The Rime of the Ancient Kisser

Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink. 
from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Note: I realize I quoted a poem about an ancient mariner, death, curses, etc., but it seemed appropriate considering recent events in Boston where newspapers and news stations hail, “Don’t drink the water.” 

Oh, Boston. Oh, glorious Boston. You have sucker-punched the populace, stanched the flow of coffee to our veins, broken our pipes and boiled our water. When will you be well again, Boston? Twenty-four to forty-eight hours, perhaps. Like the water, it remains unclear. 
When headlines start focusing on the city’s want of coffee, it says something about the Boston culture; it highlights a Boston in need of caffeine fixes and constant buzz. The idea is readjustment, a quick change in livelihood due to a catastrophic event. This “water crisis” is simply a miniature representation of how our culture reacts to stress. We plunge into discomfort rather readily. We follow instructions; we do as we’re told. Crisis makes us listen. Our independence, if but a moment, fades in the communal worry surrounding potential sickness. Also, we finally gain a sense of respect for water. We cherish it as if it were gold. But when the faucets no longer drip with worry, water will again be used without restraint. All it takes is “the water is safe to drink” and it will be an end to caution and an end to the strange sense of community that once existed in shared dirtiness and a shared desire for a latte.
The Water Crisis presents: Inconvenient Activities for Alexa
  • Teeth brushing
  • Hand washing
  • Bathing (forget the occasional bubble bath)
  • Drinking from the tap
  • Ordering soda from a restaurant
  • Making coffee or tea or Kool-Aid
  • Washing clothes
  • Cleaning dishes
  • Preparing ice
*It is time consuming to boil the water, wait for it to cool, then somehow get just enough out of the pot to clean the toothbrush without spilling all that hard-worked-for water into the sink. I just don’t have that kind of time in the morning.
obstreperous: unruly
staunch: steadfast or resolute
The defense’s case holds water.

You Kiss Funny

There is a dollop of truth to a good laugh; a sense of joy or embarrassment or cruelty. You can laugh at a person or with him. You can crack up or cackle. A laugh reveals a person’s eccentricities, his sense of oddness. It is in laughter you gain personality, dimension, and reaction. 
You feel discomfort in people bereft of laughter. You tell a joke and feel offended by silence. You expect at least a titter of amusement. A giggle. A smile? But smiling is nowhere near as polite. Laughter forces the lips to curve. It grabs the abdomen and tugs at it like a rope. A belly laugh. A guffaw reminiscent of Goofy.
And where would villains be without laughter? The witch who cackles at the sleeping princess. Snidely Whiplash and his snicker. The Joker and his darker sounds.
Laughter is potentially an insult. You can laugh at someone’s appearance. You can laugh at speech. A laugh can be a destroyer of feelings…
or a savior of them. People who are genuinely funny deserve a response to their efforts. If a joke is good; the laughter should be equally hearty.
For those who attempt to fake laughter*, then laughter acts as a cover, a mask. It hides feelings and reveals them. A nervous laugh, a hesitant laugh, a laugh simply because you’re terrified.
I try my damnedest to keep the laughter in, hugging my stomach and holding my breath. Sometimes it gets so awful my eyes water and my face, redder than it was a few seconds prior, warms. I look at the person, then away, then back at them and start laughing again. But it has been a while since someone has said something so funny, I break down laughing in my infamous squeak. It has been so long I think I forgot how. I almost miss my embarrassing laughter. I miss making my friends laugh just because my face turns as red as a cherry. I want those happy tears and belly aches. I want those awkward looks from the tables at the other side of the restaurant. Please.
*In the era of lol and lmfao, it is impossible not  to lie behind the guise of humor. The Internet has perfected faux laughter. I lol so much; but the real laughter is in the actual sound, not its three word (or in this case, three letter) counterpart.
Note: Happy World Laughter Day!
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
e. e. cummings 
“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
Lord Byron
“I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”
Woody Allen

Ha, ha, ha.

Stop, Drop, and Kiss or How to Deal with Stressful Situations

Just stay seated and everything will be all right. We could all smell the smoke. Everyone was talking about it. “Hell no, I ain’t stayin’ on this train,” a boy yelled, proceeding to try to pry open the doors bare handed. He was with his girlfriend, I suppose. There was a woman to my left. Blond hair, straight and past her shoulders. Blue-eyed, I think. She and I were trying to calm everyone down. “Listen to the intercom,” we’d say. “It’s the other side of the tracks. We’ll move soon.” No one was paying any attention. The blond girl and I continued to exchange glances as if to ask what do we do? A woman cried out about a baby.
When the doors opened, we could more clearly see the smoke. It was white as it crept closer to our seats. We saw a man with a bright vest or jacket. He held an orange cone. People started to rush out, the boy and the girlfriend up at front. “It’s up and to the left,” someone yelled. I assumed it was the man with the cone. So we followed, and the white became gray very quickly. 
What I remember of the rest of the experience is this: trying to breathe but realizing I couldn’t. Covering my mouth with my orange gloves and hiding my face in my jacket. A white woman with curly hair rushing past us yelling to let her through; she had a baby with her (what I heard later to be a one-year old and the mother was somewhere else ill from the smoke). Getting out into the fresher air and breathing in, then coughing. Talking to a boy who was down there with me who had asthma. Seeing that boy cry because his mother was coughing more than he was. A tall man who brought out water. An ambulance man saying “I can’t help you unless you were down there.” A woman from an ambulance truck listening to my lungs. Words that I was going to be all right. Looking around, confused, not knowing if I should stay, or if I should go. Phone calls and worried voices. Firemen and axes and police cars and people throwing up on the street. 
I was still coughing when I got home around midnight.
But I’m OK now, just shaken up. 
This is what happened last night at Downtown Crossing and my bare bones account of it. Apparently there was an electrical fire on the red line. Someone said South Station. Articles mention it was north of where we were. But the reason I mentioned all this in the first place is because I just talked about superheroes, and about 20 minutes prior to the event I had watched the movie Kick-Ass for the second time. Normal people being heroes. The lady saving a baby that wasn’t even hers. A man from the street buying waters for strangers. A woman I don’t know sharing a bottle of water with me. While it may seem minute, it just shows how people care more for the lives of others during an emotional event. We all were lost in gray and couldn’t see. We all heard the lady cry out for the baby. We all hesitated when those intercoms told us to stay put. I just hope they’re all OK. I know I’ll be fine. 
What to do when you’re caught in smoke (in my opinion):
  • If you smell smoke, leave the area.  Don’t listen to people telling you you’ll be all right. Just go.
  • As hard as it might be, remain calm. 
  • Hold your breath as long as you can. Trust me, trying to inhale smoke is worse than not breathing it in.
  • Follow a group. If you get separated, make sure your voice is heard. When the smoke gets thick enough, you can’t see anything. 
  • Help others. 
  • Walk quickly. Don’t run. If you run, your breathing will worsen when you get into fresh air. You don’t want to be gasping for breath while you are trying to get rid of the smoke.
  • When you get out, get your mouth, nose and throat checked by a doctor or ambulance. Make it known you may have inhaled smoke.
Wow, is life unexpected, or what?
For the people who rode in the ambulance, feel better.
For my friends and family, I promise I’m OK.
And in a flash, she was gone.

Poison Kisses or How to Wear Spandex to a Party

I still have dreams where I can fly—not really fly, but float. 
I sort of jump and I’m in the air and hover; then I wave my arms to gain height, like awkward wings or canoe paddles. It used to be a jump from my grandmother’s couch. I was tiny and terrified, my hands reaching for the ceiling and me realizing I was caught midair. It would last a few seconds and then I would fall back atop the cushions, mystified. I would try it again and again. Sometimes in dreams I could keep floating and others, it was just a series of failed attempts at kicking the air. But it felt so real. I swore I could do it. Flying became my secret ability, my superpower.
Now my flying dreams are science fiction and terrifying. I’m running from something. I’m scared. I’m willing myself to float high out of its reach. Sometimes I don’t quite make it high enough and it grabs me and I wake up. Sometimes.
I am fascinated by the difference between an older and younger me. When I was younger, I was a superhero. Now, I’m running from villains. This realization that there are negative things out there, that the bogeyman from our childhoods is simply morphing into realistic fears of perhaps being too independent, this is the difference from my youth. I’d like to think real superheroes exist to fight the villains, but we are taught early on this isn’t true, despite our desires and expectations. Dreams of having powers are dreams of being better than we are. To fly, run very quickly, or move things with our minds—all unrealistic goals, but damn how I wish it could be reality.
The reason for all the superhero talk is this: my friend Dave just got an internship at Marvel. This has been the conversation of the week, and there is a party this Saturday in his honor where we are allowed to be a superhero or a villain. To be a little bit…stranger than we are. But when Sunday comes and the spandex tights leave an imprint on my skin, I’ll have to remember that I can’t do this all the time. That I’ll have to wake up. That I can’t fly. And that the villains are still out there, waiting. 
*And if I could afford the fancy shmancy costume, I’d be Supergirl, or you know, Harley Quinn (sometimes I can be the villain, too).
misanthrope: basically, a people-hater
rapscallion: villain, evil-doer

Little Kisses

When I was in middle school and high school, I loved poetry. I loved rhyme and rhythm, melody and verse. I enjoyed writing about love and friendships, with humor and bite. I wrote with literary themes. I was Dante and Edna. I pulled inspiration from textbooks and television and telephone calls. High school bred angst and first kisses; middle school, first crushes and a tendency to blush when I talked (I might still do that). It was a time of poetry innocence. Then some of the themes became dark, some dark and hopeful. I was asked to speak at funerals for family members, a poem for each. I wrote about Heaven and memories and loss. But writing that poetry was difficult. My poetic innocence fell away in pieces the size of ash, slow and fiery, with every reading. In college, my poetry had an edge and was marked by an apparent loss of youth. I chose subject matter plagued by grosser imagery. I wrote about bruises and cannibalism and sex and cigarettes. My collection of love poems stagnated. Lately, though, I’m trying to reconnect with a younger me. It presents a challenge, but I truly miss the love.

I’m including some poetry below from my first years of high school and from my undergraduate collection.

Note: Please excuse the lack of punctuation on some of these; I was young.

Poems I wrote when I was 15 years old:

Walk by Alexa L., written February 9, 2003

I know it’s been a while
Since I first walked into your life
But my shoes are weary
My laces ache with pain
And I find my feet can’t stand

My soul guides me
But my sole is worn
My knees are weak
And I have trouble keeping straight

My step crosses and I descend
At the sight of you
And my heels are gaining lift
While my toes stick softly
To the pavement that grows equal in strength
To my heart

Trying in passionate steps
To stay parallel to the ground
I fall and drift
My feet lifting from under me
And the pavement’s open arms
Guide me to him
Until I can walk
Into his life again

Please Realize This by Alexa L., written November 2, 2003

I think you are a bit mistaken
My friend, I think you’ve lost your mind
Your sanity seems to be taken
To places I have yet to find

You think you love this precious child
My friend, she’s quite out of your range
And though you think she drives you wild
You’re acting just a bit too strange

It’s awful how you look at her
My friend, her looks take form of scorn
You think she’s being nice for sure
But you’re blowing on a muted horn

You really should give up on this
My friend, you’ll cause yourself dismay
You’ll never get true love’s first kiss
If you keep acting quite this way

Can’t you see she’s just a snot?
My friend, her nose hangs in the air
But all you think is that “she’s hot”
In reality there’s nothing there.

I love how things float past your head
My friend, she just laughed in your face
But yet you look past that instead
And try to find what’s empty space.

You are the sweetest one I know
My friend, this girl is dumb of sweet
And yet to her you always go
You tread behind her very feet

This girl is nothing but a blimp
My friend, her brain is helium
I’ve never seen you act a wimp
Consequence of delirium

Don’t you get this girl is wrong
My friend, there’s others, can’t you see?
I’ve been waiting for so long
Why can’t you find that love in me?

I confess, the need does burn
My friend, I love you just so much
I wanted love in true return
There seems to be no chance of such

My friend, this girl is not your style
My friend, the love will always grow
My friend, I loved you for a while
My friend, I was too scared to show.

My love, please understand my view
My love, I will not guide your heart
My love, I am in love with you
My love, I’ve loved you from the start.

A poem I wrote when I was 16 years old:

Invisible Man: A Poem by Alexa L., written August 27, 2004

I made an attempt to look the other way,
But I was forced back into my line of sight.
I could not speak, only seeing nothing
With my head turned down into my inner fight.

I reach across my chest to grab at something,
But nothing was still stopping me from that,
And I was caught without a way to argue
Against my forced down head from where it sat

The outside tried to force my head again now
To be looking up into a blinding light,
But I still tried to look inside my values
Since I saw that something was against my right.

So I pushed left while falling into circles
And my eyes received a final desperate blow,
For nothing was stopping me from something;
Apparently, the thing I did not know

It’s all right to say I never did learn something,
But the truth is always found beneath a lie.
So I closed my eyes and looked inside for guidance,
But the voice that flowed through all of me was dry.

With every turn into a wrong direction
I had chosen every path that could be wrong,
Away from what I prayed would lift my head up
Into places where I would be sleeping long.

But the fear of sleep and blindness was not tempting.
I was not to be afraid of what I thought
For every time I closed my eyes, I faltered
Thinking every time I spoke I never fought.

So finally in efforts to be human,
And to break the chains of what I could not see,
I chose to go into the dark for clarity

Of finding the identity of me.
Poems I wrote when I was 19 years old:

Flight Seven Thirty-One (sonnet assignment), by Alexa L., written March 26, 2007

Flight seven thirty-one had left the gate
and pleaded with the wind to let it rise,

but did not move at my required rate
(Not something I would often criticize).

But Grandma was a place I wished to be,
a destination from my very birth.
But clouds had covered all there was to see—
white coffin for the burial of Earth.

I prayed my destination would be well,
with all its streets and people in their place.
But if I found that all had become hell,
I don’t know if it’s something I could face.

So here I sit thousands of miles high,
discussing deaths of cities with the sky.

Flight Seven Thirty-One (sonnet revision assignment), by Alexa L., written April 18, 2007

I. Flight

I looked, but did not really look
at the city below me,
while flight 731
ascended the steps of the sky.

Clouds formed a coffin,
that buried the Earth,
and I could not see through
the white,
opaque puffs.

I closed my eyes, and leaned
my head into the window. My cheek
molded into the plastic casement,
so all that could be seen from those
thousands of feet,
was the paleness of my skin.

When I would reach my destination,
to see Grandma,
I would tell her how the birds
laughed at the pallor of
my flattened face.

I would tell her that the clouds
looked like elephants, and as the night
crept into the pink and purple hues of sundown,
they made the sky into a star-lined rainbow.
And she would smile.

II. Grounded

The airport was cold, the walls
white. But not white
like the clouds.
Hospital white.
My father waited to pick me
up, but could not suppress the hurt
that reddened his eyes and made crying
seem harder than learning
to fly.

I wanted to go back to the plane
and wait
to go anywhere but Grandma’s house.

Because if I was on the plane,
she would still be alright,
would still want to hear about
elephants and honey-roasted peanuts.

But I felt my eyes get red too,
and sank to the corner to face

white walls.

III. Destination

Grandma’s house was separated

by labels with printed names of who
gets what.

My name was everywhere.
Her scent was everywhere.

A collection of elephants was torn
apart and spread
across the country,
from California to Maryland.

Elephants with trunks facing skyward
meant good luck.
Why didn’t I feel

My name was on three
elephants so far,
raising their trunks toward
Heaven; with their destination,

IV. Boarding Pass

Numbers took their respective
place upon the paper rectangle
that would decide my

But I was not destined to crash,
burn, or die.
Others were;
just check the numbers.

A Kiss is Like a Comma

In high school, we were required to read an essay by Pico Iyer titled “In Praise of the Humble Comma.” I am in grad school now, and yet I still can’t forget the name. Iyer stated, “The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said—could it not?—of the humble comma.” I am no punctuation buff, but I think punctuation, for writers, can be an attempt at risk. A chance to stab a sentence with a comma and pray the essay does not come out bloody—it can be invigorating. A rush.

Punctuation lacks attention in a text-driven society. We punctuate with emoticons. What could once have been said with a semicolon is now said with a smiley. No “I love you, darlings”; simply a wink or a small yellow face with accentuated lips and batted eyelashes (If a picture is worth a thousand words, what the hell happened to the words?). Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore the advent of social media networks like Twitter and Facebook; I believe these platforms have opened up new methods for conversation, and are instilling a new genre of writers for an evolving generation. What I don’t understand is why punctuation has devolved so drastically. There is a whole other conversation about the loss of proper grammar, spelling, language. In some of my publishing classes, students argue that as long as the message gets across, as long as people are writing, then short-form media is a wonderful tool. But for me, the problem begins in the loss of punctuation to save space.

In undergrad, I studied creative writing and worked at the writing center and copy edited for a mom’s magazine. What I learned: college students and mothers still don’t know how to use punctuation, if they use it at all. I have my share of mistakes, especially with humble commas, but I know the basics and the errors (I still don’t really know how to use a comma in every situation; even the Chicago Manual of Style is confused about the process). Comma splices would make my copy editing professor cringe.  And periods? Some students didn’t use them. Workshop after workshop. Dependent clauses. That and which. Missing commas. And this is just for English. Spanish pronunciation is defined by its accent mark.

For reading or performing Shakespeare, punctuation is vital for emotion. In my senior year of high school, my teacher asked us to memorize part of Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy—with the punctuation. So this: “To be or not to be—that is the question:/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And, by opposing, end them.” would read as this: “To be or not to be dash that is the question colon/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune comma/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles/And comma by opposing comma end then period“. Speaking the punctuation made us notice the intentional pauses, the lengths of breaths, the dash, pregnant with the thought of existence.

So my advice for staying properly punctuated? Listen to Iyer. The humble comma gives breath and takes it away. Read aloud. If you stop, the sentence stops; you’ll notice the distinction.

Words of the day:
elision: in pronunciation, the omission of a vowel, consonant, or syllable
mellifluous: melodious, musical, sweet-sounding


Note: Today is the the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A pause, a dash, a moment of silence.

A Kiss of Inspiration or Things to Do When You’re Hungry

So my friend Amanda and I have started attending these inspirational lunches. When I say attend, what I mean is that we bring our lunches out to the Common and read to each other. We bring old poetry and new. I sing to her. Another friend tells us the story of an aggressive duck through interpretive dance. We laugh. I smile. We come up with “assignments.”

Ideas for inspirational lunch members or lunchers, as I will call them for now:

  • Make up a line of poetry for a luncher; they then have to use it as the first line in their poem
  • Write a response poem or song to an original piece from a fellow luncher.
  • Pick a form or type of poetry and bring in a new piece the following week in that form.
  • Make a list of subjects you’ve never written about, but wanted to; then write a poem using the top three topics.
  • Pick a favorite poem (original or famous) and rewrite it.
  • Pick a poem from childhood and rewrite it.
  • Write a poem about a dream.
  • Pick a color and try to express that color in a poem without using the color itself.
  • Write a slam poem.
  • Write a haiku, then create a longer poem from that same haiku.
  • Use a photograph for inspiration.
  • Open a dictionary and flip through it, choosing ten words at random. Use those ten words in a poem.
  • Give a luncher a controversial topic to write about.
  • Pick a news story and write a poem inspired by the headline (or use the headline as a first line).

There are hundreds, nay, thousands of ideas out there. Probably infinite, though in calculus I usually ended up approaching zero (no matter how  hard I tried for the alternative). But the ideas for ideas are not really the point of these lunches. These lunches are meant to keep us writing, to snap us out of the creative funk we’re facing in the wake of finals and futures. If Amanda is anything like me, she needs to write to stay grounded. I outsource my stresses to my song lyrics. They keep me sane. And when the lyrics stop flowing, when the creative well has dried up, all that’s left is a publishing student with an empty journal and an empty heart. Just recently, I was able to transfer files from an old laptop onto my new one. What I realized in this transfer is that I was a firecracker with words when I was 11, but now? I lack opinion. I lack stance. These inspirational lunches are my way back to finding my voice, to finding me

Write on.

A Kiss to Keep Me Motivated

Summer creeps near; I can feel laziness breathing down my neck. Huff, huff, huff. A siren’s call, promises of trips to the Cape, dips in pools of blue, blue water, and the clop of sandles on the pavement. The promises quell worries of fall semester, of graduation and job hunts, 8-hour days and entry-level payment. Summer in Florida consisted of Disney and movies; Boston speaks of road trips and site-seeing. Such a difference. So much history here. But when summer ends, and the plastic umbrellas shrivel in your drinks, it is important to remember to shed the laziness like a sweater.
Staying motivated is not easy; I know this well. So here are a few techniques I’ve acquired to keeping up with the workload.
  • Choose a competitor. Pick a person in your class whose quality of work surpasses your own and then consistently try to outshine him. It can be a friend or an enemy; this doesn’t matter. It just makes you competitive, and keeps you attentive. 
  • Create a rewards system. For example, if I get straight A’s this semester I can buy myself the new phone I want.
  • Set aside homework time. If you are watching a television show, use the commercials to do part of your assignment. 
  • Mix homework with chores. If you’re already doing the dirty work, just balance it out. While you’re waiting for a load to finish, do the homework. Folding clothes ends up being a pretty amazing break from studying.
  • Invent time goals. Give yourself a time to finish your assignment by, sort of like a due date, but on your terms. If you don’t finish it when you said you would, you don’t go do the next thing on your list (like going to a movie). 
  • Write your goal on a mirror. If you have a dry erase marker, they work just as well on bathroom mirrors. Put your to-do list or goals on the side of it. Basically, every time you go to brush your teeth or fix your hair you’ll be reminded of what you have to do to succeed. 
  • Study with a friend who is motivated. Find a person you know can focus, and follow their lead.  
These idea, dorky as they may seem, have worked for me. I hope they work for you. 
Ta ta, for now.

Kiss Me Goodnight or…I am Woman, hear me snore

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sleepless in Boston
I turn the heat on; vents hum to life. I wrap my legs around my covers, thrust my head into my pillow. I toss, turn; lie on my back, then my side. I glance at the clock: 6 a.m. Shit, not again. Tears. Lyrics. Sunshine peers through the slits of the blinds. I close my eyes, rest my head back to the pillow and finally, my eyelids stumble, drunk from lack of sleep.

Saturday morning, April 10: I could not sleep the night before. Bad news at bedtime; stress before sleep. Nothing new, nothing unexpected. I wrote part of a song. Inspired by a friend’s poem, inspired by life. I walk to the station. A windy day, wind so cold it makes my face hurt.

Sunday morning: It is 2 or 3 a.m. and something is happening somewhere else that breaks my heart. It is 4 or 5 a.m. A phone call. Another night I cannot sleep.

Sunday night: I think about my weekend, the good parts: the French, a clumsy Wolverine, a night with friends and artists, secret codes in Chinatown, rum cake, earrings, signatures, costumes, kind words, pictures, Montreal and beer. I smile. I fall asleep before midnight.

On the subject of dreams…
Having been unintentionally sleep deprived this weekend, I realize that I didn’t dream. So in honor of the cheesy romance associated with dreaming, I am including lyrics below that I had written in my last year of undergraduate. Quick warning: I was feeling romantic when I wrote this. The bed in this song is associated with my dorm beds; I used to jump from the top because they were lifted about four feet off the ground to create storage space.

Dream Girl

lyrics by Alexa L., 2008

She sits upon the bed and stares straight down at you
She stares straight down and through you, babe
and cries her eyes out while she tries to speak
And teary-eyed, she blinks a bit of sympathy
but don’t be fooled, you know that she
was trying hard to say:

“Help me be the girl of your dreams
I’m making it easy, so please be good to me
I know, perfection’s in theory
But I’m making it easy, just tell me what you need.”

You stop her for a moment and gaze up at her
You gaze right up and into her
You tell her that she’s beautiful even when she sits there cryin’
You watch her as she rises from her bed,
should be within your arms instead
But she listens as you tell her, tell her, tell her

“Sweet love, you’re the girl of my dreams
You’re not making it easy
to ever let you leave
I know, perfection is hard for me
but you make it look easy
You’re everything I need”

So they moved a little closer and he stretched his hand to her
He stretched his hand to help her down
like Rapunzel and her hair
And she knew that he’d always stretch his hand to her
Be everything and all to her
He wasn’t going anywhere.

Sweet love, I’m the girl of your dreams
You’re not making it easy
to ever want to leave
I know, perfection’s in theory
but I love you completely
You’re everything I need.


Kissing in the Rain

I feel a little lost, a little little, like a plastic army man or a bee. I whisper “shit” under my breath, grip my umbrella like a life preserver and dive, head first, into wet. It is then my umbrella snaps backward, shifting violently with the wind. I just want to catch the damn bus; I think this while I snatch the edge of my umbrella with my open hand and tug. The wind whips at my cheeks. Cars honk. I cross. The bus zooms into nowhere. For a moment, just a moment, I am absolutely pissed at the world. Ten minutes pass. I find sanctuary in a bus seat caked with gum.

Rainy days in Boston are unusually gloomy. Here, if it’s raining, it’s probably cold. And if it’s not cold, well, it’s definitely not sunny. Today, it is cold and it is raining. And if you look out your window and see gray, my advice: check the weather forecast. Boston weather is fickle. Gray skies may imply a chill, but it is not always so; it can be gray and it can be hot.

No rain boots today. The wind is bearable. I walk out the door in jeans, a tee, a sweater, and my temperamental black umbrella that I fixed a few days prior. I pray the rain and wind stay light.

On rainy days like this, I feel 12. The world is a scary place, unpredictable and often sad. I recollect the books I read when I was young, the poetry that weathered hurricanes, family deaths, and a move that spanned almost 1500 miles. The poem below is one my grandmother, Elayne, often read to me before bed.

My Shadow
by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an errant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

From A Children’s Garden of Verses (1913)*

* I own a newer version of this book; I still have it on my bookshelf after about ten years (I’m 22).

Words of the Week (to be attempted at least once today in conversation)

apiary: a bee house
quotidian: usual, customary
clandestine: done in secret