> jumping into life.


oh god, oh god. leaving soon soon soon.

to do today:

cancel my drexel bank account.

put all that money in my monterey account.

make copies of my passport, birth certificate, prescriptions, insurance details, medical history, and emergency contact information.

call maysie's farm and find out if they'll pay me to work there.

call jason and make sure he's shipped me my camera.

clean up my goddamn room so i'll have space to pack.

things to buy today:

bug repellent.


a spanish-english dictionary.

an international calling card.

some sort of kistchy present for my host family.

a lightweight robe and sandals for walking around the house.

tea-tree oil to put on bugbites after i scratch them and they get infected.

super-duper strength sunscreen so i don't get skin cancer.

not to mention the three-hundred other things i'm forgetting but which i'm sure will be Really Really Important to bring.


i've been so full in my body lately, feeling like i am bursting out of my skin with potential, walking fast and swinging my hips like i used to. but today i felt awkward in myself, then drove for hours, and crumpled out of my car with aching eyes, aching shoulders, a sharp pain in my knee moving up my thigh and last night's tequila still in the back of my throat. i'm leaving in a week, and the rest of forever seems to tumble impossibly fast after.

my mom refers to my "collectible men," as though i put a notch on my garter belt with every heart i break. silke thinks i'm going to lose myself in the game, the flirting pheromone dance, and that i'll miss the real thing when it comes along. but here's the thing, and a real one: jason is the only person in this entire world that i can believe loves me absolutely and fully, as i am, and not (at least in part) as some construct of desire or need. and i left him in philadelphia because that wasn't enough to keep me sane, let alone happy. also because i can believe that this particular love doesn't need to be constantly reminded to continue, that i will be able to return to it in a year's time or three, and find it whole. in the meantime, i left because i needed to learn myself in new contexts - physically, emotionally, geographically. i don't think i could be doing any of this if i didn't feel so essentially grounded in who and where i am now. my bravery doesn't extend to wandering without a home to come back to in the end. i have the ocean, and i have him. maybe i'm assuming too much, but i feel like between those two, i can go anywhere in the world and do anything i feel i ought, and i will never be lost.


"and judging by your birthday," said the nice lady selling me travel insurance, "you probably went to high school with my nephew. john doe."

my heart stopped, for just a moment, and my hands went cold. i nodded. "yeah. yeah, i did." i didn't mention to her the screaming, or the school restraining order, or the police.

"he's up in davis now, so i don't get to see him very often."

i closed my eyes. "how's he doing?"

she paused, her hand frozen over my application, then looked up at me, speaking slowly. "he's alright. he has some... difficulties." she finished filling in my passport number. "i really feel for him." another pause. "he's my husband's nephew, really."

we finished my application and the transaction, smiled, wished each other a good day. i was almost back to my car when the anger hit me, and the fear, rushing in alternating waves up my legs and around my spine and settling pricklysharp in the back of my skull. for just the barest second my vision went dark with terror and memory, and i shook all the way home, praying that she doesn't have a chance to talk to him until she's forgotton all about me.


these days i fluctuate mostly between feeling like i'm completely out of control, like i'm just riding momentum and the pure kinetics of the process i've started, with no grounding even in my own emotions, and feeling strong and sure and sexy in a way i can't remember feeling before, like all the loss of self i suffered in philadelphia has been repayed at once, a showered gift of confidence and self-control. and i think both feelings have root in the same fact: in one fell swoop of a train ride, i left a career path, a school, a city, a man i've considered marrying, and every expectation i've ever had about what my life would be right now.

i feel like i've wrestled my self out of the jaws of ineptitude and mediocrity, been snatched just in the nick of time away from a plodding and miserable future. i was good at graphic design - i might have done it for twenty years before i ended up flinging myself off the bixby bridge. though, to be honest, i'm not sure i would have survived even through the next philly winter.

i want to go back to school next fall. i'm afraid i won't want to by the time next fall rolls around, so i want to be sure to get my applications done early. because i only have so much patience and creativity, i've limited myself to five schools. so far, they are as follows:

cornell (NY)

swarthmore (PA)

warren wilson (NC)

macalester (MI)

evergreen (WA)

a close second (sixth?) is the college of the atlantic in maine, which might get bumped up into the top five if i can figure out which one of the others to remove. nothing in california, not because i don't want to go to school here, but because i've honestly not found a school i want to go to here.

well, except for one. i still wish i was a boy most of all.


in the doctor's office, there is a large spiral-bound and laminated book entitled Life unto Life. most of the pictures, at the beginning, are of course enlarged many times over, but the book also has a little "actual size" drawing of each off to the side. the egg is a mere speck, swarming with sperm, but the fetus grows, and gains definition. toes and fingers emerge, mammoth eyes, translucent skin. sometime in the second trimester, the illustrations revert to full-scale and march onward, growing, growing. footprints, eyelashes, little elbows and knees. eighth month, and i am aghast at the size of it, the pinkness, the fat heave of the umbilical cord. when the drawing says "full term" i get up on my knees on the exam table, crane around to the mirror behind me, and hold the book out against my belly. i imagine myself stretched to fit, with some squirming, kicking thing inside me, a child.

my body wants to be filled. god wasn't joking around when he thought up hormones - this is some serious stuff. i feel awash in need sometimes, stunned by the urging of my empty womb. my body wants sex, pretty near demands it, but all my self wants is the comfort of another body close to mine; it wants motherhood, but i just want to feel whole.

by the time the doctor comes in, i've replaced the book, smoothed my gown, and i'm reading Vogue instead. he wants to know if i use protection.

"of course," i tell him, "jesus. i certainly don't want a baby at this point in my life."


now, i'm as comfortable with my body and my sexuality as the next girl - probably moreso than most of them, really - and i appreciate that he's acting just like any other doctor doing a routine exam, but i never get over my gynecologist's ability to carry on a completely normal conversation while poking and prodding and peering around with a flashlight. also, the nurse doing the same while unloading the industrial-sized tube of KY onto his glove. also, since last february, i'm unable to stop picturing tracey hurley stalking around, hollering about duck lips and her angry, angry vagina. i very nearly burst out laughing in the middle of it, which i'm sure might have phased even my seemingly stolid doctor and his oh-so-congenial nurse.

yesterday, i had my pupils dilated so that my optometrist could take a photo of the back of my eyeball. she pointed out the optic nerve, the major veins, the concentration of cones. "when you look at that dark spot," she told me, "that's what you're looking with." i came home with the silly plastic sunglasses they give you, one eye huge and the other still a somewhat normal size. if i closed one eye at a time, the room shuttled between brightly blue-tinted and hazy grey. i tried to look at the thin slice of blue around my gaping right pupil, but the closer i came to the mirror, the more blurry everything became. with both eyes open, i felt off-balance and my head started to pound; when my mom came home, she thought i was hung over, then stoned.

i've got medicine for typhoid and malaria, for migranes and infections, even prescription-strength imodium. i'm taking my vitamin everyday, i've been declared in tip-top shape by all the doctors, everything checks out, everything is fine.

still, i feel like i'm not quite in my own body, my legs too long and my arms with altogether too many elbows. i'm terrified - of leaving home again, of forgetting, of things i can't name or even recognize. my dreams have become strange and vaguely distressing, like dar
it, nothing you think you should be worried about but you are. i wake up to the clock buzzing inconsolably, the pines creaking and humming to themselves, the fog lazing on the rooftop next door where cats yowl and hiss. i'm afraid of forgetting, of smilecreases already fading from my memory.

at the beach early this morning i walked past the granite to the sandstone, gutted and worn, shaped by the ocean and breaking all the time. i watched the waves go silver and black, the horizon muted with pink clouds, even the gulls quiet as they floated like a mobile above me. there was a bright orange sign proclaiming in two languages that the mussels along this shoreline are not fit to eat, and one recommending that one not touch one's skin to the water. i just stood for a long, long time on that impermanent rock, afraid to go further, afraid to turn back, watching the sun rise.


malaria pills cost a whole hell of a lot.


i went most of the day without realizing the date, even though the fire department had part of pine blocked off with a giant flag hoisted atop a fire truck.

i've noticed my politics are getting more and more extreme lately; also, i'm becoming more and more likely to argue about them at little provocation. the problem with this, of course, is that i'm not particularly more informed - just more emphatic. but i can't help but feel a gut-level knowing that something is wrong here. i felt it in the city even more, it flattened me in the city, left me drained and edgy all the time, knowing that my world was wrong in some vague, visceral way.

the best antidote i can think of to that feeling is exactly what we did tonight - see an awesome play with good friends, and then go jump in the ocean under a (mostly) full moon. come home exhausted and exhilarated, scrub the sand off your feet and out of your ears, and thank the gods and all that's good that you're alive.


i'm awake really hideously early (particularly considering where we ended up last night and how late i got home), but i have to take the kids to school so i can have the car to take nika to england. well, okay, to SFO, but still.


two things:

first, we bought my tickets to costa rica today. i leave the night of october fourth and get back december fifth. i got all my immunizations and the prescriptions for malaria pills and imitrex on friday, with a new doctor who never shook my hand, hardly looked at me, and had forgotton me by the time i came back today. it's starting to become real to me that i'm actually going to costa rica, for two months, in a very short time.

second, my boxes came today. i'd had some tribulation getting them sent, involving a lot of wasted time and kindness on my housemate arin's part, since he drove me to the UPS store, back to my house to print the labels (off his computer), to salvation army to get rid of the stuff i wasn't shipping, and back to the UPS store so that i could affix aforementioned labels to my goddamn boxes. which arrived today. i showed my parents my portfolio, realized that i'd thrown away lots of work that i should have kept, and got really upset. then i had to unpack all my crap, had nowhere to put it, and now i'm stressed and annoyed.

third, even though i didn't say i had a third. but third, i can't sleep. can't sleep. can't even remember the last time i had this much trouble sleeping. and i sort of start crying sometimes for no apparent reason. and i walked on the beach today and had my feet in the water and i didn't ever want to leave, but i'm also a little bit lonely. and i submitted a story to the new yorker but don't worry, i don't expect them to accept it. also, did i mention i can't sleep?


a lovely long walk through garrapata canyon yesterday with nika. we stopped at a clearing by the creek with a big log to sit on, and ate chips and black bean salsa, talking about the world.

we have done poorly by this country, robbing her of her beauty and taking so much for granted. on the train, we passed cornfield after cornfield, and absolutely endless monotony, all the same height, all the same green. i wanted to scream with it, wanted to burn them all. this is not my country's grace, i wrote, to be a suffocation of corn. we passed a feedlot during dinner the second day, and the old man across from me blithely continued with his steak and trite conversation while the man in at the next table cradled his head in his hands. i wanted to weep, and later i learned, so did he. we talked all the way to flagstaff, each joyful in the finding of another like mind.

"every generation thinks they'll change the world," he said.

"but the difference is that our generation will have no choice."

nika and i talked about the power of one voice, about our high school biology teacher who had posted, in giant letters across the front of the classroom, EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED TO EVERYTHING ELSE. my third grade teacher who made us learn the names of all the wildflowers. parents who made it clear that turning off the lights when you leave the room is part of your basic responsibility as a human being. and the utter frustration of interacting with (not to mention living with) people who simply don't - don't turn off the lights, or the water, don't recycle, don't bother to throw their trash into a can and not on the ground. also the frustration of people who pay lip service to the actions but miss the point altogether. a ralph nader sticker on an SUV.

this is not my country's grace, to be buried in filth and ignorance.

also, i have become convinced that a new (or, in fact, very old) concept of the feminine is vital to our survival as a culture. while half the world is dominated by the other half, can we be surprised that the world itself is dominated as well? sharon butala says in the perfection of the morning, "I thought that if women are often petty and small-minded on occasion and bicker endlessly with one another in ways less characteristic of men, it might be because we have no dignity in our womanhood and never say to ourselves, I am a woman, as men say, I am a man, to remind themselves of the nobility and courage this image requires of them." well, I am a woman. look thee to these hips, they are mine. if my belly curves, it is because it shall bring forth life, in its time. my legs are strong and round and if my thighs move when i walk it is because i have lived a good life. my mind is not a man's mind, it is the mind of a woman. i think woman's thoughts, and they are sometimes thoughts of clothes and food and boys. all those things that women have had mastery over for thousands of years. i am a woman, and i bleed life. no man can bleed anything but pain and dying; i bleed life. and in my lifetime i may see the end of oil, of clean water, of redwoods, of freedom as we've been defining it for our two centuries and change.

goddammit. i'm just so tired of this world, and its rapid-fire bullshit, and its pain.


at yac today, we had a writer's workshop. we sat in a little group in the exec lounge and drew bubble-maps and made lists of our favorite words. i wanted to write about the end of the world, and our seemingly inexorable movement toward it. i ended up writing also about womanhood (yes. i am the ocean entire / these eyes my unpaned / ah, unpained scaffolding) and philadelphia (my intestines twisted / around the traffic signs / and the gutters / my eyes turned to stoplights, flashing / do not come near). i wrote from a deep and wounded place in me that hasn't seen the light of words in a long time. i've had such a struggle trying, shoving out awkward haikus each day just to be writing something, anything, just to be writing. i'm afraid i'll never get all the way out of the city, afraid that some part of me has been destroyed. i was afraid that part of me was my muse, my whatever-it-is power that had for so long forced words out of me, welling them up and out and spilling them everywhere without my leave or consent. a grace.

this workshop coincided, more or less, with the publication of my first story, and once, when someone on the train asked, i said "a writer."

i had dinner with my grandmother, also, tonight. i told her i was late because i was at a writing workshop at my studio, and she said "oh, i thought you'd moved on from that. i thought you'd have given that up by now." keep in mind, now, she also tried to feed me roast chicken for dinner - despite that i've been a vegetarian for six years - insisting that chicken wasn't meat. fine, then. i also don't eat chicken, and i also have not given that up yet.

but these poems! i have not written a proper poem in it feels like years. my writing has gotten all sloppy and flabby, given to hyperbole and conceit. these two may not be good, but they've got truth to them, and they came tumbling out like they were meant to be. i've remembered why i write. so, thanks kitty, and marcia. and me.


and blogger sucks.


the horizon is the end
nothing. this land goes on forever.

rock settles into rock,

mountains heave,

grasses furl across every space

turned to the sun.

the sky is bluer than sky,

the earth greater than

earth can be.

i want into that field,

under those trees,

the lone sagebrush

the glittering river,

the glittering hawk's eye.

perfect blackness under stone.

i want to run my hand

through that beauty, the

curved and colored rocks,

the dying wind

smear it on my bare skin,

shriek my coyote dreams.

the horizon is nothing

but the limit of your grace,

the rattlesnake skin;

each perfect, bloodied scale.