My life is like a wound I scratch so I can bleed
Regurgitate my words, I write so I can feed
And Death grows like a tree that’s planted in my chest
Its roots are at my feet, I walk so it won’t rest
Oh, Baby I am Lost…
I try to push the colors through a prism back to white
To sync our different pulses into a blinding light
And if love is not the key. If love is not a key.
I hope that I can find a place where it could be
I know that in your heart there is an answer to a question
That I’m not as yet aware that I have asked
And if that tree had not drunk my tears
I would have bled and cried for all the years
That I alone have let them pass
This black rose succulent flower was just an itty-bitty one when I first planted it on my outdoor patio, about four years ago. Since then, I’ve seen it grow tall and lean, seen it shed its petals over the years. I guess I always expected that someday, it was going to grow too tall and topple over from being top-heavy.
It’s been a while, admittedly, since I’ve taken a look at it. But lo and behold—how it has proved me wrong. Not only is it as tall and strong as ever, but this black rose has grown into two.
I had my back to the front door of my apartment, my head down, as I moved backwards and upwards, hoisting my cheap metal cart, packed with freshly laundered sheets and towels, up one step at a time, its weakened wheels wincing every time it hit the stone steps, when I heard him yell, “Hey! Suzy Q!”
I didn’t think he was talking to me. But I looked up anyway.
I looked up because it made me giggle a little, as I thought about my childhood obsession with another woman whose name ended in the letter Q. Stacey Q., the pop star with the feathered hair whose famous words, “two hearts that beat as one,” would make me break out into a routine of tapping two fingers over my heart and land on point, of course, with one finger set at my imaginary audience.
But I knew that’s not who he was referring to.
“Suzy Q., you need some help?” He asked.
He was out on the street, circling around a couple of other men on his bike before stopping to look straight at me. Standing halfway up, straddling his bicycle, he smiled big.
“No, no. I’m OK,” I said.
“I used to live down there,” he ignored me, pointing to the first floor bay window that hung out over the sidewalk. “Remember I used to live there?” He said so proudly, his mouth opened wide, showing off his big gums.
“Yea,” I said. “I do.”
“You remember those two old people? That old black man and that old black woman? They were my parents. You remember them?”
I stared right back at him, wondering how he had forgotten that we had this conversation nearly every time I ran into him in the neighborhood. Sure, it had been a while. Maybe four, no, maybe six months ago now that I had last seen him walking aimlessly up and down the street. Still, not long enough to forget that of course I knew his parents.
His mother had been one of the first neighbors I met when I moved into the complex. I’d run into her often, helping her up the stairs, as she carried her small bag of groceries up to her studio apartment that she shared with her sick husband. She was a sweet woman, with a beautiful, bright smile. I loved catching her coming back from church in her Sunday best. Admittedly, it wasn’t long after I’d moved in that I found myself hoping to run into her, just so I could say hi.
When her husband passed, and when I stopped seeing her, I became worried that something had happened to her. But I’d see Louis in and out of the building, ‘taking care of mom’ he’d say. He’d stop and play with my dog. He was so friendly, so interested. But it must have been months. Months. Before I found out that she had been dead. She had died in the apartment shortly after her husband had and no one had known. Except Louis. Who had been living there. How could I ever forget.
“My mom loved you,” he said, sitting back down on his bike, his right foot twirling the pedal.
I looked at him and saw her brightness in his eyes and was saddened by her memory, saddened by the loss of those lives in this apartment building, in this neighborhood. “I loved her too.”
I looked down, remembering that my cart was teetering off a stair, and I took another step back and then up, pulling the weight of this cart, which suddenly seemed so much heavier now.
“You sure you got it?”
“I’m good,” I said.
“Alright Suzy Q. You say hello to that little dog for me,” he said, turning his bike so I could see he had his own cart full of things hinged to the back, a pillow strapped loosely to the top of his stuff.
reposting this from a few years ago… because, it’s always a good reminder…
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
It was like the classic scene in the movies where one lover is on the train and one is on the platform and the train starts to pull away, and the lover on the platform begins to trot along and then jog and then sprint and then gives up altogether as the train speeds irrevocably off. Except in this case I was all the parts: I was the lover on the platform, I was the lover on the train. And I was also the train.
Back in high school, in the last row of my honor’s math class, I’d fantasize and sketch pictures of what my all-girl band would look like: There were three of us, tiny girls with big hair, holding guitars, one behind a drum set. We were called something like, Little Big Women. Haha. We’d play folk rock songs, with pretty melodies and crazy drum solos.
Not inheriting my father’s ear for music, or talent for playing music, this was obviously a far-fetched idea. One I was totally happy never being able to realize, and I kind of forgot all about that little band I had imagined until I saw this picture of these three California girls, with their long, beautiful manes.
It was kind of backwards how I found out about Haim. I was looking up inspirational images for a work project about a year and a half ago, and I pulled up this image of these awesome looking girls and their motorbikes. Months later, a coworker pointed out that this was a band. From LA. 3 sisters with cool voices (and that fucking hair!).
Anyway, I was instantly hooked on them. In fact, their debut album was one of my favorite albums last year.
At once super feminine and totally badass, they’re the kind of girl group I’ve always dreamed of being a part of. Now, if only I could grow my hair fast enough ;)
As the year begins to wrap up, some words to think about...
i hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. you’re doing things you’ve never done before and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.