Category Archives: scenes


Weird things happening in my spam folder lately. Alerts for gifts always go there somehow, like I don’t deserve it. An email from a college friend I haven’t seen or heard from; I worried to click the link, which seems to be the website for a German furniture store, but who knows. I won a giveaway, what a strange thing. An email from Santa Claus. A bunch of emails from Sherri, Sherri sending me content for my blog. One from the mouse found trapped and dead in my office the other day hey Julia WOW is this hard to believe!!One the saddest story I’ve ever known. One from Blockbuster. Hi Dear I am Mrs. Hiedi I am dying. An email from a childhood friend who I think at some sleepless sleepover confessed she’d been assaulted, a memory my brain can neither confirm nor deny; the email confirms or denies it, down at the bottom. An email from the city in the middle of the country I always think of as hell on earth asking me to stop by. An email from my legs **WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE* get up and goxxxxxdon’t stop 4ever! One about a dishwasher in the house we don’t have. One from Bruce Springsteen ATTENTION PLEASE: WE ARe born to run One a long and running list of all the jobs I’ve applied to but didn’t get, one about the latest in networking/optimization/end-of-life care —-DEATH w/dignity!!!- Links to where I left the mustard seed necklace, a pile of garbage, fake passports and 1000000000dollar$, a game you can only win if the conversation is meaningful for both parties, an exactly eight-three degree day. One to buy strong pharmaceuticals that promise an end to embarrassment for rest of time. Unfiltered J()Y a milli0N Grey dove$$ the prefect w*eddingthe song in your Hart I’m sorry I’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry i’m sorry to the end of the earth

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Places I’ve Lived: A Photograph, Worry, a Ribcage

Where have you lived, self?

A photograph of the yard of a house, A mountain, Alabama; A roll of film in 1986

Monte SanoIn a photograph I am small in a snowfall that hardly counts. I didn’t live in this yard or this house; my self before I knew trees and snow or memories lived here, but I never did. Kindled by the smell of bark or soft ground I sometimes think it is a faint awareness of what came first, but there is no way. I am only ever in the basement of this place, though these days I want, and am bound to (maybe) always want, children on a mountainside, trees, neighbors.

The future (believed by a seventeen-year-old boy), Adolescence, California; a heart, two hearts
Adolescence In this house we were married, we took off all our clothes, we were grown but still in love. We were smart and knew ourselves and each other, and made dinners and breakfasts and were still in love. We were tender and we walked through our halls and we fought and had time and were in love. We were good and honest and knew each other and we stayed in love.

Different skin, Los Angeles; self esteem

Screen shot 2012-10-26 at 4.55.27 PMLet’s just live in a different skin every day for four years. It’ll be fun, we thought. We don’t live that way anymore thank god.

Inside of worry, Oakland; Un-wrung hands

Screen shot 2012-10-25 at 11.44.20 PMYou can not have a job or know where you stand but still live somewhere. This place was ten times bigger than I could manage and ten time smaller than is necessary to exist, the steps could take years to climb and the earth could fold in on itself a hundred times in one morning. I meant to learn something here and instead kept learning and forgetting again and again and again.

Between a ribcage, San Francisco; My whole self

Screen shot 2012-10-26 at 4.59.20 PMHere I nearly thought I had stopped existing. I thought maybe everyone who had said they felt their heart would burst had meant it absolutely. I could stop the way it ached, I thought, by swallowing my love whole, but I would need him in the world to lean in to. I wanted to live in one place where we were the same and one place where we stayed the way we were, knees touching. That night I moved into my ribcage and never really left.

Everywhere we never lived; A host of other lives

Screen shot 2012-10-26 at 5.25.48 PMEveryone is having the same conversations. On the water we had the same conversation we’d had every night for months with someone else, as they likely had every night with someone else for months before. In a lot of other lives we scatter ourselves on the face the world to make a tower some place new. In other lives we are still always saying what a little more or a little less space could mean. We stay here and in the quiet of our home say how we could move a little north while our neighbors say the same.

* * *

color of a dog running away

At the table in the trees the woman looked at me and said that once she needed to decide everything she knew that was true about who she was. Things she loved without question: a color, water. This is unfair, I think, to have to name the things you know with no doubts. I don’t know how to be so honest.

I am a branch; I know that. One of my biggest worries is that I am generously hollowing out what I no longer need, and I’m not sure I will know to stop. Growing, besides; it is my body with caves and growths, and if we slide together for the rest of our lives, I wonder if they keep scraping at the depths forever. But that is how I am unlike a branch, too, because I am allowed to decide. So I am not a branch.

So I am one who learned to say that must have been hard, I did learn to say that. In the grass I stopped being relentless, clumsy, sharp-quilled, and pulled the gates down to let the crowds run out. It is good to open up the space and not be the one to fill it. That is something I learned, some way to be better.

I think it is okay to not know how to describe the color of what you think may be unfolding, and decide it is the one thing you may love without question.

* * *


I stopped writing mostly. I am sliced-open and crawled-inside in love and it’s new and silly to write about. And what I’ve been reading lately is so small and far between, on buses when I’m on my own rarely. I’m back working all of daylight, even now that it’s spring, for just a while longer. A little cobwebbed and the happiest I’ve ever been.

Last year around now, when I was working all the time too, and someone I barely liked had said we should stop sleeping together which made me feel again like I’d been building little shacks I didn’t want for someone else to blow over, and wasn’t taking care of anyone. Now I’ve got these heavy shovels digging out a basement with most things I want to say too specific or numinous. This is maybe like cracking open a window, that I can redirect what’s been making its way directly to my chest and get back to a good way to know what I mean.  Air out some little things and move on.


He said zinnia was “not a flower, it is a constellation of sounds. Don’t ever see beyond the word as a thing, but to another word.” He went on to say, “the extent to which you think writing is about something other than words then you will fail.” He also said, “If I can deprive zinnia of meaning and make it a feeling then I can control it.”

“You are not producing meaning. You are not communicating. You are making time.”


-We should play a game.

-Okay. But not with moving. Not in this old bone house.

We sit and look at our hands.

-Swear, I swear they won’t get rid of the houses. They’ll just move them. And they’ll start digging tunnels and filling them up with pipes and sewage. What game, I guess. What next.

-Dad; Dad. I’m think I’m shrinking.


All that would go here is perhaps too intimate.


But every day we seem to learn new things about the ways our bodies live and die, about mirror neurons and somatization and proprioception and the wider-than-expected boundaries of ourselves, the ways we shape the universe and are shaped by it, the ways we are the universe. In some ways, we’re always at zero degrees of separation. If I watch Jason Kittelberger dance on his neck, or look at Maira Kalman’s picture of Pina Bausch being swung precariously close to the ground, or listen to Peter Wortsman read the gory ending of “An Earthquake in Chile,” it changes my own body.


I read in the Wall Street Journal about broken-heart syndrome, that happens mostly to women, post-menopause. I am envious of science more than those people who have all the discipline I lack. Curled I like to imagine the space in between each beat its own distance, four feet, twelve, making up a nice little spot in that time where we can’t be damaged. And then science comes along and actually breaks a heart. While I’m learning all kinds of ways the world changes my body.


Here’s one thing about Native American tribe names: the names we know them by are often the names they’ve were given by their neighbors. Cheyenne, for instance: it means red-talkers, something like “people of an alien speech,” because the Sioux people could not understand what they were saying. Learning not to call things by these names.


The people who lived here before us

also loved these high mountain meadows on summer mornings.

* * *

I felt bad this weekend

At Lucky’s at 11:30pm where I get oreos, these stupid things, and that glamour mag with the normal girls there are a lot of people in the store, a strange amount of kids. I’m not at all curious. At home my roommate’s not around and I go back to sleeping on the couch even though I’m still paying off the mattress I bought when we moved in. I get to sleep faster. I feel proud for no longer caring what anyone thinks of what I buy at the grocery store because I’ve come farther than it sometimes feels.

Before 11:30pm at Lucky’s I saw the new Coen Brothers movie which made me feel bad for not being Jewish, sort of, or more the same thing I have always felt at having no well of tradition to draw from. It made me think of “The Conversion of the Jews”, and for the first ten minutes in the theater I was pretty sure I was watching the wrong movie. It’s pretty funny though.

The next day I didn’t leave where I sat except to show them where the roof leaked and then when I’m going to go to this party. The library is on the way and I get this book though it has never occurred to me to want to write like Chekhov.

I only wanted to tell people honestly: look, look at how badly you live, how boring are your lives. The important thing is that people should understand this; if they do understand this they will certainly invent a different and a far better life.

I’d left for the party early because it’s too goddamn sunny in the East Bay; it doesn’t feel like anything is going forward. I sit in a shop and read, then go to the store again to buy beer. I don’t know what to buy but settle on one kind that I don’t like but I feel like people bring to parties. I go and everyone is nice but it makes me feel bad. I remember nothing about the trip home but that it took too long, and that someone’s mother was going to be mad.

I woke up today at 3am to drink two glasses of water and woke at nine to be up. I went to buy used things and paint, went to the grocery store again but this time with purpose. At home I cut so many onions it feels like I have been bawling all morning but I’m not feeling as bad now. The good news is it doesn’t feel good to stop making things. Today I made corn chowder and this picture of a whale. There will either be less good or more good tomorrow.


* * *


We’ve filled up the room with dead horses, though we’re poor small things. I don’t have an answer. I stand, run my fingers between the tiles, her feet swinging from the counters while we’re drawing the same line back and forth until we’ve both become inaudible.

The day before we were accidental witnesses to a man on the platform who lurched and met the ground with blood that pooled to a thick shadow. Today I feel like I’ve been stepped on. We phoned help, told the woman at the gate but any more we were useless; the train came. Walking home she told me about unrolling her mother’s clothes from the drawers and pulling at the threads for three days after the funeral. She was the nicest she knew how. We made it to our house where there had to be something to do– build something or stir something– like to prove we were still in this world while the air stayed smelling of iron.

I want to sit down and talk. I feel horrible.

I could make her clothes, sew her up in a thick cloth. I could wrap it around her for days, leave her breathing but remote. It keeps spilling out of her that we’re at a loss, things are uneven– if it could only drip from her tongue to the soft web I could build around her, taking what was edgeless and spongy between us, it disappearing in the threads. This was one small ominous disaster, not a series.

Her feet swinging I tell her I don’t know, slip my hand in the hollow cave behind her knee and move away.

* * *


I read the other day, outside a store front, a sign:


and stayed out, certain that this was a terrible way to say things.


The weather is changing; the subway is strangely crowded and we are in kind. She asks if I am seeing someone and I think what a stupid question, I will stay out here, I am not going in, how terrible. Everyone on the way to work this morning I recognized, every single one as I saw them, which could not be possible. I hurried past because what would I say to them all, as though in a suit and tie I could stand on the orange seats and announce It is so good to see you. I’m well, my health is fine, work’s the same, I’ve met someone but we may not know each other other very well though there’s no need to worry, you and I will see each other again soon? I don’t feel much like telling  everyone on this train things that aren’t true, so instead my heart goes out to them and I look down and hurry past.

My heart, at least, goes somewhere.

* * *

Some ways to whittle the world down

Maslow, found in de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work*:

It isn’t normal to know what we want. 


Last week I built a yurt, start to finish– one of those novelty-type things that actually realized into wood slats and labor. All this talk of not being able to hammer a nail over the internet or something and it was a kind of joke turned oddly pertinent: four days in the middle of nowhere with duck eggs for breakfast and things that grew from the ground ten feet away and power tools and failed-math-cum-trial-and-error, all the while serving a numero uno purpose of total distraction from unemployment round two (twice as bad). All a special kind of first-world respite from alienation, self-pity, and job postings that emphasize the word “twitter” and act like bright neon callings for exodus. I don’t want any of this.

No hesitation, though, (or guilt, etc.) to say that it was nice to feel deserving of things like dinner or sleep. I built a thing.  

*Some (seconded) dislike of Pleasures: I am angry with the voice of most of this book– occasionally mean and quick to deem things surprising or apt (this town “surprisingly devoid of charm,” a (hey!) surprisingly apt summary of the book), all of it existing in a place too far removed to make any effective stabs at saying anything new or real about removedness. But, at least: my library uses old library catalogue cards for the scraps you can write out call numbers on, the one I inadvertently grab to write down the number for Pleasures tagged with the category “self-actualization,” in all caps: SELF-ACTUALIZATION, Maslow’s final step in the hierarchy of needs, “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything one is capable of becoming.” In a steady stage of not-becoming I at least have a yurt, and a satisfied basic need in case I face eviction.

* * *

Fits and starts

I’m worried and all of it is living like snakes in each shoulder blade, things wrapped and strangling to live or make space. Too much to sleep. I find an ad that reads,

Do you find it easy to dismiss worrisome thoughts? 
Do you worry all the time? 

Are you between 18 and 65?

and I think ‘there is nothing I do all the time.’ 

* * *

Cuidate, querido

It is unlikely we are taking care of ourselves. So (first) I will have to stop ending emails that way;

Sophie Calle: Agreed. D’accord. Ouais. 

(Sophie Calle– “the Marcel Duchamp of emotional dirty laundry”; men-to-projects maker. Oof.)

(second) I am tired, often. 

Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: “In no love story I have read is a character ever tired.” 

(Roland Barthes– died, February 25, 1980, injuries sustained from being struck by a laundry van; everything-to-projects maker.)

I think maybe that is true, but it is stupid. Unless he is only meaning the love story, and not the endings of the stories, where we are always tired. Somewhere: the gentlest collapse–an image from a movie or story I think may not exist but is the coalition they’ve made — a seat, a sigh, because, [name], I am tired. Bleak battles from the trenches tire anyone, even if you are on the same side. 

So slowly we tire, and our concerns are only ours; take care of yourself, because I no longer want to (we hear). But we aren’t lying: I imagine, robustly– calisthenics, the last smoke, hearty meals. Care for yourself, because once I loved something there, and if I am tired it is only my fault. 

(Larkin, Philip:

Love, we must part now: do not let it be
Calamitious and bitter. In the past
There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:
Let us have done with it.

* * *