Jul 10 2010

synapse no. 3

the mirror never lies.

but everything in it is backwards.


Jul 8 2010


My garden is singing the thirsty blues. My pruners have been sitting out on the picnic table for a week. It hasn’t rained, so that’s okay, but really I should go out there and put them away. And the hummingbird feeder is broken. I meant to look for the old one and put it out for them, but I haven’t, yet. Poor thirsty hummingbirds. Perhaps today.

I started one book that did not grab me. I am five pages into another. Each time I start to read I fall asleep. I will have to try another, I want one that I can’t stop reading, so I can stay up late and pretend I’m fifteen. Man, it’s hot. Not hot in here with the air conditioning running and running and running, but man, it’s hot.

I don’t even feel like eating. Well, maybe just ice cream. A dip top. But you could never eat a dip top in this heat, you’d have to run back to your air-conditioned car, and even then it would probably be too late, chocolate would be dripping all the way to your elbow.
I might go get one anyway, eat it right at the counter while I wait for my change, so fast an ice headache rips through my forehead.

And I really should do all this laundry that is piling up on me.
But it’s too hot to fold clothes from the dryer. All my cats do is sleep, and I had crazy wild dreams last night. I hate sleeping in air conditioning, I feel like I can’t breathe, even with a small fan blowing air directly onto my face. And I can breathe, but still,
I wake up in the night feeling like I can’t, sweating even though
the room is cool. Like my body knows how hot it is out there.

I would love to get up and go outside and listen to the crickets, sit in one chair with my feet up on another, and blanket myself with cool night air. But I don’t, the mosquitoes would carry me away, and no one would be able to find me in the morning. Which could be kind of funny, I wonder where they would drop me off? Maybe the neighbor’s around the corner, when I got too heavy.

In the mornings I drink hot tea. I don’t care if it is too hot to drink hot tea, I drink it anyway. Today it will be 93º and I think I am going to go running. I love to run in the heat, there is nothing in the world as good as that kind of sweating, feeling my body release the things it has been holding onto, stress, impatience, tension.

All of that will be gone when I am done, and I will stand there,
glistening, while life drips off of me onto the ground.

And then I’m going to go and get that dip top.

Some things a girl just can’t do without.

Jul 6 2010

South 83

Millions of miles have been traveled along this route.

The path I run on is an old rail trail that has been converted into a footpath. The markers have been left in place and I love that, both as a way to mark my own mileage, and because they make me think of the history of this place, all those trains, people, cargo, that have been here before me, all their stories, the lives and loves and loss and possibilities.

My mother’s father, my maternal grandfather, was at times, a hobo. This same track continued on into the town my mom grew up in and passed through an area near their backyard. She has told me stories about him, and the other men he sometimes brought home from the train. Bapa, as we called him, was also a drunk, in the very old-fashioned sense of the word, before they were called alcoholics. He was the Wild Irish Rose in a paper bag kind of drunk, and we didn’t see him much when we were growing up. He wasn’t a nice drunk, he was a mean drunk, and for that reason my mom kept him away from us most of the time.

He died when I was quite young, but the strongest memory I have of him is a day when he came over and sat at our kitchen table with his booze and he did get drunk, but not mean, and then my mom and the four of us kids had to help him upstairs to the bathroom. There are fourteen steps, and we went up two, down one. It took us about an hour to get him all the way to the top and by that time we were all crying tears of laughter at the things he was saying, and because we didn’t think we would ever make it to the top.

My other memory of him is that he always said, “Capiche?” after he told me something. And while I had no idea what it meant at the time, I somehow loved that he said it.

So I think of him when I am on this trail, wonder if he passed by this way, what stories he could have told about the people he met, the places he went, how he became the person I knew. I wonder how many times he passed this marker that says South 83 and thought that soon, he would be home.

My father’s father, my paternal grandfather, was among many other things, a well witcher. If you don’t know what that is, it means that he could take a divining rod, most often a Y-shaped tree branch, and find a well, deep underground. I never saw him do it, but my dad has, and he says that Gramps really could find water this way. This is one of those things that some people believe in and some people don’t, but I choose to believe that he could do it, that there was something special about him, this part of his legacy.

He was a tiny man, barely five feet, and always hunched over because he had polio when he was young. He probably didn’t weigh much more than a hundred pounds. But he was a tough old man, he worked his whole life on a farm, hard labor. He was always working, always fixing something, always in his work clothes.

I don’t have too many memories of him either, he also died when I was fairly young. But I remember that when he and my grandmother visited, he always brought a paper bag of candy. He was kind, and gentle, and quiet. He was an old-fashioned man, a country man, a man who made do with what he had, who never got rid of anything in case he might need it one day. He was a man who could find water with a stick.

And I think of him too, now, when I am on this trail, and I keep seeing all these Y-shaped branches.

The trees along this path, that fold their arms above me and around me as I move through them, are trees that might have been saplings back then, when my grandfathers were alive.

These trees hold many secrets, and sometimes they whisper,

telling stories of those who’ve been here before me.

And I listen. I always listen.

Jul 4 2010

synapse no. 2

red, white, blue.

yours, mine, ours.



this post is part of you capture: America

Jul 2 2010

what lies before me

When I run, I break everything into thirds. If I am planning to go six miles, I focus only on the first two. Once I have made it that far, I focus on the next two. I know that once I cover those, I will be two-thirds of the way to my destination, I will have already gone twice as far as I have left to go, and then the last two seem easy.

On days when I struggle, I split just the segment of path directly before me into thirds. If I make it to that first tree, then I can make it to the next one, and then the distance to the last tree will feel like nothing. I have covered more miles than I ever thought possible by breaking them into thirds.

And if my life ends up covering a fairly standard number of years,
I am now in my middle third.

The first third was a bit of a struggle, there was so much to learn, to figure out, so many mistakes to make that caused sore muscles, injuries, time waiting to repair. Sometimes I just wanted to stop. Sit down. Give up. I hadn’t learned discipline. Or tenacity. Or patience. I hadn’t settled in for the long haul.

I am past that phase now, and glad of it. I am warmed up, I have my stride, there is a rhythm to my days and I move along at an even pace most of the time. I am on the straightaway and can take time to gaze around me. I am no longer worried about whether I can make it. I’m moving close to the halfway point.

And as I move on, further down this path, this path we call life
that we live and breathe and burn through so quickly, I wonder if the last third will be the easiest one, not downhill because that hurts my knees worse than anything, but leisurely, graceful, steady. The one where I feel that I could go on forever.

Well, okay, maybe not quite forever.

But at least just to that next tree.