#67

what would you do, heart 
without a cell phone ringing 
or me texting and snapping and retrieving
one hundred and fifty times a day?

what would you say, heart 
without me having to answer
every forty emails, deleting forty more
and bothering so much with Siri?

what would happen to you, heart -
in all your soft glory -
if you could just beat and love
and beat some more?
intuiting the vastness of stars
before night even falls.
catching his breath
before she walks into the room.
embracing my child before he walks
    away.

i remember when.
there was a feeling.
so much to feel       really.
    so much
more.

 

#42

i dont drink but tonight
i wore a missile toe and mimosa t-shirt
with the arms cut off
to qualify for the ugly sweater party.
all of my friends are beautiful.
they donned their santa-riding-a-unicorn sweaters
and acrylic reindeer shells
and tried to neutralize their exquisiteness with Tacky - 
but it is just impossible.
one friend showed me an app 
where she could wipe her screen with her index finger
and she swore it was erasing our wrinkles.
i could not stop laughing.
not because i couldn't tell the difference
but because i thought it was so damn funny
that she would try to erase the wrinkles
on a photo
of something so imperfectly perfect already.
plus it was the way her finger rubbed back and forth
naive almost, the finger,
i could barely take it.
friendship cannot be measured in cocktails poured
or hors d'oeuvres served
or even sweaters worn.
but little fingers on screens
and white elephant re-gifts
and the magic of reading the bill
held out three feet in front of you...
one eye closed for squinting
the other shot full of love.
girlfriends are just the best.
there is no other way to say it.

#40

Forty is a magic number
like 7 and 11 and 13.
Forty is when you are closer to fifty
that you are to twenty
and you just cannot believe it.
It is also when mean people start to not matter
and your real friends show themselves
and your occupation is only part of who you are.
It matters who you love when you are forty -
because you realize you may be half way home
or on the back nine
or however you say
to old to screw around anymore.
It matters who loves you back now also -
more than it did before -
because who has time anymore
for half-assed love affairs
and broken promises
and the greatest insult of indifference?
Forty is great because you really start to care
about things that matter -
differently than you could
when you were thirty -
and you've lived enough life to simply reply
"because i said so"
when someone asks you why.

At 46, I'm thinking 'hells to the yeah'
just watch me put in some crest strips 
and hit Facebook -
i'll write a poem all about the life.

#34

my friend Louise is little and cute
and i call her loulou because of it.
also she is a quiet somewhat sneaky 
sort of artist
who splashes you with her art
instead of drowning you in it.
i admire that about her - 
how she treads lightly,
slinks into a room unassuming,
but with a smile 
that changes how the light rests.
loulou is one of those people i think
who would never expect a poem
but who sees the poetry everywhere -
in everyone. 
"you don't need to rhyme" she tells the moon,
"no iambic pentameter needed here" she assures
the daisies - 
"just speak" she whispers
"all your secrets are worth sharing".

#31

the rain is back
this time like a no nonsense bag lady
collecting hours 
and their passing.
i wanted to say something important today
but there was turkey and cranberry mold
funeral potatoes and green beans
crispy onion, corn  and cream -
plus cookies and cake and pie.
that shut me up
like a million lazy minutes
and all i could say was
thank you.
when we decide to age together
and i mean really age -
without all the trying - 
i hope you will remember that i am cute.

#27 a love letter to my friends

i am trying to find a way 
to say i love you 
that sounds like i am saying something different.
because you are my special forever friends
and there should have been some words reserved
from before you were even born.

i love you because sunlight
and acorns and messy green trees
and the call of the wild and dangerous men
and sugar and heartache and pink. 
i love you because old old memories
and new beginnings and broken dreams
and hope.
i love you because you read and laugh
and argue and worship and regret and cry
and demand so much from life
that even life gets tired - 
drops a leaf or two,
trembles when you roar.
i love you because you are kind and silly,
ridiculous and mad,
compassionate, cuddly, and soft.
you make me soup
and vegetables and cake.
you bring flowers and worry and trust.
you peel back decades of things that hurt
to let the sunshine back in
day after day
and you weep
beside me when i am hurt
as if there were no other place on the earth to be.
and you let me do the same for you.
i love you because there so many things happening
all the time, everywhere -
but when we are together
we stop
to be together
for real and forever
even if it only lasts a minute.
i love you because you care
about people who have less than you
and people who have more
and you share your beautiful inside hearts of hearts
with people who do not always deserve it.
i love you because when we met
we did not have to court each other
like lovers who would date - 
but instead we were married
the moment we first laid eyes...
like the best of friends...
because you can
because it is possible
because it is okay even
to love someone the moment you meet.
i love you because you have made me full
of so much beauty and depth and good
that i am having to teach myself to bow -
so i look less crazy bent over - 
dragging around this bulging heart
entirely filled with you.

#23

tonight everything is sleepy -
even the dark itself -
but i am trying to scratch one more mark 
into the empty sky
like so many takes on film.

the crowded day has left - 
staggered off like an edgy lover 
i didn't think to follow home.
and i am thankful there is an end 
to every end.

for now, i will pull back the covers
and welcome sleep in.
she will shack up between us, 
hip to thigh, my palm on your ear.
always a tumble of elbow and chin,
eye socket and tooth. me and my bumbling
grace
finding my way 
to your warm.

#19

I cannot tell if everything is sailing
or sinking -
whether what feels like rain
is food for the plants
or floods in the making.

there is so much half and half
about this living - 
how i'm certain good will win over
then terribly worried
others won't get the memo.

i try to take a few deep breaths a day,
pausing to remember how we are loved. 
most of the time it is quietly -
in ways we cannot know.

#16

i wanted so much to be proud
of who we were becoming
but when things didn't go my way
i was furious.

angry at the world
irate at people i love
mad even at the sun
for shining its "haven't-a-care-in-the-world" 
kind of shine - today 
of all days.

then i remembered a promise i made myself
one time long ago -
when words really mattered.

always no matter what
i will look for the light.
always no matter what
i will find a way home.

 

#2

then the sun came out
like it was nobody’s business after all –
and we were meant to go on about our lives
as if the heart hadn’t been cracked open.
i called out to you –
a subtle gesture really –
just with my eyes
as if they indeed could speak volumes.
you were making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,
unshaven and beautiful,
flannel pant legs haphazardly caught up in your rain boots.
“winter can wait” you replied,
never saying a word.

.

deep beige

i am always trying to outshine the sun. not because i want to be bigger or better or even brighter, but because it is ridiculous and impossible. i like playing with everything i’ve got at something, and not trying to win. i like to just be my brightest, not the brightest. that goes for smarts too.

at work i am hoping that what is important will seep through the superficial ordinariness of a day, and people will understand that when i came to meet them, i brought my heart. it may not be as tidy as all my paperwork or how i arrange their requests just so – but it will be there, raw and open and full of an enormous wanting, for them to win. i will want you to win.

in the evening when the bones of my feet remind me they have tread far enough, and i am wondering, again, how the night sky stole away with my day, my sun, before i was finished – before i could do every single thing –  and also show how i love you, i will worry. but i will remember that you want me to win also and that you know for me to win, my heart needs to be right there with you, in your hands – even as my tired feet elsewhere rest. because of this, i know you will always find me.

On Becoming a 45 Year Old Friend

I didn’t turn 45 so much as I became it. How all the hours and days and weeks and months were just this series of moments that informed who I could be, or not be, if I was willing to listen. When I was very little, I had enormous ears and I would press them up against the walls between us because I was so afraid if I missed even a word of what you were saying, I might lose you. Sometimes I did not listen for years at a time. You saw me then, broken down on the side of the road, pretending I was changing the tire when I’d really blown the entire engine. You always stopped and offered help. Sometimes I would just wave you by as if I had it all figured out because I thought that was something I was eventually supposed to do. Have it all figured out. When I got older and you did too, and it became more important for me to be there with you while you were growing also, than to worry about who I was becoming, and especially what I looked like doing it,  I noticed the walls between us just sort of disappeared and I didn’t have to press my ears up against anything anymore because I could hear you. You were saying, “I love you” and “you belong to me” and I wept because those were the magic words you had always said and I had spent so many hours and days and weeks and months trying to earn my way into a life I already had.

Every year one of you baked me a cake because you knew I just loved it so much. Cake made me happy. Then for years I would not eat cake because I thought if I just kept eating cake forever and ever, I would no longer be able to fit into the door of your heart and then you would not love me. It was so silly but instead of shaming me, you designed a plate of berries to look like an exquisite torte and you put a candle in the middle and you sang. For me.

When my heart was broken, so many times, because I didn’t know how to choose a lover like I had chosen my friends, you asked me to describe what it felt like to be in love with longing. You said I was perfect the way I was and you believed in my own perfect heart in all its varying degrees of ache. When I finally fell, like a feral cat hanging by her claws on a limb that was about to snap, into the arms of a love that confused me, because it didn’t hurt, you helped hold the weight of my trepidation up to the light, because you knew I was a little afraid of burning. And nothing bad happened.

I always thought you were so easy to love because you were magical and kind and funny and smart. Some of you I have loved since I first learned to string words together into sentences. And I have been doing that since the day I learned how to say your name. Others I have known for only one or two or ten or twenty or thirty years and you’ve all shown me that friendship is not a linear, chronologically-driven item that either is or isn’t; rather, it’s a timeless verb and an unbound experience and I can friend with you anytime, and all the time, and we do not even have to be together to do it.

People say “you cannot choose your family but you can choose your friends.” I choose both everyday and my family people have been some of the kindest, funniest, safest, most warm experiences of friending I have ever had. Similarly, my friend people have been some of the most loyal, protective, generous, supportive family I will ever know. And all of this made me think today, having become 45, how much of who I am is because of who you are and  I feel like crying because who you are, my friends, are everything that is good and kind and loving and worth it about being alive.

And then there’s this one other little thing that is hard to say. But, because I think you are so magical and funny and kind and good and I am so in awe of how you carry yourself, with all your joy and sorrow and courage and fear in the world; how you cry and laugh and grow and stretch and pick yourselves up each day one more time than you fall,  I realize that I must be some kind of greatness also, to be called by you, a friend.

You are my living, breathing, ever-expanding experience of Good.  You are my heart. You are my kindness, my worry-doll, my hope. You lift me into being. You teach me how to love and pray and dance and cry and kick and scream and laugh and grow. May I become, every year, more worthy of what you have made me.

Morning Thunder

There is thunder in the first cup of coffee. Thank god. Or gOod. Or however you want to say it. Spent $50 on fireworks yesterday and am remembering a time when it felt like I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. And even this isn’t the American Dream. But the freedom! I’m choosing to look at what is magnificent about this country. About the world. About people. About circumstances. When you find the sliver of light in the dark room, you’ve got a starting point to raise an axe to.

Busy Sleeping

Sometimes, when you’ve tripped over one too many half-folded laundry piles (on the way to the closet to get the vacuum you all of a sudden urgently need, having discovered dirt clots on the carpet you passed on your way to retrieve the needle for repairing a long lost duvet button) on your impulsive way to the laptop to google new linens (because that sounds like a good idea too in the flurry of the moment) and you find yourself suddenly searching mattresses because why buy new linens when you really need a new bed and then maybe a smaller one would be better because you wouldn’t have to crawl in from the foot of it and could maybe have a lamp for reading but then there’s that “then no one else can curl up and watch a movie” that gets in the way so you start searching fun things to do with kids because screw television and then you are redirected to some Waldorf inspired educational program and suddenly you are failing as a parent and ruining your children’s chance at a real childhood so you start making pancakes with whip cream smiling faces ( all organic of course) and try to enroll your little ones into the process and maybe we could grow our own wheat and learn how to sprout it and (mental note to self: look up how to spout wheat…and nuts and seeds while you are at it…) and “can you MAKE me a glass of water” ripples across the room for the 15th time in the day so digging up the home depot water cooler for camping is a good idea so there is always cool water but DAMN you really need a filter for the sink even though you tested it with the $20 test kit from the health food store and the flipping Britta you bought on sale at Target was on sale because the lid never actually fit those fockers and the dryer beeper goes off but the pancake needs to be flipped so you stay put for 1/10th of a second before unloading the dishwasher because you need a plate for the pancakes and you realize you didn’t fill the ice tray back up so MUST DO NOW…..Sometimes, when this happens, this tripping over the not so metaphorical half-folded laundry, you pause – just long enough to redirect yourself to the refrigerator, where standing – dumbfounded – and not necessarily hungry, looking for something to shove into the void of discombobulated busy-ness, you wake the fuck up. Not always, but sometimes. What then? For me – it’s the crossroads. Am I going to DO one more thing to somehow “fix” all the half-done, tedious, outward seeking sense of incompletion? Am I going to take down a bag of Famous Amos cookies? Should I fold the laundry? What if I actually put it away? What then? The energy it takes to stay asleep during waking hours is quite impressive. So very busy sleeping.

Resistance

Anything but writing. And I mean anything. Shoot, I ‘ll crawl under the sub-floor of someone else’s house to look for potential leaks, even though there is no indication of one, before I will sit down and get my work done. This, in the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, is called “resistance.” I have all flavors. It started when I was 9 and I realized I was a writer. I wrote a poem in class and that was that. I was a writer. That it was a relatively deep poem for a nine year old may or may not be true. But of greater significance is that, upon completing it, I knew – and I mean KNEW – that I had just discovered something – a part of myself – that was as important as air and water. I had found my voice. What followed this “realization” was a series of distractions. I was to be the first female President of the United States. Next, a doctor. An attorney. A teacher. A writer again (heavily medicated with alcohol and consequentially, unable to do anything with the writing that I actually did), a bar-tender, a waitress (these last two only AFTER receiving a BA in English Literature and a MFA in Poetics), a sales rep., and finally, a Realtor. A gal who sells a lot of houses and writes just a little bit of poetry. The book suggests that if we were all taking up our callings, and doing what we know in our hearts we were put on this planet to do – that one genius about us that is ours only – there’d be no more war, starvation, poverty, addiction, mental health problems, etc. Sounds good to me. I, of course, want to chain smoke cigarettes while I am writing and since that feels like a recipe for an early death – I don’t. Also, I don’t write. This is the resistance Pressfield is talking about. I wonder what all the people I love are not doing. And all the just so-so friends – what is it that they are not doing that they were born to do? And how, when we really like someone, finding out this gold morsel of what is under all their doing-ness and the busy-busy and the roles – how they are even more like-able; how suddenly they are fascinating. I am going to put it out there. I am going to ask. What are you NOT doing that is your true calling, your forever dream, your heart’s desire? See what shakes loose. Maybe it will give me something to write about. And, if not me, then maybe you.

Chasing Happy

I was so bummed to find out that chasinghappy.com is taken and that when I put it in my web browser I come up with a very smart and articulate and funny blog now called “good enough to read”. Definitely worth the stumble, but still the having showed up a day late and a dollar short, smarts like a missed interview for a dream job. I can never spell “definitely” correctly the first or second time.
I thought about “chasinggay.com” but it seems just a tad bit too controversial for this girl. I’m already known (at least to myself) for shooting from the hip so to speak when I talk…a sort of unedited blah blah blahing that runs out of my mouth before anyone has had time to drop and roll or at least take cover.
My friend Kerry Duff of, CEO of The House (ceoofthehouse.com) is encouraging me to shut up and start writing. She doesn’t talk like that, of course. She just makes me dark chocolate covered peanut clusters in cutesie cupcake papers and hands me a metaphorical pen (polka-dotted bow and all). She does this all of course with 4 kids, a real estate career, a talent for taking photos and likely a place on the PTA and every other possible board out there that makes A+ parenting seem like a part time gig. WTF? I’m here picking up poo off my 7 year olds bedroom floor – left a wee bit too liquid from a puppy I mismanaged to import off the streets of Mexico….during the holidays and only 2 weeks after a major move from LA to San Francisco meant to “simplify my life”. All of this makes me NEED chocolate covered peanut clusters and friends who make my projects seem small enough to actually complete. Thanks Mrs. Duff!!!
Since it is indeed already January 2nd, I suppose it is time for a new year’s resolution or two.
So here goes:
1. to give up dieting
2. to do things I love, often
3. to wake up happy

I’d throw out a couple more but I want to win this year so that’s it. Recap: I’m gonna nourish myself, enjoy life, and laugh. All funny people, please drop me a line.

Happy 2012.