All posts by kristin

The Universe Laughs


When do we learn to stop trusting ourselves? Is it one moment, one conversation, one day? Or does the doubt build slowly, stone by stone, over time?

I’ve been struggling with trying to just do what I’m told. I’ve never been good at that. Some built-in rebellion against authority? Maybe you can blame it on my Yankee Self-sufficiency Syndrome.

I’m trying to follow blueprints and formulas to build a creative project. Irony, anyone?
Continue reading The Universe Laughs

Please Pause for Station Identification

Holy sunset, Batman

Spring is crazy. There’s an electricity in the air. I can feel it humming in my bones. The trees are singing. Storms sneak up on the horizon and explode the sky with unexpected rainbows.

I’ve been walking, taking it all in. Spongy moss bed beneath my feet on Summit. Heavy sweet smell of Lilacs on Roy – coupled with the unmistakable scent of dark roast coffee grounds and soil. Fresh tilled earth, acidified by Starbucks.

I spent most of Saturday at my (still unnamed) workspace in Frellard. Had a few minor epiphanies. I’ve been getting bogged down in the business part of “doing business,” paralyzed with little energy for doing. Continue reading Please Pause for Station Identification

On Having Arrived

I had an appointment downtown the other day. It’s on the very top floor of one of the skyscrapers towering above the city, one of the sleek and mirrored ones that reflect blue sky and white puffy clouds on clear days. The top floor has its own elevator; you have to take the regular elevator up to the 33rd floor and then get on a separate elevator which whisks you upwards 12 feet to the penthouse above.

As I exited the elevator at the top, I passed an office with enormous glass doors. I could see right through the office and out the floor-to-ceiling windows cradling this executive’s suite. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and did a physical double-take when I realized the shaft of white I saw was the Space Needle. I backed up three steps and stood there, mouth agape.

The enormous windows framed the Space Needle perfectly and the office was the same height, so level with the observation deck. It was unreal. It seriously looked like a fake picture.

There was the guy with his desk abutting the window, talking on the phone. On a crystal clear day, sun streaming in onto the floor of his office, the Space Needle sparkling like some real estate ad in Architectural Digest.

And I wondered – when this guy walked into that office on the day he was hired, did he say, “Okay. NOW I’ve arrived”? Was that a watermark morning for him? Such a lush and tangible proof of accomplishment?

I keep wondering what my moment will be. If I’ll have one of those moments. If it will come slowly, if it will sneak up on me while I’m busy doing dishes or writing another rough draft.

Or if I, too, will be handed the keys to something so undeniably full and bright. Unlocking the door to some proverbial room to discover the Space Needle wrapped up just for me.

Labradoodles for Obama

While clearing off the hard drive of a laptop I’m lending to a friend, I came across some great files this morning. The laptop is the one I began using for National Novel Writing Month in 2008. I didn’t really want to participate at the time but went along with it due to peer pressure.

I had this idea for a long time that I wanted to turn into a novel. It came from watching my cat Nevadelia, who has some very strange, though typically feline, habits. Occasionally she sits in the corner of the room, facing the wall, ears flat against her head, motionless for ten minutes or more. One day, when asked what she was doing, I said, “Oh, she’s just downloading from the Mothership.”

And I started building this funny sci-fi story in my head – what if cats were really sent here to spy on us or control us? Like cats were the ones really running the show, and the humans were allowed to have the illusion of control, just to keep us occupied? The animal shelter would be their headquarters, their version of the CIA. I thought it would be a blast to write a story like that.

So when day 1 of NaNoWriMo came along, I ran with that idea.

I discovered the first chapter this morning while clearing off the laptop. I’d never re-read it after writing it over a year ago, and it’s totally unedited, but it cracked me up so I thought I’d share it. It was highly entertaining to write. I may have to continue it.

It’s clearly evidence I was watching too much X-Files at the time.

And it doesn’t have a title yet, but I might have to call it “Labradoodles for Obama.”

Continue reading Labradoodles for Obama

Maslow, in Reverse

The world is exploding, a million brilliant colors above me. I discovered that the tiny cardboard tube I cherished for so long is just the beginning. That if you strike a match and hold it to the wick on that tube, it rockets into the air and fills the sky with a thousand shattered diamonds, lime and magenta, a whistle and a snap, followed by the trickling sound of ash in the trees. Cinders the only remnant of the gift I held so closely, in its bland paper package, not realizing all this time it was meant to be set on fire.

The Universe has learned that kindness and support is not always the best way to guide me in the right direction. Strong willed and self-sufficient, I’m not one to take advice or read the map. I’m inherently bad at following directions.

This is why it’s important to relish the upheaval life throws me. A painful encounter changes my course much more efficiently than softly spoken counsel. I call it my “golden brick to the forehead.”

Twice you burned your life’s work
Once to start a new life
Once just to start a fire

So the New Year begins and I crawl out from beneath the table where I sought refuge, wide-eyed, staring at the multicolored fireworks in the sky. It takes me a minute to realize the fireworks are the result of lighting my works on fire.

My little world right now appears in list form. My thick artist journal, which I carry with me, littered with snippets of dialog, ephiphanies, impulses and desires:
I saw Avatar in Imax 3D for the third time on Saturday. Kerry and I compared notes – we cried at different parts this time. I have always felt that connection to the animals. Even without an awesome braid-portal.

I spent MLK day in Joni’s living room, talking about journaling, art, and connection. Eating clementines, grilled cheese and tomato soup. Link sleeping belly-up in front of the fire. I dyed my hair a version of strawberry blonde, “red penny,” and afterward, Joni helped me highlight it because I couldn’t see the back. I laughed outloud that night when I saw Ruby Fuss documenting her newly-acquired hair color. 3,000 miles away we still end up with the same ‘do, endlessly.

We’ve been watching Fringe on DVD and it makes me miss Boston. All the shots of Cambridge, the Pru, and snow. My old job is open at Harvard. I loved it there. It would be easy to go back.

But I’ve finally got a room with a view. I can see the Space Needle from my couch, through a frame of leafless trees. How could I possibly give that up? Even for all the Dunkin Donuts salt bagels and iced hazelnut coffee in Somerville?

The sun is out in Seattle today. In January, that’s front page news. I’ll likely slip out of work early and roll around in it. I have to turn my plants weekly or they grow lopsided, like me – stretching toward the silver sky, a failing attempt at synthesizing growth in the absence of light.

Frantic Pink Moment

I don’t remember fall in Seattle being so… New Englandy. It’s been frigid (mid twenties) and sunny and it feels like home. I don’t mind cold. Cold I can do – cold I’m good at. Especially when coupled with a bright firey ball in the sky.

The best part about all this unseasonable weather is the sunrises and sunsets have been absolutely mind boggling, on a daily basis.

sunset_downtown

Sunset from the Nordstrom Tower in First Hill. I was waiting for the elevator and looked out to see the Space Needle poking out between these old brick buildings, the sky all pink. Pretty amazing view for the hallway of a doctor’s office.

P.S. “Frantic Pink Moment” is a phrase that has stuck with me since New Year’s, 1998, when Viva spelled it out in refrigerator poetry. It has remained one of my favorite magnetic poem lines ever, second only to “Pies del mar.”

Hauntings

The layout of my tiny Mexican apartment is such that the bathroom entrance is directly across from the bed. And in another brilliant feat of architecture (along with cabinets that cannot be opened fully because they collide with ceiling fixtures), the light switch is outside the bathroom. One cannot turn on the lights for the bathroom without casting harsh illumination on unsuspecting sleepers.

I thought I would be smart and plug in a nightlight above the toilet, which could be switched on once the bathroom door was safely closed. Then I discovered that the power outlet was not active unless the main switch was on, returning us to the problem of flooding the darkened bedroom with bright light.

I remedied this problem by installing a battery-operated LED nightlight. And to sidestep the issue of searching for a tiny switch in the windowless pitch black, I found a light with a motion detector that turns on when the door is closed. Brilliant. Voila! Problem solved.

I mounted the light on the wall down low so it wouldn’t create a glare. A side effect I found amusing is that the cat turns on the light when she goes in to use the litter box. I don’t know why, but that cracked me up endlessly when I first discovered it. I wondered if she thought about it at all, if she made the connection. (Like the connection she’s made that if she sits in a certain spot at 7 AM, a bowl of food magically appears.) If I was lying in bed and saw the cool glow of the LED kick on, I’d turn toward the bathroom with a giggle and watch her feather duster plume of a tail disappear like a question mark into the shadows.

Then one night, soon after installation, the light went on and I turned to see no litterbox-bound feline. No toilet-bound human. Nothing having fallen off the shelf to trigger the motion sensor. Just – randomly-generated light.

I figured a scrap of tissue or something must have quietly fallen before I could see it to trip the sensor. Obviously.

Until the Page mentioned it the following evening, wide-eyed. “I think we have a ghost.” And we went on to speculate the various forms this ghost might have, including a cat-ghost who waited until nighttime to use the litterbox in the bathroom.

I’ve tried in vain to pinpoint a rational reason for this phenomenon. Others whom I’ve consulted, in possession of a similiar device, have not experienced these hauntings.

My main confusion is that ghosts traditionally float off the ground. If the motion sensor is nearly flush with the floor, wouldn’t a ghost bypass it without triggering the light? Or are cat-ghosts different – perhaps still earthbound on all fours?

The errant night light remains an unsolved mystery. The Page, insatiably curious, has posed the question: “Do all motion sensor lights detect ghosts – or just ours?”