the man who’d captured my attention was her father. Maybe he was watching the boy so she could skate. Really, I had no idea.

I watched the skaters, but mostly I wanted to watch the man watching the girl and so, as often as I could without being obvious, I cast a surreptitious glance his way only to find his eyes, still focused in the distance, on the girl. Mostly he was serious, though always his eyes were soft, and sometimes the edges of his mouth would venture up into the ever so slightest smile, which usually happened when she fell and quickly got up, or when she did some little twirl or wobbly pirouette.

His manner was shy, self-contained. Very quiet. And caring. At one point he turned and, seeing that one of the coats had slipped off the child, he went over and, with a tender touch, tucked the coats more closely around the boy before stepping back to his spot to take up gazing at the girl in the distance.

In this country, at least around here, when I see men of the ethnicity, the heritage, of this man at the pond, they are often wearing custodial clothing, mopping a floor here, cleaning dishes there. Not always, certainly, but often. This man’s clothes were in good condition, and he wore a baseball cap. He was neither poorly nor well dressed.

I am not sure why I was so taken by him. We never exchanged a word, nor did our eyes ever meet. I have no idea who he was or what in the world he does, but what I felt watching him was a kind of swelling in my chest, as if my ribs had suddenly become far too tight for my heart. I can feel it in my body, even now, just remembering. I could try to name what that is, that feeling in my chest, but words fall so short. A name, a label, wouldn’t even come close to doing it justice. My body knows better.

I realize that if my little scene here, the one I’ve just told you, were a movie, it’d be sorely lacking in plot. What can I say! Sure, I can’t help wondering about the man: what are his hopes, his dreams, his fears, his loves? Really, I have no idea. But I’m pretty sure I am right when I say that two of his loves were there at the pond this morning. As well as a woman —a stranger— with a rib cage too tight for whatever was happening in her heart.

I tip my hat to the man at the pond. And to you. Thanks for reading. I hesitate to even post this for I wonder: did you have to be there?

Ah well. It’s just a blog. But tell me, if you want, what have you noticed lately?

a quiet hello

The Pause–
it’s on the corner of Now and Notice,
where that old dive, Reaction,
used to be.

Happy hour every day!
Come in any attire,
all moods welcome.

Also? Hottest bartender ever
—ahem!—
Presence is his name.

Be sure to try their signature drink
Patience, I think it’s called—
not sure of the secret ingredient,
but from what I can tell
it’s got some muddled Time,
macerated in oak barrel-aged Joy.
Seriously? Best drink ever.
(And don’t worry about getting drunk
on it, even the hangover is great!)

The Pause, meet me there?

~ * ~

The hoopla and flash of December have passed… the days are short, the nights are long, and the trees are bare.

Ahh, January, hello there. And hello you, curious reader. How are you and 2012 getting on?

I remember a phone conversation with my youngest brother around this time several years ago… Summer girl that I am, I was probably complaining about
winter. Danny, on the other hand, loves winter and I just had to know why.

“The trees are bare,” he said, “and I can see so much more when the trees are bare.”

Interesting, isn’t it?

Danny is right. Bare-branch days give us wide angle lenses, perfect for seeing the bigger picture.

When I take a moment to pause and get a sense of 2012 and what it might want for me, I feel it a-buzz with energy. It’s not the hyper and static-y buzz of television, but a kind of glowing warm hum…

I listen more… Yes, 2012 wants me to fall in love with life. Oh wait, it’s got more… it says you can’t love things you don’t notice, and that you are much more likely to notice things when you pause.

Ahh, to pause. It’s the easiest and the hardest thing to do. And it’s my aspiration for 2012.

And you? Have you checked in with 2012 to find out what it might want for you? Give it a try. Often we think we need to make things happen… making things happen is tiring and usually involves a lot of things we think we should do but in our heart of hearts aren’t fully on board about.

What happens when you get quiet for a moment, look through the bare trees, and ask your life what it wants for you?

If it’d help you to write it out loud and tell us what it says, you can add a comment below, or drop me a line. I’m here, and I’d love to hear.

Also? My office is open and my massage table warmer is on. Mmmm… Here are my hours this week:

Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

(And yes, there are openings!)

Listening and curious about what’s in store, and looking forward to seeing you soon…

Heidi

Introducing my favorite superhero for oof-stories.

Come on over to Leah Piken Kolidas’ “Creative Every Day” blog, where I wrote a guest post about my favorite superhero for hard life-stories.

The Point.

What’s the point— Just last week, I was asking that about life, and once or twice I could taste the panic rising in my throat.

Thing is, that question has no good answer. It’s an endless kind of loop. Which is to say, not helpful, whatsoever. I know all too well where that question can lead if unnoticed and unmet by kindness. And that’s a place I’d rather not return.

But turning my back on the despair the question carries in its wake? Never worked.

(I notice how hard it is to write the word despair. There’s shame about admitting that it still, sometimes, arises).

Something says: Heidi, aren’t you past that already?

Apparently not. How do I know?

Because, there it was, just days ago, galloping in my ribcage and weighing down my chest like those leaden vests they make you wear while the technician runs out of room to zap the X-ray from somewhere behind the safety glass.

Fear. I can plaster it with affirmations, pretending I’m past it. But hel-lo! There it is. And it doesn’t much matter how good the affirmation is: if I’m using it to cover up fear? It’s bullshit. Plain and simple. And…

Bullshit by any other word? Yah.

Besides, when the “positive stuff”—you know, the affirmations, the grin and bear it everything-is-fine-thank-you-very-much smiles, the platitudes, the parroting of verses, proverbs, quotes or texts no matter how sacred—is used to cover up fear? Useless. The bogeyman may not come out in the noontime sun, but at 3 a.m.? Yeah. Yikes!

So, this is me out of the closet:

Hello, my name is Heidi, and I am a haver of a hard time. Last week it was panic.

Hi Heidi. Welcome.

Of bags and trees

Today was a blue sky, just-a-sweatshirt kind of spring day here in Boston. There I was, walking down Mass Ave from Davis to Central Square (to meet with Dave, owner of Black Lotus Yoga, where I am signing on as Massage Therapist come May —yay!) noticing trees. This isn’t unusual for me. I love trees no matter what, no matter where: in summer, full and round. In fall, decked out in celebration. In winter, breath-takingly naked. In spring, bursting in bloom. Like today.

So there I was, la-de-da-ho-hum ambling along noticing trees and then this one Magnolia in particular with a black plastic bag stuck in its branches was there. That’s right, there:

Of all things to be, a black plastic bag isn’t tops. Especially these days when everyone including moi is calling them names like “bad,” and leaving them to not decompose anytime soon for their much sexier and politically correct cousins, the reusable canvas bags.

Now you could say that black plastic bag did not belong there in that tree, and of course in many ways you’d be right. But, know what?

Saying that does not take away from the reality of it being there. And know what else?

If you’re going to be a plastic bag, and if you’re going to be stuck? Might as well hang out on the branch of a bursting Magnolia. Just sayin! The scent. The view. (Not to mention that chick taking my picture!)

And if you’re going to have panic come a-visiting, as sometimes it is wont to do with some of us? Why not take it by the hand, out into the world. Because seriously! A closet? When was the last time you tried sitting in a closet all day? And under the covers? Might stuffy, I say, mighty stuffy.

So, what’s the point?

Life. Life is the point. My friend @tangokate tweeted it best:

“Today I remembered why I go out into the world; not because it’s good for me, not spiritual homework, but because this is the point. Life.”

Until next time, see you around! Maybe on twitter ;) Maybe on Mass Ave. Maybe on the branch of that Magnolia—

Heidi (a.k.a. @curiousHeidiHi)

Recalculating!

(Last missive from February’s “A Month of Living Curiously”)

Recently I was in a car with a global positioning system. I know, I know. GPS’s are probably old hat for you, but this is me. I’m a public transportation girl.

So my dear friend was driving, and I was curious about this little direction-giving contraption that would say things like, “In 20 feet turn left.” I thought, “How cool is that! I’d love one of those for my life.”

And then, something like a light bulb lit up in my head.

There is, actually, something very much like that in my life but it requires curious and open eyes and ears. And when I am pushing and pulling like crazy I just can’t see or hear it.

Then I asked my friend who was so adeptly navigating New York City traffic with the help of this little gadget: “What does the lovely GPS lady’s voice tell you when you don’t follow her direction and you make a wrong turn?”

So, get this! Ready? If you make a wrong turn, the GPS system will say, very simply, in its inimitably no-muss-no-fuss, a little bit sexy & a little bit business but always calm voice: “Recalculating…”

And then, get this! It will scan to determine exactly where you are presently located (after making that “wrong” turn) and, taking into account where you are trying to get, it will proceed, without a hint of impatience, to give you simple directions, one step at a time, to get you there from where you are now.

Notice that in no moment does the lovely GPS lady ever get snarky and say: “You dumb-ass! What’d you go and turn left for? I never told you to turn left! Now what are we going to do?!” Hmmmmm. She must know that would be of no help at all!

Isn’t that simply the best? So now, I add to my collection of self-in-presence people and things to channel in moments of panic and wrong turns, right there alongside Maya Angelou, the paramedic, and Dagmar from Lars & the Real Girl, none other than the lovely GPS lady-voice.

February’s “A Month of Living Curiously” comes to an end. [Sniffle, sniffle.] You will hear from me again tomorrow just to wrap things up, toot some horns, as we say around here, and give you some info and where to go from here options.

Right now, here, I’d love to take a moment to make a wish for you, dear friend:

May your pausing and your noticing, and all the ways you’ve begun to open your senses curiously toward yourself and the world in this short month, be just a beginning, a mere stepping stone on your continuing journey of a lifetime of living curiously with the one-and-only you.

The way I see it is that life keeps happening anyway. I can either live curiously and enjoy getting to know this amazing, if at times oddly-behaving, creature that is me, or I can kick and scream and complain about who I’ve got tagging along. It’s my choice to make.

And if I miss my turn? Well, thank goodness there’s always RECALCULATING.

Gratefully, curiously, and ever yours,

Heidi

P.S. I’m very excited about the brand-spanking-new AMOLC adventure to start on Sunday, March 1 (if a bit nervous and biting my nails!)

March’s AMOLC will have a side-theme of DREAMS running through it, and I’ve been saving up some nice POETRY, since poets are some of my favorite teachers of curiosity, ever!

So, that’s a little taste of what’s to come. I’d love to have you along if it calls to you to join. You can sign up for the ALL NEW month here.

Thank you. Blowing kisses your way, whether or not you stay!

Of cake and lovers

(On the occasion of it being Valentines day, and on the occasion that I don’t so much care about that—other than being very happy for you if it makes you happy, and on the occasion of realizing that unless I find myself to be a good piece of cake it won’t matter how good a piece of cake you think I am, I am re-posting last July’s issue of my e-museletter. And oh: icing or no icing, Happy Day to you!)

Have you noticed the way that lovers can find each other’s oddest quirks fascinating or in the least amusing?

I’m not talking a brand-new-head-over-heals crush who turns blind eye on whatever doesn’t fit the perfect picture she wants to see — (what? you just up and left D.C.? Wrongly accused of embezzlement? Poor you! I hate when that happens. What? You need to take that call in the other room? Of course, dear—)

No, I’m talking a lover with wide open eyes who can’t wait for the next chance to lie in the arms of you. A lover who knows you so well, yet not so well that they aren’t still surprised. A lover who loves hearing you recount a funny exchange. A lover whose glance lingers when you leave a room, who traces your arches and curves of silhouette as you chop radishes or grind up garlic and rock salt with pestle in mortar. A lover who laughs to watch you search down your shirt for that piece of your favorite chocolate that you just dropped, mid-bite (darn!)

I’m talking a lover who loves you in all your yous: svelte as Angelina, skinny as a string, curvy as a pumpkin, flighty as a kite, soft as moss, plain as vanilla, bright as yellow, dark as earth or, um, chocolate (where did it go!)…

Lovers like this are the stuff of dreams we don’t ever want to wake from, movies we don’t want to end. But they do. Everything does, sooner or later.

People and lovers come and go. Even the longest and strongest of relationships are not set in stone. Moods change. Minds change. Weather changes too. Friends move or move on. Loved ones pass away. Leases end. Economies dip and die dive. But I’m the one I’ll go to bed and wake with till the day I die. It may sound obvious but it’s not something I’ve always appreciated.

So, what might it be like to appreciate my very own self with all my quirks, foibles, and oddities, with the heart of my dream lover? Wouldn’t it just make love from another — whenever and however that appears — like icing on an already amazing cake? How might this already amazing cake of me look or taste? Black forest? Chocolate? Vanilla? Mojito? Red velvet?

Hmmmmm….

I sit on my chair watching a netflixed movie on my laptop, legs crossed and feet tucked under me. I notice how my feet rarely stay on the floor. Then I appreciate how a sometimes flightly mind is also a mind that can soar in the wind of ideas.

With the heart of a lover I appreciate that I got rid of a TV to write more —never mind I don’t always write more. I notice how much I love writing letters —never mind letters don’t sell. And actually, come to think, I am now writing letters that sell. Wow. (Check it out!)

I clap my hands and kiss me when I notice me doing what I love —like my massage therapy work, like mixing things up in the kitchen, like writing to you today… And when I engage in my less-than-wonderful habits —which happens quite often, really —my lover’s heart doesn’t turn a blind eye, but neither does it berate me.

Have you noticed that the best lovers don’t try to fix you? They know that change imposed or forced never really works. Like begets like: war begets war, shame begets shame. Lovers prefer begetting love. That is, after all, what they’re about. (That and maybe carrot cake!)

So today, with or without icing, I hope you are enjoying the cake of you. Touch your face. Run your fingers through your hair. Call or write someone who makes you laugh. Rent Lars & the Real Girl and laugh and cry at once. Taste your tears. Go to your favorite place. Watch the fireworks. Listen to your heart as if it were a poet delivering this year’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

If this entry brings you love, amusement or a sudden craving for good cake, then spread the joy and pass it on to your friends. And feel free to drop me a line! I love hearing from readers. And, even better, sign up to get a month of my letters!

In fun, in jest, in love,

Heidi

Move over squirrel. I a hummingbird now.

Somewhere between the if-you-don’t-have-anything-good-to-say-don’t-say-anything-at-all camp and the it’s-still-freaking-winter-and-I’m-climbing-the-walls camp, is a place of OK-ness. You know, OK: you aren’t jumping for joy euphorically, but neither are you throwing in the towel and running the Sylvia Plath bath.

And today, I must say, OK sounds pretty darned good.

To that end I took my butt out for a run, because one sure place not to find OK is within the 4 walls one has been climbing this live-long winter.

So here’s my list of totally random and miscellaneous crap that, oddly enough, makes me feel OK, and, at moments, even happy:

1. The track! It’s been an icy-snowy-eon since anyone’s been able to make out anything resembling a track at my dear Danehy Park, and today, well, there it was! Beeeeauuuuutiful. It was all I could do not to kneel prostrate and kiss its lanes. So thank you thank you for a track to run on.

2. Legs to run with. (Before you go getting too impressed you should know that I am not one of those lithe-bodied chicks who make running look like a breeze… Oh no, it’s me, Heidi. I got me some thick-chick legs here, thanks to my, um, stock. Which brings me to a big tangent (hence “random crap”):

3. About stock… As I pondered the wonders of my thick un-gazelle-like legs moving me about said track, I remembered a phrase my parents used to use—among others—to describe someone: “He comes from good stock” they might say, or some such.

Pray tell, smart reader, to which stock does such expression refer? Are we talking soup? If so, I hope I came from a nice and rich chicken stock with plenty of herbs and garlic.

Are we talking Wall Street? God help us all.

Are we talking warehouse shelves of merchandise? Who knows. Hunh. If so, I can only hope I come from books, or beautiful silk fabrics, or quills to write with, and not, oh, carburetor nuts (is there even such a thing?) or toilet plungers—

4. And speaking of tangents, I gotta come clean on something: I don’t really run. You know, not really really. What I do could best be described as a jogging-walking combo thingie that I simply prefer to call “running” because it sounds sexier. Cooler. Rico suave. Or something.

You: Hey, Heidi, what are you up to?
Me: Oh, I’m about to go out for a run.
You: Cool.

VS.

You: Hey, Heidi, what are you up to?
Me: Oh, I’m about to go out and do my walking-jogging alternating 2 minute thing.
You: Hunh?

See? That’s exactly what I mean. You just made my point.

And, not that you asked but I’m doing the Couch-to-5K thing. As the name implies, it gets you up from the couch to the finish line of a 5K. You build up, incrementally, bit by bit, week by week. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been hanging around on the week 4 regimen for a few months now. Apparently I’m in no hurry about that 5K!

4. I always thought that the animal I most resembled was the squirrel. I have never liked it one bit. Not the squirrel, and obviously then, not resembling it either.

But, in my worst anxious or compulsive or fearful moments? Yeah, pretty much I’m a squirrel.

Last week, walking home from the market, I surprised a squirrel, and rather than scurrying up the tree, it just stood there like a deer squirrel in headlights. You could tell it was anxious. On edge. It was like, “Um, excuse me lady, what are you doing just standing there staring at me?” And I was like, “Um, what are YOU doing just staring at ME!”

After a minute of this I realized I should be the “bigger man” and walk away. So I shrugged nonchalantly and walked on. But not without the niggly feeling, once again, that we have much in common, those squirrels and me: always scurrying about, to and fro, here and there, waiting for crumbs, hoarding nuts for upcoming famine… And I felt pretty much doomed to my squirreldom.

Why can’t I be more like an elephant, I thought. Or a dolphin. Or a whale. But alas, squirrel energy is what I got. (At least when I’m feeling bad about myself and not so much enjoying my company, like in wintertime, like lately). So, I’ve been pretty much just trying to make peace with that—my restless energy—-and then today, my friend Lizi greeted me on the phone with this:

5. “How’s my little hummingbird friend?”

Honest to god those were her words and unbeknownst to her, she gave me a new animal to be and I’m very very excited about that. Truth is, I’ve outgrown squirrel. Not that I don’t have that kind of hyper-alert thing still going on. But I need wider, a fuller view on it all. Enter hummingbird. Or colibrí, as we call them in Spanish.

They hover, doing a helicoptering kind of thing to remain stationery yet aerodynamic in order to suck the nectar out of flowers. They fly. They get the hell around! And they hum. Or rather, their wings make a humming sound from moving so fast.

So, get this: in order to replenish their energies to keep doing all their joyous humming activities, they must rest. A lot. They actually do a hummingbird version of deep bear-like hybernation every day in order to conserve and replenish energy for their strong and busy little wings. And here I thought all they did was hum and hover and fly! Alas, me thinks again.

So, wee-hee! I a hummingbird be! Move along squirrel. My days as you are over.

That’s plenty

I’ve often been a hold-on-er. A white-knuckle-r afraid to let go of things and people that leave. But it’s no fun to live that way. Not for me, and I’m sure not for them either.

Underneath my grip is a fear of not having enough. Of not being taken care of. Of being alone. When I believe these thoughts, my creative mind, otherwise so adept at creating all manner of joy and humor, goes nuts painting me pictures of me dying alone. It ain’t pretty and it pretty much sucks.

I’m a slow learner when it comes to big life things, but I am starting to see through this whole shenanigans.

So today I was noticing the pervasiveness of that belief that there is not enough. I was noticing how I live my life with that thought. I noticed how greedy I get. How stingy. It makes me hold on really tightly. It makes me suspicious. It makes me cynical and sarcastic. I don’t much like my own company when I’m believing that, which is not so good a thing since regardless of who else may or may not be in my life, my own company is the one I am guaranteed to be keeping every day of my livelong days, so help me god, in sickness and in health, till death do me part, thank you very much.

So I went for a run, or my Heidi-version thereof. Somehow the repetitive motion combined with fresh air have the effect of sifting through my mind in the best of ways. I often see through the lies & fibs I might be believing while I’m circling the track. And somehow the thoughts I’m left with afterwards are pretty much always better for it. Sifting out what’s not true leaves much more room for things like joy. Creativity.

Sometimes, after running, I cry, especially if lots has been happening and I’ve been afraid and hanging on really tightly. And somehow, crying like that, when it’s not a temper-tantrum-y cry, always softens me up in the best of possible ways.

Byron Katie, says it so well: Happiness isn’t getting what you want but wanting what you have.

Without the thought I don’t have enough, I get to notice how much I have. Friends come to mind. And more. I notice how much they’ve given me and how freely they’ve given. I appreciate them. I notice the earth. I notice how generous the air is, always giving me another breath. I notice how strong the ground is, never once having told me I’m too much for it. I go to the store and my legs carry me. I can be grateful for not having a car. I’d weigh at least another 15 pounds if I didn’t walk to the store. I go to pay for my food—so many things I love: a banana, a pomegranate, some cilantro, some rice, some milk, even some ice cream—and I notice I have enough. And that’s plenty.

Soggy sardine on the 83

My heart has been bursting for no good reason usually attributed to bursting hearts:

First, I’m in love with no one in particular. This is in spite of crushes all over the freakin’ world! I exaggerate. A bit. But that to say basically it’s just me and my stuffed bear, Humlum (introduced in 22Aug08 note). I am forty and I don’t have many of the things a girl grows up dreaming will make her happy and secure.

Second, the weather—another factor known to buoy spirits—is abysmal. It’s been pouring all day.

Third, I have—for a reason only fate will ever know!—this year become a self-employed small business woman in an economy that has, um, tanked. I know, I know. I didn’t mean to bring that up except to say that this heart burst cannot be attributed to being a woman of monetary means. But we’re working on that.

Fourthly, I have, for the last three hours, been either waiting for a bus, sitting on a bus like a wet sardine among wet sardines in a—did I say wet?—can on wheels, or walking in the rain shlepping bags, including a bag of printer paper for which I am crossing every finger and toe. (The dear cashier triple bagged it for me).

I must digress for a moment about the bus. It was the 83 to be exact. If you are from these parts you might know that the 83 is a bus where someone or other is apt to be wearing a Santa Clause hat no matter what time of year and at least one person will be talking to a someone you can’t see. The 83 makes frequent stops for little old ladies who look to be stocking their pantry shelves with Progresso soup of every flavor for what I can only imagine is a feared impending disaster. The 83 also doubles as a Haitian Creole language immersion program. Seriously, ride the 83 every day for 2 weeks and I guarantee you’ll have reached the equivalent of level 1 Creole, which today would have allowed you to fluently exclaim to me: Kisa ki rive ou?! I would have gotten your drift, to be sure, but being only a sporadic 83 rider I would have needed to resort to the universal signage of raised eyebrow to convey: Um, what happened to me? Hel-lo! Nor’easter here, in case you hadn’t noticed… besides, you ain’t looking so hot yourself there, muffin, or should I say, sardine!

No really. Heart bursting for no good reason needs no reason, obviously, but me being me, I thought about it and, being me, I had to stop somewhere and write it down in my soggy little moleskin.

I love people. At least for today I am a lot in love with people. In spite of all the unfuckingbelievable craziness we live in, I find people are fascinating and hilarious and heartbreaking. I am endlessly curious about you, about me. On the 83 today I imagined a live ticker tape kind of feed of everyone’s thoughts, and I knew I would probably relate in some way to every single soul.

I live in a city. Thank the good lord for that. Don’t get me wrong: I love the ocean and I love the mountains and I love the country too. And I certainly love my quiet and my space. But after a couple weeks visiting suburbia with all its suspicions and paranoia of anything not white, not straight, not beautiful, not made up and rouged, not perfect, not clean, not square, well, I am rather adoring being a city girl surrounded by myriad sounds, languages, orientations, styles, colors, shapes and sizes. I just can’t get enough.

Now where’s my lipstick?

Menagerie

Who is the clambering animal in me and what does she clamber for? What dreams rest on my Rocky Mountain peaks? What wants lie wedged in the crags of my Sierras? What animal warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas?

Like “The Guesthouse” by Rumi, Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness” helps me appreciate whatever is appearing inside, yes, even the part that doesn’t appreciate something else.

I feel paradoxically more whole when I see the universe inside me in all its faces: fierce, now gentle; voracious, then soft; now violent, now yielding; loving… all. And when I recognize all of this in me, I become gentler, more patient, and softer, somehow, when I see it “out there” in you.


Wilderness (by Carl Sandburg)

THERE is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates … I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with porpoises … before land was … before the water went down … before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.

There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced … yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting … ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.