studying the seasons.

it has been suggested to me that there are seasons to these lives we live. and that they aren't always clear and summer doesn't always follow spring and every once and again winter will yield more winter will yield more winter will yield more.

so i've been giving some thought to this season, to this season i'm in now. it's not clear whether it's winter or spring, summer or fall. but this i do know:

it is a season of strong women. a season in which i've been blessed by tremendously strong women. women who model friendship for me, who are driven, who take no prisoners, who laugh freely, and demand the very best. women who actually listen. intelligent, feminine, no-nonsense women.  i'd met women of this ilk before. in passing i'd met them, but suddenly i am surrounded by them. suddenly i have collected a whole group of them and few things in this life have felt so important (so totally and truly lucky) as that.

this is the season in which i crave simplicity. in which i long for clean lines and uncluttered floors. in which i, unfortunately, feel a half-stranger in my own home (but know {humbly and with gratitude} that feeling will pass).

this is the season in which an unexpected october snow-fall awakened something within. demanded i order a chai latte and watch the white accumulate while standing in the warm light of the corner's coffee shop. there's something to seeing and studying and loving that cold and that dark and that dim from under the subtle yellow lights of familiarity.

this is the season i dared leave the light for the snow. into the white.

this is the season i am surrounded by, swathed in, ambivalence.

this is the season i find solace in a cabinet stocked with spices.

this is the season in which i attempt forgiveness. of myself. for the past. for my mistakes. for all that abandoned, lost time.

this is a season of reckoning. of acceptance. of remembrance. oh yes, that's who i am. oh yes, for better or worse that's what i'm made of. oh right, that's a part of my story. still.

image by Carol Reed.

fear and new york {and Portugal. The Man}

i followed a twitter feed yesterday. (when did twitter get to be the most helpful and exciting social media app?) and found myself rsvp-ing to see Portugal. The Man at the lomography store on west eighth street here in new york. i sent the email off with no real hope of anything. 

and then today, just hours before the event, while at work, i got an email confirming my ticket and my +1. so in a mad rush i went about finding said +1. this is what i learned/realized: many of my friends (and people i'd most like to go with) do not live in new york. many, many more of my friends are successful and have jobs that don't allow for such off-the-cuff planning. 

so i started to waver: should i go. should i not go. i'm meant to see the band in boston on saturday. i got two tickets (one for me, one for my brother) as a birthday gift to myself, from him (smooth, no?). only i didn't run the date by him first so...i'm headed to boston. to see Portugal. The Man by myself  (really, really smooth).

anywhoo, to go or not to go. 

i was tired today. i'm always tired nowadays. and i've been feeling low and blue. i wanted nothing more than to come home take a nap, run some errands, do the laundry (and let's be honest...hide from the world).

and i was afraid. afraid to go by myself. 

but if i'm living in new york, if i'm going to live here, in new york, hell...isn't this precisely why people love the city--where exposure to these sorts of things is prevalent and everyone is alway rubbing elbows with someone exciting and story-worthy. 

three months ago i would've gone. no questions asked. three months ago i felt bold and confident, three months ago i didn't care if it meant standing by myself in a corner for two hours sipping white wine while waiting for the event to begin.

but today i felt fearful. and lacking. and because i was so afraid, because fear was dictating, i knew i had to go. 

so i did. and i did stand for two hours. by myself. in my stodgy, black work-clothes and my tried and true blue rain slicker. (let's just say i was not in my hipster-best). 

but i was so proud of myself for going. for reclaiming some of that girl i tapped into mere months ago.

and it was so great. the music was so great. they are so great. they were the last band i saw at lolla this summer. and as their set progressed, all of us there in grant park watched as a massive rain storm rolled in. and just as they began the last song, the sky opened, and lord did we dance and slide and get a little muddy that day. so it seemed fitting that sky deluged new york today. 

Portugal. The Man is my rain dance music. my be-brave, get-wet, dance music. and don't think i don't have a thing for every single one of the guys in the band. 

on a separate note: there was this brief moment, when, before they had opened the upstairs to the public, i somehow wandered up there (no security) and found myself face-to-face with the band's drummer and a gaggle of others only to turn right around on my heel and high-tail it back downstairs. no one stopped me. no one said you can't come up here. i should've sauntered right in and started talking to everyone as though of course i'm meant to be here. but, that's a level of bold i'm still working on.

hey boys, saturday night. in boston. be there, be square. 

love of an...


sometimes i wish i could go back to that first night at the bowery ballroom.

take in the dark wood floor for the first time. the vaulted ceilings and small stage.  the space as an ode to a different time: a simple, uncluttered, unfettered time.

i didn't know that night would be transformative. didn't know charlie fink had been reading bukowski as he wrote the third album. didn't know he was attempting to tell stories about the outliers--a move away from the deeply personal narrative of the first days of spring.

the music that night felt redemptive. holy. a controlled bubbling of euphoria. it filled me, washed over me, touched some part of me i didn't quite understand.

and so when the night ended, i went back to the band's previous work. i listened again to the first two albums groping for that greater meaning. why was the night transformative--for me, what made the experience transcendental?


i think bereft may well be one of the greatest words the english language has yet produced. bereft: lacking, without. the word itself is an expulsion of air. just to say it requires something, demands something.

that's the word that comes to mind when thinking of the first days of spring: bereft. a man bereft. abandoned, bereaved, utterly without.

with songs entitled "i have nothing" and "my broken heart" it's fair to say i'm not hitting on anything revolutionary here, just stating the obvious.

the thing about the second album that's so interesting is the progression of it. because smack dab, middle of the thing comes "love of an orchestra" and with it, these brilliant words:

I know I'll never be lonely/ I've got songs in my blood/ I'm carrying all the love of an orchestra/ gimme the love of an orchestra

and if that isn't a breath of air returned to the body, i don't know what is.

empty of everything else--love and happiness and hope, even--there is the music. the resurgent, hypnotic melodies that drop down, invited or not.

and so the third album, last night on earth, well, it's that love of an orchestra made manifest. it is an album about the return of joy.

in fink telling stories about those that ring the outskirts, those who live on the fringe, he unwittingly reveals the very axis on which much of humanity balances, himself included.

when things get tricky on my end, when upheaval reigns, and nothing is clearer than murky, when i feel most alone--most bereft, i remember i am filled with words. gimme the love of the english cannon, or the library, or...well, i'm not sure what the equivalent is, but you see where i'm going with this, don't you?

when all else fails i am left with words and their endless, malleable patterns. they are my music, or my attempt at such. and i am never without.

there is bereft. and there is life after. and the life after, it's just so much better. and no one tells you that, and no one prepares you for that, and those on the other side of it just don't understand. but it's just so much better. you grow up and you find balance and you feel happiness in a way you didn't even know to be possible: there is more in this world to be found/ than dreams.

and you wake one morning to find you're a better person. filled with the love of an orchestra or the love of small, tangible, wriggly words--and those words open worlds and life thrums along. only different, better. and you live your life as though it is the last night on earth because you already lost everything once and you came back from it so fear doesn't have the same hold. and we're all living on some line, some edge, some axis anyway--might as well enjoy our own precarious placement in the universe.

that night, for me, was both explanation of the past and road map for the future. and touchstone, too. reminder of where to look when even hope evades: the words. always, the words.

who i am at 26.

i woke this morning exhausted and not feeling terribly well. something about too much bubbly and too much cake last night.

and not enough sleep.

but the incessant call of the buzzer roused me from my warm bed--me cursing whoever thought it appropriate to make deliveries at seven-thirty in the morning.


flowers at the door. a beautiful fall bouquet. 

a birthday.

i tried to climb back into bed, reappropriate sleep for myself, but there is something so holy about the quiet and early morning hours in new york (anywhere for that matter) that once up i am helpless against its pull, tired as i may be.

and so i made my way to the kitchen, surveying the empty wine bottles and glasses along the way, brewed a pot of coffee, and pulled from the cabinet a green mug--the plant-potter mug. 

morning ritual.

bare feet on wood. cool tin of coffee grounds. the hiss and spit of the coffeemaker. the selection of the mug. the settling into my chair just in front of the window. and all the moments between. the connect-the-dots.

i am both the ritual and the departure from it. 

that's what i came to this morning, thinking about who i am now, at 26. 

i am the product of 25 and 24 and all the years before. i am the rituals i have made my own. and i am the departures. 

the air is getting cooler now. brisk and breezy. and i have this suspicion it won't be long before  the people across the street who take their morning coffee on the fire escape disappear inside for the long winter months. already i am wistful for that image, sorry for the loss of their presence. but this weather--oh how this weather heralds a hope like no other. how the cool air carries on its back a sense of possibility and precipice and great joy--old joy.

today i am the girl who is better than okay. the girl with a flirting, passing love-affair with happiness.

sometimes i can feel the thing--that joy, that happiness--just beneath my tongue, or behind my eyes. sometimes it's right there where my ear meets my neck and every once in a while, when i least expect it, it is everywhere all at once. it is profound and all-encompassing--swaddling and lifting.

i am the girl who is just now realizing some things must be fought for. happiness, yes, and courage yes, and people, too. and that pride isn't too tremendously helpful. 

i'm pretty good at giving up. at giving in. at letting fear dictate. but i'm working on that. i'm learning to fight for myself. learning to fight for the chance to suss out who i love and what i love and what i'm meant to do. learning to fight for the right words in this world. and the courage to say them, aloud. not to write them, but to form my lips around them and feel them as they move up and out of me, physically. this is the world of light and speech. right? isn't that what george elliot said? this is the world of light and speech--i'm just now coming into that, owning that. 

just the other night my father told me that when i was a wee of a thing he'd arrive home from work and my brother would run hollering at the door, daddy, daddy! and as he did so, i'd run to the furthest room in the house, silently, and wait for my father to come find me. 

only now at 26 am i learning one can't always wait to be found. endearing as that hunt was, my brother kind of had it right. sometimes you have to run headlong and fearless into the arms of the thing.

so here i am attempting to make my way down. coming from that back room, down the staircase. welcoming myself. my arrival. my decision to finally show up--to become an active participant in creating a life in this world of light and speech and the space between. 

coffee photo
found via

reflecting back. (25).

NOT MY PHOTO!!! found via audrey hepburn complex. source unknown. please tell me if you know who's photo this is.

i've been thinking a lot about what i would--what i should--write for this.

and the thing is, well, i haven't come up with much.

other than...

i'm okay.

here i am. 25. and i'm okay.

thrilling, right?

well, for me, it is. okay is nothing short of utterly and completely thrilling.

because for so long i was not. okay.

and then i was not quite.

i have moments. all the time. moments where i feel like i should have done more. been more. said more. moments where i feel so far behind. hell, i'm 25 already. this is it? this is all i've accomplished? but then i quietly remind myself that we all have different paths. different life trajectories. our stories vary. and my accomplishments, my multitudinous (yup, i just used that word) victories are mostly private. things that others might never understand. but for me those victories are the difference between not okay. not quite. and just fine.

and just fine, okay, whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the beginning. the beginning of everything. the part of my story where my successes become (i hope) a bit more public.

so who am i at 25?

i'm someone who believes that unsolicited smiles by strangers are one of the most profound acts of kindness possible.

i still use the crabtree and evelyn room spray that my mother gifted me for my 19th birthday. it immediately brings me back to a time of naivete and endless possibility.

i find the music of florence + the machine to solicit more sock-to-wood-floor dancing than is proper or appropriate or even becoming of a lady of my pedigree (and now) age.

the quote that makes the most sense to me right now--right at this very moment: "sometimes i can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives i'm not living" (jonathan safran foer {of course}).

if i could go anywhere tomorrow i'd hop on a boat and sail up the dalmatian coast. or i'd return to rome. and sit in church after church after church. saturating myself in beauty and history. satiating myself with prayer (and a lot, a lot of gelato).

i don't know where life goes from here. but i'm so excited to go boldly into the unknown. to try. and to fail a little, as inevitably i will. but also to start gathering successes. collecting them one by one in the cradle of my arms so i can lay them on the alter of this life as my humble (and multitudinous) thanks.

i am so thankful to be 25. to be 25 and just fine.

see last year's who i am at 24.
image via.