Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

Life Update

Friday, February 16th, 2018

I have some exciting news to share with all of you:

I am writing a book.

The first reason I want to tell you this is accountability. Telling you about my idea for a book, which has only existed within the confines of my mind for some years now, is the first step towards holding myself accountable for following through with the completion of my project. If you know about it’s existence, then I am not just letting myself down if I fail to write this book, I am also failing all of you. If I keep it a secret and fail to succeed in bringing my book to life then I am the only one who knows about the horrible creative miscarriage taking place in my mind. As such, then I am the only one to mourn the loss of something that never quite was but will always be with me. So it scares me to share this small and fragile beginning with you. Vulnerability has never been my strength, but this blog has always been for me a space where I can share the things that scare me most. And let me tell you, there is nothing scarier to me than the thought of not being able to bring life to the ideas in my mind. While the pressure created by sharing this information with you is terrifying, I truly believe it is necessary to motivate me. Failure will not be an option.

Additionally, I feel compelled to share this information because I fully believe in the power that words possess. Speaking something aloud or writing down something gives it life, agency, and autonomy to exist. To name a thing is to give it life. Saying that I am writing this book already gives my book more life than it ever had before I wrote these words. So I am going to will my book into being by letting the world know that it will happen.

Finally, I wanted to update you on this current project to inform you as to the reason I have not been posting on my blog. My mind is so full of words, half formed poetry, and stories begging to be born, but I am going to pour all of my creative energy into writing this book for the time being. I will keep posting, but I am hoping to limit the time I spend working on my blog for now in order to help focus my attention on this bigger project.

As for the book itself, I don’t want to be premature with sharing any information or excerpts quite yet, but I will give you the basics to tide you over for a little while. I am writing a psychological thriller that focuses on issues of isolation, survival, and mental illness. I am modeling the setting after the central California coastal farm land that I grew up around and love so dearly. I hope to present to you a novel that walks a thin line between natural and supernatural where the reader and the protagonist must question what is or is not in fact real. I present you with the question that has haunted me since I first began the creation of this novel: if you cannot trust what your own senses are telling you, who or what should you trust to discern reality from illusion?

Wish me luck as I begin this long process and I hope to have more to share with you all soon!

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Feathery Hope

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

A fragile and feathery hope grows in my chest
It tickles my ribcage and brushes against my cheeks
Like the kiss of a bird’s wing as it takes flight.
The moment suspended
Between the weight of the world
And the unburdened sky.

Small and tender hearted
This alien thing grows inside of me.
At night I feed it quietly with whispered dreams
And words I am too afraid to say aloud.
I do not yet know whether it will become
Friend or foe to me as it grows.

My mind crushes it slowly with sharp edges
Predicted in the cloudy sphere
Of crystal balls and etched lines in overworked palms.
But still at night, when the lights have disappeared
It is just me and the nascent hope
Evolving to be something more than me.

I refuse to let it die but only acknowledge it
In moments of secrecy stolen between
Sorrow and high-soaring ecstasy.
If I look it in the eye and declare its name
It may just consume me whole
Before I know how to control the chaos it brings.

I know I have been unfair to you
Born of such happiness and light
But forced to be a creature of darkest night;
I made you into this monster
Out of the fear that if I held you too tight
You would disappear faster than a bird taking flight.

Now you are with me forever
Etched into every bone
Like the words of a love letter
That never found a heart to call home.
This ribcage you once inhabited
Transformed into a cage you will never escape.

I feel you waking up again
Testing the limits of your confines
With a wingspan broader than the horizon.
I hear you tapping against my bones
A morse code warning of all we could be
Or a threat that soon you may break free.

My chest creaks under the pressure of your presence
Small yet persistent, this fragile thing
Begins to break through my bones
Like a flower growing through the cracks in the pavement
Yearning for the sun’s light and fresh air.
I can contain you no longer.

Will this creature be beautiful or broken?
Maybe it will be a bit of both.
Heavy with my whispered dreams and secret hopes
Will it be able to take flight?
My fragile and feathery hope takes wing
Leaving me behind to wonder at our small destiny.

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Hive Mind

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

The bees have infested my brain again
Rattling around within my skull
Like a ricochet bullet
Unwilling to settle on damaging a single target.
They fill my mind with vibrations
like a tremor behind my eyes
Like a precursor pressure
Waiting to crack open my head
When the real earthquake hits
Releasing the infestation of my mind
Upon the world that was never prepared
For this devastation that I have lived with
Everyday like a close companion
Or a haunting voice whispering in your ear
Words you do not want to hear.

The sound of silence is alien to me,
I would not know how to live without
The pressure built up behind my eyes.
Living like a ticking time bomb
Dangerous and frightening but existing
So close to death it makes you more alive
In the end, In the end, In the end
The monster you live with becomes tolerable
Because it is your monster, your pain personified
So you can give your struggle a name.
Transform your enemy into the tangible
Since a battle can only be won
When your opponent is real,
Otherwise you are fighting an endless war
Between you and yourself
Where everyone loses and the fight is your life.

I am the Queen of the hive in my mind
But my own swarm holds me hostage
Encasing me in sweet tasting honey
And lulling me to sleep with the rhythm
Of their hypnotic song;
Entranced by the foot soldiers of an army
I never chose to lead
I cannot escape the buzzing inside my brain
Because we are now two parts of one entity.
They are as much a part of me now
As a mosquito trapped in amber
Fossilized for all of eternity
A trinket of mortified antiquity;
You cannot set them free without breaking
The beautiful creation we became.

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Jagged Edges

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

The jagged edges of me
Clash up against fluidity;
Unrelenting shattering.
Shards of ice caught
Between land and sea
Where lines blur to reveal
Snow blankets everything.
Only the tall stand above
The war of attrition
Between the changing tides
And the bedrock beneath.

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Elysium Red

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Virgin snow collapses under a heavy foot
Like sand washed away from a steep embankment
By waves impatient of passing time.
Footprints dug deep below the surface
Only to be covered by the next snowfall;
Man lacks permanence in a place such as this.

Translucent diamonds fall from the soft blue sky
Sharp and glinting in sunlight
That offers no warmth or respite from biting winds.
Tree limbs grow heavy with new white robes
Bowing before the might of Winter
With sideways eyes on far away Spring.

He pulls his feet from the earth
Only to plunge them instantly back into the deep;
An endless repetition of slow but sure
Forward progress that breaks the line
Between man’s land and Nature’s untouched garden.
The trail he treads marks a boundary line
Many have approached, but few have overcome.

A chill runs down his spine leaving his hair
Standing at attention without reason;
Caught between Winter’s grip and something
More primal that calls to the heart
Dragging the modern into the primitive mind of fear.
How small we become when we realize
The world is not ours to inhabit –at least not ours alone.

The twig snaps like a leg caught in a hunter’s trap,
He halts and listens with attentive ears.
The sound of Winter’s silence echoes loudly
Even a breath would disturb the crisp air
Cracking it like thin ice with the slightest exhale –
Dead silence reigns here, disrupted
Only by the sound of softly falling snow.

He turns again to continue down the path he chose
Only to again feel the haunting of the unknown
Creeping up behind him, wearing the silence like a cloak
Shrouded in mystifying white and revealed only by instinct
Felt acutely by the hunted when they have been marked as prey.
He knows he is followed by the ghost of something
But cannot name the adversary walking in his shadow.

A flash of red jumps out of the colorless scenery
Existing only on the periphery of sight
As the blurry edged undefined and unrelenting embodiment
Of all that leaves man powerless and afraid.
A phantom dancing just beyond what the eye can see
But the mind remembers as a timeless enemy.

As the man turns once more to seek out the sound stalking him
He is faced with the nothingness of a barren landscape
And his own footprints marring the pristine face of the wilderness;
Except now the first evidence of pursuit is present:
Laid atop his tracks stood the careful footprints of another,
But no sign of the creature that left them behind.

Whirling around to face forward once more
Hoping to escape the encroaching presence
Only to be confronted with the intense yellow eyes of his pursuer.
Standing in the path before him, a red tailed fox –
Royal coat, piercing eyes, black tipped ears keenly listening
Blocked the man’s path with the towering presence
Of a primal Queen who’s dominion has been challenged.

Frozen in place by the sudden appearance of this image of majesty,
Man stands facing the wild
Not knowing whether to continue his journey or turn away.
The fox tilts its head from side to side with curiosity,
Listening to the sound of one who once belong here
But was lost to another world long ago.
Not knowing whether he be friend or foe
She takes a cautious step forward.

She walks atop the snow, gliding gracefully forward
Her movements sound like the swaying of the trees.
The man slowly reaches out his ungloved hand toward the red spirit
She hesitates, paw hanging midair, head tilting to listen
Hearing his heart as it beats thunderously in his chest.
So close, the man stretches farther locked in her lightning eyes
When just as suddenly as she appeared, into the periphery she vanishes.

Left with hand outstretched, slowly filling with snowflakes
Gently kissing his open palm regretfully
The man is left haunted by the red ghost that almost felt real
If only he could have touched it and held it close
For a moment longer than Eternity.
Instead, the silence of winter surrounds him once more
And the Elysium he glimpsed returns to the realm of myth.

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Remembering Jacob DiNoto

Friday, January 5th, 2018

My heart aches today. I do not know how to put this pain into words, but I will try because there is so much that needs to be said. Death darkened the doorway of a family too young for devastation and took a wonderful man who had only begun living. Jacob Dinoto was my friend, the husband of my best friend, and the father of two incredible daughters I am proud to call my nieces. One year ago today he passed away suddenly and tragically, survived by his wife Mackenzie and his two young girls, one of whom was yet to be born.

In many ways, I fail to find the correct words to describe this feeling because the pain is not my own. I cannot lay claim to this grief even though it tears at my heart and wearies my soul. I know how dreadfully Jacob’s family misses him and the grief of struggling to understand his premature death burdens both his family back in Connecticut and his new family in California. The death of a person so young cannot be justified, especially when they have so much life left to live. But I cannot speak for his family, I cannot speak for Mackenzie or her children, I can only share my memories of Jacob in the hopes that my own struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible may help others facing the same uphill battle. My words cannot be sufficient to encapsulate the pain of Jacob’s death, but I hope they can bring back a piece of the light that Jacob shared with everyone he encountered in life.

When I first met Jacob, honestly, he frightened me. He was dating my best friend who meant the world to me and I would do anything to protect. I did not know him, he was from an entirely different world than mine (or so I thought), he was blunt, intense, and unknown to me. I worried for my dear friend who felt like the closest thing to an angel this world has ever seen, but only because I didn’t realize then what I know now: Jacob was a breathe of light just like her but encased in a different coating.

After I got to know Jacob I realized the truth, that he was an intense man, but only because he loved so fiercely. He loved Mackenzie with an intensity that inspired me. Not only that, but he loved everyone who came into his life with a strength unparalleled. Both he and Mackenzie taught me how to be a good friend by providing a perfect model to follow. Their kindness, generosity, honesty, and genuine passion for the people around them inspired me then and will always motivate me to try to love others with the same ferocity they showed me.

If I can do one thing as an honorary auntie to Jacob’s children, I hope that it is to show his girls the same love both he and Mackenzie showed me.

I want them to know how hilarious and genuine he was in everything he did. Like when he dressed up fancy just to go to different bakeries in San Francisco on the hottest day in the city’s records. Or how we would stay up late into the night discussing conspiracy theories and laughing the night away over games of Scrabble. 

The last time I saw Jacob was his wedding party just short of a week before he passed away. We all had so much fun that night celebrating Jacob and Mackenzie’s love, their future, and their children’s future. Even after the party was over, we spent the night laughing and singing Queen on the karaoke machine. We had so many plans, so many conversations about adventures soon to be had, places we had to visit, and things we were going to do together that would never happen.

The night he died I heard the news while I was sitting in a bar in Berkeley, just a few doors down from where we had once shared drinks. I took the train home like a zombie with tears streaking down my face. I didn’t care who saw me, I don’t even remember walking home from the train station, all I could think of was how could this possibly be?

I sat in my car and cried so hard I got sick. I beat my hands against the steering wheel and the ceiling screaming at how unfair, how impossibly unfair this was to him, to his family, to his wife, his children, and all of the people he would never get to meet. I have never been so angry before in my life than the night I learned Jacob was no longer a part of this world. I was angry at him, at God, at Death for daring to take him, and at everyone else in the world, including myself, for getting to live when someone as desperately in need of living as Jacob, was robbed of his life at only twenty four years old.

I am still mad. I sometimes sit in my car looking at the dents in the steering wheel where my nails cut into it and feel that grief rising up in my throat like bile. Now, however, the anger never lingers long. Because after all of the sadness and the pain, I remember his two little girls. I remember how much he gets to live in them.

When baby Rosemary was born I spent the night with Mackenzie in the hospital and held Rosie all night long. Late that night when Mackenzie was asleep, and it was just me and Rosie awake under the soft light of a hospital TV, I spoke to Jacob. I told him how much Rosie looked like him, especially when she furrowed her eyebrows just like he always did. I told him how his children would always know what an amazing man he was. I told him how much it hurt me that it was me there at the hospital holding his daughter instead of him. I told him how grateful I was that he came into our lives even though he left us too early and how grateful I was that he was able to have two wonderful daughters who would carry a piece of him everywhere they went.

The fact that Jacob never got to meet Rosie breaks my heart beyond what words can express. But I am so grateful to have both her and Bella in my life. Without Jacob, I never would have been so blessed by his amazing children.

This last year has been so incredibly hard, but in so many ways, Mackenzie and Jacob and their children have been the only thing that got me through some of my darkest times. The joy they bring me is ineffable and the love they have taught me will always be in my heart.

Even though it has been a year since Jacob’s death, I feel like I get to see him every day in some small way whenever I get to see his kids. The pain may never fade and my heart breaks for Mackenzie and all of those he left behind, but I am just so incredibly grateful to have ever met him.

I miss you every day my friend, thank you for the gift of your presence, and I hope to show your girls just a little bit of the love I know you would have given them.

If you are interested in donating money to help Mackenzie and her two young children live life after the loss of Jacob feel free to contribute to the GoFundMe page dedicated in his memory: In Memory of Jacob DiNoto

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Small Life Grows Here

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Be careful where you tread
Small life grows here.
Fragile yet persistent
Chances of success
Wax and wane constantly.
Look closely
Don’t miss the tiny opportunity
To witness something
Greater than yourself.
A tree can grow
With roots born from stone.

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Posted in Photos, Poetry |

Silence Awful and Sublime

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
– John Muir

Fewer words ring truer in my mind than John Muir’s transcendental musings on nature, the wilderness of this world, and the triad connection between man, the outdoors, and the universe.

For me, Winter arrives with a contemplation as a companion every year. There is something about snow, the coldness of winter, and the stripping down of life to its raw bones that always leaves me in awe. In many ways I am gladly forced into this state of introspection during this time of year; it is during these times that Muir returns to me again and again as I confront the devastating beauty of the natural world.

Places like this tree tunnel in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Houghton humble me to my core. Standing beneath the tall pines and snow covered trees listening to their moaning cracks as they sway in the breeze, I feel so small yet emboldened by the proximity to such grandiosity. The creaking song of wind blown trees is the only sound I can hear for miles. Silence reigns supreme when the world is held in Winter’s grasp. The power of this silence is both terrifying and awesome to experience; Muir himself described it as “awful and sublime” to behold.

If you lean in close and rest your ear against the wood grain of the trees the only sounds you hear are the winter winds and an almost inaudible rustling like the sound of exhaled breath coming from every living thing. Like a whisper too soft to fully understand you find yourself leaning closer and closer, desperate to capture its meaning; a whisper that would say

We are the sound of life unwilling to succumb to the conditions of this world. Strip us barren, take our beauty, and leave us barely alive, but still we keep on living for the broken are those that shall never die. 

Listen to the trees, they hold valuable lessons even when they do not bear leaves. Muir was right in so many ways, and especially in his observation that forests provide the fastest gateway to the universe and all of its mysteries. These trees existed long before me and will continue their stationary existence long after I am gone. You can gain no greater perspective in life than that which you can find suspended in the canopies of trees.

“Between every two pine trees there is a door
leading to a new way of life.” 
– John Muir

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Posted in Photos, Thoughts |

Becoming New

Monday, January 1st, 2018

Ever since I can remember I have been coming to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit our family compound on the shores of a lake fed by Lake Superior. I never went to summer camp or a sports camp as a child, instead I gathered alongside my numerous cousins, aunts and uncles, and under the amused gaze of my grandparents to run amuck in the forests and swim in the Great Lakes. The sun never seemed to fade on those long summer nights.The memories and experiences I had during those endless summers forever altered who I was and who I would become in ways so numerous that this blog post could never even begin to contain all of them. The shores of Lake Superior will always be my second home, but standing where I have stood many times before on the Sandstone cliffs of Jacobsville as the light from the first day of 2018 fades into shades of soft pink, I realize just how unfamiliar and new familiar places can become.

The emerald shades of Lake Superior have dulled under the snow filled skies and mist rises from the surface of the gently rolling waves like warm breath on a cold winter day. This place feels alive in a way that I have never experienced before this moment. The thin layer of ice forming across the lake is marked by violent fissures where dark water breaks through the pristine whiteness of snow. The segments of ice rise and fall with the water’s movement and I swear I can see and hear the lake breathing steadily as the shards of ice gather and separate like shattered glass.

How many times have my feet stood on the red sands I can barely see beneath the ice? How many rocks sit at the bottom of the lake just out of sight from skipping rock competitions between me and my cousins? How can this possibly be the same place that once felt as familiar as the laughter lines on my face? It baffles me how quickly the old becomes the new when you are willing to inflict change on all that feels normal.

The first day of the new year is almost over and I see just how desperately I need to pull myself from routine and alter the way I see everything that once seemed repetitive to me. There is always something new to discover even in places you have already been. I want to treat all things as if they were new and beautiful because when you wake up each morning with eyes renewed, truly, the world holds surprises you wouldn’t begin to believe.

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Posted in Photos, Thoughts |

Renaissance

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Honestly, I do not know how to begin again. This space was my home for so many years when my words could find no ears to fall upon with quiet urgency. For those who have joined me on my journey either part way or all the way back eight years ago from the very beginning, and for those who are starting today, know this: the last two years my words have been nonexistent. I could name a thousand reasons that left me hesitating with my fingers hovering above a dusty keyboard, but none are sufficient to strip the guilt away from my heart. Writing has always been the life-blood of my being and to halt the progress of pen on paper is to bring my heartbeat to a startling stand still. However, that isn’t even true. It was more gradual than that, there was no jarring day where the words stopped coming, it was a slow, drawn out decay of all that made me, me.

The words never stopped coming, they were always there and still remain within me petrifying on the tip of my tongue and on the edges of mymind. Ossified and neglected, I chose to let my words transform into fossils instead of living breathing beings. I put down the pen and stepped away from the computer screen in pursuit of other things. I am not proud of my choices that drove a wedge between my purpose and empty shiny things. I felt I owed you this honesty, this courtesy of explaining to you why I walked away before anything could become of me. I suppose it was out of fear, fear that my words were not good enough to be consumed by another’s mind and transformed into something entirely new. Or perhaps it was just my attempt to escape what I felt was a fate cemented in time and progressed without me whether I ceased to act or not. Scared of change, I halted everything in the hope that I could also stop the world from spinning along with me. Futility does not even begin to describe the time I spent refusing to write, it was simply nothing. I did nothing, lived nothing, felt nothing, and hoped for nothing.

Nothing is a strange companion and for a time it seemed to suit me just fine, but soon nothing became everything. Everything was all hope, all fear, all anxiety, all sadness, and all paralyzing. Frozen in everything yetliving in nothing.

On the eve of a New Year, I decided to begin chipping away at the fossil of my being and slowly stretch the atrophied muscles of my writer’s mind. I wanted to begin here, with the truth so we could move into something new together without questions to fog our path. I will tell you briefly what became of me with the hopes of elaborating more in writing yet to come in the new year.

These last two years have been the most difficult years of my life thus far. After I returned from my half-year road trip across the country by myself the transition from nomadic wayfarer to stable breadwinner was painfully slow and full of yearning for the open stretches of road and the feeling of standing on the edge of a world that was mine to own. When I finally landed an impressive job at an up-and-coming tech company, got the apartment I always dreamed of with one of my best friends, and moved to San Francisco to live out the life I felt was the epitome of my dreams, it quickly collapsed into an unrecognizable nightmare.

I had two weeks of this perfect life. Two weeks until the world came crashing down around me. To make a long story short, after a sudden and drastic change in my health I was left weak, confused, scared, and without a name for a mysterious illness that plagued me. I spent six long months running from doctor to doctor, test to test, and hospital to hospital trying to find out what was wrong with me until I was tentatively diagnosed with a rare Neurological disorder called Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDS).

By the end of 2016 and partway through 2017 I had lost my fancy job, had to leave my beautiful apartment, and had to move away from the city I had come to love. Most devastating of all, I lost what it felt like to benormal. Severe illness has a way of stripping away everything that is not essential to living. Life is no longer about thriving, it is about surviving. My life became one long series of days spent struggling to get by. In all of this darkness though, my fight to survive illuminated in me the most essential parts of my being. I realized how important writing truly was to me despite having neglected the creative parts of me for so long. I could feel the words pushing up against my sealed lips and the jittering feeling in my finger tips of a story begging to be born. But I found I no longer knew how.

Time does not heal all wounds, but it does normalize the pain of even the most devastating injuries. This last year has been my gradual realization and reclamation of the most important parts of me. I am slowly adjusting to life with my illness and reacquainting myself with the petrified words lodged in my mind. If 2017 was the year of painful loss and slow recovery, then I hope that 2018 is the year of new beginnings for old passions. My resolution for this upcoming year is to undergo my own personal Renaissance. The New Year will be a space not for a new me, but the rebirth of who I was. Will you join me?

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Posted in Photos, Thoughts |