Monday, June 22, 2020

Masks

I know there are areas in this state where people aren't wearing masks now, but in my neighborhood--the ultra-progressive Avenues of Salt Lake City--people still do. I also wear one when I go into stores (which isn't that often) but I will say I haven't gotten used to the sight of them. The whole scenario of people pushing carts around while wearing masks seems so surreal to me, so Twilight Zone-ish. And then there are the other mask-wearers' reactions. I tend to smile at strangers, who usually smile back. So there I am, still smiling and not eliciting a smile in return and then I go, "Oh yeah. We can't see each others' faces."

Such weird times.



Friday, June 19, 2020

Ghosting

I have a friend who's angry with me right now because I haven't responded to her very kind, concerned texts. She accused me of "ghosting" her. Which, okay, I did. But not for the reasons she thinks. The truth is that when you're this kind of depressed, all social interactions--even with the people you love, especially with the people you love, in fact--are difficult. You don't have a lot of psychic energy for one thing. All your energy literally goes to putting one foot in front of the other. Also, you worry that you'll disappoint people because you're not the person they've come to know and love. So there's that.

This is my way of saying I'm sorry I'm not truly there for you right now. Give me a little time, and I promise I will be. I so value the people in my life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

So Many Shoes

This morning when I was out for one of my walks, I passed a home where clearly many children reside because there was a haystack of shoes on the front porch. The sight of said shoe haystack made me smile (look! I smiled!) because it reminded me of those days when we had five boys living in this house, who piled shoes in our entryway. Friends' shoes made their way into the pile, too. And here's the deal. When those shoes turned into teenager shoes, they were S,M.E.L.L.Y! Let's just say I invested in a lot of scented candles during those years.

Anyway. As I looked at all those shoes, I wondered if there was a poem hidden somewhere in the middle of them.  I'll give it a think.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tiny, Tiny, Tiny Poem

I miss you, my son texted last night--
Words coming to me through the air
From halfway across the country--
And I wanted to text him back
I miss you and
I miss me, too.

This is what I want:
To taste the salt of my own tears again.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Dreaming a Dream

When I'm this kind of depressed, I stop dreaming. Or maybe I don't stop dreaming but I can't remember my dreams when I wakeup, which makes me sad because I have always relied on my dreams to instruct me--if not exactly entertain me-- at some level.

But last night I dreamed I was my regular self. My regular, anxious, laughing self. And when I woke up this morning--still with the heavy dark blanket of depression swaddling me--I felt hopeful. So I'm just going to say thanks to the universe for that and let it be what it is.

Thanks, Universe.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Rain, Rain

I've thought about taking down my last few posts. As I mentioned before, with everything that's going on in the world right now, writing about the personal experience I'm having just seems so utterly (I said this before) self-indulgent. And I may still delete them.

But before (and if!) I do, I'd like to write about this weekend's rainstorms because weather drama! Typically, rain is my least favorite weather condition. Dude. I am all about the sun. But right now as I hear it pattering against my bedroom window, and as I stood on my front porch last night just so I could smell it as it rolled in from the west desert, I was filled with surprising gratitude for it and the beauty of the natural world.

Thank you, rain.


Thursday, June 4, 2020

What to read . . .

I've been making my way (slowly) through the new Erik Larson book, The Splendid and the Vile because who doesn't want to read about WWII when you're depressed?

Actually, I started reading LOTR when the pandemic started. What could be better than reading about an epic journey through uncertain times (gah! how many times have we heard that phrase! in car commercials, even!) during our own uncertain journey? Besides, I have loved, loved, love those books, ever since I found a paperback version of The Fellowship of the Ring in a drugstore in a mostly deserted Pomona mall at age 16 when I was on a recruiting trip with my dad. I have since re-read those books a number of times, and they have always provided me with a certain amount of comfort.

But. This time--for the first time--I became impatient with little hairy-toed men spouting poetry at me. Poetry in novel cuts into the narrative flow, don't you think?

Besides--and here's the real point of this post--I have an easier time reading non-fiction when I'm depressed. Even if the events are hard and tragic (hello, WWII), there's a certain distance between the reader and the subject. In some ways, the reader is asked to respond intellectually when reading non-fiction rather than emotionally, unlike fiction which aims to "draw you in." And when you're emotionally exhausted, which is the hallmark of this kind of extreme depression, being drawn in just makes things harder.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Because of recent events

. . . it has felt self-indulgent and tone deaf to write about my trip on the Depression Struggle Bus. I do realize how (to use a word that's being used a lot right now) privileged I am in all kinds of ways. And while my journey right now is hard--so hard and exhausting--I never lose sight of the fact that I am lucky.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Wherein I Launch a New Writing Project with the Approval of My Friend Lisa B.

So I nearly took myself off of FaceBook this week.

Why, you ask? Because after reading through people's posts, I felt like literally EVERYONE is handling the pandemic better than I've been. I understand intellectually that things on social media are curated--sometimes heavily so--but still. Why is everyone making quilts and baking and biking and taking classes online and what have you while I'm mostly just painfully pacing around my house, waiting for evening to come and hoping that when it does, I can sleep?

Oh. Wait a minute. I know why. I've been depressed. Severely depressed.

Here's the thing. Clinical depression isn't the same thing as feeling sad or blue or down in the dumps. Actually, those things start to look good to you when you're clinically depressed because then you would at least feel normal. No. All you feel is this painful, painful hollowness--like the person you were has shriveled up and mostly disappeared and whatever scraps are left of you could fit into your big toe. With room to spare. You can't laugh. You can't cry. Depression just has its talons in you. It also messes with your ability to concentrate, to focus, so reading and writing become tremendously difficult.

And speaking of writing. I'm afraid to. I feel like I'm starting all over, which is why I'm cranking up the blog again to make me do it. No one really reads blogs anymore--so SAFETY-- but yet I still like to write for an audience other than just for myself. I thought I'd use this platform to talk honestly about my experiences, while also commenting here and there about--oh you know--THIS DAMN PANDEMIC THANG WE GOT GOING ON. But I'll talk about other things, as well. I thought I'd mix up the posts with observations about things that give (or gave) me delight. This idea was suggested to me by Lisa B when she told me about a a collection of short essays by the poet Ross Gay called Book of Delights and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. (I'm acting here like I knew who Ross Gay is before Lisa B mentioned him, which I didn't.)

OK. This post is verging on or has possibly surpassed the TLDR category. Most of the posts will be much, much  shorter.  I promise. And thank you for reading.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Pandemic in Brooklyn: for Quinton

My son who lives in Brooklyn
tells me that each night at 7:00
he and his neighbors open their windows
to clap and hoot and bang on pots and pans
to celebrate the day's first responders,
gifting them with an alchemy of homemade
noises given to spin exhaustion and sorrow
into something gleaming and gold.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Call

Sometimes when I first wake up,
Tangled in my drift of sheets,
I tell myself to go back to sleep.
What difference will a few minutes make?
But then I hear the morning call
And when I go outside I find
The apricot tree has blossomed
And the thick scent brings me into the 
Moment of a new day’s birth.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Prayer for the Super Moon

Please
Search out each small thing
as you rise above it all tonight--
the sleeping bees
the lilac buds
the cat in a basket on our porch
the pigeons tucked beneath the eaves
My husband and I lying anxious on our bed--
Find us all and flood us with your
beautiful, beautiful light.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Where?

Where will I find a poem today
I ask as morning tumbles through the window.
Will it be seen in the long leonine shape
of my cat draped over a chair?
Is it hidden beneath the mound of wild violets
blooming beneath the crabapple tree?
Or heard in the noise of so many birds
weaving through its branches?
Or felt in the softness of my big dog's
coat as she leans against my knees?
Or sheltered in another person's words
that inspire and fire my own?
It's always a mystery to be sure.
But a poem a day is somewhere there,
waiting for me to notice it.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Nature in a Season of Pandemic

And the hyacinth still blooms
And the hawthorne still fruits
And the wind still whistles
And the mountain still stands
And the sky yawns and stretches
Over it all.

At times like this Nature can
Seem supremely, cruelly indifferent
To us mere mortals sheltering in place.
But I find both calm and comfort
In her unpredictable predictability.
She endures--and suggests we do the same.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Stuff I Have Learned About Myself During the Pandemic, Part One

Yesterday I chatted (while social distancing) with a neighbor whose name I don't know, although I do know his dog is named Hudson. Anyway, this neighbor said, "I'm an introvert and a misanthrope, but it turns out I miss seeing people."

And I was all dude. Truth. Turns out I miss seeing people, too. Turns out I am a lot more social than I ever thought I was.

I tried to turn this surprising insight into a poem, but I've been too busy painting bathroom doors instead today, so I guess this will have to do.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Here's What I Won't Take for Granted

Sitting beneath a moon-high summer sky,
Watching a baseball game,
Smelling the warm evening air,
Listening to the crack of a bat
And the chatter of spectators
While making my way though
A bag of peanuts, roasted and salted,
Sharing them with Ken and Rick
As they argue about all the things
You're not supposed to discuss in polite company.
From now on I will not take their
Impolite conversations for granted.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Challenge: A Poem a Day for National Poetry Month

A Poem Against the Pandemic

Will you write a poem a day?
I asked my friend the poet.
She shook her head.
What's a poem in a world like this?
I answered her with my heart.
A poem is bight hope captured
for the moment with both hands.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

My Mother the Rodeo Queen and April Fools' Day

This morning a friend sent out an announcement that Governor Herbert has decreed all grades will be repeated next year. A few friends on the thread reacted in alarm but hell. I knew RIGHT AWAY that it was an April Fools' joke. Why? Because I grew up being terrorized by our mother on the first day of April. That's right. TRQ was an April Fools' Day Terrorist who switched out the sugar bowl and salt shaker, in addition to dying all our food green and putting Kibbles n' Bits in our shoes before we went to school. Dude. There were landmines everywhere in our house on April lst. I still have April Fools' PTSD.

I did get her back once, though. I called her and told her I'd just heard on the radio that a couple of Dad's players had been picked up for shoplifting. Hearing her very audible gasp was rewarding.

That's how you do it, folks. Get 'em where they're vulnerable.

I learned everything I know from a pro!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Wish During a Season of Pandemic

. . . please send me home now,
to my beloved country. My heart yearns
to go back home.
                 --from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

Yes.
Please send me home
to the Before where my friends and I
met every other Wednesday
to eat bacon and eggs sunny side-up
while discussing books and films
and our mothers and that man in the White House
and knitting and bridge and travel plans
and partners and the pain
aging bodies inflict on young souls
and the joys and sadness that adult children
bring in their wake.
Please send me home to that again.
Yes.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dawn Will Come

Telemachus, this is impossible,
for us to drive when it is pitch-black night,
however eager we may be to travel.
Dawn will come soon.
                           --from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

I stand in my garden
assessing the growth,
surveying the half-hidden
heads of hyacinth emerging
from the hard ground--
the slow unfurling of the
black-petaled lenten rose--
the green shoots of daffodils,
their tips bulging with
unseen yellow blossoming--
I smell rain somewhere
in distant air, its scent
both sweet and sharp,
promising a new season for me
and for my tiny piece of earth.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Depression.3

Some god who guards
and watches over you will send fair wind
behind your sails.
          from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

O, God, who watches over me
please send soon a fair wind
to blow away the silt and salt
that cloud my vision,
making me unable to see those
tender shoots of green in my garden
or hear the conversations of
early morning birds who roost
beneath my spring window.
I have resided too long in this port.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Choosing Joy

A robin flew into my yard today and
perched himself on the bird bath
while I puttered,
waiting for spring to come.
He looked straight at me,
an invitation to approach,
which I ignored because
if I took a step (I knew!)
He would only fly away.
So there we were, the robin and I,
until I thought what the hell
and stepped toward the bird
who did not fly away but
welcomed instead my tentative steps.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Home


And when night fell they came to Ithaca's bright fields . . . 
              from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

That year we lived away
our old stone house
stood in a thick thicket of green
like a fairy tale cottage
at the forest's end.

Who could argue with the beauty
of that place, full of tall trees,
talking to each other in the wind?

But not until we returned
to the west where
moon-bright fields of sage
spread wide as oceans before us
could I say this is home.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Moon Time

Odysseus will come
within this very cycle of the moon:
between the waning and the waxing time . . . 
                       from Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey

How often have I wondered what might come
between the waning and the waxing time--
Will my son get a job?
Will my mother's health hold?
Will my submission be accepted?
Will the pansies planted in the fall
survive the tail end of this ragged winter?
Will my cat, missing for two days now,
reappear (again) like Lazarus?
Will the car start this morning
or will the battery roll over and play dead?
Will that check finally arrive?
Will class be canceled?
How rarely have I wondered what might come
if I took a vow and a breath to reside
between the waning and waxing of this moment only.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Instead

They could have been friends, our two cats--
but they've chosen to spit and hiss instead
whenever they meet
which is usually on the staircase,
because one of the cats lives upstairs
and the other lives downstairs--
both by choice.
This has been going on for thirteen years.
Thirteen!
What a waste of time because, you know,
they could have been friends.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Laughing

They were four men of a certain age,
white-haired with faces lined like road maps,
sitting comfortably at the table next to ours,
companions of long standing swapping stories,
laughing.

There was so much laughter,
even though they were all of an age
to have known loss intimately--
a friend gone, perhaps, or even a spouse,
a job or a belief once held tight against the heart.

When the server finally brought them
a tray tumbling with outrageous desserts
one of them called across the space between tables
and said, "Come join us!"
And just like that, we were laughing, too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Last Words

The day before my grandmother died
I called her long distance and said I love you.
I'd been unkind to her the last time we were together.
Not intentionally--
Not deliberately--
Unkind, instead, because I was exhausted
and didn't appreciate the unasked for
tidbits of advice she tossed my way
as though she were feeding birds in a park.

But when I said those words
She gifted me in return.
"I know you do," my grandmother said.

I think of that moment today
after a friend tells me her grandmother's
last words were a deathbed curse.
You are a disappointment to this family.
I will leave my grave and haunt you
until you change your evil ways.

How would it be to die like that--
I wonder--
with venom dripping from your lips?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Words are Birds

Her words were light as feathers
               from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

Words are birds--

Sometimes brash as starlings
moving in beneath the eaves of your house without asking--

Or melancholy as mourning doves whistling,
 perched overhead on telephone wires--

Or quick as bright hummingbirds
darting madcap among the trumpet vines--

Or harsh as a murder of crows,
their raucous conversation splitting open the morning air--

Or pleasing as a lark, singing solo to no one
and everyone in a mountain's meadow--

I have no favorites.
Let them all come home to roost with me.



Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Depression.2

This is rough country,
Not fit for grazing horses and not spacious
But not infertile.
                   from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

This space between well and unwell
where I reside in the months
when the light goes low is rough country.

All I can do is stand by the gate
and wait until the light lifts at last so
I can find my way forward to fertile ground.

Monday, January 27, 2020

An Invitation

"And where can I go wandering?"
                from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

Come wander with me, oh Reader, and
I will take you through the winding streets
of my own mind where I promise
you'll meet the people who live there,
leaning inside doorframes and hanging
over balconies strewn with flowers,
telling each other stories as another day
rises pink and orange on the back of the sun.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Stranger

Meanwhile Odysseus, who had been sleeping
in his own native land of Ithaca
woke up, but did not recognize the place . . . "
             --from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

See your friend there?
She looks much the same as
she has always looked to you--
small and fine-boned as the birds that
swirl in the tree between your houses.

For years you two have shared that tree
and more--stories of your
children and your husbands
and all the things, dark and light,
that have filtered through your hearts.

But she is changed now, touched by an illness
that is touching her mind
so that being with her as the day unfolds
is like waking up a stranger in
the place that used to be your home.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Writer's Prayer

These words—they have been 
Whistling like birds in me
And around me and through me
Ever since that month, that week,
That day, that morning, that moment
When I saw a windhover hover against
An open sky above an open field
And time past and time present 
Fell together and gave birth
To a fledging hope that 
I could take that moment
And give it time future--
A new life between the pages of a book.
This is a prayer to give wings to my hope.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Here

Sitting now in a chair on a deck
in a land far, far away--
(How far, you ask?
Let's just say I can see
a volcano, its cheeks full of smoke,
from my host's front porch)--
I can hear these sounds:
The splash of a courtyard fountain--
The raving of roosters
although dawn is long gone--
The pop pop pop of fireworks nearby--
The banging of hammers
against metal and wood--
The roiling of wind through the trees--
The trill of small birds
hiding in leafy places--
The howls of a mixed dog chorus--
The blurred buenos tardes chanted
through a megaphone in the village below.
What is all of this here, right here,
if not music in the moment?


Friday, January 3, 2020

Bloom

Pink dawn rolled down
the mountain this morning
like a loose armful of peonies--
a reminder that dreams of
May push up through fields
of snow and bloom anyway.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Prayer for a Winter's Evening

Please help me to love this
season of cold and snow.
Help me to see the beauty of
bare branches, hard and slim and dark--
Of stiff wheat-colored grasses
draped in white and sparkled ice--
Of a chilled pink moon rising steady
Over the crest of a powdered mountain.

Or

If I can't see these things
and sing praise, then
please let me thank this 
season of cold and snow
for giving and giving away
to the riot of daffodils
that follows.