Thursday, November 24, 2011


As the last of fall leaves the trees,
As rain soaks into every pore of every inch of bark,
As the moss renews its strength and the wind turns southward,
I say a silent "thank you" to the walls of my home that hold in the warmth of the people within them.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Push, pull, the heels dig in, pushing back
The hands push forward and down
Pushing through fields of words
Through fields of who I think I am and who I am not. 

Treading waves of time
An attempt at an immortal "Ungh." 
A soft plop that is a child of mine
Slipping from between me
For you

Some creation of mine
That is also me
That can be yours

But I need to keep it safe, 
Keep it locked between the folds of 
Who I am
Who I want to be
That's not me
That's between us
Secrets that are intimately yours, mine, ours
That they validate
They stamp with approval
That we don't need 
And that we do need. 

A labor of my guts, my womb, 
My hands and my intellect. 
A child that cries into your arms
That leaps from me
While clawing it's way through me
Into me
From me
Exquisitely me
Delicious and bile
And ephemerally heavy
Without form
Without function
Without your approval
With your approval please
I yearn for you to embrace it
To embrace me. 

To share with you is to understand
To show you the dreams of a child
Alone in her closet
With her fears
Her mistrust
To block out the noise
To find that place within that feels solid
That doesn't exist
But has a voice
That asks for you to hear 
What you can't hear
What you can't see
What you can't feel
But leaves its impression on your hands
Heavy with guilt, love, the ecstasy of finding that inner place. 


Sleep just ahead of me,
Ever ahead of me,
On the horizon
Out of reach
Out of step with me.

Trying to catch up keeps me awake,
keeps me up, reaching forward.

If I could just stop to let it catch up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Give Me Pause

So often in my day at work I scramble from one issue to the next. I find myself being pulled from a tough negotiation with a vendor to the next second (literally) talking to a family about their child's prognosis. This emotional gymnastics often leaves me wishing for a pause. A moment to breathe. A break. A long vacation to restore my energy, my drive, and most of all my patience and caring. Today I received a moment that gave me pause, but not in the form I had expected.

Most days I am a beacon of hope, always with a smile and talking about how so many of our kids leave here getting better. Today a photo album of past guests was placed in front of me. As I looked through the first few pages, my eyes stopped on a young man that I had met. (Often I only get to meet parents and siblings.) I wondered to myself when he was going to return as they had made frequent visits. Then I remembered that he unexpectedly died last year. He wouldn't be back. I had to stop looking through the album.

This could be depressing, this could leave me numb for the rest of the day. Instead, it gave me pause. Made me stop for a moment and remember what we mean to each other and how much each little act of kindness can mean. It's easier to stop, slow down, remember "what's important" when a moment like this comes your way.

I could still cry though. Inside I say a little thank you to this young man, a little, you are missed and your short life made a difference in the fabric of the universe. Your absence is noticed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Water For Tea


My collage tells you this. Tells you there are many layers; stories behind people, behind mountains.
Simple things, simple times, complex relationships.
Long journeys.

Pulling colors, smells, essences
From little pieces of who we are.

You are the water.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Pregnant rivers
waiting to breach
earthen mounds.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hope and Humor

Waiting for tea water to boil in the early morning, I hear stories of an 8 year old who just lost a third of her lung to cancer. The doctor said she wouldn't be running any marathons soon. Dad laughs that he didn't say "ever." He shares that a coworker is running a marathon for her. Dad tells me they were told she has two years to live at one point. He was devastated when she asked if she could work here when she grows up. Then he sighs with relief as he says, "Now let's get her an application." He believes she will be fine, she has a future and she is one tough cookie.

This is what I have learned here in six and a half years. If I can have learned only one thing it is the most important. You can get through anything with hope and humor. Anything.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mississippi Avenue Spring 2

Two perfect pictures.
Two windows to get lost in.
One pink, the other teal.
Do I like them because they look like prints I've seen?
Or do I want to make them prints other people see?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mississippi Avenue Spring

Sitting silently staring off into space.
They talk to each other from either side of me.
Spring tree outside the window contrasts nicely with the building wall color across the street from it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

7 Year Curse

For about seven years in my early thirties I experienced a case of writer's block. I don't mean that I had trouble getting started on projects or finishing them, I just didn't write - no, couldn't write. Of course I kept up with the minimum that was required of me at my non-writing job. But I did almost nothing else. Up to that point, I had kept a journal since I was about 10 or so. Not a dear diary, locked account of crushes and fights with my mother (although those fights were in there aplenty). No, it was more of an OCD act. So to not be able to do this was excruciating, soul crushing.

When I was four I would play "writing" - I LOVED to pretend I was writing in cursive even before I could write the entire alphabet in print. When I finished my first journal I had a visceral need to keep writing. I have referred to it as diarrhea of the brain. Some people compulsively eat, or exercise or watch sports or masturbate, I wrote.

I also "arteested" as my dad referred to it. I liked to create things with my hands from salt goop and then I graduated to paint. I made abstract paintings, terrible impressionist pieces, and papier-mache masks that I adhered to canvases and painted with acrylics. My favorite thing was to turn up some Madonna or Christian rock (yup, that's right) or U2 really loud on my Walkman and have a Jackson Pollock session spattering paint onto a canvass. God love my mother, she was very anal about many things but for some reason she let me get away with this. Eventually the music progressed to Jane's Addiction, Husker Du, and Nine Inch Nails.

Through college I continued both these things. I took art classes and learned to draw with charcoals, blowing coal snot out of my nose after class and feeling this made me a "real" artist. I rabidly filled journal after journal. I got to the point where I had a favorite brand journal and I could look for weeks for this cheap, lined notebook if it wasn't at the first store I went to. I had to have just the right pen too, which was also fortunately cheap.

I got into block printing and spent my summers out of college out in the sun making prints in my Danskos and my grandma's old butcher apron. I felt very chic when I found a nice broad brimmed straw hat. It didn't hurt that my apartment overlooked a beautiful blue bay and islands.

At the same time I started writing prose poetry. Some of which I still go back to and, for me alone, it puts me right into that place again. I even submitted some of my art to campus art shows and staff art shows. Some of it well received and some of it, rushed crap that barely got a nod. I enjoyed it though. I sold a piece once. $50 and a spaghetti dinner. I'm sure that ended up in a garage sale and eventually the dump. I think it was more of a pass at me than an actual appreciation for my art.

I also believed completely in suffering for art. Not like "not making money at a regular job and devoting oneself to art" kind of suffering that might actually produce an artist in the end. No, much more practical and seriously more masochistic. I believed that the depression I had suffered since I was about 8 or so was a source of my creative urges and that they would dry up if ever I ceased to suffer. I have also never felt like what I create is worth anything to anyone but me and so I've always known I need a full-time paying job that is "serious" - preferably something good enough for a saint, martyr, monk... Something good for society. Like being a library page, grant writer, filing bitch at a non-profit or a data nerd at a non-profit.

Then I went through a mildly nasty divorce, came out as a lesbian, suffered a blocked artery in my left eye that left me with a permanent blind spot in the center of my vision, and I sucked big time at writing my Master's thesis. Oh the dreaded thesis. Nothing in my life has ever made me less sure of myself, less sure of my ability to write, less sure of my ability to create, than that fucking thesis. It didn't help that for a time I wasn't able to look at anything within 4 feet of my face for more than 10 minutes without falling asleep for a couple of hours. (That's what it was like getting my brain retrained to see a whole picture without a blaring white spot in it. By picture, I mean someones face, an oncoming car, my cat, my girlfriend's face - all just one big white spot like you'd stared at a light bulb and then looked away.)

Then the dreaded writer's block hit me. Not all at once, but pretty close. I think it was the first time I was told to "try again" on my thesis that really started it. Then there was the article I "co-authored." I put little quote marks up there because, although I helped develop the structure, content and many of the key ideas in the article, even my own quote was initially rewritten. (But yes, this one article does make me a published author by the way.) That was it, that was the hammer on my voice that I had never before realized was so frail. Nail in the coffin that is. Almost overnight I found myself straining to do anything but stare at the grotesque, awful, disaster that was supposed to be my crowning glory, my going out with a bang, 120 page thesis. This Rosemary's baby from hell hung over me, dug it's claws into my back, squirreled it's way into my head, stole part of my soul, and - silence. No writing. No journaling, no art, no block prints, nothing. Not even Green Day or Red Hot Chili Peppers could jump start me.

I was devastated and convinced that the loss of my vision, my ability to read (which like breathing to me and crucial for the academic I thought I was becoming) meant that I was on the wrong life path. Especially when combined with the "straw man" comments my thesis was garnering. My total identity was in shambles. If I couldn't write, who was I?

This dry spell lasted for approximately seven years, which now I can interpret as having been related to breaking a mirror and not my self worth. Right? No actually, the end of the drought has more to do with sewing and Facebook. I took up sewing about a year ago because a friend gave me her old machine for free. Knowing nothing about sewing except that it requires a needle, some thread and fabulous fabrics, I felt free to create anything I wanted -because I didn't know what I was doing I knew my projects couldn't turn out perfect. I couldn't get stuck in technicalities and my own judgement. How freeing!

Then one of my friends urged me to start a blog as I kept filling up the Facebook limits. Probably he just wanted to keep my absurdly long posts off his homepage without defriending me. (Thank you for not blocking me Jason - smiley emoticon.) Either way the end result is now the start of my fourth blog. Because I am back to diarrhea of the brain friend. The seven year curse is broken.