On the Passage of Time, Friendship, and Marriage

Mountain Love

Rocky Mountain Sunset

This past weekend I spent in the Rockies, celebrating the wedding of the beautiful, silly, dear, sassy, fabulous, Whatever Girl, formerly known as Miss Mayer!

Waking up each morning at 9,000 feet, unable to breathe in the gorgeous mountain air, grateful every scale up and down the bunk bed ladder, through the lower hills of the upper mountains, a kaleidoscope and a thunderstorm dare, white jean jacket fance in case of weather, and a knot tied in laughter and love, the way the hands hold tightly to newly married faces when they kiss.

There is no better dance than the one you choose with your best friend, the one who also chooses you.

Through union, what transpires is a passage, a change in time, a bond that is fruitful, lifting, and if you’re lucky, true.

What I return home to, after travel, after Love’s Oven ginger snaps on the mountain, so much joy in faces, is a heart that is bigger than it was before, refreshed and awakened by celebration, friendship, a dare not to get stuck in the places of daily life that sour, and an encouragement to honor the places that rejuvenate us most.

For all of my cynicism, marriage is a reminder that there is space to connect with the ground that makes a person home. That the life we work on building will someday be a life for others.

Through the union of friendship, the warmth and bond and silliness of old friends resurfaces, and places where conversations never skip a beat find their place again, and places where fondness once grew bitter, grow fond again, and safety with new friends begins anew.

The sun is nearly set in Chicago on this humid July evening, and it may be just climbing under the mountains in Colorado, but what I know, and what I take with me, is that the heart is always playful and always rejoices in its light.

To my two friends who were married this weekend. Thank you for sharing your light and thank you for the sun being so warm at high altitude that I have my first ever farmer’s tan.

I have photos, and I’ll post them to the appropriate social mediums, but I didn’t want to lose my words to pictures if I had them.

A small glimpse into the joy you bring others, may that joy follow you.




Reasons to Survive November

Milkweed, On Shoe Factory Road

During the month of November, I set out to list a reason each day to survive, in response to Tony Hoagland’s poem Reasons to Survive November. Perhaps the poem is a bit harsh, but anyone from the North knows what it’s like to feel hurtled out of Canada, crashed into a million trees. Here are my reasons:

  1. Townes van Zandt
  2. Eileen Myles
  3. Train Wrecks
  4. Writing Down the Bones
  5. Listening to an old voice that says, “Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got.”
  6. Conviction
  7. Black boots with high heels
  8. Cute dresses
  9. Hair cuts on Mondays
  10. Heavy hearts that backtrack
  11. Dreams of road trips with poets
  12. Dreams of my mother vacuuming in late afternoon
  13. Early memories
  14. Double shot lattes
  15. Lists in Moleskins
  16. Bette Midler
  17. Lynda Barry
  18. Two hours of slow moving cinematic coffee
  19. Regina Spektor and old roommates
  20. The comfort of hearing, “It occurred to me that this is something I just don’t understand, and I never will.”
  21. Vigilantism
  22. Reading
  23. Duality in Zen practice
  24. Being future oriented
  25. Belinda Carlisle
  26. Cosmic accompaniments
  27. Winter hats
  28. Being unable to find brown tights anywhere
  29. The 83-year-old man on the train who shared with me a letter his wife had written him the year I was born because he thought I might know something about the importance of words. She died of breast cancer in 1994.
  30. Rekindling December

    A Perfect Day for a Bike Ride

    In weather my friend Anders terms +23 C and sunny, I rode my bicycle fourteen miles today. It was the first long bike ride of the season, my upper back hurts from a sling bag (I need a backpack, or a basket), the birds are chirping outside my window (come on evening), and my back door is ajar. Someone has lit a grill down the alley. 

    This is the Chicago that convinces me to stay.

    At the request of my good friend Eric Cartier, and in honor of winter ghosts and the bicycles we’ve abandoned, here are some images to remind everyone to take ownership of the things you love, no matter how rusty they become.

    From Chicago’s Abandoned Bicycles (with a little help from the western sun):


    Ghost Rider, North and Clybourn

    Top 10 Highlights of a New England Christmas

    1. A sexy shower with two hot gay men.
    2. Karaoke with my grandpa on Christmas Night. He wore a blue eighties sweatshirt with a reindeer embroidered on it and a red winter hat (We keep a close watch on these hearts of ours).
    3. My other grandpa saying: “Now don’t you take my new pillow case. I need it to dream on.”
    4. A very silly evening with Pom and Em, martinis, chardonnay, artichokes and eggplant, way too many iPhone photos, old writing friends, indecent exposure, purple paper crowns, Cole, hula hoops, impromptu dance parties and accuracies in astrology.
    5. 500 Days of Summer with my sister.
    6. Scottie Dogs with my grandma.
    7. My Tarot Cards read by Randy and being excited about hummingbirds.
    8. Hope for my parents that they’ll find their way.
    9. A beautiful mason jar full of flour, chocolate chips, cane sugar and brown sugar.
    10. Library dates, Amanouz and silliness with Becca, as always.

    2009 Pitchfork Recap

    Ok, so the subject link has absolutely nothing to do with the Pitchfork Music Festival, but holy crap! Mad collaboration. Atlas Sound/Panda Bear. I dig it, and am not surprised at all. Beautiful. Go listen.

    I bailed on Pitchfork’s Friday night performances (seen Yo La Tango too many times, Tortoise I’ll see at the Bottle someday, Built to Spill has never enraptured me, and I am unfamiliar with The Jesus Lizard), however, Saturday and Sunday splashed Chicago’s Union Park with the traditional indie-pop, garage rock, hipster flock, hip-hop, and astoundingly talented closers, as always. 2008 Animal Collective stole my heart, 2009 Flaming Lips hit the stage just as the sky turned violet and the green burst from the trees.

    Old church steeples and broken roof slates to the West, the Sears tower (with whatever dignity it has left) to the East, the Green Line to the North (rumbling behind Connector), and the city’s industrial South surrounds the small park off Ashland Avenue.

    Disappears vanished on me for the second time this year on Saturday, as I arrived 30 seconds after their final song, definitely placing an annoying lull to the beginning of my day. Fucked Up’s hardcore came to my rescue, caressing anger, guitar screams necessary for a pissed off start, soon followed by the soft vocals and violin of Final Fantasy. Yeasayer’s rain soaked dance party opened my chest in late afternoon, refreshing the staggering agitation in the air: “I like this, though I have no idea where they are going with it,” is an accurate sentiment.

    Doom offered much needed hip-hop beats, though somehow my heart was never quite into it. Squished in the mob by the tree at the Balance stage offered no view of the pop-punk duo Matt & Kim, but their positive optimism held strong until I was just able to see them by the time Daylight ended. The National enveloped my evening, and as much as they get slack, I enjoy their ethereal rock ballads – lullabies for the night time, daydreams for the soul.

    When I locked up my bike at the South end of Union Park on Sunday, I couldn’t help but settle into the fence behind the Balance stage, sucked into Michael Columbia, an unexpected electronic exhilaration. If I had known, I might have arrived a little earlier in the day. I’m sad to have missed the memorial at Dianogah, opting for Frightened Rabbit, Chicago-loved Scottish rock band, instead. I’d had my heart set on some bad boys from Scotland since the morning, scratchy as Hutchison’s voice was during the set.

    The afternoon was awash with no direction, so I opted for the art tent and record fair, favorites include: Clothespin, Soapbox Soaps, Circa Ceramics, CHIRP, 826CHI, Threadless, and the Active Transportation Alliance. I sat down for the end set of DJ/Rupture, but missed out on the dance party. Next I hit the power punk three-chord jumps of The Thermals, though I’d had enough of them by the time they busted out their Nirvana and Green Day covers. Sorry 1994.

    Rainbow slicks in a mud puddle, The Walkmen pitter-pattered our hearts as Katie and I fell closer and closer to the stage. Though I somehow missed their earlier debuts, In The New Year’s “And my heart’s in the strangest place/And that’s how it started,” or even better, “Oh I’m just like you/I’ll never hear the bad news,” are two of the best verses I have ever heard, and Leithauser’s vocal delivery only adds to their profundity. M83 followed up with a good dance mix, however cut short due to my interest in the all woman punk/grunge trio, The Vivian Girls. It was good to see Ali Koehler rocking out on the drums, and simple, solid guitar, drum, bass riffs sail through the collective vocals of Cassie Ramone and Kickball Katy (that just sounds hot). Grizzly Bear neglect on my part early in their open soon led me to the trance understanding of why I napped to them last year, and why I followed my feet amicability this year – solid, seductive sound.

    Finally the night turned to a surprising close as I was reluctant to stay for the Flaming Lips set, then enamored by their playfully ridiculous performance. You can’t beat three dozen giant balloons and cannons of confetti amidst a colorful backdrop, Wayne’s megalomania aside. I have also never seen them perform a disappointing show, so when song 25 on the request list was announced and I heard the beginning of Bad Days, my Pitchfork Festival $65 investment became immediately and undeniably worth it.

    Eric and I settled on a 9:30 departure and headed toward the B stage to give a quick shout out to The Very Best, then fell into one of the most beautiful, unexpected moments of the entire weekend. For the first time since his death, I celebrated Michael Jackson’s contribution to music history. In memory of the late singer/songwriter, The Very Best sampled “Will You Be There,” pressing through the speakers and into our feet. We danced and pedaled to our bicycles, closing the 2009 Pitchfork gate behind us, reminding us –

    And to further extend my point:

    Slugs are good for the environment, too.

    Many props to Pom-town for sending me the above link, and for her encouragement of my “gastropoddy ways.”

    Though, as of late, I’ve been thinking I should have focused my blog on pollywogs


    Because pollywog is the best word in the English language.

    Pollywiggle is a close second:

    Middle English ‘polwygle‘ (literally ‘wiggle-head’) was an alternate word for the tadpole, the larval stage of the frog.(3) A number of dialect and local variants existed e.g. porriwiggle, purwiggy, pollywiggle, pollywoggle. In his Dictionary Samuel Johnson cross referenced tadpole and ‘porwigle‘(4)” (OED Online).

    And for those of you unfamiliar, Samuel Johnson’s dictionary is awesome.

    The Best Poem Written For Me Ever!

    Cereal by Mark Kenseth (yay!)

    that box of puffin cereal
    on top of the fridge
    is for you

    while you were on vacation
    i snacked on your puffin cereal

    it started with a handful
    and then some more

    and even though they
    were a little stale
    they were really good

    so i finished them
    and promised to buy you more

    i bought two boxes last week,
    one for me and one for you,
    cause now i want them as a snack
    while the other was for you

    but i couldn’t get a box to your place
    since i ride my bike most of the time

    now i have both boxes sitting in my pantry
    but that’s ok
    because i like them so much

    but i like you too
    so that’s why last night
    while at whole foods
    i picked up a box of puffin cereal
    just for you

    And very similar to:

    This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet and so cold

    Two amazing poets!