Category Archives: family and friends

pura vida


a lovely end to a  beautiful day full of surf, sand, snorkel and coconuts!

august 2013

a long time ago

i used to attempt poetry writing. i say “used to” and “attempt” because i have long since admitted defeat. i can’t do real poetry writing justice. what i have held onto since those days, now nearly a decade past, is my love of words. i love the way they wear their autobiographies, so cleverly disguised.

i found among my old papers a few messy little ditties. emotionally overwrought as befits their youthful authorship. but so very earnest. these have not been shared for quite some time.

poem 1: this was written after seeing a friend after a long summer and being witness to his heartbreak.  it is influenced by bishopsexton, and larkin. this was published in the Circus (2005).


Love in a harbor at midnight

The sloop at dock rests its inverted arch
in the trough of the saltwater harbor.
At midnight, unawares.

And this is Love.
This harbor, that dock:
This night, that filmy
white frock—

worn so careless and open,
all collarbone and shoulder blade.


poem 2: this was written for my grandmother shortly after her passing in 2008. this is influenced by sexton, stevens, and dickinson.



In another country I die
listening to the sounds of your sleep,
your rattling breath, a slow drum
beating its slow beat.

Night presses on, swift and inexorable
I wait here in silence unbearable.





i just spent a quarter of an hour looking up the origins of callow and callous. callow is from the old english term calu meaning bald and is a cognate with the dutch “kaal” and german “kahl”. callow is synonymous with words like untried, green, raw.  callous on the other hand is slightly more recent, dating back to late middle english. callous is synonymous with hard, inured.  isn’t it funny how words that look so similar can be so different? i was looking up a good punny title for a post on my latest educational kick (top ropingbouldering) and then i promptly fell right into an etymology rabbit hole. it’s pretty neat down there, the origin of words and how meaning evolves. words are like little anthropomorphic tracks through time.  o’s and u’s traipsing around the forest of language appearing and disappearing while hopping across the pond.

getting back to the photo up top. that’s my left hand and my swanky rock climbing shoes. well, they’re not actually that swanky and while you can hardly see the callouses developing beneath each knuckle, i can definitely feel the callouses forming on my hands. they make me feel super tough. almost as tough as when i listen to rap music which is infrequently. it’s true, my street cred is probably only slightly more authentic than bieber’s (i lived in bushwick when it wasn’t cool!).

rock climbing has been one of the most interesting sports of all the ones i’ve tried. it’s also one of the most humbling. turns out if you decide to head to the gym near the open on a weekend, you run into the kiddie crowd. the average age of the early morning climbers must be 8 or so. and geesh, these kids are fearless. they’re amazing.

this morning while doing a bit of bouldering, i got to watch an 8 year old kick my ass as he scampered up a climb his first try that had stymied me my last 3 attempts. if he can do it, surely i can do it.  although i was able to complete the climb that was my most recent nemesis, it definitely wore me out the rest of the time. i can’t explain it and hopefully the feeling will go away with time, but i actually am nervous every single time i attempt to climb something. it’s not the going up that troubles me, it’s the how will i get down?

being so petite, i’ve realized that in order to accomplish some of the climbs that longer-limbed folks easily fell requires a lot of trust in my own body and instincts. it also requires a lot of faith in my abilities to bend, leap, and let go. letting go. that, my friend, scares the crap out of me. some days, i am more brave than others. i’m often pretty cowardly but i am getting more and more comfortable with jumps. the worst moments are when i lose faith both in my ability to go up or jump down and waste precious energy clinging to the wall. i can literally feel my stomach turning in those crucial seconds while i make the decision between a risking a slip during a descent as my strength runs out or cutting my losses jumping off and just hoping i land smart.

luckily so far, knock on wood, i’ve managed to stick all my landings but i don’t imagine that streak will continue. it’s probably only a matter of time until i land on my ass or something worse. in snowboarding they teach you that breaking a fall with your hands is the worst (well, probably not worse than with your face or spine…) but it’s poor form. by breaking falls with your hands, you put your wrists in danger. they’re pretty fragile bones and they’re not meant to absorb a lot of impact. i’m guessing that carries over to all instances of falling.

the best part of rock climbing so far has to be the camaraderie and it’s appeal across race and age. although climbs are done individually, folks are incredibly supportive and helpful and it’s so cool to watch it done well. it’s like witnessing a dance of strength and balance on a wall instead of a stage. graceful, poised.

6 weeks ago climbing had never crossed my mind and now i can’t get enough. climbing? climb on!





How it was (not so)


I was born in Oklahoma. I have no memory of the town, its people, or a time when it was real to the touch. It is a fact in my life rarely announced.  The absence of a conscious recollection has made it near mythical. I imagine that the land just north of the Red River is dry and flat, that the sky is a bright and blinding blue, and that the highways gray with black tar veins burn hundreds of miles under a summer sun.

Come to think of it, Oklahoma kind of looks like I-40 in New Mexico near the Texas border. But this isn’t real either, because by looks I mean of course, in my imagination. Sometimes, when the idea of Oklahoma pops in my mind I add tumbleweed, maybe a cactus or two, but only the short kind. I’ve never really seen tall ones in Texas or New Mexico or Arizona so I’m not sure they’d be in Oklahoma.

There are distinct books I associate with Oklahoma, children’s books written by Bill Wallace. He was my favorite author in the 4th – 5th grade. A Dog Called Kitty, Snot Stew, Beauty – pretty much anything I could get my hands on at our public library down in Texas. A combination of guesswork and children’s literature has given the state a nice rose-colored sheen.

It’s funny how memory works, how it patches things up and tightens all the seams. Or not. Oklahoma is a vignette –a story before me, of my parents stepping into a whole new dry white-hot southern, god-fearin’ world.

My tenuous impressions of the newly mottoe-d “in god we trust” state reminds me of how opposite I am from Luria’s patient in Mind of Mnemonist. The book is a study of patient S. who has effectively total recall with a synesthete’s twist full of crumbling yellow voices and brightly pitched red tones. He is a wonder; he is a literalist. He cannot comprehend a metaphor.

I’d like to think that my little white memories are quality guesses that target the “heart” rather than the factual brain; that true is not measured but felt.  That occasionally, facts are only so-called for lack of a better word and that in these moments, they are (in fact) the lesser noun.

down to the chapel

the bridesmaid bouquets

this past week i had the honor of being a bridesmaid for one of my closest friends from “university”. the wedding was held in the lovely royal tunbridge wells at the king charles the martyr parish church (17th century). tunbridge was awarded its “royal” status in 1909 in honor of its history of royal visitors (particularly prince albert and queen victoria). pretty neat. the commuter line out to tunbridge wells was also the epitome of english countryside. cottages and small farms overlooked rolling green hills full of fluffy unshorn sheep, tiny brown bunnies nibbling at the roadside grass, a fox here and there crossing the street. it was every stereotype i had in my head of the english countryside come to life. it was awesome.

the reception was wonderful, too. i had my first ever pimm’s cup which basically tastes a bit like summer punch in a glass. yum. it could not be a lovelier wedding for two fantastic and wonderful friends.

a view from the horsted place hotel

original photos, april 2012