Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I saw today that NASA has published new Hubble Telescope images--galaxies just beyond our own, star systems billions of light years away, gas masses in space. One of those galaxies is supposedly sucking up our own. In a few billion years, it will have eaten ours alive, in a kind of cosmic cannibalism. The universe dazzles and disorients . . .

I am working on a series of poems that have to do with a journey through the desert between Phoenix and Los Angeles. I've called them "highway love poems." But the cosmos also plays a part in these poems--how could constellations and aliens not show up, considering the geography of sitings and the presence of dark sky at some points in the desert. And love, too . . . My mind keeps wandering back to desert and space and relationship, and my pen keeps going back again and again into those spaces.

I love these poems, unfinished and fragmented as they are at the moment. Why? One reason is because they started by looking at Aaron's photos. They are something we have shared together, some small fragments of our lives, some wondering at the mysterious parts of our existence, some space where what each of us does as separate human beings touches and breathes into the other. They are beautiful and fragile, like human relationships. Emphasis on fragile.

Lately that emphasis has been all too clear to me. I can't speak the fragility out of anything I say or do or experience. Sometimes the web breaks. Sometimes our relationships become painful and we don't know what to do. The only answer I have is just to be still and be present in these moments, when things seem chaotic and uncharted. I look at those photos of the universe and think I am in the presence of so many secrets. My emotions, my body, my experiences are only a tiny glint in the whorls of deep space and time.

Monday, September 7, 2009


As a child, my mother and other family members accused me of being a bit "airheaded." Not unintelligent, but having a tendency to drift and not have my feet on the ground. There is some truth to that. I feel like I have too much "air" going for me and not enough "earth."

But it's more than that. Lately, I've felt like I am in the middle of a huge change with no way of knowing what is going to happen at the end of it. I'm floating along in a tunnel, the air is pushing me forward, and I have no way to put my feet on the ground. Aaron and I watched "The Descent" the other weekend--very disturbing, if you haven't seen it--and in some ways the events of that film remind me of my life at the moment. This group of women go spelunking in what they think is a known cave, only to find out they are in an "unexplored" one. They end up confronting creatures that seem part human but which have evolved or devolved into blind and vampiric creatures of the underground. And apparently others have been there before--and haven't escaped--as these women later discover.

In many shamanic traditions, the underworld is the subconscious mind, where we confront our ghosts and demons and might find ways to heal ourselves. I feel like I am undergoing my own initiation into something I don't quite understand at the moment. I am able to notice sometimes how I am reacting to things, and the person who is reacting and the person who is observing the reaction seem very different.

But I'm also floating along in this "underworld" at times, trying to find a way through it, and quick, even though I know that won't be the case. I've been here before. But the challenges are just a little bit more difficult each time I return. Strange, I'm really drawn lately to "big science": quantum mechanics, astronomy. I've been looking at Hubble telescope images, reading about dark matter, wondering about the possiblity of life elsewhere in the universe. At the same time, I am tethered even more fully to this life, sifting through some dark moments as of late. But it's led to a long series of poems, or a long poem--not sure how to define it yet.

And I hope it helps me to become a better person in the long run. Because at this very moment I feel a little unsure about everything. But that may be where I need to be.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cook Nouveau

I've had some concerns about my health lately, though nothing medically shown, so I've decided to make some changes in my diet. Mainly, eating more veggies and buying fruits, veggies and other foods from more local sources, like farmers markets.

And cooking . . . I used to dread cooking. Probably because I wasn't a very clever cook. One of the stories my mother tells is of me trying to make egg salad with scrambled eggs. It was a running joke for a long time. Years later, I mentioned the story to a writing colleague who also happened to be a very creative and talented amateur chef. His response: he could see an egg salad with scrambled eggs, a new version of the old.

So I am becoming reaquainted and introducing myself anew to cooking. Not baking--for some reason, I don't have any desire to make cookies and breads--but entrees and salads and soups and pastas and whatever else jumps into my head. I didn't realize until lately how creative cooking can be. And soothing and satisfying. Now when I leave work, I don't think about stopping to pick something up for dinner but, rather, what is sitting at home that I can work with to create something homemade. Grilled eggplant with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, for instance . . .

This week I've been mostly successful. My favorite has to be the Greek chicken salad--slivers of Kalamata olives, lemon juice and zest, red onion set it apart from the average joe chicken salad. My first attempt at soup was also a success--lentils in a reused stock with potatoes, carrots, parsley, green beans, onion, and red hot pepper to give it a little kick. Yes, there were things that could be done to improve the taste and texture--more lentils and maybe a little milk to make it creamier--but it worked.

So I am no longer helpless in the kitchen. This has been coming about for years, though--I've become pretty good and making salads and have developed some very basic cooking skills, which have helped me to make this leap. I figure it's something like me becoming an expert thrift store shopper--plenty of practice and an eye (or nose or tongue) for the details. Next step, figuring out how to make that scrambled egg salad . . . .