Tuesday, March 31, 2009

seagull and sunfish

This morning
I watched a seagull
peck the death of a sunfish
deep into the pavement of the dynasty buffet and 10 other non-descript strip mall stores’ parking lot

The gull pecked and shook and tore and ground the
limp, lifeless, scaly thing
until the entrails slipped out of the tough skin
And the gull swallowed the bloody stuff down with its head bent backwards
in the cold morning air

And my ribcage was heavy with something not quite nameable for the bones of the fish and the bones of the seagull’s wings and the bones in the soil sequestered under the pavement
and my steady sternum ached for a newer day
even though it was only morning and the day was already new

Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Dirty, Hardworking Daddy

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my growing up days. I’ve been reflecting on my hard working parents and all of the time and energy they gave to raising the three of us and trying their hardest to do it as well as they could with what they had in their arsenal of parental tools and tricks.

On this note of yesteryear, here’s a brief introduction to my dad as I remember him in my early years.

My father is a roofer. He has been a roofer almost his whole adult life—since he was about 21. He has only ever known hard, physical work. Before he was a roofer, he tried being a line worker at Chrysler—like his father before him—but he could not stomach working for the man. So he went to work for another kind of man, the roofing man. And then he eventually started his own roofing company; he still owns and runs this company in these thin and trying economic times.

As a kid, I remember my dad as a dirty man in the evenings. He was covered in soot and tar and asphalty stuff when he came home from work. And then he would take a shower and be refreshed, but there was always this sort of everlasting grit ground into his skin. His pick up truck stank of acrid tar-paper and hot tar and sweat and burnt things and dust. I remember longing to run my hands over the well-worn steering wheel and drive for hours with my dad to some far off destination just the two of us alone hanging out and talking. I wanted to go to Tigers’ games with him, sans sisters, in his truck and somehow catch the hard-working smell of his skin and hold it for always.

Dirty dad in his pick up

He provided for us. He used his hands until they were cracked and rough to cover other people’s houses and businesses and keep them from rain and wind and snow. He burned his nose over and over again in the blazing sun till it bubbled with infection and is probably now a fertile ground for cancer.

He worked 6 or 7 days a week—and he still does. And he always said to us use your minds not your hands to make a living. I find it funny sometimes that I was the only one who really listened. Both of my sisters went to beauty school; I’m the only one who went to university. They both use their hands to make a living. While they do not have to weather the elements and haul bundles of shingles or torch down or weld specialized products to roofs, they do use their hands day after day to earn money. And they work hard and long hours.

the injector with her dad as a kid

We all do. My father gave each of us the gift of knowing how to work hard. None of us have ever been slackers. I had my first job at age 15. I worked at the hockey rink concession stand. And then I worked at Keck’s Hardware—I was the first girl to ever work there. And then I worked for my dad for a few summers. And I acquired the smell of sun and sweat and tar skin.

And while I use my mind mostly to do my work, I pedal hard to get to work. I use my body to transport myself there and it is often my most favorite time of the day—riding in the sun and my beating heart pumping fast and hard. And then my next favorite time of the day is coming home from my paid work and working in the soil with my hands, digging deep and hard and being dirty even after a shower and cooking food for my darling and tearing shit apart when she asks me to do so and cleaning and scrubbing our house to make it feel good and comfy. Daddy did you know you taught us well? We all three know how to make it pretty damn okay in the world. We all know how to work hard and long and still grow our families well.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

skeletal days

The last many days have been sort of numb for me. Sadness and sickness have visited our house. K has a head cold and my immune system is fighting it off with all of its might, but I still have a sticky pressure building in my face and it makes me tired and crotchety.

I think I’ve finally entered the non-hormonal phase of grieving this pregnancy loss. On Saturday, I cried as I drove to a meeting in Lansing. Yesterday, I cried, again, as I drove to another meeting in Lansing. My tears were wet and slippery and just kept sliding from the corners of my eyes. There was not much thought behind the tears, just sadness and a sense of loss.

After I returned home from Lansing yesterday, I went to the metro park for a bicycle ride. I rode fast and hard and tried to empty my mind of everything. I tried to focus on the pumping of my heart and the strength of my leg muscles pulling and pushing the pedals and the sweat seeping from my ever-turning-more-gray head.

And now, I’ll go on with this seemingly skeletal day. My bones feel evermore exposed and while I find promise in the birds’ songs and the green things ever so slightly surfacing from beneath the cold, brown dirt, I am simply tired.

I do not want to weigh the future or its possibilities or lack of possibilities in my head anymore. I do not want to dream about tomorrow or a better day. I do not want to think about much of anything or do anything much but use my body to get places where I have to be and then just be there.

And at the same time, I want more than anything to just not give a fuck. To be care free and hopeful. To smile with ferocity and laugh with sincerity. To fill up these empty parts and be a greater force of love in this frustrating time. To create my own, new skin again and again and lose it with dignity again and again and regrow it stronger and thicker again and again on these hard bones of mine.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

of vampires and sleeplessness

The other day I started reading this book, Vampires, Burial and Death by Paul Barber. It is a fascinating scholarly text (but readable) on the folklore of the undead—mostly the European/Eastern European undead. One of the most fascinating things about the stories presented in the text is the unquenchable fear that rose up in people in the face of the unknown and uncertain and unfamiliar.

Now I am only 6 chapters into the book, so my brief synthesis—and maybe it is not brief enough for some of you, but alas I am long-winded and full of air and watery stuff—is not going to capture the entirety of the author’s thesis, but here’s my understanding of it so far.

In the middle ages (and beyond) the undead (vampires, revenants, vrylolakas (sp?)) were at times blamed for unexplained deaths—many peasant people assigned undeadness to people who had passed on and left other people dying in their wake or left strange things happening in a village that were indicative of hauntings. If a person was murdered, committed suicide, or experienced violent, accidental early deaths he or she was much more likely to become undead after burial. Furthermore, a person could be born with certain traits or characteristics that created a propensity for becoming undead after dying.

The author goes into great detail about how the vampires and undead above are not at all like the fictional vampires of books and movies. These vampires reeked havoc on the various villages described in the written folkloric cannon and were disinterred and dealt with in multiple ritualistic and not so ritualistic ways in order to stop whatever the havoc may have been within the village. The vampires of folklore were actually described as bloated, ruddy, slack-eyed, fresh skinned, long nailed, fresh haired creatures (they were almost always seen in repose in their burial spots upon disinterment). Essentially the description is the not-so-usual (but really quite usual) patterns of decomposition.

When someone happened to be the first to die in an epidemic (or when the first few people died in an epidemic) these victims of disease would essentially spread more death. Villagers would reason that the quick and numerous deaths were caused by vampires rising from their graves and squeezing the life out of victims—we know now because of science that these people were of course going to bring more death along because diseases are contagious.

Sometimes the revenants did not bring death to more people, instead the undead played tricks and haunted the village by drinking jugs of wine and moving things around.

What I’ve been finding most interesting about the folklore I’ve been reading is the collective fear that unified the people into both relying on one another for comfort and the spectacle that was created out of the dead bodies of the supposed undead.

There is an account of many people coming together in a big sleep over at one house in order to stay ghost/revenant/haunting free for the night. Another story describes many, many people sleeping over in the town square in order to avoid the hauntings.

This coming together in the night to get through fearful moments really resonates with me. Since my teens I have loved the fact that the 7-11 or Meijers grocer or the 24-hour coney island joint would be open with bright lights shining and night owls hanging out if ever I was having an insomniac night loaded with graphic depictions of either scary or not-so-scary imaginings.

See, I’ve been an insomniac since I was in the fifth grade. When I was young I would stay up for hour upon hour praying for Jesus to stick to my heart so I wouldn’t go to hell and simultaneously wondering about the promise of heaven and the sureness of eternal boredom that I thought might come with it. I would fall asleep, only to be awakened by elaborate, horrific dreams—strange creatures trying to scratch through the glass of my bedroom window; men with cross bows entering my room and shooting deathly arrows at me and faceless friends.

As I got older, I dealt with all the fears that erupted in my mind at night by simply staying up and reading or drawing or watching cooking shows or playing board games with friends till late into the night. For a few years in my late teens I would stay up almost the entire night until I was so exhausted I crashed out. Sometimes I had floating fears in my head; other times the things of distraction mentioned above kept me calm. Whatever the case—fears or fearless—the idea of other people being up in one place gathered together helped alleviate the misery of my sleeplessness.

In this folklore, I find the collective alignment of the village in the middle of night to resonate with me in the same ways the smoky, florescent lit 24-hour diner filled with distraught, angst-laden teenagers and overly drunk wastoids at 2:30 in the a.m. soothed my pacing mind when I could not get to sleep. During those sleepless years, I would sometimes wander the streets at night—usually via bicycle—under the blue street lights or bright moon searching for other souls awake during the wee hours between darkness lifting and light rising.

I did not need to know the person I might come across; I just needed to know (and still need to know) that there was a warm body with a warm mind roaming the surface of the earth at that exact moment. There’s something about being alone at night (and when you are the only one awake in your house; you are virtually alone) that creeps under my skin and causes fierce fears and imaginings.

Today, my insomnia is much better. It comes in small waves and taking benedryl or zyrtec helps. But still when I wake in the night, I am more apt to see things move and hear things that may be sinister or spooky sliding over the floorboards or up the plaster walls. I create whole stories of murder and mayhem and supernatural phenomenon for every floorboard creak and animal scurry.

So, I relate all so well to the peasants’ fears in the stories of the undead. I can imagine the hysteria that built up over the days and nights as strange (and maybe not-so-strange) things happened in villages throughout Europe. When young healthy people start dying one after another or people were murdered or jugs of wine were stolen in the early morning hours when the dark of night hung relentlessly on the sky, well, who better to blame it on than someone already dead? And what better way to deal with all the fear connected to unusual events than to deal with it collectively in a common space--warm bodies gathered together to stay off the difficulty of sleeplessness?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Good morning Brother"

This week at a local sandwichy/soup/coffee shop called Beezy's, a lovely spirit hollered a greeting to me as I walked in the door. "Good morning brother!" He did a quick double take and then, "I mean good morning sister!"

I said a friendly good morning and chuckled to myself in the back of my throat. He was very sweet and kept shouting out to every person that entered the joint, "good morning brother or good morning sister."

I like that; I like an honest, loud morning greeting.

And, I like getting mistaken for a boy (when the right person mistakes me and doesn't get all weird and shaky after the perfectly legitimate blunder).

So, how can I make this a blog entry about trying to conceive and pregnancy/non-pregnancy? Well, I really cannot.

Here's the deal--for the most part I probably won't be writing all that much about getting knocked up or not getting knocked up or infertility or deadness falling out of my uterus for the next little while. It may pop up in my blunt observations about my life and my girl's life and the amazing people that dart in and out of both of our lives, but we are DONE with all of it for the next many months.

Frankly, I am tired of thinking about possibly raising children or not raising children or so on and so forth. Like I said in a post a bit ago, having kids will not define me and not having them will not define me either. What defines me are the choices I make every day in the ways I interact with this superbly fucked up and beautiful world.

I hope you all will still like to read this blog.

Whatever the case, I will still like writing it.

I plan on calling it the same thing because while I may be taking a break from injecting male ejaculation into the soft precious parts of kk, I am still injecting the thoughts of my mind and the compassion I can scrounge up out of my soul and the strategies that surface in my organizing heart to the work I do and the loving I try my hardest to be good at.

So, back to the kind man who shouted out a gender confused or not-so-confused greeting to me. That sort of loving spirit makes my heart sing and twitch and be glad to be alive. It is the small things that are covering me in a kind of grace at this time in my life--The river rising along the bike path; the bird songs that are growing louder in the brush and woods (blackbirds, cardinals, blue jays, robins, and the honking geese soaring overhead); the sun hovering on the horizon for more and more minutes; kk joking around with me and shoving her tongue down my throat (oh the stories);a bartender who was so happy and kind to all of her customers amidst the chaos of a super busy night;a mom of a man dying in prison who called me her angel; sharing pizza with a friend; being guided by a friend to shake and jump like a deer after falling off my bike.

Yes, the small things; the kind words, the beautiful animals of Michigan, the river that I love so much I had it tattooed on my arm, and the kind, generous and understanding people in my life--these are the things that I like to reflect on right now.

These are my injection reflections.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

normal house--part II

So the history of this house is made up of the factual, more objective bits I’ve been able to piece together. Of course, objectivity goes out the window when those factual bits get processed through my brain, but still I tried.

Here are a few stories of this house and that people that lived here and the life that still grows here that dance under my eyelids and on the projector that runs on the back of the inside of my skull.

When I mow the lawn that surrounds this old house, I almost always have this strange déjà vu; this action that I’ve seen before plays hazy but vivid in my mind and almost in my actual vision. I picture an older, pale-skinned man walking the length of the house and the backyard and the side yard in greasy, green work pants and a thinly worn
from-so-much-washing white t-shirt. He has on the best of workboots—lovely fatigued, brown leather—the kind of leather that looks like it has caressed in loving tenderness the feet and hands of the owner and scuffed against a thousand sidewalks, stones, and dirt trails only to be gently wiped down and polished up on weekly basis.

This ghost man tends to the yard and the gardens and the chickens that live in the back with steadfast attention and care. Everything grows in great abundance and the house and yard are clean and tidy.

I see him in my peripheral vision. I catch his sinewy, strong body striding confidently around the corners of the house and then he is gone out of view. I feel his presence while I work in the yard and tend to my gardens and mow the lawn. He is everywhere. Their presences--the people who have lived here before—are scratched out into raised surface scars that bump me in the night and during the day.

In the photos that I dug up in the Ypsilanti Archives, our house boasts white clapboard siding on the bottom half of the house and what I think was black painted cedar-shake on the top. The residue of black (I am sure full up of lead) paint is still on parts of the windowpanes.

There is this picture of Mary Magdelan Blum in her lovely white dress, carrying this mega-bouquet of roses or maybe peonies or maybe both. I like to think that at one time rose bushes flourished on this property, but really there is no evidence of such a garden. And still in my mind, I conjure the clustered thorny bushes and see them—hazy yet hard brilliant billows of flowers on the grassy edges of our yard.

There is no doubt that the oldness of this place is set into the very ground on which this house was built. There is movement of another time weaving through the air and the trees that surround our space. The Oak in the backyard is so huge: I cannot even begin to know or count the years it has hovered kindly over the grass and ivy that makes up the yard. I think of the storms it has weathered and the bitter cold that has bit its bark and stymied its roots, only to awaken to the shaking warm wind of Michigan Spring.

Today, the cold ran over my skin like icy sandpaper. Really, my hands are so dry they keep splitting open. This winter has been long and hard. These memories and histories are keeping me readied for spring.