Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Mix Tapes: Little Dragon Love

It's happening: I'm obsessed with Little Dragon's new album. It all started with the NPR First Listen. And you know how I love my NPR music.

The obsession crept in, slowly, but surely.

Could it be my innate love of Swedish bands? (For evidence, see here. And here. And here. Okay, so mostly I just love Lykke Li, whatever.)

In the last week, I've listened to the album on my commute to work, even when it turns to background music as I'm reading on the train (and I'm currently reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, le sigh); I listen to it while I write G-team deals; I listen while I walk back to the train at the end of the day. 

So yeah, I'm obsessed. Because of this:

And this:

Listening to all this got me thinking about the first time I heard Little Dragon several years ago, when my friend Logan put the song "Scribbled Paper" on one of our mixtapes. It was love at first listen.

I'll leave you with another love of mine from that album:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The One I Searched to Find

At my grandma’s house
was a jar of marbles

I remember this well;
I remember it like this:

We never really played with them, exactly

Instead, just dump them out of the jar

I’d pick out my favorite one
roll it around the palm of my hand
Unsure what to do with it,
only knowing it was beautiful,
just so,
blue and crystalline
with that one dull
at its center.

Always, I’d find it,
from the pile of marbles
tumbled out of the jar
to the floor
And each time I felt it,
cool and comforting
in the palm of my hand

It was such relief:

Like I was shocked to find it again
even though each time
I knew, it was there,
right where we’d placed it,
back in the jar.

There was something about finding it
from the jumble of all the others—
they all seemed so dull, so plain,
in comparison
that finding it was utter delight.
It wasn’t that it was so much
more beautiful, really,
it was just that it felt like a secret.

Like everyone else only saw
the beautiful blue,
the way the light shone through
when I held it at just the right angle,
the swirls and twists of color,

and then that bit of brown
right in the center
made it a little less perfect
than the pure blue one
in the jar

But to me, it was mine,
the one I always searched to find

and it wasn’t that the brown spot
was an imperfection
it just made the blue
all the more beautiful.

I'd hold it in my hand,
until the time came
and all the marbles
were placed carefully
back in the jar.

Every time I forgot about it
as soon as it was back
in the mix
trapped amid the others

But as soon as we'd reopen the jar
and the marbles would tumble out
I'd remember
and search, and search,

Until, at last!
The delight
of feeling its cool, small comfort
in the palm of my hand

if only for a second

it was worth it,
just finding it,
just knowing it was there all along.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bridesmaid Panic Attack

Once upon a time, or in reality, five years ago, I had a borderline panic attack at a David's Bridal. The next day, I wrote about it.

I've been looking back through a lot of my old writings lately, thinking more about my plans for my book (you know, that one I talk about all the time), and although I'd like to say I would write this essay better now, I decided to share it here exactly as I wrote it that day five years ago.

Mostly because I hope, if you're reading this, and you're in the middle of this place I was in five years ago, missing someone you've lost, feeling alternately terrified and pissed off, to know this: It does get better. I promise. I also hope you have someone like my aunt to come rescue you.

with the beautiful bride
And the other good news—I managed to find a dress that fit.

But I still fucking hate David's Bridal.

Read the essay after the jump.

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: You Already Have Wings

I just realized that I've never posted a Rumi poem for the poetry slams, and that had to be rectified immediately.

Hopefully, you'll quickly see why. Happy Tuesday.

by Rumi

I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.

The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.

He said, "You’re not mad enough.
You don’t belong in this house."

I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, "Still not wild enough
to stay with us!"

I broke through another layer
into joyfulness.

He said, "Its not enough."
I died.

He said, "You're a clever little man,
full of fantasy and doubting."

I plucked out my feathers and became a fool.
He said, "Now you are the candle
for this assembly."

But I’m no candle. Look!
I’m scattered smoke

He said, "You are the Sheikh, the guide."
But I’m not a teacher. I have no power.

He said, "You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings."

But I wanted his wings.
I felt like some flightless chicken.

Then new events said to me,
"Don’t move. A sublime generosity is
coming towards you."

And old love said, "Stay with me."

I said, "I will."

You are the fountain of the sun’s light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say Thank you, thank you.

Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
Changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.

This comes of smiling back
at your smile.

The chess master says nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.

That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
amazingly happy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Only In Dreams: Facing Harsh Realities

Dreams present to us parts of reality and of the psyche that we often overlook or don’t wish to see. They are concerned with the growth of the soul. The word for “dream” in Hebrew — chalom — is derived from the verb meaning “to be made healthy or strong.” Dreams tell us that we live up to a mere fraction of our potential and that there are great treasures to be found in the unknown portion of our being. If we heed our dreams, they can help us develop new attitudes toward ourselves and others. They can deepen our spiritual impulses, expand our emotional lives, and produce all manner of changes in our careers and relationships. Marc Ian Barasch, from an interview with The Sun

I wonder about this, the notion that dreams present aspects “of the psyche that we often overlook or don’t wish to see” — because not only do I find that this is often true, I find that my dreams present these things, whether mundane or serious, through exactly the messenger I’ve been dying to see and communicate with for all of my adult life.

My mother.

She’s been talking to me, via my dreams, on a regular basis since she died almost nine years ago. As I’ve written about before, these dreams are not always pleasant. In fact, for many months right after her death, the dreams were flat out nightmares. Night after night, I’d step into a room to face my mother, who had turned into a demonic presence with oxygen cords wrapped around her. And in one way or the other, this demonic presence who was and was not my mother would gleefully tell me that my mother was dead.

If I were telling a story, this might be the part where I’d wake up in a cold sweat, with a loud gasp. But in truth, I’d just slowly, painfully open my eyes, and stare at the bright blue sheets on the bunk bed of my college dorm room — the same sheets my mother and I had picked out together not more than two months earlier — and I’d feel a sharp, painful stab in my chest. Instead of having that moment where you wake up and think with a sigh of relief, “It was only a dream,” I’d wake up and be forced to remind myself, “That was not just a dream.” She was really gone.

I’d slide off the bed and begin the reality of my day.

It wasn’t fun. It was grief. The first inklings of accepting my loss wanted to attack me through my subconscious, it seemed. But even those nightmares, while unpleasant, heartbreaking, and downright terrifying at times, reminded me of the harsh reality I had to face:

My mother was gone, and she wasn’t going to reappear when I woke up. She was dead.

Because my heartbroken, panic-stricken 18-year-old-self did not want to face my new reality, I tried to escape these dreams. During the week, I’d read my books for my African American lit course until my eyes burned and I knew I could fall asleep as soon as I turned off the reading lamp. And every weekend, though perhaps not consciously, I would turn off the dreams in a different way — by shutting off my emotions with a quiet, but clear “Fuck you” through booze, ensuring that by the time my head hit a pillow, if I had any dreams that night, I wouldn’t recall them.

The dreams were persistent, though. Some nights we’d argue: I’d yell at her to take off her oxygen mask, because she didn’t need it anymore. She’d refuse. Other nights, I’d recite French presentations to her and she’d smile at me, tapping her feet as if I were singing, with the stupid oxygen tank tucked neatly under her knees, just as she’d put it when we were in the car together.

My favorite nights, she’d comfort me. Both hands placed on my cheeks, she’d look at me and say:

I didn’t leave you. Don’t cry. I didn’t leave you.

When I’d wake up, the bright blue sheets tangled around my legs, I’d initially feel comforted by the soft, cool fabric. But then I would remember. I’d kick the sheets off that now felt like sandpaper and stare at the white concrete walls of my dorm room, feeling angrier and more alone than ever.

I can’t remember when the nightly dreams stopped. Instead, it slowly transitioned to semi-frequent dreams, or what I now like to think of as visits, from my mother. At first it felt like torture, like every night she came back to life and then died all over again in the morning.
Of course, that was just my mind playing tricks on me. These days, I thrive on the dreams in which my mother makes an appearance. It’s like she’s acting in a brief, but much anticipated cameo role in my life. I love the new discovery I made through reading this interview — that chalom, the word for dream in Hebrew, is derived from the verb meaning “to be made healthy or strong” — because seeing her in dreams reminds me of my inner strength. So even if it’s not really her, exactly, in my dreams, it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes, we still argue, but I think that’s important. Because who better than your mother to remind you that you need to live up to your full potential, to develop new attitudes, and to expand your emotional life?

That’s exactly what she did for me when she was alive. So why not now?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: Not Yet, But I Intend to Start Today

What the Doctor Said
By Raymond Carver

He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Mix Tapes: How Come You Never Go There?

I know my love for Feist is about as well-documented here as my love for The National, but:


This song!

You carry on as though I don't love you...

Speaking of love, I'd also like to give a little Monday Mix Tapes shout out to my lovely friend Miss Lauren Lo, who has been busy creating some great music with Bob Nanna as part of their newest music project, Jack & Ace. They just released two new songs today, and even if they weren't my friends, and great people, I'd still be promoting this. Cause I like it.

Take a listen. Today's songs might break your heart a little bit, so then go back and listen to this summery jam afterward.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Poetry Slam Tuesdays: I Kept Hearing It

The Games We Play, or,
An Ode to Lana Del Rey (& Me)

This is where we met, he said,
Not looking, but looking,
Smiling at the joke they haven't said
It's too ridiculous,
It's nothing,
It's everything.
He said she was killing him,
She shook her head and said something smart,
But completely stupid.
Cause if she could,
She would have said:
'This is killing me
And I feel like a joke
Until you look at me and make me feel
Like me again'
Something whole, and real, and good.
The question
That lingered in the air between them

I wanted to know why he looked at me
Like that
When all I've done was nothing
and yet he says these things, but, still,
looks at me like that
like I could be, and I am,
the most exceptional woman on earth,
or at least this place,
where I sit alone
but surrounded
and feel you stare
only to realize you're not, at all,
so I hate you and want you
and wish we would just disappear
maybe "go play a video game" 
so I can only remind myself
maybe it is just a game
for two

and I listened to that damn song
I had told you to listen to
So many, many times
I kept hoping it would burn out
But it didn't
Instead I just kept hearing it.

It took my all not to weep
At the knowing.

You know it, too.
So let's keep it like this:
The joke we've never said
Cause it's on us.

It’s not even the same table these days,
but still I cling to the notion
that I have an idea what’s going on
when I don’t, I don’t,
I don't know anything at all.
like Lizzy Grant sang,

“I was born bad, but then I met you,
you made me nice for awhile,
but my dark side’s true”

We all do what we have to do.
'Whiskey on my tongue'
And I do think it's kinda fun,
but I'm flat outta luck, too.
She puts a sparkle in your eye
where I keep extinguishing the flame.

Sylvia wrote that
“we should meet in another life
we should meet in air, me and you”
I love that bit
(don’t you?)

Oh, baby, I want you, I want you.

It’s hysterical, really,
when you consider all the facts.
how am I supposed to get to that cloud?
it’s like writing in the tub
holding pen and paper mid-air.
my bubble bath cost $22
and I couldn’t even afford that Tecate

I ran the bathwater too hot
sweat was pulsing down my temples
(‘you’re no good for me/
but baby I want you, I want you, I want you’)
Still, I refuse to get out.
Not yet.
I paid for this shit.

Just let me soak in it,
won't you?

Lana, or can I call you Lizzy?
I hope you’ll be in love forever.
Maybe we'll be in love forever.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Swayze Fest!

Oh, Johnny.

Dating While Feminist

Hey, Rainbow Groupies!

Miss me? I've been busy starting a new project, one I'm really excited about and have been yammering about to anyone who will listen for awhile now. It's a topic near and dear to my heart. It's a topic that leaves many crying, screaming, drunk, or single. Sometimes all of those things.

Please, check it out! I would also love to hear any suggestions or ideas you might have. It's brand new, and I have a lot of ideas, but mostly I just want to create some dialogue on the subject. And maybe, just maybe, create some new feminists along the way?