loss

Philip Seymour Hoffman


He will always be Philip Seymour Hoffman to me.

My various dashboards are currently filled with Tweets and excerpts from interviews with people who worked with the man, who knew him personally, who called him Phil.

Phil Hoffman.

And I don’t know what to do with that.

Phil Hoffman sounds like he should be a branch manager for an inter-state credit union. He should be the person in charge of scheduling equipment deliveries to construction sites. He should be the consulting accountant brought in by the local zoo as a temporary addition during tax season, his final paycheck mailed in an envelope thick with parking passes and free admittance lanyards for his kids.

A guy named Phil Hoffman would definitely have kids.

Philip Seymour Hoffman had kids. Three of them. Had a long time partner, a woman named Mimi O’Donnell. He was an actor, a director. He was loved, he was respected. He seemed happy, excited about his work. He was passionate about what he’d found to do with his life. He was an artist. He won awards. It was inspiring.

I hope eventually I will remember him only for those things. They are worth remembering. They are worth lauding. They hold up to the status and the weight of being an all-three-names celebrity.

But I’m not there yet. I acknowledge those things, I am in awe of them, but I cannot divorce them from the subject of today’s tweets and interviews: Today, February 2, 2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman died alone in the bathroom of his Manhattan apartment of a heroin overdose; a partner, a father, and an artist known to his fans by all three names.

I can’t believe he’s really gone.

And I don’t know what to do.

That which has been your delight


Timmy, Norberto, Anahi, Julie Kurrle

Over the years I’ve shared with several of you the blog of a woman I found in Paraguay, Julie Kurrle, who served there since 2002 with her husband, Norberto, and their 6 year old son, Timmy, as missionaries. (I found her blog around the same time I found that of Christie Hagerman, with whom I would eventually stay during my January 2012 visit to Paraguay).

Julie’s is one of those blogs I check almost daily, getting to know her family through her recounting of their adventures, and of their struggles. It was through her blog that I read about their work with youth in their area, their years long struggle to adopt, their final success in that struggle when they brought home their beautiful daughter Esther Anahi, their adventures in peanut farming, their great love of Paraguay, and most of all their passionate love for God.

Julie’s blog post from April 14, 2011: “Helping Poor, Rural Farmers Increase their Profit Is Easier than You Think. (You can Help!)

Norberto talking last May about the peanut harvest:

This was a beautiful family that loved each other and their fellow man in a way that was so tender and obvious and full of joy that it shined through in every single post I read from Julie. I couldn’t help but want to know this woman in real life!

So of course it was to my great delight and privilege that I got to meet Julie and her family in person when I traveled to Paraguay in January 2012, and to spend several days with them at their home in Encarnacion. They opened their house and their hearts to us, fed us an amazing meal, took us out to the pond next to their house to relax, to play with the dogs, to watch Timmy get covered in mud… The next day my hosts, the Hagerman family, and I spent the day with theirs and another family at a nearby beach sweating, laughing, and sharing stories over burgers, potato salad, and plenty of tereré. You just never met a warmer, friendlier bunch of folks. And that love they had for God and each other and their community? Even stronger and more visible in person!

A (particularly adorable) video from Julie on how to wash clothes on a wash board:

Julie updated her blog yesterday saying that the family would be heading into Asuncion to pick up their daughter’s birth certificate and passport. Adoption is a complicated process under any circumstances, and in Paraguay it can become particularly messy, but things were finally wrapping up for the Kurrles with their beautiful new daughter, now one and a half years old.

Anahi’s first steps:

This morning I received a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was Christie! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up my phone to text or call her about something, only to remember I can’t because she’s so far away. But I only had a moment to be excited that I was hearing from her, because she was calling with heart-breaking news.

Timmy and Norberto

Some time around 5 am local time this morning, the Kurrles were involved in a terrible car accident on their way into Asuncion. Norberto and Anahi survived the crash, but it claimed the lives of the beautiful Julie and her sweet son Timmy.

My understanding is that Timmy survived long enough for his father to get to hold him and talk to him one last time, for which I am sure all who know the family will be forever grateful. Norberto is a good, good man and Timmy was such a smart, funny child.

And now I hardly know what to say or think.

Yesterday Julie was laughing with the judge who was handling their adoption case, and today- unspeakable tragedy.

I don’t know what is going to happen next. I dare say the family probably doesn’t either. All I do know is it is just sickening to be here so far away, unable to hold my friends and cry and pray with them in person. I rejoice with all my heart that Julie and Timmy are with the Lord, and weep that the world, that this family, that their community, lost such a vibrant woman, and such a friendly, outgoing child in such a sudden and shocking way.

If you have a moment I urge you to visit Julie’s blog: http://kurrles.blogspot.com. Read the posts, smile over the pictures, click through to go back, back, back to watch their ministry unfold in reverse. Click through to be encouraged by the love this family bore for each other. And, if you are a believer, click through to be encouraged and uplifted by the love they bore for God, our Source and Supply, our sustainer not only during the devestating times, but during the beautiful.

"El enjugará toda lágrima de sus ojos, y ya no habrá muerte, ni habrá más duelo, ni clamor, ni dolor, porque las primeras cosas han pasado." Apocalipsis 21:4

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
– Kahlil Gibran

QEPD Julie Ana Beam de Kurrle y Timoti Samuel Kurrle Beam, 18/4/12

*************************

ETA: Christie was able to attend the memorial service at the Kurrle’s church in Paraguay. You can read that post here: Memorial Service for Timmy and Julie Kurrle

The Cart and Bull Fall Down


Wesley's interest in helping with laundry extends only as far as emptying the bag. Kids!

I’m trying to get my ferret Wesley to come sit by me on the couch.

“These fingers could be scratchin’ yer itches!” I promise, waggling my fingers at him. He is not impressed, and waddles away to redouble his efforts at destroying the carpet behind my couch.

Dig dig dig…

Oh ferret.

Dig dig dig…

The landlord will have to replace it all whenever the boys and I move out. It should be replaced anyway since I’ve been living with this carpet for almost five years now. Surely they wouldn’t pass it on to the next tennant? No, it will be replaced. Replaced, and with some reason why my security deposit should be used to foot the bill. Fine. Let them keep it. It’s been worth it for your  special company, weasels. (See: “Things I Never Thought I’d Say To a 1 lb. Carnivore.”)

I thought I’d lost one of the ferrets yesterday; Brodie, my skinny boy, my hyperactive climber, my sable.

I was in the living room watching a show on Netflix when Wesley trotted in. He ducked behind the couch where I was sitting, and immediately began to whimper. Was he hurt? Was he sick? What’s going on?! I paused my show and pulled the couch away from the wall to find Wesley pawing at the face of a suspiciously inert Brodie, who lay on his back, legs splayed wide. I swooped down and picked Brodie up, his body cool and limp in my hands.

Oh no.

Ferrets are notorious for going into such a deep sleep they can seem comatose, or even dead. It’s important to know this before bringing one home because at some point, probably at multiple points, you will witness this condition. It’s not unusual, it’s not dangerous. It is normal ferret behavior. But this time? This time it shook me. Brodie’s oddly low body temperature, his uncustomary position, the whimpering and pawing from my other ferret… And mustelidae lover that I am I of course immediately assumed the worst: That Brodie was dead or dying, right there in my hands.

I cradled the pound of fur, teeth, and claws to my chest, trying to find a pulse, trying to find any sign he might simply be deep, deep asleep. His tiny, chilly body was so relaxed I could barely keep him from slipping through my arms as I played out worst case scenarios in my critter loving head.

After pushing the bottle around for an hour with his face, a neck-lick was apparently in order.

Wesley padded over to us and crawled onto my lap where he began sniffing at his fellow troublemaker, alternately pawing at his belly and licking his face, a new behavior couplet. I held Brodie tighter, trying at first not to cry but almost immediately giving up on that plan in favor of weeping openly and praying aloud that I would be able to keep this bounding, thieving, sneezing, pooping, hopping, climbing, giggle-inducing beast a little longer.

Eventually one of his eyes opened slightly, but then rolled back. He was still completely limp, folded almost in half against my chest as I pulled him in closer and closer toward my face, unwilling to let go in case he really was on his way out.

I would rather die while being held, wouldn’t you?

I rocked him, rubbed his cheeks and head, trying for several minutes to wake him. It had never taken so long before. And as I sat there blubbering I knew I’d feel so stupid if he turned out to be okay, if it turned out I was just overreacting to a common situation. But when it’s your own pet? And everything is a few degrees off from normal? And your other pet is exhibiting unusual behaviors too? And you’re all alone?

I freed a hand to phone my mom and asked her to come over so I wouldn’t be by myself, just in case. She said she’d be right over. I love that woman. I hung up and dragged my sleeve under my nose. I was a wreck.

I rolled the pound of dead weight over in my hands, rubbed my little guy’s face, and thanked him for being my buddy for the past two years. And then? His eye flickered open again, this time followed by the other… A hopeful sign? There came a head shift, a paw wave, and finally a sigh from him as Wesley decided we were fine and lumbered away to find something crinkly to crawl in.

We made it! All three of us.

Brodie came to slowly, resting peacefully in my arms. My hope grew less cautious. A minute passed, and then another, each making me feel happier, and more ridiculous, my babbling grin catching tears I no longer needed. My little guy, for now, would remain my little guy.

My dudes, fast asleep.

I knew I’d let myself freak out. I’d let my fear of losing my fuzzy pal overtake me. And the worst part is at some point I realized there might be nothing to worry about, even as it was all still happening. But what is my head to argue with my heart? I will almost always laugh with you, cry with you, sigh with you long before I will even attempt to reason with you.

I’m trying to figure out why I’d want to share this story in such a public way. It makes me seem over-dramatic, I think, because in the end it turned out I’d been wrong and so was upset over nothing. And to anyone without a similar type and level of appreciation for a pet I’m sure it sounds downright silly.

I think– and don’t quote me because I’m still not sure– but I think I just wanted to share a time when a feeling of loss was replaced, quickly and completely, by a feeling of joy.

That’s it.

If I were a master story teller I’d do the same by inventing some clever tale involving not-overly-beautiful people in a loss/joy cycle in a universe of my own design. I’d O. Henry an unexpected heart-string-tug readers would be able to relate to, and they’d share it with their friends on Facebook. I’d submit it to a literary magazine, they’d publish it with watercolor illustrations painted by a tenured biology professor, and over the next three years my characters’ names would climb to slots 7 and 8 on “Most Popular Baby Names” lists across the web. It would span so many forwarded emails it would eventually earn its own page on Snopes from all the people asking if it was true.

But it wouldn’t be.

Maybe that’s why I’d rather swallow my pride and tell you about a pet that didn’t really die, no matter how foolish it makes me look. Because foolishness is believable. As believable as loss. And almost as believable as joy.

Lennon/ McCartney/ Encouragement: A Dream


For Karin C. and Corey R. who asked: An unreadable dream with a plot but a fully unsatisfying ending. In three parts.

Part I: Lennon/McCartney/Encouragement

In my dream last night I was traveling somewhere with a much older woman I didn’t know and whose name I never learned. Let’s call her Mrs. Stranger. We were in an airport, waiting to begin the first leg of our journey, but the entire place appeared to be empty. And there, on the floor of this empty airport, I suddenly found myself giving birth. Mrs. Stranger held the baby, a boy, for a moment before handing him back to me and saying we should change our plans and take the baby to its father before continuing on. In the dream I never knew the detail of who the father was, but I did know I didn’t like him.

Athens Airport

I cradled my new son, trying to decide what to do, vaguely aware it was all just a dream. I began singing “Amazing Grace” to my sleeping baby and thought maybe I’d name him John, after John Newton, knowing even then my child had a life ahead of him that would require much grace. There’s part of me lately that’s really wanted to name my son Paul, after the Apostle, and I remember thinking either way I’d have a son named after a Beatle. I smiled. I remember thinking it was too bad I couldn’t name him Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement,” because I just might like Barnabas best out of the entire New Testament, and because all I wanted to do in that moment was love on my son and encourage him to hold fast better than I had.

I settled on John.

Mrs. Stranger and I decided we ought to leave, if not to introduce my son to his father then at least to wait at home until there were people working at the airport. As we prepared to leave I realized I couldn’t find my purse. It was a shiny red number identical to a black one I own in waking life. The purse contained my cell phone, wallet, black moleskine notebook, and a few other nondescript items. We scoured our level of the airport, as well as the floors above and below where we’d been. All three were equally abandoned, and none appeared to harbor my missing purse.

We left the airport and headed to a place that may have been home; not a house, not any building in particular, just a place that felt remotely like where we belonged. I didn’t want to be there. Something felt wrong. But we couldn’t stay on an abandoned level of an airport forever. People around us, more strangers to me, cooed over the baby. Some offered to help find my purse; none were successful.

An older man with thinning white hair was so excited to show me he’d found some raw materials to piece together to make me a new purse, and some new things to put in it; a new phone, a new wallet. But when I saw what he was using I didn’t want his help. He had sheets of heavy white plastic the size of manhole covers with handle holes already cut out. He was going to nail two pieces together, paint them red, and fill them with the new things for me. I wanted to be grateful. I felt sad he was trying so hard to help me when it wasn’t what I really wanted or needed. It wasn’t really my purse. I left as he returned excitedly to his work.

From that point on I don’t think I ever held my baby again.

Part II: Thrown Into the Sea

Mrs. Stranger and I left once again for our ultimate destination (a place I was never quite sure of) and learned we were to have an eight or so day layover in a town we were to pass along the way. We were ushered into an expansive luxury suite in an enormous hotel in the middle of the night shortly after our arrival. A porter brought in our bags.

“What floor are we on?” I asked Mrs. Stranger.

Forma Urbis Romae

“The twelfth,” she beamed, as she threw open the balcony doors and we stepped out to get a better view of our temporary host city. “Vegas!” she grinned, winking at me as we surveyed the stone, brick, and clay city laid out before us. In the smoky night air every light in every building was glowing, with enormous fire pits scattered throughout the city for added light, their garish orange flames leaping twenty feet in the air, towering over most of the surrounding buildings.

We knew it wasn’t Las Vegas. We had actually been sent to Babylon in the glory days of Mesopotamia. A historian’s dream come true! Yet I didn’t know what I wanted more: To hide in our room so no one would realize we didn’t belong in this time period, or to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore this lost wonder.

A dark mountain towered over the city to the left, father of a range of mountains that continued out and around the city coming almost full circle to encompass it on the right as well. I was sick with fear. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I missed my son and wanted to continue on our journey so we could ultimately return home.

And then suddenly there we were, out in the city.

Except it wasn’t some ancient metropolis like it had appeared to be from our window. It was a modern city, complete with a single-ride theme park. We approached their roller coaster, designed to look like a Chinese dragon. It’s body was light purple, with swaths of sour green stretching along its full length. Its head was also purple, with a curling white beard carved into waves around its giant face, its mouth open in a permanent growl, its narrowed eyes focused permanently on the track before it. The designers had intended it to look majestic, but it just looked grotesque. I balked.

“We’ll just ride it once,” said my companion, “and then we need to find a gift store to buy souvenirs for our friends.”

Nothing in me wanted to get into one of the waiting carts forming the body of the dragon. The heights looked so high I knew my stomach would spend most of the ride in my throat. The depths looked so low I was afraid I’d end up plastered to my seat from the speed of each descent.

“Let’s go back,” I pleaded.

Walking Dragon, Qing Dynasty

And then we were on the ride, soaring, dropping, hard right turns, hard lefts, but something wasn’t right. As we plunged down one of the hills I felt the back end of the line of cars come loose from the track. We continued on, diving so far down at one point I thought for sure we were going to plummet right through the tracks and continue on into the earth. Instead the track plunged thirty feet down into a man-made lake, and us and our ride along with it.

I figured if we kept moving at our current speed we’d travel the under water portion of the track quickly enough we wouldn’t all run out of air and drown. I held my breath in terror as the dragon sped along, when I turned toward the tail end of the line of cars and saw children being flung from them as one after another became so dangerously detached from the track they had begun whipping around in the water like a tail, threatening to collide with the rock and reef formations to our sides. One child tried grabbing on to the track as she floated down into the water, but it sparked at her touch causing her to draw her hand back in pain. And then she was gone, sinking into the unlit depths beyond our view.

I looked ahead in time to see my companion grab at some objects floating past her, just as the line of cars reached the next upswing of the track, ferrying us out of the lake. The dragon slowed to a stop to allow the remaining riders to disembark.

“I got our souvenirs!” she gushed, holding up the items she’d grabbed in the water during the scariest part of the ride. “Look– two rings! We can give these to…” and she named some of the people we were on our way to see. More people I didn’t know; residents of another unknown place.

“That’s fine. Let’s just go back to the hotel,” I begged.

And so finally we went.

I awoke briefly, then fell back asleep and found myself back at the airport where a male dog- a security dog? someone’s pet?- had just eaten one of the rings. Mrs. Stranger was wailing and screaming in anger and frustration over what had happened. I looked at the dog, watched its face turn mean. It began barking, slobbering, running loose through the airport, terrorizing the patrons. My stomach began to turn with anxiety. Waves of abdominal pain left me confused and unsteady. And then we were gone.

Part III

Pharaoh Hound

Mrs. Stranger and I found ourselves in a high-end apartment overlooking a large, modern city of bright skies and towering buildings made of metal and glass. The apartment- home to whoever it was we’d been traveling to see- was beautifully furnished with tall tables, plush leather couches, green marble kitchen counter tops. Even their dog, a young but full-grown female, looked expensive. One of those short-haired  slender dogs with legs like tapered candles.

I wandered around the kitchen, peeked into the bathroom, glanced over the entryway. During my self-guided tour I noticed the dog had come along side me. She was beautiful and affectionate. I pointed for her to go into the living room so my companion could see her. When she reached the living room, however, she snatched the second ring from my fellow traveler’s hand and ate it.

As Mrs. Stranger began screaming and cursing at the dog for what she’d done I felt my stomach begin to flip again. The pain was unbearable. I stumbled, fell, crawled into the bathroom, and faced a worrying decision: stay or go? I was too embarrassed to leave it in case I was about to be as violently ill as I felt like I was, but too afraid to stay lest the dog should become wild like the one at the airport had and go on to kill everyone in the living room, strangers all. Could I trust my companion to be prepared? But no; I knew I could not as she’d been so distracted by her own fury during the first dog’s rampage she hadn’t noticed how vicious it had ultimately become.

Weeping with pain and panic I collapsed on the floor. I struggled to rise almost as quickly as I’d fallen when I saw I’d just given birth to half a dozen or more crying, biting animals the size of my fist and covered in spikes. The pain had subsided, but I couldn’t bring myself to open the bathroom door because– what if these things escaped?

I felt like everything was falling apart. My life. This place. The world. And all I wanted was to find my baby, my John, my Paul, my Barnabas. But I knew it was hopeless to even look for him, so I woke up.

Tomato: A dream


“True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT– mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich– where the mutton is lean and the tomato is ripe.” Miracle Max (William Goldman)

Always a bridesmaid…

I dreamed last night it had been arranged that three other women and I should marry four boorish young brothers from a wealthy family that was having trouble marrying off its sons. I found myself in a church I didn’t know, using a poorly lit room that had been converted into a dressing room for the four of us and our bridesmaids. All the girls were talking and laughing except me. I didn’t know what was happening and had no one to ask as I stood there alone with no bridesmaids.

I slipped my dress on over my head. Where the other girls were putting on traditional, white gowns with lace and delicate embroidery, mine was an ill-fitting smokey blue taffeta. As soon as the other girls were engrossed enough in their chatter to not notice my absence, I ducked out through a side door and into a dimly lit hallway. I was sneaking out because I had to find someone to whom I could tell the truth and seek help. The truth was: I didn’t know which of the four brothers I was engaged to and I didn’t want to go through with the wedding. I had to find someone to ask for the name and appearance of the brother I was to marry so I could at least walk up to the right one when my turn came.

I don’t know why I didn’t choose to just leave. Maybe I couldn’t?

As I walked the hallway in search of someone to talk to I remembered a home movie I had been shown of the oldest of the brothers. In it he was sitting in an easy chair in the living room of one of the family’s summer cabins. He wore a shabby, pale blue sweatshirt from the 80s bearing an old Pepsi logo on the middle of the chest. His blonde hair was greasy, thin, and spiked. His doughy face was mostly expressionless in its perch above his myriad chins and his stomach slipping out past the hem of his sweatshirt. The video ended when he got up to check on some activity happening behind the person with the camera. I hoped this wasn’t the brother for me.

Squirrely boys will be squirrely boys

I found a young man helping out back stage for the service. He seemed laid back and fairly unconcerned about the whole event. Thinking he was probably uninvolved enough not to rat me out, I confessed I didn’t know which brother to go to  when my turn came and asked if he could advise me. He was able to tell me I was engaged to the youngest of the four who it turned out was little more than a child. I asked what he looked like so I would know him when I saw him. He said he was “short, kinda squirrely,” and that he was being brought over with his small, black poodle on the family’s helicopter at that very moment.

My heart sank. My stomach dropped. My head maintained altitude. I thanked the young man and kept walking.

I never did find the boy.

I came upon a set of wide double doors that led into a room that was a cross between a concert stadium and a sanctuary. I wandered in the semi-darkness looking for the youngest brother while listening to the ceremonies of the first two girls. I expected the ceremonies to continue as I hadn’t reached my own unfortunate turn yet, but then, abruptly, it all ended. Two of the brothers had never shown up, so two of us didn’t get married. I was instantly relieved because I hadn’t wanted to marry this person, this boy, when I didn’t even know him, but humiliated I’d been left at the alter with thousands of people present to witness my abandonment by a child.

I went back into the dressing room to change and found that all of the girls were gone and the furniture had been changed back to suit the room’s original purpose. It was a choir classroom and a young woman with dark hair was directing a choir of school age boys in dark ties and white dress shirts. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the room. I said I just needed to find someone and promised to keep out of their way if they’d just let me through. All eyes were on me. I heard the students whispering, talking about what had just happened in the ceremony, snickering. I felt the teacher’s glare on the back of my head as I hurried by.

I passed through a door on the other side of the classroom and found myself in the back hallway of a small coffee shop. I made my way through it into the light of the coffee shop proper. To my right there was a girl reading at one of the tables, and straight ahead of me there was a man about my age working behind the counter. I walked up to the counter and explained my frustrating situation to the man; that it had been arranged that I should marry a young boy I didn’t know, that he’d never shown up, and that now I couldn’t even find the other girls I’d been with before the ceremony since they all left while I was away. He told me the same thing had happened to his boss,  a woman named Bonnie whom he spoke of with great affection. He said she owned the coffee shop and had been engaged to be married to one of these four brothers as well even though she had a good thirty years on even the eldest of them. He said she hadn’t even shown up herself.

Knowing that, it suddenly all seemed so silly now. So forgettable. Knowing I wasn’t alone, and that the situation could’ve been even more bizarre, did so much to soothe my worry as I gratefully accepted the fact that I hadn’t gotten stuck in something horrible and so could go back to normal life at my own pace.

I thanked the man and turned to leave when somehow I found myself talking to him on my cell phone. He was so pleasant, so friendly, such a change from these strangers I kept running into who didn’t know me, who made plans about my life on my behalf, and who then disappeared before I could get any satisfactory resolutions to my concerns. He felt like a friend.

We hadn’t been talking long when the man asked if I’d come over the next morning before work for some gum.

“Gum?” I laughed.

“Yeah, you know. Just– come on over before work and hang out. It’ll be fun. I’m afraid all I’ve got on me is gum so it’s all I can offer.” I could hear him smiling.

“…the lamb was sure to go.”

While still talking to him on my cell phone I wandered back down the hall I’d first entered at the shop and saw a door that was open just a crack. Through that gap I saw I had reached the shop’s office, and there inside was the guy I was talking to seated at the desk, talking to me and grinning. I opened the door and said it was just too hard to meet before work but would he like to hang out now? He said he would and suggested he could show me around the building. On our little tour we came upon a mysteriously cavernous storage room, like a warehouse designed by Mark Danielewski. My new friend called me over to see a red toy piano he’d found and excitedly began dinging out songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Several keys were missing, however, so none of the songs sounded quite right and we ended up not staying very long.

Before I knew it we were back at the outside door of the shop and I was saying I needed to head home. I realized I held in my hands a white piece of paper and a yellow CD I’d picked up in the warehouse. I handed them back to the man saying I didn’t even realize I’d taken them when he offered to walk me to my car. Thrilled to have finally found a friend in a dream I said yes. We walked outside into a bright summer day where I discovered we were near a harbor full of sailboats. The surrounding park was dotted with children on bicycles, sun bathers, and ice cream stands. It was idyllic. I never wanted to leave.

When life gives you tomatoes…

As we walked my new friend offered me a few pre-cut bites of tomato so sweet and ripe his fingers were dripping with juice and seeds. It wasn’t something I’d normally eat as a snack, but I was so happy for the company and the beautiful day I accepted a few pieces and popped the first one into my mouth. It was sweet, and melted on my tongue like soft chocolate. We kept walking, laughing, trying to talk between bites.

As we neared a line of trees separating the park from the rows of cars that were our ultimate destination, I found I couldn’t talk around the tomato at all now. As I’d chewed it had begun to swell, mutton-like, in my mouth with each bit, and had lost its pleasant flavor to the point where it tasted like nothing at all. I turned my back to my friend so I could spit my current piece out into the grass. He didn’t mind; he just laughed.

He asked if we could meet again and I was suddenly overcome with sadness because I knew we couldn’t. I wracked my brain for ways to make it work, half aware I was dreaming and so this was impossible, half confident this was reality and there was no good reason I couldn’t return. I smiled, said I’d try. “But you shouldn’t wait for me,” I explained, feeling like a heel for not being honest with him by admitting I’d never be here again.

He thanked me for our nice afternoon and asked if he could give me a kiss goodbye; I nearly cried. “Of course,” I said. He gave me a a quick kiss, smiled, and turned to walk back through the park to the coffee shop. I kissed the back of his shoulder as he took his first step away, turned towards my car, and forced myself awake.

For Ms. Rea: A Dream


Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bumblebee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening

I dreamt last night that all of my ex-boyfriends’ girlfriends, fiances, and wives were named Amy. I understood this was so I would be so confused about who was who that I would ultimately have to  ignore them rather than continue to fret over the fact so many have so perfectly filled the gaps created by my absence.

And I do think about that. Not all the time, but more than I should. On a scale of 1 to eternity it’s really pretty inconsequential, no? But just the same: Once upon a time I thought I’d’ve found or been found by now. Or at least had someone to help pay for the groceries.

Thank you mom, dad, Mimi, Becca, James, Matthew, Debi and Ben for helping pay for the groceries last summer. I’ll never forget that. And I’ll never slip and call you Amy.

I dreamt last night that I was going to write in my blog about this odd dream I was having. I went into the dining room of a house I don’t know and sat down at a computer that wasn’t mine in an attempt to dump as many details as possible before I forgot them all. No sooner had I begun typing than Teller (of Penn & Teller) ran up behind me and began laughing in my  ear while running his left hand over the keys, adding extraneous letters to jumble my words. Lots of “m”s, “j”s and “h”s. I tried pushing him away so I could finish writing before I forgot everything, but he very kindly told me to let it go, that I shouldn’t be so worried about not being wanted right now.

I knew he was right, but I was so frustrated at not being able to capture the dream’s details on paper that I walked away, leaving behind a dining room now filled with people I didn’t know and to whom I bore no ties.

Miss Susie had a tugboat, the tugboat had a bell. Miss Susie went to heaven...

Miss Susie had a tugboat, the tugboat had a bell...

I then dreamt I was on an old tug boat anchored in a small harbor in Door County, WI. The boat was made entirely of rotting, unpainted wood that had gone black with age. The chains holding it to the bottom of the lake were so strong, and so tightly fixed, that the vessel barely moved as the clear, gray lake lapped at its decaying hull. The dock surrounding it came up so close on all sides that I asked of no one in particular how it was even possible to turn the ship back out onto open water.

This boat doesn’t go out into open water anymore.

So what am I doing here?

This is your new office, Ruth. A false floor will be laid over the deck to keep out the chill when winter comes, though it will still be icy cold through your shoes, but that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it? There will be a desk for you to work at, and a tall, brown, leather chair for you to sit in, and it will be comfortable just for you since you can never disembark.

But I don’t think I want this dying boat to be my office, especially not this far north when winter comes, especially not forever.

You’ll come to enjoy it.

Not everyone gets a boat, you know.