Dear Diary

diary

Dear Diary,

I have so much to tell you! I can’t believe it’s been days since I’ve written, but those days have been a mix of crazy fun and feeling like a young girl again, you know, waaay back when it was just you, me and Holly Hobbie.

Friday, two girlfriends and I went to Denver to see a play called “Girl’s Only”, the kind of play that made my cheeks hurt from laughing so hard. You would have loved it!! Two very funny and creative women found their diaries from childhood and wrote a play all about the amusement of growing up woman. They read from their real, personal diaries and highlighted moments that you and I would remember so well, moments that defined childhood with all the hilarity, wonderment and confusion we experienced through crushes on boys, our changing bodies, and the love and disconnect we had with parents. By the way, we also learned several other uses for tampons besides, well, you know. Think cat toy and holiday tree ornament ;).

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After the play, we went to our hotel’s restaurant and pigged out on chips, salsa and guacamole. One of my girlfriends almost choked to death on a tortilla chip but thank goodness she didn’t. That would have been a terrible one to explain to her husband and a horrible end to our weekend. Our hotel was a super cute, boutique hotel decorated with cartoons and pop-culture accents. Every floor had a name and ours was called the Big Hair Floor and lined with heavy metal band posters on the walls. Definitely appropro since we all grew up in the 80’s which was all about big hair. Remember Aquanet? Also, can you believe our room number was 911? EEK! I didn’t like that coincidence too much. Oh and we found this sign in the lobby, too:

girls

Cool right?

So I can’t remember if I told you but marijuana is legal in Colorado now. Yep, really. So now retail stores are popping up all over Denver and anyone can go in and shop. I KNOW it’s crazy! So, the next day my girlfriends and I were feeling adventurous and dangerous at the same time (or at least I was feeling this way) so we decided to visit one. I am so glad I was with my girlfriends for this. It is beyond surreal to walk into one of these shops knowing this stuff was illegal only a few months before and is still illegal in 48 other states. Non-drug induced and quite useless paranoia had set in as I looked for government-placed hidden cameras in the corners of drywall. I didn’t see any. What a subdued and very potent scene Diary, and let me tell you (insert sarcasm) we didn’t stick out at all as three mothers with big purses on our shoulders. One of my girlfriends reminded us so poignantly, “We are in the midst of historical change.”.

Oh Diary, in one weekend I was in a time capsule being transported to childhood, feeling like a kid again when my whole world was once being boggled by boys, worrying about school grades and friendships, and staying away from the wrong sort that took drugs. Then the next day, as abruptly as my youth arrived, I was in a place, time and space where change had never felt more evident, when “there’s no going back” is a truth that leaves a mark no matter how much pink, anti-aging facial cream I use. It’s all so overwhelming. I think I’m beginning to know how Grandma feels, how schizophrenic and mutational this life can be. From adolescence and big hair to 9-11 and legal marijuana. I swear if it weren’t for you Diary, my head would have exploded into bits by now.

Thanks, as always, for listening…

xoxo

MJ

Fluidity

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I remember trying so hard to speak (or was it scream? I don’t remember), but all that managed to eek from a vivid sleep and a dry throat were whimpers, loud enough to wake my husband and cause him to lay his hand on my head to wake me. I remembered every detail of that dream at that moment, and I remember imploring my conscious self to record that dream somewhere so that I may recall it when I wake again. But I should know better. That dream has now drifted off to whatever infinite space that lost dreams descend to. This seems to be the case most nights lately, the feeling that I didn’t rest as well as I think I did, with faint recalls of images that moved through my wakeless mind swiftly and silently.

The translation I think is simple. Things are moving with blurred fringes lately, so fast that I am having trouble focusing on one thought, one emotion, leaving vast expanses of vulnerability dangling out in the open. My sweet cat has been very sick with IBD, demodex mites and ringworm, causing this house to turn upside down and inside out with worry, paranoia, disinfecting/cleaning, and frustration. Also, the boy was recently accepted by lottery (and perhaps providence) into an exciting and coveted middle school program here in Boulder county. This also means he will say goodbye to the wonderful Montessori community that has embraced and nurtured him–all of us actually–since we moved here. The girl will remain in Montessori for a few more years, which slightly softens the sharp edges of watching my son approach adolescence. But who am I kidding, she is moving with the same velocity and with just as certain a purpose as his.

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I find solace in my routines of respite that tenderly give me a bonelike framework to lean upon. The dedicated dance on these calused feet, the melodies that pluck from these nubby fingers, the flux of words that have feverishly filled one journal recently and have moved on to another. These things flush a wave of fluidity into my days, not unlike an IV that brings the rush of cold freshness to thirsty veins.

It is not the passage of roughness that I seek, but the distinct details that define this moment from the next. I want in waking what it is I cannot have in the apparation of my faded dreams, the texture and tangibility that makes this life my very own to live.

Much love to you on this Wednesday…

xoxox

meeting Mr. Collins

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A book haven of any kind–independent, corporate, a local library, or the one in your home, carrying spines and pages of any kind–used and tattered, new and pristine, is like walking into a rainbow garden of blooming roses, enthralling, intoxicating, and potentially dangerous if my wits aren’t about me. Easily sucked into the undertow of titles, cover art, and synopses, I could submerge for hours and inevitably re-emerge with an armful of life-preserving stories, adding buoyancy to my own library at home. You do know what I mean :)?

Well, I have to tell you that on one of these excursions, a shorter one than most since I had the boy with me, I met Billy Collins. That’s right, the poet. Okay, well, I’m not sure exactly he was Billy Collins. But it only takes a speck of a moment for imagination to leap to possibility, all hope bolstered by infinite excitment. Could it really be?

The boy wanted a book, that’s how it all started and who am I to hinder a budding reader’s new found joy and eventual addiction (or so I hope). He found this one by the way, though that’s not part of this story.

“Do you mind if I stop in the Poetry section?” I asked him.

“Sure, Mom.”

“I’ll only be a few minutes.” Yes, I fibbed.

And so a few minutes turned into another few minutes and eventually I just plopped down on the floor within arm’s reach of a treasure trove of untraversed poetry. I love exploring new (to me) poets this way. Just reach, read, and fall in love. Soon, the boy joined me on the floor with his new book, patient as ever…. what a love.

A man walking in a manner where his shoulders seemed to pull the rest of his body along sped behind us on the floor. Shoulder-length, wavy, white and gray hair, cargo pants, Columbia vest, hiking shoes, and simple wire frame glasses on an unshaven face. He looked like he could be a sociology professor at CU, a scruffy, yet sophisticated, hippie type. If he wasn’t gazing at us so intently as he whisked by, perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed him. His gaze didn’t slow his pace though and soon he was around the corner and gone.

Or so I thought as he returned within seconds, as if he had forgotten something very important on the other end of the store, rushing, rushing, like the white rabbit in Alice and Wonderland. He stopped abruptly where we sat, as if a Stop sign was posted in lights above our heads.

“Which poet do you like to read?” he asked.

It was such an obvious yet unexpected question that I fumbled over my words–first in surprise, and second because I didn’t know who to answer! I had so many favorites, where do I begin?

“Mary Oliver is wonderful, but then so is Charles Bukowski, but wow they are very different. I like Yeats, and David Whyte too, but there aren’t any David Whyte books here. ”

I felt like I was a college student trying to impress my professor. Who was this guy?

“Oh? Well, I like Billy Collins myself. He is just great.” He reached into the sea of poetry and grabbed one of Collins’ books.  “Do you read Billy Collins?”

I shook my head and slumped inside a smidge for not being able to meet his enthusiasm and familiarity.

“There is one poem that is absolutely my favorite of his. I can’t remember the name of it….(long pause)…Mary Oliver, huh?” He returned the Collins book, then grabbed one of her many volumes lined on the shelf and thumbed through it.

“You can’t go wrong with any of her books, she writes such beautiful poetry, and is quite prolific, too,” I said in a rambly sort of way, happy to have introduced someone to her natural magic.

“Yeah, well prolific is a very good thing” he said absentmindedly, then turned and walked off as abruptly as he had joined us. I can’t remember if he kept the book or not.

I couldn’t help but smirk a little. What a strange, interesting, delightful man. Quirky and unique, I liked him for his oddity and social ineptitude. As the shadow of his presence began to mingle with my imagination, I thought, entertainingly, how wonderful would it be if that was Billy Collins himself. And from there the thought grew like a weed on a rainy day.

Yes! Billy Collins might be that kind of writer, casing poetry sections in bookstores searching, observing, tinkering with the minds of readers, sniffing for new material and new ideas, or just for the fun and hell of it because he can.

No, I had never read any of Billy Collins’ work, but because the seed was planted that he might be ambling around the store, and because I suddenly realized his new book was everywhere on the shelves (oh my god, “he’s” there to promote his new book!!), as improbable as it sounded, I urgently felt the need to read his poetry, get to know him quick, before “he” comes back and wonders if our little interlude had any impact at all!

Too late. Within minutes, he was back. Billy Collins moonlighting as a sociology professor at CU?

“I just remembered what my favorite poem of his is.” He reached for a book called Nine Horses, opened it, and began to read aloud to me right there.

“It’s called Love,

The boy at the far end of the train car
kept looking behind him
as if he were afraid or expecting someone

and then she appeared in the glass door
of the forward car and he rose
and opened the door and let her in

and she entered the car carrying
a large black case
in the unmistakable shape of a cello.

She looked like an angel with a high forehead
and somber eyes and her hair
was tied up behind her neck with a black bow.

And because of all that,
he seemed a little awkward
in his happiness to see her,

whereas she was simply there,
perfectly existing as a creature
with a soft face who played the cello.

And the reason I am writing this
on the back of a manila envelope
now that they have left the train together

is to tell you that when she turned
to lift the large, delicate cello
onto the overhead rack,

I saw him looking up at her
and what she was doing
the way the eyes of saints are painted

when they are looking up at God
when he is doing something remarkable,
something that identifies him as God‘.”

He closed the book then looked at me, “Isn’t it beautiful, I love that, just the way he was looking at her on the train.”

I was moved and speechless, and feeling very awkward and unknowing in how to respond to this complete stranger. I think I said “thank you”, but honestly I don’t remember, I hope I did. My son, who had wandered off to the atlases in between this man’s appearances, had returned and broke the quiet awkwardness, “Can we go now?”

Sensing his cue, “Well, it was nice talking to you, I’m meeting someone for lunch but had time to kill. It’s nice to meet someone else who likes poetry.” And with that final word he was off again in a flash, following his shoulders to his lunch date on the other side of the world.

Despite how fantastical it would have been to actually meet Mr. Collins, I didn’t, at least not in the traditional face to face sense. Thanks to that strange, scruffy man at the bookstore, instead I was introduced to a brand new poet, as well as the wonderful drift my imagination can take when I am surrounded in a sea of stories :).

xoxo