Showing posts with label tortured metaphors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tortured metaphors. Show all posts

slightly dirty sweaters

I was watching an old woman knitting on the subway today, when suddenly she dropped her yarn. It rolled a good five feet, unravelling on the dirty floor of the train; everyone's eyes were drawn to the bright red ball.

Someone nearby handed the yarn back to her. She nodded a thank you, and brushed it off before taking back up her knitting needles.

She couldn't possibly have gotten all the filth of the subway car off of it. The dust and debris will be woven into whatever sweater or scarf she was making. Something no less sweet for the accident suffered during its creation.

It is impossible to always give love that is pure and untainted with mistakes or misapplied intention. Slightly dirty sweaters still keep us warm, though.

I'm a dime. I'm fine.

Sitting cross-legged on the rug, she tipped the oversized mason jar once used for cold brew coffee onto the floor. The sound made the dog look up briefly before dropping his head again.

An avalanche of copper. A buck or so of nickels, dull and thick in their near worthlessness. She spread the pile with her fingertips to unearth what was left of those precious glinting slivers. Dimes were always her favorite. Tidy little discs that like to hide behind pennies, surprise you in a winking flash. That pleased feeling of suddenly jumping ten cents closer to the object of one's vending machine desire.

There were no quarters. Quarters had their own special home, in the footed antique desert dish where they gathered strength in numbers before giving their lives in service of clean sheets, socks, sweats.

The indignity of the moment bit, though she re-packaged it cheerfully as frugality. Legit a week's worth of Metro rides in here! She glanced at the dog, as if to check whether he could read her true thought, which was closer to a solitary, sighing Christ. If so, he remained poker-faced about it.

A curious imposter in the jumble of coins peered up at her: a lone googly eye. Lidless. Lost. Laughing? Oh, knock it off. Don't be dramatic. No bigger than the nail of her pinky finger. Hard transparent shell protecting a flat black circle. She resisted an urge to crush it with her thumb, watch the clear plastic turn milky the way it will when bent. Cheap things give easily under pressure.

Instead she picked it up and carried it to the kitchen trash. It wouldn't help her get to work in the morning, and she doubted she'd come across its mate any time soon.

of airlocks and currents

I have a tendency to react too quickly, and often negatively, in situations where I feel threatened in some way. Not in the sense of bodily harm, but emotionally. Threat of loss, threat of pain, threat of shame. Something like that. Because that's what all conflict comes down to - a fear of some kind.

In working on this, I came up with a visualization that helps. I think of an airlock, on a space shuttle. The small room between the body of the ship and the universe outside. It's a safe, secure threshold where astronauts can take their time suiting up before unlatching the door and heading out into the stars.

When something upsets me, I try to remember that I have an airlock, too. I have a space where I can get prepared, quietly, at my own pace. Where I can hesitate, if I need to. Where I can adjust to changes in pressure. Where I can calmly plan before unlocking the door to the world.

If you, too, struggle with being reactive - remember your airlock. And don't open the door until you're good and ready.


Along those same lines, here's another metaphor I find useful:

I know enough about myself to question my first, and sometimes even my second, impulses. I just have too many unresolved issues to let them be reliable guides for behavior. The problem is, they're impulses. They are so very beguiling; so seductive. They can overpower me with temptation, because they're right there. They appear suddenly and organically, so they must be trustworthy, right?


Impulses are like pretty little fish that swarm around you in the ocean. They're captivating, sure, but if you're not careful, they'll lead you astray in dangerous waters, distracting you from other potential perils. They're close to the surface; superficial. Observe them, but don't follow them.

Currents, on the other hand - those are your instincts. Always heed those. Currents we feel deeply, with the whole of our bodies. We can't ignore them. They are the underwater winds that pull us in one direction or another, warning us when we've strayed too far from shore.

It's not a flawless metaphor. It's one you can't think too much about lest it unravel. But it's something.

the Heights of Estimation

The Heights of Estimation (where my heroes live) are treacherous and difficult to reach. Steep, craggy cliffs buffeted by icy, howling wind. A thorny, overgrown path that discourages visitors. I call on them only when I absolutely must - my heroes. Which is how I suspect they prefer it, anyway. Wizards behinds curtains keep the curtains drawn for good reason.

Still, I am a faithful supplicant. Bundled against the unbearable cold, I make regular treks to pay homage. I set my most lavish praise on their doorsteps and retreat quietly. I await response. Sometimes it comes; sometimes it doesn't. Either way they keep the homes I've built for them, high, high up in the clouds. The Heights of Estimation are rent stabilized.

Once in a while my mind plays tricks on me, and I think I see one of my heroes down here, in the sublunary world. But I know that can't be possible. Why would they consort among mere humans - flawed, pathetic, needful? What use is this place to them? They have everything they need in the lofty aeries I so lovingly furnished with my fulsome admiration, my undying devotion.

No - my heroes are quite comfortable where they are, I think. Safe. Elusive. Unassailable.

Unknowable, ultimately.

the magnificent maple

I met the most magnificent maple. She lives down at the marina, right at the water's edge. In the summer she watches boaters come and go. Styrofoam coolers and cranked-up stereos. Water skis, life jackets, and excited shouts. In the winter, she sees snow silence the mountains around a still, steel-blue lake. In the spring she bears witness to winter's promises having been kept yet again. Rebirth and renewal, bloom and blossom. But I met her in the fall. And in the fall she herself is the thing to see.

The maple I met understands the inevitability of change. She meets it head on, with patience and grace. The wind chills her limbs and the sun dries her sap, and she blushes in anticipation of her impending bareness. Her blushes are a fiery riot of red and orange; they'll take your breath away. She captivated me from the moment I saw her, and I returned every day to watch her transformation.

I stood underneath her branches, close to her trunk, and looked up. I heard whispers passing between her and the sky, and the sun winked at me as if he too knew their secrets. A beetle cleaved to a knot in her bark, unbothered by what she was going through. Nature's apathy, writ tiny. At my feet were the leaves she'd shivered off, all sizes, their pigment faded to various degrees. Some as wide as my palm, and wine dark. Some no bigger than silver dollars, and peach, with pale pink tips. I couldn't help myself; I gathered them up by the handful. Each seemed more perfect than the last, and I piled them on top of one another, carefully aligning their maraschino cherry stems.

I carried these pieces of her away with me. They were still pretty, still smooth and pliable with the life she'd given them - but they were fast becoming memories to her, and I knew she wouldn't mind my taking what she'd already lost. Besides, I wanted to try and make something beautiful with them. It's always worth trying, I think, to make something beautiful of the things we lose.

in cervisiam veritas

Look, she shrugged. I don't do it because I think my life is more exceptional than anyone else's. Or because I think I'm better.

They ordered her another cold one and nodded, gathering around to listen. Then tell us, they said. Why do you do it?

Ah, she replied, a serene smile spreading across her face. For the joy of it. The simple joy of writing. She raised her beer in anticipation of a toast.

But you could write anything, they said, their eyes narrowing. Articles. Fiction. Grocery circulars. Grants. It must be more than that.

Her smile tightened slightly, her brow warm in the sudden spotlight. She set her mug down, considering its foamy brim. It's the challenge of constructing an honest narration of my life. Telling stories that will convey who I am - and what my values are.

Your values? The tone had changed; they'd grown questioning and suspicious. And why do you want people to know those? 

She looked up sharply, realizing the trap. They stared at her and waited. Licking her lips, she tasted the sourness of her answer before she gave it. Because I think they're the right ones. The best ones. 

Dead silence for a beat before, to her shock, they erupted in uproarious laughter. Beer sloshed. Thighs slapped. They shook their heads in thorough enjoyment of her joke. Brilliant, one giggled. Can you imagine? crowed another. And in the clamor no one noticed her quietly push aside the drink at her elbow.

starter pair

Sometimes I think everything you'd need to know about my terribly flawed character you could learn from my eyeglasses.

When I was first diagnosed with astigmatism, I had a pair of my dad's drugstore readers refitted with my prescription. He kept them scattered around his house the same way he hoarded mechanical pencils - the same way I keep a tiny blue jar of Blistex handy in nearly every dresser, cabinet, and purse. At a certain age you get tired of looking for things.

Anyway, they were a temporary and sentimental fix. Cheap green plastic, one of the few personal items of his that I saved. After all, they literally let me see the world the way he did. And I resisted buying new frames that would suit me better because every time I put a pair on, I saw my mother in the mirror. Given the choice, I'd rather see my dad's past looking back at me than my own future.

When I finally gave in, it was Chanel that seduced me past my hangup. Rectangular, midnight blue acetate, tasteful twin Cs mounted on an inch of delicate leather quilting at the temple. They were so beautiful I didn't notice that they were essentially the same shape and style as my dad's pharmacy readers. Or that they made me look more like my mother than anything else I'd tried on. They were $300. They were, technically, my first pair. I consider myself a generous person towards others, but when it comes to something for me? Entitled doesn't even begin to cover it.

I still have them, remarkably. I've managed not to lose or break them yet. But because I am so goddamn lazy, they're almost always smudged to a comical degree. I'd be embarrassed to leave the house in them, yet I'll sit at my desk for hours on end, fully aware of the fingerprints through which I'm viewing my laptop screen, and never so much as wipe them on my shirt. Three hundred dollars. Starter pair.

And to put the cherry on this symbolism sundae, I never remember to take them when I need them most: night driving.

In other words, this thing from which I benefit greatly - this beautiful, valuable thing which, when I take advantage of it, helps me do better - is the thing I most casually disregard and take for granted.

Not all problems can be erased with a soft, dry cloth.


I'm driving down a backcountry road, somewhere off the map and unfamiliar. New terrain. Nothing especially striking about the landscape, though occasionally I'm surprised by a pretty vista. But I'm whizzing along, no time to stop, so these sights are just what I glimpse in passing. The main thing is the road. Staying on the road.

I'm alone, of course. Everything I need in a sturdy suitcase, perched on the backseat. I can see it out of the corner of my eye, and it reassures me. Everything I need is here.

Suddenly, something feels off. Alignment? Suspension? I can't tell exactly, I don't know mechanics that well. I only know the drive isn't as smooth as it was a few miles back. I'm tempted to push it, to gun for the next milestone, but experience has taught me that can spell disaster. I have to stop. I have to see what's wrong.

So I pull over and spend some time kidding myself I can figure out the problem. I circle the car. Inspect the tires. Peer under the hood. I walk several yards away to scrutinize from a distance, as if a bit of perspective might reveal the issue. But whatever it is, it sits deep inside my car, secret and silent and out of reach.

I drive on. It isn't safe to stay in the dead, dark of night, in a strange place. Because out of nowhere it is dark, and cold. Shivering, I remember my suitcase. Everything I need.

But then it's worse. The car is shaking so badly I can't trust it anymore. In what feels like it could be the last decision I'll ever make, I stop again. Make the same rounds. Tires. Hood. This time with a heavy dose of self-recrimination. If only I'd learned more about the car. If only I'd taught myself how to fix it. If only I'd taken another road.

I want to believe that someone will come along and help. But I'm so far from the main highway that it's doubtful. My isolation feels like a punishment for too many crimes to face here alone, in the quiet. With only stars for company and moonlight as witness.

It's time to find out how well I packed.

don't forgetta mezzetta!

Terence and I experienced a miracle today, in the holy aisles of BevMo. We were stocking up on liquor and mixers ahead of the coming weekend: friends visiting from out of town. Heavy drinkers. (Us, that is, in their company.) There we were, meandering along with our respectably bountiful shopping cart, when Terence followed my glance to the drink garnishes. I was staring at a jar of cocktail onions, wondering how many years it had been since I'd bought some when, to my amazement, Terence picked it up and said, "I love these. Have you ever had them? I eat them right out of the jar." Astonished, I gaped at my boyfriend, my jaw wide enough to easily catch a stuffed olive or four, should the customer nearby holding a bottle have been so inclined.

Let me explain: When it comes to food preferences, Terence and I could not be any more opposite. If he loves it, chances are I hate it - and while one of Terence's best qualities is an absolute inability to hate anything, chances are if I love it...he'd prefer something else. This isn't the case for everything, obviously, or we'd be fucked every time we prepared a meal or went out to eat. But it's definitely a dominant feature of our relationship. One that can be funny or frustrating, moods and appetites depending.

I'll just say it: Terence eats a lot of what I consider weird shit, but only because underneath my recently acquired LA gloss (what do you mean that's just shampoo residue) I'm still a Midwestern bumpkin whose palate is suspicious of anything that couldn't have been found on the shelves of Kroger, circa 1983. Coconut water. Cacao seeds. Stuff from the "sprouted" section of Whole Foods. And that's not even touching the crazy combinations of flavors he likes. I once watched in horror as he dipped ____ in some ____ (redacted; I can't even type it without feeling traumatized all over again).

I'm getting away from the point, which is how exciting it was to discover that we both like something a little out of the ordinary. No, cocktail onions aren't that out of the ordinary. But I don't know how many people will cop to an ability to consume an entire bottle of them and drink the vinegar afterward. You're cringing in disgust right now, and that's understandable. But this afternoon at a big box alcohol depot, my boyfriend and I rejoiced in this victory. For once, we'll have a treat to enjoy together. "Baby!" he teased, grabbing me around the waist and laughing. "See? We're perfect for one another!" We actually stood there canoodling like teenagers for a moment before moving on to cider and wine. (Did I mention this was all happening five minutes before closing? The staff was utterly delighted with us.)

Would this be a big deal for most couples? Probably not. But it was for us, because it's not just in food preferences that we differ - it's in a lot of things.

Every so often when I'm stuck for material, or the ideas that I do have don't compel me enough to actually do anything with them, Terence looks at me and smiles and says, "Write about us." And I wait a beat for what he usually says next, which is "Write about our fights." And then I say what I always say, which is "I can't. I can't do it honestly without making myself sound like a monster." And then he bats this away, because to him I'm never a monster (even when I'm a monster), and we volley a few more familiar lines that come down to: Ellie, you have a personal blog. Isn't the purpose to get personal?


So here's me getting personal, because I've been rightfully challenged to do so and because what else is the point, if not to level up my life: my boyfriend and I are fantastically, terrifyingly different, and not in insignificant ways. We're different in ways that discourage me, often. We're different in ways that thwart our efforts towards emotional intimacy. We're different in ways that result in fights - fights which he encourages me blog about, because he trusts me enough to be truthful and fair, and because he's confident enough in us to believe that despite our differences, we won't give up. Love is two imperfect people refusing to give up on one another, as they say, and even though I've never heard him put it that way, such is his relationship philosophy in a nutshell. (It's a fucking macadamia nut by the way, but whatever, not the point.)

Terence and I are so different that at times those differences are all I can see...except for how much I hate myself for fixating on them. See the good, I tell myself. Screw the good; see the amazing. Have some gratitude! But despite the harshest self-admonishments I dole out in the secrecy of my mind, the differences between us rear back up, commanding my attention. And he knows that, private inner monologues notwithstanding. And he doesn't care, because, being Terence - being relentlessly optimistic and positive and so very different than me - he is always finding us cocktail onions, just when we need them most.

So there you have it. A sip of it, anyway, for the moment. Cheers.

the island, part 1 1/2

(continued from here

The girl was less afraid than curious; there was scant moonlight by which to see it, but she surveyed the tree line anyway. Nothing and no one appeared. She sniffed the air but was unsure whether the smoke she smelled was fresh or just the ghost of her own campfire. Minutes passed as the girl listened and waited, though for what she did not know. Eventually sleep overtook her, and she melted into colorful dreams that carried her deep into a flat, grey morning.

She searched for hours. The girl delved further into the jungle than she ever had before, expecting at every step to meet the strangers she'd heard in the night. She met no one. She found no trace. With daylight thinning, she had no choice but to return to her beach. Exhausted by her fruitless quest, she collapsed soon after dinner, pushing from her mind many unanswered questions.

A voice broke through the fog of her slumber. Indistinct, male, gentle but insisting. The girl struggled, still pinned under the weight of so much sleep. Unsure where she was - when she was.

Come join us, he said.

blues / clues

I have these to share from the part of my weekend that was good:

She doesn't have eyes. She sold them for the hair. 
Oh, does my alien arm frighten you? HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL I'M ATTACHED TO IT
I've just realized the pointlessness of the previous three decades of my life. Ugh, so embarrassing when that happens. 
Gearing up for my turn at Chameleon Bowling

I have this to share from the part of my weekend that was not:

I call it "50/50 probability". It's embiggenable!

And I have this to share from the part of my brain that stopped developing at Intellect Level: Teenage Lit Mag:

Hope everyone's weekend was just as fucking exciting!!11!

the island

Once there was a girl who lived on a boat. The boat had no sail; she went wherever the water took her. She didn't mind following the vagaries of the current, though they sometimes led her to strange places. The girl tried to keep up a spirit of adventure, even when what she really felt was fear.

One day she spotted an island on the horizon, lush and welcoming. It was quite a ways off, but since there was no wind to fight her, she lowered her oars into the water and pulled. She pulled and pulled until she reached clear blue shallows, then jumped out and dragged her boat ashore. The girl, weary of drifting, was happy to be on dry land. She decided to stay for a while.


The island was small but plentiful with things the girl could use. Palms heavy with fruit fed her, and she fashioned crude tools from shells that littered the beach. Every day she followed a simple routine, gathering food and supplies until dark, then falling asleep by the warmth of a fire. She was alone but not lonely. The girl took pleasure in exploring the coastline, in long walks across cool sand at dusk. Occasionally she'd sit and gaze at the sea, purple-black, endlessly open, and be glad for the shelter and comfort of the island.


A fortnight passed, then another, and the island came to feel like home. The girl never saw another soul, so when she woke one night to the distant sounds of music, of drums and laughter and song, she thought her mind was playing tricks on her. She sat up, shaking off sleep, and listened. There was no question, though: she wasn't alone on the island.



His ambition was the first thing she told her parents about. Then it was just a nugget of a promise, a wink at some future time when their security would depend on hers. Fledgling though it was, oh was it precious to her. It was every disappointed sigh, shoved back down their throats. It was the exemplary report card she'd never brought home. It was her ticket away, and above - far, far above.

Satisfied with the achievement of it, she promptly retired her own.

She slipped it around her neck like an amulet, a charm against her own uselessness. When she had nothing to hold onto, when anger and envy had depleted her of everything else, she clutched it tight to her chest. It thickened and gnarled into a knot that hung heavily between them. It was everything they didn't know about one another. It was everything they didn't love about one another. But they would, right? Someday? When there was more time? 

His ambition was a placeholder.

Soon it outgrew her, and she grew scared. The knot fingered into claws, scrabbling and scratching towards someplace higher than she could ever, ever reach. She chained herself to it with prayer, then blood, then fear and guilt. It dissolved everything, like acid. She looked to him for help, for reassurance that it belonged to them - but he wasn't there.

His ambition was a ghost.


I used to get Campbell's Cream of Mushroom condensed soup almost every time I went to the store. I grew up on it; my mother prepared it with whole milk, and she often used it in casseroles with rice and chicken. It remained a favorite comfort food well into my adulthood, and I faithfully kept my cabinet stocked with a can or two for years...until I didn't anymore.

When I stopped buying it, I just stopped buying it. I didn't go to aisle 17, pick up a familiar red-and-white-labeled can, and explain all the reasons it wouldn't be coming home with me anymore. I didn't tell Campbell's Cream of Mushroom everything that was wrong with it, or why it no longer served me. We parted ways without ceremony. I'm sure the hole I left in the ranks of CCoM purchasers was immediately filled by someone else. The whims and dictates of my own demand have no effect on the world's supply of condensed soup - or its supply of anything else.

When something that's been a part of my life for a long time no longer fits into it, my inclination is to analyze why not. To dissect, explain, and justify. But one of the things I've learned the hard way is how fruitless all that effort is - not to mention exhausting. It would take an awful long time to get through grocery trips spent defending the hundreds of exceptions to my shopping list. I'd probably be so overwhelmed I'd lose track of what should stay on it.

But that doesn't change how Campbell's Cream of Mushroom tasted, sitting at the family dining room table, or standing in the kitchen of my first apartment. And it tasted really, really good.


I confessed them to you today, my fears and insecurities. Words and tears tripped one another in a race to be first; every last ugly thought to make it real and raw and awful. Because they'll see I'm a phony, I said. They'll know I'm a loser, and they'll tell you, and then you'll love me less. 

You'll love me less, I said, and it was like turning out pockets full of worms. You didn't know I was carrying them around. You thought I was just a girl. But nope. I am a walking tackle box. You kiss me and tell me how happy you are, and it's nice, it's so so nice, but meanwhile? Worms. In my pockets. That you don't see. That I use to catch all manner of horrible, slimy, deep-dwelling creatures (that you also don't see). 

But today you saw them, and you said, You don't need those, baby. Or the equivalent of that, anyway. You don't need those worms. And you told me why I don't have to be afraid. You made me look you in the eye instead of the shoulder, and you didn't loosen your grip one bit, even though we were both covered in the worms that I have been carrying for a very long time, since way before you even knew me. 

And that is why I will always try to keep my pockets free of the things that can weigh us down. 


A boy and a girl went apple picking one day, in an orchard not far from their home. They each carried an empty bushel to fill with the fruit of their choosing, and wore smiles befitting a sunny afternoon.

The boy made his selections with care, examining each for ripeness, for color and shine, before twisting, pulling, and placing it gently in his bin. He worked slowly, peering up through the branches in search of what would be worth the trouble to attain it. 

The girl, on the other hand, picked frequently and indiscriminately, with little regard to what she chose. Her basket was soon full, and bore evidence of a haphazard harvest in the form of bruises, wormholes, and sticky stems.

Despite having no room left, however, the girl wanted more. Seeing the boy's bin was still fairly empty, she took it and poured in half of what she'd gathered. The apples tumbled together roughly, and the boy watched silently as his own crop disappeared underneath that of the girl, who promptly turned back to the trees. 

"Don't worry," she laughed. "We're just making applesauce anyway."

They left the orchard a little while later, two bushels heavier than when they'd come. It wasn't until they were nearly home that the boy realized neither of them had a pot big enough to cook all the apples they had collected at once. If they were to keep them from rotting, they'd have to boil batch after batch after batch. 

The thought of all that work made the boy hungry, so he plucked an apple from the top of his haul to munch on. The load didn't seem to get any lighter, though.


I don't know if you guys can see me way up here, but if so, check out this stellar balloon collection I've got going. Pretty rad, right? At last count, I had over two hundred. They're tied to every part of me: each of my fingers, my arms, my legs, both feet - there are so many, I've had to start knotting them around my shirt buttons and belt loops. There may or may not be a few attached to my bra straps, I'm not sure. It's getting hard to keep track.

I know I look ridiculous. I know some of you are probably like, "Come on, Ellie. We get it already. Enough with the damn balloons."

Well, I'm trying. But this guy - this fucking guy that walked into my heart like he owned the place - won't stop handing them to me. I'm like, Hey, these are really cool and all, and high five on knowing the exact shades of each of my favorite colors, but I wasn't exactly expecting these. And now I have more balloons than I ever anticipated getting, like, ever. Could you maybe hold off on giving me any more, at least until this batch has deflated?

He's not listening though. He's just sitting there, blowing up one after another after another. I don't know where he's getting them. They seem to appear out of thin air.

I shouldn't tell you the things they're filled with. I shouldn't do that to you, or to this poor, already tragically saccharine blog. I shouldn't say that each is filled with a moment more amazing than the last, and buoyed up - me in tow - by a happiness I wouldn't deserve if I lived a hundred lives. Crap. I'm sorry, you guys. I probably inhaled some of the helium they're cut with. Either that, or the lack of oxygen is short-circuiting my brain.

It's nice up here, it really is. I mean, I'm not complaining. The perspective can't be beat. I can see everything I've ever known laid out below - way, way down there on the ground where my feet were firmly planted less than two months ago. It's funny how this view changes the way things look. I've learned a lot about myself up in these clouds, and most days, the breathlessness is exciting.

But yeah, I will admit that floating up, up, and away has its downside, too. I can barely see some of the things that are very important to me, much less reach out and touch them. They seem scarily far away at times. So I'm trying to get back down, I really am. It's all about balance, if I can just find that for once in my life.

Did I mention he has all my favorite colors? Makes it kind of hard to pop them. Fucking guy. Probably hid all the pins, anyway. Though I guess I could use a sliver of the jar we broke open a few days ago.

That thing is in pieces.

the words

The words sat inside the girl, threatening to choke her if they weren't set free.

"Let us out," they begged. "We'll kill you if you don't."

"No you won't," answered the girl, swallowing them back down again. "You'll die yourselves if I just wait long enough."

"You can't," scoffed the words. "You never could and you never will."

The girl took a deep breath and held it. She willed the air in her lungs to trap the words in a thousand tiny balloons, and carry them off where no one would ever read them. 

"We're still here," said the words, after a moment. "Nice try though."

"You'll only make things worse," the girl sighed. 

"No we won't," the words replied. "We'll change exactly nothing. Not for the better and not for the worse. Things are what they are already. We've had nothing to do with it."

The girl, realizing this was true, said, "Fine. But only a few of you can come out. The rest have to stay. Decide amongst yourselves who it'll be."

The words clustered into a huddle to confer, jostling one another and tangling up their meanings. They spoke in a whisper so the girl wouldn't hear. Finally, they called out, "Okay, we're ready!" and ten or twelve sentences marched forth to be released.

The girl closed her eyes and opened her heart, and dozens of words took flight, beating their wings frantically to get clear of her before she could change her mind.

Those left behind watched, satisfied for the moment. They knew it was only a matter of time before the rest of them would be set free, anyway.

The girl knew it, too. And all she could hope was that when they were, they wouldn't carry her off with them. 

safe on the sand

And here's how it might go:

You'll both be walking on the beach, content to stroll along, when all of a sudden she'll run into the ocean, splashing and laughing and looking back over her shoulder, wordlessly daring you to follow. You won't be able to resist at first. She's as vibrant as the sky and you'll want to stay near her. So you'll give chase, catching her in the shallow waves which you'll break together, your bodies pressed close. She'll shiver in the cold and look into your eyes, asking, inviting, challenging. Your arms wrapped tight around her will satisfy you both, for a moment. Let's stay here. It's deep enough.

But then she'll want to go in further, and she'll pull away from you to wade out into the surf. Her movements will slow as her limbs fight the dregs of tides that have come from far, far away - that have always been there, really. Her stomach, her chest, her shoulders will sink out of sight, and you'll feel a twinge of fear as you watch. Be careful. Keep your footing. 

And the currents twisting around her legs will threaten to sweep her away. She'll feel them and she'll want to give in, because the helplessness is intoxicating, and it promises something beautiful, if she can just hold her breath long enough until there's more air to be had. 

You'll want to follow, you'll be sorely tempted, but you won't. You know better. You know there are things lurking beneath the surface that can sting, can cut, can kill. You know that people drown every day, and you won't take the risk. The beach is good enough for you. 

Meanwhile, she'll be deep, deep out in the water. She'll wave to you, beckoning with her arm stretched up as high as she can reach - but you'll just wave back. I see you. I'm not coming in. 

And she'll be disappointed, and momentarily afraid, but she'll keep an eye on the coastline and always know the way back.

And her arms and legs will grow strong from swimming alone, with nothing to hold onto. 

And her lungs will pump and her heart will pound, and she'll feel as alive as she can feel, here on this earth. 

And you'll grow smaller and smaller in her eyes until she can barely make you out where you stand, safe on the sand.

Hipsta: Buckhorst H1 lens, Ina's 1982 film. Location: Malibu, CA.


with someone with whom I was discussing sex, yesterday:

him: [redacted]

me: I've realized that my sex life to date has been a lot like getting the mail. Much of it is junk, expected and boring. Rarely have I gotten something I was really excited about, and that I hoped to get more of. 

him: [redacted]


with Wally:

him: (sends pic of a mall brow bar)

me: My fifth circle of Hell. Interestingly, the ones inside of that are related to hair removal, too.

him: Guess you won't be getting a franchise. (sends snippet of promotional video playing at brow bar)

me: I read that too quickly and saw "frenchies." I was all, What god awful new way to torture women in the name of beauty is THAT? 

him: Frenchie? Is that like a Brazilian?

me: That's what I was guessing. More curl, though (ew).

him; So after a Frenchie would your lady parts start being rude to Americans?


him: Or just surrender to aggressors?

me: OH SNAP.