Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Creativity Day 29: Childhood Closet

My childhood closet was filled with jumpers. Green plaid with red stripes. Priceless.
I wasn't an especially tall child, so for years my jumpers were way to long. Ankle-length. But it's darling on little girls. I never resented the jumper the way I'd grow to resent the uniform. I think that's because no one ever marks lower schools out of uniform.
Jumpers are great things to grow up in. They're built of the most sturdy fabric imaginable. Paint, recess, scissors, lunch, the sand box even fire were no match for the jumper. That thing would survive the apocalypse. Which is exactly what a growing up girl needs.
The jumpers had funny buttons on the shoulders. I think they were for taking the jumper off and putting it back on, but it was easier to just slip it over the head. So those buttons never got used.
If I should have a daughter, I hope she'd get to grow up in jumpers. Not Waterford jumpers. Elsewhere jumpers.

Nevertheless, some days, I'm just really glad that no one will ever again tell me that I need to wear a plaid skirt. I can say this with utmost confidence, because I have no intention of ever working in the sex industry, and everyone knows, plaid skirts are for porn stars.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Creativity Day 28: 10 Things You Don't Need

I don't need more friends, because the ones I've got fill up my bucket.

I don't need to go to as good (or as expensive) a school as I'm going to or I've gone to, but I get to anyway, because I'm a blessed girl.

I don't need to live in a big city to feel like my life is exciting.

I don't need to know everything, which is good, because I don't.

I don't need to wish for a happy ending.

I don't need any more adults sending me the message that they think I could do great things but they're worried I'll self-destruct instead.

I don't need high heels to feel feminine.

I don't need to keep track of time because I'm young enough to make mistakes, fix them, and make them again.

I don't need to prove that I have courage, because courage lives within me - but can also be found outside of myself.

I don't need more books, but I by them anyway, en mass.


People keep thinking I'm Canadian. What about me seems Canadian?
Anywho. Today I'm on my way back to the good old states. I get in at 6:45, go home, go to dinner with one best friend and then the next morning head down to the Cedar City Shakespeare festival with the other best friend + tons of other lovely people who I've been missing.
I've been watching the Olympics (just like everyone else in the world), but I've found I like BBC Olympics better than any of the American channels. BBC isn't so much about who gets the gold as the quality of the competition. Last night when Becky Adlington won bronze they were just so happy for her and so happy that it'd been such an honorable race; it just made me happy.
So goodbye to Switzerland. Here are the photos of cows I've been scared of, mountains I've been hiking around, views out my window, books I've been reading, and suspension bridges I've been crossing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Quote Sunday

Here is a poem that filled me with hope:

Please Call Me by My True Names
      by Thich Nhat Hanh

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is 
the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creativity Day 27: What's Underneath?

When I was younger, my mother went to watercolor classes. She wasn't especially talented, but she loved it. She'd started up in her early 50s, once all her sons were moved out and she, the empty nester, had time to pick up new hobbies. She stopped going for a little while, after the accident, but picked them up again after a few months. Watercolor classes were that time that every mother needs to do her own thing.
In her early stages of art class, my mother painted a leopard in a tree from a photograph that my father took on a trip to Africa. Now, this piece is fairly mediocre, but it's fine. It hung around the house for years and eventually got passed to my aunt and uncle who hung it in their kitchen when they bought a new house and didn't have enough art. Each time my mother came over she'd insist Take that down. It's so bad. I can do so much better. Yet there it hung for six years. Eventually, my mother got so tired of it that she bought them a new picture and, the next time she came over, switched them out declaring I'm taking back my painting. Here's a replacement.
On my wall in my room is a big watercolor my mother made for me when I was five. It's painted based on a picture of me. In it, there's a small pond surrounded with bright red poppies. On the right side is me, sugar blonde hair and big blue eyes, with the dog, Molly, a beagle who ate so much we called her Pig Dog. The bottom right corner is signed Nanna. My little brother has one too, but he's three, standing on a fence, wearing a cowboy hat, feeding the horse with one hand, keeping his balance with the other. I expect they're pieces we'll hold on to for a long time.
At some point, we kids had grown up enough - gotten engaged in enough activities - that art classes fell by the side for carpool. There was never a complaint about it; it just needed to be done. But, I suppose, my mother missed her art classes more than she'd acknowledged, because when her friends picked up an art class last year, she immediately jumped on the band wagon. And so, on Wednesday nights, she heads to her senior citizen art classes (no one's under 70) taught by their fierce 82-year old teacher.
At this class, she fount YUPO watercolor papers. YUPO is like a whiteboard for watercolor. It's made out of synthetic materials - tree-free. The colors run together on it in really interesting ways, and if you mess up you can wash it off with water and start all over. It's also recyclable.
So my mother's art is abstract as hell. Mostly, she just loves running the colors together in shapes and lose designs. Sometimes her pieces get muddy and brown, but she's getting better at keeping it from going that way. 
One night, my mother came home from art class looking horrible discouraged. What's wrong? I asked, expecting it was just a bad night or she painted another picture of the dog that she found disappointing. I was walking out to art class and it was raining and I dropped my art bag and all my paintings fell out and got ruined. She pulled them out and sure enough where sunsets and birds had been earlier were now brown smears all across the paper. I didn't know what to say. I'm sorry. We ought to get you a waterproof bag, I guess. 
I worry whenever it rains on Wednesday night. I worry because she never bought a waterproof bag. I worry because she works so hard and is secretly so proud of her art. I worry because underneath every painting is a white piece of YUPO paper waiting to run into a brown smear of mess. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Creativity Day 26: Inventory of Scars

There are no scars on my left hand.
On my right hand there are seven: three on the right side of the back of my hand, three on my pointer finger, one on my middle finger. They're each only a few millimeters long.
I have a scar on my ribs that I call my butterfly scar. It came from have a mole removed when I was eight or so. It scared/healed perfectly matching the stitches.
I have a vague discoloration scar on my left elbow from the time I decided to race ATVs and ended up flipping mine.
I have a scar on my left thigh from when I was little in Hawaii, playing in the lava rocks, and I slipped and fell and it scraped the skin off. This one's actually my favorite.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creativity Day 25: Epithet

I insist that if I ever have an epithet it should be Gets Shit Done. Or I could be known as She Who Gets Shit Done. Maybe it's less pretty than star-cross'd lovers, but it's mine. 
I get shit done. Not necessarily all shit. But certainly the shit that matters to me. I get that done.
I'm actually kinda proud of this.
When something comes along that needs doing, I'm the one who does it. I'm the one who goes out and buys it, who spends the afternoon making it, who stays up late writing it. Sure, sometimes I'm overbearing, sometimes I'm controlling, sometimes I put myself in positions that stress me out way more than they need to. But I'm the one that the group will put in charge of things; I'm good at that. At heart, I'm a bureaucrat. Changing the world one finished task at a time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hiking all around

I'm just over in Switzerland hiking it up. This is actually my favorite vacation ever. Hiking makes me happy. Every day is filled with the most incredible places. Here's some pictures of the mountains, rivers, hiking trails, and glaciers I've found myself around. The world is a pretty amazing place.

Creativity Day 24: Into the Darkness

I haven't been able to write this prompt yet. I know exactly what I want to write about, and I started to, but it was all wrong. So here's the prompt (from pw.org) that made me cry. Someday I'll write it.

In her essay "Total Eclipse" from Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters (Harper Collins, 1982), Annie Dillard recalls traveling to the top of a mountain to witness a total solar eclipse. The darkness she discovered as the sun disappeared, in a world suddenly without light, was incomprehensible and terrifying, but also illuminating. "What I saw," she writes, "what I seemed to be standing in, was all the wrecked light that the memories of the dead could shed upon the living world." 

Write about a time when you disappeared into darkness—whether by your own choosing or not—and emerged again into the light, with a new understanding.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creativity Day 23: What is Writer's Block?

Writer's Block is breaking open a pinata only to find that it was not, in fact, filled with candy.

Writer's Block is trying to swim across the pool without coming up for air.

Writer's Block is making a mountain out of a molehill. Or at the very least trying to.

Writer's Block is the three doctors you need: a dentist, a gynecologist, and a therapist.

Writer's Block is children that don't flush the toilet.

Writer's Block is anguishing over whether to use Garamond or Georgia for your lit mag. (Garamond is always right.)

Writer's Block is having too many couches and too little beds.

Writer's Block is wondering if she was convicted of witchcraft or bitchcraft.

Writer's Block is hours spent reading McSweeney's and thinking that you're not writing any better.

Writer's Block is shuffling from cafe to cafe hoping to find ideas in the right cup of coffee.

Writer's Block is calling hiking, running, or driving in the mountains "working".

Writer's Block is facebook, instagram and the iPhone.

Writer's Block is donating to the Democrats and Planned Parenthood to feel like you made the world a better place.

Writer's Block is eating guacamole for lunch and peaches for dinner.

Writer's Block is "like shopping at TJ Maxx -- demoralizing and a little bit shameful. So you're sorting through all the junk and then you're like, "'well, maaaybe those jeans would fit, if I just, kinda, wiggled this way..." and then you convince yourself that this piece that you're sending in to whatever contest really does fit the requirements, even though it doesn't, really."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Creativity Day 22: Blind

What We Missed

The seeing see only this world
-Franz Wright

purple columbines
loveable darkness
mess around growing
what we missed sounded like a fast car
felt like the softest cotton dress
tasted like sleeping on a couch
smelled like burned hair
bloody lips
walking in circles
what we missed sounded like angry magpies
felt like feet on the ground
tasted like mountain sky
smelled like dancing barefoot
violin strings
fountain pen
what we missed sounded like a movie soundtrack
felt like rings that don’t fit
tasted like leaving a day early
to avoid the farewell
smelled like following blindly

what we missed was easy to love

what we missed was the not logical
was the heartical

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quote Sunday

So The Blessing by Gregory Orr is one of the best books I've read this year. (And I read a lot of great books this year.) It's just so phenomenally earnest. It's rip-your-heart-out tragic, between the murdered brother, dead mother, and amphetamine-addicted father, but Orr's heart is so stunning, because he doesn't say "shit happened but it was all for the best" he says "shit happened and it hurt like hell and I wanted to die, but now I can understand how was a blessing." It's a privilege to get to read his book and inhabit his heart.
So one of the parts that spoke most to me comes when he's talking about having just killed his brother and how people kept telling him it was an accident. He says:

How could I live in a world where everything was random, where Accident ruled and where one day I might wake to sunshine and blue sky and another, find own brother dead at my feet? Accident. Unbearable word, unbearable world.

And my heart was like me, mine, that's me right there on the page. Which was like woah. Accident is one of my least-favorite words too, because it's all wrapped up in one: The Accident, The Cemetery, The Anniversary. And that's just unbearable word, unbearable world.

PS. If you're hankering for more Gregory Orr, or more heart-breaking, check out the poem If There is a God

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Creativity Day 21: The Best Friends

Someone recently pointed out to me, "you might think that best is superlative, but Hannah uses best friend to interchangeably describe Kat or Alex and you just have to guess which one she's talking about." And that made me laugh, because it's so true.
But, because they're not the same, I made a best friend Venn Diagram. Enjoy:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Roman Holiday Under the Tuscan Sun

Shipping out for Die Schweiz tomorrow (I've always preferred the German name for Switzerland - isn't it a great word?) it's just Judy and me now. We have fun together. Things like this happen:
Judy: who's Santa Maria?
Hannah: that's Italian for Mary
Judy: no wonder she's all over.


Hannah: I'm going to buy a puppy when I get home. Then you can take care of it when I go to college.
Judy: I'm going to buy a puppy right before I die. Then you can take care of it for the next 15 years.

Italy's been so incredibly wonderful. The past week or so has been Florence, Assisi and Rome! Such cool places to be. This summer. I still can't believe I get to do this.
Here's pictures of cathedrals, statues, fountains, views, merry-go-rounds monuments and movies I've been seeing, and something from my journal:

When in Rome:
-Eat your weight in gelato to cool off. Don't think of it as dessert and don't settle for anything less than phenomenal gelato.
-Go to the Colosseum and be glad you've got first world problems; go to the Forum and consider majoring in the humanities; go to the Pantheon and feel imperfect; go to St. Peters and feel small; go to the Sistine chapel and feel useless; go to the Trevi fountain and choose your wish carefully; go to the Spanish steps, wonder why they're so famous, then run up them anyway.
-Find a restaurant with red and white checkered tablecloths. Order spaghetti.
-Flirt with the waiter even though you feel sweaty and gross. Smile when he flirts back. Get a "ciao Bella" out of him.
-Watch The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Enjoy it as much as you did at 12. Laugh at Hilary Duff's despicable Italian accent. Keep your eyes out for your own Italian pop star.
-Know the three-scoop days.
-Try to figure out the minimum amount of clothing you can wear while still looking respectable. Wear chacos. Rock the tan lines.
-Try to figure out how to use the bidet in your hotel room. Possibly use it for foot instead of ass washing.
-Love that Rome will make you want to dance in a piazza, swim in a fountain, and sing along with street musicians.

Creativity Day 20: Bookmarks

I have a weird bookmark habit. It comes from reading too many books at once at too many places. I never have any functional bookmarks. Also, I refuse to dog ear pages unless they're super special ones that I want to be able to access easily. So for bookmarks, I just pick up whatever it is that's nearby. Consequently, common bookmarks are:

  • coffee/bookstore receipts
  • plastic utensils, particularly forks
  • dollar bills - usually $1 but sometimes up to $20
  • quite often I put a pen that I'm annotating with in there, but this isn't great because it makes the spine funny
  • paper clips, usually straightened out
  • those green stopper things they put in Starbucks drinks so they don't spill
  • flattened out cardboard sleeves that go around coffee cups
  • pieces of paper I find, usually with something I've written on it
  • tags of any kind, but particularly clothing - H&M tags are great for this
  • when I worked at the car wash I'd use those tree shaped air fresheners 
But my very very very favorite bookmark is a ribbon. I put it in the place where I'm reading, deep in the spine, with equal length extra on both sides. Then I take the excess ribbon and tie a bow on the cover and it makes me happy every time because it makes the book look like a present. Which, more often than not, it is. 

PS. Speaking of books being gifts, wanna talk about the fact that someone gave me 35 books for free the day before I left. And not crappy books. Good ones. Vonnegut, Faulkner, Chekhov, Hemingway good. It was a substantial pile:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creativity Day 19: Karma?

This I believe: sometimes the universe wants to help you out.
I have a bright pink dress that I call my Karma Dress, because whenever I wear it, the universe gives me small kindnesses like finding an extra good book at the King's English, or free parking downtown because the parking garage's computer system crashed, or Whole Foods having the big cup of cut strawberries for sale instead of the too small little one.
I also believe the universe likes to hand you things if you just ask. Let's be clear: I am not talking about prayer. I'm not forming an opinion on prayer. I'm talking about the niceties the universe does, every once in a while, for people who ask.
Like my ponytail.
I'd been anguishing for months over my ponytail. It stuck out funny and looked icky. Then I put that on my heavy boots piece, and literally a day later, my ponytail was happy. A weird string of events led to me putting my hair in a ponytail when it was wet. Lo and behold! It dried in a totally functional ponytail way! A kinda darling ponytail way, in fact. So now I love my ponytail.
So I believe in petty karma and in asking the universe for small favors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Creativity Day 17: Future Husband Letter

So here's a letter that my friends wrote in my journal two years ago when I was in Vienna (it's dated June 19, 2010). Funny how everything's changed, except for a few things that haven't.
(ALSO, just to clarify, I no longer have any intention of marrying for money.)

To Hannah's future husband,
You will be rich, that's a fact. Hannah knows it, though she didn't necessarily marry you for your money. But a word of advice: keep your hand on your wallet. She likes to buy expensive things, she will justify her purchase with things like "I'm in Europe, when else can I buy this?" or "I just got married, I think I need it."
When you move in together don't be shocked to find boxes and boxes of key chains. She's not a serial killer, just slightly obsessed. But beware when she gets angry she tends to swear a little bit. Don't take it personally, it just happens.
Hannah is classy; cheap knock-offs don't cut it. She will scorn you immediately. Be especially careful with the proposal. If you screw up the first time, there will be no second time. You had better know her better than that.
We met Hannah when she was 15. She was sassy and a smart-ass. I'm sure it will get worse with age. But that is mostly likely one of your favorite qualities about her. And it will sure make the bedroom scene entertaining. Especially with phrases like, "voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?" Because it's always sexy when a lady speaks French.
Hannah is very smart, she knows a lot about a lot of things. She enjoys reading books and writing essays. In your home we suggest a large library. If she didn't mary you for money, then it was books.
Whether or not you are a nice black man with a British accent I know she will love you very much. It wouldn't hurt to have nice cars and a huge house, but I'm sure it won't really matter. We hope you two have many wonderful adventures around the world: staying in nice hotels with giant bath towels and eating fine cuisine in nice restaurants. Let her indulge in an occasional key chain or maybe a diamond and all will be good.
Take care of our girl, she really is one of a kind.
Amelia, Mika, and Ale

PS. In case you were wondering, those girls are darling. We had a great summer.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Creativity Day 16: Ambushed by a Smell

Roses smell like my great-grandmother.
Cetaphil smells like Europe.
Horses smell like the cabin. Especially when they've been away for a while.
New leather smells like Lorin's car (even years after they're not new.)
Vanilla tree-shaped air fresheners smell like minimum wage jobs.
McDonald's smells like the ball pit I used to play in.
Plastic packing materials smell like Lorin's minerals.
Old books smell like Sam Weller's.
New books smell like summer.
Chlorine smells like early morning swim practice.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quote Sunday

So one of the best poetry collections ever is Franz Wright's Walking in Martha's Vineyard (in my opinion second only to Siken's Crush and Hirshfield's Given Sugar, Given Salt). Franz Wright is another one of those poets with the world's most difficult life story. I love this collection, funny enough, because most of it is very much about God, and speaking to God but in this beautiful way that I haven't seen before. It seems like his personal God, who he writes about not to glorify God or for others to believe in his God, but because his belief in God is what brings him hope and security: is what keeps him moving forward, toward something.
[As a sidenote, I've recently realized that Knopf publishes everything that is anything.]
So here's a poem to make you cry:

Death, heaven, bread, breath and the sea

to scare me

But I too will be fed by
the other food
that I know nothing
of, the breath
the death
the sea of

when the almond does not
blossom and the grasshopper drags itself along

But if You can make a star from nothing You can raise me up.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Creativity Day 15: 10 Things You Can't Remember

I can't remember learning to read.

I can't remember learning to swim.
I can't remember going to the cabin in British Columbia.

I can't remember the first time I dyed my hair.

I can't remember any of my first seven birthdays.

I can't remember how to get to City Creek (it's like Narnia; I just stumble upon it).

I can't remember my all time favorite meal.

I can't remember how I ended up with purple walls in my bedroom (I think it might have had something to do with a pair of pajamas I liked?)

I can't remember any poems to quote off the top of my head.

I can't remember why I started piling books all over my room.

Life on the water

This past week I've been in Venice, Verona, Varenna (Lake Como), and Monterosso (Cinque Terre). These all have one thing in common: life on the water. I've spent so much time in and around water (and boats) the past days. But I'm loving it. Today is on to Florence and off the water. So here are pictures of my adventure: of rivers lakes and towns I've been around, of food I've been eating and the Italian menus I've been reading, of chacos I've been wearing (a post in itself), of candles I've been lighting, of people I've been with, of mountains I've been climbing and of letters to Juliet I've been writing (another post in itself.) Anyway, ciao for now!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Creativity Day 14: Regional Snapshot

On the first page of East of Eden, Steinbeck writes "I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east. Where I ever got such an idea I cannot say." I find in myself, the same feeling.
West is the end of the day. West is the copper mines. West is the Great Salt Lake.
East is the sun rising. East in the Wasatch mountains. East is looking at the mountain peaks out of the kitchen window. East is home.
On graduation day, there was this moment when I was ready to leave the post-graduation reception on the quad, but I wasn't ready to go home and let it all be over. So I got in my car and headed East. Up Little Cottonwood, all the way up to Albion Basin, where I spent an hour or so opening presents and writing in my journal.
On days when I need to get away, I head East. In the spring, Big Cottonwood canyon starts turning green. In the winter, Snowbird has the best vegetarian chili in the universe, and frozen waterfalls remind me of my father. In the fall, the cabin has autumn leaves to bury myself in and no internet or phone service to connect me. And in the summer, Albion Basin has wildflowers blooming. I can always bring a novel, a journal and a pen East.
Right now, my whole life is heading East. I'm stuck between where I'm leaving and where I'm going, so in the meantime, I go East. I take time to write and read and think (and aren't they all the same anyway?). And wait for August, for farther East, for where I'm going.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Creativity Day 13: Between These Walls

Today I was asked
And will you visit your mom’s family back East?

But you haven’t been back,
not in fifteen years.
Why the fuck not?
People pilgrim to Elvis’ grave, Faulkner’s too, but
you don’t care about seeing your own daughter’s.

Daughter’s grave, daughter’s daughter -
on the tombstone it says,
Theirs was a joyous life filled with love
Tell me about her life,
about the joy and love that filled it:
tell me stories about her,
my dead mother
your dead daughter.

I have her blue eyes, her thick hair.
I wear her gold wedding band.
I like telling the sleeping bag story –
the one where she didn’t want a wedding ring,
just some new down sleeping bags,
and my dad talked her into a gold band
no diamond.

Every June, you send that birthday card
with a $25 check that I never cash and your signature,
but no note. If you knew me you’d know
words matter more than money anyway.

I understood you didn’t love me that year
that the birthday card was for the wrong age.
You don’t even know how old I am.

Don’t I matter?
Am I not all you have left of her?

I wonder if you drive red cars –
                                                        we don’t.
I wonder if you buy cakes on her birthdays –
                                                                              we still do.
I wonder if you keep some of her things  all these years later –
                                                                                                               I do.
I wonder what you do every August 2nd.

No, I said, no I won’t visit them
the distance is too great.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Creativity Day 12: Universal Message

You know how when kids are playing with blocks they'll build a structure - a tower or house or castle - and it will stand, but it's always fragile because the blocks are never lined up quite right or put with the other blocks that match in size?

When I write it feels like the blocks in the tower of myself have been straightened out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Creativity Day 11: Google Translate Poem

So this is fun.
We'll start with this poem.

Put it into Swahili:

Nilipokuwa mdogo
wazazi wangu kukata scrub mwaloni
kujenga yangu uwanja wa michezo. na
katika mwaloni kwamba kata-chini scrub kulikuwa na mti mmoja
na kutelekezwa Magpie wa kiota ndani yake.
Wakati sisi inaonekana ndani ya tulikuta
njano mchezo kipande.
Siku baada ya siku
majira ya joto ni ya moto, na
mlima wildflowers blooming mapema mwaka huu
na nywele zangu kufaa haki ndani ya ponytail
kawaida kama mimi walionao katika mavazi ya maua
na Jumapili Sangria mchana.
Siku kama hii
Mimi kusikiliza miguu kidogo mvua, kufikiri kuwa
Mimi kama njia ya kufanya mawazo yangu ladha,
kwamba journal yangu ni
kila kitabu nimekuwa milele kusoma,
kwamba unapaswa kuamini
maneno yote sijui maana, (kwamba mvua
itakuwa safisha yao mbali anyway)
kwamba hawajui
kila mtu mwingine ni kwenda kucheza,
kwamba wakati mimi kutikiswa
nilijisikia kama kuwa na jino vunjwa
na kwamba katika shimo
(ulimi moja wangu walipenda kujisikia)
Nimeona si kweli laini burrow katika,
lakini mmoja mkali stung kama nyuki bumble.
Basi katika huo huo
Nami kulisha farasi kwa mkono wangu
na wakati mimi peel machungwa au kuni kuchoma
kwamba mimi bado ni msichana
ambaye wears nguo za baridi
ambao mara zote hugs Goodnight snowman
na wale wanaokusikiliza

sauti ya mlango jikoni
      peoplecomeandgo -
i ahadi ya kurudi

msichana wewe kupendwa.

And back into English:

When I was younger
My parents cut scrub oak
My build the playground. and
in that cut-down oak scrub was one tree
and abandoned Magpie's nest in it.
When we looked inside we found
yellow game piece.
Day after day
summer is hot, and
mountain wildflowers blooming early this year
and my hair in a ponytail right fit
Usually if I were them in flower dress
Sangria and Sunday afternoon.
Days like this
I hear little feet wet, thinking that
I like the way to make my mind the taste,
that is my journal
every book I have ever read,
that you should believe
I do not know all the words mean, (the rain
will wash them off anyway)
that do not know
everyone else is going to play,
that when I wave
I feel like having a tooth pulled
and that the hole
(my one tongue they would feel)
I have seen do not actually burrow in soft,
but one bright bumble bee stung like.
So in the meantime
I feed the horses in my hand
and when I peel an orange or wood burning
that I am still a girl
who wears winter clothes
who always hugs goodnight snowman
and those who listen

voice of the kitchen door
peoplecomeandgo -
i promise to return

girl you loved.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creativity Day 10: Woven Essay

I wrote this for a 24 hour writing competition for Utah Arts Festival. (A competition that, by the way, I won.) I haven't revisited it since, so it's still in first draft mode, but I think I can turn it into something sometime.

A List of Things That Are Delicate

I am currently on probation at the DMV.
This probation from the combined speeding ticket October 2010, reckless driving ticket (cutting through a parking lot) November 2011, and another reckless driving ticket (running into the back of another car) April 2012. If I get a ticket of any kind in the next two years my license will be suspended for a minimum of one month.
All in all, between totaling my mom’s car, beating up mine such that both bumpers needed replacement, and crashing a rental car into the garage, we estimate that I’ve caused somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 of damage since I started driving not quite two years ago.


I want to be loving. I want people to know it when I love them. I want to be able to love those I see as unlovable.


On the other hand, my father has never had a single ticket in the fifty-five years he has been driving. Naturally, he’s not to thrilled about my track record. But he pays the bills and gets most upset about the Women for Obama bumper sticker I keep on my car.


Careers I want to have when I grow up:
·      Lawyer
·      Writer
·      Cowboy
·      Politician
·      NGO-worker
·      Journalist


Pufferfish are fish that, generally speaking, do not swim. When they do it’s clumsy, slow, and awkward, like a newborn zebra running from a hyena. Unlike their counterparts, when pufferfish feel threatened, they stay in place. Instead of escaping, they swallow enormous amounts of water, turning themselves into an inedible ball covered in protruding spines.


I want to be positive. I want to be able to choose to see the good in people, activities
and situations.

I will go to my grave insisting that I would be a better driver save for the size of my car. I drive a 2008 Lexus LX 570. It is 16.375 feet long,  6.461 feet wide, and 6.327 feet tall. You know those huge ass ones you see driving around? The ones that barely fit in the lines of a parking spot? The ones that make all those black wheel marks you see on sidewalks? All me.  


I want to be helpful. I want to help starving children in Africa and enslaved women in Cambodia, but I also want to help those around me, in big and in small ways.


All things considered, it’s a surprise that what is probably the biggest beating my car has taken did not happen with me at the wheel, but my father.


Things that made my day:
·      The woman who, when I told her where I was going college responded, “oh, you must be a writer.”
·      The face cream the smells like red wine
·      The hypnotist who majored in English but does this now because “there’s no money there.”
·      The billboard on 500 South that reads PREPARE FOR JUNE 26 which happens to be my 18th birthday


I want to be fun. I want to smile and laugh freely and enjoy life as it is. I want to help those around me do the same, simply by being who I am.


My father took what has since become my car down to Moab - for our annual trip to hike to Delicate Arch - the month he bought it. We left the day after the new license plate had come in, with it’s Delicate Arch insignia that all of our cars have.
My father was proud of his new toy: a 8-cylinder V type 4-cycle gasoline engine, 8500 pound towing capacity, 112.2 inch wheel base, all in a classy color called Twilight in the brochure. A car to pull the horse trailer, a car to fill with carpool, a car to take to Colorado on fishing trips.


Inside my chest, I house a pufferfish. She does her own thing most of the time, but when I need to communicate her, I do so by placing my palm over her, Pledge of Allegiance style.


I want to be strong. I want to be able to challenge myself; to enlarge my comfort zone; to do hard things; to expand myself my whole life. I want to work hard and ultimately develop a huge perseverance and determination.


Sometime during this particular Moab trip, my father decided it was high time my brother and I saw Canyonlands. So we all loaded in the car that still smelled of freshly-murdered-calf leather and drove down to the entrance. When we got there my father announced, “We’re going to go over Elephant Hill.”


Things that I’ve done on a dare:
·      Eaten a steak raw
·      Gotten a Brazilian wax
·      Tried to read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
·      Driven 100 MPH on the freeway


I want to be gentle. I want to allow myself to be taken care of and I want to be able to take care of others.


“We are?” my mom asked, “We haven’t been over Elephant Hill in 20 years. And this is your new car. And it’s not built for off-roading.” My father looked at her, the car, her again. “It’ll do fine. It’s got a good wheel base and shocks. It’ll be the nicest ride over Elephant Hill you’ve ever had.”


I want to be kind. I want to fill my heart with compassion and generosity.


 Sometimes, my pufferfish will awkwardly try to swim away or share too much. When this happens, I place my hand over her in a calm but firm gesture to keep her in place. Conversely, when she’s threatened – worried about being stabbed or trampled on – and her spines are sticking out, I reassuringly cover her with my hand, trying to remind her that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes. Sometimes, my palm covers her up simply to soothe her; a friendly reminder that the world is a nice place to be.


So we went. Sure enough, the car wasn’t suited for off-roading. It was too wide and it couldn’t turn near sharply enough. There were a few moments when things seemed worrisome, when the cliff seemed closer than it should be, but we made it each time. We had for ourselves a beautiful day in Canyonlands, full of family bonding and new adventures.


Things I spend my allowance on:
·      Books
·      Organic fruit
·      Going out for coffee
·      Hair products
·      Expensive imported cheese


I want to be observant. I want to pay attention to my world. I want to see for myself the beautiful and the ugly.


Eventually, twilight was coming and it seemed high time we headed out of Canyonlands. Fifteen minutes from the exit point – the point where rock became a dirt road – there was a bang and a hiss. Flat tire.


While I’m comforting my pufferfish with my palm, my index finger aligns itself with my collar bone – the only bone I’ve ever broken and my favorite of the two hundred and eleven bones in my body. My left collar bone tells me I’m fragile and vulnerable to getting hurt, but it also reminds me that I’m capable of healing so totally even an x-ray can’t detect I was ever broken.


I want to be vulnerable. I want to let myself be deeply seen; to love with everything I have even when there are no guarantees; to open up though it is excruciatingly uncomfortable.


But this was no stopping point! We were half way up a hill. A tire couldn’t possibly be changed here! Onward we pressed, flat tire and all.


Things I don’t say:
·      Will you take care of me?
·      I’ve had too much coffee.
·      You don’t need to buy me a present.


I want to be courageous. I want to have the courage to be imperfect. I want to have the courage to love with loyalty – to do what is right for others regardless of the consequences for myself.

A minute or so later we reached a stopping-place nearly flat peninsula. We stopped, put on the parking break and ventured out to assess the damage. The tire was very much busted. Worse, however, was the dinner tray sized dent next to the wheel well of the front left tire. It looked like someone had thrown a boulder at that whole corner of the car.
Which, in reality, is exactly what happened.


I want to be open. I want to love and cry and speak freely.


Sometimes, I don’t consciously hide my pufferfish. Sometimes it just happens.
It happens when I cry over the ice cream shop running out of chocolate and it happens when I hear the Rolling Stone’s “Wild Horses”. It happens when I’m afraid I’m not good enough to tell the story and it happens when I explain that the stupid teenage boy hurt my feelings. It happens in English class when I stop talking about the book and start talking about myself – even when I’m still using the character’s name – and it happens when I admit things were painful. It happens when someone tells me they’re praying for me or that they’re proud of me or that they love me.


The sun setting, my father and twelve-year-old brother set about changing the tire. But the incline was wrong and the jack wasn’t working and this was no ordinary tire change. As twilight began to hit my mother started to cry and exclaimed, “This is the dumbest idea ever! Let’s just leave the car and hike out! It’s not worth it! We’re going to get into a crisis! Leave the car and hike out!”


I want to be honest. I want to be able to admit to myself and express freely my emotions, thoughts, and opinions.


My father looked at her like she’d just suggested communication with extra-terrestrial intelligence. He was not leaving his new car here. “It’ll be fine, we just need to change the tire. We’re almost done.” By almost done, he meant they’d almost started.


Things that I found under my bed:
·      My mostly-blank journal from 2009
·      The Grapes of Wrath
·      Six black Pilot G2 pens
·      An Orlando Bloom poster
·      2 tubes of red lipstick


I want to be loved. I want to be worthy of that love. I want to be among those who will stand with me through it all.


So my mother started hiking. My brother and I opted to stay with the car. My mother might have left my dad with the car all night, but she couldn’t leave Sam and I. So back she came.
Stubborn. Obstinate. Worried.


I want to be spiritual. I want to cultivate that part of myself that I don’t understand now.


Somehow, my father got the tire changed. We got up and over Elephant Hill in the dark. The dinner platter dent, as it would later be known, was the first of many, the rest to be inflicted by me.
The second the tires hit the dirt road my mother leaned her chair back all the way and whispered, “We made it. We’re safe.” Then she turned to my father and said, “I am so emotionally exhausted.”


When my pufferfish needs to speak, I give her voice by covering her with my palm. That way I can signify it’s not my head that thinks this, it’s my heart that feels it.


I want to be happy. I want to love who I am, embrace my faults, glorify my strengths, and accept my choices, good or bad.  I want to know I’m enough.