Thursday, December 10, 2009

for Cohen

I have been incredibly fortunate to have an opportunity at an education. In this world that is a major privilege, I'm aware of it, and I am incredibly thankful for it.

Most of all I am in debt to some of the most amazing teachers to ever stand in front of a class. At this very moment I am trying to deeply understand the laws of Torts for one such amazing woman.

Professor Cohen is a determined and passionate woman. Her toughness is a complement. She expects the best and the fact that she expects it makes me feel capable of it, that's a hell of a feeling. She pushes the class and never misses a beat. I respect her immensely. As overwhelmed as I am right now in the pursuit of not letting her down, I want to list a few of those teachers who I have adored.

It takes every drop of energy a person has to teach, I am in awe of the dedication. It has truly pushed me to many ends of effort. Thank you to those gifted souls who throughout my life did their best to save me from my own ignorance. Someday, I hope to make them proud. Education is dedication, at least that's what my father always said...

People who had no reason to care about me but did:

Mrs. Flynn (its ok to scream, let it out)
Miss Cavallaro (write what you are thinking everyday)
Miss Migon (science is cool, I should spend the rest of my life studying it)
Sr. Carla (Cuniform to long division, practice makes perfect)
Sr. Elish (patience is the only way to understand math)
Sr. Ann Kenyon (you're right, math matters)
Hermana Anna (gracias siempre)
SR. MARGARET PATRICK FAYE (yeah I love her, biology is what it is to me bc of her)
Mr. P (my coach forever)
Mrs. P*** (showed me Paris, merci Madamme P)
Rogers (No excuses)
Stobnicke (read it till it moves you)
FATHER DAN MUSCALINO (what is, is and cannot not be, agricola in agro est)
St. JoAnn (yeah, I think med school or law school for you, decide)
Dr. Westbay (Seminar, Seminar, Seminar)
Dr. Hurd (diffuse naiveté, its clear to me what you are capable of)
Dr. Hieu (if I met a year earlier I would have been a physics major)
Dr. Crombach (the chambered nautilus IS beautiful and Darwin IS amazing)
Father Graf (loss is a feeling defining love)
Dr. Seward (focus on science Mary, leave comm)
Dr. Massoud Miri (making organic chemistry make sense since the polymer uprising)
Dr. Juidiana Lawrence (don't just read it, analyze it)
Dr. Ball (I'll meet you at the Union for a beer, we'll talk careers)
Dr. Householder (get in the lab and stay there)
Dr. Sia (its just DNA manipulation, no big deal)
Dr. Tsubota (I can't believe what he could make me understand Dr. Epiphany is more like it)
Dr. Cooke (I stay current in science because of the joy she brought to it)
Dr. Margot Ip (a life devoted to curing cancer is a life well spent)
Prof. Bev Cohen and Prof. Dale Moore, I swear I won't let you down.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

brevity

we were like indian summer
not meant to be
just happened
mother nature's privileged art
imperfection
out of season
precious mistakes
that make life unexpected
that pushes the living
forward
evolving
and we grew
the ever present cleavage of division
being unnatural as we were
I was thrown back to summer
and you locked in your fall
branched from a common past
spinning to disorder
abscission in the painful sense
in the end, it will have been brief
and then it seemed eternal
silly children with no concept of time
and faith in promises

Friday, December 4, 2009

9

such a crazy cat
lost track when counting her lives
now its all a guess

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

hail helios

Dionysus met Apollo
In the distance the music poured out of the clubs of town. The streets were full of beautiful people and the stores still open for business. Each restaurant I passed still relentlessly presented waiters and menus queuing me to take a seat under an umbrella. Four in the afternoon and four in the morning had little difference in paradise.

Aphrodite sighed, Hera frowned
I was totally lost. I had given up trying to climb through the streets on the famous coast of Mykonos. I surrendered to the sand sure I had lost Jules for good. I had wandered cobble stone at a quick stumble for over an hour chanting her name into every corner I could. Failed at collecting my wits from quitting tears.

Helios to follow Artemis
I was sitting in the sand twenty feet or so from this cute French couple Marcel and Nicole. The sun was making amends with the moon and threatened an entrance. Salt in the air and that wet smell from the life of the sea was hard to distinguish over my bouquet of ethanol.

Poseidon
I stared at the sea and walked into it. From where I sit now its hard to imagine something so warm. Clothing was a civil gesture of polite behavior and certainly not necessity. I swayed like the water not of my own volition. I waited for for dawn to light my way back to the pension.

Ares
I finally left the refuge of the beach and climbed the high sloping road to the hotels along the ridge. I was only a foot soldier in an army of the masses. High heels and short skirts, yesterdays's cologne, glistening faces and long passed peak make-up. We were all climbing home together for better or worse. A mass of youth slowly creeping to their morning graves to sleep off the long hours of intensity in the face of sure pain.

Hermes
I had no idea where to find Jules, and to my relief there she was outside of our room half asleep in a chair. I have never been so glad to be in so much trouble. I wandered first. I left the dance floor first and by the time I returned she was off looking for me. From that point on we crossed paths and never found each other... Jules was livid, thank god. I couldn't tell her what was running through my head. The calls I was about to make to find her. I had nearly taken a cab to port to make sure she wasn't on some ship. I was ready to steal a bike and find her.

Helios to Hestia
A day in the sun left her full of forgiveness and the stories we shared only added to the pure unreality of our experience. I spent the night on a beach in Mykonos waiting for the sun to get me home.

unconcious

somewhere Pearl St. and Lark I went below
not that I wasn't still running
not that I wasn't still watching traffic
not that I wasn't still listening
somewhere along the way I fell under
cause I can't find myself in my head
cause I can't remember what nothing is
cause I can't shake it or stop
somewhere on the road I slipped down
I'm in no shape for sleep
I'm in no place for peace
I'm in no way the same
somewhere in the cold I started to melt
loosing fear along the mile markers
loosing breath amid the climb
loosing time wasted in worry
somewhere out there I find space
catching up to myself in the shuffle
catching up to these things I chase
catching up to the girl in mirror
I like to stay submerged in it for hours
and it keeps the demons at bay
till I can't hear myself again
then I'm off trying to find the hidden door
somewhere

Sunday, November 22, 2009

be nice or leave

Title of course borrowed from a friend, I think its his mantra. Its straight-forward enough to be near obvious, and in my life just taken for granted. I've been fortunate enough to find very wonderful and nice people along the way.

Its applicable in a new fashion for me, where its new use fits quite perfectly.

Yet another study session in the library has been interrupted with a chat online. This time its with a friend on his way to a date. Being that I know the mysteries of women that he surely does not, he asks questions that make me smile. Its not by any means his first date but he's trying to perfect being a gentleman.

What I had to say really didn't apply to him at all. He just isn't the kind to need to hear it but it gave me a chance to articulate something I have come to realize, be nice or leave.

Who doesn't love a nice awkward first date? I have come to love them. They can be so telling and interesting. There really isn't anything more endearing then a nervous guy taking care not to let himself slip. He's fidgeting with his tie or apologizing for his phone. He's cautious when mentioning politics and wide eyed when he realizes you've heard of or read some avante garde book. He smiles when you speak and he takes care to be kind to the waitress.

Its a lovely scenario, a start to a night well spent and bound to be repeated.

I love being inspired into some sort of talk. I have been talked into many things. Joie de vive, lets hear it. Sunsets in Sonoma, how your mother taught you guitar, the book you'd write if you had the time, your perfect bottle of wine.... I'm easily entertained, I don't ask for much more than a person with a taste for living.

The path you choose to get lost on in conversation is important to me. Nothing is more telling between strangers than what is first said.

However, there are nights my time is utterly wasted. I hang my head in disbelief that some people could be so stone cold and offensive.

I tell my friend not to....

Kick off the night complaining about life. Its unfortunate to hear the fortunate oblivious of their luck.

Complain about work. Do something else. If you haven't found some peace with what you do, even if its just knowing its temporary, don't try to strike up a new relationship.

Talk about why you hate your family. I spend half my life talking about how much I love mine, perfection isn't a prerequisite for loving your family.

Don't mock what you don't understand.

I once had a man point blank tell me had had me figured out within an hour of meeting me. I should have said what I was thinking "My best friends can't even say that, I can't even say that."

Don't be rude to people. If someone bumps into you I'm more impressed if you strike up a conversation with them than if you give them that look that demands an apology.

I don't really care what rank your school was.

Do not start listing things you own. I don't care. I really don't care. Seriously, stop, I don't care.

As he is tearing apart the restaurant and explaining to me how he'll never go to France because they hate Americans I am desperate for escape. He is mocking me cause I won't try his steak and assuming I know anything about the going rate for closing costs on a condo.

The epic worst is the interview. This is when you get asked a bunch of questions which are clearly set up because this douchebag has a checklist for wife material. Once this starts I begin brutal honesty to scare them away. Nothing makes one of these guys run faster than talking about how I want to take years off just to travel with my children or how I'd like to hike the Appalachian Trail with the kids I plan to adopt in retirement. Or I just talk about my plans for tattoos.

I once couldn't bring myself to return a call because the guy spent a good half hour explaining why he hated dogs. Never spoke to him again.

I'm not jaded, I am fond of the experience. It is intriguing however. I could never imagine any of my friends behaving that way. Its like finding a needle in a hay stack to me. To be honest, its not the usual at all. I have been quite lucky to have met some of the best guys you could find on the East Coast. These rare flukes make a lasting impression that can't be denied.

I just want to get them to see that this isn't a dress rehearsal, this is life. We're in the middle and the show must go on, keep calm and carry on man! Stop whining and try to make a girl smile. Its a noble thing to do after all and one of the best investments you'll ever make.







Friday, November 20, 2009

ponce was wrong. its not water, its ink.

Each box of packed books must weigh fifty pounds. Not the usual luggage of choice for a nomad, but I couldn't part with them. Stuff could never make a home but history always does.

They aren't books, they are windows. I might be reading Joyce and then there it is, the ever-familiar cursive belonging to the hand of my mother. Random and surprising, noting something she found interesting on page eighty-seven.

I'm studying new books. In the margins I've scrawled information and when I see it I crave my bookshelf. It reminds me. There is immortality in the pages. Precious paper I will forever protect.

I'd let money or even my skin burn before the flame might touch their leather bindings.

There is one, so perfect and rare. On the binding and cover a name is embossed in gold, Peter D. Holmes. On the inside cover of the Bible is my Mother's script... "Happy Graduation Peter, God Bless. Love Always, Mary."

I can picture Mom special ordering her boyfriend a high school graduation gift in 1960. I can see her giving it to him. I packed it, I know where he kept it. It was always in the top drawer of his dresser. Mass cards and obituaries tucked into its pages with a ticket numbered 27 to the Mistletoe Dance.

I keep it on a shelf next to her Bible busting at the binding from her using it as a scrapbook. In it are mass cards, letters from Ireland, wedding announcements, death notices and one ticket numbered 26 to the Mistletoe Dance.

Simple twists of fate brought me here, life is delicate. The little writing between the lines. The notes of what is plain as day. Subtle and small, but, grand in hindsight. Cherished memories of tiny occurrences on pieces of precious paper, bound in leather and sitting on your daughter's bookshelf.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

kryptonite

agression, testosterone, good intentions and beer

when blended

makes three parts fool and one part superman

but we all want to be heroes

like we believed in once upon a time

in vino veritas


at first her name was gabrielle

the way she used to stand for hours knotting threads into bracelets
intricate
why was everything teal and purple

dealing cards for snap
sleeping over on school nights
I will never forget how she stood up for jamie
for shannon
and for me

she'll always be my goalie
the one I'd rather loose a lung protecting
than let that CBA bitch take a shot on

she knows she's family to me
our alma maters are not just schools

they are nights at lourdes on the lake
late buses home with P
exit 45 on I90

bonfires and double sessions
freshman bio
cardinal costumes

we don't need a reunion
just plane tickets and time

like
when

I was in her new condo, sitting in her dining room
staring at the sketches on her wall
and I could see her
curls and a plaid jumper tole painting

she was always gifted
spray painting reader's digests folded like bells
when she could have perfectly shaded a still life

decades go by quickly
friends stay the same
there with me for the best
holding me for the worst

she'll have to deal with my sentimental heart for a lifetime
and we're just getting started

Friday, November 6, 2009

can Mary come out and play?


I've been dreaming of relay races.

I am not sure when we stopped playing. There are groups of adults who do, but it feels so rare. The kickball league here and there. But the priority for the whole practice of physical interaction seems to have disappeared. We grow up. Terrible thing to do really. We stop playing with each other. We rarely, mostly never really, play anymore. It was once a daily ritual, the hour of recess. It had its ups and downs, but it was where we learned to interact.

Now I see people hop around a barroom like it was a schoolyard. We are missing the schoolyard. We substitute relationships with facebook or text messages. We sit around for hours running our mouths and drinking poison. I like poison. But I can't help but wonder if as a child I would have been impressed, doubtful. I always dreamt of being independent to do all the fun things I cared to. My independence finds me missing a great deal of what a child would call fun.

A major pursuit in my life is honoring the Lost Boy in all of us and refusing to leave Neverland. Faith, trust and a little fairy dust. I know it gets me a reputation of odd, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope it doesn't make me seem irresponsible. That couldn't be further from the truth or my intention. There is more to life than all of the burdens we have, there's a great and never ending amount of joy we forget to see and fail to realize.

People have kids and fall in love with play again. I want to play now. I want to have a relay race around the circle of my school and a pickup game of footie. I want to ride bikes and play hide and go seek. I want to get paint on my hands and make something with a friend. I want to do something for the sake of indulging creativity. I want to see what comes out of the heads of the people I care about.

I want to hear my friends laugh with natural ease and no pretense. I want to not care what I am wearing or if it gets dirty. I want to see the women I hold dear without make-up and the men without their everyday conforming behavior. Remember when it was okay to not be great at whatever the game was and still have fun? I bet we'd all crack under the pressure of being "it." We've forgotten the resiliency of childhood and we haven't heard our friends cheer us on in ages.

I wanna race.





Sunday, November 1, 2009

The First

Mara, is a Hungarian form of the name Maria. I don't think my sister Shannon knew that when she chose it. We're Hungarian, so it was a lucky coincidence maybe. This was before you could find a name meaning on the internet. Mara, is, to us, an Irish form of the name Mary and a tribute to one of our great-grandmothers who's last name was O'Mara. Kathleen, is our sister Katie's name. So this was Shannon naming her daughter after her two sisters when she gave us Mara Kathleen.

Mara was born on November 4th, 1991. I will never forget a moment of that day and how I was so happy I could have exploded. I don't really think I have ever really written about the strangeness of being an aunt as a kid. I mean, I think I was the best aunt out there under ten years old. I instantly couldn't really relate to my friends like I used to. I wanted to talk about Mara every minute of every day and that wasn't really what fourth grade was about.

Happy Eighteenth Birthday Mara Kathleen!
I tried to write this about you kid, but I just have to write it to you. It won't cover everything, it would take far too long to even try to. Why not just give this to you? There is no statute of limitations on bragging rights owed to aunts!

We had a ton of fun when Shannon was pregnant, it was some of the best times in the Holmes Camelot of Cherry Road. We'd all sit in front of really bad movies your father would pick out and eat pizza and ice cream. There was like a never ending supply of pizza, ice cream and movies - highlights of my childhood right there.

Your father was the coolest person in my eyes. He had a dunbuggy, let me play on his computer, always took me to Wegmans, always bought me pizza, and above all else - He had rollerblades and took me bike riding with Ben. He had to pass my big brother test long before you came into the picture. He passed, I guess we'll keep him.

There were many jokes about the size of his head that I think maybe scared your mother.

We had this huge couch at Cherry Road in front of the fireplace that would soon become your stage. We would all pile in and be together, never guessing that at some point, that usual thing would be rare or just gone.

Think about that the next time you plop down next to Sinéad. One minute you're fighting over who just farted and the next you're playing phone tag across an ocean or state. You'll miss just having a full house.

Dad would be sitting in his recliner, Grandma Rhoades would be in hers. Your Mema would be in the kitchen non-stop all night cooking and sloshing dishwater. Then, when she would finally grab a drink and sit for the movie, she'd be out in five minutes. Dooley would be curled up on her somewhere and I would be on the floor with Beau. Your parents would be snuggling on the couch. Your Uncle Chris or Aunt Katie more than likely there somewhere.

After the movie we'd once again swear to never let your dad near a video store. Then Shan and Pat would head home to your first home on Essex. It was a two-bedroom apartment and my favorite hangout. Everything was new. I remember when they moved in and unpacked all of their wedding gifts. I remember when they built your crib. Your Aunt Wendy, before her last name changed to Holmes, gave you a really soft blanket with two matching pillows that said Mara and Kathleen.

Your first bedroom was the one next to the bathroom to the left of your parent's room. One night, before you arrived, I was helping your grandmother and mother set it up. I was amazed at the things my mother had kept. I was still so little myself but I remember being confused why she kept things from when I was a baby.

You had so much stuff before you even got here. First grandchild, absolutely spoiled. You and I even had matching clothes. Purple Gap Kids and Baby Gap dresses. I think I told everyone I was going to be an Aunt.

Right before you arrived we were incredibly busy campaigning for your father. I would walk around door to door with Mom. We had fundraisers and loads of work to do. Then, you were born on election day. Hysterical.

It was a school day. I remember waiting in the hospital for ages. They wouldn't let me into the room with my sister. I was too young. What a crazy rule that was back then. I was tearing up because I thought they were going to make me leave the hospital without meeting you.

I stared at you through the viewing window until finally they needed to bring you to Shan. I stopped the nurse with the basinet in the hall and that's how we met. You had a little pink hat on and tons of dark hair. There wasn't a thing about you that didn't fascinate me. You were so small but you had the whole family stunned with glazed over goofy faces and smiles.

The first.

That's your title and no one can take it away. You went from making me watch Barney after school everyday to commanding a room's attention to your stage. From little girl in my hands trying to walk a step to a kid making me run 5ks with her. From this tiny little baby to this gorgeous, gifted, intelligent woman.

I love the feeling I get when I see you reading Austen, listening to punk and parallel parking. Or when you yell at politicians on TV (you are so my mother's granddaughter). Its a feeling of not just pride, but complete confidence. I know you, I know who you are, and Mara, you're great.

All my love, All the time, No matter what.

Aunt Mary



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

winter tomorrow and summer next year

in the grass still hot from a long day
melon sticky skin
humming Yo La Tengo
we both smell of juniper
we both taste like lime
like we never saw a winter
and never would again

Friday, October 23, 2009

On a School Night

It may have been the speed of the walk or the rhythm of the crushing leaves beneath their feet, whatever the case the pace of the conversation was quickening. Red and Tess marched along side by side in step with hands buried deep into the warmth of their pockets. Every now and then one would succumb to sniffling like a salute to the cold air. As the volley continued clouds of condensed breath puffed out of them resembling steam from an engine barreling down a track.

The conversation was not serious but it was a serious conversation. Red made the call to Tess the day before in which he admitted to wanting to see her, to being in town and asking to catch up. Tonight they were walking, very quickly, like indeed there was something they were catching.

She wouldn't have known he was there, she would have gone on letting him fade in the background but this line was thrown and with a sense of looming regret she took it. Tess made apologies for the temperature as if she could be to blame for Boston in November. She went on and on about life, Red went on and on about lack of it.

Old friends forgive awkward moments for the sake of reminiscence. The first minutes of reuniting so delicate and fragile, like thin ice, give way. The resulting plunge begs old souls closer.

Here was that fall.

The brisk walk exchanging niceties filled the space and time that was to deliver them to a modest and quiet restaurant on the other side of town. Leaves continued to cushion the path and words continued to fly until reaching an unexpected crescendo. "Is the Moriarty family as I remember?" asked Red with over the top politeness. Tess was thankful for such an open ended inquiry and spent two blocks describing characters Red long ago knew well.

Tess began to overtake Red's long legs. Alarmed, she paused mid-stride to look up from the cornflake leaves. "Red, what's the matter?"

Red stopped two full paces ahead then turned to face her not bothering to hide his tears.

At the sight of him the years distance closed and Tess forgot all the decorum she had been observing to rush to him. She threw her arms around him as Red shuddered then burrowed his face into her offered shoulder filling his arms with her.

All at once Tess imagined the worst. This was how an old friend would tell her bad news, something must be wrong. She could live apart from him but not without him, she couldn't bare to loose her oldest friend. Damn it Red.

"Charles, what the hell is going on." Tess demanded, but her actions belied her urgent anger as she strengthened her hold to the man.

Red calmed.

"How old is this coat?" He asked.

"Damn it, I don't know - ancient." Tess smiled reluctantly as the man made of the boy she knew lifted his head to wipe his face with the back of his hands. She glared at him and said nothing.

"Sorry," he said wiping her shoulder with his sleeve, his lower lip still quivering. With a blink he freed more tears then finally met her eyes with his own. "Tee I've missed so much, I feel old."

Tess could hold back no longer and exhaling matched his bet of tears. Barely able to ask what she broke her stoic pose to ask, "You feel that way cause you see me, and I am old, right?"

Red assumed a dumb founded look.

"Its true, I know, its been so long and I feel gray, I look it too, I know."

"Tess, you are just how I remember you."

"Then what the hell is going on Red, what's wrong?"

Eyes met, moments passed.

"Nothing Tess, I just couldn't take it anymore." Red pressed his temples and let a million deep creases of painful thought cross his brow.

Tess stepped forward to him completely compelled to slap him but instead resumed her unflinching glare despite the blur of pooling tears.

Until Red spoke.

"I felt like we were dead, I came here looking for you and just now it felt like it was painful for you to even be near me. All business where my best friend used to be... Like I didn't know you and may never again."

Red sat down where no one was ever meant to find a comfortable seat. Tess soon joined him.

"I thought you were about to tell me you had cancer or something. I was preparing to hear you tell me how you were going to burn out when I had gotten used to you just fading away."

Now she fell into his shoulder. And for a second if you looked cross eyed at them you could see the wool melt into jersey, denim and worn chuck taylors. As they exhaled fog into the evening air you might think you saw a lit Marb in his mouth with her lipstick on the filter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Its not me, its you.

While it may seem like a stretch, the year is near done passing.

Wow.

I have a few (eight) weeks left of classes then I take off for Peru to celebrate the Holidays the way I do now as a lone human in the world. With strangers and surf boards.

Between now and then there will be high levels of stress.

Days where I look in the mirror and try to forget I've just risked everything I have for the sake of another degree. Then mercilessly bury myself in an outline.

However, for purposes of self-improvement, and excitement over ending my first year of consistent blogging, I propose you tell me.

More than likely you are my friend, some people read this.

What was your favorite post(s) of 2009? What should I never do again?

Looking forward I will probably be branching into two pages, one for just short fiction and another for hindsight.

One critical thing I have not posted this year is a piece for my sisters. I have one for each brother, a couple involving my parents and loads with friends. I have learned I cannot write a piece about my sisters that doesn't end with me sniffling and tearing up. My goal for 2010 is to write for Shannon and Katie... its that hard that it has to be a New Year's resolution.

I'd appreciate it if you have the time to share your thoughts. Email me directly or comment with reckless abandon. If you and I have walked parts of this Earth together and you would like me to write something for you - ask! (It doesn't have to be a blog post).

xoxox
A chuisle mo chroi
mexh



Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Donating My Body to Science

Please don't read on if you are easily embarrassed or scoff and deeply personal information made public.

This one is not for the faint of heart. It is, after all, exactly what happened to me today and as such - its graphic.

I am sitting recovering from a not-so-typical Monday in the coffee shop by my house. Its Open Mic Night at MuddyCup and the room is filling with all walks of life. The people watching is really incredibly on tonight. A young teenage girl next to me is tuning her voice singing a little "Sweet Child of Mine." The middle aged black man across the table from me is packing up his chess board and explaining to the med student studying immunology to his left the nuances of the game.
I can hear the cappuccino machine rev and guitars tune. The show is about to begin as my unusual day ends in a far more comfortable fashion from how it began.

As I said and warned - this is going to get messy.

I woke up gross. Seriously gross. But incredibly relaxed. It was the residual medication wearing off. I felt incredibly awful for a Sunday night. For no apparent reason I was suffering from a very serious migraine. It was so bad I decided to dabble in my stash of "this will knock her out" meds. Within minutes I spun into sleep until my alarm sounded in the morning.
I laid there for a few minutes sure that I was going to be sick before I could get to the bathroom.

After hugging porcelain in absolute agony I decided I was probably going to miss class and went back to bed.

But that usual post vomit euphoria got me into the shower and out the door.

The second I hit the fresh air I almost passed out.

It was like I had been choking and after a few deep breaths I had to sit from light headedness.

I made a doctors appointment.

My landlord called the gas company - there was a leak. I couldn't smell it. I don't have a traditional "sense of smell." As soon as I opened my front door she caught the whiff of it. The kitchen and bedroom are in the back of the apartment - so yeah, the place was full of gas.

"Lucky you don't smoke" said John when I texted him.

I headed to school then directly to the hospital after class to get checked out. I made the appointment in the brief moment I thought I had the flu. Feeling nearly completely well I nearly cancelled it but thought about the last time I saw a doctor and considered it couldn't hurt.

The hospital is across the street from the law school.

I waited for ages reading in the waiting room when finally I was brought back to be interviewed by a nurse. I explained why I was there, that I was feeling much better and what not. After the usual run-of-the mill work up we get to the question of when my last pelvic was.

I said this was going to get graphic.

"About a year ago." As soon as I said that I knew I was gonna be in the stirrups. Its the responsible thing to do no matter how unpleasant. I figured why not? I'm already here, best just get it out of the way.

The nurse pulled out the paper sheet and gave the usual instructions.

"Strip from the waist down and unhook your bra please." Sure. Can do.

It is clear to me having many men for friends that they really don't get this ritual. Its so text book. But, if you happen to be a person who gets a kick out of the absurd these awkward situations can be quite entertaining.

The nurse knocks on the door. I'm behind the curtain ready to rock. I'm reading the latest Wired issue. She pops her head around the curtain and asks "Miss Holmes, this is a teaching hospital would you consent to a student in the room?"

Science education? Sure. "I don't mind." I say. She acknowledges the positive response assuring me my wait is near over.

Good, I'm freezing and starving. I go back to reading the magazine sitting half naked under a paper sheet wishing I had left on my socks.

Half a cover article later another knock on the door. The middle aged male doc appears from around the magic curtain and introduces himself. Not that I am really paying attention. I am just waiting to see him wash his hands. I always take note of when and how MDs wash their hands. Its a little OCD of me. He goes right to the sink. Takes a glance at the chart and begins with small talk.

"Student at the Law School?" I nod. "How do you like it so far?" I shrug. I am forming pleasantries of course, what I said and such I don't recall because at this moment there is another knock on the door. I am completely on my back knees up lights, camera, action!

In come a class of med student type white coats.

At that moment I knew I would be writing this. I knew it was going to be mortifying and all I could do was stifle complete laughter.

They marched in. And yes, they all washed their hands, they all gloved up and in my head I'm concluding "they all want in."

Soon the little examination room was full and I tried to just not be there too. I could barely inhale I was so close to laughing out loud.

I was trying to pretend I was in a meeting, class, on the metro - anything other than one of nine people in the room and the only one naked.

One more person and I was going to suggest we order a pizza. I was starving. As it turned out the escaping to class was pretty useful. The MD was teaching and I now know a few of his tricks for examining my ovaries. Good to know.

For a moment I had to look down from my fixed point on the ceiling. I shouldn't have. The sheet that covered the bottom half of me was back lit and there was a shadow puppet show going on that was disturbing enough to warrant a very loud outburst of laughter. At that the MD popped his head up to ask if I was ok.

"I just never thought I'd be so popular."

The room laughs. I apparently broke the ice. Now the kid to my left is complementing my tattoos while giving me a breast exam. Another student is explaining they are forming a new run club on campus and is inviting me to join... as if I would be able to show my face in so much as the hospital cafeteria again. I say "That would be great."

I think she might facebook me later.

Someone in the mix is asking me if I have been to the Palace Theatre yet. I'm able to say no, that I hope to go to Rocky Horror there. This is all well and good till the MD wants everyone's attention. Everyone gets silent and moves to a clear view of the other side of the sheet.

"A little pressure here."

Thanks for the warning.

The student he allows at the helm, the brown noser I assume, remarks "You have a very healthy looking cervix."

I would have said thank you but I laughed. Cause as she says that the pack of students nod.

They thank me again for my cooperation and then disglove and leave.

The MD caps cultures and jots down on the chart sheet he eventually hands me to give to the receptionist and takes his leave.

When the door closes behind him I sit for a second all covered in paper and have myself a laugh.

What was I thinking? These people walk the same streets, buy coffee at the same shops, drink beer from the same taps as me. Their faces are burned into my memory. What was I thinking?

I take to the sidewalk still chuckling and call Cat in near tears. "You don't think they'll recognize me do you?" Cat is painfully honest and for that I love her, "With those tattoos they'll remember you."

Someone tell me how to disappear completely.

Or at least give me the guts to wink at the familiar faces as necessary in the future.






Front Porch

I was stepping out off of my porch when a now familiar voice called out to me. "Hi Mary!" I turned back to my left looking up to respond to Helen, my neighbor, over one, up one.

From her second floor front porch Helen was sitting as usual watching the street. "Hi Helen, how are you?" I answered. "I'm still in my pajamas! My friend and I are going down to Hunter Mountain for brunch."

"Pajamas, its noon! You mean Linner, half way between lunch and dinner." I made Helen laugh.

We talked like this for a few minutes. She always wants to know what I am up to. She was happy to hear I baked cookies for Shana and Dan like she told me to. My landlords upstairs, Shana and Dan are half way through baking a first born. They make me happy. Helen fusses over them and they fuss over her. We all talk to each other from our porches.

Helen is Aunt Helen to the family on the first floor of her house. To the rest of the neighborhood she is just Helen, the wise old woman with sharp eyes and large heart who glues our block together.

Somedays I will come home and she is in my front yard pulling weeds with Shana. Sometimes she's leaning over the railing in a conversation with Dan a porch over. Most often she is corralling her nephew and great nieces into the house for dinner.

Today I am stopping over to deliver a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on my way to school. Communities are a rare thing and when you find yourself in one all of the sudden, behave accordingly to make it stronger. I'm thankful for it. I blame Helen.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Last October

I just spent a wonderful weekend with people I love.

I didn't know any of them a year ago.

To them I am a

redhead
brunette
employee of US House of Representatives
law school wannabe
27 year old going on her first - first date.
fan of singing in the shower
cookie baker
strange bird
person trying to run
nightly runner
writer of random things
laugh
person awake at 3am
fan of BSG
fair hand at chili
person to travel with
fool
slightly obsessive cleaner
book collector
mess
big bed owner
dreamer
magnet for strange
seeker of odd
friend.

I showed up in their world with out even so much as a definite last name. I had no real plan and no real reason to be there.

I was exactly where I needed to be, I owe all of them a piece of my life. Thank you my dears, All the King's horses and then some.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Magnets and Holmesickness

Free radicals are ions with unpaired electrons that are highly reactive.

I'm a free radical and I love making chemistry happen in my life. I love new places and people. I live to get out there and see, touch, taste and know the world I am in. Some of my best moments are ones when things just come together, a party where I introduce and old friend to a new one or the moment a group of strangers are laughing and letting down their guard.

I am not afraid to put myself out there, like right here. I wouldn't say I think I am super interesting or important, its the fact that I believe I am insignificant that keeps me fearless.

The world, will go on. My problems won't stop it. Life is for living and sharing. I share here.

When I left my home and my family I was no more than a girl in the company of strangers.

I'm a free radical, the early years:

I remember thinking the world was cruel. When your world is made up of some not-so-forgiving grade school girls you can feel that way. I saw nothing beyond the schoolyard and I as certain life was hard. But my family brought a never ending source of characters into my life and taught me the art of extroversion. Had it not been for them and that lesson, I may not have ever been Mary.

Schoolyards change. They expand and with epiphany I found myself in uncomfortable situations learning to handle myself. This is essential to a free radical. Knowing what you must have with you to survive. The basics you can get by with. How to settle in where you are, where ever it may be.

Getting Out There: Part I, What I Want.

I want to feel free, like where I am is totally my choice and each experience is what I am there for. This is not a difficult thing, and where I am now its a great sense of motivation. I want to do what I do for a purpose. There is so little time and so much that really isn't necessary.

Part II, For Want Of.

To be honest and brief, not everyone walks away and finds the road behind them changed. My life has been a brisk walk down a path that quickly disappears behind me. There is no going back and no road home. I get out there for want of finding where I started at some ending. I am not running from home but running to it. I know, actually, it is where I am - but there are surroundings more perfect than others.

Magnets

There have always been places I prefer to others, magnets. My poles. Syracuse is the center of my little universe, I haven't lived there in ten years. In that time I have made my life along the thruway and beyond.

I can walk away from my magnets. I have and can. The strongest pull in my life is my family. Yet, my friends may not even know how much I miss them when I go, as far as magnets go their force is undeniable.

It comes down to love. The people I love draw me to here and there. Where they are I feel at home. I cannot have everyone in one place... Magnets repel as they attract. Its just a balance.

Holmesickness; (n). The pain associated with being part of my amazing family and realizing you can not be part of each others' lives the way you naturally want to.

Missing Pieces, we are like the Monopoly board, decks of cards and hand me down games we grew up with, we are missing pieces. And we substitute them with what we can find and play on. Game on.

My current game of Life is eclectic and I wouldn't change the pieces I've collected for anything.

My Home:

What if after all this time I found a new magnet? A new place. What if I made my own life somewhere and for the first time the road is right where it was when I ran down it? A place I can see my future in more clearly than the cloud I've always associated with tomorrow? Future, not just the sentiment of where I came from. What happens to a free radical when for the first time they want to go backwards?

Reversing chemical reactions.

It can happen. It might take far more energy than the original equation but it can be done.

Plain Language Box:

I didn't know when I left D.C. I would miss it. It was an accident. I swear. I went there to go there, to get away, to move forward. I never went intending to stay. I was an accident, I swear.

I left to come "home." I figured I would be fine, I always am. I was the only kid at summer camp completely not homesick. I came back to NY because I thought it was time to move on. Ask Meg, she knows, I just thought I was being silly in D.C. I thought I was hiding, killing time and having a wonderful time doing that. It was like a sabbatical.

I moved back to NY to get back on "track."

That wonderful time I was having, I see now, was my life. It was the jogs on the Mall, crepes at Eastern Market, Volunteering around town, The Amnesty Office, and the people, the ever-loving people! It was the Physchotropic Film Society, the DCDefenestrators and Fringers. It was long late runs in Maryland and the people, the ever-loving people.

And no, I didn't see it while I was there. I knew I was having fun and I knew I was happy - I was well aware I was happy. But I didn't feel like I should stay. That feeling, that truth cost me one move to upstate NY.

Figuring out you have somewhere you belong is a priceless realization. I may not make it back there. But knowing that potential exists, that I can have some amazing life in the right conditions is incredible energy for a free radical.

Happy Accidents:

That realization, that I miss D.C. was not all bad. I know now I needed to leave to focus on school just as much as I know now I should probably go back.

Go back,
To the place I woke up and started life over.

The reaction will progress at the proper rate until completion - maybe even to the point where the bond formed, can't be broken.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

solo

I have never lived alone off of a college campus until a few weeks ago.

I'm nearly 29.

When I did live alone, it was a mess.

I got so bored I would do the dishes from dinner and wash the clothes I just wore.

Every night.

I watched a lot of TV.

I swore I would never live alone again.

I moved out into the world and I didn't till now.

I figured it was time for me to focus on what I have to do so I opted for my own space.

Its been about a month and I am done. I am a Holmes, we aren't solo people.

I was raised in a crowd, with plenty of people to take care of who took care back. Taking care of myself is no fun.

One night in the dark on the golf course of Fisher, Jason asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I said.

"The person who puts the blanket on someone when they are sleeping, so they never wake up cold."

I wish I could remember what Jason said.

It was a pretty honest bit out of me.

I am not, nor will I ever be, a loner.

I'm not perfect and I need people. I need to feel like there is some sort of family in the house I live in.

Alone will never feel like home to me. My home was never empty.

I can travel alone, and I am at peace by myself.

But I am not living the way I want to.

Some souls just don't solo.




Monday, September 14, 2009

never underestimate the power of 365 days

In January when I converted this blog over to a different "format" I had one single post. It was about me trying to accomplish something on my life list.

This is the update to that January blog.

Nine months ago I had no idea where my feet would take me. I had no idea at the time I had it in me to start somewhere and finish over twenty-six miles later. I ran a marathon, and I was right Jim Lampman totally ran me through it.

In the winter I just went to the gym almost every night after work, I would just try to run 10% of a marathon, less than three miles. Then I just tried to run a 5k every time, 3.2 miles. Then a little more. I signed up for a St. Patrick's Day 5k at my sister's house in Carolina. Then a 10k in April near Bethesda. Then a half-marathon in CT to visit my brother in June.

Yesterday I ran a marathon in Rochester.

When I decided to sign-up I contacted people to support me. Bunny sent me a desk calendar training plan which was amazing and the best gift I have ever gotten, I teared up when I opened it because she put so much heart into it. I told Jim about the plan and he offered to run with me, which I was hoping he would do. He is now more or less the go-to guy for getting through your fist marathon. He made sure I drank, kept my sugar up, gave me electrolyte capsules, kept pace and even - sang.

It hurt, I was slow and consistent without any injuries or drama. I didn't kill myself, instead now I just want to run another to see if I can improve. I was nervous, didn't sleep, couldn't eat breakfast and now I want to know how I'd run after more than nine months of training and sleep.

After all, I do have a slightly addictive personality, hence the spreading ink on my body.

I think back to the fist time I took the road in Bethesda and how it became a ritual of running through town at night with my thoughts and music, waving at the people who came to expect me passing by. My roommates cheered me on and called me inspiring, I don't think they know how much that helped me into my shoes and out the door.

And the sleep! The glorious sleep from pure exhaustion after a wicked long run was better than any ambien. Running was curing my insomnia, relieving my stress and - making me feel not guilty for peanut butter. It was also the best people watching ever - a lunch time run around the national monuments by the cherry blossoms was a thrill.

Each year my life changes dramatically. There are lows and there are highs. I can say with total clarity the last 365 days have been an absolute high. A year ago today I went and looked at a room on Del Ray with some girls I didn't know. I decided to move to Bethesda. In the last year from that point I found a home and amazing friends, worked on Cap Hill, travelled far, kept a blog, started law school and slowly turned into a "runner."

Never, ever ever EVER underestimate the power of 365 days. Just love it and live each one.

I miss home, I miss my girls, I miss my long runs through the District, but I want to see what kind of magic I can work here in Albany and I will not take any day for granted.

I'm also gonna try to get another half-marathon in before the holidays.






Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Torts


I, was in every effect, staying out of the way. This was my fourth set of movers in a two week period, my seventh move in a year.

In a way I couldn't feel more unproductive, running in circles seemed to be a way of life.

To make use of time I sat in the sun in the porch of my short stint of a home reading for Cohen's Torts class. Negligence, Battery, Assault, Intentional and Unintentional.

From where I sat I could see Chad and Jose load the truck. I knew it would all fit but I wondered why I bothered owning anything at all. It seems the more nomadic I become, I also grow increasingly sentimental.

I saw on the far porch a spot in the shade and without really looking up from the case I was reading I started to walk over when something shimmering in the sunlight of the afternoon stopped me.

I had nearly completely ruined the most extensive and picture perfect spider's web I had ever seen belonging to a proud architect seated comfortably at it's heart. It crossed the porch from front to back and had wings extending to the far east side of the house. I had nearly been completely covered in fine, sticky silk. I speculate that would have been to Steve's trapping pleasure till I left him homeless and unfed. Steve, the spider, was brown with red specks and totally spared my distructive step.

I set my papers down and reached for the camera on my phone. I tried to photograph what was virtually invisible catching only shadows and reflected light. Steve posed with valor at the helm of his castle.

Then a small trivial breeze blew the top sheet of my torts homework into the web, which held its weight for half a breath, then fell taking the incredible web down with it.

My heart crashed to the bottom of my chest and I cried out for Steve who had retreated to the side of the porch and scurried away.

Negligence, Battery, Assault, Intentional and Unintentional.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Broomhilda

Broomhilda is complaining again about how her designer bag may not make it through the winter. She is upset that her her pedicure has to be covered due to unseasonable cool weather.

Broomhilda just spent six dollars on a coffee and doesn't know what her car payment is because she isn't "responsible" for that.

Broomhilda thinks I am younger than her, she talks to me like I am a child.

I speak to her with incredible intent, I want her to trust me. I want to have an opportunity to have an actual conversation with her. I want to move this colleague relationship to a different level. I want to be there for Broomhilda.

Because she thinks she is better than me, she has it figured out, she is marching straight to the beat of everyones march and she won't for a second ask where I am going. I'm aware she is in there under all the mistakes I've already made, the ambitions I've already discredited, the fear I no longer have. Underneath that, is Broomhilda. Beautiful.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Simple Matching

Theory:

Jerk     ----------------   Witch


Gentleman  ----------   Lady




Application:

Jerk -----------\ /------ Witch
                      X
Gentleman----/ \------- Lady




engine

this thing at my core
breaks, heals, grows into my soul
my own cellar door

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

I am fortune's fool

I am not really a fan of fortune tellers, they always seem to remind me of Greek tragedies. We would sit in Mr. Stobinicke's literature class reading aloud through plays like Antigone and Oedipus Rex and somehow, I always got the part of the seer. No one ever seemed to listen to the seer.

Since those days I have found myself in three situations where women have tried to tell me my future. Each was epically strange and timed in such a way that they each turned out to be somewhat true, but only hindsight is 20/20.

Winter 2002

I'm home from college in Syracuse, visiting family and stopping in to see an on old friend, Lara. She is younger than me but has been married for over a year, we are sitting on the leather couch of her town house. Lara has a deck of tarot cards from her sister and for fun wants to try to read my fortune. She says she isn't sure she has the gift, draws cups and swords and tells me in a very serious tone that "Holmes, this isn't good."

It was something about her concern, I could tell she honestly believed it. This was someone who cared for me and she looked positively worried. I got a chill, she started asking me questions, I was at a loss. A week or so later my Mother and I are on the phone, she starts to cry for no reason and out of no where says she loves me. I ask her what she has been up to and she says "breathing lessons to help with my asthma, that's why I sound so rough." I know something is wrong. Its the intuition that sends me home to see for myself. Cups and swords apparently means cancer.


Chinese New Year 2004

I am running around at a campus event, I work for a school programming student activities and today is our very large scale Chinese New Year celebration. We have a large carnival set up in the student union. One of my co-workers is the daughter of the couple who own the largest Chinese food restaurant in town. She has her mother come in to calligraphy student's names.

After the crowd fades and the student leaders clean up, Mrs. Lin and I are sitting with her brushes and ink. She wants to make me a sign for good-luck. She very seriously had asked me what year I was born and clicked her tongue and laughed when I answered 1980. I was born the year of the monkey and here we were sitting in another year of the monkey. I told her I was happy to hear it I could use all the good luck I could get.

At this Mrs. Lin frowned. Typical I guess, for a westerner to make the complete wrong assumption of eastern tradition. Mrs. Lin explains I will need to be careful all year, that I should not under any circumstances make any major decisions or plans. She tells me to buy a good piece of jade to wear and walk carefully. Her daughter is a year older than me and is just coming out of her birth sign year. Mrs. Lin points to the beautiful jade elephant around her daughters neck and explains she and her husband bought it for her last year to protect her.

I laugh and show Mrs. Lin my engagement ring. She picks my hand up to her face and shakes her head, if only she knew about the house to follow. She tells me to buy a big piece of jade. In the months following, I look around but buy no jade.


New Years Day 2009

I am wretchedly hung over and freshly robbed of my iPod. It is six in the morning in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am quietly curled into a ball on the seat of a luxury bus heading to the Tabacon Grand Spa at the Arenal Volcano. If there has to be one place to recover from a New Years Eve of tequila, its there. I sip water and patiently wait for the tour company to stop at each hotel before heading up into the mountains. Before we leave the city the most obnoxious couple gest on and break the pleasant silence on the bus with loud American accents.

The bus makes one rest stop. I sit in the shade deciding I am nearly half better and that in an hour or so with food I will be back to action. The loud, gaudy, middle-aged American couple is lost. Knowing for sure my solitary day at the hot springs will be jeopardized, I help them. Before we are back on the bus the woman explains to me that I am in need of a reading and gives me her card. Great.

At the spa I slip away into paradise wandering through hot springs and having a first class massage. On my way to the trails into the jungle sanctuary I run into my new friends. The woman asks me to sit at the end of her chase lounge and after some small talk about being a psychic asks me for money. I figure the only way out of the awkward situation is to comply, but I meekly say all I have is twenty Cordoba, from Nicaragua. She takes it, I doubt she knows its worth about a dollar.

She explains chakras, not very colorfully, and then takes my hands and begins to shock the absolute hell out of me.

She tells me there is no surprise in a young marriage failing and that I should stop being ashamed. She tells me my mother wishes I was back in school. She tells me my ex will hurt me again, take my very heart if I'm not careful. She tells me when I get home, I'm going to have to move soon. "Whose the blue eyed guy?" She asks me. I won't give her an inch, "Which one? My whole family is full of blue eyes." "No, this is some man you're seeing." I say nothing. "Well, in any case, he's all right doll but he's as good as gone, move on. He isn't head over heals and you gotta know what that's like again." She compliments me in various ways at this point, which to me reeks of over encouraging mediocrity and though I'm smiling I am far from flattered.

She tells me to save my money for something big on the horizon. She then tells me to stop reaching out to friends that don't reach back. That last one hurts.

I get the feeling I need to leave, I stand up and thank her then walk into the jungle laughing.

I don't really care much about my future. Maybe I'm the sci-fi junkie that thinks there are as many dimensions of existence as there are choices to make, in one of them maybe I've made all the "correct" ones. The dimension of the path of least resistance. Boring. I could never be happy there. Most of the joy of being me is the beautiful mess I'm made up of.

I'm wonderfully unafraid of mistakes.

Friday, August 7, 2009

fresh water fish

The lake was still like a perfect glass mirror reflecting its bordering mountains in the moonlight of a hot August night. So still in fact, you could make out silhouettes of pine from the top of Blue Mountain on the surface of the water. As motionless as it seemed there was yet a lapping of water against the supports of the dock below where Tracey lay.

Spread on the old wooden slats still warm from a long hot day Tracey debated a swim while pondering an overwhelming night sky. The stars were so much more alive here than they were at home and it seemed that there could be green mountains one after the other forever, never a city in sight.

Before she could decide on the all night refreshment of a well timed swim her solitude was broken as Ella pounced onto the dock gingerly removing clothing. "Got marshmallow all over me Trace so Mom said to jump in a bit, you coming in?" At Ella's question Tracey could only ask another, "How come you aren't afraid of the dark water El?"

"What about dark water?" Ella asked. Tracey was sent up from the Bronx to Ella's family to get out of the city for the summer, a "Fresh Air Kid." The first time she ever swam in a lake was the day before and the love was instantaneous and life changing.

"Don't you worry when you can't see to the bottom like in the day? What if there are fish?" asked Tracey.

"There are always fish, and I don't worry cause dad says they're more afraid of me than I am of them" With this Ella dove into Blue Mountain Lake naked. Tracey realized she was about to do the very same thing. "I didn't know fish got scared" added Tracey. She piled her clothes slightly less askew than Ella's and climbed down the ladder into the water as her bottom lip started to shiver.

Ella laughed and yelled "You gotta just jump in and get your hair wet, then its always warmer!"
"I know, I'm gonna, did you bring down the towels?" Ella laughed at Tracey's question and answered in a tone of pure obviousness. "The towels are on the line we can grab some on our way back to the cottage."

"I have never been outside without a stitch on, where's Sam?" Ella wasted no time in answering, "He's embarrassed to get in the water with our 'fresh water fish'."

"What?" demanded Tracey.

"Dad said you swim fast as a fish, and when you served Sam today you totally blew his mind." Ella was glowing like the moon with happiness at this.

"We race the lanes at the pool on my block all day long, I wish they kept the pool open this late. I really love this." As Tracey spoke she floated on her back to see mountains on the periphery and stars everywhere.

Ella started making demands, "You gotta teach me to swim like that Trace, Sam's always beating me, always." "Teach me to swim so straight and fast like you, how do you do it?"

Tracey looked around and swam over to the dock. She called over to Ella, "come over here and we'll swim next to the dock."

Tracey remembered all of the things she learned from her classes at her pool. She made Ella kick while holding the dock and taught her how to throw her arms and when to breath. After a long lesson in the moonlight Ella's mom called down the hill for them and Tracey and Ella ran for the towels on the line leaving their clothes in piles by the dock.

In the morning Ella told her father about the lesson in strict confidence from Sam, who was awkwardly carrying firewood to and from out of ear shot. "Fresh Water Fish Swim Club, eh?" he said. "I want to see you girls practicing like true fish! Tracey, if you go back to that pool after swimming in an open lake you'll really kill them."

That was all the inspiration they needed, training had begun. Each night the girls would leave the camp fire and swim laps along the dock. After a couple weeks Ella could swim a straight line and breath without choking on water and Tracey totally lost interest in worrying about fish.

Returning to the cottage after a truly intense practice with hearty laughter incorporated, Tracey asked her upstate dad if she could swim across Blue Mountain Lake. She had wanted to for days and the courage to ask surfaced just then. She was sure the answer was no, but she just wanted to see what the explanation would be with the denial, maybe the lake wasn't so safe after all.

To her shock the answer was simply, "Only if you promise to climb into the boat if you are tired." "I do" Said Tracey.

Ella's dad, Ted Evans, owned a small row boat for his half-hazard love of a day trying to fish. The best use for the thing he could think of was this event. He, for the first time all summer, set his alarm. Unnecessarily, for Tracey and Ella rose at dawn. They both ate like Olympians and began stretching and diving in preparation at the dock.

Ted headed to the boat with camera and coffee in hand. He had looked at this lake every summer for over thirty years but this morning he looked to its morning stillness through different eyes and a camera lens. It had been a very long time since he bothered to take a single shot from this dock, the scenery that had grown static to him now woke. Tracey's excitement was infectious.

As he climbed in the row boat Ted let out a slight chuckle, as people do when remembering an inside joke. At that moment he thought of the first time he swam across the lake, to impress the woman presently seated in an Adirondack chair on the hill above. He looked up at her and waved, Marsha smiled and winked from under a straw hat then resumed her attempt at being perfectly calm.

Sam sat at the end of the dock and kept the dog still, "I'll say go, are you ready?" he asked. "Hold On!" cried Tracey as Ella and Ted pushed off the beach into the lake. Tracey ran up on the beach and stood looking straight at Sam and said, "From here to there, ground to ground, I'm ready."

"Tracey," Ted was trying to get her attention in his best Mr. Evans voice, "I will head in the straightest and shortest path I can so follow me, and remember even the slightest cramp, in the boat! But I doubt this lake has met a fish like you and I know you can do this."

Tracey smiled, and waved the boat and passengers forward with a distinct "shoo."

The dog stirred on the dock and Sam yelled, "Go!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The strong, smiling type.

If I told you there existed a man that could be everything at once would you believe me? He smiles all the time, can be stubborn, knows how to do everything, has multiple masters degrees, once failed out of college, wouldn't hurt a fly, could intimidate a gladiator, very strong opinion but he's actually listening to what you have to say.

He is real, he's my brother Patrick Jude and today is his birthday, so today is his turn out of my head and on to this blog. Of all of my family he has the most IOU's from me in quality time. I owe him as many kisses and hugs as there are stars in the sky, my life is truly deficient in Pat time. That, will need to be corrected.

When I think of working in a garage, I think of Pat. Some of my earliest memories of him are his bottom torso sticking our from a dune buggy or a black VW beetle. Pat, isn't afraid of engineering, there isn't anything the man can't teach himself. He's an Army man, Mountain Division. He is the toughest Holmes alive, takes after Uncle Mike Holmes in toughness for sure. Mind you I once saw Uncle Mike give himself stitches.

When I think of Pat I think of a killer butterfly stroke, a healthy layer of pepper on soup and ordering the biggest steak on the menu. I think of a brush cut and fatigues and MRE's. I think of his pack sitting in the front hall with the machete on the back. I think of him patiently training a laborador. He is a tough man. I've seen him speed away on his motorcycle, sometimes without saying goodbye. I know enough to know if he's giving you a hard time its cause he loves you, if he didn't - he wouldn't bother wasting his breath.

He makes the best bubble-baths a kid could ask for, and the best chocolate milk. I will never forget the days he would pack my lunch for school, they were random occurrences and incredible. He once took a bunch of "Holmes" fatigue labels and put them on everything I took to school. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. I think I drove my class and teachers crazy with how much I talked about my brother the soldier. I still have the letters he would write me when he would report how many bullets he was going through.

From those early memories I have seen him turn inspiring scholar, incredible father and all around perfectly interesting man... the kind that are hard if not impossible to find. If there was a symbol for being an individual, for standing separate and proud from the crowd, its Pat.

Pat met Wendy in Atlanta, the story I heard is cute and trying to imagine my brother chatting up a girl makes me smile. Its no wonder Wendy caught his attention, the beautiful smile and long red hair could probably be spotted miles away. Apparently he was walking by a bar in Atlanta and saw her inside, I think he may have been in uniform and with friends. He says something to them about noticing her and having to talk to her, goes in and does. Wendy ends up being a girl from just east of Syracuse, a real "cherub" as Mom would say, its a small world and that was twenty years ago.

I can not begin to list the thank yous I have for this man, I actually don't know if he knows how much of my personality comes from copying him incessantly... here goes.

Quirky Mary-ish things that are actually owed to Patrick Jude:
Love of Star Trek the original series and Dr. Who - exactly. A healthy appreciation and knowledge of classic movies. A serious love of classic rock on vinyl. This is from finding a gold mine of mint records in the basement and listening to them non-stop in high school. There was Morrison Hotel, The Song Remains the Same, Physical Graffiti, In through the Out Door, Who's Next, amazing. I was in love with that record collection and learned that music the way I should of, off vinyl. Then Pat came home one holiday, was like "Whoa my old records, cool!" They were gone. I was soooo mad, but if I think of walking into a room and seeing my first copy of Nevermind on my niece's desk I'd take it back without flinching. Well played man.

One of the most amazing things I look up to Pat about is how he is with his kids. Jude, Emma and Cian have the benefit of being allowed to be perpetually in thought. Patrick answers questions with questions and wants to know why at all times. If say, Jude wants to know how windshield wipers work Pat might say "How do you think they work?" To which Jude will then explain in incredibly imaginative detail how he thinks they do. Pat will then ask "And why do you think its that way and not another way." Jude will reply exactly why.

Because of this, Jude can sit there among adults confidently speaking his mind... reminds me of a girl I once knew. I have written how my father took the time to engage imagination and taught me to be in awe of things around me, Pat has mastered this in fatherhood. And it suits him well. When he does something he does it right or not at all, with incredible research at every step. He seems to want to master things, not just attempt them.

He has no use for anything material, he doesn't even want his house on the grid and hasn't owned a TV in years. He prefers linux. He, like the rest of my family is incredibly good at laughing and long conversation. Pat appreciates never-ending good coffee and sitting around a kitchen table. I miss him dearly and wish I could just have him in my life just as ordinarily as stopping by the grocery store. I would love to know what he is getting into, researching or thinking on a daily basis. I could use someone as trustworthy as him in my life point blank telling me the truth with nothing but good intentions in his heart, true blue.

Happy Birthday Puggy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

In the mean time, Venus

I am awake, the only one awake. There are twelve of us cuddled under the masts on the scooner's deck somewhere near Gocek, Turkey in a bay.

I am staring at the stars and I am thinking of him again, he seemed to value the sky. He might know what I was lost in awe of... I could only make out Venus.

I've said before the night sky when clear was like a foreign language to me, and one I want to learn. I am certain once you speak it, it all makes sense and the mess turns to clarity... Right now for me its a blanket of stars in a beautiful mess.

I look around in the moonlight amazed at the water, the sea, the fact that I have seen multiple shooting stars. Although I am surrounded by good people, they aren't my people. I am only borrowing them for the experience. I wish I had my people here, maybe even someone who could teach me about the sky.

So I am counting. Lost at sea, in a sense, on vacation not truly sure of the date I am making out that its the 1st of August and that on this day I should be over him. When I had a margarita in my hand in early April one of the fine women I live with told me I would be over him in half the time I spent with him. And I was, come July I was fine... three months, we had six.

So I am rocking to sleep in the boat, and I am wondering if when I wake up I'll be over this him... We had thirtyfour days and it had been seventeen exactly since the last. Lets not mention I will be in my thirties till I am over the other. What is over? Forget? Stop wondering what if? Whatever... too good to be true always is, and I will never get five minutes in his head.

In the mean time I can find Venus on a sailboat in paradise, I will have to teach myself the rest sometime.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Caldera

On the edge of the world
there is no difinitive horizon at dusk
it goes on forever
and forever is beautiful