Diagonal Sleeping

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Whenever I sleep alone, I love to sleep diagonally in large beds.

That slanted position fills the emptiness and stretches the soul in new directions. It’s no longer womb-like, fetal sleeping. It’s an assertive position that enters the world as a vector.

Bold and fearful.

It wants to travel alone.

But needs to fill the hole of motherlessness.

The dark kind of solitude that can haunt when the world is dreary.

And after awakening, I can dress in costume to comfort my panic.

Young beautiful retro lady drinking coffee

 

Pretend I’m young and fearless again.

 

Dance with my fantasies of fear and desire.

 

Try to lock them into balance  and steady myself for a new day.

Cutlery Love

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A waitress ponders behind a smile:

Standing at the counter, tossing clean cutlery into the grey rubber corrals .  .  . she thinks of how their relationships mirror the stages of humans interacting intimately.

In the first furrow, the spoons merge. Nesting into one another. Curving and fluid.

In the middle corrugation – the middle years – the forks predominate. They grow prongs. They have open spaces. And defensive weapons. And the capacity to weave into and out of each other’s wefts.

In the final trough, lined like slender soldiers, the knives lie in wait. Straightened. Having grown rigid. Having bared serrated edges. Living parallel lives.

All tucked neatly into a gallantly folded napkin.

 

 

 

She

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She walked through the finger-smudged glass door on a sunny day. A day strangely warm for February.

The air was gritty and the sun rusted-out by the relentless strength of the prairie wind lifting the broken land skyward.

She paused for a moment on the threshold, absently gazing forward as her eyes adjusted to the new light.

Her skin was fair. Her hair was wildflower-honey colored .  .  . falling below her shoulders in ripples like waves on a summer lake.

She was slender. Dressed in kickback casual, yet, styled to be her.

It was her eyes that captivated me, though. 

She wore no makeup. She was perfectly gorgeous in her raw skin. She seemed completely comfortable with the purple spoons beneath her eyes.

They gave her a Pre-Raphaelite, waif-look that mesmerized and melted me in one glance.

I saw a piece of myself in her, but, I didn’t know which one until she sat down next to me.

I was drying from a pedicure; she was preparing for a set of nail to adhere and be embellished.

A moment of silence passed.

Two women assessing their instincts of trust.

We somehow concluded, simultaneously, to begin talking. Not just chatter, but, depth of speak.

She told me her life story – all 30+ years in an hour.

I told only snippets from a life lived much longer.

She was born and raised in the wasteland of a fading Route 66 town, a town that has become a hub of crack cocaine.

She avoided drug addiction. She married after high school – pregnant as she walked down the aisle.

She stayed with him for ten years; bore two children; divorced; lived 4 years single in that desolate town. Then, escaped one night to Missouri. A year there and she was chased back to New Mexico by a failed job and a homesick son.

She returned to realize that she’d fallen in love with her best friend. A cop in the crack town. A truant officer at her high school.

It was a small-town tale, but, I was continually drawn back to the noir beneath her eyes.

She spoke from such a deep well of wisdom.

I wanted to be her.

I wanted to re-live my life in smaller steps. In a smaller space. Simpler. More direct. All-the-while, gaining sage wisdom.

I wanted to invest in her economy of movement.

I saw myself eschewing academia; not exploring the world; nor meandering along the Champs-Elysees while she was nursing an infant.

I began to see more of why I’m seduced by tiny, parched towns and their ghostly people. Why I feel like a stranger on my own home turf – that strange land of the metropolitan East Coast.

She unknowingly gave me another clue to my personal puzzle.

Somewhere deep in the velvet of those vague, noir eyes, she held secrets and answers to my mysteries.

Somewhere in those eyes, at times, so tender I hurt to look into them. They drew blood in a way that’s curative. 

I projected myself into her mind. And, perhaps, had I the skill of Rossetti, I’d paint her eyes from every fractured angle in the galaxy and expose the guilelessness of her atomic truth.

But I have only words as raw material.

And they are so damn ephemeral. I need a  solid mooring. Brushes and oils and stretched canvas to capture this picture. To hold it still for contemplation – this too brief meeting of companionable souls. This momentary paralleling of two beings wanting to exchange lanes.

In my fantasy, we’ll reach the same destination of grown-up Truth.

Her path: right-lane Interstate.

My path:  crooked rural roads.

Destiny fulfilled. But, for a fleeting hour, it was scintillating to imagine trading paths with a stranger.

 

I’m Still Learning About My Internal Queue

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Coffee Queue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m realizing that as I write and blog my tiny stories through this process called Life, I have a queue of lifelong infatuations in my head and heart.

I’m crushing on: lichens, moss, barnacles, Spanish moss, flamingos, wisteria, colorfully painted small towns with diagonal parking, ghost towns, ruins, desolation, diners, cafes, coffeehouses, little white churches, Route 66, antique buttons/beads/lace, and yoga.

 

Yogini

Such disparate passions. How do they all connect?

I thought I might learn by blundering my way through a blog. But, after nearly a year, I still have no idea.

And, yet, I do maintain this one stubborn fantasy: Stitching this seemingly unrelated queue together in the form of vignettes and poems, under the rubric of Diagonal Parking.

So, perhaps another year of clumsy musings and awkward rambling will bring a clearer vision of how I want to write down the bones and form the skeleton of my creative fancy.

Meanwhile, close on its heels is another reverie.

I’d ideally like to take a road trip of indefinite length, and spend time in the indulgence of small towns, explore ghost towns and ruins, ride the asphalt of the Mother Road over and over, dine in cafes, park diagonally, hike and meditate among the lichen/moss-splattered rocks, drive the “loneliest road in Nevada” and let desolation sink deeper into my soul, maybe even squawk with a flock of flamingos and dance the Fandango draped in Spanish moss beneath meandering vines of purple wisteria. And whenever I reach water with a pier, sit with the barnacles and study their formations.

At the moment, I have not a clue how to realize this two-part dream. But, I’m going to set up a matrix and release it. And see what unfolds.

And, if nothing does .  .  . well .  .  . I can always get behind the counter, gaze at the black-and-white checkered flooring, and serve the world its mocha java with a steaming smile.

Or, perhaps, do what I do best: sashay down the sidewalk of Main Street, braid myself into a yoga pose, and observe the world passing by .  . . meditating on all the contradictions and eccentricities it and I contain, while invisibly grinning at my self as I persistently search for the Truth, which I keep swearing to God exists and is accessible.

If only inside a rainbow queue of coffee cups.

Musings of a Morning-Shift Waitress:

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Mocha Java and Tea CakesWhen I feel the urge for hot cocoa it generally means we’re nearing the Winter Solstice. There is some unconscious connection within me between molten chocolate and the beginning of winter.

 

I also crave bread. A good artisan-crafted rustic loaf that I can break off in chunks to dip into oil. This winter, I indulged in cranberry-walnut bread – the yeasted kind – more savory than sweet, and, dipped it in sesame oil – the cold-pressed, unrefined, organic oil that releases the natural sweetness of the seed. It’s scrumptious, but, on the cold, damp days when the sky is the color of mayonnaise, I tend to eat without paying attention to quantity. Before I know it, I’ve eaten half of a loaf. And although I don’t gain weight easily, this overconsumption may have future consequences.

 

I’m thinking of Grain Brain . . . the book in which the research connects wheat flour with the onset of Alzheimer’s. It’s almost sad that I know about this study because the simple joys of eating and hanging out in the kitchen on a wintry day have been tainted now. Nostalgia isn’t necessarily the healthiest indulgence either, but, sometimes the re-creation of one’s early hearth-and-home life helps to sooth the soul. Helps it to transition to the next moment of living. But, if I’m also fretting about its connection to physical ailments, then what joy is left for the present tense?

 

My conclusion: Too much science is unhealthy if it robs the heart of joy!

 

And speaking of hearts, I’ve noticed that I begin to crave a roadtrip when Valentine’s Day is just around the bend. I don’t pine for chocolate or hearts or roses (although a single yellow bud or a bouquet of whites would melt my heart at any moment). No, I have some internal compass that directs me toward the highway. Toward a bouquet of white lines that mysteriously soothes my soul and gifts me with a new perspective – a bit of mid-winter therapy.White-Line Bouquet

 

I’ve pondered this yearning over the years and really haven’t come to a conclusion, which I love because it allows mystery to reign.

Little White Churches

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My heart can’t resist them.

A couple years of living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, circa 1970s, I realized that I wanted to live in a church.

I found a little white clapboard Baptist church near Panther Falls, Virginia.   Abandoned, because the people lost faith in the midst of poverty.   But it was still structurally solid and safely nestled inside a grove of poplar trees and scrub oak.

The steeple looked like the base of an old windmill. Above the door was a round stained glass window, with red and blue hues, that reminded me of Jupiter.

Inside, the pews were lined in rows of horizontal soldiers. A grid work of dark wood and red velvet seat cushions. The room was small but it felt spacious because of the ascending ceiling and the choir loft that touched the clouds when fog descended.

The sunlight that crept through the trees was misty by the time it met the colored windows lining the building’s side walls. The interior was a mixture of light and dark and every color of the rainbow in-between. It was peaceful and solemn.

I love churches when they are empty.

Always have.

Those beautiful little handcrafted edifices without rituals, but with the accessories necessary to conduct one as décor.

A place to be still.

A place to call home.

I was too poor to buy that church and unable to convince the owners to rent it, but I still harbor a yearning to live in that Appalachian church-home.

I have thought lovingly of it for three+ decades. Every time I drive by a little white church of any denomination, my heart rejoices.

After I moved to the village of Estancia, New Mexico, several years back, I quickly discovered that around the corner from my tiny house was one of the sweetest white churches of all times.

Methodist.

Not acquainted with the religion, but I fell in love with the building. And when I learned that the back door was kept unlocked, on weekday afternoons after work, I’d slip in, sit on the red velvet cushion, and gaze through the painted glass windows. Noting that the southern exposures were singed – the edges of Jesus’ garments and the corners of the Last Supper’s tablecloth all charred and curling.

The wooden pews were arranged in arcs, with two aisles, like a huddle around the pulpit. Behind the lectern were tables draped in white fabrics that support forests of white taper candles.

I’d sit silently at different degrees of the arcs. Each radial angle reflective in a different color or shadow. I’d bow my head in some form of prism prayer.

Sitting in this church – alone – always washed me clean. Something about the simplicity of white that calms and renews.

I don’t yet understand my passion for little white wooden churches, but they invite my heart in.

They inspire confession.

When I feel filthy, a white church is my soap and washcloth.

And often I have some crazy sense of unclean.

I am always housecleaning; I am always heart-cleaning.

What am I obsessed with washing away?

Vacuuming some sin from the floor boards of my heart?

Scouring the toilet bowl of my soul?

Dusting the mantle of my mind?

Why is life – so messy – that I devote a lifetime to cleaning my space-of-being?

That I sit in empty churches to inhale purity?

That I focus my meditation upon the white fabrics draping from altars?

Sometimes I find my inner being crawling through the tunnels and webs of woven fibers, searching for the secret of the shroud.

I have never understood this passion for textiles either.

Maybe because fabric is tangible. Because I can see it constructed from its source – from the flax plants and silkworms and cotton pods.

I can track its progression. I can touch and smell its existence. I can also get lost in the fantasy of its lavish embroidery and festive beadwork.

I’m no fan of the new gospel churches that believe in bare warehouses as places of undistracted worship.

I need the distraction of beauty.

Especially the pageantry of ecclesiastical textiles.

I like sparse, but I need highlights of fabric embellishment. Lightly speaking: Holy dust clothes move me.

Sometimes I think that my deepest faith lies in empty churches and fabric. Somewhere in the honeycombs of stitchery, a wing of truth waits.

In a dust mote. In a spider’s dew-damp leg. In a tendril from a tightly-plied linen thread.

It’s absurdly simple. And mind-twistingly complex: sitting in empty white churches, contemplating sacred textiles, I find some sort of rogue religion.

And how happy was I, after remarrying, to find a tiny, tattered, white church about a mile away from my new home on the prairie.

A safe haven.

It offers peace of presence: Just knowing it’s sitting there .  .  . wind-beaten and bare .  .  . on a lonely dirt road.

A bit like someone’s stained and gritty coffee cup left behind.

Black, White, and Bowie

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Recently I decided to color my hair in black and white stripes.

 

Then David Bowie died.

 

That tall, lithe, ballerina-bodied man full of stardust. Sometimes carrot-haired; sometimes blonde. Always exploring his inner cast of characters. Always the man hiding inside the costumes. The eternal story of a misfit unfolding.

He once said that being human was boring. He wanted to be superhuman.

And normally I might flinch at such a statement. Think it arrogant. Cast off the speaker as megalomaniac.

But Bowie had the redemption of honesty. He went on to say that he found his passion repulsive. That ego-drive repelled him as much as it drove him.

And I loved that.

He had balance. He had the fearlessness to self-probe with a scalpel. He had the generosity of spirit to share his shadows with us all.

The stage was his confessional.

So, when I masquerade in my own wardrobe of lies, I’m comforted by recalling his guts to globally expose quirks, deceits, contradictions .  .  . and transform them into compelling art.

Even his death was a provocative work of art.

He’s left me pondering: Who will face the armoire, open the door on the right, and raise the alabaster-bodied Lazarus from the dead?

For me, though, he didn’t die but in body – wrapped in gauze with buttoned eyeballs. Just his soul-smoke oozed out into orbit.

And I smile at this thought every time I glance in the mirror and see my awning-striped hair. 

 

A beatific grin of joy warms my heart. It’s the perfect way to celebrate my personal, and far more private, life as a misfit.

It consoles. It gives assurance that I’ll always have this one gloriously galactic companion as I gaze into the deep; into my own strange.

 

 

 

 

This fellow soul of the black-sheep flock.

 

Namaste Mr. Bowie.