Friday, June 29, 2012


Maybe you mistake, 
Metaphor for love.
We are not narratives, but
Love lives the stories.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday's Lyric: Song of Good Hope, Glen Hansard

Well if we're gonna make it, 
Cross this river alive, 
You better think like a boat, 
And go with the tide, 

And I've known where you've been, 
Has really left you in doubt, 
Of ever finding a harbour, 
Of figuring this out, 

And you're gonna need all the help you can get, 
So lift up your arms now, and reach for it, 
Reach for it... 

NPR- Glen Hansard, Tiny Desk Concert

And take your time babe, 
It's not as bad as it seemed, 
You'll be fine babe, 
It's just some rivers and streams, 
In between you and where you want to be, 
[ L/rd/song_of_good_hope.html ]
Watch the signs now, 
You'll know what they mean, 
You'll be fine now, 
Just stay close to me, 
And may good hope walk with you through everything, 

Take your time babe, 
It's not as bad as it seems, 
You'll be fine babe, 
It's just some rivers and streams, 
In between, you and where you want to be, 

Watch the signs now, 
You'll know what they mean, 
You'll be fine now, 
Just stay close to me, 
And may good hope walk with you through everything, 
May the song of good hope walk with you through everything.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How Home Grows

I hold a firm belief that I could live anywhere. There are people who say they would never move to certain places for various reasons, but while I hope that God never moves me to Guam (more snakes per square foot than any other place on earth), or Phoenix or New Jersey, I do sincerely believe that I could live happily in just about any place.

Working at a summer camp that traveled to different locations in the US every week gave me an indefinable list of experiences and widened my world.

I saw fireflies for the first time under trees in Michigan's thick summer night air; heard Aaron Copeland's 'Fanfare for the Common Man' played on the the stereo of a 15-passenger van as we came over the rise and the Grand Canyon unrolled before me, drove through spectacular lightning storms in New Mexico, climbed on giant haybales in Arkansas, and ate ribs in Memphis.

King Kamehaha Highway from Pearl Harbor to the North Shore of Oahu
We cultivated a love for the road, for tiny midwestern stopover towns with their strange attractions like giant balls of string and an overall-clad good ol' boy explaining how he built a working windmill by piecing an antique tractor together with an antique windmill blade and mounting the whole thing on a giant pump balanced by a 1-ton chunk of concrete and rotating like a gigantic, grounded weathervane. Mom 'n Pop restaurants with delicacies like Chicken-fried steak and mayonnaise-slathered club sandwiches. Classic pieces of highway like the Grapevine in California and the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 66.

Side trips to rock climb at Robber's Cave in Oklahoma, tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, wander Cabela's in Minnesota, explore the Hoover Dam, the Mall of America, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco's Embarcadero, San Antonio's Riverwalk, Malibu beach, the Atlantic coast in Maryland, and the traditional end-of-summer staff dinner and Pike Place Market ramble in Seattle.

Thanks to field trip day  at camp and an art concentration at college, I led field trips to art museums across the country; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, the Getty Museum in Malibu, Berkeley Art Museum, and Seattle Art Museum.
My friend Anne and I ate shrimp from a shrimp truck on O'ahu.
Anne gave up her fear of shrimp,
I gave up my fear of mouse and cockroach-infested food trucks.

All of this and more taught me that there is much to love about each square foot of this world. I was blessed to travel with experts who knew that you eat ribs in Memphis and tacos in New Mexico and cheese in Wisconsin and seafood in Seattle and Barbeque in Kansas City (and In'n'Out in California, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona wherever you can spot it); that you need to let go of your previous expectations and allow yourself to dwell in the geography of where on earth you stand at that particular moment. They knew that you relax into the joy of that place, howsomever you can find it.

I found that it is impossible to resist the charm of the rolling green hills of Kansas in June (a place I had previously assumed to be desert) while lying on the warm grass as the sun set in the backyard of a wonderful family who hosted the whole staff for a picnic dinner at their farm one night. 

The Blue Mountains of Kentucky took my breath away. I remember standing on an unromantic gas station curb staring out over an ocean of mountain ridges in Kentucky and thinking "I could live here."

I discovered Tornado warnings are as commonplace in Minnesota as earthquakes are in the Pacific Northwest. 

I found out that New Jersey's moniker "the Garden State" is more ironic than anything else.

I learned that Magnolia trees in North Carolina are the best climbing trees in the world.

I learned the hard way that the appeal of Northern Minnesota's warm night air is soon as the heat turns to pleasant velvety darkness, the mosquitoes make it impossible to sit outside. And the tree frogs, ants, and bugs which populated my dormitory bathroom were a unique twist.

In Phoenix in midsummer, it is entirely appropriate to have ice cream for every meal of the day. Dallas, too. And I finally learned to appreciate iced coffee, something I had never understood before.

Some places were far better than I had imagined them. Most were very different than I had expected. All were familiar with the distant echo of recognition...I know this place because I know Your heart, and you created it. 

After 4 summers of journeying coast-to-coast, I could easily say that I was always glad to go "home" to small-town Pacific Northwest (and post-college, the East Bay Area of San Francisco). But I found that home was different, home was bigger, newer, more refreshing. At the same time, I found that my longing for home had grown, too. 

"Home" now meant fireflies, magnolia trees, the Atlantic ocean, late-night laundry in college dormitories, a giant sculpture of a badminton shuttlecock on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. Home had never meant those things before, but it does now.

On the most recent trip I took to O'ahu, Anne and I explored the North Shore of the island one day. We wandered a lonely beach on the northeastern tip of the island where the shoreline road ends in a reserve, and spotted gliders being taken up by small planes from Dillingham Airfield. We left the beach and came up to a spot just beside the airfield and sat on concrete blocks drinking a Dragonfruit-flavored soda while watching the small planes tow the flimsy silver gliders up, up, up into the air. Eventually the plane would let the glider free and silently, the glider would surf the currents of coastal wind between the mountain range and the reefed coastline, slipping through the air for as long as it could before landing. When I think of peace, I think of that hour.
Airplane towing the glider out of Dillingham Airfield

The more I wander, the bigger "home" becomes. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tension of Attention

tie together
moments like coins
paying the meter for parking.

moments strung together, 
subject to whims of wind.

money plant garland
money plant seed pods on waxed thread.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me: a picture


My friend Sara took this picture of me on Valentine's Day weekend of 2004. We were on a road trip to San Diego.  It was a strange time. 

One of the girls on the trip had been one of my best friends from college; when I moved to California with a teaching job, I lived with her family for 6 weeks until Shara and Alicia, both friends of Miranda's, found a 3 bedroom condo and needed a 3rd roommate. Before that, Miranda had lived with my family for a month while taking a summer class in college. It's hard to remember now, but we were very good friends...the kind that cry and pray and laugh together.

But something happened--I don't know if it was because I moved in with some of her friends. Or because I maybe appeared to be strong and thriving at a time when she felt confused in who she was. I never knew what happened, and when i asked a year or two later, she hung up on me. But first she stopped speaking to me or hanging out with me. She only spent time with me when she wanted to be around Shara, and only spoke directly to me when necessary.

On the road trip, I realized that Miranda had begun being mean. I am foolish in my love to tell stories; I'm aware that in a group, it's easy to use them as a way to connect, and I tried to tell stories about college, perhaps trying to reconnect with her because we hadn't spent much time together in months. Her responses were short, but somewhere along the I-5 in a minivan with 6 other girls, it started to sink in that her comments were all barbed; meant to shame or hurt me.

At first I wasn't sure what to do, so I followed my MO. I withdrew. I wasn't angry (yet), I was confused. So I pondered. I read a book while the other girls chatted in the van, and on the beach while they bounced a volleyball around, I went to the sensory comfort of the ocean. 

My ears filled with its roar, so I didn't hear the voices I had been listening to, even the voices I thought were friends, who told me I was broken, someone to be slighted and ignored.

My feet numbed to its' February-Pacific chill, braced against the pull and rush of the tide, flexed against the steadfast give of the white sand.

I ran in and out with the tide, moving to the rhythm of this big dance that I didn't understand, following its movements like a child dancing on my father's shoes. Standing on the edge of the Pacific coast and looking at the vast body of water meeting the horizon, I let go of my need to be heard and understood.

And I trusted. I cried a little. I kicked at a few waves.

I gave up my dignity and laughed out loud as the crashing reality of the ocean reminded me that I am both small and great.

And Sara caught me in that moment of freedom.

I have one single print of this image. It is carefully taped inside a frame I painted in a pottery shop in North Carolina with my dear friend Erica, a friend with whom I have spent little real time, but who remains very dear. Around the edge of the frame I had written long ago a poem that has faded beyond reading now. The poem was about chasing sunsets.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Tissue-paper and wax
such fragile mountain ranges
between green grass-fields. Snow-capped
division of words holding us apart.

Warmth would melt it.
Servant's heart would bridge it.
Love would break a path.

With an impasse,
Someone must Give.

and give and give and give.
No equality in giving way,
unless a mountain moves.