January 29, 2012

(Excerpted from my actual journal:) Of all the three or four times I’ve cheated death, last spring was the worst. Missing halloween was awful, but seeing Anthony Edwards run TNYM the next day made up for it.Last spring~ I called Naomi, stumbled around my apartment, and cried when I read Juliet’s “thank you for PAing” note. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I got up at eight, took a bath, put on Simon & Garfunkel and turned it up much too loud. Groggily, I sang along to the Boxer and said morning prayers. 

Tuesday. Irving 71 was open. Nearing the end of the Laurel Masse journal, I sat down, and bitched about being forced to take it slow. My brain wanted to operate at 120% as usual, but my body wasn’t having any of it, and New York didn’t give a shit whether I was alive or dead. I didn’t tell many people. 

After java, I went to Barnes and Noble. Stipulation: if I saw something I liked, I’d buy it. My brain wasn’t handling e.e cummings, and Gene Wilder’s autobiography was sad as ever, but this purple tinted lady caught my attention so I grabbed her off the shelf. She spoke a lot about trees and lakes and moonlight ~ I put her in my purse. We rode to the natural history museum, we looked at bones, we walked through central park, we watched the dance skaters.

When I took her back it was raining. I couldn’t rationalize the money I’d spent to keep her as my companion. 

I regret letting her go. 

Today I experienced a strange feeling. It comes over me every once and awhile, and I never know what to do about it. Aison once said if you’re bored in New York City, you’re doing something wrong. I feel like if you’re bored in life you’re doing something wrong. Today, I was bored. I made a few phone calls, hoping to scrape together some last minute plans. Nothing. I decided to start the kind of adventure where you realize where you want to go when you get there. On the bus, and downtown I went. First to get a new pair of leggings, then, to marvel at the brilliance of Amy Poehler and Will Arnett being voice talent in Miyazaki’s new film, after that, I briefly debated whether or not I should go to a bar and pretend to get stood up, but decided to go to Powell’s instead. Maybe that Edward Hopper book will be there. I didn’t even make it that far.

I passed a guy in the poetry section with no jaw, another young fellow (a “youth”) who gave me the stare down like “YEAH I READ BUKOWSKI, SUCK IT”; but I was on a mission. A haphazard mission, perhaps soon to be materialized, but then, I was just perusing. The purple faced lady caught my attention again. I had to pick her up.

She sits with me this evening, in between Brooklyn and his desire for personal space. I remember her as I did, over lukewarm java and loopy language; ever redundant in its retelling. She kept death at bay for a short while, her violet maxilla reaching through my bleary eyelids and pulling them into a vastly unexplored pond filled with anthropomorphic fauna and its like. 

Next to me, a man draws as David did, with devils sticking out their tongues. Through the window, a homeless man asks to see things a bit closer. The artist obliges. 

The bus was coming soon, I realized. This time, I held her in my arms with no intention on spending money on food instead. Outside, my feet hit the pavement in time with Coltrane. (Blar-har, I’m such a hipster. I know…) When I got on the bus, the driver looked at me like I’d done something wrong. She snatched my pass, and inspected it thoroughly before thanking me and driving away. Later, three or four others got on the bus, she didn’t hesitate to yell at them.

One in particular, she lectured about stealing. “YOU CAN’T STEAL. THAT’S STEALING. YOU HAVE TO PAY THE FULL FARE.”

I looked at her and started to mouth silently:

Now the sea

is in me: I am the fish, the fish

glitters in me; we are

risen, tangled together, certain to fall

back to the sea. 


You do not have to be good. 

I brought my voice to a low whisper.

You do not have to walk on your knees

“It’s my friends bus pass, just let me call him!” “DO YOU HAVE A PHONE?” “No, can I borrow yours?”

 for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting

“Can we just go? This bus is already 15 minutes late.” A woman exclaimed.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body


love what it loves. 

The driver and another passenger discuss the situation after the “thief” gets off the bus.

“Don’t you think he deserved the benefit of the doubt?” They proceeded to have words. A Saturday night bus full of young people against a crotchety driver, unhappy with rule breaking; and one gentleman who felt it in his heart to apologize for us. I was confused, but stayed quiet. Oh…. This is the bus driver who said she couldn’t catch an attitude in two hours and gave me a six hour ticket that one time. Ok. I still think she should have said “cold” instead, but whatever…

I ended up getting off the bus with a typical middle-aged Sellwoodian. “Is she always that mean?” The woman asked. “I think she was in a bad mood or something.” I said back to her. We parted ways and wished each other well, as is customary in short Portland exchanges.

On the way home, I danced around to Carmen McRae, trying to make good on a new year’s resolution to sing in the street more. A younger woman came up behind me with her groceries, happily, and said “You were dancing!” Flustered, I responded, “Yeah, well, jazz- y’know…” She smiled, and we went our separate ways. I hummed the rest of the way home.

She was, finally, perfectly finished, perfectly heartbroken, perfectly wild. 

Thank you Mary Oliver, saver of lives.



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