Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Children of Boom

What do you want to write, the professors ask me.

Do you want to tell me about your childhood

and the way you dug up worms

named them one by one

and buried them back again?

Worms were friends.

So were potato bugs

and bees and ants.

In your swimsuit and young distended belly,

did you wade in mud holes

wondering what was to become of you?

Yes. Of course you did.

We are the children of boomers

born from concrete cul-de-sacs

and wombs

and houses too big for us.

With tricycle wheels

as big as our eyes

spinning our poor heads around,

we are only now

managing to screw our heads on straight.

Our identity is not lost

as the existentialists claim.


They want to sound intelligent.

Abyss? No.

There’s not even space

left for an abyss

in this world.

Instead, I fancy us

a giant ant farm

digging tunnels

deeper and deeper

till we hit rock bottom.

Only to go up again.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The blind Chieftess of hymn
Fanny Crosby
knows all too well
what I am.
Me, the vile offender.
Fanny J. called me out in church
the other day
through the gray woman behind me
belting all off keys
out of her mouth
and into me.
The earth heard her voice.

Grandma Fanny's ghost tingled up
and down my spine
choked me up
and made me feel wretchedly good.
Like I always am.
Organ gusts sat me down again:
-You may be seated.
-Why, thank you. Now, just a minute.
I am not who you think I am, this pew-sitter.
We are not this good-looking, at least, not
most of the time. So why do you overestimate
what I am capable of?
-I don't understand. Why do you underestimate yourself?

You lived on a rock,
lived like a rock
for a long time.
95 years gone strong
lived in bloomers and blindness.
Doubt it-damn it-do it-finish it--
but don't tell me you died alone
because I might die hearing it.
Know that us writer women need
good sisters and men kisses
love followed by making it.
hazy images of the silhouette of your mother
in a sweater waking you up.
And pen pals.
There is more to life than the tangible
but dear Fanny please tell me you had some
to hold.
Give me some assurance.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Story Start.

“I have something I need to tell you,” she said.

Oh no. Not one of these conversations, he thought. There was something slightly rumpled-looking about her today, and this was unlike her. I should have known.

This here was the woman who cut the crusts off sandwiches, followed by cutting them in diagonals. She liked making food with right angles in it. She liked A-seam skirts rummaged about for in the 1980s clothing piles found in basements and at estate sales. He had never even been to an estate sale. There was something so straight and so upright about her. So to have the same woman appear before him, flushed red in the face, hair done up in a ponytail stuck straight on top of her head—he didn’t know what to do with her. She even looked sweaty, wearing an oversized sweatshirt and black leggings..

I really want to bat at her ponytail, he secretly wished. It was the kind of ponytail that belongs to a two-year old girl with thin hair, scraped up by her hopeful mother and put in a scrunchie. The rest of the body did not belong to a little girl, Janie with her curvy figure standing barely below his height. But Peter decided that now would not be the time to joke around with Janie, or play with her hair. Instead he began to do the dishes; scrub, rinse, dry. Repeat.

In between the time when a bomb is dropped, there is a grand pause. There is a breath that is taken, sucked in, and held. Blood vessels begin to pulse and ears ring. Because it was far easier to feel nothing at all, Peter coped with the bombs that Janie dropped on him by keeping his thoughts to himself. He preferred a surprise attack. That way, when it came time for war, he couldn’t feel the anticipatory stress that came along with it. Janie was hot or cold, black or white, sobbing or ecstatic. And because of this, Peter remained an ever-constant, ever-steady lukewarm human being.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Anne Lamott says to set aside a time for writing every day. What comes out of that time might be shit, and it might be useful. Nevertheless, something comes of training the brain to write even when it's painful. Hopefully, it will turn on without force after practice.

I have experienced the hardest times and the best times. I went to Seattle a couple days ago, and think I must have lost my medication on the way. I realize now how much can be attributed to body chemistry...Since then, it's a bit of a gradual blurry perspective. But I've been very proud of how I've handled it all. I've had some boss run-ins and was forward but respectful. Dude. Long. Day.

Yesterday, I went raspberry picking at Orcas Farms, where farmer George lives and employs a Doe Bay Cafe chef, Megan and her boyfriend Tristan. Some of the Doe Bay garden workers and I volunteered hands, simply cause it's free fallen berries, George needs help, and it's a fucking beautiful garden. George sells his fruits and veggies at the Saturday market, so Friday is always the day to go give him a hand, pet his calico cat, and barter work for a bulb of garlic or two. George showed us his newest experimentation--compost tea--animal turdage, food scraps and bat guano aerated in water with a fish tank fan. During the hour of picking, George harvests with us, imparts life advice and pulls the nettles out of our way.

George is an attractive man who has to be in his late 50s. His head is mostly bald, he has a thick goatee of grey, and weathered tan skin, all shaded by his leather hat. He wears long, cutoff shorts and speaks softly. When he says something important, he never commands attention. George is the kind of guy you ask to repeat himself, because he's interesting and humble. Yesterday, something I took away from him went something like this: say what you want out loud; it will manifest itself because of both cosmic and psychological reasons. Something happens when you say what you want out loud. Angie, a garder worker then stated, "Emily, I need you to move to the left." Emily moved to the left, to which George smiled and said, "See, it works."

I washed out the dreadlock. It just wasn't me.

Right now there is a wedding ceremony on the balcony in front of me. A traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, full of shots of hard liquor, foot stomping, l'chaim, babies, gender segregation, and unusual and beautiful thing. I think I'll finish my Session and leave them be.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Us Humans Want in Life.

Life on the island is plugging along, quickly, steadily. I am calm and quiet, balancing work and friends.

The weirdest and most normal thing has happened recently. I want someone. I don't have any idea as to who or when. I know that it can't be forced. But it's good to voice and acknowledge something that exists.

This is some of what I've been thinking about.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hitch in my Get-along.

Today I am getting a dreadlock, courtesy of Joanna. Thanks, buddy. Moving on:

Hitchhiking between Eastsound and Doe Bay has provided some of the most amiable conversations I've had in awhile. Going into town today on my day off, I caught 4 rides to get where I needed to go. One ride into town, two handcrafted french truffles and an americano later, I was sitting in Darvill's bookstore and ran into a woman I had waited on yesterday. The two of us struck up a conversation, and she offered me a ride back to Obstruction Road at around 4 with her family and daughter-in-law-to-be. She introduced herself as Coralee.

An hour into reading Cat's Crade by Vonnegut--recommended by Miss Wise--I realized that I didn't want to wait for 3 hours, plus I had dairy product groceries in my backpack. I started walking in the sprinkling rain and was, three cars later, picked up. It took three rides total to get back to my digs, but the small periods of walking were, lush, and damp. The last woman who picked me up, Judy, was a Mrs. Claus-like woman who had, in her life before retirement, ran a campground in Wisconsin. We got to talking about the history of Doe Bay Resort and the many owners and managers it has turned over.

Apparently, before it was owned, it was called "Solidarity" and was a commune where people gave up all earthly possessions. The followers would surround islanders' cars, convince them to come to dinner with them, and tell them the message of "Solidarity". Funny, huh?

I would love to write a book on hitchhiking conversations, I decided.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Last Night.

Last night I went to a party.
Last night I went to a party and smoked till my lungs told me to stop.
Last night I ate the best food I've had in awhile, including grilled oysters.
Last night my boss flirted with his girlfriend on the stoner couch in front of me.
Last night I drank Session.

Last night I watched people. I'm still watching them, and I don't know when I'll stop. There's this point I get to where I watch people so much that I forget that we're no longer the little kid who closes his eyes to make the world disappear. We're "adults"...almost.
On the whale watching cruise I took last afternoon, I was with three other co-workers, and we sat in the back of the boat, huddled up in blankets to ward off the ocean spray. I was sitting on the edge, with the head gardener, Heather, next to me. "You talk way too much," she told me.
Earlier in the trip, I had put sweat pants over my jean shorts and forgotten to tie them. When I stood up to see the whales, the sweats fell to my ankles...they all thought it was hysterical. And it was :) Whoops.
But it made me realize just how fascinating people are to me and how I really do love to check out what they do to each other, with each other, without each other. People need people. There was a family on the boat cruise who were one of the most touchy-feely families I've seen. The grandma sat the youngest girl with cornrows on her lap next to the mom. An uncle had his arm around his niece. The teenage boy even put his head on his mom's shoulder.
Did this family drink the Kool-Aid, or are we all missing out on something?
Individually we all have different ways of appreciating each other, but I thought that seeing this family so publicly enjoying each other's company was pretty cool.