> jumping into life.


so at the cafe we have these bowls. for soup. and plates. for under the bowls. except the plates, which are (theoretically) designed for under the bowls, don't have that nice little groove along the inside in which the bowls are supposed to sit. and the bowls, which are (theoretically) designed to sit on said plates, don't have that ridge along the bottom which is supposed to correspond to the plate groove. so we have two pieces of smooth, curved glass. or, in fact, two sets of two pieces of smooth, curved glass each, and a very busy house. we have soup in the bowls on the plates. what we don't have - and only because i was wearing my superwoman underwear - is soup all over the floor. instead, we have an amazing and uncharacteristically-coordinated soup-dance-of-salvation, and a round of applause from several customers who were lucky enough to witness it instead of being plastered with two bowls full of fragrant split pea with plentiful pit-smoked ham soup.

not everyone was so lucky.

also, if you're around you should come by on wednesday afternoon for the official opening. and order something that isn't soup.


so then. last week was slow and full of interviews and application essays. this week was full of I-9s and driving. i got both jobs; i'm now the caregiver social coordinator for the del mar caregiver resource center, which is a program of the health projects center in salinas, and a barista for cafe serendipity. these are two very different jobs. one requires me to be responsible and extremely well-organized. i have to call people and make plans and be a professional adult. i have an office with plants and a mahogany desk and a voicemail and business cards. the other one requires me to be friendly and make coffee. i need to not have holes in my jeans and i need to not spill hot things on people. i have my own clerk-code for the register, and that's about all.

but they're both really fun, so far. my hours are pretty flexible - extremely flexible at del mar - and both groups of people seem very cool. they're both positions where i have a lot of contact with other people but without having to rely on anyone much to get my job done. which is just about perfect for me, because i like to work with people but i don't like it when they can fuck things up that i'm otherwise responsible for. i should be able to take at least the one class i'm really interested in for spring, and maybe the tango lessons we've been talking about, and last week i paid for three months of kickboxing and tomorrow i have yoga. i still have at least two essays to write and all sorts of finacial aid stuff to fill out during february, and i need to plan a trip back east and one up to washington.

life just got busy.

i love it.


i'm beginning to see beaches differently. we went down to one of the granite-strewn ones and i tottered after him in my work skirt as he lept like a fecking leaping thing from rock to rock, not slipping on any of the lichen or moss or bird poo or anything. then he stopped, suddenly, outlined by the sunset, and began stacking. balancing rock on rock, slowly, his hands all tiny movement and centering. i wanted to try but felt too shy, and limited myself to offering rocks that looked promising. some tourists came by and took hesitant pictures, and at one point i was distracted by seagulls and when i looked back he'd finished, and there it was, five rocks standing perfectly against the sky. a transitory beauty made of pure permanance. he told me that once they'd made one taller than they were and named it, that once a bird landed on a just-finished stack and stood there calm and preening before flying off. i watched the kelp against the sand and felt the wind and tried to balance myself, too.


now if only i could watch the president speak every time before i go kickboxing, i might really get in shape.


we are walking down from the volcano, just leaving a canopy of cocoa trees and moving into the full heat of the sun. there is animal movement and we stop to watch a bird explode from the trees, warbling and bustling and trailing a beautiful blue tail behind. we turn to each other and whisper quetzal though we know they are green and this isn't it. but we are humbled and feel sanctity.

when i think of magpies, i think of ill-omen, drab death, vague danger. the guide points and tells us urraca, the word dangling from his tongue like a jewel, and then in pained english: magpie. we look back to the bird, magnificent, preening on a branch heavy with sweet green fruit. urraca, we repeat, awed. magpie.

this is how i learn that nicaragua does not conform herself to pallid gringo expectations. and when i later realized that i hadn't ever actually seen a magpie before then, i began to understand that perhaps those expectations have no justification for being, in the first place.


between kickboxing and yoga i think i find some peace. the white mat of the dojo against the red bags and all reflected in a wall of mirrors, all of us punching with pigtails dancing to brick house. the world contracts to the sharp sound of the bag against my glove. my calves burn and burn and i lose my breath and when we stumble into the coffeeshop afterwards, exhausted, elated, i have hardly the strength to lift the backgammon board. that was friday. today my calves and thighs and shoulders still ached as we began surya namaskar, but slowly the world contracted to the sound of my breath and the knot on the wood-paneled wall before me. by the end my heels sat easily on the floor and i stretched and stretched back against my happy calves. the energy moves out; the energy moves in.

kickboxing alone makes me feel wild and jagged and satisfied, and yoga alone makes me feel quiet and dim and whole. i think the two together will do well to balance all my opposing parts, the need for centering that always pulls against the need for release.


i got a job!

i'm going kickboxing!

i wrote two poems today!

i'm well hydrated!

life is good!


afternoon. clouds lie like old quilts, layered on the horizon and through them the sun shades everything grey. i love the pattern of pine needles on the roof outside my window. they're swept in a dull orange semicircle away from the chimney and bunch up near the gutters, and there's a pale green lichen that grows in the corners and the roof itself is tar and gravel and grey, and somehow it's beautiful. i love the silhouette of the trees as the sun goes down and how everything becomes crisp just before it blurs into twilight.

there's a poetry slam at the coffeeshop tonight, and i'm excited even though i'm not going to read. it'll be nice to have some poetry around that isn't the inane stuff i've been dribbling lately.

also, three days in a row now that i've had pretty good interviews; with luck, tomorrow will make four. i think the YMCA will hire me, but i sort of don't want to work with them now that i remember that i don't so much like kids. the job i'm interviewing for tomorrrow sounds really interesting and also flexible, and in my perfect world i'd end up working both there and at the cafe i went to today.

i went outside to watch the sunset and then came back in because it was cold. and now from my window the whole sky has gone orange and i'm going to have to go back out.


the air is somehow warm without seeming to give up on winter. from the roof last night we watched the sun go down behind the pine trees, the wind spilling up from behind. it wasn't a terribly specatular sunset as there weren't many clouds, and the sky just faded from blue to peach to evening, but the sun itself glowed orange and blood just above the horizon. an airplane arced over us and the contrail shone like iridescent ink.

the rooftiles were warm beneath me and the wind cold around me, the light changing but not dimishing yet. my feet were sandy from the beach and my skin tight from seawater, and as the last sliver of sun dipped behind the trees, for a moment i forgot to be sad and nostalgic for you; i forgot to be giddy and hopeful about him. forgot to be anything at all but a vessel for awe, just a person watching the sunset, amazed.

it doesn't last though. the sun finished its show and the clouds moved on. today the sky is bright and clear and cold, and my calves ache from running in the sand. there are emotions like tight tangled yarn setting in my lungs and just below my throat. i don't know how i'll ravel them; we'll see.


A jungle is not a forest. A forest is quiet - it knows what's good for it. Forest chews with its mouth closed and keeps its hands folded. It can be racuous in the morning, when the birds wake, but not like a jungle gets loud. A jungle is the drunk uncle at the reunion; it comes in sequined in bromeliad and takes home someone far too young. The jungle is ravenous, insatiable, all mouth and gut and appetite. Water flows like wine and it howls. In comparison, the forest - even the redwoods, even low in the thick valleys - the forest is prudish and demure, elegant.


it seems like every time i sit down these days, i write about heat and jungle and desperation. the heat is a presence, physical, stunning. i try to distract my words with overcomplicated emotional issues, but instead i write about the sweat beading behind my knees and the ache of heat in my bones. i write about the sound of howler monkeys and the crickets that seemed to surround us and follow us down from the volcano. i write about the green, green piling on green and so much that i nearly can't stand it, that i stare at the sky just to see blue instead. it seeps into me, turning my flesh liquid and my blood to steam. i write about rain; rain that floods the streets and soaks my pantlegs, rain that pummels tin roofs and comes in through the windows, rain that i watch from a hammock strung between the umbrella leaves of two palms, rain that washes everything clean except the smog. i can't tell if i am melting or floating away, my body both weighted and negated by the heat. i write about twisting mangrove swamps that suddenly open into the sea. i write about the lake in the middle of the volcano in the middle of the island in the middle of the lake in the middle of nicaragua; i write about the thick cool water and seaweed in my hair. it stills me, distills me, so that i am nothing but the beating of my heart and the movement of my breath and the ache of my arms and legs. i stretch, slowly, as a breeze comes through; i have never in my life been so content.

i may be home and happy, but there is some of me still there.


advisory: do not attempt to laugh immediately after placing a huge fried-tofu vegetable roll, too big to chew properly anyway and smothered in wasabi, in your mouth.

however: if you can pull off an "i'm choking on this sushi because you're so funny" look, it's a great way to break the ice.

nonetheless: painful.