Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It All Goes

We are all here, not because we're fucked up (most people are that) but because we know we're fucked up.
I arrive ten minutes late so that I won't have to interact with anyone, because I'm afraid if I open my mouth to speak, I will start howling. I skip the shitty black coffee and the styrofoam cup because sometimes I worry they will give me cancer. Other times I think cancer is the least of my worries.
People are already sharing.
L bares her heart about her adult son, who has left his wife and kids with no car, no cellphone, no extra clothing--just walked off in the middle of the night. The old "went out for cigarettes" jam.
J tells us jovially that he has been diagnosed with "memory loss" and after a few rambling moments, smiles and spreads his hands and stops speaking in mid-sentence. He's forgotten what else it was he was going to say. We all thank him for speaking, anyway.
P is dressed entirely in black because maybe he believes he is Johnny Cash. He says, in his deep Johnny Cash voice, that he has been thinking a lot lately about his dead wife, although she is thirty-some years gone and he is married these many years, with grown children. The holidays are strange that way. They bring up ghosts.
K makes a sudden and theatrical entrance, a half-hour late, in sweater and scarf and sunglasses, her walker preceding her like the prostrating subject of an empress. She shoos several hapless fuckers off the couch--they flee like birds from a wire--and settles herself there, snorting grandly.
Somebody's cellphone pings into the silence and somebody else glares.
I take a shaking breath. I say, without howling, "I think I'm learning about things coming and things going. That they do. Come and go. Also, I don't really like this planet anymore." And the eyes of the group rest on me. K removes her sunglasses. Nobody laughs, or pulls the "she's batshit" face, or makes any judgments. When I have finished, they thank me and move on.

J comes comes up to me after, he of the lost memories, he of the Buddha belly. His long, once-powerful arms enfold me, choke me against his shoulder. He chuckles and says softly, spitting a little into my ear, "Oh dear. It goes, it all goes. It's alright."



Dancing to the Blues

To call them the holiday blues makes them sound festive. And when you're in the midst of them you know they aren't pretty little multicolored versions of depression. They're not Hallmark-card polite, throat-clearing, back-patting "there, there" types of blues. The holiday blues are a freight train and you are tied to the tracks. They come on slow or they come on fast, and sometimes you feel them coming and sometimes you don't, but when they hit, they hit hard, and they hit you in the guts.

I thought I'd outrun them this year. I went to Mexico to pretend it wasn't Christmas, and it worked. My brain soaked up Vitamin D in copious, drunken quantities, like Hemingway on rum, sprawled out among his six-toed cats and writing like a demon. Neurons, dendrites, limbic system all thrumming to the heady amounts of love, intimacy and communication that come on tap with vacation, mixed in with greedy doses of sleep. It was like a brain spa, and my brain leisurely ordered up its own versions of Swedish massage, salt scrubs, mani-pedis, fruit peels and a few happy endings. By the time vacation ended, my brain naively thought it was ready to get back to "real life."

Cue disaster. As the plane touched down, things began to unravel. Intimacy, warmth, communication and Vitamin D hit the dark, rain-spattered sidewalk like rotted pumpkins hurled down from the freezing sky. I shrank into my beach dress and wrapped a sweatshirt around myself. I hailed a cab and tried to ignore the cabby's apocalyptic grumbling about the weather, about how Austin has changed for the worse, about a fatal accident he'd witnessed on Christmas Eve, about how the Mexicans are destroying downtown, etc, and I felt a rock beginning to form in my belly. Once home, I dug my car out from under fallen leaves, and drove back to the cold, isolated apartment which has scarcely been visited for these many months, but which had somehow, in the brief moments between touchdown and rain-spattered sidewalk, become home again.

And I didn't understand what was happening then, but the slow roar of the freight train should have sounded familiar. After all it has been the backdrop, these many years, to countless Christmas carols and refrains of Auld Lang Syne; no matter how loudly they ring or how many strangers plant kisses on my lips, there is that rumble, that screech, that gut-wrench. I woke up the following morning, alone, with the dark pressing on all sides, and my brain began to lurch like one of India's dancing bears. Why alone? it wanted to know. But I didn't have an answer. Yesterday we were basking in sun, and love, and affection. Today we are stumbling in the cold, isolated. Where is the spa? it asked. There is no spa, I replied. Love is a myth. And indeed, this seemed true. I couldn't communicate for shit. Every time I opened my mouth to speak to my beloved, it had much the same effect as it would if I were a dancing bear, opening its tortured mouth to roar. The brute with the ring in its nose, forced up onto its hind feet: Dance, Bear. Dance! And I did. I danced to the misery and confusion and isolation. I danced to the fear. I danced to the sadness. I wept with frustration. Dancing bears are not beautiful creatures. They are tragic, fearsome, trapped, bleeding, and broken. So the more I danced, the harder I hurt, and the farther away Love went.

Until I realized, looking at it from that far, far distance, that maybe it wasn't really Love at all. Maybe it was just love, the kind of love that loves you until you grow frightening. The kind of love that loves the beautiful but runs from the broken. I can hardly blame it. I am not a very nice creature, in this state, dancing to the holiday blues. But then none of us are, when we dance to our inner demons. We can choose not to. We always have that choice. But it's naive to think we don't need helping hands to guide us, people to reach out to, who will in turn reach out to us. Someone who won't run from the bear, from these ungainly paws that, after all, are asking for help: please take this ring out of my nose. Please help me to trust again.

But it doesn't matter, does it? Whether anyone is there to "help" me trust again. Silly brain. Sweet, silly, flawed, animal brain. We are not built to trust, not with the ground crumbling out from under us, or what we thought was ground, what we have spent months learning to believe was ground. No--we are built to run, to retreat, to protect ourselves when things change. This is why I have worked so very hard at learning to love--to Love--myself. That's the ground I have to start from. Love self, first, and then others, because if I can't love silly, sweet, flawed, animal me, then I can't love anyone else. If I run from the bear, then how can anybody else be expected to stick around? Maybe that's something I can pledge to do in the New Year: sit with myself. My own fearsome, broken bear.

Auld Lang Syne might suck this year, but I won't have to lay on the tracks. And maybe we can dig up some Jay-Z or some Z-Trip or some Zaytoven (it's the end of the year, after all). Anything but the blues. I'm done with them until next year.










Sunday, December 27, 2015

It Is Your Mind

Mexico: I have a whole week with nothing to do, a windswept white beach, and a busy mind that needs unwinding. I have brought along Peter Matthiessen's book The Snow Leopard, and he has picked me up and borne me along on his dream-quest through the Himalayas. All throughout this week it is as if my body is on the beach and my mind is in the clouds at the roof of the world, the sweet, fresh sweep of white snow against the immense blue of the sky; and yet I cannot quiet my thoughts. The engine of my mind still runs, relentless, a perpetual motion machine, until I run into a particular story. In one of his chapters Matthiessen invokes Hui-Neng, the sixth Ch'an Buddhist Patriarch of China, when he was asked of the prayer flags flying in the sun: Is it the flags that move? Is it the wind? And the Patriarch answered: Neither. It is your mind. And I read these few words, over and over, and time begins to slow.

The question and the answer come back in equal measure, neither bearing more weight than the other. They dance around one another in slow circles in my consciousness, their even tread wearing a smooth, patient path down my neurons. Is it the flags that move? Is it the wind? Is it the palms that move? Is it the ocean? Is it the clouds that move? Is it the sand? None of these things. It is my mind.

I experiment with what it means to rest, to cease the movement of my body. First I try the broad divan with the pillows that lies close to where the waves come hissing up the shoreline. I arrange myself so I'm propped up and can see the foam-tipped crests rushing in, can hear the music they make as they mutter the same language they've spoken for thousands of years to this same white-washed shore. I breathe deeply. I tell my muscles to let go, to un-clench, I tell my jaw to soften, my nerves to stop their screaming chorus.

But it is my mind that moves. It won't stop. I realize the irony in trying to get it to stop; I am a mind, trying to get my mind to stop trying, and it's not working because it is working too hard and I grow frustrated.

Perhaps I need a different place, a different position, I tell myself. This place isn't comfortable enough, it's too loud, it's too windy. I rise, grab up my book and notebook, retire up the beach to the hammock beneath the palms. It is quieter here, where the wind plays gently through the broad leaves and rocks the long tall trunks, swings the hammock. I can still hear the ocean faintly. Mother Ocean she is, merely a whisper at this distance, a soothing half-remembered voice. I wind myself into the hammock, go fetal, retreat to inner space. It works in much the same way as picking up a kitten by the nape of its neck; I go limp, my nervous system temporarily shut down.

But because I am not a kitten and because I have a conscious brain that niggles and wriggles and picks and percolates, the gears soon start up again. "I," it insists: I this, I that, I need, I want, I forgot but now I remember, my limbs are cramped, my neck hurts, what about changing into something dry, shouldn't I go check on this or that, I'm thirsty, I'm hungry, and on and on, like a child plucking at my elbow; it nags and bleats and cries until I resolve to get up. Exasperated, clock-less, I look at the sun, which has not changed much at all; the same shadow falls across my arm as when I lay down, which tells me I have been here mere minutes, actually. Where is the stillness, where is the quiet I so longed for back in Austin, and knew I would get from this vacation?

Ah. There. A crack has been made, a still point, a small, unruffled pool--no bigger than a puddle--somewhere among the swirling chirring chatter in my head. Wherever you go, there you are. I've brought the whole mess along, the mess that is me; it didn't somehow stay behind when I boarded the flight to Mexico, it didn't stay on the plane when I disembarked. It's here, treading the pristine sands; here, diving into the cerulean blue; it's here, when I open my eyes against the stinging salt. It's here in my held breath, here in my stubborn jawline, in every swirling thought, tucked into the chaotic dreams that crowd in like long-lost friends while the wind sings me to sleep. Truth? I am happy to see me here. I've missed the sacred mess of her, screwed-up as she might be, as batshit as it seems that she can't relax to the beat of blue-green waves shushing their white-noise whispers against secret sands.

Last night I dreamed Icarus came into my room. I was glad to see him. Every ancient culture, says Peter Matthiessen, has some iteration of a Bird-Man, or a Thunderbird, or a god with wings. In the dream he is big; his wings are enormous. Their tips scrape the walls, rasp against the woven ceiling. He is wearing his bird mask. He cocks his head to look at me; his eyes are bright behind the long, pointed beak. Without words he urges me to fly; I can sense the impatience in his powerful form, the way his feathers vibrate along their hollow bones, the quick bright jerks of his hands and his head. He turns his back to me, and I see the lattice of muscles along his supple spine. The wings rise higher. A rush of air, and he is gone.

The moon is full; it is the first full moon on Christmas in 40 years. We all sit on the beach and shout and drink a salute when she breaks free from the clouds and sails into the clear. It's not exactly a full-moon party, but it will do. Later on, when everyone has turned into bed, I will come back outside and commune with her. This nervous bright energy that stirs up my mind, makes it even harder to settle into the present, into emptiness. "Stay Present" warns a bright orange sign down the road, where traffic swells to its fullest, and there are no shoulders on the road for cyclists and pedestrians to shelter from passing cars. It's a free-for-all, and yes, you have to stay present at every moment to avoid becoming road kill. But isn't that always the way? I hear the voice of wisdom asking and answering the questions that perhaps can't entirely be answered. Is it the car that moves? Is it the road? Is it the earth that moves? Is it the moon? Is it the hawk that flies? Is it his shadow? 

None of these thing. It is your mind. 



















Sunday, December 13, 2015

Long Distance

Your voice on the phone is both sweet
and raw.
Without touching me you
press nerves and skin, you unspool
the tension in my belly.

How many miles above our mixed-up heads
is the satellite that brings us to one another?
You reach up to scratch your face
and I feel its roughness against my cheek.
I am the wind that runs cold fingers through
your hair.

But of course it only leaves me hungry:
this distance.
Outer space, the hum of the satellite cruising
through our atmosphere, the static
of comets barreling by on their way
out of the solar system.

I want your lips on my throat, your
hands at the small of my back
your arms gripping me tight as a seatbelt
so that when I crash from this great height
I might have a chance
of surviving the impact.






Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Punching Toddlers And Falling in Love

I'm not that into kids. And that's strange, society says, for a woman. People look at you sideways when you're a woman and you say things like that: I don't like kids. You get asked the inevitable question, as I did until I gratefully hit my fortieth year—So, when are you going to have kids? Not, are you going to have kids, but when are you going to have kids. Like it's a foregone conclusion. And that always gave me pause. I've spent a lot of years as a single person, traveling, writing, waiting tables, moving from place to place, staying as long as it took for the novelty to wear off and then moving on again. So that gave me a bit of a pass on the kid thing, but sometimes I'd fall into a relationship and think “yeah! This is the one. Maybe we'll get married and make babies together.” And I'd settle in for what I imagined was the long haul, only to hear, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, the quiet, menacing growl of panic, that jungle cat that paced and paced in ever-tightening circles in my belly. “Settling down” just wasn't in my cards—not in the white-picket-fence way that I imagined would be a good, safe place for a family. I used to wonder what was "wrong" with me. Did I step out of line when the biological clocks were being handed out? Was it because I came from a "broken" family? Was I, in fact, broken? 

It wasn't always me that hightailed it first. I had a talent for choosing guys with the same jungle-cat tendencies, and the eventual splits were sometimes bloody and painful. I hated the actual breaking-up process, but deep down there was this sweet, cool sense of relief, once the dust settled, that there was no little person to drag along with me into the next chapter. Kids were baggage, I'd tell myself; but the voice bore a raw toughness that echoed with a faint tick-tock....tick-tock. And then it was strangely painful, like a cheese grater on a scab, when some random acquaintance would find out months down the line that I'd broken up with so-and-so, and they'd get this fake-sad expression and say something like “aww but I thought you two were so good together. And you'd have made such cute babies.” And then there it would be, the unspoken, or, if the person was particularly dense, the spoken thought: “Don't worry, you still have time. Women these days are having kids in their forties.” 

So here I am, in my forties. Fortunately for me, people are either getting smarter about the things they say, or I'm better at ignoring stupid questions. Also, it appears that biology and I have reached a truce. Those brief urges toward procreation, the quick little flirtations with Baby Madness that plagued me through my twenties and thirties, they're like dance steps I once knew but have gladly forgotten. And the hormones that flushed through my poor slavish brain have mercifully relinquished their hold, maybe because now I'm safely ensconced in Year Forty-Two and that's the consolation prize I get for making it this far and having to cope with both zits and wrinkles. 

But every now and then I meet some dum-dum who can't imagine any other use for me than as a brood mare, and the question pops out, though it has morphed a bit: So why didn't-cha have kids? I watch their eyebrows climb their foreheads in consternation at my reply. But it's the easiest answer in the world. I never could have done all the things I've done if I'd sacrificed my time/energy/life to raising them. Also, aside from a few of my friends' progeny, I truly don't like them all that much. I mean, kids are jerks. What other person, besides maybe a hot mess of an alcoholic, would come into your life and immediately start demanding all of your attention? Who else in the world would put up a screaming fit and start waving their fists in the air, in the middle of the goddamn night, and when you dragged yourself out of bed to see what was wrong, would present you with a diaper full of shit and expect you to do the honors? And then do it all over again a few hours later, after biting you in the tit? (I would just like to interject here that I have dated a few alcoholics, and the particulars are very similar. It took me two or three tries to figure out that alcoholics—the seriously mental ones, the ones who simply cannot stop drinking and must go to live-in rehab or die—are not relationship material. It was either stop dating them, or resign myself to a life of changing diapers. I chose Option A.)

I don't know how parents do it. I look at my friends who have kids and I think god must have given them an extra heart when the baby came along, full of patience, long-suffering and the ability to survive on tiny, vampirish doses of un-sleep. And then there are the other kind of parents: the kind I was worried I might be. Some shitty toddler was pulling faces at me behind his mom's back today and I felt the old urge to give him a solid punch in the ear. I am not supposed to have those urges, and I'm certainly not supposed to talk about them; but, this is my blog and if you like PC shit, read something else. Would I punch a toddler? Probably not, but I never wanted to find out, and so I never had one. More people should get on that train, I think. We don't need more children in the world, but we could use fewer shitty parents and more people who are free to do stuff that makes them happy and helps the planet. Maybe, if women (and men) could dig down and withstand both the societal pressure and the hormonal overdrive to reproduce, they might find other things to do. Like save up a little money, travel the world, write books, rescue a few species from extinction. 

And here's a revelation: you can still have a family without necessarily hurling a child from your loins. I have a huge family, but it's not because my romantic life up to now has been stellar. In fact it has been a circus, a reckoning, a bloodletting. Every turn around the track has brought me face-to-face with that jungle cat, that animal self who wouldn't be tamed, wouldn't relinquish control. I couldn't settle into love because every time I tried, that snarling beast came back and chased me on down the road. There were (aside from the alcoholics) some truly kind men who got trampled on my way around the track. But it felt like relief to run. It felt like relief to be alone again after suffocating myself in close quarters with somebody else. I couldn't imagine bringing a kid into all of that. I'd have chewed myself apart. 

But family? I have that in spades. And love has been gentler lately, or perhaps I've been gentled, have let go, just a tiny bit, of the need to be in control all the time, to go running off whenever things get scary. And that softening, that breaking, leaves cracks for somebody else to get in. It's really startling when that happens, because I always imagined it was a Someday kind of thing, which is to say Probably Never. But once I began to cognitively understand, to wrap my mind around the fact that I have not ever, at any point in my life, been able to dictate what happens to me—from my parents' divorce, to whether it rains today, to whether someone I love suddenly dies—then I began to let go. My illusions of control and safety began to fall apart. It's taken years. It's still happening on a minute-to-minute basis. I still detest rain, bad drivers, feeling abandoned, unruly children, death, confrontation, and a long list of other annoying and/or terrifying things which I cannot control and which Life keeps sticking in my face. 

But I love, too. And love trips me up and renders me breathless more often than I can say. I am learning this: if you open yourself, love will amaze you. There is nothing, nothing, it can't do. Case in point: I recently started dating a guy who has a kid. Sort of unavoidable when you're in your forties, I guess, but I wasn't going to pretend to like the kid just because I liked the guy. When the time came for the inevitable meeting, I figured I'd just let the chips fall where they may. Kids, like dogs, either love or hate me and there's not much I can do about it. I expected this kid to give me the brushoff: Dad's girlfriend, seriously, what a drag, she doesn't even play video games. But instead what happened was that I took to the kid almost instantly. He was smart and funny and bold, like his dad, and instead of waiting for him to accept me, I just loved him and that was that. And for an extra smack upside the head, so Life could really drive home the point, I liked his mom, my sweetheart's ex, too. Now there's a good joke on a miserly heart: hanging out in the kitchen having dessert and laughing with my sweetheart, his ex-wife, her husband, and their shared kid.

And just like that, I step over the threshold of the Now, into this present moment. I open the eyes of my heart and look around me, at the way Time, that old alchemist, will transform pain into love. At this man who walked into my life not so long ago, precisely when I became ready, whether or not I knew it. His past and his present, all here in the same room; my past gradually fading, and my present glowing bright as the kitchen windows against the windy dark outside. I can practically see that old jungle cat padding away down the road, quiet at last, content out there in the wild, where it belongs. Leaving me with a bigger heart, and a bigger scope on family. That whole mom, dad, two-and-a-half kids thing? Whose arse did they pull that one out of? This scene feels a lot better to me. Call it broken if you want, nobody likes divorce, but this is what I know: love comes in through the cracks that only happen when we are broken. When we are willing to admit we don't have our shit together, that we aren't totally competent, that we don't know what's going to happen next. We don't ever know. It's okay. Love lives there, in the uncertainty, and it conquers us in the sweetest and heaviest and most ordinary of ways. Love doesn't care that you don't like kids or that you do, that you might be an asshole toddler-puncher (please don't do that), that you long for a white picket fence, that you started a family and then it broke up, that you have two dads or three moms, that you live in a trailer, on a boat, in a mansion, in a tin shack with a muddy yard and seven dogs under the porch. Love can find you there. You just have to be broken; that's all it takes.



Monday, October 5, 2015

After the Festival

Steel-cold and hard as the moon
the rails of the fairground arena
that burned my forehead where I leaned
against them while you told me
how destined and gravitous it was
for you to fall in love
and drag me down with you.

I should have listened to that ache
and not the words spinning
from your mouth like cotton
candy from the hands of the man
whose booth draws children
like bright bees.

No sustenance there, only
unbearable sweetness and later
the crash into gnawing hunger
that smacks of neglect.
Your kiss stayed in my mouth:
the dry tint of dust and kicked-up glitter
and the song in my head
that sticks for far too long
after the last band has packed up
and pulled on down the road.


KB 10/2015

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Calling

Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance; and there is only the dance. --T.S. Eliot

People always say "follow your heart," but it was my body that led me to the career that became my life's work. I wasn't one of the lucky ones that knew what they wanted to do from the time they could speak. I think most of us are still looking for our "calling," or have given up looking, and settled for whatever pays the mortgage and gives us two weeks' vacation every year--I can't blame anyone for that, because I did something similar for years. For myself, I'd already graduated with a degree in creative writing, which I loved. There's nothing more satisfying than churning out a new poem or short story or blogservation on whatever is uppermost in my mind that day. And it gave me the chance to make the world my playground. It was my way of settling.

But my true calling, my entry into the world of Rolfing, came about because my body demanded attention. Childhood injuries and accidents--a broken leg on the ski slopes at 3 years old that meant re-learning how to walk, numerous falls from my horse, landing on my head while jumping on the trampoline in our backyard, etc--left me in chronic pain by the time I hit my early 20's. And nothing seemed to help. I sought relief through chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, and loads of ibuprofen. It was all temporary. If anything it only held back a rising wave of symptoms: I began to suffer constant neck pain, daily migraines, and sharp, stabbing nerve pain beneath my shoulder blades. My early 30's found me dependent on ibuprofen and alcohol to get through the day. I still exercised, but everything I did involved bolts of pain shooting through my head, neck and upper back.

I first heard about Rolfing from my mother, who mentioned it several times over the course of a year or so. I ignored her at first, because of course I'd never heard of it anywhere else, and who ever listens to their mom? Weird word, anyway: Rolfing. It sounded like somebody was going to throw up on me. But eventually I tried it out of desperation--just one session--seeking relief. I told the Rolfer about my neck and back pain, but he spent most of the session working on my chest and my ribcage, and a little time in my arms--what the hell was he doing? was the question that kept reverberating through my confused brain. But after I paid him and drove off, promising myself I'd never come back, a strange sense of openness, freedom and relief coursed through my entire being. I realized I was breathing, truly breathing deeply and effortlessly, for the first time in years. My head sat atop my neck, and my neck atop my shoulders, without strain. I was overwhelmed. I had to pull off the freeway, get out of the car and walk around, to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. Breathing. Just breathing.

Still, it took several years before I decided to go to Rolfing school. I kept writing and waiting tables, and I didn't go back for another session until I'd moved a couple more times, back and forth between Anchorage and Austin, and traveled to Africa and Europe and India. I was on the run. I resisted my calling, refusing to hear it for what it was; after all I was already doing something I loved, which allowed me to travel the world, and to stay several steps ahead of my true self, which was crying out for something deeper and more fulfilling than what I was doing. I was having fun, freewheeling it all over the globe. But when the migraines started in again, this time worse--numbing half my body and striking me periodically blind--I finally hit the wall. I applied to Rolfing school and packed myself off to Boulder, Colorado, for school in 2008.

It hasn't been easy. It hasn't even always been fun. Rolfing has put me on uncertain ground. I never know what's coming in the door on any given day, or how I will respond to what people bring to the table. Clients have presented me with challenges I never thought I'd face. I've worked with finely-tuned athletes, circus performers, opera singers, exotic dancers, cage fighters, weekend warriors, professional weightlifters, infants, pregnant mothers, and people dying of cancer. My oldest client was 89, my youngest barely two months old. Every single day this work puts me in the trenches, demands my best, and if I don't take care of myself like a professional, then I can't show up for my clients and give them the attention and care they deserve. But if I do show up, then each person has something to teach me, so that I'm constantly learning. This is the beauty of working on uncertain ground: if you are willing to admit that you don't know, then there is so much to be learned. Writing, my first profession, is the same way. I never know, when I sit down with my laptop or a pad of paper, what exactly is going to show up on the page. I just have the tools. The rest is--well, magic. It's a dance. It's a process of learning to be still enough so that the magic can show up. That's all you can ever do. Everything else revolves around that still point. You must give it precedence before all the other beautiful, crazy, miraculous, mundane shit can fall into line.

So it is in work, and so it is in life. Be still, the scripture says, and know that I am god. Or perhaps just: be still, and know. The rest is merely noise. It will dissipate, the more familiar you become with stillness. And then the dance will begin.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wolf in the City

I've had cause for satisfaction recently--a new word in my lexicon. Things are going well. I live in a city where I can find pretty much anything I need, when I need it: good food, entertainment, exercise, mental stimulation, companionship and creature comforts. The weather isn't perfect but I'm not suffering from light deprivation or lack of sleep. I have a career that I love. The place where I live is comfortable, within walking distance of good coffee and wine and food, and my dog is welcome on all their patios. What could be missing?

Last night I returned home from a lovely party where I felt loved and wanted; the food and drink were delicious and the night was warm, but not too warm; dark, but lit with candles and lively stories and laughter. I came home to the wagging tail of my dog, always and unequivocally glad to see me, whether I've been gone an hour or a week. What could possibly be missing? But I went back out into the night and looked up at the stars. I felt inexplicably hungry and desperate, wanting to reach them somehow, wanting to disappear into their sharp, shining depths, their moonless eyes.

Can it be I'm the only one to feel this way, this wild wanting in the dark of the night? Like an animal in a cage, craving to be let out. It's no surprise to feel pent-up; I came here from the wild, comparatively speaking. From a place where you can drive for a few minutes and be out of civilization, into the mountains, away from human habitation, out where your place on the food chain diminishes appreciatively. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves and moose take their place above you; the weather might swerve at any moment and collide with your lack of preparation and--just like that--you're dead. The wild is a fierce, relentless, indifferent place. And I absolutely love her. I walk up into her mountains every chance I get. I bury myself in her snowdrifts. I dip into her glacial rivers. I thrill to see her citizens when they show themselves to me.

And yet, I left her and moved here because I was lonely; fiercely, unbearably lonely. I felt like I was the only animal of my kind; like the zoo had somehow made a mistake, and collected only one specimen instead of two or more. How could you have taken one wolf and missed the rest of the pack? What if I was the only wolf left on earth? It was a breathtaking thought: no more wolves. No others like myself. I thought I might have a better chance of finding others in a larger population. I was wrong, naturally. I have a few good friends back home who are wild like me, who are unafraid of my weirdness. They'd scare the devil out of hell if god ever sent them there, so it's no wonder we get along. But they're already paired up, and it wouldn't be appropriate for me to take up residence in their living rooms--much as I might desire it. So I came out into the wider world, hunting. Hungering to be understood. One shadow among many, moving through the mystery, looking for my reflection smiling back at me from the soul of the world.

I've found so many things out here, but maybe the most unexpected is this newfound softness in myself. This vulnerability. If you take that word apart it is simply another ability, isn't it? From the Latin we get "vulnus," or wound, and so we have an ability to be wounded, and to live with the wound, that open place where, as Rumi says, "the light enters you." Thinking back on my life, I can't remember a time when anyone, any wise teacher or mentor of any consequence, ever told me that life wouldn't hurt. No. In fact I think every single one of them, from Christ to Buddha to Mahatma to my own mother, told me it would hurt. How right they were. And so here I am, wild and wounded. Strange and lone and vulnerable.

Something is changing in me since moving to the city. It's not that nothing is missing; it's not that I am always satisfied--I am beginning to accept that something will always be missing, and that I will always have a hungry wolf inside. But I am beginning to notice that the creatures around me, human and animal alike, are suffering and vulnerable, too. Today I went to use the ladies' room in a restaurant and looked down at the floor to spot a cricket hiding in a corner. Does a cricket count as a wild animal, a sentient being? We don't speak the same language, so there's no way to know. Normally I would have recoiled--it started crawling along the wall, then stopped when it perceived my movement--but I felt a sudden surge of empathy. We looked at each other. Probably that was a fantasy; probably I imagined the little bug saw me at the same moment I saw it. Either way, I couldn't squash it. I tore off a piece of paper towel and gathered it up, gently, and ferried it through the restaurant and safely outside under a bush. This little bit of the outdoors, this tiny wild creature who, after all, wants to live as much as I do, never mind that our thought processes differ.

I don't know what's precipitating the change. I still feel like a lone wolf trapped in the city. But I am seeing people differently. If a cricket gets a magic carpet ride on a piece of paper towel, how much more do the humans around me deserve compassion and warmth, especially in the crush of this too-crowded town? How much love can I direct toward my own crazy, sweet, weird and wild self? So I still want to make a run into the night whenever I hear a train clattering by. So I still want to disappear into the stars. That doesn't mean I can't also love and be loved; it doesn't mean I can't approach the warmth of a candle-lit night with a group of kind souls, and come in from the wild for a few moments of rest.

Maybe those moments could stretch into hours, days, of satisfaction. I don't know, because I am still learning the language. I am learning to say to myself: Go to sleep, wolf. You've had your moment with the night, and you've been fed. It is alright. You will find your way home again.










My Life as a Whale--a True Story

One regret dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed is that I did not kiss you enough.    --Hafiz


Life is scary. And that is an understatement.

Life is terrifying. It will tear you limb from limb, metaphorically speaking, or sometimes actually speaking. I never knew this until I went to live in West Africa at age 25. I was working with an aid organization, trying to stop the bleeding from the war in Sierra Leone. I was too naive then to know that the bleeding couldn't be stopped. We were a drop in a bucket--no--in an ocean whose currents we were powerless to alter.

I began to understand the extent of my uselessness when I went out to the refugee camps to take stock of the situation so that I could write about it to our potential donors. We needed money to fund the programs we were running: education, job training for women, hygiene, food distribution, rehabilitating child soldiers. All of these I could, and did, throw my heart into. All of them came to a screaming halt whenever the refugees tried to repatriate and then were attacked and driven back across the border, more ragged and wounded and torn apart than before. Many had had their arms chopped off at the elbow, or at the shoulder; or had their eyes put out with battery acid; or seen their families brutally murdered--dismembered--in front of them.

And after awhile I began to go numb. After so long of trying and failing, trying and failing, it seemed easiest to just stop feeling. Substances helped numb the pain: alcohol, hash, whatever was on offer. I tried that for awhile but it didn't sit well with me. The people I'd come to "help"--I couldn't imagine what they possibly did to dull the pain. Something extreme, no doubt, and god bless them for it. And I'm sure there was a lot of that--but there was something else, something I couldn't grasp, that kept people buoyant.

There is one day that stands out in my mind. I was headed to the marketplace in downtown Conakry, Guinea's capital, to do some shopping in one of our battered old Land Cruisers. The windows were down so all the sights and smells and sounds of market day assailed our senses. I loved this; though it was hot, and humid and dusty, I loved being inundated by the sensory overload of an African marketplace. I was looking around, absorbing it all, while we were stuck in traffic, when I heard the sound of singing. The voices were beautiful and strong, but disembodied; I couldn't see the singers anywhere. I looked all over--but nowhere in the crowd pressing around us could I see anyone singing. Then I thought to look down. Craning my neck out the window, I glanced down by the side of the road, and found two women there, crawling in the dust. They were crippled, their legs useless; but they were moving at a steady pace, pulling themselves along with their powerful arms. They wore flip-flops on their hands to protect them from the rocky soil, and they carried heavy baskets of goods on their heads, bound for the market. Their mouths were open and their heads held high, and the music bellowed up out of their throats hot enough to give Aretha Franklin a run for her money. Did they think for one second that they had it rough, walking on their hands in the red African dust? Did they feel sorry for hauling a load on their heads that I couldn't have borne in my arms without stumbling? Probably they did. Maybe that was bitter music howling out of their mouths. You wouldn't have known. For me it was pure joy--nevermind the guilt I felt sitting high up in that stupid vehicle--to hear it. And it threw me straight out of my crazy Western mind and into an altogether different realm.

I made a decision in that moment. I didn't know I'd made it, but it was made. My mind changed quietly, unnoticed, and after that I was never the same, from that day to this. I can look back on that day and say that I became a different creature. No longer quite human, and yet more compassionate--braver, more reckless, more prone to wildness.

Where I grew up, I was privileged to see and sometimes venture close to humpback whales and other baleen whales of that sort. They are the giants of the planet. Native Alaskans (and others of us who observe them up close) believe them to be wise, sentient, incredibly forbearing beings who, despite their massive size and potential ferocity, refrain from killing small, bothersome creatures (i.e. humans) who often intrude far into their comfort zone. I've always been intrigued by the way humpbacks go about getting food. It takes a lot--a LOT--of calories to sustain their massive bodies. Basically they do it by swimming through the ocean with their mouths wide open, sucking in everything in their path--mainly krill, but also herring and plankton and whatever else happens to be around. Baleen whales aren't like toothed whales. They don't confront and attack their prey; they just open wide and figure, "fuck it--I've got this enormous mouth, if I open it wide enough, everything in the entire ocean is gonna swim in." And then, once the mouth is full (one whale can consume about 5,500 lbs of food per day), it can filter out anything it doesn't want in there. So if there's a stray shark or something, out it goes (that doesn't happen, ok, but it could). Primitive system, but it works--obviously it's working for the whales. They've been doing this for thousands of years.

So that's what I did. From that moment on--the women in the market--I became a humpback whale. I decided there were good things in Africa that I needed to experience. There were awful things, too; painful, excruciating, horrible things--but if I kept those out, I would miss the beauty. I would miss the singing. I would miss the bravery and the incredible shining moments in the midst of the horror; and I couldn't deny myself that. So I would swim through it all and take in every single thing, and I would just filter it out later. And I just dove in, mouth agape, eyes wide, soul completely open to every possibility, and said Yes to it all. Yes this is painful. Yes this is beautiful. Yes this is strange. Yes this is terrible. Yes this hurts immeasurably.

And then I kept on doing it, when I came back to the cooler, measured, sterilized, Western world. I stayed open. I said Yes to writing a book. Yes to falling in love. Yes to getting hurt. Yes to moving across the country, and Yes to going home to Alaska. Yes to making mistakes. Yes to learning from them. It's invariably painful, and invariably rewarding. I have grown bigger as a person. On the outside, I'm a human being; no different from anybody else. On the inside, I'm huge. A whale. A world. A galaxy. A cosmos of experiences. So many lives lived in this one lifetime.

I went to Hawaii last year, and the biggest and best pleasure of it all was diving under the waves and hearing them sing. The humpbacks. The same whales who travel thousands of miles from my home state to the warm, clear waters of Maui to mate and give birth. Then back over those thousands of miles to fatten themselves in the summer--mouths agape, inhaling it all, leaping and thrashing and singing for joy. I count myself in their numbers. I know what it's like to take it all in. Then sing, from the deepest parts of myself, of the mystery and the horror and the goodness that is life on this planet. Dear god let me never stop being brave enough to give myself this: the singular pleasure of Yes.







Saturday, September 5, 2015

For the Beginner


Today is a good day to be reborn
It is a good day to run a new road
And give myself a younger, happier heart.
I have been many things in my life
But an old woman is not yet one of them.

I have danced on the bones of the earth.
The rhythm of my feet against her skin
Is the beating of my heart
Is the beating heart of the universe
Is the measure of time, beating steadily.

I am alive today
I am alive and not alone.
We are alive today
We are alive and we are in motion
We dance beneath the belly of the sky
We skim along the smile of the water's mouth.

Today is the birthday of being human
Merely and incredibly being
Only that and nothing less.
I am content, and also
Nothing will ever be enough.
I didn't come here to lead an ordinary life--
Existence is far too large for "ordinary"--
I came here to walk off the edge of the known
I came here to leap off the ledge of Impossibility
I came here to get hurt, and I came to heal.

I will falter and fail
I will rise from the ashes and then one day
Disappear.
There is beauty in staying
And there is beauty in going
And there is beauty in this
Perfect, painful, unrepeatable day.



KB 9/2015





Thursday, September 3, 2015

Waterline

 The trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.   --Erica Jong

I refuse to apologize
for wandering back into your life
a little lost, a little wild
leaving muddy footprints across the
floor of your mind.
So do not forgive me for touching your scars
and holding your secrets close to my skin.

I will not accept your apologies
for laying your hands on me and reining me in
pulling me closer in the wilds of the night.
For pouring yourself over me like a
shock of cold rain and
drowning the echoes of that distant rhythm:
the one that sounded like goodbye.

Was it a senseless risk we took?
Don't ask me if I care.

Instead be still and I will come
to you with salt kisses
in my mouth and seaweed in my hair
I will come with a thousand waves at my back
which may do nothing at all to erase
the unspoken line between us
nor falter the drum of that distant rhythm.

Let this be what it is, we told ourselves
play to the beat you're given
but when the time came
we changed the music anyway and shouted
our own mad and lovely songs
loud enough to wake the moon
before the tide washed it all out to sea.

Did anyone hear? Did we?

It is always a splendid risk we take.
I won't ask you if you care.



KB 9/2015


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Love in the Time of Extinction



If desire causes suffering then the world
is burning to death with it:
millions of square miles on fire
the mountains shedding their glacial mantles
into the sea, the proud crest of the planet
like a child's melting ice-cream cone
dropped to the ground.
Simple. So simple that same child could work it out:
we want, and want, and want
cellphones and cars and green lawns and daily showers
and beef and vacations and new jeans and televisions
and the earth has given us all this and more
and more
and more.

They say (those who know)
that we have reached critical die-off
which is the point of no return.
Here is a partial list of loss:
there will never be another Zanzibar Leopard
--we can thank agriculture for that--
and the wings of the Dutch Alcon Blue Butterfly
have ceased their soft, delicate dusting
in the spent grasses of the Netherlands.
If you've always wanted to follow the trail
of the Vine Raiatea Tree Snail--well then
you are out of luck; it has vanished
along with the Aldabra Banded Snail.
If you are not alarmed by this, it is safe to say
you are not a hedgehog, or a toad. But listen:
can you hear the soft and weighted tread
of the Western Black Rhinoceros? No?
You never will again.
Nor the Javan Tiger's slinking shadow
falling on a jungle path
nor the call of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow--
what song would she have sung today?
There is no way to know
and here we must note the particular effect
of losing not only a species
but the song of the species:
mating calls and mothering-calls
fighting songs and cries of joy
entire musical compositions intended
to communicate the depths and heights
of the experience of being a bird
or a leopard or a rhinoceros
or a snail (do snails sing? are you certain?)
or a hedgehog
or a human being.

But before we go extinct, as we certainly will
I must take one composition off the endangered list
because when you call me later across
all the thousands of miles of scorched and suffering
earth between us
this smoke and destruction desire has wrought
I want to sing you a new song:
the wild, unfettered anthem my heart begins to shout
every time you speak my name.



KB 8/2015



Monday, August 24, 2015

Reminders for the Romantic

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.
--Rumi

Be careful
she says
and for once I listen:
be careful
don't follow your heart
that sweet broken-winged thing
flapping circles in the dust;
it wants what it wants
she says, but you know better

Remember who you are
fearless and full
of spacious goodness
the universe contained within
galaxies dancing beneath your skin
how large, how lovely
how savage and spacious
this borderless country
in which you live!

Be alive, then
open your eyes, then
there is room here for you
and for your loved ones too
Leave them be, let them come
falling toward you easily as water
flying upward swift as hawks
This is joy, she says
you are made for letting go
for trying your wings
for leaving and returning

This is life
drink deeply my dear
live fiercely while you're here
and when love comes you'll know it
and it will know you.
So go, explore your country
love who you love
fill your mouth with music
swim in it, revel in it
You can never ask for too much.

And I listened, for once.
I said thank you
I said Yes, I will
and I went to the banks
of the river of love
filled my lungs with gratitude
and leapt in.

Adam explains love.

KB 8/2015












Sunday, August 16, 2015

Be Here Now

Be here now.

I stand in the dark by the sluggish creek, listening to the bullfrogs and the cicadas singing their rusty songs. Slip out of my shoes and root my toes into the dry Texas soil. This isn't where I want to be. I miss my mountains, my wide sky, my clean cold air, my nights lit with improbable light. But I am here now. I close my eyes in the 90-degree heat, breathe in the smell of hot scrub and the live-oak tree arching overhead. It's the same tree I climbed a few months back when the creek was in flood, to rescue my neighbor's cat. She moved out, that neighbor, while I was gone; I didn't get to say goodbye.

Now be here.

People move on. The trees, and the creek in its limestone bed, the fossils and the frogs and the snakes that hunt them--they stay, more or less. The lizard that lived beneath my doorstep seems to have disappeared, but it will be replaced. Everything and everyone on this wide planet is replaceable, including me. I try to forget that fact, sometimes, but it always resurfaces. Easier to forget when I'm on the move, and that is why I try not to stay. But there is strength in staying. I open my eyes and there is the live-oak, its twisted root gripping dry ground as it has for untold years, and a dry leaf falls to my shoulder. I let it stay.

Here now be.

Tomorrow I will hang my art on public walls for the first time. It is a way of staying, of giving my heart away, that somehow feels more naked than any writing I've ever done. I might as well stand on a street corner and lift my dress over my head, or join a high-wire circus act and tiptoe nude above the audience. What will people say? What will people think? Will they laugh? What if they find me ridiculous? What a strange thing is vulnerability, this animal sense that warns of danger when there is none. And maybe after all we are just animals, trying for shelter, hungry for love and warmth and the comfort of bodies pressed close; the reassurance that Yes, sweetheart, you can stay here. Here is home. Here is your sky, your mountains, your air. Turn around and come back inside; rest your bare feet awhile. Be here now.











Monday, July 20, 2015

Confession

I killed a lot of fish today
Waist-deep in the river
Leaning into the current, reeling
Them in and netting them
From the glacial water. Then grasping
Their slick silver bodies in my hands, feeling
Each flash and flip, electric almost
In their will to live.
Watching them rise to the surface
At the end of my line
That sweet silver tail-dance that brings
The fish to me
Or me to the fish
It's hard to say, my heart
Swooping like an eagle to the catch.
But when finally the fish
Is in my hands and it's time
To make the kill
There is a pause.
A prayer.
Just a moment--thank you.
And, I'm sorry.
But not sorry enough to let you go.


KB ©7/2015




Love? Alaska My Sky.

Wolf, said the zookeeper, I have opened your cage. Why do you keep walking in circles?

Because I know what is good for me but I don't want that. Because I know what I should do but I don't. Because my heart beats an unconquered rhythm that leads me down dark pathways--through the valley of the shadow. Yea though I walk. I will fear no evil.

But I do fear. I get right up against the thing that I desire; I get so close, I touch it, and then I shy away. I do the opposite of what I want, which is to grab ahold, wrap my arms around a warm, real, solid love and never let go.

I was never very good at easy love; always preferred the difficult one, the barbed-wire fence one, the one that grabbed me by the bones and wouldn't relent. But then is it any wonder, considering where I grew up? I look out on this vast place, this snow-capped summerland, with its relentless daylight and unforgiving dark. The temperatures here range from 100 degrees in summer to negative 60 in winter; you can die of exposure either way. People go mad here more frequently, per capita, than in any other state. We will tell you that with a bit of a bragging tone, as if our madness is a crown; a crooked crown we have to keep pushing back from our foreheads lest it gouge out our eyes.

This place reared me up, she helped shape me into what I am, she still dictates, albeit in a whisper now, my expectations of life and love. I was forever climbing her trees as a kid, my skinny butt wedged between branch and trunk, hands covered in sap, straining as high as I could to reach the sky. Oh, that sky--wide, merciless blue all summerlong, sun up till midnight, or else heavy with rain for days on end; and then dark, full dark, for nineteen hours at a time in the winter. That sky was the wheel on which my moods turned. Constant, captivating, inescapable sky. Its endless light, or endless night, drowns all sense of time; and without time, without circadian rhythm, we go mad.

And now love is my sky. I have learned, over the years, not to take it personally; or so I think I have learned. Love does what it does, and people do what they do, without meaning to hurt me. This place will drive you mad or kill you without a thought, because how can the sky have a thought? And what sort of narcissist would you have to be, to imagine that it stops its endless circling around the earth, to poke a cruel finger into your sensitive, shrinking belly? So it is with love. You bask and stretch beneath its warm, soft sun, or you seek cover from its furious storms, or you groan away the dark years: it is all one and the same. The sky is still there and it is still the sky. Hard love and easy love dwell side by side beneath it and I go back and forth between the huts.

And that is the way love goes, did go, for me all these years. Little dwellings in the vastness, stopping-places where I met up with the Other, for a short time. Oh that tantalizing Other! I chased him endlessly, in giddy circles that looped smaller and smaller, until I came face-to-face with my own self. What a trip that was--a hall of mirrors, everywhere I turned a version of myself, each one less and less lovely, and like a wolf in a trap I chewed and chewed to get free. No room in the house of love for me now, I thought; hard or easy, I'm on the outside, just me out here, lone, and what should have felt like freedom felt like the deepest form of psychotic sadness.

So I left. I chewed myself apart, and left home. And wouldn't you know it? I ran smack into a wall of solid love. Warm and real. Cantankerous and caring. Bright, human, heavy, solid love that stopped me as surely as if it'd grabbed me by the scruff and yanked me off my feet. Which it did. And this time I'm doing the thing I most want to do: grabbing it right back. Because fear is a shitty way to live and this time, love wins.

Because I know what is good for me and I do want that. Because I know what I should do and I'm doing it. Because my heart beats out an unconquered rhythm that led me to here: out here, under love's sky, where there is a home for me, and it is vast, and uncharted, and it has no walls and no roof but it has a thousand rooms, and in many of them I am not alone.



KB 10/2015



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Your Lover Go

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

Let your lover go
For everything you think you know
There are a thousand things more
You haven't yet imagined
He is the secret roots of trees
And the dark earth in which they grow
He is the light of the sun
Playing through the leaves--
Let your lover go.

Let your lover breathe
Wide as the sky she is, and free
As the storms that fly across it
She falls to earth like rain and rises
Again with the heat of the sun
For everything you think you've seen
She still comes to you in mystical ways
And blankets your nights with stars--
Let your lover breathe.

Sing your lover home
If you are willing to learn the song
That conjures their heart to your side
Build a sanctuary, that they might kneel
With open walls and a roof of clouds
On the side of a mountain next to the sea
Place your heart there and let its tricky beat
Be the rhythm they feel in their bones--
Sing your lover home.



KB ©7/2015


Monday, June 29, 2015

About Love

Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.   --Rumi


In my dream, you are standing by the fence
with an armload of sunflowers
and above them, your sweet boyish face
that makes my heart stumble. We stay outside
and talk for hours, and you are not dead
and it does not seem strange.

I might be clinically insane
every now and then, and perhaps
irretrievably narcissistic
but I know more about love than most people.
I know that love is the one who'll drive
all night in a driving rain
just to hold your hand. You knew this, too
and when I flew for miles to see you
in the hospital though there was nothing
much to say, we sat together
and didn't say much
and it was enough.

You taught me nearly everything
I know about love, and I learned the rest
from hard experience: what a person says
means something
but what he does means everything.
Also, that thing about sticks and stones
is bullshit: words can bite and burn
down to the bone, quick as anything.

You don't have to be altruistic
to feel grief; sanity is not required
in order to love someone
so deeply that when they are gone
they take with them a whole band in the spectrum
of your color wheel. Suddenly, blue
no longer exists
and your sky will never look the same:
clouds drifting across pale grey.

Love is a strange
and haunted animal. It will stay
long after all the other guests
have left the party.
It curls itself around me now
familiar as an old friend, as I wake
to a world where you are not.
I watch as dawn comes
and the stars press themselves into her arms
and fall asleep, one by one.
This is how I know
you and I and everything
are always alright.



KB ©6/2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dead Man's Blanket

"There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again."  --Rumi 

I don't know who he was
but he's dead now
and I have his blanket.
I am wrapping myself in it tonight
seeking sleep on the desert floor
but it has failed to keep me warm, so instead
I am watching the wheel of the galaxy
turning endlessly overhead. I am glad
to be an insomniac spectator, front and center
at the greatest show this end of the cosmos
with bats and frogs for company
and the wind and waves to orchestrate.

I stopped today at a roadside church
and lit a candle for my soul at Mary's altar
nevermind I haven't worn the tattered shroud
of religion since before this dead man
wore his blanket.
It doesn't matter to Mary;
whatever I've done
it doesn't have to be repeated
whatever sin I've committed
I don't have to atone for it now.
When I drove on I left that candle burning
and I know she watched over it
open-eyed, hands outstretched and clement.
It is more than I have ever given myself:
this simple mercy.

Now I lay me down to stay awake
cold and sure of nothing
except the planet is still spinning
and I am still here to bear witness.
I wait for the stars to show their faces
and then I speak to them, one by one
first the planets and then
the constellations: scorpio
and the bear and orion
telling them I am still here, alive if not well
and it almost seems that they listen
pausing for a bare second
to bend their stately forms, kindly, nodding.

Startling to be noticed in this way;
I am just a bit of dust wrapped up
in a shit-for-nothing blanket
that once belonged to someone
who now lies below the earth
while I lie on top of it, shivering
staring up
unblinking
like god's own maniac.
But, after all, I am a living maniac
grateful for the dirt and the cold
the finite breath in my lungs
the flawed beat of my little heart.

Someday, somebody will wrap themselves
in an old thing of mine: a silk scarf
a bit of faded denim
the bright weave of a poem.
But it will not be today
because today I am alive
and there are uncharted miles ahead of me;
see, the sun is already at my back
warm, bold, impatient
pressing me on down a desert road.


KB ©6/2015


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Nepal 2015

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.
Buddha

They say pain opens the heart
and maybe this is true;
a man once told me he never felt love
until the doctors broke open his chest
stopped his heart and cut out the blockage.
Now love flows over and around him
and his eyes cry for joy
and for the loss of everything he did not feel
before he was torn in two.

If pain opens the heart
then the heart of the world is a bleeding mess
and there is no surgery skilled enough
to staunch the gaping loss:
this place where some human lives mean less
than others, this planet
that heaves and groans and hurls its children
into the unknown.

The side of a mountain is no place to be
even in the safest conditions; you do not want
to stay there, all that uncertain ground
falling away beneath you.
When disaster strikes
you want solid ground, you want working
cellphones, you want infrastructure and exit signs
the certainty of rescue
a place to stand which does not move.
But certainty is the habitat of the moneyed few
and not many are privileged to live there.

They say pain opens the heart
and my heart is open. It does not need
to be stopped, eviscerated and unblocked
in order to understand what it has lost.
Do not tell me about uncertain ground
because I already live here; do not
give me a tour of the exit signs
because I am not leaving.
I will cling to the side of this mountain
side by side with the wild unknown
these fearful prayers, this monkey mind;
they are the only words I know
so they will have to be enough.


KB ©6/2015








Sunday, May 31, 2015

Wild

They say never to make decisions when you're in a wild state of mind, but I've never made decisions any other way. Maybe I'm always in a wild state of mind. What other way is there to be? The natural state of me is wild, that awkward girl I grew up trying to leave behind, and who never quite succeeded at hiding herself away. A half-tamed horse, tugging on strange clothing and hoping nobody would notice. But how could they not? All those boys who pawed at me thinking they were getting a pretty girl, a nice girl, a sweet girl, and when I tried to bend myself to fit their hungry bodies I always held them too hard, frightened them off with clumsy affection. People never knew what to do with me and I never knew what to do with them. So many times I've reached out to hold someone, to love them, be loved; and so many times ended up hurting, bruising, instead. 

So I'm on the razor's edge again. Never really comfortable. Maybe never really meant to be. And it always feels, at these times, like the right thing to do is to leave--pull up the rugs, sell the furniture, drag everything outside and leave it for whoever needs it, the hell with it. Grab the dog and some supplies, get in the car and gun it for the road. Aching for the road, these eyes, aching to see far distances, unhindered by buildings, traffic, stoplights. Comfort feels like a smothering blanket. Accidental strangers are easier than friends, who have no idea what to do with me. I'm not speaking their language; it's not their fault. I've never known how. 

It's stupid to leave. Makes no sense. I'm enjoying more success than I know what to do with; in an odd twist of irony there is so much anguish-become-healing flowing out of my hands these days, and this draws people like bees to nectar. It is only because I am in pain and have no idea what else to do with myself. People recognize that somehow. They are coming in waves, appointments are piling up. It is driving me into the desert. The busier I get, the deeper the loneliness grows and the wilder I become. Staying put is now a daily effort, a spiritual practice; I am an ascetic dwelling in the emptiness at the center of a whirling wind of plenty. 

So it's time to go. Deep down I know this. Humans are the only animals that seem to think they have to dig in, build a foundation, eke out a home and stay put for years on end. What is this insanity? Since when does security come from staying in one place? Nature doesn't seem to favor this idea. Floods come. Earthquakes. Fire, drought, famine, financial loss, and the biggest one for me, the restlessness inherent in my genes. I can't stay. If I do, I'll die. If I stop moving, stop creating, that's it. Done. Slow death. Humans gave up their souls when they gave up their nomadic lifestyle--of this I am convinced. Soulless cities. Soulless cubicles in soulless office buildings where we stare at soulless computer screens that drown out our internal songs and their wild, soulful harmonies. The stars are lost to us in a maze of artificial light. This makes me crazy. I need to see it clearly again, the night sky with its planets and pathways, I need Jupiter and Venus and Virgo and Orion. My friends and neighbors. Sometime, some far-flung time in our future, dark energy will hurl us all so far apart we will forget one another's existence. Imagine loneliness then. Imagine the void. I wonder will we have any gurus left, with no stars to turn to, no night stories to tell except that of the moon, tiredly pulling on the tides. 

My hands are tired and my heart is empty, for now. I have poured out my pain. There is nothing left of it here. I want music on the stereo and the drumming of tires against asphalt and the rockabilly chords of the desert going by. I want to take this sad, awkward girl away from those who would hurt her out of exploitation or misunderstanding or schoolboy cruelty. She can live her wild stories elsewhere, build her home out of wind and sun and silence and song. Home goes with me. Home goes wild and becomes the place where I sleep at night, full of the soul I am remaking, daily, putting together piece by unfettered piece, alone, not lonely, a mansion on the move. 


KB© 5/2015








Friday, May 29, 2015

Animal Love

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
--Mary Oliver

Love shouldn't be this hard.
This hard, hurt thing that breaks
me when I run into it
as I have, over and over
like my fucking shin into the coffee table
that I finally had the sense to throw out.

But I can't throw out love
every time I try it comes slinking back
in some other form, in some other face
yet another pair of hands that offer 
rough caresses, arms that hold me 
with promises never to let go. 
Slender things, easily blown away
On a lover's post-coital exhalations.

What if there were no promises? 
No words at all
only love, this animal that eats and sleeps, 
gives and takes affection. 
This sweet dumb beast that speaks 
with touch and breath
and wild songs for its beloved
and cannot tell a lie.

How simple it would be to hold you then
to sing my wild imperfect songs into your mouth
taste your salt skin and invite you in
no sharp corners, no broken things.
A simple, animal love:
two beasts promising nothing
yet possessing all.




KB ©5/2015















Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rorschach


She was a summer girl, a Rorschach girl
A girl you could see in so many ways. You said
She was a door to another world
And when she opened, you almost stepped through

She was a roller-coaster girl
Lips that tasted of beer and bug spray
She was dizzy with love and wouldn't hold still
She was too loud and always had too much to say

She was a girl with skirts cut a little too short
On a bike that she rode a little too fast
Bug-bitten thighs and chipped nails that hurt
A girl who forgot to shave

Like water in sunlight, now here and now gone
You couldn't write your name on her skin
Oh she'd have drowned you in love
Had you ever dived in, but you were afraid to swim

She was a summer girl, not a year-round girl
You're too wise for these things and it wasn't her fault
The other nine months just outweighed her
This girl you could see in so many ways


KB ©5/2015

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Death of a Merman

I'd like to remember my childhood as a carefree time when I ran around with the wind blowing through my unruly hair, loved by everyone, never frightened, never damaged. These tender years, we believe, are the time to daydream; dream big, be immortal, be sheltered from the wide scary world by loving parents and wise, benign teachers. Yes--those icons of moral education who are there to guide us gently into language arts, history, math, science and beyond, starting with kindergarten. They are not generally the ones who usher us into the knowledge of Death. But so it was with me.

I was a chubby-cheeked, dewy-eyed second grader in a pair of winter boots and a bright pink parka when I first witnessed death in all its violent, gory, awesome dimensions. I had just walked through the front doors of my rural Alaskan elementary school on a dark winter morning. I was mildly excited that we were celebrating Sea Week, which meant we'd get to decorate the classrooms and halls with all sorts of fish, whales, turtles, and (I hoped) mermaids and mermen. I remember that as I came into the foyer I was struggling to remove my mittens, the kind that you can't lose because they are connected to one another by knitted strings. I always found these rather annoying and restricting--the kid version of handcuffs--and I was dealing with this problem while trying to hang onto my lunch box. No idea what type of lunch box was in vogue at the time; this has completely escaped my memory along with most of the idyllic moments of my childhood before that precise moment, because just then I looked up to behold a monster in the throes of its demise at eye level with me, and my mind flew out the back of my head. 

What happened next imprinted itself on my eyeballs and will be seared there for the rest of my life. Mr. Newton, a third-grade teacher not known for coddling his students, in fact known for the opposite, was wheeling a table down the hallway and past the foyer where I stood. It was one of those 6-foot long tables so common to public schools at that time, used for everything from cafeteria lunches to library book displays to school bake-sale fundraisers. The table had a squeaky wheel and this is what drew my attention. My eyes traveled from my pesky mittens, slowly, slowly, drawn by the sound of the wheel, up to the vision of the table and its occupant being pushed along the hallway by the eternally grouchy Mr. Newton. And my world slowed down as if time had punched straight into a wall of molasses.

On the table, writhing and gaping, lay a gray, wet, interminable length of muscle fronted by a frightful, basketball-sized head filled with rows of teeth. The thing twitched and coiled, serpentine, then lay still. I goggled at it. It was the only thing in the world. There was nothing else to look at; my vision had narrowed down to this one thing, this creature from the edge of unreality. It lay still, stiller than still, for an eternity. I can't remember if the table was still moving along the hallway. I can't remember what Mr. Newton was doing at this point. I stared into the one glazed eye of the creature that was closest to me. It was black, intelligent, depthless.

The spell was broken, of course. Like a jack-in-the-box, or a toaster watched too closely, the thing jumped to life again, jaws agape, and my young psyche broke. I can't remember if I screamed, but I know my heart dropped out of my body and into the ground, and Mr. Newton took action then. He said, and I remember these words like they are being spoken to me at this very moment, "Stand back. You don't want to get splattered." And then he raised the baseball bat which he'd been carrying and which I hadn't noticed, and he brought it down with all the strength of a grown man, onto the creature's head. There was a sick, solid thud. There was no splattering of brains. A little blood. A twitching and shuddering set up along the incalculable length of muscle that was the creature's (body? tail? what the hell was this thing, that was longer than the table and hung toward the floor and was now, I understood deep in some newly-awakening part of my brain, dying?) The jaws with their rows of splintered teeth chomped once or twice, and stopped. And with them stopped any illusion of an idyllic, Little Women-style childhood where I might run innocently about, wind in my hair, my belief in the goodness and justice of the larger world blissfully intact. This new childhood was decidedly more...Hobbesian.

The moment ended. Time seemed to remember that it had a job to do, and it sped back up to its normal pace, and Mr. Newton carried on pushing the table down the hall. I never saw the creature again, never heard its name. Years later, when I uncovered that memory, because I had an adult brain that could contemplate such memories and the Internet had been invented, I hunted the thing down on Google. It took a bit of digging; I asked the Internet what in fuck's name is big enough, ugly enough, and intelligent enough, that lives in Northern waters and can survive out of water for a bit. Turns out Mr. Newton was wheeling a wolf eel down the hallway of our elementary school. See it here:

http://www.robertbaileyphotography.com/section633096_111465.html


Wolf eels are actually fish, not eels, and are fearsome-looking but fairly peacable animals. They mate for life, and are rather affectionate, if one could call a fish affectionate. I don't know why I'm explaining all this--I guess I feel I owe them a favor, after such a disservice was done to one of them in my young presence. Even back then, a fear-frozen second-grader watching the death of a monster, I understood that the monster was actually us. The creature on the table should never have been there. It's not like he asked to be brought up out of the water and get a free tour of our lovely school. He wasn't looking to have me for breakfast. Maybe he'd left behind a lady friend in the dark, cold water, a mate who wondered where he was. Taking a baseball bat to the head--that's no way to die.

So I did learn something from Sea Week, and I did get my merman, after all; a creature more fantastic than I could have imagined, because in the end, it was real. And if it's real, then we still have a chance to save it. It's up to us to educate ourselves, via our big brains and the fantastic Internet, and any other way we can, about our oceans. We don't have to wait for Sea Week, and we don't have to wait until one of these incredible creatures dies in front of us. We can do it now. We owe it to them.



















Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Ancients

Everything's got soul
that's what they believed
mineral, vegetable, animal
wind and rain
stars and planets and comets tracking the heavens
everything, alive and soulful.

The earth's got soul
it screams when we kill its children
hoarse by now with its clogged veins
sucked dry by progress;
still it gives back music ancient ears can hear
and they move to it, groove to it
bringers of the first beat
singers of the first songs.

My hands've got soul
they speak of what I do
knuckles marked with callouses
from healing not from hurting
one hand scarred from the time
I stuck a knife through it
nicking bone and tendon
and the nerve that speaks constantly
of everything it can't feel: we all make mistakes
but still, it's got soul.

You've got soul
ancient eyes in a young face
what do you see when you look in the mirror?
I see you.
Do the thing you came here for
stop killing yourself
listen to what the heavens are saying
your hands've already learned about love
now let them teach you.



KB 5/2015



Stars

They say the open range is no place
for the soft and the civilized
but it is the only place
I want to be right now:
a lone campfire struggling against the dark
and a horse tethered nearby.
I picture myself gazing up from my bedroll
scheming as I count them:
handful after handful of stars like flung silver
hanging just overhead
so that if I reached up
I might pluck them one by one
and secret them away.
So many that they would weigh down my horse
as we made trail the next day
enough to pay off bandits and bad men
enough to buy me immortality
to wait out time until the future comes
and people are building spaceships.
Enough to pay for passage beyond the moon's orbit
beyond the Milky Way
out to places this lone cowgirl, asleep in the desert,
can barely imagine.
That's where I want to be right now
dreaming on the open range
nothing but a lone campfire
a patient horse
and low-hanging stars waiting overhead.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

the wanderer

i am a wanderer tonight
walking the dog through quiet streets in the soft dark
stepping around pools of light where moths have gathered
to worship false gods.
the wind is jasmine, rosemary, woodsmoke
it greets my lonesome skin like a lover's touch
long gone but still remembered.
we stop near a vacant lot grown wild with flowers
where lightning bugs sing their bright song
in a secret semaphore:
here a question, there an answer
over and over, until they find one another
above the whispering grass
and begin the only dance they know.
it is a beautiful place, my little world
but i don't want to be here anymore
i am carrying too much weight and it has been too long
staying in one place
and this is not what wanderers do.
too many months and years
too long spent in this life alone; the one i came here to find
has gone, or was never here at all.

and i'm sure it was me, who said long ago
that i would be the one to choose
when to leave: like any night creature
if i found myself falling from a great height
i would simply arch my spine
turn in midair
shed any unnecessary weight
and begin to soar.

so i am falling
and so i will fly.
goodbye.








Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Writer's Block


It's not good in here
not at all good inside your head:
this desert that dries up stories
bleaches their bones
leaves nothing but petroglyphs and
tumbling sand.
Too many words taking flight--
a beating of wings and webbed feet
and you must capture them all and pin them
to the single wire of a sentence
which would lead to someplace that makes sense.

They say words are the things that hold us together
and language makes us what we are.
This is your life's work: go ye into the desert
into the brazen sun and the unforgiving dark
suck up water from the dust
and spit it back out to grow the soul of the world.

Of course it is all nonsense; you
should never have chosen this career
and now you wish you were twenty-seven again
living your life circa the 60's
freeloving it up with all the rest;
and they weren't using latex, baby
it was vinyl all the way.
It was Hendrix and Joplin and Morrison
and you could feel every. single. thing.
People listened like the world was on fire
while they burned up angels
and smoked their wings.

Or maybe that's not your style
and you wish to be entirely elsewhere;
the middle of the Pacific perhaps
climbing high up the masts of a tall ship
to watch a storm bellying over the horizon.
You could find your muse that way
or if not, then simply die happily
swan-diving into oblivion.

Either way the words lead you onward
flying ahead like a flock of geese
their wild wings beating, and beating,
and beating the shit out of whatever it was
you thought you had to say. All you can do
is fly after them, capturing one and the next
pinning them down
stringing them to the wire of a sentence
that will show us where we need to go.



©KB 5/2015



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Moonrise

Stand quietly with me tonight
put your feet on the ground, and feel
how the earth spins beneath us
so smooth and sweet her steps in this dance.

Think of how she looks from far away
gazing blue-eyed into space
with a single moon hung beside her:
a pearl, an opal, a mirror.

Comes the time for me to leave
I'm going to miss her
almost as much as I'll miss you
and the way you looked into me:
a cosmonaut searching the galaxy
for his own reflection
or maybe the face of a new moon
smiling back.



KB ©4/29/2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

Optimist

Open your hands, if you want to be held.    --Rumi


I see you
seeing me
and that sweet spiral in my belly
catches on a quick breath
rising with the sweet leap of faith
and a shining thing, a light fantastic
being takes on its own shape
and fills the space between us.

I didn't think there was room for faith in here
no food to sustain her and yet
she lives inside my mouth, a happy animal
dancing up to give you a toothy grin
and maybe take a little bite of you
(it's just a little bite)

She likes the taste of love;
she loves the taste of music and she hears
the soul that lives in your fingertips
in your hands that press and stretch
blind space into songs that catch the animal
and turn her upside-down
empty her metaphysical pockets
and leave her breathless
as a thing newly naked.

She's a good animal, faith.
She shows her teeth
to desire, scares off loneliness
and has no fear of fear.
For her there are no cages
nothing to cling to or let go of
only the space between one glance and another
one note and the next
where possibilities live and everything is infinite;
such a sweet shining mess it all is
and this is where I live now
when I see you seeing me.


KB ©4/13/15

























Friday, April 3, 2015

Relationspaceship


"Universe I need some sort of healthy relashinspaship.....please!!!!"     
--drunken bar bathroom graffiti


I think there's been a misunderstanding between me and the universe.

It took me several minutes to stop laughing after I wrote that sentence, because when I read it out loud I realized that the possibility of an understanding between me and what is basically, as far as we know, infinity, is rather hilarious considering I reside in a ridiculously tiny percentage of said infinity. Also, I am a microscopic (scratch that--there are no words tiny enough) life form that is currently maxed out on its puny brain capacity. I mean "maxed out" in the sense that this limited capacity is divided between running a business, trying to balance a budget (fail), negotiating a social life (complicated), keeping a dog alive (win), REM sleep, and processing cat videos. Also, the universe is, according to string theorists, actually a multiverse; so any misunderstanding I had with the original universe is now plural. It's...overwhelming? Is there even a word for what it is?

However, in the interest of keeping things simple (which they aren't, really, but let's pretend) the misunderstanding is mostly on my side. Although to be fair, I've had a lot of momentum from self-helpy, magical-thinking concepts like "you can have whatever you want, you just have to ask the universe for it" or "you don't have what you want yet? well then maybe you aren't wanting it hard enough/haven't asked in the right way/don't actually know what you want." These concepts didn't just come from self-help books (I don't think I've ever actually read an entire book of this genre; perhaps I am not interested in helping myself, and boom, there's clue #1 to the aforementioned misunderstanding). No, I got most of it from organized religion. Replace "universe" with "God" and that's the crux of my indoctrination into prayer. Except if I didn't get what I was praying for, the eventual logic was that God was just saying No. "Nope, sorry kid, I have decided that you will not be getting that stuffed bunny/new bike/other random kid thing that you wanted really really really badly." Or, as I got older and my requests became deeper, more desperate, more painfully urgent; "I am sorry my dear--your friend whom you love like crazy, the one with cancer? I will be taking him now." And thus was I introduced to heartbreak, that most painful, most personal yet most common human experience.

I took this to mean, and still do, that just like everybody else who has ever lived on this planet, I can't always get what I want. The Stones didn't invent this concept but they did a great job of hammering it home. And that whole bit about getting what you need? You can't always get that either, which is an irritatingly pervasive truth about being a human. Here in the USA we hate that idea; we want our needs met and our wants met, thanks very much, and when those things don't happen we go muttering back to the self-help realm and buy ourselves a new book that will teach us how to get stuff from god/the universe. Which is maybe a bit backwards. Because haven't we been taught by some very wise, very loving individuals throughout history that it's giving that leads to fulfillment? That love, in fact, comes to us when we give it away? And didn't I learn, in my most painful life lessons, that the things I lost hurt worse the harder I held on?

Which brings me to confession time: I still ask the universe for things. In fact I got so bold, awhile back, as to ask it for love, the romantic kind, because I figured it was time to "settle down" (everybody else was doing it). And I got specific. I made a list--not like, but not exactly unlike, a grocery list--of things I thought that love between me and another human being, who happened to be male, might include. I tried to be as specific as possible because I'd heard that the universe likes to be asked for things in specific ways. It had stuff on it such as: understanding, compassion, humor, social/political harmony, co-travelers, shared love of art and music and the outdoors and animals and quantum physics and hopefully he gets that I was raised by wolves and am on occasion a horrible person. Oh and sex. There should be lots of that. That doesn't cover everything I had on there--it was several pages long--but those are some of the less boring items. (I also asked for "chemistry," which apparently is a common thing to ask for but now that I think about it is a pretty bad idea, since chemistry can backfire and melt your face off in a hot second; just ask any high school chem lab teacher.)

So back to not getting what you want and not even always getting what you need...guess what? The universe pulled a fast one on me, and I DID get all the things on my list. No joke, the guy showed up not long after I made that list, and he was pretty much the whole package. Same sense of humor, liberal, loved my dog, loved hiking, didn't mind me being horrible on occasion, and there was some sex. I mean he just pretty much checked off the stuff on the grocery list. And do you know what happened? Everything was awesome. For a little while. And then it wasn't.

I missed the space. Not space to myself, necessarily, because I had that. I missed the space to dream. To travel in my mind to the "what if" and the "maybe" and the "possibly." I didn't know myself well enough, back then, to realize that the deep, elemental, raised-by-wolves part of me needed freedom to stargaze and wonder and run wild. And this man was lovely. He loved me. He wanted to marry me. Which completely flipped my shit and made me want to hop into a spaceship and leave earth for a distant galaxy. I did not have any way of doing this, so I just went crazy for a bit, until I realized I didn't have to settle down. And over the intervening years, despite refining my lists and aiming for perfection, I have come to realize that what I'd really prefer is not the "perfect relationship" with a perfect-checklist man, but a "relationspaceship." I never had the word for it till I saw it scrawled in drunken handwriting on a bathroom wall, a Bacchanalian typo, really; but a light went on in my head: this! is what I want! It is a vehicle that can accommodate two individuals if need be; but it's a vehicle, not a building. It doesn't stay in one place, it doesn't "settle." It's bound for adventure. It might travel to the Horsehead Nebula; it might fly by Alpha Centauri on its way to a new galaxy. A relationspaceship has a captain and a crew, but they can switch at any moment. Both people make decisions, and both of them acquiesce, from day to day. If somebody crashes the relationspaceship, well, both people work on fixing it till it can fly again, because they're committed cosmonauts. It's no picnic. But exploration rarely is.

A relationspaceship is a hard, wondrous, awkward, dangerous thing. It can feel wobbly as hell. I tried it once, with the wrong person, and it nearly killed me; but also it gave me a taste of what it might be like to explore the cosmos of love, all its strange and lovely and weird and mundane bits and pieces, with the right person. Not only with the right person--but with me being the right person, for that right person. Captain and crew, fitting one another, finally. What would it be like to bump into that person? Wild guess here, but probably sort of like waking up in the middle of the night and finding John Cusack on my lawn with a boom box held aloft, blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to wake the neighbors--and just knowing. There's my crew, there's my captain. This is it. I am going to board a relationspaceship with this person and we are going on the biggest. Fucking. Trip.

And so I have to ask. Universe, god, God, multiverse, whatever or whomever you are: I don't care if he shows up in the middle of the night with a boom box, I don't care if he plays Peter Gabriel or his own guitar. But I want the drums to beat so loudly in my chest that he can hear them when he looks into my eyes; I want the bangs and flashes to go off in both of our heads; I want Cape Canaveral to register a rocket launch and Houston to have a problem. I know I'm not supposed to ask for stuff without being willing to give in return, and believe me I am willing. I am loving the crap out of my life and dancing all over the shitty stuff that happens and being grateful as hell for all of the good, beautiful, incredible amazingness which is so much more than I ever imagined would be in my world. So thank you....for all of that.

But in case you didn't get that broadcast, universe...I would really love for you to send me a relationspaceship. Please.