Monday Me


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Last night I dreamed of you.

You were tall and thin. I could only rest on my eyes on your shoulder, your collarbone. You did not want me to see your face, shadowed by the dim light of a single candle. My hand settled in the small of your back, warm still from being snuggled into the flannel sheets. We had just been talking, voices soft in the night, muted by the snow falling outside our bedroom window. And then you sat up, suddenly sad, tears glinting like diamonds on your cheek.

I do not know if it was your past or mine haunting those eyes, curling your body into itself and away from the rest of the world. I do not know if I could say something, hold you, and have it be okay again. Do you want a blanket? A sweater? Are you even cold?

I lay there in the darkness, quilts pulled high to protect me from the frigid air. You stood, and for a moment before you stepped into the black beyond the candle’s glow I could see the taut muscles in your legs, the sinewy stretch of calf and thigh. I saw the dragon on your hip, so small I almost missed it, a symbol of your own inner strength and will.

You pulled on jeans, a tee-shirt, and the sweater I gave you for our first Valentines. You pulled your long hair back tight, so no strand dared escape, and padded down the hall to brew some tea. It wasn’t morning yet, still that middle-time between sleeping and waking. I curled back into the warmth of the bed, smelled the pillow where you had only just been, and cried my own silent tears, for you.

Would we ever be so deeply connected that I could, with one glance, understand you? Would you ever bring me roses just because you could? When I bring you coffee at work tomorrow, will you say “thank you?”

Through the light of that candle, the one that burns every night, the one that chases away all darkness in our hearts, I can hear you singing. Your voice is soft, trying not to be heard, but I know the song. It’s the one you wrote for me, the only one you ever sing when the shadows of the past come raging through our dreaming.

The tears on my pillow this morning were real.

Somewhere, in this vast and crazy world, you are real, too.

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This post is almost entirely for my pleasure.

Really. I don’t expect you to get much from it, except for an excellent picture of how one tiny thought may turn into an obsession.

This is my list of dream cameras:

* Diana F+ with (some) accessories: Well, come on. It’s the Diana. She’s like the lover I have sought my entire life. Small, light, and incredibly versatile, the Diana F+ is my dream, go-to film camera. And, given that I’ve been dreaming of having darkroom time and developing my own film (especially 120 medium format film), this seems like a perfect darling.

* Canon Rebel T1i: I have done research. I have read reviews. I have even played with the Rebel series at the local camera shop. Even though this one is discontinued now (due to the release of the T2i), this is DEFINITELY the DSLR for me. Also lightweight and easy to transport, paired with a 50mm 1.8 lens for portrait work and an adapter for using Diana lenses on a Canon body, this truly is the Dream of All Dream cameras for me.

* Lubitel 166: It’s funny. I’ve always been intrigued by TLR cameras, but I’ve never looked through the lens of one. In fact, I only just touched my first (an 80+ year old Rolleiflex) on Saturday. But I am SO hooked. There was something incredibly familiar about holding a TLR, about the thought of a waist viewfinder, of looking down and out into the world.

* Blackbird, Fly: Because 120 film is NOT always available, and I know that once I start shooting TLR, like all other cameras I have touched, I will want to shoot it often, I love this “plastic fantastic,” 35mm TLR. It’s lightweight, matches the Diana F+ color scheme, and has a tiny bird on the top. What’s not to love?

* Polaroid SX-70: I had a Polaroid growing up. It wasn’t a land camera, but that’s okay. I forgive it. This is the COOLEST Polaroid I have ever seen. In my LIFE. And, with the Impossible Project now producing film for the SX-70, I just need to win the eBay bidding war and get myself one.

And lastly, while not specifically a camera, I want a darkroom. In my basement. No, really. I want a darkroom. Magic happens in the darkroom. And, I would be cool. (At least, I would feel cool. And it would satisfy my inner control freak.)

There you have it. My full confessions to being a camera whore. I admit, I am so excited by the endless photographic possibilities of a few good bodies, it’s unbelievable. CAMERA bodies. Come on, I’m not THAT naughty.

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This week’s Monday Me post is a video for National Coming Out Day 2010. I hope it reaches you and someone you know and someone you don’t know who needs to hear these words. Please take some time of your own to come out as queer or a queer ally. The world needs more allies. Namaste.

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For this week’s Monday Me, I’m posting a list of things you may not already know about me. If you want to know more, check out my post today on the Freak Revolution, my entry for the World-Changing Writing Workshop, which I participated in earlier this summer!

1. I am trained as a poet and essayist. I love these genres, but I find myself fighting against my intuitive nature as a writer to listen to the voices of my past, the voices telling me I’ll never succeed as a writer.

2. Generally, I tell these voices to fuck off. Often out loud. Preferably not in public, though it does happen on occasion.

3. I feel a bit empty when I don’t have a camera near by. Like there’s a piece of me missing, something I’m forgetting and cannot quite remember.

4. For me, travel is not about escape, it is about expansion. It’s about expanding my mind, my spirit, my experiences. It’s about expanding my world. And I cannot WAIT to do more travel.

5. My cat is great, she’s a fantastic companion. But for me, nothing compares to the warmth and intimacy of snuggling in with another human. It nourishes my soul and feeds a hunger I didn’t know could exist.

6. I love being in women’s space. I love creating women’s space. I dream of hosting women’s writing retreats in the near future.

7. Every day I wake up longing for the Pacific Northwest, for the tiny island I lived on for 9 months. I make the wish, before I open my eyes, that there will be mountains outside my window. There never are, but I keep wishing.

8. I do not miss the lovers I have had who hurt me. This is new. Strange to say, considering how much physical and emotional harm they have caused. I missed them for years. Now, now I understand the toll that abuse can take on a person and I am grateful to be learning my own healthy boundaries.

9. I have been doing yoga since I was 13 years old. I started doing it because it was unlike anything I had tried. I continue doing it because it nourishes my cells. And because I like to be bendy. {Consider signing up for the next round of 30 Days of Yoga with Marianne Elliott — I’m doing it this month and am SO excited!}

10. My favorite color is purple. In the whole world, my favorite is purple. I’m not difficult to please in this way. But it’s important to know: If I’m not wearing at least one thing purple, something may be wrong.

11. I believe fully in the power of dreams. I believe that anything we imagine is possible with effort, determination, and the help of the Divine. I believe that our words and actions hold power, and our thoughts may hold even more power. I believe that you MUST believe a thing is possible for it to occur; the slightest hint of doubt will turn the whole thing sour.

12. I believe in love. I believe that love will heal us, love will sustain us, love feeds our being. Love is what makes the whole adventure worth having. And I will never, ever shy away from love.

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*Title borrowed from Ingrid Michaelson, and one of the best songs ever.

Today I am learning to take my body as it is. I am so accustomed to my body working in the ways it always has (healthy, strong, vibrant) that to be burdened with health issues is as emotionally challenging as it is painful.

I am unable to hold a yoga pose for more than a few seconds. I can’t breathe all the way into my stomach. It takes me longer to ride my bike places because I lose my breath and become dizzy if I ride too fast. I can’t sit for too long due to strange back pain, and due to a fully bloated and bulging stomach. And I can’t eat too much, or too little, because both cause searing pain in the abdomen.

(Don’t worry, all of these things are being investigated by a physician.)

Oddly enough, I am recognizing now that it is only since my body has started “failing” me that I am taking the time to REALLY slow down and appreciate every movement my body does make, every breath I am able to make, each moment I am in less pain than the one before. It’s not easy. I am completely unfamiliar with this kind of awareness. I, who felt SO aware and connected. Ha!

So, as much as things hurt, and as frustrated as I sometimes get, I am trying to take myself as I am, loving my body exactly where it is, and savoring these moments of slowness. I am inspired to go back to making body products in my kitchen, bath bombs and toothpaste and hair rinses from everyday ingredients. Making lotion is one of my FAVORITE things to do! (And friends whose addresses I have, you may be “asked” to try out some yummy new products!) These simple acts of self-care are so nourishing, and they really are helping me to reconnect with my skin, my heart, my core.

Also, I had forgotten how much fun it is to make mix tapes! I remember creating theme tapes as a kid, and I do some “mixing” when creating my radio show, but sitting down with my music collection and making a mix cd (or two) for good friends and sending them along with a love note make my deliriously happy. I didn’t know this until I was spending several hours a day NOT running in highest gear and needed a soundtrack for each occasion. Some of my current (and usual) favorites are Ingrid Michaelson (who I’m hoping to see live in October!), Carolina Chocolate Drops, Kate Bush, and Marina and the Diamonds. And anything I can waltz to.

I believe that some are having a difficult time adjusting to my changing physical abilities. It’s hard to adapt when someone who has always been a workhorse cannot lift a 25-pound box. But I am hoping with time and understanding, both the changes in my body will be accepted AND my body will begin the slow journey to recovering strength and, with it, greater wisdom.

For now I am loving my skin with homemade creams, loving my body with nourishing food and strong tea, and nourishing my heart with good books (including Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open and Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry) and my trusty moleskine journal. With mugs of warm water and lots of soothing music, I am feeling blessed and blissed by this time of retreat and re-examination of my body, my heart, my spirit.

How are you reconnecting with your body and spirit these days? What are your favorite soul-nourishing activities?

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I’m not gone. I have not forgotten you, dear blog and readers.

I’m dealing with some health issues which are leaving me drained and quite empty. I haven’t the strength to do yoga much beyond child’s pose and savasana. Which is difficult for my vinyasa-loving body and soul. I am not able to run, which has postponed my plans to start Couch to 5k. Mostly I work, come home, and sit. Some days it’s even difficult to cook (so grateful for apple season — I’ve eaten many for dinners).

So as I have been sitting in silence, I’ve written many blog posts in my head. I’m hoping to have some answers soon (ultrasound next Thursday morning, and NO, I’m not pregnant), and then am anticipating my return to regular blog-land. Additionally, I am reading Creative, Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho, which has inspired and excited me to mind-map and brainstorm and deeply ponder how to move forward with some of my strongest, most burning dreams.

For now, though, as Jeff Buckley sings “Halleluyah” over the coffeeshop speakers, I give you this: My LOVE of AUTUMN.

* Autumn brings crisp air and crunchy leaves. Introspection in the woods. Ducks return to the pond. Geese cross overhead at increasing intervals.

* I love scarves. I am always on the lookout for new ones. Not because they’re trendy, but because they keep me snuggly warm. I lost my favorite ivory pashmina and am desperate to replace it, so my giant shawl a friend brought home from India will have to suffice.

* India. Oh how you haunt my dreams and waking moments. You are near me always, especially as the cooler weather brings more opportunities for chai and samosas.

* I am making an effort to wear more cardigans this year. I am always wanting something I can slip off or open if needed, and I believe cardigans are the answer. To the thrift store I go!

* Autumn inspires to write more letters. I love to send letters. If you’d like one, and I haven’t your address, email me or leave a comment with your email and we’ll be in touch. PS: Letter to do not require a response. I’ll continue to send periodically, just to say hello.

* Toe socks. Enough said.

Why do you love Autumn? What is your hope for this coming season?

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Afternoon Snack, Blackberry Curve

Warm Moroccan lentil soup and crusty bread. Cool grey day. Watermelon sangria. Finally knowing that I didn’t make a mistake, I stood up for my true self. Being okay with that strange and wonderful realization.

I put my heart out there. I didn’t realize the risk was so great until I was in the midst of it all. The idea was simple: spend some time having fun, being adored, getting to know one another. Let that carry on for months. Do NOT rush into something I’m NOT ready for. Practice deep, loving self-care. Follow my heart.

I didn’t understand your intentions. I didn’t understand that you wanted to make the choices, the stay-or-go decision, the ultimate. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t have my fears, my doubts, my insecurities.

Perhaps it was a mistake to let you in. I don’t believe that, though I am sorry where it took us was to goodbye. I am sorry you feel betrayed. I feel that, too.

You have given me great gifts, though. You have shown me my edges, the boundaries of my own self, which have been non-existent for so long. You have given me the courage to stand up for myself, to be myself, to not change for another. You taught me that, no matter how deeply I want to be loved, I cannot mould life into some love that it is not.

I cannot force love into existence.

Of course I am unhappy with the way things ended. Of course I never intended to hurt anyone, but sometimes what we think is pain is growing pains, still as uncomfortable but very necessary. Someday, you will look back and be glad that life happened in this exact sequence, that all the things that could have happened didn’t, and that makes all the events that follow somehow more perfect. Someday you will not be angry with me. Someday, someday…

I am waiting for a train to take me on a journey. I am standing at the station, toes against the track, just a suitcase in my hand. I am going far away, far into the center of my self. It is much like a trip into the center of a tornado, the calm of the eye my destination. It is there I will pause for just a while, long enough to catch my breath, and travel again through the other side. I am waiting for a train to take me to the ocean, the one place my tears match the water below. I am waiting for a train to travel West, beyond the mountains, beyond the desert canyons. I am headed for the ocean, for the green forest and pale lavender and the agates I hunt at sunset. I am waiting to return to the ocean, waiting to return to quiet and stillness and that cabin on an island in the sound I have dreamed of for years.

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