brilliant motto

Conversation between my 80 year old Grandmama and her friend, Sue:

Sue: If I get sick, I want you to do what the Native Americans do with their elders… prop me against a tree with a bottle a water, and leave me.

Grandmama: Oh honey, no. I don’t want a bottle of water. I want a bottle of vodka, because when I go, I want to go out singing!

Wait… do I look NOW?

(via FFFFound)


i. Sheer curtains are drawn, rendering
only a balmy silhouette
as we crawl beneath blankets,
chestnut tresses in calligraphic shapes
against the stark white linens.

ii. Sheer curtains suspend the viscous air,
as we fall into rhythmic exhales of coconut
and chamomile, all flushed and eyelashes.
Faint whisper of down shifting as a limb moves, creases
relaxing here and gathering there.

iii. Sheer curtains suspend light, illuminating night’s gossamer
impressions, hair spread across pillows,
sheets slipping from shoulders,
camisoles peeling away to let in the cold,
backs arched and shockingly bare.

iv. Sheer curtains suspend light, revealing countless shadows.
A veiled sleep has slid the supple fabric
from our waists, uncovering twisted limbs.
Dust swarms above our gaping mouths,


I hope my kid is this entertaining

(via FFFFound!)

For Jon

I walked the edge to where you were standing,
oblivious of the vertical drop on either side.
Fear of falling comes later.
Cigarette in one hand, and your scarf interlaced in my other,
I leaned in to study you. Then said hello.
Introductions are protocol, but I already knew –
I would have walked anywhere with you that night.

You smelled of soap and sun
and your green eyes, unwavering,
filled me with answers to questions
that maybe I should have asked,
like, “are you planning to eat me alive?”
but I know the answer to that now.
And maybe the asking wouldn’t have mattered.

Because as I pressed myself into your space,
your worn leather jacket smooth against my cheek,
I marveled at how well we fit.
How safe it felt.
How happiness pulsates.
How I did not want to be anywhere else.
How willing I was to be yours at that moment.

When you left my house,
I stared in the mirror by our front door.
I wanted to see what I felt like –
watch the way my chest rose and fell
lean in to examine the mouth you had just kissed goodbye.
I quivered, as we do when there is so much possibility.

You never called.
At first I chalked it up to the game people play,
three day rules and all,
and even though I don’t play that way,
I was willing to experience it, barely.

Then enough time passed,
and the feeling became an empty one.
I’m not a stupid girl,
and I don’t roll over and play dumb,
but I cannot remember ever waking up
shaking with cold sweats, with disappointment,
like detoxifying after the high.

And now I want those moments back.
Those pieces of myself that I gave away,
I want them back.

Because when I told you that I was honest,
I meant it.
And when I told you that you could tell me anything,
and be safe, I meant it.
But I don’t anymore,
because I don’t want you to tell me anything-
I want the truth.
But the problem with the truth is that we each have our own.
And clearly ours are different.
And I don’t want your truth.

So I’ll take my power back the only way I know how.
I will see that I walked to where you stood, willingly.
I will see the great vertical drop on either side.
And though the ledge was too narrow for us both,
I will find my footing, and walk on.

And I will learn, because that’s how we do it.
Next time, safety first, and so I will hold my ground.
I will go through introductions, keeping my hands to myself.
Your charm will not become the noose around my neck,
and if you say you are in,

I won’t believe you.

(photo by Ashley McCue “Eternal Escape”)

The Finger

Recently, I have been re-introduced to the world of humorous voices. And it’s good to be back.

As a kid, I plagued my family with compulsive “baby talk”. More precisely, I often emulated “Baby Harriet” from The Cartoon Network’s “Harriet and Friends” because I watched her every Saturday morning, and liked her voice. It made me laugh so…stinkin’… hard.

By the time I was four, Mom was done. No more Harriet talk. She began interrupting me mid-sentence with  “Big-girl voice, please.” I would fumble for a moment, then drop my chin, lower my voice, and start again in an octave lower. If we had company, they would always pretend nothing had happened, or at least, they maintained a pleasant smile. It was as if everyone was in on it: “Jessica, time to be a big girl.”

One day, Mom said it and I started to cry. I told her that I did not like it when she interrupted me. She thought it over, understood how that could be bothersome, and agreed upon an alternative: simply by raising her index finger, I would know drop chin, lower voice, start again. Compared to the public injunction, a lifted finger seemed harmless enough.

However, if you have ever been a little kid with an audience (de-light!) and then had someone near the front raise their hand at random intervals… let’s just say that all eyes move quickly to the highest point in the room. In this case, the highest point was Mom’s steadfast finger. Did she want to say something? Was she beset with an involuntary muscle spasm? Was something about to fall from the sky? You see? So there we were, looking at The Finger, some of us curious, some of us confused and most of me, mortified.

One day, amidst a room full of visitors, while imitating Harriet with great fervor, it happened: the heated wave of humiliation as The Finger stole the performance, followed by a disarming silence as gazes shifted anxiously between the two of us. A face-off of haunting proportions, and at that moment, I knew The Finger had won. My days of wandering the tonal spectrum, straying into the realms of baby voice, Harriet, Smurfette, Scooby-doo, the Chippettes (or Alvin, on bolder days), had come to an abrupt end.

Big girl voice, with all its depth and token maturity, resonated through our house from that day forward. Sure, while that took me out of the running for improv class and drama club, I placed in every oratory contest I entered. Such an unwavering, confident, self-assured voice had never come out of an eight year old. Mom was proud.

Austen and Aeronautics

Letter I wrote to my best friend (but never sent) after her LA visit in 2003. Sent it 7 years later…

Austen and Aeronautics

You tell me a story about your recent shenanigans. I simultaneously listen (because I love your stories), and see you newly after all this time. A low, bleached ponytail tucks just below your ear; tangled tufts fall across your eyes, and you have to tilt your head to see me. You lift a hand to negotiate your bangs, exposing a little hole in your worn t-shirt, an unshaven armpit, and a dimpled grin when you see that I notice.

Propped on elbows, we lie side by side on an old air mattress. The kitchen of my one bedroom Hollywood apartment barely holds our makeshift arrangement. I imagine that compared to your recent tent-capades, these quarters are not cramped. We gab, giggle, chatter and chortle – all the descriptives that might depict the two of us catching up, and happily doing so. The events of today stumble into the events of the past year into a running dialogue between us. I show off my blistered foot while cursing “damn Italian heels” and explain how my neighbor is a body-double for Ben Stiller. You examine the bug bite on your breast while detailing the recent bear intrusion into your camp. Then something STINKS and with undiluted histrionics, we spill off the air mattress and crawl desperately to open the French balcony doors. Freed Bougainvillea limbs swing loose as the whir of traffic and moonlight fill the room. Inhaling deeply, we take turns giggling and pooh-poohing faulty digestion.

Listen to the quiet. It’s comfortable having you in my space, and I’m glad you are here. I ask about life back east and you tell me about the underprivileged kids you pick up from school everyday, describing the healthy snacks you prepare, and the front yard soccer games. You animatedly imitate 5 year-old Shaniqua’s accent and relay such entertaining anecdotes that I barely catch them all over my own laughter.

When I suggest how lucky these kids are, you seem surprised. “That’s the thing,” you say, “I almost feel selfish. I hang out with them because they are great company, not because I am trying to ‘save’ them or whatever. Lori says that God put us where we are not to teach but to learn.”


What an awesomely unassuming statement. I almost cry, partly because you are here expressing said ‘awesomely unassuming’ sentiments, and partly because I would like to feel that way about something.

But I don’t. Cry, that is.

Instead, I tackle the air mattress, and we both eject onto the hardwood floor. Shrieks of laughter – this newfound experiment in aeronautics may never get old. I mull over my music collection while you reorganize the pillows. Not until Stellastarr is moodily resonating in our little space do I crawl back under the comforter.

There is a “coming home” about our friendship.

Search On

Best Superbowl Ad…

(via swissmiss)


Too small for my own seat at the table,
Mother’s shins served as a convenient crutch
for my swaying tendencies. There I sat,
pleased with the chorus of clinking glasses above
and the cracker in my clutches below.
Her distracted foot would tap,
shifting me to and fro until,
sprawled on the dizzying symmetry of Spanish tiles,
I withdrew from my mouth a salty finger,
gelatinous wheat on the knuckles,
to steady myself, then
to swat at a small, glazed mound
formed where too much paint had gathered,
red and bulbous, like a nipple.

I leaned in to have a taste,
leaving in return my generous saliva’s sepia stain.