Good morning good morning. I like these dark hours, reaching for the keyboard when my eyes are still half-closed and I am yawning, my body and mind not quite yet awake. Everything is drowsy yet, still percolating. What do I want to say? I’m drinking some nettle tea to help with the allergies that have flared since I got back to CA. It’s darker now than it was at this time of day just a month ago — the light has already changed, the sun shifting backwards in her cycle (of course that’s only how it looks to those of us stuck here on earth, where we believe we are the center of everything), and coming up later and later in the morning.
My right knee is aching this morning, something popped while we were running yesterday afternoon, and now it hurts. the muscles in my right calf are fluttering, like just after a spasm, chattering, and my right shoulder is tense, too. Time to finally find a doctor. The pop happened just halfway, or not even quite, through my run around the lake yesterday, and I had to walk the rest of the way. I felt frustrated and disappointed with myself, my body: really, body? We finally found our way back into a desire to exercise, to move and sweat and feel and inhabit this physical container, and now we’re going to start falling apart? Can’t we have just a few years of joy and adoration in the movement, touching back into how we felt when we were small, in the time of Before? Is it really already too late?
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Good morning good morning — the birds are not awake yet. Are you? It’s 5am and I am back in the saddle. We are returned from vacation, the coffee is brewing, the dog is asleep in her chair, the garden is still quiet. Everything is at my back. Backside. Support. Lumbar. Supine. Behind. There. Before. Past.
I went back to the place I could have once said I was from, the place that was once home to me and still lives in my body. We spent two weeks away from home, away from Sophie, away from work. I took all kinds of work with me, of course, with the idea that now I would be able to Get Things Done, but once we got to the coast of Maine, I didn’t want to do any of it. Instead, I sat and read books for fourteen says. Not quite so consistently — we had a stretch of just-two-of-us together vacation and then 5 days of here’s-all-the-family vacation with my sweetheart’s son there, too.
I am thinking this morning of the pleasure — and the struggle, for me — of a long vacation, taking two full weeks of time “off.” Time to fall apart, get panicked, feel guilty and unworthy, and then actually drop all the way away from work. I didn’t even get much writing done during this vacation — I did morning pages the first week, but the second week, when the boys were awake early and draped across their computers in the living room, I didn’t worry about trying to hunt down private space for my writing time Instead, I walked with my sweetheart. We read and read and read. We let the sun bake us to relaxation. We slept. We learned the beach’s varying contours. We made routines and then broke them. We didn’t watch tv, and I stayed off the computer. We biked around the beachside communities and I swam in the ocean, diving through wave after wave until I felt the tides moving in me even after I came back to shore. Slowly but surely, the vacation opened up in me, and I was able to unwind there on this beautiful beach.
Good morning good morning. I woke up this morning to a dark orange shard pushing up over the Oakland hills, announcing the arrival of the sun. Out front of the house, in the lucky garden, one of the nasturtium plants has opened a single, sunrise-colored flower. Welcome to May – what beauty have you seen already today?
Those Santa Ana winds knocked me out yesterday (do we call them Santa Anas up here in Northern California, or is that just a SoCal thing?) — I spent most of the day laid out on the couch, watching movies and resting. It’s as if those strong, hot winds just reached inside my bones, took all my energy away, and replaced it with feverishness and ache. Today I’m feeling better (though still taking things slow), grateful for slightly cooler weather, and am thinking about remembering.
Yesterday I watched a number of movies — Crooklyn, Ordinary People, Peggy Sue Got Married, and Red Hook Summer — while I was crashed out on the couch. Three were period movies — set in the 60s, 70s, and 80s — and the last is meant to be present day Red Hook, in Brooklyn. Miraculously, only one of these films showed any sexual violence, and it was the last one I might have expected. (I’m going to have to write more about Red Hook Summer in another post.)
Consider the hands
that write this letter.
Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart…
from “Consider the Hands that Write this Letter,” by Aracelis Girmay
whatever you have to say, leave
the roots on, let them
And the dirt
I am outside on a back deck in Oakland, listening to the morning sounds: the suctiony bark of the crow, the meandering and variegated warble of the mockingbird, the the tidal rush of traffic from the highway a few blocks away, the barking dogs, the gas-powered lawn trimmers and leaf blowers — the kids are on spring break this week, so the schoolyard is quiet: no bells to announce when to pass to the next period, no shouts and screams, no corrugated rise and fall counting through sets of exercises. The sun is warm, the breeze cool, the construction finished on the road out front of the house, and I have a little green tea in a “women unlimited” mug, a slice of sourdough banana bread, and an hour before my first appointment. I stayed up late working on an editing project for WritersCorps, and so slept in, am only just getting to the writing now when the sun is more than a quarter of the way through her day’s arc — I dreamed through all the good fertile dark time.
The first thing I did this morning was to walk through my little garden in my pajamas and my bare feet. What a deep pleasure this is, to have dirt on the toes while still wiping the remnants of dreams from my eyes. I watered a little bit, checked in on all the flowers, patched up a watermelon mound that the puppy had clomped through, and ensured that none of the bush bean seeds were trying to escape from their little hillocks. The puppy fled to the porch so as to avoid getting sprayed by the hose, and from there surveyed her dew-damp kingdom, ensuring that all was well. As I watered, I was draped with the scents of alyssum, blowsy rose, and nasturtium — the jasmine was quiet this morning. I pulled some snails off my nasturtium and strawberries: the snails and I are going to be enemies. Sometimes it’s good to have an enemy you can see, and lift up in one hand, and toss into the compost bin.
What a gift, to have a quiet morning, to let the body rise when it’s ready, to let the words come as they rise, to sit in the middle of this thing that is life and understand that I am not outside of anything — I am welcome.
Good morning. When I woke up, the rain was falling in heavy, translucent sheets. Now, the rain has paused — the sun peeks out, and I’m looking for rainbows.
I’m often looking for rainbows. That, and four-leaf clovers. I’m a Pisces. We believe in signs and luck and serendipity.
This morning, the ever-shifting background image on computer’s desktop reads Trust Your Struggle. I take a deep breath, read it again, and then again. Trust your struggle, Jen. What does that mean? I have fifteen minutes before I need to be in the car to go south to see my sister and the baby still living in her body, the baby that everyone is ready to meet, most especially my sister. And it’s probably true that the one who wants to meet him next-most is his papa, but I feel like I come in a very, very close third.
Good morning — the light is just shifted from dark grey to heather blue, and rain is streaking onto the windows. The candles are quiet in their glass cages. What is bringing you to the page today?
Let’s say everything is changing. Let’s say it always was. Let’s say I’m always afraid when I sit down to the page — I don’t know what I’m going to say, and I’m certain that whatever I do say won’t come out right. Let’s say I want it to be right. Let’s say I compose on a bag of bones. Let’s say the coffee isn’t cutting it anymore. Let’s say the candles are humming and erect next to me. Let’s say I found a way home. Let’s say I don’t know what home means. Let’s say it’s opening its eyes inside of me. Let’s say there was a place in my body that asked for now. Let’s say I don’t know what that means. Let’s say now spreads its quiet wings around the flames of my insides. Let’s say I tangle with the past. Let’s say I am afraid. Let’s say I do not live in the moment. Let’s say the fingers are forgetting how to work. Let’s say the heart is breaking down. Let’s say I am aghast. Let’s say you are. Let’s say we weren’t ready for any of this.
Let’s say it used to be good. One day it was good. There was a moment of good between us. There was an idea of good. There was a breath. A hope. Let’s say we both had our own dreams. Let’s say the dreams fitted against a knowing that we had forgotten all the words for. Let’s say we weren’t able to climb the trees of our own dark insides anymore. Let’s say we saw in the other someone who might be able to open our locked doors. Let’s say we still believed in fairy tales and knights in shining armor. Let’s say that no matter who you are, you always hope for a knight in shining armor. Let’s say no matter who you are, you always want to be somebody’s knight in shining armor.
Good morning. The music is going, the coffee is percolating, and the rose blooms wide open, like my body. I am surrounded by the books that I love and the home I have made for myself.
I want to tell you that I never believed I could get here, to this place, of possibility and celebration. I reach back into the years of despair, if only to remember again what it felt like to wake up hopeless, if only to remember what it felt like to not ache, not believe. I hoped and longed for and wanted but did not believe I deserved. I did not ever see myself getting here, to the place I wanted: a body that was certain of and curious about itself, hands filled with words and joy, a little apartment in the city that was a haven for language and resilience. But that is what I have.
Today’s post is brought to you by this quote from a poem by Kallie Falandays:
“I want to give you your history back.
Your fingers back. I want to tell you yes.”
Good morning, you gorgeousness out there. It’s all sun and cool breeze and spring open outside the window, almost warm enough to take the notebook out write directly into morning. My mother writes a couple of days ago to tell me that it snowed back home in Nebraska — in May. It’s just not right. I look out at my garden while we’re texting back and forth, I think of the lettuces, the spinach and broccoli and herbs that we’re already harvesting; I think of the tiny green tomato taking shape on the vine. I remember how devastating it used to be, when I was living in Maine, when the crocus were well blooming and the redbuds had taken firm hold on the maples and I’d begun to trust that finally, finally, spring had arrived — my bones could relax. And then, boom, more snow.
I don’t tell my mom that I spent her snow day out in the sun. She has only just begun to set out her garden — has the potatoes in, is turning over the wintered soil to prepare the space for her many tomato plants, the okra and eggplant, all the annual flowers. Her garden is my best hope. It’s from my mother’s gardening that I learned about the longevity of faith, about persistence of effort, about doing it anyway. She kept a garden all the way through until the very end of the time with her abusive second partner; through all his control and rabid mania, through his sobbing manipulations, through the spending that forced her to work more and more hours trying to reconcile the books and accounts that he refused to be responsible for, through the hostility and hatefulness that he forced her to refer to as love, through all the behind-closed-doors horror that she has never described to me, she found time to hold on to her connection to the earth, to find solace in a thumb so green she could lift life from a toxic wasteland (which, it turned out, she would have to learn to do).
I don’t know how late into that marriage she kept her garden. I don’t know if her tomatoes were putting out fruit when he was arrested for incest and child sexual abuse, and she was arrested alongside him as an accessory after the fact. I don’t remember, just now, what time of year it was, and I’d been away from home for a few years: he may have driven her away from her garden, the way he’d driven her from cooking and baking and writing, the deep loam of her creative life.