In the water

In response to Roisin O’Gorman’s “The Ontogenetic Body”

When I was a child I moved a lot. My parents divorced and my mother followed the work, escaped the past. She tells me we lived in a basement apartment without a bathtub once, so she bought a kiddie pool to bathe me in, sea creatures on the sides. You could always find me there with or without water she said, pretending to be in the ocean.

Recently, she moved again, this time from a small community where most my formative memories lie, on a beach with an expansive lake, no visible other side. I remember always wanting her to swim with me, but she preferred the sand and a book and a beer, complaining the water was too cold, always too cold. That didn’t stop me from going in the water. The temperature didn’t seem to register on my skin. The sensation of swimming, of diving, of jumping with the waves was all I could feel. I could swim out there in the no temperature lake on my own for hours, so I did. The feeling of swimming would accompany me to my bed at night, the room uneven in motion until I fell asleep, my dreams rocking back and forth, back in the water.

I was writing one summer, the summer before she moved. Partly out of a need for quiet and privacy to write on my own, and partly out of a deep rooted longing for that house to stay mine, I spent a week alone there turning out pages, and swimming. One evening I got there at that perfect time when the sun and the moon are battling it out in the horizon at the end of waves. My body moved through the water like my childhood dreams, watching the celestial orbs moving through space and time. The no temperature water started to feel a little cold that time.

The Kitchen

Writing Date: Monday, July 31st, 2017
Writing Time: 8:34am
Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)
“When I came into the kitchen in the morning” is a writing dip selected from “In West Kerry” by J.M. Synge

When I came into the kitchen in the morning, I had a kitchen to come into. This was miraculous because yesterday I did not, or at least not a kitchen of this caliber, this taste, this expense. As I came into this kitchen I was aware of it as a room with food of course because that’s what I was searching for, but more I was aware of this room as a place of longing and of hard work. The owner of this particular kitchen deeply longed and worked so very hard to call it her own. She thought about it daily before it was born, as she drove to a job that tested her spirit of humanity most days. And the kitchen, miraculously it rewarded her much like she thought it would. Part of her was always worried the kitchen wouldn’t live up to the vision she had of it, that it wouldn’t mean all that it needed to mean when it arrived, because it had to mean so much. For one, it had to answer the why to working each and all days, but yes, bizarrely this kitchen did mean all this to her, and yes, it did answer why she had to work so very hard. As I stood on the cool tiles, some black, some white, and looked at the pretty glass-faced cupboards, I could feel her pride all around me and instead of turning away from it and laughing at its absurdity like I would have yesterday, I let the pride hit me from all angles. I let it sear right through my skin, right through to the insides.



“We’ve Never Properly Met Though” by Taylor at her dining room table

This is in response to Julia Pileggi’s post yesterday at These Five Minutes
Writing Date: Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Writing Time: 8:43am
Timed Writing: 10 minutes (no edits!)
The quote is a “writing dip” selected from a text

Image result for drawing of train

We wouldn’t know why we were at the train station until we got there. Our oldest brother Levi’s letter just instructed us to arrive at the station together at 2pm without any clues as to why, but in a taxi on the way there we of course made a few guesses as to what our wanderlust brother was up to. Our taxi sparked with that feeling only our brother Levi could inspire: confused anticipation.

“He’s probably out of money,” said Meagan, my younger, ever afraid of a world not clearly dividable by numbers, sister.  Understanding came in the form of organization and clockwork to Meagan, so my younger brother Mark and I mostly dismissed her predictable opinions on everything.

“Levi’s always had too much money if anything,” I said which was true. The charm that beamed out of him was the kind that seemed to inspire even the most destitute of person’s charity. Money often flew at him without the giver ever being aware of its departure.

I explained my theory that our brother had either found our mother or maybe she had found him somehow while he was wandering through Thailand, but Mark had his own thoughts on what Levi was about to spring on us.

“He’s getting rid of the house and he wants our blessing.” Mark was the kind of man who could never get over his childhood and always felt imagined pressure from others to let it go. Ever since Levi was given our parent’s home when Dad died a few years ago, Mark has been on guard for the day Levi would try to tear the walls of nostalgia away from him.

When we got to the train station, when we saw Levi, he didn’t look like he’d seen our mother, or sold our house, or was out of money. When we opened the car door to let him in, he instead invited us to get out of the cab.

“Get on a train with me,” was what he said, “I have something to show you.”

“This is my Robot” by Taylor at her dining room table

Writing Date: Monday, March 20th, 2016
Writing Time: 8:15am
Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)
The quote is a “writing dip” selected from “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art” by Scott McCloud

This is my robot

If she wasn’t five years old I wouldn’t have thought my daughter was a genius when she came into my bedroom one morning holding what looked to be a computer hard drive connected to her brother’s favourite wrestling toy action figure: the hulk. But she was five years old and “This is my robot,” was all that she said to me. What was I supposed to think? Genius, obviously.

Ok, I didn’t immediately jump up and yell, “Oh my God I have the smartest daughter in all the land!” or anything like that at first, because I was concerned of course that my little girl had been up all night using electronic equipment and a soldering gun to frankenstein this little plastic man in her bear pajamas, but then she turned it on and the fast worry of my adrenaline pumping heart almost stopped entirely as she commanded the toy wrestler to walk around the room of its own free will.

“It’s voice activated,” she told me, “What else do you want me to tell it to do?”

“Stream of Literature” by Taylor at her dining room table

Writing Date: Saturday, February 25, 2017
Writing Time: 11:33am
Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)
The quote is a “writing dip” selected from a gorgeous, old chart of literature a good friend gave me to put up on my wall.

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“Stay with me now,” Mandy whispered at my forehead while I wheezed in her arms.

“Where am I going? You’ve got a pretty tight grip on me.”

She licked my forehead like a wet stream of literature and then pinched the flabby part of my arm. It hurt all the way through my spine to laugh but it meant Mandy could relax so I did. She sat back on the couch beside me.

She didn’t sign up to be my nurse or worse my mother when we first started going out and I hated how she felt she needed to take on those roles now. Sometimes I fantasized about breaking up with her to see the relief in her eyes. But the truth is I do need her and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if she finally realized she was wasting good years on my eventual demise.

“I booked us in for a massage later,” she said getting up to make us some toast.

“You going too?” She never came in with me to treatments. I think she’s worried she’ll see me as just a patient that way.

“Well those benefits of yours might as well benefit me too while they’re at it.”

She put the pieces of bread in the toaster one piece at a time, and I wiped the wet slime from her tongue off my forehead.

“Mini Volcanoes” by Taylor at her dining room table

This is in response to Julia Pileggi’s post on Thursday at These Five Minutes
Writing Date: Friday February 24, 2017
Writing Time: 8:40am
Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)
The quote is a “writing dip” selected from the Ocean Village Activity Book

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Later we would climb to the top of the mound of cold molten rock, but through the window of the small 5-seater plane I could see how the Earth’s colour shifted beneath me from the green of tropic tree tops, their brightness magnified by the recent rain, to the black of old destruction. The heat from the mother volcano’s red lava frozen by our atmosphere into dark rocks that cut and landed like mars.

“I thought the beauty of this place would be in its starkness, its remoteness,” you said to me and I laughed at you.

“You thought a tropical country would be stark?”

“It looks too much like home to me,” you clarified, so when we climbed out of the plane onto the otherworldly rock, I was upset that you were thinking of our bed, our life at home instead of being here, being able to be in the new with me now.

“I don’t know if it’s important or not but it might be” by Taylor at her dining room table

This is in response to Sasha Singer-Wilson’s post on Tuesday at These Five Minutes

Writing Date: Friday February 10, 2017

Writing Time: 11:03am

Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)

The quote is a “writing dip” selected from Gerald’s Game by Stephen King

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I held the turtle by the sides of its shell with Robbyn looking down at me. I know I learned how to tell if this little guy was a snapping turtle at camp once when I was 11, but the memory was mostly gone now. This turtle captured by my fingers could be a killer or a pacifist for all I could tell.

The turtle tried to keep moving towards the road despite by grip. He was strong even though he looked like he’d been around a while, the shiny smooth of his shell fading. Robbyn moved out in front of him, trying to convince him to stop advancing to certain death by fast traffic.

“He’s so ready to die,” Robbyn was looking him in the eyes. I held him a little tighter. “Do you think we can turn him around somehow and convince him to go back into the long grass?”

I realized Robbyn was having a lot of fun. Normally she felt so useless. Her day-to-day life was exhausting to her in its need to be self-motivated. Something about forcing this little suicidal turtle back from the edge of infinite darkness gave her a rush of involuntary purpose, or meaning, she hadn’t felt since she was a young woman in university and the whole world seemed to broaden out brightly before her.

“Filled with Feeling but Generally Paralyzed” by Taylor at her dining room table

This is in response to Julia Pileggi’s post yesterday at These Five Minutes

Writing Date: Friday February 2, 2017
Writing Time: 10:44am
Timed Writing: 5 minutes (no edits!)
The quote is a “writing dip” selected from an interview with Miranda July in LENNY letter

They didn’t tell me why they kept us there. I found out later from Christine when she was drinking, but the whole time we were down here, they didn’t tell me. I think I asked. I mean I must have. I wanted to know, but maybe I was too scared to ask.

I tried to pretend the fear didn’t get to me. I didn’t want them to have the satisfaction, you know? I’ve always been really stubborn. One time when I was dating this guy and we moved in together, I got so angry at him I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as him, but we didn’t have another bedroom or couch even, so I slept on the bean bag chair in the kitchen. I’m not small, so it wasn’t comfortable, trust me. He would never tell me this, but I know he was impressed with my stubbornness. It showed will power to him. He gave me a little more space after that, stopped making light of certain parts of my personality like he used to.

I showed will power down here in this pit too, but it didn’t seem to do much to save me then.

May 3, 2016 – On Top of Old Smoky

IMG_0204Ger and his camera are outside in the dark. Nighttime mosquitoes freshly hatched feasting on his sunburnt arms and ankles as he shoots flashes into the dark. The moon his subject for the evening. He’s always working on something. It’s easy to love that about him.

I got sick on top of a mountain today. But not before we saw bear number two of the trip.

“A young male,” said the ranger, a wise 60 year old woman in taupe. “About 2 years old,” she thought, “freshly kicked out of the den by his mother.”

It was all up to him now to mark his territory, to find the best spot to call his own.

“That’s why he’s around here,” the ranger explained, “the older bears know not to come this close to the trail, to stick to the less traveled parts of the mountain.”

The bear’s bum was patchy, his small yet muscular arms digging, foraging for sweets in the dirt. He uprooted a log to find the good stuff underneath, taking a moment to scratch his ear, then he stuck his big nose into the fresh dirt full of what must have been what he was looking for because he parked there for some time, enough time for Ger and I to get our fill of the bear for the day, which was difficult to do, and move on down the path.

Like the older bears, Ger and I found a trail less traveled for the rest of the day. More vertical than the previous trails we’d been on. Straight up the mountain. As I walked the tickle in my throat turned to cough, which then turned to all out sweats, but we were already on our climb, so up we continued. My sweating amplified by the heat of the day rising, the sun mounting.

The oldest of the old trees all around, thick enough to hide the view of the mountains beside us. We knew we were going up, but could not tell how high or for how long. The climb steep enough to make it difficult to talk without panting. The silence welcome anyway now that we were out of the city. I reflected on my second semester as a college professor and realized this was the first moment I had truly come up for air. A good place to do it, I reasoned, on top of a mountain beside my favourite person in the world, even if my temperature was hitting fever pitch.

Eventually we came to plateau, and a clearing. Not sure if we would find another clear view of our surroundings for some time, we found a seat for the view. Layers of growth all around us. Green on shades of green on shades of green. The view of the layered mountains enough to make you cry – and I did.

I’m not sure if it was the view or my fever or the fact that this was the first moment this year I felt awake to the world around me, but I sobbed for a while looking at the mountains. I think Ger must have realized at that point how sick I had truly gotten because there was concern plastered all over his face. Tears and sweat were all over mine. We laughed a little at the moment and returned to the mountain view.

The descent was much the same as the climb, yet my body had forgot to pretend it was ok as it heaved and pushed its way down the mountain.

A flash outside from Ger’s camera. A new way of exposing the dark outside to light. The bed calling me and my drowsy self into the next room.