Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An old man in an airport bar once demanded that I look up Bukowski's poem "The Laughing Heart". We were sitting there talking about poetry and love and drinking very tall expensive beers before noon and the poem has been sitting there all this time in its own browser window on my phone. (Although to be fair I also have a phone browser window dedicated to knock knock jokes.) I look at it once or twice a day on my way to something else and think about all of the things that strangers have taught me.

Since it lives on my phone it's become sort of my own private poem, but these have been hard times for so many people and perhaps it shouldn't be only my own any more. Perhaps it should be for all of us.

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
-Charles Bukowski

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I am in the middle of moving (in with my nice boyfriend, which is a revolution all on its own), which is exactly as insane a thing to do in the middle of starting a new job as you would think. I spent all but the first few months of my 20's in that apartment, and right now it strongly resembles the way it looked in 2003, sparsely scattered with furniture and mostly empty of life.

Kristina Hayes wrote a poem called "Now That You're 21", which starts like this:
"These years will be glamorous—all the
magazines say so. You’ll learn what not
to mix tequila with, what shoes to pair
with that dress, what your default lipstick
will be, the book and movie and song
that will save you after every failed relationship,
each summer-at-the-beach fling. You will learn
the measure of patience and most important,
how to be alone. You will collect lonely like
some people collect stamps, and you will
learn to keep the light on for it, because lonely
needs company, too. You
will learn that self-love is not
dragging a random from the bar home to
sleep in your bed, but that it
is making your bed before you leave the
house for the night."

And ends like this:
"Soak in these years like sunlight. Re-position
the needle over the vibrancy of your youth. Get
up from the lawn, brush the grass from your
kneecaps. Hail a taxi.
Find your way home."

One of the things that feels the most right about this move is how I don't feel like I missed anything before--I spent all of the years in that apartment being mostly happy and sometimes a little insane, adventuring and rampaging and learning lessons and sometimes doing everything all over again anyway. I had a lot of fun being that girl, living alone in my sunny apartment, and it makes it easy to look forward to this next thing. I have had a great time so far, and I have every intention of keeping it up.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

If you need me you can find me out of my depth just about anywhere there's water, waiting to grow gills or learn how to swim. Somehow I managed to get myself thrown in all of the deep ends at once.

In Hawaii I got knocked over by a wave. The water got in my eyes and made tenuous my connection with my contacts, and before I could clear them another wave came and then another. I was stuck there for what seemed like years, not very clear on which way was up or how to negotiate standing. And then suddenly it was over, and I stood there muddy, bathing suit akimbo and brackish in and out, too disoriented to even be shaken for very long. Had I just nearly become a fish? I wasn't sure, but I was sure that I didn't want to know. Better to not think about what happens in the water to a girl without gills.

But the space beyond the waves in the metaphorical water is much less ominous than in the real water, and so I keep reminding myself that these adaptations are the way to getting what I wanted, that I've had gills all along and only need to remember how to use them. That getting through is only hard and not bad and the adventure of out of my depth is exactly all it's cracked up to be. Waiting has never been my strongest skill, but then neither has breathing water. I'll figure them all out eventually.

Monday, April 01, 2013

I read that some volcanoes erupt only once, developing in clusters in places where the inside of the earth is not quite near enough to set up a full plumbing system, spilling lava all over the surrounding terrain until their lava is all used up.

I was reading about a farmer in Mexico in the '40's who was out burning shrubbery in his cornfield when the cornfield started to burn back. The ground opened up and started smoking, and a week later they had a volcano on their hands. It took a year for the lava to overwhelm the neighboring towns, all the residents relocating to lands not scorched bare. After nine years it had finished erupting and went silent, so now the towns that were one swallowed by fire are being reclaimed by jungle, allowed to rest in the cool and the damp.

It always surprises me, all the ways there are to be a volcano.