Not to dwell

My response to turbulence in airplanes disturbs other passengers.

It’s not what you probably think. I don’t go white-knuckled or green-faced or breathless or limp. I don’t jabber or skulk or pray. The opposite, really—though my response may be born of the same awe. When I see from my window the tremoring of wing tips, when I hear the rattling of loose luggage overhead, I laugh. The more violent the tremor, the louder the rattle, the harder I laugh. Come now, I think. Is that all you’ve got?

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Hungry Heart

Keep it simple, someone said to me today.

Good advice. Old. I’ve been struggling with this. I prayed this week, of all things. I prayed that if I don’t possess the bandwidth, the strength, to do it all, please make it clear to me, please help me (make me) trim the fat out of my life. Nothing has become clear to me. I am even mixing my metaphors.

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I come from a place in California that has been criticized for having no history.

It’s as if the story began there with the houses, the suburbs, the sprawl. I grew up in the last district of the San Fernando Valley to suburbanize. Porter Ranch sits on the very edge of what, for many Los Angelinos, passes for the wild. New settlements are still being built, gauche gated communities of potted palms and Spanish tile roofs, rows and rows of the same house lining up like so many school children.

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Then, butter

Nothing can cure the senses but the soul, just as nothing can cure the soul but the senses.

Oscar Wilde said that. Or a character in one of his novels did. It reminds me of me, of the bad habits I’ve been nursing. These days I come home, swearing to do some useful, necessary thing, but instead plunge headfirst into the pursuit of pleasure. I’m a walking appetite. Salt, water, moon, bread, tang, sweat, sweets. It’s extraordinary, the way things taste.

Fun fact? Sasha Grey took her stage name from A Picture of Dorian Grey. An interesting study in appetites, Sasha. And the book. And the name.

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Song of summer

There’s a wordlessness that exists just beyond softspoken, down some gentle inexorable incline.

It threatens tenderly, terribly, like a cooler season. Today the lakewaters churn and foam and savage the buoys. A wind quivers the leaves. So ends the world of yesterday, the world I’d most like to inhabit, the season of skin and sweat and burn and the cool fire. And here we come down the easy slope, pulled on by free fall, this controlled stumbling-forward, the cruel logic of forward, into the wordless valley.

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A new place

Tonight I’m writing you from somewhere different.

I moved to a place on the water. “I think you can make a real home here,” my mother said, stepping in, weighted down with boxes. I felt the dark wood moldings and breathed in the lake, a salt-dusted almost-sea smell, and agreed.

Now the place has some furniture in it, and I’ve stacked its shelves with what little I own, and it still feels like something borrowed. You can hear the waves in every room. You sleep to their pull, wake to their breaking. It gives new meaning to the thing we say about sadness, that it feels like living underwater. The waves, it turns out, don’t sound so different from under water than from three floors above it.

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As I write this I’m eating cold corn on the cob, roasted yesterday in its husk, and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever eaten.

It’s been a trying month. I feel myself getting a little weird. My belly is pregnant with apricots and corn and spelt bread. I don’t think I’ve spoken a single word since digging for beets in Cabrini Green yesterday and don’t mind it. I bought goggles for swimming in the lake. At first it terrified me, being way out there in the water, to see the smallness of my belongings on the shore. But then it got all weightless and quiet and profound.

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