to see a flower


planned to pack and do other practical, necessary things seeing as though i’m leaving tomorrow. until breakfast, “hey jessica, do you have any classes? want to walk down to the o’keeffe museum?”

forget packing.

spent the morning with ms. o’keeffe and some other great gals and great artists.





i like the way o’keeffe saw and gave meaning the world, both nature and man-made.

“Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven’t time – and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.

If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

…Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.

i’m sad to leave. i know myself well enough to know i won’t begin to understand what happened this summer or how meaningful it was until i get in the car tomorrow. the thirty hour car trip should help. it will also help me come down from the mountaintop and ease back into the reality of my life… all the good, happy, sad, undone, yet to be done, needing to be done, and missing pieces.

o’keeffe’s words spoke to me, helping me realize i’ll try to explain this experience with other people and it will not translate. i have to be ok with knowing what i saw, felt, heard and lived.




…and nobody’s happy.

have you seen that bit of jim gaffigan on conan? he talks about the amazing advances in modern technology (such as flying in the air while talking on the phone) and how people can still find things to complain and moan about.  i love it.

tonight after dinner, i settled into my hammock with a final draft of my paper. i read through it, marking it up a bit with my blue pen.

when gently i realized

everything was amazing…

i am laying in my hammock

hung between two apricot trees

facing the bell tower

in the cool, dry, dusky new mexico breeze

watching the sunset

revising a paper with elements of history, literature, oppression and liberation (some of my favorite things)

i capped my pen

and closed my eyes

and fell asleep for a few minutes.

then i woke up and made an impulsive decision to get gelato with friends.

gingersnap and chocolate.

this moment is amazing

and i am happy.




“I have to look at the landscape of the blue-green world again. Just think: in all the clean beautiful reaches of the solar system, our planet alone is a blot; our planet alone has death. I have to acknowledge that the sea is a cup of death and the land is a stained altar stone. We the living are survivors huddled on the flotsam, living on the jetsam. We are escapees. We wake in terror, eat in hunger, sleep with a mouthful of blood.”

annie dillard blows my mind.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is one of my all time favorite books.

i’m working on a paper about nature writing as a genre, specifically how writers respond to Darwin’s theories* (and the later outworking of those theories by Darwin’s contemporaries).

i was just going to use a little bit of Dillard. but i’m having trouble not quoting the whole book!

if you’ve never read her, try out this chapter:

*Darwin. Have you ever actually read Origin of the Species? Or any of his work first-hand? You probably should. Readership of his work is frighteningly disproportionate given the level of impact of his theories on our culture. Don’t be intimidated; it’s readable to the non-scientist. Many things you thought Darwin said or proved were actually not said or proven by him. All free access here, so no excuses!

one true sentence.


hemingway on writing:

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

i’m deep in the tides of paper writing, trying to ride the waves as they come. here are the places where the magic happens:

1) my desk

2) my “other” desk right outside my window:

3) the tea house:


i think it’s pretty swell that two out of three of my work spaces are under a tree.




i’ve been very busy with school work and without enough space in my schedule or mind to write.

but i’ll sift it all out when things settle down next week. i do have many more stories to share. i love my summer!

a slew of us watched this video together tonight and it made me laugh.

it was really good to laugh at ourselves when we’re wondering why we are here, hating our papers and our finite minds and actually imagining ourselves 1) quitting or 2) throwing our papers in the office door as we run towards our car and drive away sobbing in tears.

but we’re english majors, so this is perfectly normal.

you should laugh at us too:


my favorite line:

student: i am going to be a college professor.

prof: do you want to stay single the rest of your life? who in the world do you think will be willing to follow you to alaska so you can teach at juneau community college?


(customary 4th of july post to come later.)

this was my dream last night:

i was at the my morning jacket/ neko case concert coming up at home in august and only about 25 people were there. i was so mad at the hometown crowd and their lack of enthusiasm for great music.  in between sets, i walked down into the pit

not to see the show…

but to do my laundry.

yes, the pit was filled with the exact laundry machines here at school this summer.  so, i put my laundry in the washing machines.  but mmj started before the cycle finished, so i pressed the pause button and enjoyed the rest of the show.

the end.

my non-freudian interpretation:

1) i’m excited about seeing mmj and neko case.

2) i don’t like the city where i live.

3) i need to do laundry today.

some tunes:

1) mmj – if you touch me i’m going to scream, part 2

2) neko case – magpie to the morning



wrestling with the “taking”

from others, which really means

facing my own things taken:

joy, time, people,

memories, hopes, innocences.

by falling grains of sand

or lightning bolts of providence.

tired of withdrawing,

taking of my own steals more

life, laughter, joy.

ache subdued for now

by words of old

desiring the same for all.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

from “Ulysses”  by Tennyson

turquoise vessel

the coast of Malta, november 2009

i went to the santa fe farmer’s market this morning.  it’s a lovely market. there was an abundant selection of local produce. it was high quality, organic or pesticide free and devotedly seasonal (read: nary a tomato, watermelon or avocado in sight… yet).

may i remind you, this is the desert. a desert experiencing a severe drought. and they still manage to grow food sustainably and sell it accessibly (via cost and venue).  our piedmont, north carolina culture has a long way to go appreciate the value of this endeavor.

since i’m in a dorm and have a meal plan, i did not buy any beets or rhubarb or carrots, though they looked amazing.

instead, i bought art from a man named Micahael Andryc.

he does not have a website. i found one image of one of his paintings on the santa fe farmer’s market page. we talked for a quite a while and i don’t think he would mind at all if i shared it with you.

i bought a print of his painting, “The Weird Thanksgiving”

in the painting: Lady of Guadalupe, Sitting Bull, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, The Devil, John Lennon (and his invisible album on Apple Core Records), Picasso’s Dog, and Georgia O’Keeffe.  this painting carries much meaning for me after being here in New Mexico.

i can’t find an image of the favorite print that i bought which is called “My Grandmother and Bob Dylan Singing a Duet”.  it depicts his polish grandmother singing alongside a young, sunglassed Bob Dylan, surrounded by some lyrics from “With God On Our Side”

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

i’ve never considered myself patriotic, but i’ve often said the 4th of july is my favorite holiday simply because of the genre of recreation that accompanies it (being outside, camping, summertime, eating, live music, fireworks).  i always get teary eyed when they ask the veterans to stand at the charlotte symphony’s concert. i appreciate their sacrifice and service. i am thankful for the freedoms bestowed upon me because of the latitude and longitude of my existence on planet earth.  the tears come from the fact i hate war. i hate humans killing other humans.  i cry for the oppression and destruction brought to humans on both end of the gun, grenade, missile or chemical.

quite frankly, i’m mad that my fellow americans have done some very destructive, evil things in the name of “our” country and “our” God. we usually realize, regret and remorse well after the events.  immersing myself in the history and culture of this part of the country brings to me a new level of sorrow for our destructive, oppressive, hateful, selfish colonizing of  native american and spanish/hispanic peoples.

and this holiday just coincides perfectly with my personal desire for peace, forgiveness, and ability to ‘live in the light of the knowledge’ of such.

i went the lovely Santa Fe opera last night (more on that soon) and was surprised the orchestra ushered in opening night with a rousing rendition of ‘the star spangled banner’, all the crowd singing along.  honestly, i could not sing. i just did not feel like it. i’m just not feeling it right now. and i’m ok with that.

there will be no fireworks here this year. the extreme dryness causing the extreme threat of forest fire makes it unsafe.  no backyard to grill out in.  no campfires or hiking as the trails are all closed due to fire danger.

in other words, i may look back on this as ‘the weird fourth of july’.

less dangerous.

more peaceful.

sounds good to me.

gillian welch FINALLY released a new album this week.


i want to learn to play her stuff so very desperately, but without david rawlings on guitar it just won’t be the same. they are pie and icecream. wonderful on their own, but oh so much more complete together. auditions to be my personal david rawlings now being accepted.

you can listen to the entire album on NPR for a few more days (another reason NPR is amazing)  here:

Gillian Welch Album

after four runs through, my favorite songs are (in no particular order):

3. The Way it Will Be (mournful, plaintive ballad i expect (and need) from her)

I’ve never been so disabused
Never been so mad
I’ve never been served anything
That tasted so bad
You might need a friend
Any day now, any day
Oh my brother, be careful
You are drifting away

Throw me a rope
On the rolling tide
What did you want me to be?
You said it’s him or me
The way you made it
That’s the way it will be

5. Tennessee (i might soon live in tennessee.  and by soon, i mean… sooner than you expect.  don’t say i didn’t warn you. i need more hills and whiskey in my life…especially (and apparently) if i’m going to amount to anything as a musician or a writer. beef steak, not so much.)

Why can’t I go and live the life rightly?
Why can’t I go back home to apple pie?
Cause your affront to my virtue was a touch too much
But you left a little twinkle in my eye

Now some will come confessing of transgressions
Some will come confessing of their love
You were there strumming on your gay guitar
You were trying to tell me something with your thumb

Now let me go, my honey oh
Back to Tennessee
It’s beef steak when I’m working
Whiskey when I’m dry
Sweet heaven when I die

8. Hard Times (lovely banjo, asheville shout out, great live music imagery, and a worldview that resonates with me. )

They were supping on tears, they were supping on wine

i’ll get to heaven in my own sweet time

so come on you asheville boys

turn up your old time noise

kick til the dust comes up from the cracks in the floor

singing hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind, brother

hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind

hard times ain’t gonna rule my mind

no more

well done, ms. welch.

come august, i’ll be sitting on the front row of my hometown crowd marveling at your talent.  most hopefully wearing a pair of proper cowboy boots to be purchased here in santa fe this weekend.

here’s a picture from the parking lot in carrboro a year or so ago. julie and i (easily) figured out which vehicle carried  ms. welch and mr. rawlings there. given away by the tennessee plates ms. welch’s most excellent cowboy hat:

and He takes.


i know two people who died from cancer in the past twelve hours.

this is the second time i’ve been too far away from grieving friends.  i wish i could be there.

certain songs come to mind whenever i feel loss or sadness.  usually it’s a specific line that plays over and over in my head.

at the hospital with aimee, it was the line “love is watching someone die” from the song what sarah said by death cab for cutie.

today, it is “and He takes and He takes and He takes” from the song casmir pulaski day by sufjan stevens.

because with my friend c, when i look at her life, i just do not understand how God continues to take and take and take from a woman so beautiful, fun loving, hard working, sassy, determined, compassionate and loving.  first her mom, now her dad.  both taken.

let me help you understand how special c is… she lived with me for about six months. she LOVES big dogs and big dogs LOVE her. this was fantastically convenient because my tillman is a big dog.  c would come home from work and sit on the floor and love on and wrestle with tillman. she fed him lots of delicious treats that i would never eat myself let alone feed my dog.  one such example: amish cheese puffs. yes, amish. she gets them in pennsylvania.  when c moved out to be closer to care for her dad, i was sad. what i did not know was that tillman was sad too…

over the following three weeks, in his grief, tillman inflicted so much trauma on himself that we had two vet visits and four to five completely sleepless nights. tillman took things off pantry shelves and ate them. things like: an entire tub of vegetable shortening, several packages of ramen noodles and a giant chocolate bar from trader joes.  mind you, these  pantry shelves have been the same for 4 years and he never before touched them.

with these first incidents, i could not figure out what was getting into him. every day i opened the door paranoid of what disaster i would find.

the day of the final incident, i came home to see he had busted into c’s room where a few of her things remained.

(background: this was and is the only time tillman has ever busted into a room. he will not push a door open. i can be in my room, with the door cracked 3 inches and he will sit there and look at me.  he doesn’t know his own strength.)

but that day, he went in c’s room and took a bottle of motor oil into the living room and destroyed it.  (yes, she had motor oil in her room. i told you she’s a bad ass.  how many girls know how to use motor oil?).

then i realised: he misses christy.  he is mad at her for leaving.  c is so awesome that even a dog flipped his shit when she moved out of his life.  i miss(ed) her too, of course. she was a great advocate for me in a rollercoaster time of life.  she wouldn’t let me take crap from anyone else. she wouldn’t let me take crap from myself. i think my boyfriend was kind of scared of her…and she liked that.  so did i.

talking to God about her this week makes me slam my fist on my desk or sob into a pillow. i do not understand why He won’t stop taking.

i am so tired of loss in her life. yet He keeps calling her to do things and be someone that so few of us will even dare imagine we might someday need to be.

i want it to stop.  now.  i want the next thirty years of hers to be healing, full of joy and gain and life.  i know i’m not alone in wanting these for her.  but i know God, and this world, will keep taking…from all of us.  yes, i know He is good and He will give too.  the in between is tiring.

even though i am feeling too far west, i take some comfort that i’m together with her

somewhere east of eden.