your name is safe

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds: "What does love mean?"

The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think...

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."

Rebecca - age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. 
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."

Billy - age 4

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."

Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."

Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss."

Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate."

Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."

Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."

Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.

He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."

Cindy - age 8

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."

Elaine - age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."

Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."

Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."

Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."

Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."

Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

Jessica - age 8

And the final one...

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.

When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said,

"Nothing, I just helped him cry."

[What Does Love Mean? See How 4-8 Year-Old Kids Describe Love, by Ladan Lashkari, Dec 29, 2010]


There were grief and the ruins, and you were the miracle.

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of a blind diver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed the infinite tenderness,
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There were thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and the ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief was my desire of you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was the voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still broke in currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only the tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one.

[Pablo Neruda, 'The Song of Despair', from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair {trans. from the Spanish by W. S. Merwin}]


that old feeling is still in my leaking heart

My uncle has died. He was the husband of my father's youngest sister, and my godfather. He and his wife had three girls, each of them have children, and some of them have children, too. Their family is large and noisy and fun; I loved spending time with them. He was a dear man, bluff and funny but very approachable to a girl in the middle of the big group of cousins. I always felt special to him, from when I was a little girl to the last time that I saw him, at the family picnic. He was thrilled that I was there, held my hand as we sat and talked, and hugged me goodbye. If there's one reason I moved back here, it's for that, right there.

Perhaps it's foolish, but I thought I might get a break now for a while, you know? The last couple of months have been a blur, sometimes just lost and other times really, desperately awful. The holidays didn't really happen in a lot of ways; my cards are sitting on the coffee table in front of me, put off for another night. (Sorry!) There are two boxes yet to send out, and one to sort out details with at the Postal Service over insurance. (The contents arrived in pieces.) Anyway, I had thought, or hoped, that I was on the mend, and that as the days get longer and lighter, that I was getting a little lighter, too. Seeing more good in my life and the world in general.

My friend's brother's illness, and my medical appointment yesterday (indicating a probable need for further tests and possible surgery), and now the loss of someone I loved very much...I'm reeling again.

Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor's breast
And the harbor's eyes.

[Carl Sandburg, 'Lost', from Poetry {March 1914}; the title quotation is by William S. Burroughs]


the past is what makes up who we are. Don't let it become your burden

  • How tall are you?
    0.0016256 km
  • Do you have a hidden talent and if so, what?
    yes, but I cannot reveal it for fear of Another International Incident
  • What is your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
    lack of proper attribution
  • What is your biggest non-blog-related pet peeve?
    over-loud, sing-song, baby voices from adults
  • What’s your favorite song?
    at the moment, "We Were Made for This" by Train
  • What’s your favorite Etsy shop?
    I haven't shopped at Etsy in years
  • What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
    reading, watching movies, sleeping, baking, listening to music, writing, photography
  • What’s your favorite junk food?
    poufy Cheetos
  • Do you have a pet or pets?
    I do not
  • What are your number one favorite non-fiction and fiction books?
    off the top of my head, The Brothers K by David James Duncan and The Silent Miaow by Paul Gallico
  • What’s your favorite beauty product?
    Dove Deep Moisture Night Cream
  • When were you last embarrassed and what happened?
    this morning; my weigh-in at the doctor's office could have gone better
  • If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
    if there were no adverse consequences (either because of the alcohol or the calories), I would choose beer
  • What’s your favorite movie?
    in the last week I saw two that I really liked: Tai Chi Master (with Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh) and The Lifeguard (with Kristin Bell). Very different movies, enjoyable for vastly different reasons.
  • What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep etc.?
    of those options, I was a nerd valedictorian band geek loner artist. I liked and excelled at Science, graduated 69th in my class of 384 (just better than 18%), was in band for 9 years, was reasonably social but craved time on my own or in very small groups, and enjoyed my art classes although I wasn't terribly skilled.
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
    eh, here works
  • PC or Mac?
    why can't we all just get along? They are tools, for fuck's sake, and not separate planets whose air cannot mix. For Fuck's Sake, People. Get over your brand preferences and leave each other alone, GAAAAAH!
  • Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boyfriend/girlfriend?
    the guy upon whom I've been crushing for what seems like forever is not given to romantic gestures, at least not in my direction. There are gestures, and there has been romance (in the past), but we are not those people anymore, and I've come to expect...less, from him. Whether that's right or wrong or sad or just as it ought to be, I suppose is a question of perspective.

    The funny thing, though, is that I
    did receive a romantic gesture from a rather unexpected source just this evening. I had just arrived home and was reading my mail when my text phone chirped a familiar but rare tone--Ralph Wiggum from The Simpsons saying one of my favorite phrases. (I'm not sure that link will work, but my fingers are crossed.) It was the UPS guy from my former job, popping up out of nowhere to say that he misses me. Or, more accurately, to confront me with the knowledge that he cannot stop thinking about me and to ask why the Hell I had to leave.

    I know, that's hardly Valentine's behavior, but given the source and also the dearth of romance that I see in the average day, it kind of got to me.
  • Favorite celeb?
    meh. How about that crow with the plastic lid, who slides down the roof? Or the cat with the flip-flop?
  • Which blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?
    Pat Rothfuss - he does good things for people, and writes well, too

[randomly grabbed from here; the title quotation is from Tai Chi Master]


stand in the glow of ripeness

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

[Czeslaw Milosz, 'Love', from The Collected Poems, 1931-1987]


time and tide wait for no man

New year, new chances. The holidays were good. Quiet and relaxing. I was given some great gifts--something to read, some things to watch. Something to wear, some things to eat. Some simple tools, and some extraordinary technology. Some things that sparkle, others that show off what's meant to be seen. And some gift cards, for the pleasure of choosing some presents for myself. My friends and family are very generous and know me and my particular taste well.

In a lot of ways, it was the quietest holiday I've ever had, very low-key and not too stressful. In one big way, it was the hardest.

There is some upheaval in my world. Things at work are about to get complicated in a totally unexpected way. Staff that had left are returning, though not in their previous roles. That is going to shake up the delicate balance of life as we know it. Will it be for the better? Maybe. I think it is worth paying close attention to the nuances, in case. And a member of my extended family seems to be embarking on a significant life change, or two. One has been privately acknowledged, though not yet announced. The other is suspected but not confirmed. If both are true and come to fruition, that will shake things up significantly.

Someone about whom I care a great deal is going through a really rough time right now, both in a direct way and because of the ramifications of some recent news that he got (in terms of what it brings back, and what it might mean for the future). Our relationship has long been primarily verbal, but I find myself uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Nothing that I say can change anything, or truly convey my sorrow and anger and...everything else. Frustration and pain and wish to bite the head off something delicate and defenseless.

This is the time of year that my cynical friends retool themselves as worldly and scoff at the idea of resolutions, because they "inevitably fail" or "are soon forgotten." I am enormously pessimistic, but still see the value in looking forward. Why not, at the change of years, of all times? There is entirely enough negativity and passivity in the world. If someone is willing (or even eager) to take on a goal--why not support it?

To exercise, again, regularly. I've sunk back into lousy habits and "fat clothes", and I'm tired of it.
And to write, rather than thinking about it or planning to do it "someday." Someday is the last promise for which to wait!

[the title quotation is by Sir Walter Scott, from The Fortunes of Nigel (1822)]


Wanting to love it. For both our sake

This is the fourth day I’ve been here.
But, no joke, there’s a spider
on this pane of glass
that’s been around even longer. It doesn’t
move, but I know it’s alive.

Fine with me that lights are coming on
in the valleys. It’s pretty here,
and quiet. Cattle are being driven home.
If I listen, I can hear cowbells
and then the slap-slap of the driver’s
stick. There’s haze
over these lumpy Swiss hills. Below the house,
a race of water through the alders.
Jets of water tossed up,
sweet and hopeful.

There was a time
I would’ve died for love.
No more. The center wouldn’t hold.
It collapsed. It gives off
no light. Its orbit
an orbit of weariness. But I worry
that time and wish I knew why.
Who wants to remember
when poverty and disgrace pushed
through the door, followed by a cop
to invest the scene
with horrible authority?
The latch was fastened, but
that never stopped anybody back then.
Hey, no one breathed in those days.
Ask her, if you don’t believe me!
Assuming you could find her and
make her talk. That girl who dreamed
and sang. Who sometimes hummed
when she made love. The sensitive girl.
The one who cracked.

I’m a grown man now, and then some.
So how much longer do I have?
How much longer for that spider?
Where will he go, two days into fall,
the leaves dropping?

The cattle have entered their pen.
The man with the stick raises his arm.
Then closes and fastens the gate.

I find myself, at last, in perfect silence.
Knowing the little that is left.
Knowing I have to love it.
Wanting to love it. For both our sake.

[Raymond Carver, 'The Sensitive Girl', from All of Us: The Collected Poems]