Tuesday, June 30, 2009

From Paris

The first thing I must say is how kind people are.  From the taxi ride from my house to the train employees to fellow passengers to random travelers in Montparnasse.  All those people were exceptionally nice and helpful.  Helping the single mother traveling with two children carry bags and navigate stairs, locate misplaced train wagons, conquer escalators, and find bandaids and disinfectant wipes when Boy2 fell and was bleeding from both knees.  

Seriously, don't believe anything bad you hear about the French.  


Friday, June 26, 2009


I'm afraid to translate this one literally, I'll get reported for questionable content.

So the clean version is: sex-in-town.

It actually refers to a small bag, like an overnight bag or even smaller, in which one might carry all the necessary items one might need were one to decide to not go home one evening in favor of spending the night elsewhere pursuing pleasure.

How's that for clean? Very, I'd say.

It's the kind of word I love, not necessarily for what it represents, but simply for the fact that there is a word for such a thing. I love that about French.

I guess the next obvious question is what you would put into your baise-en-ville...

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Because I'm like that sometimes.

1. Tomorrow is the boys' last day of school. It's not the last day of school, but it's theirs. We're going to Paris on Monday so they'll miss the last three days. Please don't call French Social Services.

2. I'm out of cinnamon and chocolate covered altoids. How did that happen? Wasn't my mom just here last month? Didn't she bring me, like, 4 tins?

3. My former favorite violet ice cream still tastes like soap. I'm considering just making some myself. But who sells violet essence? Oh, what is the essence of violet?

4. It's storming.

5. I do not know what this summer will be made of. Many times, you know. This time, I do not know. I'm trying to like not knowing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A three card spread

In the beginning, your gut was your compass. Not the instinct whose spark waits there. Had that been the case, there would have been considerably less trouble. Both sought and found. No, unfortunately, or not - that could be argued either way and everyone knows contention was your second nature - that's where the tornado was silently forming. Violence had became the lowest common denominator and math was the first language you spoke.

In the middle, your mind took control, made a plan, drew a map. It was military-like in its precision and detail. And everyone knows you were a gifted militant, convinced and convincing. Strategies and wars made into artful games. You lost, even when you won.

In the end, you will set those two aside. Not enemies, but you see now that survival is their only goal - and it is an individual one, they're unaware they're on a team. On this bridge over the water that does not move, I believe you will make the right decision. It will be so right, you won't even have to make it. Violence and strategies will give way to silence. You will let your quiet heart lead you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lost on you

It is time. This is what happens when seasons change. You always feel it coming, even if you pretend you don't. You evaluate just before fall. You crave salt just before winter. Your hand itches just before spring. You listen just before summer.

And so, here you are, listening. What will you hear that you have not heard?

The tales you told yourself about what you could bear, what you could lift, what you could carry. How long you would wait, how still you would stand, how patient you would be. What you understand, what you believe, what you trust.

When you walk away from this, you will have to close your eyes. Deep breath, eyes close, head turns, body follows, foot steps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Violette de pensée

Violet of thought. But really pansy violet. A deliberate mistranslation. What else have you deliberately mistranslated?

Who you are? Well, of course, but everyone does that. What you do? Yes, that too. Especially that. Do you realize what you do? What you believe you are supposed to do? Why are knives your weapon of choice?

But it is my job, you said. No, my mission. My life's mission. There was a rite of passage, brief, instant, indiscernible to your child's eye. A hidden moment where you were taken to the cave of the ancestors, shown the drawings on the stones, given the the tools you would need - you had no choice, you know that now. As for what came afterward, what has come afterward, that is where the mistranslation resides.

Divine violet, true violet, you will wear it as a crown now. Paler than purple, it is still a mix a red blood and true blue. No need to excise the darkness though, you're going to let the blackness bleed out. These colors will be lighter.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tenderness pink

Oh the places you'll go, they said. Mostly with warning.

When you started this, you did not know all you had to accomplish or all that would stand in your way. In the beginning it feels a bit like a bad vacation. Disappointing views, lousy food, crowded sights, bad company. But you will persist. You cannot not go. Not on this trip.

It gets worse, much worse. No longer a bad vacation, this is a trip to a hell. Black rage in your jaw, filled with what you have not said. Muddy fear is your aura, the truth cannot even touch you. But the smallest seed of grace, perhaps you were born with it, helps you find help. And so, blessedly, you will persist.

And when do you get to the heart of it all, to the essence of what you were certain did not exist, free it up. Use that shiny knife, not the dark one with arabesques that lie about the gutting it is used for, but the other one, the one that will cut clean through during this silent carving. The purest center revealed, pink. Mark this territory as claimed, dig the tip of the knife in the wood that frames the work you've done here. Handle up, it is a flag at half-mast. Victory and grief.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Resin of amber

You looked at that color for months and never saw it. You spent time with that color. Hours and hours. You were careless in its presence, ignorant, playing only the games you master.

And now look at you. One fine mess. Nothing is as you thought it was, you misinterpreted it all. Timbre, tone, vibration, breadth, width, depth. You don't even have the tools to measure these. Does it radiate, reflect, emit? This is no man-made color, your words will do you no good here.

When you finally saw it for the first time, you were surprised to find that you didn't even have a name for it. And that was only the first of many surprises. It changed, depending on the light. It was never what you expected. It reaches you, touches you - when was the last time that happened? You're no artist, colors don't affect you like this, do they?

In the end, you found the name in the scent. Your scent. It looks just like you smell. A warm, autumn scent, just like the color. Fossilized resin, its history in the scent, the journey in its color. Finally a word, not yours, but familiar anyway. Bewitching.

Monday, June 08, 2009

What I call it

You've asked me for a name. I cannot give you one. Not for this place.

It is neither here nor there. While some might consider it no man's land, it is not. Not really. It is both path and destination. It is endless and brief. It is essence, no frills or swirls to be found here. It is scar and resilience, all at once. It is marked with life and destiny and has borne witness to both. It has worn and torn and seared and burned and ached and yearned and waited in silence and lived to tell all those tales. It is branded with the effort it took to heal, tattooed with an outline of what hides underneath the wave. It holds all the mysteries you seek in position, reminds you with a red hot whisper that your adventures have just begun, that you know nothing and everything and that this state of affairs is not a contradiction.

I do not know what others call it. I only know what it is for me.

If you get closer, I'll introduce you. I believe you actually met before but there was no introduction, you walked quickly by. How does that happen? How do you get so close and not realize, not recognize the honeyed scent? If you get another chance, it will call you to order. It will dare you to leave your mark on its landscape. Do you have that in you?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In that one word

Everything shifted.

There were no signs or warnings that it might happen that night.

That I might see you, a master of weaponry, trapped, surrounded by swords, blades deep in the ground. And realize they were skillfully crafted by your own hand. Pommel, grip, guard, blade. It was beautiful in an unexpected way, this prison you've made. Clean, clear lines delineate. Silver shines everywhere and blinds those on the inside.

Can't. One word made from two. A contraction. It is that. A contraction of what should have been and what will be instead, a compromise that sucks the heart right out of the center. You are left with an apostrophe. Is that enough for you? Something that marks this omission, that shows that something else has held that place, will always hold that place. It looks like a small curved line when drawn by your hand. But it is a gash, a slice of you taken against your will, a wound that will seep in the forever between your yesterdays and your tomorrows.

Tilt your head to the left and you will see that your apostrophe resembles the curve of a closed eye.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Knife collecting

I've seen your knives. Well, just two. Do you have more?

The first one I saw surprised me with its complexity. Curved, dark metal, teeth, ridges. Dark wooden handle. Black with use and the essence of your hand. Braided cord wrapped around the tang, no rivets for this knife. This knife is used to eviscerate. I cannot imagine any other purpose for all that detail. Its sound is rough when you scrape it, back and forth, along the stone you use to keep it very sharp. The oil you pour on the stone does not stifle the sound, it just makes the grit and the grind slick.

The second one is much bigger. Bright, shiny steel. I can see my reflection in the blade when you hold it up. The blade is a triangle, the handle a rectangle with smooth comfortable edges. All of it a beautiful balance of perfect mathematical equations designed to allow you to cut clean through without hesitation or thought as to how it must be done. With this knife, you need only think of the what, not the how.

I watch you handle these knives and wonder when you will use them.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Ivy of the wild

You weave and climb and entwine and change colors with the seasons and never die. I thought you were just part of the beautiful landscape. I thought the sculpted stones you wrapped around held you up. I did not know it was the other way around. I did not know I inhaled your purest green of spring and exhaled your darkest red of autumn.

You are what I breathe. How could I not have known that? I have been told, shown, reflected and mirrored that endless times over these years. But those tales haven't always been easy to hear, the strength of heroes and villains too raw. And the shows, while breathtaking, have left the audience unsettled and uncertain. Reflections cannot be trusted, mirrors gather dust. I have never believed what I saw. Never trusted what I heard.

And so, here I am. You've waited patiently for me. You will watch me as I twist and wind and follow the path you made for me years ago. You will be at my side as I lose my fear of your darkness, you will witness my brave, blind steps into this wilderness. You will photograph the wave as it crashes into me - a revelation - each precious drop captured in suspended animation.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the nature of correction

You met someone once, not someone really important, but what was accomplished was.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  It's true that you weren't important to each other, not in the conventional way, if you know what I mean, but that doesn't mean it didn't matter.  

You reminded each other of something, remembered each other something - yes, I know that's not how we say it in English but I know you know what I mean.  When someone knocks on a door you forgot you even had.  Opening it takes what little breath you have completely away.  You gasp and find more and are so surprised that more exists.

You give each other looks, good ones.  Looks that say, "Follow me."  And you do, for a time.  

When you get back home, your farewells are sweet, thoughtful, sincere.  Everything for a time.  You will remember this time.