fresh sheets

February 1st, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

I love it when you come out of a flu or a cold and you strip the bed and put on fresh sheets. I’ve been sweating and shivering through the past few nights, with some awful bug. But today in the afternoon it broke, and I finished a Groundwater lab, wrote up leases for my new tenants, and washed the dishes that had piled up. Tonight, I went to a movie with my sweet partner and another friend of theirs and we ate candy for dinner.

I felt so connected to this day, because for me it was such a before/after time horizon. I find that I live in time intervals where I am measuring each moment in comparison to “this time last year”. Recently it has become more pronounced, because time slowed down this year. My feet felt heaver, and moving felt harder. Did the gravity of the planet change?

Maybe I’m almost in the clear. Maybe I will even be able to write about something other than my own emotional weather soon!

– – –

One year ago today I decided to end my marriage. I woke up in the morning, called my husband and said this is enough. At the time it felt like the hardest thing I would ever do.

Two years ago today, my boat was anchored in the Robeson group of Kuna Yala, and I was traveling to Panama City to meet my parents and tour with them around Gamboa and the Canal Zone.

Three years ago today I was back on Cumberland Island in Georgia, and saw wild horses and sat in the tiny Spanish moss-draped chapel where JFK Jr. married Carolyn Bessette. We had been up and down the whole coast four times by then, plus one time for a job.

Four years ago today I was down in St. Marys, on the GA-FL border, and felt that now-common belly curdle of being surrounded by men in red baseball caps. We were on to refit 2.0.

Five years ago today I working two desk jobs – one in Brunswick and one in Savannah, and before and after work I poked around every nook and cranny on the Georgia coast. 

Six years ago today was my first foggy winter in the lowcountry. We went all that way hand-steering, and were done with refit 1.0.

Seven years ago today, I still had my apartment in Greenpoint, and I was eating Polish food, running NCA, and was goofing around at places like Lorimer House and Enids. We had just bought the boat.

Enids camel

Eight years ago today I was beginning a long distance correspondence with a sailor who lived on a boat thousands of miles away.

Nine years ago today the North Brooklyn Compost Project was in full swing and I was collaborating with Jackie Brookner, who was still with us.

Ten years ago today I was gardening at Bellevue hospital, running the SWIM Coalition, and was about to run for local office.

 

visible repair

January 8th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen

Two posts ago, I had just left the boat and had just arrived home. Home was Pittsburgh, New York and Georgia, which is to say that arriving home was no simple feat, and is still, in a way, happening.

In an attempt to think things through and hear some type of inner voice (and also, quite frankly, to absorb a portion of the sudden homelessness I was experiencing), I did a work-stay at a retreat center in upstate NY. The first snow of the winter came the day after I arrived, and I spent my time there shoveling snow as an “active meditation”. Between shoveling shifts, us workers could attend the meditation and mealtime activities, and co-mingle with the visitors, staff and full-time devotees. I was an interloper, just blending in, and I sat my cafeteria tray down in the rustic dining hall to a new group of stranger-comrades every day.

If there is one thing I can do, it is strike up a conversation with a stranger. It’s really just as easy as asking a question and then letting the other person answer for awhile. One evening I asked a dinner companion about his jacket – it was a heavily embroidered denim coat, tidy but also heavily worked, practically rendered. My hands drifted to my knees, feeling the satin patches on my jeans, stitched and re-stiched over the years with golden thread.

He appreciated my noticing the coat – “It’s visible repair!”, we said in unison. I showed him my jeans.

Visible repair is what you do when you are too stingy or nostalgic to let your belongings die of natural causes. On the boat, we were both. In Japan, sashiko embroidery in the style of high-contrast “little stabs” is used for boro, the patching up of tattered but valued material. On the Indian subcontinent, saris are recycled into blankets and cushions through kantha. Closer to home, industrious folx convert favorite scraps into quilts. His jacket was a calico denim blazer, in the sashiko-boro style. I remember the texture, as I ran my hand down the sleeve.

Your favorite soup bowl, accidentally dropped, may be repaired with gold powder, the walls around you with mosaic, colorful plastic blocks, or a lovely hunk of nature within reach. Accidents and erosion become the opportunity for artful care-taking.

So much of me right now is under repair. Sometimes I don’t know if there is enough textile for the stitches to bite. How much of me is me vs. the repair? Will I come out rough or smooth? In the groggy meanwhile I float above the operating table, hoping for this extended surgical procedure to take. If there is any lesson from my time under fiberglass, it is that everything is fixable.

year in rear-view

January 3rd, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Last year I took more selfies than in the previous 42 years of my life combined. Just checking out who is there, every day, what is this amalgam of particles at any given moment and how are they/we reflecting light? I wasn’t sure I would come back to this place of wanting to write here, and I had almost chucked it. Then…

About two weeks ago I started writing. Furiously! Like in a fever! Since this came over me I have been pawing at backs of envelopes, half-used legal pads, newly-nested folders on my laptop. If you have seen me in the past two weeks I have most likely asked you for a pen, pencil or paper.

But you haven’t seen me, have you? I haven’t been around. I myself am not privy to my precise location at all times. It is in the looking that one scoots away. Like that old butterscotch candy deep down in your bag, fishing around for it drives it deeper down through the tear in the lining, elusive.

Elusive and a bit sketchy. It has been a year! Everyone is going on about the decade and I am like hey now, can we just pause a bit and digest the year? It was a big bite. Bitter pill, just desserts, and ultimately just what the doctor ordered. Elusive and a bit sketchy.

So what now of me, here, where ever this is? Its time for JUBILEE. If the bags feel too heavy, set them down. If emotions become weapons, trade them for ploughshares. If you’ve been busy counting all the beans, cut it out already and plant them. I’m the one to talk, I’ve spent too long on trying to be seen as right and good. Enough, enough, enough. It matters less what you can give me/what I can give to you, and more what we build here in this time together. Is it peaceful? Is it beautiful? Fun? Does it just generate more transactions or does it build a nest, an ark, a space that grows and holds us all? Is it the ever sketchy and elusive “enough”?