> jumping into life.


(off to oregon to visit cousins for a while. happy new year!)


sometimes i don't even recognize myself in the mirror; when did i become a woman? i spent a while staring in the dim light of the afternoon today, thinking of middleschool and frizzy hair and braces and long, lonesome summers. long, lonesome recesses and lunches and softball practices, awkward sleepovers, empty birthday parties, and a book my mom gave me at some point in the low-self-esteem arc. i wore my leather pants to the coffeeshop the other night, and one of the baristas came into the back where i was reading to officially thank me for it from the staff. these are things i never dreamt of in middle school - even in highschool, really - when i held my breath through tunnels and wished for someone who liked me just the way i was. and it's funny, because i'm shy, still, and awkward and gangly, and i often feel like i have too many elbows and not enough words. today i drifted in between the conversation and my book, but mostly in the book, the way i have all my life whenever there's a book in my hand. it was dorky and antisocial in middleschool - evidently it's intellectual and charming today. i wonder if i've changed, or just the package. in the past few years i grew into my legs and my teeth got straightened and somewhere along the line i started walking the way i walk; my hair is still frizzy, but i've learned to wear it. so is it only okay to be dorky and antisocial if you look good in leather pants? half the time i'm sure i'm about to be found out, that i'll stay in conversation a little too long and reveal that i'm a gawky, nerdy girl who's not so good at those sports which require autonomous movement, that i'm not really even all that smart, i just read fast. like it's all an elaborate, unintentional ruse and the leather pants just the final touch in some part i get to keep playing as long as i can keep it up. (but he sees through me, so i know i'm real)


it isn't so much that the mind boggles, like scott says, but that it heaves, writhes, retches, and ends up whimpering indignantly in the corner. see for yourself.


i got your letter and it left me crying in the coffeeshop. i have thrown myself into this new life, a life alone and lacking you, with a gusto which is mostly unfeigned. i know it isn't the same for us, because i chose it and you had no option but to let me go, because i left and you were left behind with our memories, because nothing is ever the same for two people. i will admit that you are often far from my mind, that i do not brood and miss you as i did last summer; i know i haven't written you since i got home. but this is neither carelessness nor apathy - i love you still. it is that i have searched my heart and found you solid within it. you speak of this time of uncertainty, but i am not uncertain. my thoughts have not turned to questioning and doubt - i love you still. i expect to love you continuously, in an unbroken stream of care and wonder and passion and friendship, until i die. i want to live the dream we've dreamed together; i plan to fight for it. and i will admit that i may fall in love here, with someone who isn't you, but i do not believe that i won't return to you when the time comes. i believe in our dream. i believe in our love. they are the bedrocks of my changling life; i cannot change them without changing everything, and i do not plan to change. i know that when i do return to you, we will not be the people we were when i left. i know that life does not bend to our plans, nor hearts to wills, nor time to need. i miss you dearly. every moment that passes without you is a moment i would rather spend with you, except for this: when the time comes, i will want to spend the rest of all my moments with you, and i am not ready for that, yet. i think we are not. i know you aren't me and can't rest so easily upon the fickle certainty of emotion, even emotion such as this. i know that the future rears, implacable, untamable before you; it frightens me, too. some nights i wake, shaking, thinking that we may die before these things come to be. or worse, that circumstance may elude us and the years slip away while we prepare, and plan, and never take the action required. a hard winter could bring it all to naught. but here, now, in this seascented room far away from the perfect warmth of you, that can't be my worry. let me have this year; let me be stupid and irresponsible and inconsiderate, if that's what it takes. know i will come back to you - and i will love you still. absolutely.


it's christmas, and i'm chopping three yellow onions for a christmas chili. there's calypso on the radio and rain outside. there will be chocolate in the chili, and cinnamon, and the very last of the black pepper in the glass pepper shaker on the table. the onions are a jumbled, glistening pile on my cutting board, and tears pull down my face, making little saltwater pools in the corners of my mouth. onions usually don't bother me; that's why i'm the one cutting onions while my mother slices celery and crushes garlic with sharp blows under the heel of her hand. but today there is music and rain and the onions, too much. i chop blinded, blindly, and trust the knife to know where my fingers are.

when the chili is finished, the water simmered away and the beans gleaming darkly, we heap it into purple bowls and add white cheddar cheese and try to balance the hot bowls with hot cornbread. the neighbors' kids don't want salad, don't want bread, don't want chili, want to know why we don't have cookies or two remote-control cars instead of just one. in the middle of dinner i well up with laughter, just about throw my head back and guffaw, but instead i just turn my eyes down and smile into my bowl.

merry christmas.


there was a debacle of sorts at the coffeeshop sunday night, involving an improvisational dance floor and some mistletoe (and featuring the conspicuous holiday absence of the coffeeshop's owner). there was a girl i'd met earlier in the evening, who strenuously hit on me all night, self-consciously offering to stop if she was "frightening me." i could only laugh and think of high school dances, where all the girls danced dirtiest with the other girls and that was only the beginning. she ran around dizzyingly, kissing everyone she could haul under the mistletoe, and then proclaiming to them - all male but me - that she was gay and they shouldn't get any ideas.

matt and i talked later and commented on how unfortunate it is that the single defining feature of her personality seemed to be "lesbian." it was all she talked about; it's all she's talked about every time i've seen her since. i want to hold her shoulders and tell her to chill out, that the girlfriend she so bemoans not having might be intimidated by the way she tells every person she meets how long it's been since she got laid and what she did to her exgirlfriend in the parkinglot of denny's. i want to tell her that sexuality is often more complicated than "i like girls," that she's got her whole life to get laid so for christ's sake calm down about it. there was a discussion at the table about pooling to buy her a vibrator for christmas, but we were all laughing too hard to work out the details.

it just makes me sad to see somebody working so hard to prove something that they clearly don't understand about themselves. and annoyed that i can't go to the coffeeshop without having to declare fifteen times that i like boys better.


(merry solstice. hope yours was as good as mine)


i dreamt of him last night, dreamed anger and violation and fear. i was trapped in rooms, in tunnels, in the shower with his eyes over the curtain. i ran down secret hallways towards freedom and was caught from behind. i dreamed a trial and a restraining order, a door with a broken padlock. i dreamed that i slept and woke to his hands around my throat, his face looming huge and tear-stained above me, and then i did wake, coughing and coughing and coughing until i had no air left, until i fell back against the pillows and searched my half-dark room over and over with my eyes. but i was alone.

for a while, the only nightmare i had was this one, repeating, reoccuring, sometimes with faces, sometimes without, but never really changing. i would know i was dreaming, know what came next, could anticipate the heft of the cleaver in my hands, but couldn't change anything. couldn't wake up until i'd bathed in blood and pulled the final blade across the final skin, never sure if it was mine.

mornings have been heavy these days, and the first sip of tea always surprises me, something strange and clear. it would be nice to have someone to roll over into in the mornings, to distract myself from the aftertaste of death.


this is winter; moving towards solstice, light that turns to afternoon as soon as its born. i'd like to fill up the tank and drive till it was empty, up to canada or down to mexico, camp out in the desert and feel the bittercold in my bones. take my sleeping bag and my uggs, a bag of marshmallows and some binoculars, and watch the sunrise over the steppes, watch the earth born. i can almost picture it, red light turning everything blood and new.


driving over 68 on saturday, away from salinas, late afternoon sunlight lambent over the hills, touching their silver winter grasses with soft fire, flickering honeygold through the trees. led zeppelin seemed to match perfectly the sweep and timbre of the light, plant's voice just another shade of gold. then yesterday, i took the long way to downtown, along the beach. the storm that knocked our power out for eight hours had thrown sand up on the road and swept the sky. tori amos crooned through my speakers, her voice slicing clear and clean as the air. pure beauty.


i like the winter colors here; i like muted beauty. i like rugged over lush, i like the crisp air and the wet wind and the ironclouded sky. slategrey scrubbrush on the hills out to laguna seca, silver water under the last bits of covered sun. granite, sand, wet pavement, and always clouds, always the fog. like everything has been washed in grey, the dull green of the oaks, the dry orange pineneedles strewn around dry grey pinecones curled tight. and inside, the christmastree twinkling, the teapot whistling, and i know there's rain coming.

i miss the snow. i miss the rainforest, the thick dripping heat, the philadelphia skyline. but i find that i belong here, that the topography of this place is etched in my veins. every time i go away, i learn more about home.

and when we were fooling around in the tidepools between the immense jungle and the larger sea, we found a chiton, and i knew what it was.


today is my little sister's seventeenth birthday.

when we trimmed the tree the other night, it seemed like all the oldest ornaments were broken. a reindeer missing its nose, a drummerboy less the drum. the beautiful red glass bells broke last year, and all our hand-made ceramic angels were in with the jack-in-the-box snowmen and other cheap plastic ornaments that go on the bottom of the tree where it won't matter if the cats knock them down.

we went to my brother's basketball game last week, and he'd grown so much from the image i have of him in my mind that i had to use the number on his jersey to pick him out of the group of flailing, flying teenaged boys. he played a good game, and i cheered so hard my throat went sore, and afterwards he stayed with his friends to watch the varsity game and didn't go for coffee with me like we'd planned.

today is my little sister's seventeenth birthday. i quite simply can't believe it. but here it is - she's grown up, she's driving my car, she's had a boyfriend for two years, she's gorgeous and she's fucking smart. she's a lot more teenager than i ever was, but i think that's her prerogative. she's grown up well, and i'm proud of her. it turns out that my family is all growing up, mostly together, and it's a strange thing to realize. it's a strange thing to be home again, to be in the middle of this house and all its energy and noise. but ok, so far. and i think ok.

[ps - kevin, you can still not hit on her.]


i like this beauty better.