Thursday, December 24, 2009


The ice in the glass clinked as the fruit soaked in brandy floated up to meet my parched lips. Instantly the blizzard like wind outside turned into the lazy waves that crashed onto the sandy Portugal beaches. The stool I was sitting on turned into a beach chair propped lazily in the sand, and the fluorescent lights morphed into the gorgeous sunshine that caressed my body with it's warm rays. It's amazing what memories one glass of sangria can trigger

I let myself come out of my dream world easily. It took only milliseconds to realize that wool socks would never be needed on the beach and that the sun wouldn't really be able to reach any of my skin since I was bundled against the cold that crept into the house. Normally I would try to hold onto the memory as long as possible, reliving my adventures, but not tonight. I let my feet touch back down and I reentered the conversation being held in our kitchen about the new Rogers' tradition. It is Christmas Eve and despite my desires to fly and run, I know where I need to be tonight. Right here in the kitchen that has been a work in progress for over six months, tucked away from the blizzard with two quote-crazy brothers, my parents and a dog ready to give beijinhos at a moments notice.

So I tipped my sangria filled glass and let the memories of Portugal slip away as fast as they rode in, because I was busy making new memories. Memories that might just be brought back to mind next Christmas when we recreate the new Rogers' tradition, or the next time I hear winds from a blizzard, or the next time I hear my family laugh together


My heart hurt a little when I made the first cut. If they knew what I was going to do with the purchase they wouldn't have sold it to me, but the deed was exhilarating none the less. I was breaking every rule that I had ever been taught.

The pages flew by and I caught snippets of lines here and there. Just enough to grab my attention and peak my interest, before the exacto-knife took them away. Lines about Darl and Shreve, treachery and wagons, adventures and damnation. Unfortunately they were tidbits of stories and I had a project to finish. Fortunately there are miles of road that are to be eaten up this Christmas. Miles that can be filled with complete line after complete line of Faulkner.

Nothing better than some dark demented irony-filled stories at Christmas time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a real page turner

I went in just to buy a christmas present. I debated for a few hours whether or not to go in. I had spent too many hours in the place for not enough paycheck. At first the perk of free books kept me pleased, but after awhile I realized a bookshelf full of books wasn't going to help when I moved to college.

I slipped in unnoticed. My boots and hat clashed against the normal black polo uniform. It helped with the disguise.

I snuck around bookshelf after bookshelf looking for the present. After selecting the right gift I yank my dress down, hike my boots up and head in the direction the main desk to pay. I'm prepared for the awkward conversations that will start, when the bookstore employees pretended to actually like other people. Or at least the low-paid hoodlum cafe workers, which I used to a part of.
I get helped by Sue. She was personally my favorite, we go through the usual chit-chat. She asks when I graduate, my plans for the future, and if I'll ever come back.

Then she asks me where I was last summer.
Portugal, I say, researching.
The eyes of all three workers behind the desk shoot up. They are judging me. I'm not a hoity-toity east-sider like they are. I'm not allowed to have adventures like this. I don't have money. I don't belong there.

Despite their best looks, I walked out on top of the world. Because I was out having adventures and saving the world, they just get to read about that kind of thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I spent the weekend laughing. Not the polite kind of laughing that always comes when you meet new people that you want to like you. It was the ab forming, attention getting, rambunctious laughter that makes you smile days after. The kind that gets you kicked out of churches.

The weekend ended with three words.

A four word response.

Two flashes of a pair of headlights.

And the feeling of a sated perfection.

de.....wait for it...... lightful

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

P Chem

I have this incessant little high pitched chattering in my head, that goes like this:
P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem

I've haven't been able to get any right answers for the last 45 minutes, because all I can hear is:
P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem

So say a little prayer for my grade.....
P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem P. Chem

Tomorrow's the day. It's going to be epic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love."

These words sting a little, but I'm not ready to put them into action. I'm not ready to be nice.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I tend to think about writing stories when I'm trudging home through the cold, or driving across the wide-open nothingness, or in the quiet moments before I'm fully awake when the shower is pouring heat back into my frozen appendages. Often I notice something and will try to make a story out of it. Try to make a connection to something else, something deeper in my life. This tried to happen last night.

The battle lines were drawn and the ground rules laid. It was a battle of epic proportions. My littlest pet shop Go Fish. This wasn't the usual Go Fish game where you match a card with its pair. None of that sissy stuff for us, we played the cut throat game of needing all four numbers before you can lay them down. The rule was, when asked you had to give up all your cards of that number.

The cards were dealt and the game began. Her little girl fingers were full of cards by the third round, but she held on. Actually she dominated. Even when I took advantage of the fact that she held her cards so that anyone could see them, she still won. So I have no hope of being a Go Fish National Champion, what can you do? I personally think i'll live, but my mind still reached for some type of deeper meaning in being beaten by a five year old.

There was no deep meaning. No self-realization, just the simple fact that sometimes you are left with three 7's and no more cards in the draw pile.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Her little five year old body pressed apprehensiously against my legs. It was her first time handing out programs she said. She was nervous she said. But this is what you do for Lighting of the Quad.

The people started trickling in and she got her wits about her. Her nearly four foot frame stood bravely in her wool sweater, tight fashionable black leggings and to-die-for pink plaid boots. She was comfortable holding two programs to hand out, no more, no less. The first family approached the door, she took a step away from the support of my legs, stuck her program-filled hand out straight and said...

"Welcome to Christmas"

The smile on my face reached from ear to ear as I realized, you don't need much more than that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Soaked would be an understatement

My dog is really smart. And I'm not just saying that. She knows how to get out of every fence ever made, knows where the secret stash of food is hidden and will judge you if you eat them without sharing with her, and knows that the bathroom either means bath time for her or you. If it is for you she will help you lick the lotion off of your legs and make sure that you are clean enough by her standards, but if it means bath time for her she does everything in her power to get away.

So today was judgement day for my dog, see if Layla is good she gets to go to the park, have her leash taken off and she gets to just run. Her job, that she has been officially promoted to including taking secret dog oaths known only to her, is to rid the park of all the squatters. The squirrels, the geese, and even the occasional small child. She lives for this job and takes it very seriously. She checks every tree for squirrels, and is especially fond of the really fat ones. Her new found love though are the geese. When she sees a flock of them she is gone. Her ears pressed back, legs flying full force until she rounds them up and out into the river. They are not allowed in her park.

Getting the geese to the river however is never enough. She personally escorts them into the river, until she realizes she doesn't like swimming. So she goes chest deep into the cold river to keep playing with the geese until her attention is drawn by more geese still in the park, or a squirrel in a tree.

So after three days of endless walks with this dog and many dips into the river in pursuit of the fat geese she stinks. Absolutely stinks. It is a mixture of dog sweat, thanksgiving leftovers, putrid river stench and goose poop. The obvious choice is for her to take a bath. So today was the day.

I pulled her into the bathroom, tempting her with her favorite treat of toothpaste. By the time she realized where she was, I had the door closed and the water running. She gracefully hopped into the tub, deceivingly submissive, convincing me that this job would be easy. The water started, the shampoo was on and as I let go of her collar to fill up the pitcher she made a run for it. She jumped out of the tub, skidded across the floor and started scratching at the door for a savior. None came, but she wasn't going back in so easily. I imagine fighting with her would be the same as with a three-year old who doesn't want to take a bath either.

After a long epic drawn out battle, the dog is clean, the bathroom is dripping and I'm covered in dog shampoo and soaked from head to toe.

I'm not sure who won this battle, but I'm pretty sure the dog is determined to win the war because she is currently rolling in the dirt out back.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


She stood as if in a dream. Present, but not quite able to take everything in. Her small broken frame was made even more miniscule by the fact that she was flanked by her one remaining son, who stood over 6 foot 5 and her husband who was passed years ago in the height department, but could still hold his own. She gracefully hugged well-wishers and thanked everyone for coming. When it was finally my turn, I stooped down to her height and grasped her tight, enfolding her little frame. She held me for a long time before whispered a few gentle words in my ear.

She whispered, "Never doubt that you are loved. Always know how loved you truly are by all."

The tears rimmed my eyes as I turned away. As I walked around the corner I knew, she had a new mission. In her grief she stood strong and sent the message she knows everyone must hear. It didn't matter that some manner of those words would be whispered into every young person's ear that morning. The power came from the fact that it was a message she longed to tell her son, but instead had to tell everyone else's sons and daughters. A message that she had sent him so many times in so many ways, yet could no longer whisper those most important words in his ear.

So fellow interwebbers. In this time of thanksgiving and blessing, know that you are loved. Each and every one of you. You are loved by all, and especially by me.

Enjoy your family, hug them close and tell them how much they really mean to you. Love on each other and be with one another, because the days are fleeting and you might miss an opportunity to let some one else know how much they mean to you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

physics and turkeys

I've tried sitting down to write three different times. I wrote about how i'm obsessed with turkeys and how the sketches of turkeys running away from their impending doom are splattered all over my class notes. I wrote about how the bags under my eyes are so big that they could hold all of a shop-a-holic's black friday finds. I wrote about a comment from a friend about how she was flabbergasted that someone as good at physics as I was could have such a tormented heart (her words, not mine). Despite all these, I just couldn't get out what I was feeling.

Unsettled is probably the best word for it. Anxious and a little worried. I've avoided certain people for quite a while now and I am going to be forced to see them face to face when we are most vulnerable. And the worst part is that we will be forced to go through the healing process together over the loss of a young friend.

I don't think I'm ready for that. I'm not the same person and I don't know if they are willing to see that, and that is not okay with me.

Is that selfish to be thinking of myself during this time? Probably, but I don't think I'm emotionally stable enough for tomorrow. I mean physics can only take my tormented heart so far....

Friday, November 20, 2009

This little heathen went to market....

Oh God of Science who presides over all scientists

How powerful and mighty you are.

May your experiments succeed and your hypothesis be proven

In vitro and in vivo.

Fill us this day with endorphins and adrenaline.

And connect our presynaptic neurons as we connect our postsynaptic neurons

and lead us not into contamination, but deliver us from failed experiments

for thine is the work over time and success forever


-Yes this could be seen as a little blasphemous, but how else was I going to stay busy in the last ten minutes before my presentation? Every scientists needs a little help now and then. Props if you get the equation reference and I guess a cite to the Lord's Prayer should be given...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

are you sick of this story yet?

The old lamp post caused my body to cast its long lean shadow against the sidewalk as I walked through the crisp cool night in the direction of home. It was early enough that the wind had died down and the moon shown as strong as it ever would tonight. Despite the calm and quiet, my mind roared. It was screaming about the week, a failed P Chem test, assignments that were due, people I needed to see, food I hadn't eaten, drama that shouldn't involve me, and things that needed to be taken care of. As my boots plodded down each familiar cement square I tried to remember the feeling of the Portuguese wind.

The wind that brought a refreshing, uplifting magical feeling every time it blew past and ruffled my dress. But I couldn't. I couldn't remember the smells that floated on the breeze that would lead me on adventures in search of their origin. Or the promise it carried. Or how it seemed lighter because it had been warmed by the sun. Or its salty aftertaste that was like a calling card for the beach.

I could only remember the frigid Jewell wind that bites into your soul and holds on with an iron grip. The kind that takes your breath away and forces you to hunker down to hold onto what little body heat you have.

This is how I view these two places. One warm and full of adventure and free, the other bitter cold and constraining.

I have never felt the urge so strong to run from here. I thought it was bad when I first got back from Portugal, but it's consuming my life. I'm exhausted from the fight it takes to keep my feet on the ground. I'm ready to jump ship and get the hell out of here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Stream of consciousness

I drove home yesterday and almost didn't remember the way. Driving always renews the writer in me. I have time to just think and digest. I come up with great things I want to write about and write entire stories in my head, but then when it comes time to actually write them down I only remember parts of them, and they are not nearly as good as what I remember them to be. These are the tidbits that I remember. Maybe one of these days I'll sit down and finish writing the entire stories, but for now these few disconnected lines will just have to keep you occupied...

I dreamed about saving a seagull last night. I had to use a bucket because no one wanted me to touch him. After saving him from the water and getting him upright in the bucket he told me I did a lousy job....

When i think about all the funerals I have attended, I always associate them with some sensory memory in cars. A conversation, a smell, even seeing something that doesn't belong. I'm not sure I even remember the funeral, just the memories in the car. The new car smell mixed with leather reminds me of my grandfather's funeral, and a dark lonely drive with one lone set of brake lights miles ahead of you reminds me of my grandmother's....

He wants to live his life like a country song, full of crazy abandon, gravel roads, and home-cooking...

It's hard to change first impressions. There are times though when I'm interacting with someone and my eyes are opened to what they really look like. Or what they really stand for. Usually it results in me staring at them, overwhelmed and awestruck by the connections my brain just made. This happened recently when my Professor was talking about poop....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Scientist

I used to start these blogs with lyrics from songs.

At the beginning is was just the songs that were stuck in my head, or the ones that I woke up singing, but then a metamorphous began. They began to be little messages that I would send out to people who probably would never get them. They would never understand that they were written for them, but that was half of the point.

After awhile they turned into messages to just one person. Lyrics that reminded me of that person, or made me think of a certain shared memory, or even the ones that declared my love for them.

So the other day I stumbled across an Portuguese friend's blog. His latest post was one that was following in my message-in-a-blog style. And I'm pretty sure it was meant for me. I mean there was no missing it.

Here's his post...

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

So at this point I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until I heard the song on the radio later that I discovered it's meaning. The lyrics are from the chorus of a song by Coldplay called The Scientist. If that isn't a coded message, I don't know what is....

Monday, November 2, 2009


I went to talk to my advisor, so that he could remove the registration restriction so that I could enroll for classes in two days. Better late than never, I guess. And really after seven semesters I've got this whole routine down.
While I was standing in his office, I was pacing back and forth and surveying the collections of goodies that every quality science lover has. He had every shape and size of glassware; beakers bigger than my head, flasks full of fluorescent glass bulbs, even itty-bitty glassware that looked like it served no purpose. He had shelves full of books covering his favorite science topics, for a little light reading in his free time. But his most prized possession was a collection of flies that had been pinned and labeled in a fold-down glass box. I normally just glance over the flies because they kind of make me sick, but today I was enticed. I looked over the little ones, the ones that shone green, even the big ones with round fat bellies.
I've been presented with a fork in the road. One is wide-open and free, but requires cutting a few heartstrings. The other has the outcome similar to the flies in the glass box. Both are exhilarating for obviously different reasons. Somedays I'm ready to veer left and be wild and free. Other days I'm confident in my choice to go right.

But what is the right choice? And what will I choose when the decision absolutely has to be made...

See, I'm just not sure if i want to be pinned down yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Whacha doing?

I've decided since I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life, I shall take up/renew old hobbies. Here are the current ones....

Photography - I would be in the darkroom all day everyday if I could. I love it. All of it. That is all.

Sewing - Why yes I just made my halloween costume. Did I use a pattern you ask? Nope. I'm cool like that.

Yoga - All time favorite. Maybe it's my hippy instructor. Maybe it's the ideals. Whatever it is, it's love.

Rip Stick - I've decided this is my cool new hobby/new mode of transportation. It's like a skateboard, but it only has two wheels. It's ridiculous but in about five hours I've learned to get on and off (albeit not very gracefully) and can roll down the hill. It's killer.

So imagine me in some ridiculous outfit carrying a old brick of a camera, a yoga mat, and a rip stick, (Unfortunately I can't carry the sewing machine with me)

Crazy...probably, but it fits me

Monday, October 26, 2009


Out here it's like I'm someone else, I thought that maybe I could find myself. If I could walk around, I'd swear i'd leave, I won't take nothing but a memory...

I miss Portugal. A lot. I told my mom today that I was over it. I was earlier, but I slip back so easily. I'm overwhelmed with mental images of all the places I've been. I long for the embrace of my friends, the two kisses of greetings, the wishes for good days, the coffee, the sing-song portuguese language, the ease of life.

I can't smell cigarette smoke without thinking of Felipe's slender fingers reaching into another box of Marlboro's searching for his next fix. The way his glasses would slip down his nose a little as his face relaxed when he took in his first breath. The way the corners of his mouth would turn up slightly in a little grin as he felt the nicotine take effect.

I can't listen to certain music without Hugo coming to mind. I was caught off-guard today when one of his rarer favorites came on the radio. It made me think of his gorgeous eyes, his little laugh, the freckles on his face that he tried to cover up with a little stubble, his car with the broken shift stick, his eclectic decorations and scandalous photography. The way I would sit on the wooden chest in his room while he tried to write in english so I could help him with his grammer. It made me long for his morning greeting of, "hello beautiful" no matter how I looked, for the nonchalant way he would grab my hand as he pulled me across the street towards our next adventure.

I can't feel the gust of wind from a passing semi going down Mississippi street without thinking about the trip to work everyday. My first warning was to stay at least a foot in from the street while walking on the sidewalk. Because the mirrors on the buses stick out far enough to take you out if you aren't careful.

I can't drink coffee without longing for the bitter strong taste of their cafe. The strong kick that came on immediately that could wake the dead. The addiction that pulled so strong that you had to stop for coffee before the day could start, after lunch, before you went home from work, and then again after dinner. The feeling of knowing exactly how much sugar to add and the exact number of circular stirs needed to cool it down enough to take it back in one gulp.

So tonight I won't smell, hear, feel or taste anything. No Portugal. No United States. Nothing.

Tomorrow I'll pick myself up and be ready for another day, but I have 9 hours until then to be senseless.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brother against Brother

And i'm winning you with words because i have no other way, I want to look into your face without your eyes turning away, Last night i watched you sing because a person has to try, And i walked home in the rain because a person can not lie

The rain was coming down without raindrops. It was a gentle easy mist that made the world look hazy and dreamy. The quad was deserted and dark as I walked from the Union towards my home away from home. As I passed under lights I was struck with the beauty of the refraction of the light on the hazy rain. It made the lamp posts pool with a shimmery light, like all the romantic movie scenes, the ones we dream about where our true love is waiting for us in this dream world. Waiting to sweep us off our feet, where everything is perfect. As I walked through the hazy rain from one pool of light to the next a new figure rose out of the mist. He gave away his age as he limped up the ramp slowly, leaning heavily on the cane in his right hand, causing the gold tassels on his shoulders to shimmer with each step. The gold buttons running down the length of his uniform gave way to a gold belt that would make any girl who craves vintage clothing drool. The gray in his uniform was the same color as his hair and as he stopped in another pool of light I saw confederate flag on his uniform.
We crossed paths in the hazy dream world, under my breath I muttered... Viva la revolution.
He gave me a fist pump and a knowing smile.

We walked through the haze, he to his battle wherever that may be. And me, back to my fight with science. One that wasn't going to be as bloody as his fight, but equally as painful.

But it did leave me to contemplate just what exactly a confederate soldier, well past his prime was doing on the quad tonight.

This one's for you

Here's a recent decision I made. Take it, leave it, do with it what you will.

My theory on relationships has been the same for awhile now, whether it be with friends, crazy Whiskey-Tango relatives, or just strangers on the street. When it comes down to it, I'm responsible for my actions and my actions only. I can only be held accountable for what I do, say or think. Anything more than that is not up to me. How people respond to my actions or words isn't something I can control. Yes I can make sure that the words I say are gentle and full of love towards the other person, but their response is not mine to be in control of.

So I'm taking responsibility for my actions and words. I'm going to be a big girl, while letting you be an adult at the same time. I'm sorry if what I have done has hurt you, or what I've said has wounded you. That was never my intent.

That being said, I don't want to hear about things happening secondhand. I don't want someone to tell me about the drama in your life, specifically when it is related to me or being blamed on me. I don't want to be held responsible for anyone else's actions. They are not mine to be judged for. I'm not going to play sides. I'm not going to draw the battle lines. I would rather feel the pain of being ostracized by others rather than force those lines to be drawn.

So that is what I'm going to do.

I'm going to be responsible for me while caring for you, even if it is from a distance. But I will not get in the way of your decisions. They are yours to make. Your life to live and I will not meddle. Or judge.

I ask you do the same.

Monday, October 19, 2009

pumpkin pickin'

My legs pumped the swing higher and higher. The wind blew my hair wildly and despite the fact that my swing was hooked tight to the top of the metal pole, there were moments when I was convinced it would give way and I would fly through the air. Free and wild, flying through the dark with a little giggly friend next to me. A friend as fueled by out-of-the ordinary adventure and Sheridan's concrete as I am.

a good end to an unexpectedly filling break

wishing chicago was closer

I've been struck with forgotten memories from Portugal. They've come at the most random times, unconnected to anything I'm thinking about, yet vivid nonetheless. Here's a few...

-Her dark eyes peered out from behind her mother's cotton beach dress. Her little pink hat sat crookedly on her head forcing her left ear to stick out farther than her right. The gap in her front teeth showed just enough, that when put together with her round gleaming eyes, you had to question her three year old motives. I stepped off the bus with my backpack and t-shirt and jeans, clothing unfit for this beach town and stood over mother and daughter. They both tilted their heads way back to take me in. Lucia grabbed her ear that stuck out and pushed her thumb into her mouth. As we walked down the sandy road her mother tried to explain Lucia's newfound shyness. I figured it would be blamed on how tall I was. She said it was the nose ring.

- The waiters with the hot bodies, best personalities and most gorgeous eyes were put outside to convince tourists to sit at their restaurant. They knew enough of every language to lure the visitors in, and they usually were good at guessing where people were from. I usually avoided this strip of Lisbon. Too touristy for me, and I stuck out enough, but today I was wearing my yellow dress and was feeling brave. The dress was tied so that it only covered one shoulder, and the way I walked gave the impression that you might get to see a little more if you watched long enough. The little old ladies coming out of the cathedral already gave me their best judging eyes, but i merely laughed behind my sunglasses. As I walked on the smoothed cobblestones, the waiters came to their posts. Their eyes flashed quickly up and down taking in my long tanned legs, the short yellow dress, and the dark brown hair that curled at my shoulders. They were slow to speak, unable to decide what language to use first. I pulled down my sunglasses to meet their gaze, daring them to make a guess. Getting it right the first time was imperative as to whether i would stop or not, and they knew this. It was like a game. The first said something in French, I shook my head and turned my attention to the next waiter. German, nope. Spanish, I gave him a little smile and gave him a consolation prize of a small line in Spanish to give away how wrong he was. By the end of the row there was only one guess left. He incredibly asked, Falo Portuguese? I walked past him before turning around and giving them all a smile, replaced my sunglasses, and said, "Maybe next time boys." The audible groans carried over the english lines they called after me trying to get me to come back. I just turned in the direction i was heading and gave myself a mental point. Another win for the American in the yellow dress, we'll see what they can do next week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

living in twilight

The rowboat rocked violently as she transferred her weight too quickly from the old weather worn dock into the boat. Her hope was that this trip would give her sanctuary, an escape from the last few hours of one of the longest days of her life. The sun started setting as she placed the oars in their proper place and glided away from the dock. She didn't pay attention to the birds singing in the trees that surrounded the lake, or the crickets in the long grass, or even the sound of the oars dipping in and out of the water in perfect rhythm.

Her back curved with each stroke as she pulled the water out of the way, forcing the boat to glide further away from her pain. She rowed until her arms ached. Finally, when every muscle fought against the movement for another stroke, she looked up and took in the evening. The sun was setting into the far side of the lake, taking with it the creatures that roamed the woods during the day. The golden yellow of the sun illuminated the quiet lake, leaving it to glisten like fire in the late evening twilight. She sat quietly and watched as a peace settled over the lake. The peace made its way through the icy grip she held over her heart, and her face softened as she let the anger go. She dipped her fingers into the water letting them dance over the surface, trailing behind the slow coasting of the boat. When her fingers grew tired of their dancing she merely sat, allowing her soul to refill with the beauty and amazement she was witnessing.

As the last of the suns rays slipped below the horizon, she let her tired arms pick up the oars and place them back in the runners. She turned the boat around and headed back to her reality. As the boat butted up to the dock she tied it down before gracefully stepping up to the solid ground. The lake lapped against the boat pushing it into the dock, adding a natural beat to the sound of the crickets and cicadas as she walked away. She walked across the lawn to the back door that she knew so well. She opened it and slipped in quietly, allowing the familiar door that led to the house that was suffocating her slowly to close behind her without a sound.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

rain rain

The rain was falling softly on the truck's windshield. The highway was dark and barren, a foreshadowing of what this cold weather would be bringing to the midwestern landscape. The music played softly in the background trying in vain to cover the sound of the squeaking windshield wipers. There was a comfortable silence within the cab that let me think about answering the bitter winds call to fly with it. To keep traveling, no destination in mind, just an empty road beckoning. I broke the silence, uttering a few words about how i love driving in the rain. I didn't give away the longing to keep going, just a short sentence of how much i enjoy the sound and feeling of rain on the road. The unexpected response however answered those unspoken desires. It brought me back to my responsibilities. Grounded me. And I didn't resent him for that. I nodded my head and allowed the car to pull into the driveway and leave me.

For the first time in a long time I feel more here than there.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Turkey Leg Marriage Proposal

I entered my writing into a contest. Liz won. I guess it was supposed to be fiction, but we both wrote the truth. Our lives are just that great, but I think my story scared some people. Either way, here it is...

His pounding footsteps came up the stairs that led to my rented bedroom in a Portuguese flat. In a matter of seconds he had unlocked the door and burst through, calling my name in his thick Portuguese accent. I came from around the corner and found Hugo panting in the doorway in his typical dirty, over-worn board shorts and tank top. His Raybans were still hiding his gorgeous blue green eyes and in both hands he held a brown paper package. In broken English that was peppered with way too much excited Portuguese and a lot of gestures he tried to explain his plans. After five minutes of mixing up pronouns and improper conjugation, I gave up trying to follow. The look of confusion on my face only grew when he started unwrapping the brown paper and thrust a giant, raw turkey leg into my hands.

I was used to Hugo’s antics by now; he was a washed-up journalist who was barely taller than my shoulder, and was desperately trying to break into the art scene with mirrors and frames that he decoupaged with macaroni and glitter. Eccentric would not even be close to a strong enough word to describe him.

The turkey leg was transferred into my hands before Hugo turned around and left the kitchen nearly as abruptly as he came. We had this agreement set up long ago where he would cook Portuguese dinners, while I baked him traditional and fattening American desserts. The turkey leg obviously broke that agreement and I was left angry and confused. What was I supposed to do with an entire turkey leg?

My anger and frustration grew as I ran out of options for the turkey. I tried pulling meat off the bone, I tried chopping through it with a knife, I even slammed it on the counter a couple times hoping it would just give way. As I slammed the turkey leg on the counter Hugo made his glorious reentry. He eyed me cautiously seeing as how I was still wielding the turkey leg and shook his head with a look on his face that spoke of his inability to comprehend how Americans do things. He looked at me incredulously then asked if I loved him. I could have taken him out with the turkey leg, but I lowered it, looked him in the eye, and in a sharp angry tone, told him that I loved him enough to cook him this god-forsaken turkey. He laughed off his nervousness before asking another question. He stood up to his full height making his eyes come squarely to my chin before asking, “do you love me enough to marry me?”

I had been in Portugal for two months and while images of green cards and permanent residency flashed across my mind there was no option for the response. There was no way I could share my life with this short little man who listened to Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson obsessively. I couldn’t make my sundresses or height fit into his classy art gallery openings and native country. I laughed before searching his eyes and realizing he was serious, dead serious. I scrambled for an answer, racking my brain, trying to figure out a way to let him down without breaking his heart.

I opened my mouth after an awkwardly long period of silence and blurted out that I wanted tall children and that he couldn’t help me with that. It was the best excuse I could find. It crushed his soul. He left the kitchen depressed and heartbroken and retreated to his room to the solace of Mariah and Michael. I was left in the kitchen with the turkey leg. Not wanting to ruin his proposal gift, I wrapped the raw, beaten turkey leg back up and made room for it in the fridge. Just like I was hoping his next tenant could make room for him in her heart. Maybe she would be shorter. Maybe she would be able to put up with his eccentricities. And maybe for her, the draw of permanent residency would be a little stronger.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


He asked why I was laughing and I answered that I liked it. His smile showed his approval and I kept laughing while he took my hands and pulled me from my seat. I laughed when my feet weren't going the right direction, and when my hands decided to stop following his and try to lead the way, and when his elbow collided with my forehead. I laughed as he spinned me faster and faster. My hair came undone, but I kept spinning. My shoes last traction, but I kept spinning. The room went out of focus, but still i was spinning.

Spinning and laughing and smiling. A soothing medicine for my bruised and tired soul. Today when I reached out, someone was there to take my hand. It may have been a simple dance, but it resounded with my struggles of the past weeks.

A simple outstretched hand. Simple, with little meaning, but strong enough to ignite my heart and jump start my brain. A hand, a presence, a desire.
This is what I ask for.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My heart is restless and uneasy. Something is changing again, a new wind is blowing, calling my name, awakening old feelings in my soul. It might be the changing weather, it might be the added stress, it might be that I've tightened the grip on my heart. I'm not sure, but it is different. It isn't that same feeling of reckless abandon or the need to get away. It's tangible but nameless and descriptionless. It's a new strength that is welling up inside, bubbling from the depths and slowly rising like a late night tide. It doesn't need to be fed by short dresses or boots. It doesn't really need anything, just validation of its presence. Maybe even acceptance. It will show itself when it is ready.

In other news...
I sent some of my writing in for a short story competition. Granted it's just for the Hilltop Monitor, but it still is sending shock waves through my gut. They catch me off guard and send chills up and down my back before retreating back as quickly as they came. It's not that I'm nervous about the outcome, its this feeling of being completely vulnerable with new people. With people that I wouldn't be normally comfortable bearing my soul with. Too late now, my little innocent baby story is out in the big bad world....

Monday, October 5, 2009

word vomit

The rhymes are ringing in my head. Silly little ditties that took too much effort to write. They are mixed with arguments about genetic engineering and calculations for densities. It could have been because I have been writing for the entire day and can no longer keep these topics separate. A lab report for physical chemistry, an extremely focused essay for birth by any means and then silly princess poems. Trying at this point to keep these topics separate is difficult. It's even harder to find words that rhyme with engineering.

There's a writing competition for the newspaper.
I think I will write about a turkey leg and a marriage proposal.

I had a dream about a potato last night, the night before was about a penguin posse. There might be a trend here...

I finally had time to go to the grocery store. I was down to two eggs, raspberry cream cheese, three tortillas and some sunflower seeds. It made eating a little difficult.

I still haven't unpacked all of my boxes from home. They were stacked in a corner of my room, but turns out they were on top of a heating vent. I'd like to say that was the reason my room was so cold, but that would be a lie.

I went skateboarding this evening. In a knit dress and grey robin hood boots.

Full moons make me mischievous and wild.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

reasons, excuses and lessons

I feel empty and a little used, but there's a reason. Exhausted, but there's a reason for that too. Cold, but there's another reason.

Did I bring this all on myself? Most likely.
Will the drama come for me? Probably.
Am a aiming for a breakdown? Definitely.

I'm pretty good at pretending that a lot of things don't affect me. I've been pretending for far too long. I think I'm done pretending to be "that" girl.

I went to the Harriman event last night and heard a tenor sing opera after opera. He made it look easy, he made it look simple. He held onto the piano like a safety blanket. He made me want to sing. The operas took my breath away. The lyrics were in French, Italian, and English, with translations to pick up the words i couldn't translate fast enough. The english translations hit me like a ton of bricks. I made a joke of them and said that the writer had serious love issues, but in reality I knew what he was struggling wit. He sang about being stuck. He wasn't in love, but wasn't allowed to leave his torment brought on by the beautiful women. He couldn't die, but he wasn't living. He was flying in the skies while at the same time being grounded on the earth. A constant juxtaposition that ended in tragedy. I took the lesson to mean that you will get stuck if you simply use someone and get no love or expect anything else from them. You will fly when they are with you, but that will all come crumbling to the ground the minute you expect to hear the words you long for. The ones that make you feel wanted or cared for, or beautiful.

Last night, I didn't just learn this in the opera.

This morning, when I got in the car to find a place to work on my projects for the day I wanted to just drive. I needed that clarity, I needed to run away.

I wanted to
I didn't
I hate that I had to stay

Two weeks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

late night moodiness

The rain is tugging at my soul. It brings back the memories of pitch black back porches, whispered secrets, and a strong southern wind that urged me to run to freedom.

The gypsy in me is hungry again, and smothering my soul. The desire to be free is pulling me down, like a strong tide, it takes all of me to fight it.

I hate hormones. And sometimes I hate gypsy. And I really hate having to be a big girl.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

vida y verdad

Her deep, dark round eyes looked up at me expectantly. They shown through wispy bangs that were a little too long, causing her to brush them away with the back of her hand every 30 seconds or so. Her smile gave her eyes a little extra mysterious sparkle, she leaned towards me and pondered over the decision at hand. Right or left? Which hand held the treasure? When she picked the right hand, I produced a small blue flat marble that was used as a marker for one of the games. The marble gleamed in the fluorescent light of the basement room of the Spanish church. The treasure made her eyes get even rounder and made the smile stretch from ear to ear. She reached for the treasure, then transfered it from hand to hand, weighing it's specialness. She wrapped her little fingers around it and held it close to her heart. Her lips curled in a smile that stretched across her entire face and sheer pleasure shown in her eyes. She beamed with a pleasure that was contagious.

This is how my heart feels after being at Iglesia Camino. It's my little treasure that I keep close to my heart that brings a smile to my face, warmth to my heart and overflowing contentment.

Life is good. Life is really good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So I was thinking today about how crazy I really am. It's true. I'm ridiculous. Here are just a couple of examples....

I have weird associations with smells. They say that smell is the best at bringing back memories, but my smell associations typically have no tie to memories with these people... but it's fun none the less to smell these things and think about these people.

Charcoal grills make me think of my friends at the White House

Garlic makes me think of a friend from long ago

Peanut butter makes me think of a new friend that has taken garlic friend's place

The smell of my contact solution makes me think of my Galician friend

Crazy... probably, but what can you do?


I have been informed of my absence from the big bad interwebs. I love writing and have been doing a lot of it, it just isn't necessarily the most appropriate things to be posted here. But I have decided I do my best thinking in the bathroom, whether that be on the toilet, in the shower, or even brushing my teeth. So here are my recent bathroom inspired musings (i've kept them clean, don't worry) ....

I've been experiencing this really weird feeling lately. It's a mixture between nausea and spontaneous combustion, and it continues to grow stronger. At first I thought it was from a stomach bug or the dreaded swine, but no other symptoms came with it, and then at church on Sunday I think I grasped what it actually was.... my plans for the future are solidifying. Extremely.

Saying that my plans have changed in the last four months would be a dramatic understatement. My initial plans are as long gone as Michael Jackson (is it too early to be making these comparisons?) and there are no conspiracy theories to dredge them back up. I'm at peace with the passing of these plans however, and was content with not knowing what my life will bring come May 16th. However that contentment was slapped in the face two weeks ago by a brief statement said in passing by a friend. That was when the ideas started to form.

So my plans currently are in the embryo stage. They are there, but not quite yet ready to come out. The one thing that I struggle with though is that by accepting this plan and pursuing this dream I will be saying goodbye to the stereotypical life that I was raised to accept. I won't be having the white-picket fenced yard. I won't be getting married right after graduation, I won't be going to work from 9-5 in my fancy yet gas-efficient car. I will be doing things a new way, an exciting, adventurous, hold on to your hat because it's going to get rough kind of way.

That thrills me.

Yet at the same time it makes me a little tentative about the decision. So I'm going to keep incubating and nurturing this little dream-embryo and let it grow until it's ready to enter this big bad world, knock those stereotypes on their knees, and then make them beg for mercy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

bottom of the barrel

He talked out of the side of his mouth. Not in a way that was sly or deceiving, just his method of talking when he was comfortable. We talked about conforming, our love lives, reentry into the United States, everything that was supposed to make me feel better, but it just made my heart hurt. It's heavy for Portugal. It awakened my deepest fears and the yearnings of my heart at the same time. So while I was just getting used to the fact that I had to keep my feet on the ground here in Liberty, I have gone back to the idea of flying elsewhere. Letting myself soar in whatever direction I desire, changing on any whim.

It makes me long for Portugal. For adventure. For Hugo. For the metro. For my castle. For the river Tejo. Sardinhas. Caracols. Miguel. Marques Pombal. Meu coração. Todas coisas Portugese.

So the roller coaster swings back down and the fight to re-assimilate starts anew. The same uphill battle to fight, back at square one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Labor day

My yellow dress and flowered heels stuck out from the drab black heels and boring fall color scheme. I'm not ready to let go of summer. Screw the Labor Day rules.

I'm a big girl, I do what I want.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

deepest darkest secrets...

I hate public toilets. It takes a lot of me to become comfortable using them, and even then i prefer to use them by myself, which is often a rarity. So typically I pass them up and just hope to make it home in time. Today however I couldn't wait any longer. I walked to the corner bathroom that is tucked out of the way and usually deserted and was struck with an odd thought...

I'm very territorial about the bathroom stall that I use.

The bathroom wasn't deserted. There was one other person in the stall, but she was in my stall. I don't know if it's a germ thing and I want to limit the amount of toilet seats I'm sitting on, or if it's a loyalty thing, or maybe all those irrational rumors about getting an STD from communal toilet seats. Either way there is only one stall I have ever used in that bathroom and it was taken. So I walked back out and decided I could wait...

I mean, what's one more hour without an infectious disease and an uncomfortably full bladder?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corn cache

I walked into her office with the intention of rescheduling an appointment. I sat in rocking chair that had held thousands of brilliant and determined minds, worn smooth by the constant nervous rocking; back and forth, back and forth, as futures were being determined. The moment my back hit the support of the gleaming thin wooden slats I felt my worries start bubbling to the surface. After getting through business I started rambling about drama and life and being pulled in twenty different directions. Her eyes twinkled in response as she shook her head in agreement. She knew exactly what I was going through. I was on the verge of tears while she talked of running down gravel roads and how freeing a long drive was, especially with no destination. We were more alike than I thought. Her voice coaxed more and more of my worries out and before I knew it, my heart was spilling over. It had nothing to do with the Fellowships or prestigious scholarships she was known for, nothing really to do with the future. Just things I couldn’t handle, relationships that were becoming more and more difficult, the strength that people expected me to have, even family drama. After a few moments of leaving out way too many details for her to be able to follow she brought up a story of my grandmother I had told her the week before. She introduced the topic by saying she was changing the sheets and couldn’t get my grandmother out of her mind. And that every time she went to the freezer she would move the bag of frozen corn out of the way, hoping that maybe someone was storing frozen wads of cash in there like my grandmother did. Big hot heavy tears started rolling down my cheeks. She was upset for bringing up my dead grandmother and pushing me over the edge. I exclaimed, “she wasn’t even a good grandma” and let the tears fall. It wasn’t until later that I thought about checking the tub of corn that had made the trip from the farm in Arlington to Wichita to my freezer. Only corn, no secret cache.

glamorous despair

The image is back, the one where I'm sitting in a heap on the floor with my dress fanned out around me in a sort of glamorous despair. It always shows itself when life gets stressful or hard. The hallway stretches out in front and behind me and people are passing by like someone has pressed the fast forward button. Only this time, there is someone who is moving slowly towards me. They are there to pick me up.
Every bone in my body screams to be left in a heap on the floor, but there is a certain comfort in the arms that are reaching out to save me. Do I fall completely into those arms and let them rescue me? Or do I resist and keep up this independent streak. There's perks to either choice. Comfort and protection vs. the struggle of doing something by myself. But in that struggle there is the sweet release when success finally arrives and the battle is won.
How long can i stay on the floor without reaching for the outstretched arm? How long will they wait for me to be willing to accept their help? Will they be there when I'm ready to stand up?

I want it. I want to accept the aid of the outstretched arm, but my heart is still fighting the urge to stay whole. It doesn't want to risk the pain of potential heartbreak. It still wants the attention and the thrill of the chase. It wants to be pursued and fought for, but instead it stays folded away within me on the floor. Maybe there it will be safe.

Or maybe giving it away is the ultimate adventure it craves....

Saturday, September 12, 2009


The cigarette is lifted by a practiced hand to his full waiting lips. The lips purse to accept the gift and wrap around the cigarette creating a seal, allowing his lungs to pull in the nicotine and smoke. In milliseconds the lungs are full and the cigarette is back down, but the tendrils of smoke drift on the wind over towards my table. The smoke brings memories of Portugal mornings, bright and crisp and full of promise, watching a friend's lips search just as hungrily for the same fix.

The Plaza is my current location, while not my favorite place, it was designed with influences from Sevilla Spain. The buildings have the Spanish yellow color that burns in the rising and setting sun. They have flowers in the window boxes and the typical red tile roofs. The combination of the visual scene in front of me and the smell of smoke takes me back to Portugal. I'm back to laid back people who place huge priorities on relationships. It's peaceful and calming and just what I need, until my dream is interrupted by the exorbitant gaudy cars and expensive outfits that walk in front of me. They do not belong in my picture, or my life.

Can I paint my life picture without them? Can I pick and choose what I want?

I want the people who are like the flower-boxes that make me happy, I want the person who is like the sun and will make me burn like the spanish color palette. I want the peacefulness that the thoughts of Portugal bring. I don't want the drama of the gaudy cars or the competition of who has the best outfit, most toned muscles, best relationship. I want to paint this picture my way, without boundaries, wild, flowing, free, like the smoke from the cigarette drifting on the wind. Slipping through your fingers, unable to be caught or tied down, or made to conform to any boundaries. You can let me sate your addiction for awhile, but I'll be gone before you know it. Leaving you with an even stronger addiction for a smoke that once was...

Fight or Flight...


Thursday, September 10, 2009

oh how the mighty have fallen...

It was late. I had fallen asleep on a couch in a house that wasn't mine and after a lot of coaxing and pleading for five more minutes, was finally convinced to make the two and a half block walk home to my own eagerly awaiting bed. I gathered my things, put on my big rubber boots and stumbled down the street.

At the corner I was brought out of my stupor by the loud ferocious barking of an enormous dog. The sleep from my eyes was gone in milliseconds as my body fought through the fight or flight decision. The dog was mere inches from the toe of my large rubber boots and the thought of giving him a quick kick crossed my mind before i realized he was a very short jump from my throat, and needed no coaxing to do something vicious.

So i clutched my pile of things closer and slowly backed away keeping my head down. The barking continued as I inched backwards and the dog pushed closer. Then all of a sudden I felt a stabbing pain in the back of my leg, and my feet give from underneath me. Figuring this was the end and hoping that someone would find me in the morning i let myself fall, covering my neck in case the dog was coming for blood.

It took a few seconds to realize that the barking had stopped and that my neck was still in one piece. I looked up and saw the dog had left. The dog was throughly amused that I was taken down by a fire hydrant, probably the very one he had just relieved himself on.

oh how the mighty have fallen....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Specks and planks

I walked in to see purple mats splayed haphazardly around the room in a sort of organized chaos. As I claimed a spot for my own purple mat I watched as a short yet unsurprisingly lean older women danced about the front of the room. Her dark sandy blonde curls bobbed with each little excited jump and her smile stretched across her relaxed face. The class started when she clapped her hands and stopped her jumping. In seconds she was immersed in a speech on the importance of breathing, connecting with your inner self and other crazy left-over hippy nonsense. This afternoon, during our first yoga class, I couldn’t hold it together. The giggles and laughter escaped me while she was throwing out the best “that’s what she said” lines along with her wonderful hippy nonsense. Surprisingly the laughter was more relaxing then the actual class, despite the long minutes we focused on our breathing. The moment however that should have brought me out of my laughing fit was when she was talking about emotions. She had settled on anger. Recently I have felt myself be rather immune to anger, so yesterday when I felt it for the first time since the night of my Portuguese proposal I was scared. Afraid that I couldn’t handle life anymore and was brought back to the moment where a not so typical crazy hippy was teaching profound life lessons.

Amira strikes the mat to the right of where she is sitting and begins talking to herself, as she is gathering her thoughts, she gets a funny look on her face as if she is regretting starting this conversation, but she plows ahead regardless. She is making a point on dealing with your emotions and who you are, head on. You can’t escape from them or run out on them. She strikes the mat with the palm of her hand and resumes her conversation with herself.

“come sit here angry Amira. Angry Amira, what makes you angry? Is it the fact that your father is angry? That your father mistreats you with that anger? Or is it because you are angry at yourself for treating others with that same anger? Angry Amira what makes you angry?”

At this point I’m in the throws of disguising my current fit of laughter. I didn’t know if it was from her body language or from the animated way she approached life. Either way I missed the point she was making until it slapped me in the face last night. You can’t be angry at others for the way they treat you. It only leads to the creation of a double standard for yourself. You can’t No Faz Mal it away either. You have to approach it, albeit respectfully head-on. Tear it down from the inside before you can chip away from the outside. I know Amira’s yoga planks aren’t the same as the one’s Christ had to talk about, but they both have a lot to say about dealing with the specks in your own eye.

Friday, September 4, 2009

being here, yearning for there

There is a fly that has been in my room for two days now. I've watched him fly from place to place, landing where he will. He investigates my computer, bumps into the dresser, sits on the wall, and stares out the window. He reminds me a little of the life I have been thrown into. The one that I have no idea how to navigate. It's like swimming in a huge ocean. Some days the ocean is calm and settled. Some days it is wild and overwhelming. Some days my arms are strong enough to swim, some days they cannot fight another wave.

I'm overwhelmed by the little things. The anger is seeping back in and my heart yearns for what it cannot have. The thrill, the chase, the power all allude me. I'm simply back to being me, whatever that means.

Where is the confident cold-hearted seductress? The powerful women that could handle foreign countries, foreign languages, foreign men. She is giving into the comfortable, becoming what others expect and giving up on the adventure. The work boots didn’t give her comfort, the teasingly short dresses are hung up in the closet and her Portugal self is shelved next to her other various old selves that serve no purpose any longer. She's making things complicated, adding to the drama, unable to decide whether to laugh or breakdown and cry. She's losing the "no faz mal" attitude.

Where are the words that were her addiction? The words that give her comfort and soothed her soul. The ones that brought peace and sweet release. They are lost behind lessons of calculus and chemistry, stress and expectations. They are hauntingly quiet when they are needed the most.

How can I be happy here, when I long for my adventure there?

Monday, August 31, 2009

beginning of the end

I can remember being a freshman at Jewell, experiencing college for the first time. I felt old and mature, until I met the seniors. They had this aura of confidence about them that made you think that if you got even the slightest bit near them that would spread to you. They had shown the ability to navigate the complicated maze of college academia, they were sophisticated and cool even if they were wearing raggedy old jeans and a t-shirt, and they knew exactly what they were doing with their lives.

Boy was I wrong.

They had no idea what they were doing, they may have thought they were cool and they had just enough practice to fool others into thinking they could handle the college world. This morning as I embarked on my last ever first day of fall semester classes of my undergrad I was hit with the feeling of being out of place. I thought at first it was because I could see the stark contrast between my confident walk and the anxious scurrying of the new freshman. Or that maybe I really haven’t assimilated as fully back into the United States culture as I thought and still breaking all sorts of social faux pas. Or maybe, no scratch that, I did put on deodorant this morning.

It took a little while but I finally settled on the fact that it was because I was once again in the group of the top dogs on campus. We were the oldest, most experienced, and arguably wisest attending classes this morning on campus. Odd. It’s a feeling I cannot describe. Maybe it was the added responsibility, or the slap in the face that the freshman have their future for the next four years figured out and I don’t even know what is for dinner tonight. Either way it was a little unsettling and weird.

The concept of age is a funny thing.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hello adult world

Two am rolled around and I was still lost in conversation. In a lull I see that my phone has a new text. Hating that I was taking my attention away from the person I was sitting with, i quickly check my phone, my curiosity getting the better of me. I scroll through a list of people in my head trying to figure out who would need me at two in the morning. No one needed me, just got a simple reminder that we are adults now. The text said...

Sparkles shined brightly tonight.

It was in reference to a conversation from two years ago. A nickname that I gave a good friend after he shared his plans for the future. Tonight he set those plans in motion. Welcome to the adult world, where big girl and big boy decisions have to be made everyday.

As for me, I'm going to keep running down alleyways barefoot, wearing my workboots with shorts even if it isn't raining or I don't have to work, and pretending to be an adult only when I want to...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Potter and Popsicles

My fingers are stained red from a too-short spoon used to stir a vat of kool-aid saturated with sugar, the southern way of course. My clothing is covered in orange fingerprints, proof of hugs from kids covered in cheeseball remnants. My belly is full from an icee pop eating contest that I, of course, lost in a blaze of glory. My shoulders are sore from hundreds of hugs and kids climbing on me. And my car, like my heart, is full of little children who for the first time all night are sitting peacefully.

The back seat has six pairs of little legs sticking straight out from the bench, some barely making it to the end. Each child is covered in a mixture of red koolaid, dirt and sand, chalk, cheeseballs, freeze cups and ketchup and mustard. It was hot dog day tonight. They are each working on a new icee pop, to prove their superior eating skills. I gave up three popsicles ago.
The car turns on and as I pull out of the gravel parking lot towards Southern to deliver my precious cargo, the radio plays the leftover bits of a country song. The kids groan and change the channel to the newest rap station, but not before a little voice in the back pipes up and says... "What does that mean?"

The song had a line of Spanish in it, the artist sang, "Adios and vaya con dios" The rest of the conversation went like this...

"It’s Spanish CJ, it means, goodbye and go with god"
"Oh. What is it again?"
"Adios y vaya con dios"
"Kelsey you’re really smart"
"Thanks CJ"
"You’re like Harry Potter..."

At this point the other kids chime in calling me Kelsey Potter, which starts off a round of Kelsey and Harry sitting in a tree, and other slams, insulting only to those under 10 years old. This continues until I pull onto the shoulder and let the kids off. They chase after each other, screaming and fighting to be the first one in the house.

As I drive back to the house I can only smile when I see the little gifts they have left for me. Six empty icee pop wrappers litter my car. Harry Potter would have used a spell to clean up the mess, I felt honored to clean them up by hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Easter eggs and toilets

I have a full cup of coffee, a lazy Louisiana sunrise and a lap full of cats fighting for my attention. It's a beautiful day. My heart is full after talking late into the night about everything with The Momma. My gypsy soul is quiet after spending a glorious 9 hours in the car enjoying the slightly impromptu drive south, and I simply have time to reflect.

We talked about Portugal of course, we talked about my recent change of decisions regarding my future, we talked about people, changes, Cedar Grove, the kids, the early mornings we now both enjoy, even toilets. It was much needed soothing medicine for my soul.

While we were talking in the comfortable house that I see as my home away from home I was hit with a mental image. These trips, while some might see them as me just running, mean more to me than that. I’ve struggled to explain what they actually mean, because I wasn’t exactly sure. I hit on it a little in the last post, but didn’t actually understand myself, what I was talking about.
This image that hit me, was of me as a small child running around in an Easter dress trying to find Easter eggs that had been hidden by me, but forgotten from years of neglect. When I found one, like all small children, my eyes lit up and my voice got higher. I danced around pleased with myself until someone called me over to help open the egg. In those milliseconds as I was waiting for the egg to be opened and discover what was hidden in my new treasure, I saw excitement and longing. Desire and hope. Then the egg was open and those feelings spilled over. Inside was what I was longing for, a piece of my heart. These travels are to reclaim my heart. Not to take it away in all senses, but to revisit it. To tell that piece of my heart and those attached to it that I love them.

As I was thinking last night, I decided it’s a very Portuguese thing to do. In Portuguese to tell someone that you love them, you say te quero. Translated literally it means I want you. If you tell someone that you love them you are saying you want them. If you don’t spend time on that relationship you are essentially saying you don’t want them and hence do not love them. So my travels, while I joke and credit them to my gypsy spirit are really deeper than that. They are to find my loves, my wants, and my heart.

With all this in mind, I was hit last night with where I have to go next. This one is a little closer to home, an exact 59 miles from the Jewell parking lot to theirs. It’s a road, much like the one to Louisiana that I have traveled many many times, but this one is a little more frightening. This Easter egg, requires a little more. I already have taken the egg back from this person, but it requires a little fixing up and a good cleaning before it belongs in my basket.
Until then my basket has a small multicolored easter egg sitting firmly in the bottom. It’s full of coffee, children’s happy screaming, peace from a porch, southern cooking, and that slow southern drawl.

And all the words that I am left with are, te quero Shreveport.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No faz mal

I stood on his back porch in almost nothing due to the restrictive heat of the house. The wind came from beyond the overgrown saplings and brought with it a release from the sticky humidity, washing me with memories from the summer. The wind pulled at me, awakening my heart, and tugging on my desire to leave.

It's hard to explain. I can call it my gypsy soul, this need to get away, but there's more than that. Life is hard. Life is complicated. Life here is different. I'm going to reclaim pieces of my heart so the healing process can begin. Or at least revisit who I was and where I have been. Some might call it running away from the issues at hand, but I'm leaving a little deposit of my heart here to reclaim later.

The best way to describe it is as a marathoner's desire to have a gravel road and a pair of running shoes, a breakthrough discovery to a scientist, the perfect word to a writer, a combination of notes that becomes a melody to a composer. This is what my soul desires. It wants to be carefree and wild, beautiful and elegant, lost in the wonder of new discoveries.

Portugal brought new, different experiences everyday. Here in the states I'm back to being normal. English is spoken the same without the sing-songy tone and heavy tongues, I know all the habits and traditions of the people, I've tasted all the food. There's no joy of discovering new things, no excitement in finally finding your way home, no satisfaction in the success of holding a conversation with someone.

All my life I've known that I want to work somewhere that challenges me with something different everyday. The United States isn't challenging. It's like a cow in a pasture perfectly content eating the same patch of grass each day. I am a wild filly with a soul that can't be tamed, one that can't be broken, content to run for the rest of my life, taking each day as it comes...

So i'm running. Only for a few days, but running none the less.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reckless abandon

His dark voice floated on the evening air, mixing with the sounds of the evening. It was strong enough to mask the mosquitoes and nearby traffic, even the cicadas. He had stopped just to say hello and catch-up on the last six hours, to make sure I hadn’t run yet. My gypsy soul had been awakened in the last two months and it was hard for me to stay in one place for too long. If I was going to make it through the next year at this school, I had to get away. My mind raced with images of European capitols and small country towns. I would have to settle with Nashville, or Columbus, or Shreveport. Though these are nowhere near my dreams of Lisbon, Madrid, or Paris, they would have to be good enough for now.

I planted the seed of reckless abandon, but his responsibilities were keeping him tied down. I get to be the crazy wild one while he had to forgo his freedom for two a days and forced team bonding. He was angry at those who were keeping him tied down. Like a wild stallion chomping at a bit he couldn’t be released from, he ranted and raved, threw some obscene gestures then settled back into the chair beside me to listen to the chorus of bugs serenading the night.

I was already free, at least for the time being, to travel into the setting sun. I could cave into the addictions of my new gypsy soul. Live my life without anyone steering. He saw that and inside resented it. I made a mental note to not bring it up again, until I was ready to go.

He stood up abruptly and turned sharply to take his leave. As hastily as he made his decision to leave he turned around and asked when I was leaving. “whenever I want” I responded. He tossed his head in response and I kicked myself for bringing up his responsibilities.

His blonde hair glistened in the setting sun as he jumped over the banister into the knee-high grass beside the dilapidated front porch. He glanced back and flashed a forced toothy grin before strutting off around the house where his red truck waited to carry him away, back to his responsibilities.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


So I found this on an airplane napkin and scratch piece of paper from my travels... it's a little disjointed, but still good. Thought I would digress a little back into the good ol' days....

I'm much too pulled together for six o'clock in the morning, but thanks to a little three year old, i've been up for an hour and I'm ready for my big Paris debut. I have a tiny purple hairtie from an early rising princess as a sign of her unfailing love. I smell remotely of vomit from a six month old's breakfast and I've had enough kisses and big squeezes from little hands to last me the flight to Paris.
The wait in the airport is littered with Portuguese, French, and English and filled with travel weary passengers. I find myself shying away from the English. I keep my mouth closed and get mistaken for Portuguese by the French and as French by the Portuguese. It makes me feel a little mysterious, like an enigma. I lets me think about disappearing in Europe. How I could run from everything i know and be completely content living the nomad lifestyle. But then I think about the people waiting for me in Paris, which makes me stand up and get in the right line for my flight.
These words give me comfort. They've been swirling around in my head waiting to get out. I've given into their demands and picked up a pen and paper. I write with the intent of others reading this, otherwise they words become those of a love sick 8th grader pouring her heart our to her diary. But maybe that's all these are. I long for the comfort of my computer keys, dirty from travel and worn from use, but instead the plastic pen and ever shrinking napkin will have to do.
I have an idea that's been growing inside of me for the past few weeks. It started as a little seed, just popped into my mind a few weeks ago and has turning into a carnivorous addiction, demanding my time and commandeering my thoughts. It's an idea for the future that is missing details but a plan none the less. I want to write. The need to express myself in the written word is like an addiction. I see someone and lines of description jump into my head, waiting for someone else to hear them. don't think this is a passing fad or a new trend in my life. I think this is what i want to do. So much so that medical school is a mere memory Science is just a doorway to a discovery of new words and stories. I've thought this new love has grown because of the inability to completely express myself to non-native english speakers. Maybe that's all it is, but the joy of writing is hard to ignore. Unlike science its results are automatic, they come immediately. And I thin i like that. The details are not to be worried about, i'm sure someone will take a biochemistry degreed writer. Until then I have time to dream and plenty of new adventures providing fodder for my next cave-in to this addiction...

And now we are back into the real world. The words are still true, and the addiction is still hungry...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

two-toned boots

The three of us stepped out into the moonlight that barely lit the street in front of us. The distant lightning was not a worry, but a spectacle that took our breath away every now and again as it lit up the sky behind golden clouds full of rain drops. But that was all too far away to worry about too much.

Ever conscious of fashion we were each clad in our own shoes of choice. New flamboyantly blue Nikes, Chacos, and a pair of rescued two-toned rubber work boots. The Nikes squeaked politely as we walked down the pavement, still unsure of their new owner. The Chacos remained silent, most likely mulling over ways to save the world from various oppressors, and my oversized work boots sloshed loudly on my feet.

These boots were rescued from my new basement. They were hidden between a discarded bathroom sink and the remnants of a garage sale from what looks like the 80's. They were the home to a rather large spider and a few dead bugs, but after a quick clean they revealed their true beauty. These boots have stories to tell. The right side of right boot is faded to a comfortable grey while the other side is jet black. The left boot is just the opposite. As we walk they make a sound similar to pulling one's foot out of mud, they rub slightly on my shins, making them itch like i have chigger bites once i take them off. I've worn them religiously these past few days while working around the new house, not just because they are functional, but because they make me feel saucy. I wear them with jeans, with shorts, sundresses, and tonight with a blue cotton skirt that flows easily around my knees. These saucy two-tone boots make me laugh.

I was asked today why I was laughing. I was laughing at myself for being brave enough to wear the boots. Laughing at people's over the top reactions. Laughing because I was happy. I'm perfectly content with my life the way it is right now. I'm okay not knowing what I want to do. I'm doing things that make me happy, exploring possibilities and being brave and independent. I'm making up the rules as I go for just about everything, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm going to keep sloshing around in those boots because as we walked it started to rain and I had definitely made the best shoe decision for our late night walk. I think that is how my life will turn out. It will surprise me when I realize I made the right decision.

But, who doesn't like surprises...?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

crumpled is better

I ran into an old friend recently. It is one of my fears while in Wichita, that I'll run into someone I knew from high school and have an awkward forced conversation that ends in a promise to stay in contact. It happened. It was awkward. We promised to stay in contact, but I had an interesting unique revelation while all this was occurring....

I was walking by her house when she came crashing out of her front door. She had her black hair cut short and pointy and she was chasing after her three year old. Her ability to pull off a vintage dress and combat boots impressed me, but I kept walking in case she didn't recognize me. She did. She called my name while keeping a wary eye on her daughter and the red juice she was drinking from an lidless cup. I walked slowly up the front porch doing the usual chitchat. Talking about where I've been, what I'm studying what I'm doing next, all offered in response to her questions -none of this information given very willingly. Then as the conversation lulls the three year old spills her drink all over the porch. In an adrenaline laced moment, the child is removed from the puddle and a roll of paper towels appears from nowhere. She grabbed ahold of the first paper towel and held on to it between her thumb and forefinger while wrapping the roll round and round her hand like a mummy. Like it was toliet paper.
It was at this moment I realized she repulsed me...

and that I crumple my toilet paper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Homeward Bound

So this is it.
I'm on my way in less than 9 hours.
No more Spanish
No more Portuguese

No more plug-in adapters.

Watch out United States, I'm coming home...

If anyone feels the need. My american phone will turn on at approximately 5:45pm central time. Just saying...

Friday, August 7, 2009


You had a hold on me right from the start, A grip so tight I couldn't tear it apart, My nerves all jumpin', actin' like a fool
Well, your kisses they burn, but my heart stays cool...

All the Portuguese have left for their August ferias, the metro is empty, the streets are barren, the beaches are full of pale tourists speaking all too familiar languages. It's not the Lisbon that I love. I long for the familiar sing-song portuguese of my friends, with their cut off words and added -inhos.
I have turned into the expert. I am the one who can point the right direction to train stations, beaches and restaurants. Not just with my family, but with the Italians, the English, the Germans and of course the Americans. But I don't like it. It's too different. Still the city I love, but without the people it's merely buildings and structures.

In other news...

Paris made me feel fat and they made me doubt my legs. No one does that, I would be okay not going back.

We nearly lost my mother to a small isolated country-town in Spain after she got on the wrong train. But we can't talk about it

I met a fat smoking spiderman in Madrid. I liked him a lot, but I still told him he had let himself go.

I snuck into my apartment to retrieve my things I left without seeing Hugo. Turns out he's been in a depressed stupor and doesn't come home now that I'm gone.

My song lyrics that start my posts tend to be spreading in popularity

We can't get a train out of Lisbon to Malaga. I'm okay with that

My version of a long walk is six metro stops. My parents' is three. We've spent a lot of time on the metro.

My Portuguese is getting pretty darn good. At least my vocabulary for food and drink.

I'm consumed with thoughts of trying to get back to Portugal, possibly for good.

That's all. I have decided that these posts should get shorter, I really enjoy writing but I don't think anyone likes reading the really longs ones, I mean I don't.

Farewell my friends, probably until the United States. It will be 3:30am in the morning in my mind when i get in. I'm not okay with that... or the whole time change thing

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Purines, balcaulhau, and life

Open me up and you will see, I'm a gallery of broken hearts, I'm beyond repair, let me be, And give me back my broken parts

The table was set for 20 people. We were a mixture of master students, professors, doctors, Germans, Portuguese, Brazilians and one elegant crazy redneck American. It reminded me much of what the last supper would be like. We were in a back room, the middle seats of the U-shaped table were occupied by the heads of the lab, who always called all the shots and the seats were full of all sorts of different people and personalities brought together through one common thread... purines. The unspoken rule that was accepted as we sat down was that despite this common thread we were not there to talk about work. We could have talked about the enzymes that were hard at work trying to metabolize the alcohol that was consumed, or even the areas of the brain that were firing signals to let us keep lifting the forks full of balcaulhau to our mouths. But that was all off limits. Tonight's dinner, like every other mea in Portugal, is strictly for enjoying the company of those you are with. For learning from them, not methods that are useful in the laboratory, but things ways of thinking, experiences, and what one expects of Obama.
The amount of portuguese spoken was directly proportional to the amount of alcohol induced. As the beers and wine kept coming the english decreased until I was the only one speaking my native language. I smiled and watched the faces that I have come to love.
There was Mize who was always the life of the party with a smile that makes the whole room sparkle, and Andre who would get a sly grin on his face and look my way with knowing eyes when someone would say something worthy of a "that's what she said", then Rita with her constant chatter that feels more like a security blanket than an annoyance, around the corner were my lunch buddies Vania and Diogo who always made sure I sat down to eat with them. Then there was the Professors Riberio and Ana, the heads of the lab who told stories of their children and hatred of TVs, then the ever-so serious Natalia and the mysterious Vasco who has an easier side to him that I love, but it is kept hidden. Then Sandra who always laughed at the "work" Andre and I did at the computer before coming to see what website we were perusing to pass the time. Then Claudia and Ricardo and Ana Rita, Tiogo, and Susane.
As I was watching the group finish dinner, the word family came to mind. These people work together, fight together, fail together, publish together. Their lives are forever entwined, not just because they share space on a published journal, or in the same building, but because they share their life with each other.
They have a hierarchal system that makes sure everyone knows their place, but tonight it was left in the lab. The directors talked with everyone, the professors with students and the ever feuding medical doctors with the Phd's. It was good to see everyone as people and not just as scientists.
Unfortunately tomorrow is another day. The system will be back in place, and I will be forced to say goodbye to my new family. But my life gets to be intertwined with theirs. My name will follow theirs on a journal article, i've worked in the same building, and i've shared my crazy american life with them. Most importantly though, they have a piece of my heart, and I have a piece of theirs.