anxiety · Findlay · home · mania · mental health

Hands, hands

nails-1420329_960_720I don’t write about Finn often. Not any more at least.

But I post pictures because he’s a unicorn and he not only make my heart burst every day, but he also makes other peoples’ day.

I took him to the Store on Sunday, where he, of course, grabbed everything off the shelves and kicked in the grocery cart kid seat, happy as can be.

Sunday was a bad day for the Store because the power went out briefly; the meat freezer had to be cleared, there was no radio, and the registers lacked the capacity to speak to the robot overlords. Store was a wreck.

Maybe I was, too. I’m having problems with anxiety again, which is counter-intuitive to how happy I am.

I can’t gauge or radar my dysfunction; I just deal with it.

I laid down on the bed after our outing and Jenn was with me. Finn said: ‘Hands, hands.’ Not perfectly, but clear enough.

He took my hand, put it into Jenn’s, and wedged his palm in the middle, then smiled.

“Mommy. Daddy,” he said, which was clear enough.

anxiety · favorites · mental health · the road

Glitch, pt. 1

Within minutes of turning on to 85N, and only an hour shy of Scottsdale, I see my first saguaros, cactusgalleryhankes04-56a71b853df78cf772925914white flowers peaking their green and fleshy scales; and I see two hell-bent roadrunners pound the dirt with near-invisible legs. I also watch as a jostling hay-truck explodes a tumbleweed with its grill.

Apparently I’m in Arizona.

I was actually welcomed to AZ a number of miles back courtesy of a buckshot greeting sign just outside of Yuma, this right before the Border Patrol agents with their nausea-green cars and loose-leashed dogs quickly unwelcomed me at the checkpoint.

The left-hand turn out of Gila Bend, north toward the 10 junction, provides better welcome. That’s when the landscape takes on a more Arizonan trope, the kind of landscape you’d find properly and agreeably silhouetted on a license plate; the stuff of gas-station postcards. There’s iconic cacti, the craggy and nearer horizons. Yellow-banded Gila Monsters, you imagine, looking to hitch rides in convertible jalopies through the blown-out countryside.

The 8W-85N convergence is where you leave the desert floor and its blankness. It’s where, too, you retreat from the Yuma silo painted with ‘0 sea level’ markersbeet_8610 (and where, too—despite claims to the contrary—the elevation is actually fifty-two feet). By turning left and north, you veer toward the saguaros and the Pre-Cambrian rocks that rim the deserts.

Camelback Mountain couching Scottsdale is made of the same ragged basalt that outskirts Imperial County. It’s of similar geography to the compressed-fault tombstones signaling Vegas; similar, even, to Antarctica, which though covered in ice, bares the same jagged geographical teeth—in bluish regale, but still remarkably parallel in desolation.

It’s lonely out here. The roadrunners must either be running away or toward something.

The mirrored patches ahead of me on the horizon look like some form of black ice, but it’s a trick of the heat. Arizona’s hot, especially for April. The dashboard thermometer flirts with three digits and I should’ve gotten my vehicle tuned prior to leaving San Diego. The idea of breaking down in the desert is a formidable worry especially with the white road fading into white horizon. It’s a long drive and only sometimes does the chaparral turn a different shade of brown. There is a sense of endlessness.

‘Welcome to Arizona.’ This is certainly not my favored state and, I’m arriving in an equally and altogether unfavorable mode, anxious and alone in the car. I’m just trying to make it to Phoenix on time, goddamn the desert in between.phx



My final destination is the Iris Award ceremony—the Oscar gala of bloggers—and though I’ve nominations I’m really proud of in my back pocket, there’s the insufferable Mojave to cross.

In Greek mythology, Iris is the errand-running messenger of the gods and a minor deity. She’s Hera’s handmaiden, classically symbolized by the rainbow. irisIf you make a slip of the tongue, though, say ‘Isis’ instead of ‘Iris’—well—that’s an Egyptian goddess. Her mother’s name is Nut.

Nut, nutters.

Iris is the daughter of the sky and the sea as mythology goes. This makes the rainbow appropriate symbol if you choose to consider rainbows, which I don’t this deep into an unpleasant drive. Currently everything is white and colorless; rainbows or oceans out here in the desert should be something out of the question. There is, however, the strange fact of the Salton Sea, the one that’s presently drying and dying, precipitating its own salts south of the 10.

(Take Exit 131. It’s about fifty miles north of the dunes).

The Salton Sea pre-dates Palm Springs as a destination. Both have been advertised as paradisiacal oases in the desert. Why we need parentheses of desolation to isolate and qualify paradise, I don’t know. Maybe paradise is made so only by fact of contrast.salton3

Could also be that you can get Eden-rivaling dates in both Palm Springs and the Salton borderlands, fruits worthy of the first Garden.

Either way, to get away from it all you have to literally get away from it all, in which case there are desert islands, or—as proxy—actual deserts. Water’s only a factor sometimes. Remember that Antarctica is a desert, which, if melted, could quench a considerable thirst. Melting the Mojave wouldn’t result in as much: you’d be left with a great and unnavigable sheet of glass, sand in your mouth and grit in your teeth. Still, paradise exists out here in the parch, unbelievable as it sounds.

Gulls Flying over PelicansUsed to be that thousands of birds—four hundred varieties—visited the Salton Sea during the annual Pacific migration: pelicans and arctic geese, terns and stilt-legged cranes. There were also the Hollywood birds with their as-conspicuous gams, their feather boas, and millimenary plumage. They’d arrive with lecherous and Bryll-creemed escorts at their wing, gleaming hair-do’s fast flattening in the sun. Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sonny Bono, the Marx Brothers.

Rock Hudson did a photo-shoot waterskiing the Sea with George Nader. They never co-starred together onscreen, just on Salton waters. Hudson, instead, did a turn with James Dean on the set of ‘Giant’. Dean died soon thereafter in a car crash 28 miles east of Paso Robles, a place near as desolate as its Salton cousin far off to the south.

The fields near Paso Robles and south of Fresno are harrowed and fallow, much like the Imperial Valley outskirts that, similarly, haven’t received much of the Colorado River’s water over the years. The Salton Sea is actually an accident of the Colorado, the River’s aqueducts having overflowed to create the fantastic puddle way back in 1905. Astoundingly the Sea rests just 200 feet above Death Valley’s greatest depths and currently receives only a slight fill from the polluted waters of the American River. Through nature’s mechanics, the Sea’s artificiality has slowly become apparent, precipitated salts and algae blooms winnowing fish stocks over time into just junk proteins: catfish, carp, and tilapia that now garbage the turgid


Man—the Salton Sea used to be so happening. Now it’s nearly dead.

Patio umbrellas are long folded, and meanwhile the bioaccumulation of selenium in the Sea’s fish stock has left a shoreline of limpid birds with botulism. Poor birds. The sun is a constant and evaporative thing.

I drive over New Wash just past the dunes, and there’s a change in the guard railing, a change, too, in the color of the road: the asphalt turns from black to white. The New Wash is just cracked earth and chaparral when I blow by at an 85 mph clip.

2-600x435When James Dean died, it was because his Porsche violently slammed into a roadside guard railing, also at 85 mph. Alec Guinness—future and sage Obi-Wan—warned James that he’d certainly die in his ‘sinister’ vehicle a week before Jimmy actually did. Dean crashed avoiding an oncoming Ford Tudor, while purportedly muttering: ‘That guy’s gotta stop. He’ll see us.” Famous last words, and tidy fulfillment of Obi-Wan’s prophesy. Dean’s chassis was found face down in a gully, James’ neck broken twice over. He was declared dead before the ambulance could make it to Paso Robles.

Coincidentally, they sell date shakes on Route 466 just past the marker where Donald Turnupseed’s Ford Tudor nearly met James Dean’s Spyder. There’s a fifteen-foot cardboard poster—Jimmy in his red leather jacket—featured at a gas station just half-mile shy of the crash site. It’s that spooky Salton Sea vibe all over again: the ghosts of Hollywood past, the fact of Eden-worthy dates in the oases.

I think these things at 85 mph when leaving Salton in the rearview, the peril of the road and its left-behind ghosts, James Dean and his broken body, his internal injuries. I think: we all suffer from internal injuries; it’s just that James Dean died from them.

turnupseedTurnupseed, meanwhile, survived the crash. His Ford Tudor just wound up facing the wrong way in the westbound lane. How about that—the road spares itself some lucky trespassers. You should see where all this happened, where James met his fate that night and where Turnupseed walked away unscathed. It’s a really really forgettable place.


There’s a change of guard-railing when passing over New Wash, and the sudden appearance of thin grasses. There’s supposed to be overflow from the Salton Sink here too, but the tributary veins that bleed the Salton Sea are dried up. Chamise blooms in the arroyos, which means it’s existed in the wash for at least seven years without having once been drowned. chamise022Chamise, after all, takes seven calendar cycles to mature before it becomes dusty, musty, and white-flowered—seven years to muster just one blossom; meanwhile, the chamise I drive past is on full display.

The fact of the New Wash has me curious if there’s an Old Wash. I also wonder what constitutes a gulch versus a wash, if an arroyo is the same thing. The air conditioner hums as I ponder, providing the minor miracle of cold air as the temperature guage on the dash clicks past ninety. Dressed in a light shirt and rolled up jeans, I even consider being cold. I look down to see my hand is trembling. Goddammit. I turn down the AC, but, as my hand continues its St. Vitus dance, I suspect this will do nothing to stop the mounting shakes. Not the tremors. Please, goddammit, any other day. I’d rather this not be more difficult a drive than it already is. Just get me to Phoenix.

San Diego to Phoenix is actually, should actually, be  incredibly easy. By GPS account you take exactly three turns over the span of near-four hundred miles before arriving at Camelback’s base. phxsanRegardless of uncomplication, there’s still the steep and plummeting spiral toward the desert floor, then the white hot spaces with white skies in between: perils of the 8. There are also the stretches of bleached asphalt–too long–before any welcome distance markers. It makes me nervous to say the least. Too many miles of road separate nothing from nothing. Might seem romantic to some, these wide open spaces, but I’m not enamored with anything less than a green freeway sign remarking, ‘You are here.’ sealevel

I hate the Imperial Valley despite the occasional ibis that happens in the occasional field, or the spectacularly white dunes that occur briefly on the way to Yuma. A trailer park outside El Centro proclaims ‘Shangri-La!’ and, glitching, I all too handily call its bluff.









anxiety · depression · favorites · mental health · people · the road


Thorn St. Brewery is all distressed wood, chatter-shot floor plank rearranged into ceiling beams, French-bled and cross-wise. There’s a skylight with a retractable panel.

It’s been raining the whole morning through, a hot rain informed by tropical storm Claudette just off the Gulf Coast. Humidity moves over the city in dervishes and a collision of weather fronts has the clouds discharging electricity in a rare show of lightning.

Lightning strikes twice on the sidewalk in front of Alexander’s, the Italian joint just west of the tavern.

Alexander’s is exactly four blocks from my house, upon exit out the back door and up the alleyway. The alley’s overrun with bougainvillea and the neighboring magnolia is meanwhile choked with magenta sepals, high above the fence line. Behind the fence there’s that barking dog, always fucking barking.

The alleyway’s white concrete is buckled because the roots underneath are tuberous and over-tumescent, one hundred years in the growing. The kids jump their bikes here, without oversight from Parks and Rec. A broken street can be a fun playground, just sometimes littered with discarded mattresses and unclaimed dresser-drawers that Waste Authority refuses to pick up.

Ryan and I are still at home when there’s a remarkable crack. Then another. I’m awakened twice. I’d been restlessly day sleeping in the bedroom, pouring sweat into the mattress with windows half-open.

The rain has proven unbearable, its pressure system uncoiling in a clockwise fashion. It’s a Coriolis effect, sent via the Great Basin and with all the Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts combining meteorological efforts. Moisture is pushing from both the Gulf of California and the Sea of Cortez, the combination of heat and humidity something particularly Southwestern, an isolated and specifically Arizonan phenomena.

(The classic monsoon prototype hails from Rajansthan, but that’s half a globe away).

The street begins flooding and, as quickly, slows to a trickle.

Squalls obscure certain highways. The 95 way out east, well before it hits the 8, is surely replete with traffic warnings. No doubt there are parking lots of red taillights somewhere across the Anza-Borrego.

Meanwhile, cumulonimbus clouds accumulate upwards. Big boomers on the horizon.

“I dunno, Man. Sometimes waking up. Fuck.”

We exchange the word: ‘dread.’ Of the existential variety, with a modern-day Sisyphus eternally pushing his boulder, clutching a Day Planner that is simultaneously empty and overbooked.

Outside the tavern is a spattered sidewalk. The evidence of rain fades as the lightning advances seaward, and a bar back on break smokes in the stairwell, hair already dry.

“I’ve always said anxiety’s like falling upward. You wake up and you’re already on the ceiling. Depression, though…It’s like prodding the air every morning and asking, ‘Are you here?’ It’s got form. You wake up, hoping to Hell it’s not there, but then you feel the plummet. It’s so physical.”

I order the IPA, and Ryan gets the brown.

“Both are, really—physical, I mean. Anxiety, depression. You just fall in different directions depending on which one you wake up with.”

It’s all vertiginal, as when Ryan quick-shook his head on the walk here, realigning the humors that otherwise keep him upright and in a straight line. He widened his eyes briefly, shaking it off, trying to shake off that something we’re both currently having a really hard time shaking off.

We’re best friends.

“I’ve been getting that lately,” he said, apologizing for, else explaining, his vertigo. I confessed to routinely having tremors, this exchange reducing our neuroses to trading cards.

The physical side effects are new and distinctly middle-aged. He has sciatic issues, mine are lumbar. It used to be that the body would massage out its own pains, a self-lubricating machine, but there’s the recent sense that the body is beginning its protracted stop, rust collecting in the gears. The grey hairs are simply filamental reminders, strawberry days being over.

We have our pints. Foam laces down the glass in neat concentrics and where we sit is a roughshod table, south of the skylight. Pothos plants are tucked high in the corners, too high to water properly; all with anemic leaves mottled white and trailing into smallish limbs.

Thumbs in the house apparently lack green. The glasses pile up as the TV plays the current soccer match.

Mac collects our empty Shakers, says ‘hey’. She’s attractive in her always-tight jeans, and a welcome distraction.

(The first bolt was blue, a straightforward discharge hitting the sidewalk in a frizzled mess of spent ions. The second was its kinder, gentler rejoinder).

The lightning isn’t fancy—it doesn’t fractal or make for anything more photogenic than a bright flash. It’s just determined energy, hitting the earth outside Alexander’s where, currently, there’s a wine special, and where—on Valentine’s Day—lightning is meant to strike exactly once, sealing the deal for patrons patronizing the window-plate tables, having just met, having dinner and sharing the tortellini. Young people, young in love.

Alexander’s is the Italian restaurant with graphics of Vespas on the frontispiece. It’s ‘the most romantic spot in town’ with white trim, white tables and faux marble. The ivy along the sidewall is halfway established, tendrils finding little anchor in concrete, the ‘A’ of ‘Alexander’s’ still only half-covered in leaves after ten years.

Next door is a waxing clinic and the sign features a graphic with a star in replacement of the waxed parts.

“I dunno,” I say fingering my glass, “When I feel my worst, when I relive those worst moments, I imagine a gun to my head. I pull the trigger exactly twice.

“Just, you can’t pull a trigger twice.

“I take it to mean I don’t really want to end things. Mostly, I don’t like myself.”

I pause. “No, that’s not it—I just don’t like how I feel. Not the same thing as not liking myself.”

I like myself, I think, and say so. How different it would be if I could say it more resolutely.

With the lightning still moving, wandering westward and over the ocean, the skylight opens. Everyone applauds. There are residual thunderclaps, overheated air from the electrical discharges trending away. The sun peeks out. Lightning changes color as the air also changes: blue to green to pink. Clouds dissipate and the sidewalk outside the welcome mat is suddenly dry like the bar back’s hair.

On the sidewalk outside Alexander’s, there are fern-like patterns, looping Lichtenberg figures where the lightning has hyper-heated the sidewalk, alchemically converting sidewalk sands to delicate tubules of glass. These form because lightning is amazingly hot and has a remarkably arabesque signature.

I forget who says: “You just wake up knowing there’s so much to do and you just can’t. Like, terror.”


I have a photo of me and Ryan and we’re smiling in the grass, smooth-faced and awkwardly adolescent. There are a thousand—a hundred thousand—photos like this in memory, with him and without; the accretion of minutes in snapshot time. It all suggests life is long, so varied in color and contrast. It would take forever to sit through the slide show: green grass, brown grass, scutch, and then chaff. Young face resolving to crow face.

There are those rocks we used to climb, mercurial red, sandy-textured like the ladder-steps up the playground slide, rough-surfaced just like the grip-tapes of the ascendant diving board scaffold.

Gravity used to be a plaything, when falling down or diving in was fun.

We sit across from the CCV’s that contain the wort, cylindrical vessels, which take up space in the tavern.

“They say if you know the end of the story—and most people read the last page first—it’s like 60 percent or something positive saying you’d rather know the end. That the story becomes better, automatically. Attractive. Like you can amplify your own happiness by knowing the end.”

The digital read-outs on the fermentation vessels flicker back and forth. Red numbers climbing and falling, keeping something in stasis. Occasionally there’s a negative number.

“I’m gonna go get another.”


I visited Ryan’s house in summer and the philodendron was untrained in the corner. There were apothecarial details like dried and browned lemon halves in the windowsill—dried flowers, too—earth-toned things decorating the house. The cherry tree was cherry-picked by the mockingbirds and corvids, the garden in need of staking. Ryan showed me his bed of collard greens and flagpole beans, which regardless of everything, was sprouting.

There was still green grass despite the drought that had extended northward. Any green was welcome respite from San Diego’s chaparral where a verdant lawn was recent cause for neighborly suspicion.

Our first day was spent traveling.

“I think we need to be on a mountain,” Ryan announced. This meant driving east and we spoiled ourselves with the rations:

Finnochionna salume, sweet coppa. Cubano sandwiches and pork-fat frites. Baguettes with a walnut pomegranate spread, raw-milk brie.

We rumbled down a road that was persistently green, down a road that Ryan drove fast since it was one he’d frequented most his life. The road’s a one-way by virtue of its ten-foot width. Ryan drove fast, but there was no one driving the other way, so we were safe.

Earlier we had passed the basalt of Steven’s Pass, the amphitheaters still-snowy two hours east of Seattle, even with it being June. It had been weeks without precipitation but the snow clung fast. We wound up at a campground off of Highway Two. After navigating narrowing riparian switchbacks, we parked at a fairly primitive campsite above a waterfall.

The waterfall’s a cataract rushing precipitously downward, dangerously, the whitewater made more impressive by its three-angled course over graduated walls of boulder. It’s somewhere you wish to keep your balance, and where, actually, Ryan’s birth father didn’t when Ryan was just three weeks old.

On that fateful camping trip, near forty years ago, Ryan’s dad fell in, having slipped while dancing stupid on a wet boulder. He wasn’t exactly sober and he was above coursingly lethal water. He actually survived, though his ligaments were twice stretched over, twice having been subject to cascading breakwaters. He could’ve easily been broken in a variety of manners, but he survived. Just his soft-tissues were damaged, stretched and purpled; all his calcium things remained intact.

Lucky sunovabitch.

Ryan and I set up camp above the moss-hewn boulders at the crest of the river, where the water takes its first dramatic turn. We were the only two people populating the place. It was a Wednesday. The yew had new and chartreuse growth, matching the phosphorescent lichens. Our campsite was above the waterfall, and across from tall trees.

Ryan built a fire, fueled it with dried branches while carpenter ants fiddled their antennae at the general goings-on. We weren’t exactly roughing it. We had speakers and music, toasted hazelnuts and dark chocolate, also a full and varied ice chest. Our campsite was given border by a sturdy and smoothed log, which we alternately sat on while the waterfall remained constant.

The sky was on full display. I’ve only seen the full sky with Ryan, not with my kid yet. The skies had been cloudy in Yosemite, also Tahoe, when I took Cayde to places I thought would be appropriately dark.

“The stars will be out tomorrow, Cayde,” I’ve promised, and he still hasn’t really seen them. That the dark can be polluted by light is an ironic phenomenon not lost on me.

In sleeping bags years ago, Ryan and I saw the sweep of the Milky Way. We were kids visiting Arizona. We saw what seemed the whole of the sky, which actually is just an obfuscated view of the universe interrupted by stars. We remarked the satellites unblinkingly coursing the horizon, lapping the slow-dial stars doing their clockwise slow-creep.

Above Highway Two, it was the same: the constellational arc, satellites replacing falling stars by being failsafe and fair-navigating things, nothing you would actually wish upon.

They fall to the peripheral right, these satellites, disappearing, until reaching the apogees of their orbit, furthest from their centers of attraction. Far away but still tethered.

(Satellites land on outgoing comets these days, the newest metaphor for something).

Ryan was looking up at the stars. He’s always been the handsome one, always well tailored, and his hair has since grown long like back in high school. People called him Jesus then. He was the first to point out to me that I had an absurdly long neck, which I hadn’t considered until he said it. The mirror confirmed the truth.

I guess sometimes your neck is a kite string, floating your head, and sometimes your head floats to that apoastic point, ‘apoastic’ just simply that outdated term bandied by astronomers, meaning, in the end, ‘You’re faraway from Earth.’ Just short of leaving orbit.

Ryan and I remarked how bright the moon was before realizing it was the sun rising. We went to bed in sleeping bags again, like when we were kids, just with it being morning. The orange tent smelled of ash.


At Thorn Street, the lightning having passed and quickly, it’s another afternoon. There are the neighborhood neighbors, their loosely tethered dogs getting tangled up in the barstool legs while greeting each other. There’s a feeling of present tense as the place fills up, women in calculated skirt-lengths and ankle boots, guys with beards and ironic t-shirts. Orders are placed and delivered while the soccer guys kick a ball back and forth on the screen.

“How is it I don’t get it?”

There’s laughter, and a new selection on the stereo.

“Why not feel happiness when it happens? I have a problem doing that. I shouldn’t. I feel happiness later, after I’m done thinking about it, after I’m done writing about it.”


Driving back through and past Everett, it was a depressing descent from the mountain and west toward Seattle. Yelp suggested cuisine far and away from its home: seafood too distant from the water, pho buried in strip-malls. Back in the city, nearer to the lakes and Locks, we found a place where one chef manned a single-burner, simultaneously churning out okonmiyaki and Zabuton steaks. We ate there, joined by Ryan’s girlfriend and her noteworthy cheekbones. We devastated the menu and over the course of the dinner decided to swim the bracingly cold lakes the following day. We also decided to visit the spa. Some place we could sit in hot baths and cold plunges, sit in hot rooms to make us ok. Quick changes in temperature do well for the circulation.


At the Korean spa, the bath table presented as a mortician’s slab, resolutely concrete, there being a garden hose and a five-gallon bucket over-foaming with lavender froth. I’m gestured to lie down, naked. The Shinto tradition is about the trinity of thinking as with all other religions, and so the masseuse claps my back three times when he’s done scrubbing my back. He seals his treatment: clap-clap-clap, three times the cupped hands on the large of my back before flipping me over with smoothed palms. Years of water and oil have his plantar pads sealed, like seal-skin, like raccoon paws, and he ladles water onto my chest, then pelvis, before adjusting my penis aside as if it were an afterthought, moving it aside with a sideways brush, covering it unnecessarily with a terry-cloth before scrubbing my stomach in broad strokes.

I’m silent, prone. My skin falls off in small measures and later I sit in a robe in a heated room. The second masseuse places me in angles, beneath an oven-warm sheet, and mashes a palm against my shoulder, trying, and trying and trying again to get rid of something, that something which is beneath the sheet and somehow seated south of my head. There is the scent of cedar and I go ahead and let her just fucking try.

anxiety · city · cooking · depression · family · favorites · food · home · neighborhood · penguins · wife

How to Make Tomato Soup in the New Year

When dragging in the fire hoses, I knock over a penguin and penguins—being like bowling pins—are easy to knock over. Also like bowling pins, they’re not quick to right themselves. They make instead a display of their frustration with flailing pink feet and wings doing snow-angel things in the ice.


I right the Adelie, tugging on his flipper and setting him upright.

“Get up, Kid. Sorry.”

The Adelie chaws his disagreement, eyes widened and head feathers splayed while I ready the hose.

I like this particular penguin. He certainly doesn’t like me currently, and says so.

I’m not caffeinated enough.

When properly righted, the Adélie stretches to his full length, blue and gleaming-bodied. He defiantly pins his wings to his sides and begins a reprimand. His crural feathers are in disarray when standing on tip-toe, with a head gigantic and eyes big.  The rest of his body is evolutionarily trained to look compact and impenetrable. He’s mad and fisticuff-ready.

The bird chatters a long discontent and I say again, attaching a nozzle to the length of the jacketed hose, “Sorry, Dude.”

Also: “Oh, shut up.”

I’m agitated.

I’m in the penguin exhibit and needing to thaw out the ice that I laid down yesterday for the birds—a few tons of it—needing to erase things down to concrete before laying on more snow. There’s always this process of whitening the exhibit. ‘Rinse-and-repeat’ and ‘do-it-again.’ The birds are goldfish-like, rediscovering the castle every time. They bury their heads in the fresh laid drifts as if the snow were something irretrievably new.

The Adélie’s still mad with white eye-rings dilated. He menacingly snakes his head back and forth in a prolonged and disgruntled filibuster.

The bird’s equal to my boot-stop, somewhere mid-calf, and remains the source of many bruises. A long time ago, he memorized the start of my calf—just north of where the boot ends—and has capitalized on his discovery. He’s a small and angry creature, growling with what sounds like a bone in his throat. His beak is a weapon. My purpled calf can be submitted as evidence. I start the hose and work on thawing the ice.

(It’s said the Inuit tribe has forty different words for forty different types of snow. I appreciate the lexiconical thoroughness. Snow certainly has different forms. There’s ‘aput’ and ‘piqsirpoq’—’pack snow’, ‘drift snow’).

Meanwhile, we have a machine that creates ice for the penguins, a gigantic set-up, with these digital read-outs that analyze conductivity within the briny wellspring, probes that measure salinity and temperature. The snow collects upwards in a large silo before finally being delivered into the exhibit.

The Adélie settles, folds his feathers back upon his ears. Our standoff is temporarily over. I continue thawing the ice and need deal with the snow machine later–more hoses, unfortunately. Always the lugging of things back and forth in this penguin neé goldfish forgetfulness game.

Thawing the ice takes a few hours. It’s time enough to think, which can either be good or bad dependent on ‘aput’ or ‘piqsorpoq’, those specific Inuit words for snow. It could also be good or bad depending on whether or not the pillow was kind the night prior.

My mind wanders. I remember this article I read regarding the fast-melting glaciers, the ice caps that have been disappearing for years. In recent times, the thaw has been more sudden. Everything is in quick-dissolve it seems. The guano-stained snow I’m currently flushing down the drain entertains a currently dumb and nascent parallel.

Bodies and artifacts are unearthed with the glaciers melting, leathery corpses the color and wrinkle of dates.  The bodies are sometimes big as mastodons. Also exhumed are the long-hibernated pathogens—these needling and small things—,which can suddenly aerosolize, becoming renewedly dangerous after eons of rest. Long after we’ve lost immunity.

(Jenn asked me over dinner one night: ‘What happens when it comes back?’ which ruined the cheese course. It was, however, an important question. Things have a way of returning).

While finishing the thaw, the once-buried herringbones collect over the drains. They are later the things penguins will pick at as items of both morbid and culinary interest. Meanwhile, the Adélie is no longer agitated; I lug in the snow hose to blow snow, hopefully to keep things frozen.


The light’s streaming from the east, the sun arcing higher now in the New Year. I’ve always disliked the easterly light. Its shadows cast westward, reliably short beneath the front and east-facing windows. Shadows get stuck in the gable and beneath the plants.

It’s a stubborn circadian thing, my dislike of the morning. I’m not synched up to the dawn. The sunrise to me is exposure, never a new beginning. I prefer the deep and bas-relief a setting sun instead provides. It carves new places to hide comfortably.

When Jenn and I moved in together, there was a particular homesickness that accompanied our living situation. It was our first run at adulting, us trying to afford a futon, a bed, groceries even. There were weeks when the bank account was whittled to $3.95. Less than a fiver to last us until the following Friday. Jenn would often retreat home on the weekends to do laundry in a house peopled by her brothers, her mom and her dad. It was light there most hours. Our apartment, meanwhile, was always dark, even in the daytime. Sandwiched between two neighboring buildings, the apartment was forever in a constant and concrete eclipse. Even the fern died, though I watered it religiously.

The real dark was best, come 6 p.m. or so. Out the front window, the step-stairs disappeared and the next-door lights clicked on, visible only between slats in the fence.

The under-girding of the upstairs balcony partially blocked the front window, so the view was minimal: picket boards, two erstwhile hawthorn shrubs and an anemic bougainvillea snaking its way upward from our doorstep to the second-floor railings.

Nighttime was relief. Always the stereo on and a record spinning, shallots and garlic hitting the pan in my first attempts at cooking. The kitchen was stubbornly ‘Harvest Gold’ though it was 2001.

(I won’t mention the cockroaches–the ones that had made their way into the oven displays, eventually getting stuck there in the little windows, unable to get out, regardless looking comfortable).

Get old enough and you realize there may be only certain intersections of time and geography where you feel comfortable. All this while  your chemistries require accordance to a specific set of spatial and circadian demands.

Is it just me?  I’ve historically disliked 3 pm. I dislike eastern light, too.  Also flat places–those cursedly flat streets with houses graded on the equal. I become agitated, almost agoraphobic, without walk-ups and the cover of trees.

When first looking for a rental house, Jenn increasingly pregnant, Jenn called me at work and said she’d found a place. THE place. It was on Greg Street, and the house was nice enough, but with a pink ceramic bathroom and a screened-in back porch needing repair. The house was on a horribly even street, one block up from where an airliner had crash-landed the year after I was born. The plane: it scraped the street greater than level.

(This is my particular, but historically accurate, embellishment. A PSA airliner crashed and left a memorial plaque on the sidewalk. A friend of mine lived a block east that exact year. Coming home from a shift at the local hospital, she found body parts on her front lawn. Her shift had already been burdened with body parts so the forearm on her porch was something superfluous).

I expressed my particular and neurotic, “No,” a quiet shake of the head, and Jenn cried in frustration because we’d been looking a long time for a house in this neighborhood. It should’ve been a ‘yes’ from me, pink toilet regardless.

We did find a house, though, on Herman Ave., and only a mile up. It had a hundred year-old sycamore overhanging the roof, also a minor walk-up to the front door. There was a gable, and the house was elevated. Had there been a pergola, some florid cover, it would’ve been perfect. In absence of a roseate bathroom,we signed the lease. Eight years later, it remains our home.


Jenn and I switch seats at breakfast. Jesus–this glaring window, the insufferable east light again, and the kids all  ramped up. This was supposed to be the easy and enjoyable part of the day. A Benedict at ‘Great Maple’ before managing a drive through the neighboring hills. North, and slightly east. Finn is wrapped around my neck, Cayde’s something non-stop. There’s also the fact of banging spoons and cutlery on the floor.

Last night, I lost the Great Book Debate. For the nineteenth time, Cayde read ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ in lieu of anything new or substantial. It’s a calorically empty book, and I’m aggravated at myself for being aggravated. Cayde puts down books in speeds I can’t fathom. Cayde’s sometimes like me, other times remarkably not. I’ve gotta stop expecting to see me in him all the damn time.

Shut the fuck up, Thom. Cayde’s Cayde.

(Still, I got him ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ especial and he seemed so excited when I talked it up as much as I did…)

I’m devoting myself fully into hating ‘Wimpy Kid’ while I should instead be enjoying breakfast. There are forkfuls of chèvre-stuffed zucchini blossoms, balsamic tomatoes. Goddamn ‘Wimpy Kid’ and all its stick figure drawings. Now every kids’ book has fifty percent fewer words. I try to focus on the plate in front of me. I’m not doing myself any good.

The potatoes have herbs d’provence and the Benedict is built atop a pop-over, so there is something lavender and airy about the plate, the poached eggs neatly trimmed of their egg-white tails. The tomatoes are roasted properly, but I’m in disagreement with the strawberry reduction.

Cayden, meanwhile, has taken up a coloring book and his crayon is cherry wax-flavored; Finn is tucked into a pancake, and it’s simply got maple syrup, a pat of butter.

I think the pop-over too eggy, the window too bright. On a Saturday morning, this is just way too much grey cloud thinking. Over the top. Arrogant.  Because I find the reduction a quick and neat approximation, not an actual reduction,  my cloud takes on a funneling under-shape. I’m an asshole for judging the line cook. He didn’t reduce the sauce thick enough to properly coat a spoon. Strawberries aren’t even in season.

(There’s only a 180 occupant load currently overspilling the leatherette booths, also the constant and tintinnating sound of forks against plates. The waitress is in training and the coffee–which I’ve had too much of–makes me anxious. I’m sure the line cook has to be hustling back there behind the swinging aluminum doors).

I’m restless. We’re going to look at houses to live in.  I have to switch seats because Finn’s pressing against my face now in his idea of a hug. His breath is something different with new and soft teeth—all puppyish—with his mouth awkwardly open-mawed against my cheekbone and lower-eyelid.

Jenn and I switch seats. I eat my food while the kitchen hastens dishes to the front of the house. I continue to hate eastern light. I continue to be a jerk. I hate myself for this weed of agitation that keeps springing up, this goddamn agitation goddamn.


Tierrasanta translates roughly to ‘Holy Ground.’ It exists back and behind the community where I grew up, on the northeastern slope of Cowle’s Mountain. To be more specific, Tierrasanta lies north of both Cowles’ and Fortuna, nestled in the upper plateaus south of the naval airfields. Tierrasanta overlooks a valley that was long-ago both dairyland and floodplain. It’s now an unwisely-engineered interstate with a parallel and adjunct business district, a thoroughfare lined with big-box outlets and mixed-utility complexes.

There’s a murmuration of birds over the Best Buy. We see this from a ridge at the last town home community we’re both visiting and ranking, and the birds do their thing, approximating the respiration of bellows, seeming to displace air when they needle in tight, the flock reducing itself to a line. Best Buy is neon at ten o’clock in the morning, which is absolutely unnecessary in the daylight.

The townhouses are ok. Nice. The brass tacks about living in San Diego: it’s downright unaffordable. We have monies passed down in that guilty thing we call inheritance; and while we meantime make a decent living ourselves, we still can’t buy 800 sq. ft. in a place we want, and really we don’t want much. It’s a certain brand of obscene. The only available option is to buy a house with a shared wall, and with paid-for maintenance; a shrunken patio as excuse for a backyard; and with communal pathways that approximate a front yard.

It could be convenient, and something you might want as a forty year-old, if unwilling to do the fixer-upper dream and while having a severe adversion to mowing the lawn. It could also be just a bummer, depending on how you convince yourself.

It’s this mid-life compromise, when you ask: does it really come down to this? Peggy Lee singing, ‘Is that all there is?’ while you hope the wall you share with your neighbor involves laundry or the kitchen, not the bedroom because keeping things at half-volume seems an unfortunate concession. To be forty and fucking on the quiet seems something adolescent, not something belonging to a responsible homeowner with a mortgage.

“The walkway’s nice.”

“You don’t have to do maintenance, at least.”

“From here it’s an easy drive to Mira Mesa.”

“All the good food’s there.”

“Yeah, true.”

The birds do their thing over the ‘Best Buy’ and the cottonwoods are grown up enough, also the sycamores. The chapparal is relegated to the valleys, the buckwheat repeating its uninterrupted seven-year bloom.


When I was younger, all the news coming from Tierrasanta involved kids finding live artillery shells while exploring canyons, exploding themselves—just horrible news—and now Tierrasanta is houses upon houses of development, an implosion of living spaces.

We drive around and there are exactly four strip malls: a pizzeria and a Hawaiian BBQ and a haircut store. It makes me weirdly nervous that there are so many houses and so few storefronts. What would it mean to be stranded in a crowd with so few facilities, and so few people you can greet at the counter by name? A guy at the last complex walks out of his garage with a white beard and a cigarette, and he waves amiably.

Jet-washing jets land across the way and I get the growing sense that I don’t want to live here, but I wave back to the white-beard guy. He seems nice.


As a kid, I used to sit on my neighbor’s roof and watch the jets carom over Tierrasanta during practice, the annual air show. At night there were sonic booms, unexplained, because we lived near the airfield and there was the constant and midnight rumbling of secret planes taking off. The B-1’s they wouldn’t tell us about yet. ‘Nighttime planes’, I remember calling them.

(This dream I had. I was in a fuselage, without wings. A metal tube flying low over the ocean, and the ocean below dark save for whitecaps. The whitecaps were in a messy diamond-pattern justfrom the wind’s interference. The ocean was certainly Atlantic, not Pacific. I could tell by nature of its mucky gray-brown color. Suddenly the water threatened the plane, rising, me in a seat trapped. I heard the water hit the undercarriage of the plane in a metallic slap before the pilot finally elevated the fuselage upward. Afterward, there was the sound of an ocean arguing against itself before a welcome subsiding. The plane then rose and rose and while still wingless).


At work, the snow is wet and coming out of the hose all wrong. Too much salt in the brine, else too many clouds on the horizon. The humidity throws everything off when making stuff frozen. The penguins don’t care and just revel in the newfound ice. The Adélies bury their heads in the snow and they’re characters: running, hopping, sliding. They wriggle around in the slush, upsetting the snow before it freezes proper to the concrete. Super-alive, they wave their heads back and forth in agreement with this all.

When I clock out, the snow is messied, and an Adélie barks.

I put my bags down and Jenn looks anxious in the kitchen. She wears an apron, which I never do, wooden spoon in hand. I kiss my kids in turn. Finn tromps up and down in place while exclaiming, “Dah-dee!” He always hugs me from the side; Cayde meanwhile hugs me square in the chest, nowadays too hard, and I have to remind him that I don’t like it when he pile-drives me in the sternum, not exactly.

“Gentle, gentle, Dude.”

I sense something is wrong, though the kitchen smells nice, like garlic or browned butter.

I cock my head.

“You okay, Babe?” and she says she just needs to tell me something, ushering me into the room.

(For the longest time, Jenn couldn’t furrow her brow; currently it’s that biggest tell that she’s lost an admirable amount of weight: that she can now perplex her forehead. It’s also a tell that we’ve grown older together, worries like strata finding places just north above the eyes).

The apron she’s wearing is ‘Hello Kitty’, which is cute. She puts her spoon down.

“Thom, Karina  died last night. In a car accident.”

Karina was the girl who opened the front door when we first looked at this house: a cherubic ten-year old with pretty brown eyes and a hint of belly showing, her shirt having ridden up. “Hi!” she said. Her sister was sleeping in a carrier on the table, blanketed in crochet, and with her nose as big as the divot underneath her nose, that being how disproportionate infants are in their disproportion.


As it would be for years, with Karina smashing her face into the window-screens of the back-rooms: “Hi, Cayde!” “Hi, Finn!” She loved those boys, and her smile was big, her voice bigger. She would hug them with her mantle of dark hair.

The dark eyeliner of her under-lid grew longer and more curlicued as she got older, Amy Winehouse-like, and last I saw of Karina, she borrowed Jenn’s curling iron and fixed her hair in a hurry in the stand-alone laundry-room, the door shut behind her. She said, “Thanks,” and handed me back the iron, still warm.  She ran, ducking down the driveway, secreted by the cover of parked cars, running into the street forever and far away. .


It’s on the news, the tail end of the car distant from the streetlight that separated the front of the car from the back, the chassis otherwise crushed upwards with seats against the ceiling. The news was stupid reporting that the kids were alive when they were checked into the hospital. No, they weren’t. God bless them, no they weren’t. They had no idea what happened.

How will our pulses end, how will they; I get scared they end with spines and teeth and things red-colored.

(I get frightened, really frightened for my kids, and that everything moves in near misses and that collisions are sometimes expected; that things are frozen, then dangerously thawed out; that there are extinctions upon extinctions, but also the not-extinctions, when days go maybe according to plan; when it’s sunny out, when the leaves are in  unfurl or could otherwise be crisped).

Cayden: “Daddy: can you make me some tomato soup?”

It’s a simple request.

“Sure, Bud.”

I harbor my bangs into a messy knot. I concentrate–and this is beyond important—I roast the tomatoes, San Marzanos, with Muscovado sugar and thyme. I caramelize the shallots to a purple-brown, I reduce the stock to half; I chiffonade the basil, make a roux. I add cream, white pepper—everything I can that’s a halfway relevant ingredient—while still pretending this is all basic. Carrots.


“Yes, Cayde.”

(We sit in the nook, which is white and simple, and I’m in love with my kid—something also simple).

“This is the best soup in the world, Daddy. Can you teach me how to make it?”

“Of course, Cayde.”

I say this, knowing I exactly can’t, nor ever won’t. This soup, it’s not simple.

anxiety · cancer · family · grandma

Upside-down Flowers

flowersudI sit with my Grandma in her living room and we discuss Mother’s Day because that’s when my brother’s supposed to visit with his new daughter. My brother is estranged so my parents will not be attending dinner with the whole of the family. They will instead noncommittally meet for a Mother’s Day something or other with their new and only granddaughter–surely it will be just formality–and my mother will fear being hurt as she has since she was six and when my grandfather disappeared for a month and without reason. This is to say, there is no blame: running from hurt seems hereditary, and why I’ve learned to instead love everyone.
My grandma and I agree there probably will not be a lot said or repaired, while my grandma talks and has cancer. The clock rings twelve and I can’t hear her because the tumor presses on her vocal cords.
“Should I tell your brother? About the cancer?” My Grandma is 89; I’m 37. It is strange to have a person twice as lived ask for advice. We consult.
Finally: “He should know before he gets out here, I think.”
I have a McDonald’s cup of coffee in hand because, anxious, I drove past my grandma’s house on the first run and found myself in a foreign parking lot, so why not buy coffee. It’s decaf. There’s that. Wouldn’t want to trigger any nerves.
My grandma points out a quilt that she’s displayed in her front room forever.
“That’ll be yours. There’s a mistake in it, though.”
She proceeds to tell me how she’s made these errors in all her quilts, some that she’s painstakingly corrected with scissors, needles, and thread before her retinas finally gave out.
She says she misses hand-quilting and I say that I get it. If you took writing away from me, I would be empty and how dare life grant you a passion and take it away so that you die with your hands tied behind your back or that your nose be given a needle, or that you must hold a nib between your teeth.
She tells me, forgivingly, that she knows I see things different, but that God’s carrying her through this. I was the only one crying. With a fucking cup of McCoffee. Which is far less poetic than one set of footprints.
I tell her that in every Persian rug, the crafter makes exactly one purposeful mistake. That perfection belongs to God or something and how arrogant to make something perfect.
We are excusing imperfection and there was that time I took care of her garden when she broke her hip and I under-watered her plants.
(She is Stage IV. I know this already. The doctors will tell her this two weeks away from today. She has headaches. Really bad headaches. I know it’s Stage IV–I’m sure of it).
I tell Jenn I don’t want to cry in front of Cayde yet. My grandma says she’s not panicked and that she’s 89 and has had a long life so crying would be betrayal.
I work with birds, and panic causes myopathy, in which case trauma shunts blood to the core, and wings and limbs turn white and lose their use. Blood rushes to the heart, which once protected by blood, eventually gives up because of too much blood and then the heart breaks and it stops.
I take off my glasses at some point and my grandma tells me that all will be ok. There’s no one not dying in my family that would say said same. And can you imagine that?
I will inherit a quilt and stitched into it is a flower patch that is unerringly and certainly upside-down.

anxiety · cancer · Cayden · cooking · depression · family · favorites · Findlay · food · grandma · grocery · parenting


Fresh-Thai-Basil_FreshThaiBasil-1Norah Jones is singing ‘Happy Pills’ and last night I weathered things ok. My chemistries are able to drive Cayden to school.

When you receive bad news, there’s sometimes the fact of not eating.  As you get older, blood sugar becomes something more of a thing.

Cayden and Finn are both in the backseat and I’ve decided bahn xeo is for dinner. It’s good I’ve decided on food this early. Breakfast is that thing everyone seems to skip, me included. Lunchtime often requires a reminder. Funny, this all coming from someone who reads cookbooks as if they were paperback novels.

(No, really. Chang’s ‘Momofuku’ is one of my favorite reads–there’s that plot device on page 52 where eggs are slow-cooked in their shells. When you crack the shell, out comes a perfectly poached egg. That’s way the hell better than ‘David Copperfield’).

Cayden used to say: “Daddy—I feel the burps in my tummy that tell me I’m hungry.” A two-year old’s logic, yet it applies. I’m bodily relieved when I’m hungry. If there’s a craving that accompanies the hunger, I’m at its whim. This is why, more than once, I’ve made soup in the summertime while it’s measuring ninety degrees outside and the broiler’s meanwhile set to ‘hi.’

One time Kat and I drove an hour in what Google Maps insisted was a twenty-minute drive. This all involved a craving for Singaporean food and a strip mall in Pasadena. The place didn’t have a liquor license so we bought Asahi from the market next door even though Kat doesn’t drink. We ordered the Hainan chicken rice (which is actually Malaysian); we also ordered the calamari even though I’d just heard an episode of ‘This American Life’ claiming most calamari is just up-sourced pig rectum. You are what you eat? We had salad just in case.

Kat, typically, picked out the onions.

Cayde’s in the backseat. He has on untidy hair and a uniform polo I’ve finally convinced him to not button up all the way. There are wardrobe rules, like how you never button all three buttons on a three-button suit. He layers like a clueless seven-year old, or maybe some sartorial genius, with interesting sleeve and color combinations.

Cayde has the habit of shaking the hair out of his eyes even when it’s not in his eyes, and who cares if he has a part. He’s a boy. To prove it, he’s wearing scabbed knees and mismatched gloves. Michael Jackson’s his current thing, so usually he sports the one trademark glove round the house. In Cayde’s repertoire, though, he has two gloves to choose from: the black one with the skeleton-fingers all done up in dimensional paint, or the other one with the sequins and gossamer threads (the one that got taken away from him in class last Tuesday; oh how he cried). Cayden wears both gloves today as if school were all just an elaborate bank heist.

I drop Cayde off at the curb and there’s always the certain gymnastic involved in him getting out of the back seat. It’s a negotiation of straps–seat belts, backpacks, drawstring lunch bags. Like father, like son, getting all tangled up. I can commandeer a sauté pan and set off a contained fire–I can do all the restaurant tricks. Seriously: hand me the brulee torch. Give me a car seat, though, and finesse is something absent. It’s a wonder I got the brassiere off when making Cayde in the first place.

The Norah Jones song is over. 91X is playing ‘House of Pain’ and I manage to continue listening. It’s a reminder that we grow more tolerant as we get older.

Cayde climbs out the car and–with mittened hands–grabs my face and gives me a peck on the lips. This is something that’s become scarcer of recent; I don’t know why we kiss in different ways as we get older. We just do, while the ‘Y’ chromosome does its near radioactive decay into an impassive mid-life. (One time as a kid I refused a good-night kiss from my dad and he slapped me so hard on the ass that it left a stingingly-red handprint beneath my pajama bottoms).

“Bye, Daddy! I love you!”

Finn has snot caked in his nostrils because he’s teething and everything is leaking. He waves bye to his brother: ‘By-ee!’ Everything ends in the ‘double-E’ these days. I wave to Cayde while idling at the curb. I used to walk Cayde to class and wait as he climbed the stairwell to rm. 7. Every morning, I’d hope for him to turn around that one last time to blow me a kiss. The entire first month of kindergarten, the school bell was Pavlovian and I welled up every single day atop the hopscotch squares.

Cayde turns around and blows me a kiss, touting an oversized backpack and with tousled hair he refuses to have combed. He’s wearing a sky-blue polo and a red graphic tee, all of which are un-tucked.  I figure the mismatch  a sign of good parenting, in which case I’m not being the slightest bit ironic.

I submit to traffic. It’s departure from the norm, but bahn xeo is for dinner and that means I have to drive north to where the Asian markets are. Let’s see: I need Thai basil, I need daikon. I’m suddenly nauseous because coffee disagrees with me of recent. It’s alright, though. It’s ok, even, when that guy cuts me off on the 163. Finn and I were conversing; I give the white truck a curt honk of the horn and we keep driving on this freeway which used to be our freeway before we moved to the other side of the mesa.  Now we have the 805.

Finn tells me a story from the backseat. Spoiler alert: it involves drooling. That tooth on the right side is coming in which will finally even out his smile. People on the Down Syndrome website say: ‘Ok—what’s with the shark teeth?’ Finn sports a few jagged incisors and it used to bother me. You get more tolerant as you get older I think I already said. I like Finn’s little jagged teeth and he smiles with eyes winced. It’s the goddamned cutest thing.

The slowing trafffic is only convenient because I can turn around in my seat now, continuing the conversation that otherwise would’ve been interrupted by uninterrupted motion. Finn’s hairs are kinduv long, in need of a trim. Similarly, the palm trees decorating the roadside have recently been debrided. They look like the arboreal equivalent of shorn sheep. It’s a slow crawl past the Cabrillo Bridge but the commute becomes faster once the palm trees disappear into the rearview and as we pass through the Valley.

There’s the Children’s Hospital and Mary Birch, where we spend a good amount of time. Jenn’s getting an IUD inserted currently, at the campus I’m now passing, and I consider I need daikon. Can’t forget the daikon. Also, I’ll probably get oyster mushrooms because I’m not a fan of enoki.

There’s this fact of a perhaps other kid. But there’s also the meantime. In the meantime we don’t predicate a lot of sentences.

Pulling into the 99 Ranch parking lot, I think the store’s closed. It’s 9am. ‘Closed’ is certainly a possibility. The backside of the store, though, is lit with a neon sign saying: ‘Open.’ The backside is where the produce lives so we push through in a dilapidated grocery cart and Finn is momentarily surprised by the turnstiles. We pause at the nmgaio bin which looks like daikon but is not.

Anything can and should surprise us. Turnstiles. Cancer. Things. The goldfish swimming in his bowl is most likely surprised by the castle every time.

My grandma is 89. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the the malignancy suddenly cancelling her voice.

I ask the guy for Thai basil because Thai basil is important for bahn xeo and that’s why I sat in traffic. For fucking Thai basil.

He checks the same shelves I just checked, the shelves I already checked because I know where the Thai basil is supposed to live. (We do this thing where we make superfluous gestures, to rid ourselves of guilt).

“Sorry,” he finally shrugs.

In line at the meat counter, I’m guest number ‘00’. Says so on the red digital read-out thing. I’m usually ‘87’, or ‘323’ and usually I have to elbow my way in alongside the Laotian grandmothers, while wishing I understood Cantonese. But it’s still early.

I wish I was at least ‘1’ though. Being ‘00’ is fucked. up.

I need a pound of ground pork because I’m changing the recipe in my head. My order is pretty unremarkable. Sometimes I order ten pounds of bones and I get a smile which is affirmation that I’m hungry, that the butcher knows I know how to cook. You can make stuff from bones. I’m not as fond of the aquarium displays down the aisle. Fish are far less substantial.

Finn destroys the receipt in front of the smiling cashier since everything is metaphor these days. We go home and, since we are hungry, I later make lunch.

anxiety · depression · mental health

On Not Crying

I’m dying so I change my hat. I was going to wear the straw one with the lavender grosgrain band but I leave that one on the bed and wear the wool one instead. The one Delaney’s widow got for me from Ireland because it had to be from Ireland and because Delaney was Irish.

Laney’s been a year dead, and some change. I’m thinking I’m joining him, although I have new glasses to pick up next Wednesday and I really want to get my kid before this whole exeunt thing. No—really—I’m dying. It’s 10 o’clock and I’m supposed to pick Finn up around three. We snuggled in bed this morning and I haven’t figured out yet just what’s wrong with me. But—yes—I’m certainly dying and there’s some twenty minutes of freeway I need to navigate. So I rest up the hours it takes to get rested up and because I want my kid. It’s all very logical; I set my alarm. I really really need my kid and that’s my goal.

It’s vacation, but I haven’t slept in yet. Meds, holy shit. I’ve been warned about the six-week thing, and I’m on my back. I pick an old dress from Jenn’s bottom drawer and it still smells like the thrift store . It’s what I slept with all day. It’s orange and she fits it again, perfectly. This May marks twenty years. I’m not in trouble, and I’m perfectly sober, and I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with me except for this whole dying thing. I still wake up and plan to keep doing so.

I can’t explain that I’m hungry but hate eating currently. Don’t want coffee. I can’t decide if the fan is off or on; it’s off and it takes me two hours to turn it back on. I’m not depressed. I drive impeccably and I choose roads that make me happy. I know I’m working through something.

“I need to lay down.” And Jenn is understanding.

I get my kid and I’m so happy driving home. I can’t help but keep from not crying.

anxiety · Cayden · childhood · family · favorites · home · mental health · parenting


Cayden is obsessed with the digital sphygmometer that is blister-packed and hanging to the left of the pharmacy counter. A sticker on the front of the package shows a digital metric of a heartbeat—or maybe a blood pressure read-out (I’m not a doctor)—with systolic and diastolic peaks and valleys. It’s something topographic at least. Cayde is interested and traces the up and down lines with his finger. We wait. The pharmacist is exasperated with the customer in front of us who’s pushing a stroller and seeking medication that was apparently picked up yesterday. The pharmacist—she has red hair—sighs into the customer service phone and declares a need for assistance.

“Spanish-speaking, please,” she sighs over the PA.

Cayde turns and says, “Hey, Daddy…” which is his usual perambulatory way of saying he has a question, else some seven-year old insight.

(On the drive to CVS, it was ‘Hey, Daddy—did you know that T. rex had feathers?’ Which is true, and Cayde mentioned as much because we were playing an ‘Animal Trivia’ game. He knows I’m a bird-keeper and he fancies himself a burgeoning paleontologist. He picked up from some BBC documentary that dinosaurs were simply birds in the evolutionary making. Because dinosaurs came first, he thinks he has me trumped).

“Hey, Daddy,” he repeats.

“What? T. rex had feathers? We already covered this, Dude. I know.” The pharmacist is beyond impatient.

“No. Daddy.” And Cayde raises his arms and makes a triangle above his head.

“So this is what music looks like when you play something on a high frequency, and then it does this in the middle”—he holds his arms out flat—“And then there’s the low part.” It’s more difficult making an upside-down triangle, but he tries.

Cayde’s mistaken the sphygmometer for an audiometer. Amateur. At least he’s confused the heartbeat with music, which—come to think of it—is not really a mistake at all.

The queue for the pharmacy begins in the skin crème aisle. I’ve always wondered if there’s a tonic for feeling comfortable in your own skin, an analgesic designed to treat what ails you. It could be in the next aisle over. I’ll have to check someday but, in the meantime, the lady in front of me is very confused that she can’t pick up her scrip. Red Hair pharmacist is frustrated with the language barrier.

On the PA again: “Spanish-speaking, please.”

“Daddy—are we here for your pills?”

I scratch my head distractedly; look sideways, and I pretend to consult the lesser PhDs, like Dr. Scholl and the who-some-ever Johnsons, who stare back at me for a second from the fluorescent-lit shelves. Oh, certainly I could use some foot powder. Um.

“Sure, Monkey. Yeah.”

This is a recent thing—the pills—but also Cayde recognizing the pills. And right away, because he’s smart and already manufacturing science experiments in his room. I’ll explain the difference between a sphygmometer and an audiometer later, to correct him for being seven, but in the meanwhile he gets things.

My grandfather was institutionalized when he was 37. This is family history I only now know of, my grandfather’s exact age at least. I’ve known of his time in the mental ward and I’ve always had this picture in my head of a van retreating down a road, my grandfather in it. Always: a dirt road, a tire gate, avocado leaves greening the manner way and thin tires (anachronistically thin, surely, for it must have been mid-century when he was carted away. Cars were low and tires were thick, then.), tires that rolled and spindled into the cinematic distance.

There’s a cow forever and stubbornly in the periphery.

The cow’s a dumb addition my mind inserts to create something bucolic of the scene.  Also, my grandpa was a dairyman.

It’s surely something we don’t talk about, so I’m lost on the details. And I’m never sure if this is supposed to be something I think about in sepia.

My granddad’s son watched the van disappear down what was probably a long asphalt driveway, and not a dirt road. He saw it in color.

There’s a way that sons see their fathers, as something both impenetrable  yet castles to be sieged.  With my grandfather in retreat and ferried down the driveway, with him most likely laying down in surrender,a bed in the back of the van,  my grandad lacking the means to stand up to his misaligned chemicals; his having the need for it all to just be turned off; my granddad’s son simply saw his dad go away. There was a castle fallen and my granddad’s son suddenly didn’t have an Oedipal opponent or someone just comfortably smoking away in the Great Room. Damn it all. This is how children develop adult-sized holes. Jericho is trotted away in a van and it’s stamped ‘Edgemoor Mental Facility.’

I played a game of chess with my uncle when I was seven. My uncle was obviously much older. It was a long match and my uncle ashed his cigarettes into a Pepsi can while chuckling at my persistent game of pawns. He eventually won.

It’s said we—my uncle and I—resemble each other, and my grandpa all at once.

Walls get re-built. The body does this naturally with its own mortar. You build walls around infection to prevent further hurt. Like I said, I don’t know much about the day my grandpa was taken away. It’s sepia-toned to me, and everyone who saw it in color has the appropriate scar tissue and says nothing. We don’t even ask each other, “How are you?” Because that’s just way too fucking personal.

“I’m bored, Daddy.”

I’ll admit—it’s been a long wait. Cayde’s poking at the merchandise and we’re due at a birthday party. Lady with the stroller is genuinely confused and her baby can’t be more than two weeks. She has a sister? (friend?) with her and they consult worriedly in Spanish.

Red Hair shoos them aside with a wave of her Jam-berried fingers. “Next!” she says, smiling at me. A clerk with jangling keys appears in order to deal with Stroller Lady. “Qué?”

Cayde looks up at the pharmacy marquee, squints his eyes, and points to the subtitles.

‘Farmacia!’ he announces. (It says so, right above the counter). ‘That means pharmacy in Spanish.” Cayde prances off to worry some more blister packs and nuisance the diuretics. I think he just schooled the register clerk without even knowing it.

Red is relieved to see me, thinking she’s just had an ordeal. Behind her is a machine that auto-fills benzodiazepine bottles. It hums and clicks on the regular.

Red calls me ‘Hon.’ We transact. I give my birthdate to Red as is required when you are requesting chemicals.

“June four, 1977.” Cayde reappears to confirm his status as the mathematician qua scientist of the family. He holds the ledge of the counter and, barely peering above it, proclaims to Red: “1977. That means my Daddy’s thirty-seven. Star Wars came out that year.” If nothing else, I’ve trained him well.

The machine behind Red pours pink pills. There’s an audible click and a white cap is screwed shut on an amber bottle. There are people in white coats floating about like pharmaceutical ghosts and I have no idea what their jobs may be. Seems the machine has everything covered and the front desk just gets mad at not being understood.

Red: “Come back at three.”

It’s only ten-thirty. Machine must have a lot of work to do.

The birthday party’s in Lakeside, where my grandpa owned dairies, later real estate, and it’s where my mom and uncle and five other siblings grew up. The party is, in fact, oddly close to my grandpa’s old house. It’s at an indoor playground in an anonymous corporate park. The park is a lot of white asphalt just north of a very beige quarry. Red clay is closer to where I am and striated in cliffs up north. The quarry sits near where the San Diego River dips underground in a geographical phenomenon I still can’t figure out. Close by, there are the palm trees that I remember being planted when I was five. Full-grown Queens that had their crowns tied until the roots took.

I exit the freeway early so that we can drive through Santee—where I grew up—and so that I can point out the important things to Cayde. He’s been very interested in me in what I was like as a seven-year old: what television I watched, what foods I ate. A drive down Mission Gorge Rd. makes me a seasoned tour guide.

“We’ll get you an apple fritter from there someday,” I say, pointing to Mary’s Donuts, which is a sturdy concrete building in the middle of Santee’s new architectural bent. Everything else around is looking like a Safeway; Mary’s is the one stodgy throwback. They serve good coffee there.

Speaking of: Wellbutrin and caffeine don’t mix. Not for me at least. Ads end with: ‘You may suffer from…’ And what are listed are the affordable side effects because ‘suffering’ is the strong word that gets you on pills in the first place. I’m nauseous—a little—and I’m still figuring out the whole homeostatic thing. At least my body is. Sometimes I feel I’m me from the neck up and everything else is a hitched-up trailer.

Let it figure itself out.

‘Side effects include’: nausea, tremors, inappetance. I have all three, so, as I’m pointing out Mary’s to Cayde, I certainly don’t pull into the driveway with its faded parking lines and weedy side-lot. A cruller would be cruel. Caffeine jets the Wellbutrin into a strange place and, though,  I’m perfectly safe to drive, there’s this frenetic yet harnessed energy all at once. I want to round its corners, but you can’t ask the barista: ‘Leave room for IPA.’

We pass the Ottavio’s Pizzeria,  which is not an Ottavio’s anymore, but a Fillippi’s.

‘That’s where we used to get pizza, Dude.” ‘We’ meaning a ‘we’ that doesn’t include him so I shut up for a minute. The road bends and it whitens. There’s a Creation Museum on the left hand side of the road. Goddammit, there are dinosaur models.

Cayden points out that T. Rex didn’t live in the same geologic period as the Stegosaurus, both of which menace the topiaries in front of the Museum. The plastic T. rex doesn’t even sport feathers, a fact that is quickly pointed out. Meanwhile, I have absolutely no problem with faith and,with there being a drive-in movie screen next door to the plastic dinosaur. We talk about movies instead.

“We need to see a drive-in movie some day, Dude.”

“I liked Big Hero Six.”

“That was a good one.”

“Are we almost there, Daddy?”

The highway planes into a flatter part.

“Soon, Dude.”

I was worried about pills flattening me out: the thought that there would just be days, never good ones  or bad ones. Just days. Before, I couldn’t stand the thought of prescribed numbness. This is a good day and I can feel it despite the pills. In which case the medicine isn’t exactly working. Genetically, I’m a red-head—a C-16—therefore I’m almost immune to anesthesia. It’s science. So: fuck you, pills.I win.

In three months I’ll be 38 and outside the window. I drive with my hands on the wheel and past the quarry. Cayden and I remark the machines that dig the earth and they’re rusted and probably still the same ones from when I was younger and when I used to pass this upside-down river every week.

“Daddy—I can’t wait for Fun-believable.”

It’s where we’re going and it sounds like an advertisement for Prozac.

“Me neither, Dude.” I mean it. I truly mean it, actually.

Afterwards, after the party I mean, we take a drive. Because we’re near to my grandpa’s house, I idle the car at the base of a long asphalt driveway.

“That’s where your great-grandpa and grandma lived.” Cayde’s impressed because there’s a house there now very different from what used to exist. A satellite dish, an RV out front. The landscaping is currently terraced where before my granddad had just planted sea fig.

I drive onto the dirt road circumferencing the property and try to show Cayden the pepper tree that I used to climb. But it’s gone. There’s a stump and a sapling, though.

We drive bumpily on the dirt road until we again meet asphalt. I suddenly remember Posthill Rd. which is across the street from my grandpa’s house and where there used to be avocado groves.

I click the blinker and tell Cayde to hold on.

He says, ‘I can’t wait!’ and braces against the seatbelt.

He says, ‘I can’t wait’ a lot so I’m in my own personal Groundhog’s Day. I probably repeat myself too—actually, I know I do, usually in the negative—but we launch the car down Posthill Road and through the switchbacks, past the stratified and half-quarried rock, on down to the highway. I know this road and we hit the 67 dramatically; but then we even out, and more evenly we drive back home.

anxiety · job · penguins


2016_penguins_LBchicks-teen-yellIt’s chick season at work, which means there’s a number of round-headed kids in the nursery with pencil-necks, wobbly and with after-thoughts of flippers at this point. They’re in varying degrees of smallness reliant upon heat lamps. They topple over easily: clumsy toes, big heads.
Taking care of week-old penguins is both rewarding and terrifying: to dole out meals from syringes in 1cc increments, watching and hoping those wide-open mouths don’t well up, or that bellies don’t decide to be too full, or that sated chicks don’t decide suddenly their house is too hot after a big meal–it’s constant anxiety. You change towels, tip heat lamps just so, adjust the flow of a syringe because a chick may be thrifty, else a lazy feeder.
You wish upon wish you don’t screw this up while the chicks all present differently, curling up into corners after meals, or maybe craning a post-gusto head. They sometimes sigh big as if their houses were too hot, or they may sigh simply because we all sigh big after a satisfying meal.
You write things down, double-guess yourself, read fecals like tea leaves, and adjust that heat-lamp for the eleventh time. Near ten minutes after feeding time, the chicks stop their solicitous wobblings, their muted chirpings, and choose crash-out positions–like finding the perfect post-Bacchanal couch or piece of floor: ‘Hey–I’ll just sleep here, ok? Cool.’
And when you get ten or so kids down for the count with their ridiculous flippers out and their faces mashed into terry-cloth beds, you can breathe. Sortuv. You’ll wait forty-five minutes, and sometimes after you’ve clocked out. You may drive home feeling ok.
Then there’s always 2 a.m. when you jolt awake and worry; then 6 a.m. when you feed your anxiety with a disquieting amount of coffee.
Then: 9 a.m. when you arrive again at work and the kids are all right; still you’ll look ahead to 9 p.m. when—while driving home—you’ll worry again they’re not. It’ll cycle over and over until everyone’s full-grown and the nursery door gets locked for the season.
You’ll inherit a few gray hairs, if not–a new constellation of ulcers. You’ll also get those nights when—while turning the click signal that compasses toward your driveway—you still halfway smile while your brow suggests a frown.

anxiety · depression · favorites · mental health


anxietyI’ll be fine. I just need to make it through the morning,  by which I mean the whole of the ante meridiem, lunchtime too, and probably that post-gustatory time spent swimming in a glycemic haze. Then the day will be agreeable so long as it as it promises the comfortable future of a more twilit hour, when light fades and the succor of night-blooming flowers properly signals day’s end.
That’s when I’ll park the car solidly in the driveway, somewhere come 6 o’clock, and I’ll remark the jasmine that’s forced it’s way over the garage eaves. With the ignition switched off, and head-beams extinguished, I’ll once again collect the clumsy assortment of bags from the front seat to finally just be home.
My wife–she’ll be inside. There’ll be beer in the fridge.
Tonight the overgrown jasmine aside the house seems to threaten the Bird-of-Paradise. If, in the language of flowers, menace exists, here then is this tumult of white blossoms spilling into a bladed nest of orange and purple blooms. The jasmine grows in tendrils, the birds in sharpened exclamation points. Beneath the soil, their roots are certainly drawing up agreements. Roots speak to one another in a particularly subterranean manner, an ongoing conference delivered in sub-sonic intones. It’s something of science: one root upsets a crumb of soil and the other root hears it. They decide to either grow together or grow apart and the underground becomes something of gnarly and ganglionic complication. Above the earth, of course, there are simply flowers. Also the fair disguise of perfume.
I set my bags down in the kitchen. The nook is glowing brighter than usual by virtue of a mismatched light bulb. I think to the morning, which was invariably unkind. It involved waking up.
Awakening is always a questionable proposition, and often feels the unfavorable choice. On my anxious days, I fall upwards and out of sleep, the adrenal surge something electric—like the existential equivalent of touching a bare wire while standing ankle-deep in water. 5 a.m.: I’m on the ceiling and there are pangs of panic. Sometimes the panic is sourceless, only condensing into anything specific when my head begins its usual litany of cockcrow questions. The questions can be categorized tidily beneath one of two headings: ‘What did I do wrong yesterday?’ else, ‘How will I fuck up today?’

The adrenal response is a doozy, epinephrine filling the neural floodplains and testing the dams. How is it that people want this rush, the uncontrollable surge that pulses the body and unpins the pupils? Some people jump out of airplanes for fun. I simply hit the snooze button. Falling, it seems, is something relative, and recreation a matter of semantics.
To wit: the last time I jumped from an airplane was never but the last time I felt as such requires me having checked my watch.
I’m on a bridge today, and traffic is stalled. Exactly thirty-seven cars travel eastbound on a spectacularly lit underpass. I am counting for no reason—I just count—and the cars pass, the sun miniaturized perfectly in thirty-seven exact refractions of light.

They’re like neural flashes, scattered, a fairly weak but synaptic something. The world moves in its measured pulses and today it’s in the form of Nissan. Anonymous gray cars reflecting the sun in brief brilliance, becoming grey again in concrete shadow, slogging home beneath the underpasses toward what I imagine are unremarkable driveways and similarly unremarkable houses.
The bridge, meanwhile, is hedged in tall rusty latticework. Signs contribute to the idea that this is like a community pool. There is no diving allowed. I’m in a car, therefore I’m safe. Falling on purpose is a pedestrian exercise.
There’s safety in cars, after all—just ask a Volvo.
The view remains fantastic. Nothing bad can be said about the skyline. The Coronado Bridge bends to the southwest, stubbornly blue by means of constant maintenance, a constant deploy of painters on cabled rigs painting sky onto the bridge’s sides and pediments. Mexico remains its own planet in the distance. Mexico’s geography is unique with buttes and mesas on the horizon, features which don’t have geographical repeat this side of the border. Ramshackle zoning codes have houses spilling down Tijuana hillsides in the near view, so windows and corrugate shanties catch light from nineteen different directions. It’s a firefly show in tin-can architecture. Meanwhile, the Santa Ana winds have pushed all of San Diego’s smog past the ocean horizon.
Optics dictate that the horizon is only one mile away, so I imagine there’s a gyre of pollution sitting out there just out of view, waiting for the Santa Anas to cease and desist before making a return appearance. The horizon will be brown again come Tuesday—just wait—but things are currently crystal and the Coronado Islands are in view. This is paradise.
Traffic moves again and it’s a bodily relief. I hate being trapped behind someone else’s taillights—I want to be the pilot—and sometimes I drive three times the distance required to get home. This is all in avoidance of other people’s cars, other commuters’ lack of urgency.  It takes me in interesting directions, and I’ve discovered shortcuts as well as longcuts. I play music in the interim and the combination of momentum and music has me thinking in long spooling sentences, sentences I may not ever put down on paper but which are there, constant and agreeable. Thoughts are less kind when stagnation is involved.
I had this art professor in college. He was Finnish, like those luge-runners you see every four years on TV. Scandinavian in every detail, yet he wore a Yankees ball cap for American affect. He taught illustration as something pretend-static. ‘Lines are always moving, perspective is a constant shift’,  he insisted. As assignment, he once asked us to leave the drawing room and simply walk for two hours. ‘Watch as angles change once you approach them. Look at buildings, especially. Develop a language of lines. Come back in two hours.’
I was a bad student. I didn’t go back. Then again, I didn’t need the two hours to understand what he was teaching.
I’m driving home. The freeway arteries have unclogged and the capillaries that tendril into residential areas have straightened into avenues, series of right-cornered angles and intersections. GPS has perfected the two-dimensional, and navigation is now easy having been reduced to blue dots coursing a simple map. Up through Golden Hill there are scripted lawns and pink buildings roseate in the setting sun. Shadows are a calculus, lengthening into things scalene. The sidewalks turn amber. Stop signs fairly ruin everything because the shadows are changing fast and lines are rearranging into new patterns. Momentum seems to be the important thing here, to be that shining blue dot in direct relationship to this now and present map.
A bicyclist stops at the apex of a hill and, inexpertly turns a wheel outwards in front of my car. His spokes are illumined and for a second the wheel looks to be turning backwards. I seize up and there’s that surge again, the electric overcompensation in an anxious and adrenal moment. Suddenly I feel as I did when I woke up this morning, having looked out the window to see one of my porch plants leaves crisping. A fight-or-flight reaction was unnecessary, but it produced itself anyways, me naked and on my way to the shower. The simple fact of a yellowed leaf, something slipping my control (and the plant now something I’ll probably avoid until it’s dead and skeletal) forwarding an electric shiver.  The feeling’s there in equal proportion when the bicyclist foots the curb to stay his bike,  when momentum stops.
I finish the drive home anxious. Chemicals are at play: cortisol, beta-endorphins, prolactin, adrenaline, dimethyltriptamine. There’s something pineal at play, too, for there’s a strange out-of-bodyness to acute anxiety. The pineal gland is the pinecone shaped conning tower helming any navigation outside yourself.   Dreams, near-death experiences, those minutes when either you shake God’s hand or you recess six inches back behind your eyeballs: they belong to this gland which rests amid grey matter but isn’t actually an organ of the brain. It’s the only unpaired structure within the skull, birthed from the fetal mouth, and later emigrant to the mid-cerebrum. That it forms in the mouth is of no surprise to me. It’s a short ride from mouth to stomach and it’s the stomach–nervous or anxious or irritable–that lends us gut feelings, feelings that are both in- and outside of ourselves. There’s also the Vagus nerve running brain to stomach in this incessant biofeedback loop. Sometimes I just can’t tell what pilots anxiety, whether the gut is informing the mind or vice-versa. How is it I’m so goddamn hot all the time? Why am I shaking? How is it I can I feel chemicals in my viscera take a splenic turn on their way past the liver, influencing it a second time? Who’s driving the goddamn car? This car is definitely crashing.
I pull into the driveway. I collect my bags. Walking the thirty steps to the door is like not falling thirty times in a row. I set my bags in the kitchen and there are those mismatched light bulbs ensuring the kitchen is yellow and the nook some other shade of incandescence. I scan the counter-tops for unwanted obstacles: spare cups, unwashed frying pans, keys not on their proper shelf.   I need a clean kitchen with an unobstructed view else this anxiety will just burrow deeper. If I’m good, within an hour there will be asparagus cooked neatly, a perfectly browned steak, and a Mornay sauce worthy of report. I’ll serotonin up. With precise knives and thirty-seven exact steps, all should be fine. I’ll try and ignore the yellowed leaf I passed on the way in.
I lean against the countertop and exhale, pour a drink. I actually did good today at work, but that’s just something real versus the unreal-ness of my head. Or my gut. I can’t tell the difference. The scent of jasmine floats through the kitchen window and it’s something of an anchor. It’s springtime, after all, and it’s nice that renewal has a signature scent, even if you yourself can’t wear it.
Jenn appears from the back room, wearing my favorite black dress. She has her head cocked to the side with hair in a leftwards tumble. She is un-painting her face with a towelette, and is talking about her day. Un-painting her eyelids and smiling and I don’t hear her words exactly. I won’t probably cook tonight after all. My day is done. She un-paints her face and there is the perfume of jasmine. I like the ruche of her dress. I’ll be fine.