Posted by Erin on 14th August 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

The visitor woke me up today by pushing her head against my back.  When i rolled over she nudged my arms, and hands and then pushed her head under my chin..

(right now, as i type this, she’s resting her head on my arm and purring and gazing up at me)

photo-28

she seems pretty happy with all the snuggling.  She has lost some of her austerity in her eagerness for my attention..which is fine!photo-211

Picasso was put out by the whole thing so she got up from her perch in the corner to sit on my other side, meowing injuredly and with protest but not actually hissing..just a lot of back turning

 here is the tip of Picasso's tail as she snubs us.

here is the tip of Picasso's tail as she snubs us.

The visitor

Posted by Erin on 6th August 2009 in Erin's Thoughts
The visitor

The visitor

At first she only came while we slept. Leaving quietly when we stirred. Recently she started to poke her head in at random times during the day and evening, as though she was checking on our status – if the environment did not intrude on her silence and solitude then she would stop to share the space with us calmly and freely…but if we were not suitable in our frame of mind i could see the assessment forming in her slow-blinking eyes, the adjustments in her body, slowly looking around for comparisons…and eventually her exit.

so her time here feels like a blessing.  and receiving the blessing just once makes me want to have a wide-open welcoming heart all the time. Just in case she shows up again. I would have made the kind of space that’s suitable for her.  even without ever really knowing why she comes or why she leaves.

And especially enticing to me is Picasso’s total lack of reaction (whose ear you can see in the bottom left of the picture peaking over the edge of the blanket).  Picasso who growls at us if she feels we’ve interrupted her by coming home.  Who whines if we disturb her rest.  who hisses at other cats without much provocation.  This same Picasso stays in her vulnerable napping pose inches from the visitor, unmoved.  My imagination feels glee at the possible hidden meanings of this.

the mystery makes it all so beautiful and meaningful.

A message carried so elegantly – aren’t all hearts looking for the appropriate environment to open up in?

She starts to take steps closer to me as I type, maybe my appreciation has inspired her to snuggle  me, but then we hear footsteps outside and she decides instead to hide under the patio in the back….i wonder, now, if she is always that close by, waiting for the right sort of stillness in order to visit.

Posted by Erin on 23rd July 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

I am in love with this summer.

The humidity sharing space with rain-cooled air, it’s lips lightly pressed to my skin.  The sun has been kept humble and the clouds have been fair so that i am unsuffocated by heat or gloom or light or wet but all blend together so that i feel loosely kept – wanted the exact perfect amount to feel loved but never constrained.  And some unnamed piece of my soul is mirrored each day in the days shades, it’s unhurried pace, it’s soothing tones.  A similarity so clear that I yearn to describe it, but so meaningful that I can’t.

It’s not a gushy, giddy love.   but a  smoldering, hushed-tones love.  Carried out in the depths of your heart for none to see.

A love whose glances slip out secretly from under long eyelashes and whisper over his body  before dissipating like smoke in the air.

Sensing this summer’s imminent presence on my skin, my hair raises softly, and then I hear him rustling leaves that sound like rain  and my mouth gets dry and but I stay quiet to receive him.

It’s the feeling of love before anything at all happens yet I am crushingly thrust outside any normal sense of time or place, knowing we will never meet or speak outloud. The only instrument of love I have are my senses and I fling them out to meet him.

All that there is of this love are my senses returning to me filled up.

Welcoming

Posted by Erin on 21st July 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

the sounds of the day stirring brought me awake in those freshest moments when you can smell the dew in the air and nothing has quite happened yet to determine the course of the day – a  glorious and unfettered liminal space.  I find it a perfect time to collect myself as I most desire.  A day can feel like an entity unto itself to me and if each day could be personified, that being would visit in the early, not-quite hours and make itself available for communion.  Some part of me seeks to discuss what sorts of things would make the best use of that day as though we could work in tandem to accomplish anything as long as i don’t miss those ephemeral moments.

I woke up in the same position I remember falling asleep in, which is rare and allows me  a sense of relaxation I don’t often get.  A stillness in my limbs and an overall sense of restfulness that makes it a physical pleasure to lie still and breathe – in  no hurry to stretch or start.

The first light was diffused by a thin, light layer of cloud leaving not only just enough light to notice that alongside my waist and thigh a very soft and comfortable cat that i didn’t recognize had fallen asleep. But also not too much light to break the misty spell of finding a stray animal peacefully curled up next to your body for warmth and possible comfort.  The sort of light that lets you believe that you’ve managed to slip into an otherworld while in your sleep and as long as your mind doesn’t move too much and your body stays calm and the light stays thin you will remain.

I leave my bedroom window open so my cat, Picasso, can let herself in and out as she pleases and the size of the bedroom means that the foot of my bed meets the window ledge conveniently for traveling animals.
it wasn’t the new cat’s first visit.  I’ve seen her in the yard at a distance.  and the night before last she wandered inside but got spooked before she got to rest and i was shocked awake by her sudden weight by my head and her claws on my arm as she landed on the bed before dashing out the window letting me catch only a sleepy glimpse of her face.

I sat up to pet her and she came awake, meowing brightly and rubbing her head around my body and nuzzling my neck and curling up in my arms very much at ease now that she’d had her night’s sleep in a warm bed.

As the sky got brighter I could see that she had crossed eyes and one was particularly milky. She had a smoky color to her, like a siamese cat, with long hair and patches on her cheeks that made her nose look narrow and her expression alert.   her joints seemed a bit stiff and her body on the gaunt side of things.

Foxy, the dog, sat curiously at the side of the bed hoping to catch a sniff and picasso sat wary and irritated on her perch in the corner attempting to purchase bed space somehow near me but not near our intruder, ungraciously resigned to sharing her domain and affection with yet another animal more genial and cuddly than she.

I let the gentle swell of the day rock me back to sleep and when my husband came home later in the morning he found three heads peaking to see who it was and none of them was mine.  Although the sudden noise of the door and entrance of someone new scared her out the window I was glad that she’d had a safe harbor for a night and hoped she’d feel welcome again – although i couldn’t speak for picasso more inclined to hiss and moan than welcome and foxy, who i think means well, but doesn’t understand that chasing is not a particularly sensitive way to encourage friendship between animals of other cultures and so while she returned after my husband left again Picasso and Foxy made short work of the visit and I haven’t seen her around again.

But something more than a cuddly visit appeals to me about this.  The idea of being a haven, both in myself and in my home resonates with me.  In this particular way.  I didn’t set out looking for an abandoned heart or stray cat – it found me.  and when it did I didn’t set about fixing it or figuring it out or any other grand response – I didn’t have the chance to make it about me or what I was giving away because I was sleeping and it was welcome in the simplest possible way.  By just being allowed to be there in the space it chose for it’s own reasons (left unknown to me).

There is a welcoming which is solicited and efforted – well-intended but yearning for someone or something to welcome…and there are welcomes which are begrudging and offered after the fact and more in between and I feel those sorts often.  This one was special to me in that instead of being the force behind it, I was simply another ingredient. It is such a great way to feel a sense of harmony to just be another part of something before my ability to deliberate creeps in to try and navigate myself to the center  as the cause again.

I would like it to be true that the deity of a fresh day could often call on me to be a simple part of welcoming the lost or left who may then evaporate with the dew in that magically temporary way.

Posted by Erin on 28th May 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

Oh, Pages.

You call me out of my rain-soaked reveries in urgent tones.  So I come and you stare at me blankly.  This is rude, you know.

I am always happy to have a conversation with you – perhaps you would like to hear the stories the rain told me this morning – all thunderously dramatic, punctuating itself with lightening flashes and well-placed crescendoes of rain.  A storm sure can tell a rivetting tale.

Or perhaps you are more interested in the moth who found herself clinging to my walls when she meant to be clinging to a tree.  She fluttered chaotically around and around, which of course was nothing but tantalizing for our poor kitty.  The moth finally decided to rest on the wall space just above my head while we slept – probably to wait out the storm and thwart the cat. This morning as I sipped my coffee she flitted around the table landing on each little thing around me perhaps giddy to find herself alive, perhaps she’s just chatty.

The sky is ever so committed to rain today and I was, in turn, committed to listen to it fall, and learn a thing or two.  So, if you please dear Pages, kindly leave my attention in peace unless you have something blindingly brilliant to share.

Yours most truly,

E.

Posted by Erin on 28th March 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

My street ends in a bridge that crosses a river and leads to a park where the trees have branches that hang so low they sweep the grass with their leaves.

When they have leaves.

No day is only ordinary when you have to follow this path to accomplish your task.  Whether it’s to buy food or a pair of new shoes or do laundry I must cross the bridge, go over the river, and through the park.

If I *must* leave, that is.  Today there are no tasks – which is more magical.

There are stray bits of dry grass and leaf, earth clumps, tiny stones and pet hair sprinkled all over the floor but we are not concerned.  It is much more urgent and appropriate to open the door as wide as it goes and let spring invade us, investigating the state of our dwelling and judge us worthy or not.  And if we are, spring will thrive in our corners and join us for morning tea and celebrate with us by growing and we will be unable to imagine our days without this and may never sweep again.

Posted by Erin on 11th March 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

The moon is haunting me.  hazy and veiled and strangely bright and perfectly framed in my bedroom window – lighting up the sky enough to make the outlines of the rooftops distinct in the dark.

It was a productive enough day.  i managed to organize the kitchen to actually *look* clean – something i hadn’t fully accomplished yet. The top of the table, the counter around the sink, the top of the stove – clear.  Cupboards and shelves – organized.  and i’m really content with that.  Moving around my space this way is divine.  I follow some sort of instinct to move this here and put that over there and when the instinct leaves me I find myself in a better place.  A whole day passes with me sitting in a room to soak in every little nuance.  To put the space to use, and then re-clean in and then sit in it again and take the perfectness of it in, the settledness, the readyness.  It’s a state of mind and space I like to use to make life decisions. Guided by an instinct to put everything in it’s place, clear the working surfaces, organize the storage spaces and then rest and be ready.  To keep it for myself to see what mysteries grow from the space between my interior and other people.
The rain kept me inside in soft, warm clothes and contentment. The candle I lit early in the afternoon still burns now at 6:21 am and I am happy to be alone with the moon now.  Having my sleep stolen from me is fitting for a full moon on the night of a spring storm.  The clouds thick, obscuring like a thief’s mask.  Clouds hanging in the air looking like billows of smoke frozen in place. The wind whipping into a froth of weather. Brewing the darkness and heavy sky into a storm.  The drama soothes me with it’s force and steadyness.  It’s pulse of lulls then rushing is like a lullaby to me.  some sort of magic is taking place, though i’m not sure who is the one performing it.

The moon has slipped down to the edges of where i can see it.  As it goes the sky gets lighter as though the moon is pulling a curtain of dark down with it.  As soon as it’s completely gone I’ll blow out the candle and lie still in the first light of the day.

Spirithelpers

Posted by Erin on 13th February 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

…I think this is a beautiful compound word.

it’s also the name of a beautiful blog

Tammie takes pictures that dance with color.  If it’s a picture of ice i feel cold, sharp, crystalized.  If there is sun or shadow or vastness she translates the sensation of it for me. She captures texture so well that I…I…oh, please let me touch it!

She considers forest mushrooms among her friends.  This makes her *my* friend. And I can imagine a tea party with a cluster of mushrooms and gentlemanly mounds of moss.

She told me 7 interesting things about herself and told me that I could tell her 7 things about me, if i felt like it.

The ’25 things about me’ meme has passed my way (via facebook) several times and I pass over it – and no answer will beat this one – which captures my reaction to it so succinctly so I was pretty sure I had nothing else to add.

I was wrong.

1. I had all the guests at my wedding plant trees. Not in a ceremonial, stand around and ‘break ground’ sort of way.  People were muddy, wheelbarrows were involved and at the end we had planted 72 trees in a native reforestation effort.

2. I lived with my husband-to-be before we were married.  Now that we’re married we live in separate apartments.

3. I’m spending the month in Brooklyn because of a theater/burlesque performance called Peg Ass Us

4. I once attended NaNoWriMo meetings for the social environment even though I didn’t write a novel.

5. I learned to make risotto from an Italian family who ran a cafe near my place so they’d have a place to eat food they liked while they were running their *actual* bailiff business.

6. I want to marry a forest.

7. my husband helped me make this list, he says he had to work hard to know all this stuff about me. His take on this meme makes me happy.

Posted by Erin on 13th February 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

The wind was ragged.  Whipping around fiercly and without course.  Like a child throwing a tantrum with no power to change the mind of a firm parent.  A loud and destructive concentration of force.

“I am myself!” the wind exerts as the people going about their day do a grand job of ignoring the show.

I grin at him and to myself.  And though it is warm, I decide to avoid the park in Brooklyn I meant to visit, in case our fondness for each other isn’t enough to stop him from dropping a tree branch on my head in his enthusiasm for this show.

I am familiar with a particular bus route.  B63.  It travels up and down 5th Ave with a detour along 4th to avoid the part of 5th Ave. that’s been dug up for more than a year.  I know how 5th Ave. changes as I travel along it. I know when it starts to turn into trendy shops and restaurants and cafe’s, when it’s getting closer to prospect park, closer to the accessible subway stop.  Knowing all this relaxes me.  I like to go to new places entirely so that I can make them familiar. I can’t help it.  I like to tame wild things to me.  When I don’t know what’s coming next I get excited for a bit, and then overstimulated, confused, and disconnected.  And then I start to know that on that next block is a cafe I like.  If I’m in the mood to sit still, be in the midst of something happening without having to participate, drink a latte and let time pass as it will – well, then I know where to, I know how to get there, I know it’s very simple.  And the pressure evaporates.  And quite likely, while I’m there something amusing and unexpected will happen to add color to my outline.

Like yesterday.

I found myself in gorilla coffee.  The counter lines one side of the space, small, square tables and wood chairs hug the other side space for 3 people deep. the middle is a narrow path where people line up to order.  Me and foxy and my vacated wheelchair took up more than our fair share of space.  People stepped over us, settled around us, gave up some of their space to us, and apologized for being clumsy.  Each table had a laptop, and each laptop was a Mac.  So I felt that I would sit here and blend in so that I could study the locals.  And chat with my own.  Hours went by of loveliness.  Perfectly like any good day, but in a foreign land.  That is most rewarding to me, achieving enough ease to have an enjoyably ordinary day in a strange place.

Then it was time.  I wanted to wander into and out of stores I’d never seen before.  clothing stores, trinket stores – one in particular with the most interesting books and crafted things.  In and out, Foxy mostly interested in how the cracks where building meets sidewalk smell.  It only took an hour before I had seen enough and was ready for something to eat.

I don’t know where I like to eat yet.  I’m the worst at deciding where to eat when I don’t know any of the options.   I passed over places that had awkward entrances, even if their menu looked good and finally decided on one entirely because the waitress came outside while I was looking at the menu and helped me in.  It was a new place.  The waiters were eager and unrehearsed.  Italian food served to me by someone who had never eaten Italian food outside his work kitchen.  I was alone and I liked the coloring of the bricks and the wood tables and the lighting and candles.  As my desert started a man joined me in the restaurant sitting at the table next to mine.  He was friendly and happy to talk.  His line of work and the work of my husband were along similiar lines which encouraged a locquaciousness in him that was entertaining.  He had been propositioned by sketchy business men earlier in the week and aside from his own wife hadn’t had an opportunity to share his thoughts on it with anybody, until me.  And I listenend happily.  Which inspired him to pay for my dinner at the end of the evening before heading off into, what sounded like, a lonely place for him.

So I headed to the bus, feeling grateful for my dinner and for being the kind of person people like to tell their stories to, for being able to give them a kind of attentiveness that is valuable.  I met a young guy in thick, black rectangular glasses, skinny jeans and a very nice tweed jacket.  He recommended the dog spa behind us and chatted about the neighborhood.  And then the wind.

“I saw someone pushed into a car by the wind today.”  Which he said calmly and casually but he shifted his body weight slightly and I waited before talking so he could go on to say: “The ambulance came and everything, it was brutal. Trying to get it out of my mind, actually – seeing somebody die just like that….well *maybe* die..”  His tone was conversational and this wasn’t an emotional confession, I was just another human being who would take a deep breath and take a moment to feel the brevity of it then brush it off with the ease of the carefree.

And then he was gone and I continued waiting for the bus.

A man stopped as he was walking past to turn around and greet foxy, who turned her face from him and gave a very good impression of a person snubbing someone they don’t want to talk to.  He hesitates, standing an awkward, nervous distance away – compelled by his urge to pet her.  pushed back by his fear.  So he looks at her and chats with me.

And then he heads off to his destination and I continued waiting for the bus.

And then a car pulls up in front of me, the passenger gets out of the back and goes into the Albanian restuarant behind me.  The driver stays in the car with his bluetooth in his ear, looking the a taxi driver in a fancy car.  It should have been a quick thing, but he waits and waits and finally the bus comes.  The car is in the spot the bus needs to pull into to let the ramp down for me.  So the bus driver starts to back up into the face of an angrily honking lady driving an SUV. The driver of the car gets out of his car to ask me if he could do anything to help me, as the bus is trying to pull of some complex manouver. The lady pulls up fast from behind the bus to park herself in front of him swearing loudly. The taxi driver gets back in his car and a passerby is sent over to his window by his wife to tell him to get out of the way.  which takes more convincing than it should have. I’m wondering why the taxi driver is so oblivious to the inconvenience he’s causing. people are yelling at each other. the bus driver is serenely ekeing out enough space to get to me. and in the midst of this the man who wanted to pet my dog walks by.

“what’s going on?”

“I don’t know, people are yelling at each other.” I shrug my shoulders “I’m sure they’ll figure it out.”

“ok. This is for you.”  He hands me a bag with a bottle of wine in it and disappears into the night.  I am not joking.

After all this I’m expecting the bus driver to be impatient with the whole ordeal. Instead he say, “took a bit to get to ya, but here you are.”

And that was that.

New York

Posted by Erin on 10th February 2009 in Erin's Thoughts

My bed is half filled with books. Tourist maps, money being set aside for an upcoming adventure, a journal in waiting, a bottle of fizzy water, hand cream, laptop, several DVD’s, and a pile of books.

Things to stimulate thought, places to keep those thoughts safe, things to nourish the body, things to comfort it.

I make these little islands of refuge everywhere i go.  without planning it, they just occur in my midst, where I sleep.  And I love them.  I can be in the most exciting place on earth (and arguably, I am) and get to a point in the day where I yearn for my bed and all the stuff it’s filled with.  Even if I carry most of it with me all packed into my bag – the comfort is in all those treats strewn around me, and me at total rest in the middle.

The ideal day involves restful, easy weather.  encouragingly warm, comfortably cool.  And I wander a bit, discovering unplanned things and feeling joy.  But never too far from my bed.  so if tiredness or weariness or stress should pool in my heart or my bones, refuge is not too far away.

Today was a day like that.  I spent most of it inside, slow and steady.  I could tell it was nice out, but not so nice i was pressured into appreciating it – just a casual invitation, no strings attached.  So eventually I joined the weather outside for a stroll.  Foxy had collected more mud in her paws that I knew what to do with and I was hoping a walk would help dry it up and slough it off.  I wore a sweater no gloves, no scarf, no shivers.

We cut through Sunset Park, the highest point in Brooklyn (I think) where I ran into a familiar face and her dog and exchanged greetings as though I was, and had been for some time, home.  I threw the stick for a while, then brushed her fur to get out more dirt and glanced out over the top of brooklyn, across the water to Manhattan.  The statue of liberty looking like a souvenir miniature in the distance.

The cafe on the corner is ‘alright’.  anything with cheese will come covered in a couple slices of kraft slices equivalent – but the staff is incredibly welcoming.  After just a week they all call foxy by name and today when I left her outside, seemed genuinely disappointed that they wouldn’t get to see her.  The girl there today generously let me walk her through the steps of making me the latte I wanted and then made polite conversation with me while they covered my french fries in gravy and fake cheese.

Which I took to go so I could sit on the stoop outside the building and have thoughts and breathe air and feel relaxed.

Something suits me about New York.  perhaps we hit on it earlier today when Erika and I were talking about the attitude of the city in a collective sense.  I was recounting a story about a guy who stopped to help me with my chair in the subway and grabbed the chair awkwardly and the bag fell off and then I went to put it on but he moved the chair to another awkward angle and I couldn’t get my balance and in the midst of figuring our choreography out he says ‘i think i’m just making things worse – i’ve interrupted your flow.’  Eventually we got it figured out and he got my chair to the top of the stairs and I followed behind feeling pretty enthusiastic about it.  No one has ever recognized the fact that interfering with a complicated process isn’t always helpful – no matter the intention.  sometimes, it’s just invasive.  He could see that he had missed a beat and just intending to be helpful wasn’t enough.  Maybe it’s the emphasis on efficiency and swiftness of the culture here, not that people aren’t willing to help, it’s just that the objective in helping is about getting something done faster and with less fuss – not about sympathy or concern – but it gives me a space to get on with my life through the best of both worlds – help enough to make it faster and more comfortable and indifference enough to go on in my own way.  No one objects to my inherent independence, no one raises a curious eyebrow at the idea of me carrying my chair awkwardly into the belly of the subway system. I don’t get clucked at or worried over and when people stop me in the streets it’s because they want to discuss Foxy, not their cousin who is also in a wheelchair and therefore they understand me.
This is all very liberating.  The sense of privacy, the respect for my independence – more than that, the *assumption* of independence, the ‘who cares’ ego of New York has made me it’s life long friend.

Having said that, traveling around is far more stressful and imposing than my quaint and comfortable life in london.  A day spent discovering new things needs to be followed by two days of recovering my courage in my bed.  However, I don’t lie in bed longing for home, only resting and organizing so that I can venture out and take in more of the personality of the city, more of it’s activities and with less confusion and feeling overwhelmed.