if you ever find yourself in need of a refresher course
[you will forget all this]

on the exhilarating freedom of surrendering
to the flow of chaos
its confusingly complex beauty
drive a scooter in saigon traffic
(remember how you did)
assume nothing and pay attention and
keep your eyes forward and trust that what is behind will not harm you

i’ll be here always
drinking gourmet fruit cocktails garnished with sugarcane
eating street sushi at tiny fancy wooden tables
amidst the rats and rubble
serenaded by scooters and impressively disharmonious karaoke

on there verge of tears because i know
soon enough these moments will take on the varnished gloss of memory
meaning more than i can image as i live them
where right now the only threads i grasp
a lonely uncertainty
precarious footing perched on the cusp
a future that too quickly becomes the past

that disarmingly beautiful pile of dirty discarded things
so carefully balanced on an old chair
in the middle of a puddle wet road,
presumably marking buried treasure
a pothole

that terrifying truth that this feeling
is actually the closest one ever gets to knowing anything.

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[cooking tip:] is the bread pudding thing you bought at the grocery store soggier and slimier and stranger than you’d hoped? just heat some cooking oil in a pan, slice that sucker up and fry the ick right out! top with a fried egg! try it today!
[tl:dr: frying can fix a lot of things]

last week i got paid to be white and blond in a vietnamese movie. and today i shall be paid to pretend i remember high school chemistry.

and when i say “magical wonderland”, i actually mean “kinda crazy-messed neo-colonialism”.

and when i told you how good it was, i didn’t necessarily mean i wanted you to come here too.

[perhaps not as many as i hope]

from the back of a motorbike
majestically tall trees and a real park
green gratitude

i am happy. inspired. energized. alive again.
like the high pitched hum, metallic racket rattle and sudden electric *POP!*
a mosquito’s life ends
and i am in saigon
beginning mine again.

just like that.

that moment when you realize the person you were trying to quote was actually yourself.

with this year that has been so challenging drasing to a close, something was echoing up through my memory this morning. it had to do with frida kahlo, and how it is a blessing we cannot see the future. i felt it might have been part of the exhibit i saw ten years ago in a museum in hamburg. after about half an hour of fruitless searching through the internet and my computer looking for the quote, i finally remembered to check my old travel blog. and there it was:

At the frida kahlo exhibition

There is a reason we are built the way we are
Our bodies designed for forward motion
deliberately linear
With a straight forward piecing gaze
Like so many of her self portraits

There is a reason this gaze cannot seem to penetrate the future
Imagine seeing your life all at once
Blasted onto the beige wall of a temporary museum exhibit
With all the gentle delicacy of a machine gun.

01 frida

 

What someone else has deemed significant
It doesn’t even fill much space.
Accomplishments might bring some reassurance or directions
But what of the devastations
If they were all there to see at once
Who of us could go on?
If at the time of her first miscarriage
She could have known how many were still awaiting her endurance
How could she have survived?
Our heart can take more than we realize
If each time we think that this is it.
and lose whatever perspective we might have
To linearity.

Do you see the shape of it forming
Just under the text
A body outline on the wall
This life she led
This life you are leading
Close your eyes
Feel its form
You just a pinprick in the mist
What can you see?
when there are no straight lines in sight

had i known
this time last year
what 2015 would bring

i am not sure i could have faced it.

but as frida kahlo (may have) said,
at the end of the day we can endure much more than we think we can.

and i know now
that i am stronger, more resilient, wiser and happier than i could have imagined
this time last year.

it has been a really challenging time since i last posted. there have been some really low lows, but also some wonderful moments of bliss, peace, hope and connection.

today, how i feel is almost perfectly summed up by this poem by dorothy parker. it is called “Symptom Recital”:

I do not like my state of mind
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind
I hate my legs, I hate my hands
I do not yearn for lovelier lands
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light
I hate to go to bed at night
I snoot at simple, earnest folk
I cannot take the gentlest joke
I find no peace in paint or type
My world is but a lot of tripe
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted
For what I think, I’d be arrested
I am not sick, I am not well
My quondam dreams are shot to hell
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore
I do not like me any more
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse
I ponder on the narrow house
I shudder at the thought of men…
I’m due to fall in love again

hopefully tomorrow will be better. hopefully some access point to peace and purpose and enthusiasm will surface again. it does tend to. until then i’ll be rummaging around the shambles of my life looking for crumbs of meaning to see me through.

 

IMAG2563_1_1

i am travelling in Europe for 10 days, and decided before i left home to take a break from facebook while i’m away. a real break. a locked-myself-out-of-my-account-and-left-the-password-at-home break. this is day 6, and so far it is amazing. certainly a bit hard, but SO good, not just for getting stuff done, but for my mind and sanity.

so what happens when i’m not facebooking?

  • with my #1 procrastination and avoidence tool gone, i work more
  • i think more, and process emotions more fully
  • i have begun journalling again
  • i use twitter more, which, since i reserve that account for my professional life, is FAR more productive than FB
  • i read useful articles on the internet that are relevant to my life (mostly, i’ve been reading a lot about academic writing, ways to self-motivate and develop better routines, and build resilience)
  • i write emails to family i haven’t contacted in years
  • i set up skype dates
  • evidently, i blog!

it does add to the loneliness, but i think sometimes a little real loneliness is healthier than a lot of artificial connection.

i can safely say that while i won’t be leaving Facebook completely (it is useful for events and communication with a wide variety of connections), this experiment has been so successful that i will certainly be continuing it in some form when i get home!

focus!

last night i was sitting at my computer working when suddenly everything was just dark. really really dark. as simple as a blackout sounds, the abrupt stop, the sudden plunge into velvety quiet darkness is surprisingly disconcerting.

darkness that is thicker than when you ever close your eyes in this city.

this was a real blackout. a looking-out-the-12th-story-window and seeing no lights except cars kind of blackout.

and it was the best 2 hours i’ve had in a long while.

because it was kind of scary, but also exciting. because it brought us together, into the moment, with a beautiful clarity. because we lit all the candles in the house and it was so pretty and cozy, and i had my love and my roommate and my cat all there and what more could i ask for? electricity is so secondary. though when i realized we also had no water, it did feel a bit scarier, so N went to get some emergency provisions, and it gave roommatt and i a chance to have the quiet hang out that we’ve been talking about and co-flaking on for some time now. and it was really perfect. so when N got back and the power came back almost immediately, i was kind of sad. but i was also very grateful for that brief pause and breath, where we created our own light in the darkness.

as i run my self over the textures of this sharp shifting world

this grief is teaching me to read
the subtle difference
between emptiness and peace

hidden topologies
the marks we have been leaving since the beginning of time
they wait for us
for these moments

and remind us to remember what we always forget