I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying

  • Would you rather trade some intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?
    ironically, while I was setting up this template I was also taking a FB inkblot quiz that determined my dominant personality trait is intelligence. Since I was shooting for "stealth" or "hilarity", I obviously failed miserably.

    In other words, I'd gladly give up a little brain power at the moment. There are other things that I treasure more highly.
  • Have you ever tie-dyed your own clothes?
    I have one tie-dyed shirt. It was a 'thing' where I used to work. I admit to holding some disdain for the whole thing now, because of that.

  • How often do you buy new clothes?
    very rarely. I need some things right now (socks & underthings, probably some pants or skirts for work, definitely never another blue shirt until I've gotten rid of at least one...) but it's hard to justify spending money that has a destination in mind.
  • Do you buy from charity shops?
    that's not how we refer to them in the States, but, yeah. Less so for clothing than for household stuff, and even then just for particular things. I'm not sure I could buy anything upholstered, for instance, that was used, or certain things for the kitchen. I'm kind of squeamish and a only a little cheap, so the willingness to save money will probably be outweighed by the fear of the unknown, sometimes.

    Other times, though, I'm all for it. Like, if I could find some end tables at a decent price - bring 'em on. I really need some end tables!
  • Have you ever sold your services?
    funny thought, that. In a way, don't we do that every day? I mean, if we have jobs? I work in a sort of service profession; I go to an office and do paperwork-ish things all day, on behalf of a boss who has five bosses above her. We're all steps in the ladder of services--and, relatively speaking, the entire hierarchy could go days without seeing an external customer.

    But no, in a direct sense, I have not literally sold my services.
  • Have you ever raised money for charity?
    there's another funny question, given the time of year. We're just a couple of weeks away from my employer's annual major fund drive on behalf of the local food shelf. It is MASSIVE. Ten days of actual fundraising, surrounded by weeks of preparation and rallying and speeches and planning and cleanup and blah blah blah. All the while, we're all expected to do our part, physically and financially, to make it all a success.

    Donations are welcome.
  • Have you ever wielded a sword?
    only in the kitchen

[taken from here and cut into pieces; the title quotation is by Oscar Wilde, from The Happy Prince and Other Stories]


two simple happenings That got entangled

Between this video and some old voicemails that I had converted to audio files a couple of years ago, I feel a little more comforted. I can talk about him sometimes without choking up. I can grin sometimes when sorting through the memories.

“Empty-handed I entered the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going-
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.”

[Kozan Ichikyo]


come back. Even as a shadow, even as a dream

What an awful, miraculous, strange week. It's been just about exactly seven days since our last conversation, which was just a little bit on Friday night. He'd been taunting me by withholding some details that he was soon to share; we'd probably have had a long conversation Saturday or Sunday--maybe both, one of those marathon text sessions that went for days--if he hadn't died on Saturday morning.

I'm having a hard time with some basic things. I turned off the music in my car after I heard the news, because driving was enough of a challenge and the music itself would have only made it worse. I haven't been able to listen to anything since then. Music was such a big part of what we did together, talking about it and listening to it and sharing suggestions and mix CDs and playlists. He probably sent me a thousand text messages that were just a song title and artist, and we shared YouTube clips and lyric site links as well.

Eating, too, is not easy. He was a great cook--the only one ever to make vegetables something that I wanted to eat--and loved to go out for a good meal. We had a favorite pizza place in the town where I used to live, and significantly contributed to the income of the delivery guy there (hi, Chuck) for the better part of five years or so. Food this week has been on a strictly as-needed basis, and even then I don't know that I've got it all covered. A couple of friends at work are aware of what's going on and have kept an eye out, and my parents have obviously been nudging at me, too.

Drinking just isn't happening at all. The very idea seems impossible. We didn't drink a lot together, but we have (holy cow, my Tequila Birthday...), and there have been many happy conversations about it, and many amazing conversations over a bottle or two of good beer. I can't imagine drinking by myself, or even with someone I didn't know really well, without feeling really broken.

I know that, at least at first, lots of things are going to remind me of him. In my shock and sorrow, I'm trying very hard to remember him, and so it's a cycle of pain and memory. The miraculous, to which I referred up top, has come here and there across the week, and has made the sorrow seem less and the comfort seem a lot more real. First, I dreamed about him on Saturday night. The kind of dream where you wake up feeling like the dream is more real than real life.

I became friends on FB with a colleague who I hadn't known very well. I thought that he knew what had happened, because he was acting subtly different from before. When I private-messaged him to say thanks for his consideration under the circumstances, it became clear that he had not known. For whatever reason, he was just saying and doing exactly what made things easier for me at the time.

Yesterday, the current IT guy at the place where I used to work found a (joking) note that I'd left for him a couple of years ago. That was the same job that Chris used to hold.

And two other FB friends, guys I've never actually met in real life, contacted me out of the blue this week. One sent a private message, just to say Hello and to say that he was thinking about me. He's been reading my status updates (which don't require much interpretation to reveal that I'm going through a hard time) and wanted me to know that someone was listening. The other posted a note to my wall that said only this: "I do not know you.........but i love you anyway." Both of those guys are named Chris.

Whether you believe in the afterlife, guardian angels, and the idea of an otherworldly presence watching over us or not, all of those elements contributed to me feeling like he was with me, and wanted me to know it. He often told me that I was his best friend, and he would not have left me if he'd had any choice. If he had access, he'd whack me up-side the head (gently) and tell me to stop it when I'm being self-indulgent, he'd remind me to stop hiding when I'm feeling most lonely, and most of all he'd be happy to see me happy.

Damn it.

[the title quotation is by Euripides]


You are taken in the net of my music

In my sky at twilight you are like a cloud
and your form and colour are the way I love them.
You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips
and in your life my infinite dreams live.

The lamp of my soul dyes your feet,
the sour wine is sweeter on your lips,
oh reaper of my evening song,
how solitary dreams believe you to be mine!

You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depth of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.

You are taken in the net of my music, my love,
and my nets of music are wide as the sky.
My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning.
In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.

[Pablo Neruda]


I almost laughed to think How like reality the dream had been

It was a better day, which feels somehow worse than the original awful. I want to feel better, but I don't want to lose the connection that I still feel. A well-intentioned but unthinking person sent his obituary to me at midday, which felt like a punch to the throat. It was as if I was getting the news all over again, just then. I had to get up and leave the building so I could breathe.

The worst thing about this is trying to explain him, and our friendship, to other people. No one really gets it, no one quite understands, and it feels like it fades with each paltry word that gets between me and the truth.

The best thing about this is getting to try and describe him and our relationship, to other people. Seeing some glimmer of appreciation, the right expression or sound when I've hit on the way to say it, to capture even a bit of what was there. What still is there.

He was my friend. A very dear, darling boy who treated me reverently. My brother, my child, my guru, my confidante, my wise old soul. My chef. My tech guy. My musical genius. My constant, constant companion. He sat in the dark with me, because he understood what my dark meant. He pulled me out of it, into the light. And he let me into his own shades, too, where few (if any) others could go.

The room is full of you!—As I came in
And closed the door behind me, all at once
A something in the air, intangible,
Yet stiff with meaning, struck my senses sick!—
Sharp, unfamiliar odors have destroyed        
Each other room’s dear personality.
The heavy scent of damp, funereal flowers,—
The very essence, hush-distilled, of Death—
Has strangled that habitual breath of home
Whose expiration leaves all houses dead;        
And wheresoe’er I look is hideous change.
Save here. Here ’twas as if a weed-choked gate
Had opened at my touch, and I had stepped
Into some long-forgot, enchanted, strange,
Sweet garden of a thousand years ago        
And suddenly thought, “I have been here before!”
You are not here. I know that you are gone,
And will not ever enter here again.
And yet it seems to me, if I should speak,
Your silent step must wake across the hall;        
If I should turn my head, that your sweet eyes
Would kiss me from the door.—So short a time
To teach my life its transposition to
This difficult and unaccustomed key!—
The room is as you left it; your last touch—        
A thoughtless pressure, knowing not itself
As saintly—hallows now each simple thing;
Hallows and glorifies, and glows between
The dust’s grey fingers like a shielded light.
There is your book, just as you laid it down,        
Face to the table,—I cannot believe
That you are gone!—Just then it seemed to me
You must be here. I almost laughed to think
How like reality the dream had been;
Yet knew before I laughed, and so was still.        
That book, outspread, just as you laid it down!
Perhaps you thought, “I wonder what comes next,
And whether this or this will be the end”;
So rose, and left it, thinking to return.
Perhaps that chair, when you arose and passed        
Out of the room, rocked silently a while
Ere it again was still. When you were gone
Forever from the room, perhaps that chair,
Stirred by your movement, rocked a little while,
Silently, to and fro…        
And here are the last words your fingers wrote,
Scrawled in broad characters across a page
In this brown book I gave you. Here your hand,
Guiding your rapid pen, moved up and down.
Here with a looping knot you crossed a “t,”        
And here another like it, just beyond
These two eccentric “e’s.” You were so small,
And wrote so brave a hand!
                            How strange it seems
That of all words these are the words you chose!
And yet a simple choice; you did not know        
You would not write again. If you had known—
But then, it does not matter,—and indeed
If you had known there was so little time
You would have dropped your pen and come to me
And this page would be empty, and some phrase        
Other than this would hold my wonder now.
Yet, since you could not know, and it befell
That these are the last words your fingers wrote,
There is a dignity some might not see
In this, “I picked the first sweet-pea to-day.”        
To-day! Was there an opening bud beside it
You left until to-morrow?—O my love,
The things that withered,—and you came not back!
That day you filled this circle of my arms
That now is empty. (O my empty life!)        
That day—that day you picked the first sweet-pea,—
And brought it in to show me! I recall
With terrible distinctness how the smell
Of your cool gardens drifted in with you.
I know, you held it up for me to see        
And flushed because I looked not at the flower,
But at your face; and when behind my look
You saw such unmistakable intent
You laughed and brushed your flower against my lips.
(You were the fairest thing God ever made,        
I think.) And then your hands above my heart
Drew down its stem into a fastening,
And while your head was bent I kissed your hair.
I wonder if you knew. (Beloved hands!
Somehow I cannot seem to see them still.        
Somehow I cannot seem to see the dust
In your bright hair.) What is the need of Heaven
When earth can be so sweet?—If only God
Had let us love,—and show the world the way!
Strange cancellings must ink th’ eternal books        
When love-crossed-out will bring the answer right!
That first sweet-pea! I wonder where it is.
It seems to me I laid it down somewhere,
And yet,—I am not sure. I am not sure,
Even, if it was white or pink; for then        
’Twas much like any other flower to me,
Save that it was the first. I did not know,
Then, that it was the last. If I had known—
But then, it does not matter. Strange how few,
After all’s said and done, the things that are        
Of moment.
            Few indeed! When I can make
Of ten small words a rope to hang the world!
“I had you and I have you now no more.”
There, there it dangles,—where’s the little truth
That can for long keep footing under that        
When its slack syllables tighten to a thought?
Here, let me write it down! I wish to see
Just how a thing like that will look on paper!
“I had you and I have you now no more.”
O little words, how can you run so straight        
Across the page, beneath the weight you bear?
How can you fall apart, whom such a theme
Has bound together, and hereafter aid
In trivial expression, that have been
So hideously dignified?—Would God        
That tearing you apart would tear the thread
I strung you on! Would God—O God, my mind
Stretches asunder on this merciless rack
Of imagery! O, let me sleep a while!
Would I could sleep, and wake to find me back        
In that sweet summer afternoon with you.
Summer? ’Tis summer still by the calendar!
How easily could God, if He so willed,
Set back the world a little turn or two!
Correct its griefs, and bring its joys again!        
We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move,—and you be stiff and still!
That I could speak,—and you perforce be dumb!
I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof        
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre. And to-day
The shining strip is rent; the exquisite
Fine pattern is destroyed; part of your heart        
Aches in my breast; part of my heart lies chilled
In the damp earth with you. I have been torn
In two, and suffer for the rest of me.
What is my life to me? And what am I
To life,—a ship whose star has guttered out?        
A Fear that in the deep night starts awake
Perpetually, to find its senses strained
Against the taut strings of the quivering air,
Awaiting the return of some dread chord?
Dark, Dark, is all I find for metaphor;        
All else were contrast,—save that contrast’s wall
Is down, and all opposed things flow together
Into a vast monotony, where night
And day, and frost and thaw, and death and life,
Are synonyms. What now—what now to me        
Are all the jabbering birds and foolish flowers
That clutter up the world? You were my song!
Now, let discord scream! You were my flower!
Now let the world grow weeds! For I shall not
Plant things above your grave—(the common balm        
Of the conventional woe for its own wound!)
Amid sensations rendered negative
By your elimination stands to-day,
Certain, unmixed, the element of grief;
I sorrow; and I shall not mock my truth        
With travesties of suffering, nor seek
To effigy its incorporeal bulk
In little wry-faced images of woe.
I cannot call you back; and I desire
No utterance of my immaterial voice.        
I cannot even turn my face this way
Or that, and say, “My face is turned to you”;
I know not where you are, I do not know
If heaven hold you or if earth transmute,
Body and soul, you into earth again;        
But this I know:—not for one second’s space
Shall I insult my sight with visionings
Such as the credulous crowd so eager-eyed
Beholds, self-conjured in the empty air.
Let the world wail! Let drip its easy tears!        
My sorrow shall be dumb!
—What do I say?
God! God!—God pity me! Am I gone mad
That I should spit upon a rosary?
Am I become so shrunken? Would to God        
I too might feel that frenzied faith whose touch
Makes temporal the most enduring grief;
Though it must walk awhile, as is its wont,
With wild lamenting! Would I too might weep
Where weeps the world and hangs its piteous wreaths        
For its new dead! Not Truth, but Faith, it is
That keeps the world alive. If all at once
Faith were to slacken,—that unconscious faith
Which must, I know, yet be the corner-stone
Of all believing,—birds now flying fearless        
Across would drop in terror to the earth;
Fishes would drown; and the all-governing reins
Would tangle in the frantic hands of God
And the worlds gallop headlong to destruction!
O God, I see it now, and my sick brain        
Staggers and swoons! How often over me
Flashes this breathlessness of sudden sight
In which I see the universe unrolled
Before me like a scroll and read thereon
Chaos and Doom, where helpless planets whirl        
Dizzily round and round and round and round,
Like tops across a table, gathering speed
With every spin, to waver on the edge
One instant—looking over—and the next
To shudder and lurch forward out of sight—

Ah, I am worn out—I am wearied out—
It is too much—I am but flesh and blood,
And I must sleep. Though you were dead again,
I am but flesh and blood, and I must sleep.

[Edna St. Vincent Millay, 'Interim']


the wind blows terribly here

Work today, extra busy because one person was gone (again, as she so often is) and all that extra that we did on Saturday was for naught. It was good to have a lot to do, to be distractible from whatever was going on in my brain; I only hope that it was pretty much going on without me here and there.

At least twenty times, I picked up my phone to send him a text. I needed to let him know the crazy stuff that was going on in my head (he would understand immediately), or the dumb memorials that are being put up on FB about him (he would laugh). I wanted to tell him that I miss him already. Those were the moments that brought a gasp and a deep breath and a shudder...and, damn, this is the rest of my life.

No tears until I was putting on my coat to leave, and then I could feel it breaking open. I'm not trying to pretend that there's nothing going on--I told a couple of people at work, and I know that they told at least a couple more--but I also don't want to be that person who comes to work and doesn't do anything except be dramatic and selfish all over everybody else. I need a balance for myself.

Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

[Izumi Shikibu, 'Although the wind...,' trans. by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani, from The Ink Dark Moon]


i want no world

My friend Chris died yesterday. I am sad, and sick, and afraid of the shape of my life without him here.

I hate this.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

[E.E. Cummings, 'i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]', from from Complete Poems: 1904-1962]