Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dear Judgy McJudgerson,

It's true, we all judge.  You seem to feel all people are judgmental, so I wish to note a distinction between appraisal and judgement.  We greet each other and various situations with biological instinct, myriad social and cultural ideas, and personal experience.  We use these to evaluate people and situations.  This period of appraisal helps us decide how we feel, what we think, how we might act.   It is often a short route to judgement.  The opinion is formed, and we carry on accordingly.  Some circumstances require a steady stream of appraisal with thousands of judgements, big and small, filling in it's dimensions.  In the best of times we leave each other a little room.  

Figure it out,
The D.L.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dear ghosts of violence past,

Where are we? East 76th? 77th? I know Jill and I passed Hodge on the way to her house. We talk on the right-side porch of it's narrow worker's frame. She may be chewing something.

The street fills with a rush of bodies. Jill's father (only remembered sighting) steps out of the screen door behind us. Her brothers are in the fist of men, and they fight suddenly, fiercely in the relative quiet of the afternoon. Our hearts pounded faster with their hearts as they pounded each other, waving their arms clumsily, but often, with cruel and meaty contact. Jill's father passes us, walks into the center of this throng and it seems for a moment that everything inside that circle of men is waving, showing itself slowly, showing it's circular patterns. It's musical arcs. Her mother opens the door in her suspicious, straight-backed way. Her shoulders slump. She is completely closed and a little electric. She looks thickly smooth, golden.

A nail poking through thin board hisses, and flattens the time shift. The nail finds an ear, tears through, pulls- it bleeds. We touch our ears. Jill's mother runs forward and the face of the lost ear blurs.

Enough! More dreams of flying.
The D.L.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dear magic pie lady,

I was driving west on Waterloo when you appeared on the roadside at your card table with a sign reading 'Homemade Pies.' Six little pies rowed neatly around your table's center. They were $2.99 each which seemed funny in a 'you are super adorable!' way. As you approached me the sun lit your face, and the dark cropped hair curling around your head. The look in your eyes was incredible-- how I imagine a seasoned lioness basking at her day's end might, or a tree-covered autumn hill seen past a blazing valley. Gorgeous, glowingly warm, all at once intimate and impenetrable.

I said 'What kind of pie is it?', and you responded 'Sweet potato.'
I said I would like three, please.

Woman, it felt like you put a balm on my heart. Like honey into hot tea. Shocking. It felt religious. A gift of beautiful love seen in the flesh. Thank you.

Your balm wears away, but today it was there again in a deer rustling along the edge of my woods, a bird lit in flight, the same bird on a tree branch, the strange gorgeous rust of fall's decay brightly lit with gilded leaves.

Sweet potato.
That's all she said.

Thanks again for the pie.

The D.L.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dear number two (RLoTD),

You were the one that really pushed the terrifying envelope. Brav-o (said like a Heather). Longest dream with hardest-dying villain ever!

In the beginning of this dream I am sleeping in a room that seems cobbled together from (what feels like) a few significant past bedrooms. There is someone standing near the door, behind me and to my right. I try to wake my husband up, but he tosses and fights to dispel sleep. His reactions are sludgy and sand-footed. His friend Chris comes in (!) from the other room (also at a crawl), and a panicked, frenzied cloud lies between us and the intruder. The cloud is literal though vaporous. Colors move through it in little flashes. The nightmare man is enormous. A total cartoon imagining of a giant dude-- unbelievably tall, thickly muscled, but not to the point of helpful slowness. Rough edged but sharp. Pretty calm, almost happy.

I say, among many things 'Who are you?,' and 'What are you doing here?'
He replies 'I am the rapist.'

I'm not sure if I say 'What?' out loud at this point, or am on a loop of repeating this and the above queries. He repeats, with slightly more pressure 'I am the rapist.' I am convinced of his honesty. A closet door divides us, and is open with photographs pasted to the raised wood outline. Each photograph disappears just before enough recognition for memory, but the form of an old friend stays on one. Her face smiles, then looks worried, then afraid. I look at the rapist, and we start the battle.

The rapist and I grapple unendingly, with occasional outbursts from my husband or Chris. His strength is ridiculous, and my furious arms struggling against him stop dead with fear every few seconds. We each try battering him, but he just keeps fighting along at the same pace, not tiring, not stopping. The head has been blunted with heavy objects, the midsection pummeled, the throat punched, the eye gouged, the face beaten. The melee spills into a large open kitchen. At some blissful point the police have been called, and run up the stairs like we're filming a speakeasy raid scene for some thirties gangster movie. Police fire on the rapist but he only staggers for a moment. I take a knife from the block as he comes toward me undeterred by his many bullet wounds. At this point in the dream it occurs to me that the phrase 'the rapist' is used to much comic effect as the word for 'therapist' in the prodigiously talented Maria Bamford's series The Maria Bamford Show. Though this is a very interesting development a satisfactory exploration is not forthcoming (ha ha).

In a room full of the previously able-bodied we carry on unhindered. This is when the stabbing happens. I stab the rapist in the back repeatedly, in a loose, frowny parenthesis of strokes. The knife changes intermittently (not the K-BAR! too scary! too unwieldy! This chef's knife is huge!) before settling on remaining a switchblade. Much better. Small, sharp, easy to cut deeply. Ugh. He drags himself along the floor with me on top of him trying to choke him out.

The last thing I remember is having his head cradled in my arms, speaking softly into his ear 'It's o.k. Please. Let go. Let go. I'm sorry. I'm sorry,' and the like over and over while i choked him. The feeling of intimacy was deep, and carried incredible sadness.

How's that for liberation?
Well, no rest for the weary,
The D.L.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dear Clarion Group,

Please stop sending me your propaganda.  You are making me ill.  See:

Your films fall on deaf(end) ears.  
Eek, dudes/lady dudes.  

The. D.L.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear number one in a recent lineup of terrifying dreams,

So. I am supposed to take my grandmother to visit her neighbor Gus at the new house he is building in the wilds of eastern Ohio. For some reason, this fills me with inexplicable dread. Child-style dread-- like when you had no words for what was coming, but knew it anyway. The night before our drive I dream of being in a shadowy compound where helpless young girls are captive to some terrible, unseen person, or persons. The girls are all bound at the wrist, hands tied behind their slender backs, held in gloomy cells, coops, or packed earth-floored rooms with no windows. No light.

In this dream my arms are bloodied from previous struggles. I move quickly, and the scenes change with frantic speed. My trusty switchblade cuts the rope from each of their tiny wrists, and I whisper for them to follow me, to run. It is too realistic, so urgent that I free them that I stumble along in a pathless frenzy. When they turn their faces to me I cannot see them clearly, they become only roped wrists and giant eyes. It is as though Henry Darger is illustrating my most primal fears. I am convinced that this drive must be taken armed.

The next day, my grandmother and I follow Gus' perfect directions. The latter part of the drive is filled with the intense certitude of inevitable discovery. On our paths final road a compound appears on my right, but my grandmother is talking about dinner already. There are no signs of peril, only a single truck at the end of a tree-lined drive. We come to the house Gus is building in his woods. He isn't there yet. His dog runs around us in the car. A cat sleeps on bales of hay, then disappears. We take turns peeing at the edge of his woods. I treat our bodies with insect repellent. The house is lovely. Thick planks of lumber dovetail at its corners. Gus arrives and we chat. He and I each drink a beer. Oma wants to eat, so we head to town for what turns out to be a gorgeous meal at a fantastic diner. Pictures of 4H kids and their sows line the walls. Oma wants to head home. As we pass the dance hall on our way back out of the nearest town, I wonder what had me so frightened. We stop at someone's roadside stand for tomatoes, beets, and honey.

Though my subconscious is usually unbearably obvious, it takes all of this proof to show me exactly whose hands I was freeing. Whose wrists were felt bound. I am grateful no one had to bleed.

With sympathy for the unsure,
The D.L.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dear Dad,

I know-- It's been years. However, the whole "... and the climate in Spain is more agreeable than Britain's'' is just not enough to establish a true and open level of communication regarding your disappearance. How about starting with "I left you children, and I'm sorry." That would be nice. What would work the best for us is another reminder that fairness does not exist. We were left delusional-- thinking that will could take us far enough. As my dear friend Karen states about re-incarnation-- that would perpetuate the idea that life is fair-- and my expectations are pretty low. Life is not fair. Life can be cloudy, and far less potent than you imagined. It's beauty lies in fragrant details, in vastness and endless gifts, but not so much in detrimental opacity.

They are so low that the work I have to do to get your attention again seems like more effort than it's reward. Is it? Shall I chase you to your idyllic residence in Spain? Should my sisters write, and wait for an answer-- like girls in love? If you have felt unsure, after these long years of ambiguity, were you sure enough to ask these questions: What is my responsibility here? Are these my children? What do I want? Have I tried? You have had plenty of time, and I say that with generosity of spirit.

If your audience is willing, it's not so much to ask for simple truths. These are questions you have presented to the world-- take responsibility for them. Of course it is awful-- we do awful things. Recognition is one of the only things I can think of that ever changes that. So many people I know-- in pain-- could be consoled by such recognition. It appears that it is not a good idea to leave a person with longing. Longing turns into other things-- it becomes self-worth, becomes identity, becomes recognition. Becomes longing.

At least tell my sisters of your sorrows, of your inability to speak. It probably isn't it enough that you have removed yourself so surgically-- now you have the honor of position, as well. Of dialogue. Of need. It sickens me to think of them waiting for a kind word from you. Real sickening-- lost opportunity, lost narrative-- forgoing an explanation that shouldn't be so difficult.

Step up to the plate, dude. It's not so hard. Here's how it goes: 'I wanted a different life. I found it. I abandoned you.' That's all, right? Sure, your intentions may have been different-- but you did it-- it's over, the bomb long gone off near the center. Surgery changes the shrapnel, nothing changes the bomb.

Sadly, we are still waiting,