Good pace

Today was the first legitimate day of spring. No tights, no boots, no coat.

I’m back in Boston, as I am every week now. Trudging toward finals, and grumbling at the undergrads who I haven’t seen all year who are basking their (overwhelming majority) translucent legs on the quad. Topsiders, coral shorts and all.

Two years ago I was staring out my window at melting snow, vacillating between driving immediately to Copley or encouraging my friends to get up north. As the days, the lockdowns, the uncertainty drug on, I felt like a piece of me was getting torn apart.

From where we sit now, we still don’t have answers. We may have a conviction, but we don’t have understanding.

I want you to know that tonight my voice is still sore from shouting for four hours at mile 23:

“you got this” and “you can do it” and

“we believe in you” and “bring it home” and “keep going,”

and I want you to know that that is exactly what I plan to keep saying, over and over again, to this weary, hurting city. [more]

We’re struggling to find out who we are – an admittedly unique question so often robbed from victims in this age of secretive terrorism prosecution, relocation of trials, and, in fact, a choice taken away from almost every victim/survivor. The right to decide what to do with such harm. With actions that defy our very orientation in the world.

Just before the bombing I left my job in victim rights to move to the woods. To explore and understand myself, my vocation, my love, my future.

The violence that ripped through the city made me question everything. Now, I find myself in a unique, somewhat double life – half rural, half urban; half academic, half professional; half Boston, half Maine.

Yet each time I crest over 93, get that view of the city, I remember I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I hear my wise friend’s words:

My friends and I cheered for thousands yesterday at Mile 23. Then some really horrifying shit happened. It doesn’t change what we said yesterday—

“Go!”

“Don’t Give Up!”

“We believe in you!”

“Good pace!”

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Home/Away

Squirrels are performing acts of high-wire gluttony outside my window.

Rushing across power lines toward the gigantic oak; knocking down the nuts it has worked so long to grow, rushing across the grass with cheeks blown out.

A thicket pushes against my desk view to the world and trembles with sparrows.

Their smudged bodies cock heads this way and that, tuning in for better reception. They settle on my sill, chattering. When they catch my eye they fly away as if I am about to breach the glass between us.

Cooky greats me at the train, counting the hour, minute and second it arrives; scratching the record on a wad of wrinkled paper as I wonder where he files his data of ten years of trains.

And then I’m on another couch.

At another bar.

Welcomed with love, with grace, with obligation, into homes, businesses, libraries.

Finding my place of settling in a space not my own.

Stretching these new morning kinks, carrying the ‘important’ things on my back.

Tumbleweeds of dried hydrangea heads, browned from the cold, bounce across the frost-hardened ground. The sparrows greet me on the path to my door.

They burst from the hedge, flying as a group – in fear, in search, in everything.

Brunswick, ME

Brunswick, ME

Other People’s Couches

I was inspired today by Grace. That is her entire presence of being, this good soul. And in that spirit I am asking myself to follow through.  To just do, instead of question. That was how I found myself here in the first place. So forgive this jilting re-entry, but here we go:

2014 was rocky. Full of missteps, new adventures, questions, and not too little confusion.

But there is one thing that shines through the slog: the generosity and great heartedness of my community. And their couches. Literally.

Beginning my PhD was tough, not in the least because my home is in Maine, and my school in Boston. So each week I asked for hospitality. For people to take this jumbled mess of books and stress into their homes. And they said yes.

Yes to my banter about Aquinas or Derrida or the twists and turns of the academy. Yes to a disruption in their week, their evening, their routine. Yes to random calls, texts, meet ups, beers and conversations.

What I love about new years is the excuse to give myself a new slate, a new start. The marker may be arbitrary but the outcome can be glorious. So here, amidst a new beginning I want to begin with gratitude, and offer a litany of my saints over the past year:

Bonnie, Smashley, Allison, Pegasi, Eric, Lindsey, KMHC, Kee, Aly, Courtney, Al and Pat, Donna, Megan, Rooster, Lauren, Tony and Sarah, Dave, Blake, Shawn, Em and Kati, Matthew, Remy, Hans, Sarah and Chuck, Tuesday, Jedi, Tim and Annie, John, “Other” Megan, Pete, Newman House, Eden, Craig, the Broadwillies, Mom and Dad, DJ, Melody, Kim, Dan, Banker Jim, Meredith, The Carter Clan, Sara and David, Kay, Sophito, Cooky, Wyatt, Catherine, Spud, and everyone else I have forgotten.

Thank you for everything. For the hugs, the dinners, the music, the laughter, the honesty, the joy, the pho, the drinks, and, of course, the couches.

Alright, 2015. Let’s go.

Starting a PhD Program: Or, Why I Can’t Stop Crying

Life is oh so big, awe-full and awful, but remains so, so small.

The angled, late morning sunlight hits one small square on the wooden floor. It slowly extends its reach with dappled warmth.

A miniature naval ship sits above a working fireplace; evidence strewn in ashes on the otherwise immaculate wood floor. There are paintings of ships everywhere.

You would’ve been 30.

And I’m on another new adventure. One that right now makes me feel small, inconsequential, struggling. One where I would love to hear you say: it’s not everything. Let’s get a drink.

I feel so much pressure, and I hope, I know, you are exquisitely free.

The crutch of self-doubt is one I know you would kick out from under my shoulder, and tell me to be big – but also remember that I am small.

That small is precious and good and kind and beautiful. That big is laughter and love and amazing and mystery.

That somehow, somewhere, sometime I might find myself.

Through the sea of words, and jargon, and ego, and fight.

But the not knowing is scary.

The risk feels perilous, the task daunting.

The tug, the pull, the questions remain.

A portly, formally attired man gazes out of his oil portrait, immense gilded frame and all, looking somewhat compassionate.

Perhaps he loves these boat paintings, or perhaps I just need the things in my world today to speak to me of love.

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Flagstaff Lake, ME

I held this piece for a while. A piece of my new home, a piece of Kristin, a piece of Marie Howe. Love more, y’all.

Roberts Farm Preserve

You know what’s awesome? Falling on ice on a pre-existing bruise.

JUST KIDDING.

No but really. Although the icy, downhill, hard left turn caught me and my ass by surprise, yesterday was gorgeous. Even though XC and I are still not the best of friends, I had a great time on a quick early evening ski.

Roberts Farm Preserve sits on a hill above the lake we live on, and is protected by the Western Foothills Land Trust. In the summer, this is where a kids program helps to run our CSA and throughout the year they host everything from skijoring (it’s real), to snowshoe races, to part of the Norway Triathlon.

The relatively extensive trail network (for skiing, snowshoeing, etc in the winter, and hiking in the summer) is accessible, well-marked and really beautiful.

It seemed like around every bend there was more to soak up – but that could’ve been just how happy I was to finally see the sun.

IMG_3043

“Our” lake – Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway, Maine

 

***

The Art of the Everyday – March 5: Offbeat and out of doors at Roberts Farm Preserve.

Adventure Sunday

Since moving to Maine, P and I instituted Adventure Sunday.

Granted, sometimes that adventure involves a lot of Netflix and naps, but nonetheless, we try to do something to shake up the routine. This past Sunday was particularly epic, as we first found our way to Lovell, about 40 minutes from our house, to do a short, gorgeous hike up Sabattus Mountain.

Real Talk. How did they get this bench up here?

Real Talk. How did they get this bench up here?

The hike was pretty fast, and P knew there were XC Ski tracks down in town, so we found our way (eventually) to the right parking lot and made our way around the golf course.

Despite an amazing amount of ice and a severe lack of grooming, the ground was flat and fast – perfect to zoom around in the first sun we’ve seen in a while.

After that, I had definitely earned my treat, and we headed over to one side of the golf course to the famed Belgian beer bar, Ebenezer’s.

Voted continually as one of the best beer destinations in the world (yea, you read that right, world), its unassuming decor and down-home snarky waitresses made for the perfect end to the day.

And of course, Belgian-style frites with aioli and an awesome sour.

To Adventure Sunday!

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The Art of the Everyday – March 3: Offbeat, out of doors.