There's this succulent thriving in my home.
I don't know how.
Nothing thrives here.
I keep the windows open.
Flies come in, die in the window frames. Little dusty corpses line the base being ground and raked by the opening and closing of the sliding window.
Waiting to be vacuumed, their final resting place.
Is it the succulent you bought after finishing that Baldwin novel?
Were we experimenting with sobriety then?
You usually pulled a healthy 2 oz from a bourbon bottle. So why was this time different?
Trying to create new traditions.
For all I know this could be a different plant entirely.
I barely remember how or when plants began, their stories impulsively entering my life to exist in months/years long state of entropy.
Slowing falling apart, starved of light and sun, or too much light and sun?
There was a boy once I was seeing for a small amount of time.
He had teeth like buttered-popcorn jelly bellies.
I told him they were beautiful and unique. A special part of him.
He grew succulents in his room under a lamp, a surreal blue UFO glow filling his room.
He worked at a nursery and talked about plants a lot.
It was strange being intimate with someone who cares about their job and talks about it endlessly.
I had plastic succulents in my room at the time. He picked one up and examined it with the eye of an expert.
"It's not real," I had said.
"That must be very depressing to see, considering how much you like succulents."
I don't remember what he said.
When I ended things through a text message he had protested.
I had kinda lied and told him I needed to prioritize time with my friends and family.
It wasn't a total lie though.
The truth was I had completed a major self-publishing project (major for me) and he hadn't really been that interested or curious about it.
The zine I gifted him, he had rolled a joint on and had left it in the backyard, bits of marijuana sprinkling the cover.
The wind eventually separating and scattering the unstapled pages across the patio.
When he had showed me his photography, a coffee-table book he had had printed of forests, I had spent time on every page, making observations and inquiring about his process.
When I ended things, he said I hadn't actually got to know him.
There was so much more about him that was fascinating.
I should see him in his element, the woods.
I told him he was really great and that it had nothing to do with him, I just needed to take some time to be with people that are close to me.
He told me he was at work and we'd talk about it later.
Then he sent me a screenshot of our conversation.
Then he told me that screenshot was meant for a friend for analysis.
I told him, "let your friend know I have plastic succulents."
"Salt of the Earth."
"Worth their salt."
"Take it with a grain of salt."
Tay Tay and I were obsessed with salt. We had a little pinch-pot that rested on the shelf above the stove that accompanied our plates to the dinner table. It was sprinkled liberally on every dish.
Gandhi walked to the Arabian Sea to protest the prohibition of Indian citizens from harvesting and selling salt, requiring them to purchase exclusively of the English market, taxed heavily.
Salt is gorgeous.
Ranging from the briny white encrusted surfaces of ocean shores, the peach marbled of Himalayan salt mines, the sel de gris harvested from the base of the sea, and the mottled granules harvested from seaweed in Japan.
It's sources varied, it's flavor familiar.
A small lick of a salt rock acts to prime the palate.
It enhances and brings out the flavor of any dish (especially sweets) and satiates the body in a way its lack will not.
My friend Anna makes this broth. It's so many things: vegetables, bones, a dash of fish oil right before serving.
The comfort in all the hot savory elixir imbibed at the temperature barely below burning your tongue seemed to cure any ailment. "My rule of thumn is 21-25 grams of salt per gallon," She let me know once.
I remember the way the broth would make me stretch, as if I came from a dry sauna or a hot spring.
Everything loosened, relaxing into a place of better alignment.
Cari has my favorite salt, I still can't find it in stores.
It's that flaky celtic sea salt that holds a crystalline shape like a snowflake dissolving on the tip of your tongue.
There is no better pair with salt then a lover's warm skin dried after wave chasing.
With these indulgences of course comes the consequence of their imbalance, the reality in which I am personally aware.
As a personality trait, to be salty is to be irritated, angry, hostile.
It's attributed to the agitated, the one with the ruffled feathers, reacting rather than listening.
Frustrated and impatient.
When I think of "salty" as a personality trait I imagine an angry salt shaker clamoring back and forth on a tabletop, spilling grains from its porous head. I imagine a salty person grabbing this angry shaker and turning it over their food, adding fuel to their own inferno. Slamming a spooned fist at the table to command attention. Spewing a rant to a family who exchanges downward glances and stirs their potatoes.
Then why is it such a contradiction when they say, "worth your salt?" or "salt of the earth?"
Salt was currency once. To be worth your salt is to be worth your paycheck in Roman times.
I like to think of it as the saline quality in our blood.
Is what we do, our action, worthy of the salt in our veins?
Are we earning our keep as stewards?
Are we maintaining our worth as children of the sea?
And "salt of the earth" is term used for the best kind of people.
I have earthbound grounded salt people I love so much. Their faces easily come to mind with this term.
There's something about soil stained finger-nails and thick unwashed hair.
Something about the way the earth collects on them in a way that makes them more vibrant then others.
I think of Matthew Carter and Anna.
I think of Seth, Hailee, Caleb, and Melinda. These are salt of the earth people. Chicken raisers and broth makers.
I can't exactly put my finger on the magic of salt.. it's presence is common in spell-casting and purifying rituals.
Salt circles are meant to protect, seal in a ceremonial practice.
Playing off of old cliches, I hold the memory of shaky teenagers spreading the baker's cabinet mortons in a circle around them to candlelight in anticipation of a demonic force. Even a base knowledge of salts properties is known in a pinch (no pun intended).
Why am I writing this treatise on my love of salt?
On the subject of salt as so fundamental and woven into the personal and the cultural?
This meandering love note addled with inaccuracies no doubt.
I made these little salt rings to cast ritual circles and needed to put into words what salt means to me.
I'll take whatever salt you offer, a grain or a boulder.
Any sort, I'll inevitably touch it to the tip of my tongue.
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. - Karen Blixon
Tapping the mic, seeing if we have gods attention.
Adjusting rituals. It’s not, “how to nullify this contract” it’s “how will this contract be adjusted.”
It’s making that five-year plan in earnest, a pretty obvious natural lie, and allow it to be divinely corrected.
We have to make mistakes and fail to get the attention of god. To have our natural laws, corrected, redefined. It’s absurd, but it’s knowing.
It’s a trick.
You can hold still. God wants to see you fail, be humiliated, literally fucking die, to beckon your rebirth.
Not ceremony, ritual.
J talked to M about meditation once and she hated it. Resisted. An obvious medicine for her body turning inside out. She’d be a shell?
All her super powers hard fought acquired, born with, supernatural - would be for naught.
I’ve seen a husk person. A cautionary tale. This is what happens when you go to god direct, and don’t take the long tricky pathways.
You cheat, but not cheat.
I’m wanting to make a real commitment to myself but this will be tested.
And maybe it’s a trick. Making I am earnestly tricking. But this is no way to live. Right?
I heard a meme, I wish I had it. It was perfect. About not wanting to get in a questionable partnership because I’m focusing on me rn. And I don’t know how long this version of me is gonna last. And I want to cherish this time.
Can I offer friendship?
My contract with my mom is the strongest. I’m worried about that. Because she’s my person and always has been. And I get this time with her. And I don’t want to adjust this contract in any way.
But I have other selves I want to grow into. I want to speak French fluently before I die.
I know that means I have to go.
What will I regret more? Is it about regret? Or the possibility of vulnerability? Telling my mom I rly love her and leaving. Leaving to come back to meet her again, both of us different. Having walked through a death in t
he way my brother must see with her, and we with him. Whenever we see him. A new birth. A new death.Always someone we love, but you’re always a little afraid you won’t see them again. That something will have fundamentally gone away. They won’t see you either, even though you’re there.
I swear, it’s still me.
I’m getting to a point where I don’t recognize myself.
It’s slight. I try to stay on-brand for the sake of consistency but the charges, I see in my face. In my eyes.
I look like my aunt. I even tilt my head in photos the way she does.
And in this natural challenge, this shifting trajectory, shifting the train tracks with my lever to run over the large man? Or the school children? Do we need the distance to decide?
“You’re now in the train..” they say and we suck air through our teeth.
To make choices. Fundamentally unnatural? We ask god in those moments and get nothing. The slightest omen, a robin in an aspen spitting mash into the mouths of its offspring. This is how god responds.
Billy mentioned being asexual. “Lol never,” I had said in response. “You can choose to be celibate though.” He’s life contract screams romance and sex. It’s heavy in everything about him.
An observation. Possibly wrong. Rude of me regardless.
Sydney used to tease god by speaking outloud of joining a nunnery. She knew the hack.
I can’t believe that worked.
A obsidian stone shifting itself to the top of the rubble to see the sun for the first time, gleaming like an oil slick for a crone to pocket and cast a death spell.
Is this how god speaks?
In what way do we answer?
《 Take some time to document all the ways you let impatience derail your creative process & share your findings with Elijah. As a Water Sun, awareness is their specialty. 》- costar astrology recommendation
Where do I begin?
Does this look like a list of excuses?
Last night, Mom & I ate sushi & played cards. We took a couple wasabi hits to the sinus cavities by accident.
《 Is this because I told Erica that you and I never talk? 》she commented.
Us, having dinner together, hanging out, shooting the shit. Something we don't do as often despite living in the same house.
I laughed a little and said《 no - but I could understand the mention. 》
I work in these cycles. There's a finite amount of time existing in these cycles. I don't make a lot of decisions what, how, and when these shifts will happen. I've learned to move like a river through them. Learn to stop destroying myself when these shifts happen because I realize I don't have control.
All of this has the tone of defensiveness.
《What the river says, that is what I say, 》
I can make choices within this snow globe of course.
I explained to my mom, about when I lived alone, my silences went unquestioned. There was no one around to question them. My absence wasn't felt in the common areas, I wasn't a ghost in places I frequented because my inconsistencies were consistent enough to not create a void of space to be questioned.
I wasn't missed. This suits me.
For long stretches I'd exist in my head. When the quieter guides, ancestors, muses took a turn in the mind chamber. Pulling the strings. Acting as congress.
I'd become so quiet.
Sometimes I can be so loud.
People meet me then, during the loud times. Dancing times. Fill-the-room-with-my-presence times.
《 We should hang out again, 》they say, and I write my number on a little slip of paper knowing by the time they text, I will have turned inward.
It's not a creative impatience as much as it is running out of time.
The micro-seasons, the micro-climate within the shifts, I'm no longer the same river. The experimentation of a particular project falls from my hands.
Suddenly, where there was once an obsession with print-making, there's now a need to write every friend a letter. Where there was once running on a treadmill everyday, drinking probiotic smoothies, and performing sugar scrub exfoliation, there's remaining on the couch for eight hours reading Sylvia Plath's journals.
It looks like giving up, but it's more like giving in.
Right now, I've been writing in my journal everyday and checking costar astrology for prompts in which to accomplish.
I've been ravenously hungry and consuming seafood. The DnD group is gone and I haven't been scheming with friends. I'm into buying old scrolls of paper at Thriftstores and wanting to write long letters to an old partner. I'm very into earthy scents: burning incense, using cedar oil in my skin moisturizing routines, and spraying my bed twice a day with a sheet mist that smells like flowers.
All this will pass.
I used to be so hard on myself about this. I still punish myself in the way of believing it's a kind of fundamental flaw in my hard-wiring. Others, it would seem, move out of the fetal process of their mediums and projects.
You see them grow into richer artists, making progress with their prolonged focus.
You are very much like this. It reminds me of when you were a tree in the redwoods overlooking the ocean. You grow like a tree. You are slow and deliberate and work towards your goals. I'm comparing, but not comparing.
I like how you are, and I like how I am.
It's just so slow for me, in a different way. My cycles seem quick, but are actually long.
Eventually I come back to the place of loudness, but the same friends aren't there.
Eventually I come back to the printmaking, but the tools have been given away.
It's hard to see, it's hard for me to explain.
It was hard for me to see for a long time. It was hard to allow myself some forgiveness and grace.
Ah, another Stafford quote comes to mind.
《There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change.》
Je ne souviens pas prenez la photo..
Désolé, c'était comment un rêve. Tout le monde était là. Disons que c'était il y a longtemps..
Chaque hier sens comme un longtemps.
Il vaut mieux dire tous tes secrets en français.
Laissez-moi vous en dire un maintenant: je ne sais pas ce que ça va se passer.
Je sais à peine ce qui se passe maintenant.
There's this certain calm after a shake. Have you ever driven for several hours in a day and find you have no thoughts in your head when you arrive? All that vibrating, all the pulsing, and suddenly you feel almost as if you've recently been inutero.
Recently born again, having been rocked gently by the rolling wheels over concrete and dirt.
I abuse the word vibe, and vibration.
It's a concept I'm obsessed with.
When things are still, we gain a reflectory composure.
We lapse into the quiet of our minds and wordlessly, without drama, tektonic plates shift into place.
"Here I am caught, in the amber of the moment, there is no why," Vonnegut said once?
"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."
Apologies for the slight misquotation.
Now, I've stopped asking why.
It doesn't seem to matter.
My demand for reasoning when there is none, puts me always at a stalemate that can't be explained.
At best I can construct a reasoning, and in that create a deity molded out of paper clay and tinsel.
But if no one believes it, it doesn't really matter does it?
Resonate with me a moment.
Through a series of choices and agreements the wheel turns. The destination is no where in particular, or rather, the goal doesn't matter much.
I, too, was a small decision.
Now here I am surrounded by stuff, gelled in a moment of dustless stillness.
Maintained, awoken, shaken, gathered, placed.
Is existence anymore than a collection of spoons? A temperature? A potential stifled violence intended to stave off the needers and the takers?
And I've stopped questioning the role you play in all of this.
I've stopped asking you and the cracked idol on the altar for these answers.
If I want to, I can go. I can stay. It doesn't matter.
A multi-dimension will play through the other versions and I have enough faith in that to live within the multitudes.
A shoebox can make a proper diorama to peer through and see what could've been. We are flesh-toned pipe-cleaners against a hot glued cardboard background of the house we live in together.
Anything is possible.
I wonder what the other-dimensional self sees, peering in at me now.
In bed everything fuses. It's the ultimate resetting point. My eyes could blink awake anywhere, at any age, in any form and I'd pick up my script and the words would roll out.
It wouldn't make sense. But this version makes as much sense as any other.
There's the costume, the lines, the taped X on the floor. From behind the curtain emerges the friends and the reoccurring conflict and here's the person you get to kiss, lebensabschnittpartner.
Here we are trapped.
An excerpt from Waking Life:
"One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as, a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, it's like your life is yours to create."
So it goes.
I don't envy the curiosity of children, which is actually perpetual confusion with crude sticky manual dexterity.
But my question has always been the same since then.
There's a line on my hand called the "fate line." For the "typical," it usually starts at the palm base, right in the middle, and dances it's way vertical, up towards the slouching hammocked head and heart line (blessed are those who have both).
This is the question we form, the question we pester the adults about and then ultimately turn inward to act as the forever child persona demanding of the deity-manifester persona.
Ever in curiosity. Ever in confusion.
The way the Little Prince queried the pilot about the sheep eating his rose as the pilot attempted to repair his plane: "The thorns are of no use at all. Flowers have thorns just for spite!"
And it's possible in all this shaking I've given up and become a mushroom.
My question will always be that of love.
As a kid I wondered what it meant to be loved and still I wonder what it means to be loved.
I wonder how it is I can love rightly and how my own heart exists in the world.
In posing the questions I draw in the hypotheticals.
It's that vibration.
The stillness feels satisfying after the movement. The calm is because we affirm can still feel.
We can still smell one another. We are given permission for closeness. We move through the olfactory layers of one another.
Shake and be shaken.
Move and be moved.
I'll take this time, when the Why has fallen away.
Because I've been shaken the last few days, rocked and held and shaped by hands.
I will be settled in a transient certainty of being loved. I will let this vibration into the core of me and accept it.
I will remember it.
I will let it shape my delusions and let it hush my small child-self into repose.
Painted me blameless and allowed my anger.
You expressed a regret and considered me, a part of it.
My feelings were hurt. You saw them. You always saw them but it took you 9+ years to let me know you saw them.
You gave me permission, a retroactive slip, that validated all my anger.
And let it go.
Let it go.
A strange pain makes us who we are.
We actually need this pain
we become indefinable.
A wall corrals a city, a fence corrals a yard.
Horses are kept in a field held in by electric fences.
We need a moment to pause so we can retreat and come back into a center.
I wrote you back. I don't remember what was wrote. Lots of gratitude.
I didn't tell you were brave even though I thought you were.
I think you are.
I wrote "there are many of these kinds of letters I have in me," and finished it with, "please know you're not alone in examining old choices."
You are brave Nella.
In the mountains I think.
"Gone from my sight,"
but not like that.
The pamphlet poem during the Hospice times. Not like that. As long as we're still alive there's a cord. A visceral vibrating cord.
When we pass, the cord becomes translucent, like silkworm thread, thin and slick, but impenetrable.
All my lovers come to me in dreams still. I always let them. Nothing is as it was of course.
We're not still reading through out the same one-act.
They're usually doing other things, not the same things, and come by to show me.
They've moved on. It's the way it goes.
I'm always glad to see them even when I wake up alone.
Couldn't get warm all day. Wringing my hands together, pressing between the creases of my knees. The best medicine is to lean into it, do as the Estonians do and plunge yourself into the Baltic. Put your galoshes back on, offer a few girls some cigarettes and beer, and continue fishing.
I'm always in self-preservation mode.
"It just works better for me that way. Emotions are messy and complicated. I honestly don't believe us as humans are equipped to have them. I'm shocked at how long I've lived while knowing/understanding so little about how to manage them." I wrote this to Maya today, in a letter I'm uncertain I'm going to send. It's written on the jacket of vinyl in thoughtful handwritten letters that get less clean as I move into a place of expressing some pressing honesty.
I don't know if I'll give it to her. It gets messy. I don't like getting messy, even if it's on paper.
Actually, especially if it's on paper.
The other day I woke up with Matthew Carter. It was cute, not like all that. We had fallen asleep watching Star Trek and I had a touch of whiskey in me. I think it was after his first round of snores I had woken him up declaring, "Matthew Carter, I just want to promise you, if/when I get into a relationship I still want to be your friend.
I don't want to cut you out like I've done before. I just want to promise you that."
This feels safe.
What am I even saying.
He comes and goes too. We all come and go. It's fine. It's the way it is.
What I'm trying to say is there is no cutting.
Nothing is ever cut.
He's somewhere in the mountains, I think.
"$10,000, perfect. We'll take it."
All the money we had. We moved everyone in. All the friends who were on couches.
The friends about to drive South for the winter, we caught them and said, "hey, come in, we're gonna do a thing this winter."
We could play shows in the barn, set up baths around the property and pump in some water from some underground hot spring. Who knows about those things.. That Irish guy in East of Eden with his water stick waving over the dust. A thousand words for every scoop he said?
I can never find the things I'm looking for when I need them.
We're gonna get all the rugs and lay them out.
Then we're gonna get a bunch of paper and pens and typewriters and lay those out too.
We're gonna have these nights where we all lay on the rugs and answer writing prompts.
Some folks will crawl on the roof for a little space.
Write by the light of the moon.
Write by the light of Mars,
of UFO beams or whatever.
Then we'll read what we wrote. Some won't. We won't force anyone.
We'll spit whiskey into the fire and cast "good riddance" spells on our exes even though we still love them.
We'll never eat and never sleep. It'll be all work. All dance. All strum strum on the strings and "when's your producer friend coming up from Oakland with their equipment?"
Nail mattresses to the walls.
Line books on the shelves we wrote.
Of course we'll eat.
The kitchen will always be warm.
The stove will always be on.
Coffee and beer will collide in the tween hours of 1p and 5p.
It'll be venison stew in the Winter, dandelion greens in the Spring, river water in the summer, and maple syrup in the fall.
There will always be kittens and they'll either all have homes or be wild. Coyotes will come and go to pick up the kittens but our kittens are smart.
Ducking under holes in the barn just in time.
And somehow kids will be there but they won't be assholes.
Their parents will keep 'em busy and curious and exploring and they won't run into the sides of tables and scream, or touch anyone's shit.
They'll ask all the best questions.
They'll be elected king and queen and they'll put on these plays that will have everyone roaring with laughter or sobbing.
When someone gets sick we'll cover them in blankets and ladle bone broth down their throats.
When they die we'll bury them deep into earth. When they come back in our dreams we'll gather everyone around to tell of the visions.
Of course we'll sleep.
I know it sounds like it will smell terrible. The drafts will never be fixed because we're artists. The roof will always leak. The walls are full of mildew and mold and we'll all get coughs.
The property tax will never get paid and the cops will come and throw us all out. Toss bleach on the clothes and things so they're ruined. Board everything up. Like they do.
But imagine for a second it smelled like warm caramel, fresh linen, and a little cedar. Imagine the kittens came in from the barn as we pulled quilts over our heads and their heads and our lover's heads and we knew nothing could come in to hurt us.
Imagine the coziest of cozy sleeps where everyone you know is safe. Where everyone you know is right there and you can just call out and ask them a little question if you wanted to.
Like, "did you see the sky during sunset this evening?" even though you know they did. Because you were right next to them.
And just like in that Kerouac poem, "everybody goes, 'Awww!'"
The problem with loving is when to stop.
I pulled the lavender inside, keeping it from the smoke.
It has forgiven the elements already and reaches for, with wispy tendrils of sun starved fronds, for the drapeless window.
I shake my head at our spiritual juxtapostion.
What if I offered you little pieces of my heart, one bit at a time, so you wouldn't even notice you held it?
A cottonwood bud plumped with autumn
A squash seed
A sunflower petal
You wouldn't even notice,
the pieces would be placed absently on your altar
next to the photographs of your great-grandparents.
You wouldn't even notice me there. You wouldn't notice the eek of the walnut cracking or the petal rustling.
Oils of the seed leaving a single drop.
I still love you.
I still love you.
I still love you.
Even, and especially when, I come apart.