books, drinking, film, food, friends, love, marriage, music, pets, relationships, travel, weather

the good, the bad & the tasty

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“There are things you do
because they feel right
& they may make no sense
& they may make no money
& it may be the real reason we are here:
to love each other
& to eat each other’s cooking
& say it was good.”

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“I’ve been a bad yogi this week,” I¬†mused sadly to Joe. Even talking about yoga to Lia in lieu of actually doing it got my muscles to tingle and miss it.

“Yeah, but sometimes forging new friendships takes the same kind of commitment,” he said to me.

I¬†am consoled to think that at least I’ve been a good friend. or have been having a good time. I¬†can also tell it’s been a full, week of good people, food and silliness when the fridge is full of tasty leftovers, there’s a bouquet of lilies on my living room table, there are a lot of dishes to do, there’s silver spray paint and glass beads in strange places, the laundry turns up stickers, candy wrappers and tiny plastic babies, I¬†am pleasantly tired and I¬†am editing photos of it all.

Sufjan Steven’s “The Henney Buggy Band” lyrics and melody occur to me in snippets.

Oh life, with your colorful surprises
Eleanor, how you put one on disguises

Far in the morning light
We let the movies play
A weekend from the holiday

. . . Forget about yourself and all your plans

This past Saturday a group of friends all dressed up as Villains attended the Alter Egos Power Struggle. It was pretty much a Heroes & Villains pub crawl all brought to you by Alter Egos Society and Drunken Rampage. And Benja said it best with:

“the event included games and prizes along a route through several downtown Portland bars. The games included initiation games (such as “save the kittens” for heroes and “steal candy from the babies” for villains), “You’ve Met Your Match” finding an Arch Nemesis speed dating style), and a dance-off between good and evil. A number of local businesses (bars and comic shops, etc.) and organizations (Stumptown Comics Foundation, etc.) supported the event as part of official Portland Comics Month.”

But for me to tell you about the evening from the streetside and onlooker POV – well, is to tell the story of running through the city, engaging in an en masse, public, costumed rubber band fight, taking over bars of every variety including strip and gay (Portland famous), community pole-dancing, swinging from the ceiling (on a literal swing suspended by chains) climbing elephant statues in the park, catching free prizes in the air like porn, latex whips, silver-studded leather chastity belts, oh – and comic books too. Sure. To give you ALL the details would read a bit Gonzo-esque so . . . “No. We can’t stop here. This is bat country.”

But there are some photos where my friends are harpies, mad scientists, robots, caped, cylcloptic evil overlords with interchangeable blue & red laser monocles with minions to match, judges dressed in cinched robes & a wrestling unitard, and futuristic underwater murderers of dolphins (it’s quite a backstory). A bit of “so long and thanks for tall the fish.” Dolphins are super smart and take over the world. See: Douglas Adams.

Heroes & Villains 007 of 93
clearly, anyone dressed like this, is a villain and up to no good . . .

Here’s the rest of my photos anyway . . .

The next morning, Easter Sunday we threw a Pagan Potluck to celebrate Eostre, the goddess of spring fecundity, love and carnal pleasure. How appropriate. There was so much wonderful food! A big spiral-sliced ham I¬†cooked with an orange-maple glaze and served with a side of “last nite’s costumed bar crawl hangover,” with a friendly diner smile. Quiche, potato salad, fruit salad of blood oranges and tangerines, quinoa, spinach salad with goat cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, chocolate angel food cake, cherry cobbler, coconut balls and more mimosas and white wine than humanly necessary were consumed. Eventually it devolved into a game of Scattergories and Celebrity. Somehow, my dumb ass did NOT take pictures. I¬†was off duty that nite, I¬†suppose.

Last nite we gathered for a loose dinner party at Jeremy’s apartment themed “food on a stick.” The colorful spread ended up consisting of cheese & chocolate fondue with dippers of olive bread, meat, angel food cake, strawberries, apples, pears, sushi and skewered teriyaki chicken and beef, wine (hey, stemmed glasses are on sticks!) the comedic Pabst Blue Ribbon that Cooper brought up from the depths of the ice cooler, carried in on a large branch and hoisted into the room like catch of the day, and Benja’s contribution of candy with Chick-O-Stix. Surprisingly, no popsicles, perhaps a rather obvious choice. This in no way detracted from the rainbow of bountiful foodie goodness we enjoyed. (Once again, no photographic evidence!) Later, we all lay on collective couches in a food coma watching Val Kilmer in Real Genius. A good old fashioned 80’s “nerd saves the world” movie.

Tonite while drinking cold beer on our warm sunny patio talking to Lia & Cooper who were getting ready to depart for their stay at home happy couple date nite of dinner and cuddling, I was cheered as I received, fielded and answered text messages:

Tiffany: “If I¬†get enough work done today i was thinking of going to the tulip festival tomorrow – interested? It’s going to be a beautiful day.”

Chelsea: “Thought I’d take advantage of the sun with a book and my dog. Ran into friends on the Beach. Dungeoness crab for dinner. Call ya when I’m headed back.”

Claire: “We went to the farmers market and now we are relaxing at a park in the SE. If you were at Stumptown I’d join you. Nap in park instead! We are going out for Pho if you are interested.”

And later from Lia: “We love you guys. Seriously. Like love love. U fixed my music collection! i owe you my life.”

Jeremy asked: “What time tomorrow?” in reference to the brunch we’re having on the deck at my house since the weather promises sunny and 74 degrees. i instructed, “Let’s call it a casual noon. Brunch in single digit #’s is called breakfast & is lame.” Claire is coming over to cook some spicy eggs, i’m gonna to fry up some bacon and make a stack of fluffy pancakes. hmm, i have no champagne for mimosas . . .

i smiled to myself a lot for a lot of little reasons today. Odin was hiding in the freshly washed bed sheets in an effort to stalk me. i realized that if i want to fall madly into bed with Joe tonite, the bed must be made, cat or no. There was a time when we got so distracted and caught up in each other, too busy making love that we could rarely be bothered to comb our hair or pack properly for a trip to the woods. The apple butter in the fridge reminded me of the camping trip where, because we were too busy “packing” we had forgotten a knife to cut and spread food, so we simply tore off hunks of bread and dipped it in pumpkin butter (no more apple butter to be had at the roadside stands that late in the afternoon.) How that nite, Joe and i flipped the script on the traditional camping roles: i built a fire and secured the goods from bears and he, my would-be-husband cooked a fabulous dinner of beans and onions and summer sausage. I thought of our long looks in the fire light, and the sound of a large skunk trundling through the brush into our campsite¬† making my eyes go from lovestruck at half-mast to wide and panicked. “Animal. Biggish.” i whispered in a fearful assessment. And he laughed.

i washed the tablecloths from the Easter Pagan Potluck we threw last week and tossed in a few old throws. One of them, a bright blue with red stripes i didn’t recognize until turned the tag to read it:

British Airways.
MADE IN ENGLAND.
Airline use only. Please do not remove from aircraft.

And i smiled, thinking of Joe taking me to Rome after we got engaged.

“Hey, did i ask you to steal this blanket from the plane ride?” i prodded.
“Well, one of us stole it. It’s unclear who, “Joe smiled.

it’s in my lap right now as i type this in the office.

i am about to take some fruit down to thaw for brunch: a bag full of frozen mango & berries – something called “Mangolicious” from Trader Joe’s that i put with some Vanana (vanilla & banana flavoured yogurt) and some local Hanna’s honey in a cup. i am thinking fondly of myself & two dear friends in our pajamas eating apple pie for breakfast. In bed. Laughing. i am thinking of not waking up earlier than 11 am tomorrow. i am thinking the red & yellow tulips in bloom in my garden should suffice if i don’t make it out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip festival.

Oh, life with your colorful surprises.

death, dreams, health, love, myth, nature, psychology, weather

The Egg Moon & The Deer-Woman

The Firebird Does Not Learn

She is an egg and every shadowed glance,
every silent forest destroys her.
She is newborn and the shark-tooth grit
of the earth clings to her wet eyes.
She is in flames, the jeweled fire
that everyone remembers,
and then, what she had not foreseen,
She is burned and not consumed.
Burned. She feels her feathers
knit together. Burned. It hurts her
to heal. She is still.
She dreams of the next dawn,
a darkness, a nest of ash.

‚ÄĒ¬†Kate Horowitz

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Tonight was the full moon. The 9th of April. The Pink Moon. The Egg Moon. Even the word April sounds like rain; it spittles from the mouth with the open promise, the gathering of air for the “A” and the plosive “pr” ending with the tongue lap of “l” at the back of the teeth. Water held back, pressed behind the dam. But that rain, as the rhyme goes, the April showers hold the promise of May flowers. Considering the wild rains Portland tends to get on the regular, I¬†would wager that despite a couple of stellar 70 degree days that visited us early in the week, there is still a good bit of watery April left and that will require some patience. Next full moon‚ÄĒThe Milk Moon. The Flower Moon.

Luckily, the flowers are already showing their pretty faces in the garden; purple and pink hyacinth carries on the air like a honeysuckle perfume, the camellia trees in my yard bloom bright red, some mottled with white stripes, the yellow, white and violet crocus and buttery daffodils are plenty, and the tulips have unfurled their emerald green bunny ears, though the buds are still closed tight as peapods, so many meditative eyelids, dreaming something deep and colorful. A flurry of cherry tree blossoms drift into the yard; heavy Spring wind casting a false snow, a white mimicry of Winter’s last stand.

While wandering the perimeter of the house, I found a lonely patch of trillium, a tri-fold of green heart leaves lifting up triangular white flowers, a basket of stars, everywhere in 3s.

But that’s the best part of Spring‚ÄĒeverything coming back from Winter’s sleep, seemingly, from the dead: the flowers, the trees, the animals, the goddess Eostre, Jesus. Me.

I’ve been feeling better, I’m cooking more and enjoying all the smell and tastes and textures of food. Something happened last full moon, some strong anxietal force moved through me. Some part of me died a little, something, someone else resurrected. It was what i asked for, and lately, as I¬†am sleeping more soundly, it is a common and powerful theme when i dream. Death, rebirth, fire, water, flying, wings, feathers, hands in the earth, digging and digging, biting and scratching my way through.

Gerda and the Reindeer | Edmund Dulac

Two nights ago I dreamed I stood in a huge backyard, a large farmhouse behind me. It wasn’t quite an open field as it was fenced off. The grasses were tall in places and something straw-colored was moving through the area towards me. But all I¬†could see were its dark eyes and furry antlers. It seemed to be part moose or reindeer and masculine‚ÄĒit was so large, but as it drew closer, it became softer, graceful, almost feminine despite the large antlers on its head to indicate male. It was more a Mule deer, a buck.

We both approached each other cautiously and as the deer stood still before me, it morphed into a woman. It occurred to me that i should invite her for dinner; a big party was being thrown by extended family, though it was no family I¬†knew of and no occasion i could name. When I¬†introduced my new friend to the men in the family, they leered a bit, patted at her long legs and lap asking why she was so quiet. I explained that she was foreign and didn’t speak the language, so the deer-woman just smiled softly at them and looked strangely at me. I¬†grew anxious as we visited because I¬†felt that at any moment, her glamour would break and she would morph back into the powerful, antlered creature that would bound through the room, kick over furniture and dishes and smash through the back door to escape. The thought plagued me so heavily, I¬†pleaded with my eyes to the deer-woman, and indicated with my head that we should go back outside. She nodded and followed me.

Once we were outside, she became the buck again and wandered out into the forest where I followed her/him. A bright shock of sunlight stunned the deer and it turned on me, knocked me over, bleating, snorting and biting at my neck. It was part murder, part mating. The world went dark in a swirl of tree canopy, pearl grey sky and clouds of shattered eggshell.

When I woke, it was the woman again beside me, waiting for me to rise. My sense was that I was dead, but undead. Not quite vampire, but stony, pale and cold. I was able to move fast, to levitate, to fly and could bring someone with me, transferring the powerful ability to them, with them, so long as they linked hands or an arm with me.

The deer-woman had someone with her now, and I had a faceless someone with me. The four of us flew around until we came upon a memorial site. A grave with no body. A decorative brass commemorative plaque. With my name on it. But it was not my current married name. It was my maiden name: Andrea Jackman. I wiped dirt away from the plaque, collected cigarette butts and trash thoughtlessly discarded in the grass surrounding it and threw these things away. I felt sadness, but also, realized, it was not truly myself that was lost or dead, but a previous incarnation of self.

This lead me to seek out the mythology of the deer, the stag, ways to interpret the dream. Some of it I¬†knew, but some of what I¬†found amazed me in my own psyche’s ability to deliver the message.

It begins even in Neolithic Cave art where the depiction of people for hunting or shamanistic practice, dress in deer hide and wear antlers. In Classical times, the ‘Stag God’ was paramount to the Scythians and other peoples across the Eurasian steppes. To the Hungarians (my ethnic background) there is a great horned doe, which shone in multicolour lights and its antlers glittered from light.

There is the Spring renewal, the chase after the stag is a hunt for the return of the sun, searching for its light and heat which during Winter is taken away by the stag. The girls of the legend are the does, the daughters of light (Leukepius in Greek), who return the light and fertility of the sun. For that reason they have names which indicate “light, white, burning” Dula=Gyula,Gyul…, Sar=gold, light, stag. Bular or Bugur=stag in Turkic.

Ancient Norse mythology tells how 4 stags run in the branches of the ash and browse the foliage of the world-tree Yggdrasil, eating away the buds (hours), blossoms (days) and branches (seasons). Their names are: Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, Durathor and are thought to represent the four winds.

In Greek mythology, it is the Keryneian stag, a fantastic beast with golden horns and brass hooves sacred to the huntress-goddess Artemis who turned herself into a white hind (female deer) to avoid being violated by two giants.

The deer is also a central religious image for Buddhism. Buddha is often pictured with a deer, and legend tells how he first preached in a deer park. The deer image itself representing innocence and a return to the wilderness.

In Celtic mythology, the deer is a magical creature, able to move between the worlds and many tales have humans transformed into deer. For example, St. Patrick was said to have transformed himself and his companions into deer in order to escape a trap laid by a pagan king. Cernunnos, the Celtic Horned God, was depicted with the antlers of a stag; he is said to be a god of fertility and plenty, and to be the Lord of the Beasts. According to some, his antlers symbolize a radiation of heavenly light. Images of stags were supposedly used to symbolize Cernunnos in non-human form. In the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen, the stag is one of the oldest animals in the world, along with the blackbird, the owl, the eagle and the salmon.

In some parts of Asia, deer are considered to be conductors of soul and thus the robes of shamans are usually made out of deerskin. Likewise, many Native Americans believed deer and other animals with forked horns and antlers represented forked or double nature. When the Cherokee traveled during harsh winter weather, they rubbed their feet in warm ashes and sang a song to acquire powers for the four animals whose feet never were frost bitten‚ÄĒopossum, wolf, fox and deer. To the Pawnee, the deer is a guide to the light of the Sun. The Panche Indians of Colombia believe that human souls pass into the bodies of deer after death and therefore eating the flesh of deer is forbidden to them. In ancient Mexico, deer were sometimes depicted carrying the Sun (similar to the ancient Steppe myth and the Scythians).

The antlers of the stag are compared to tree-branches (the world-tree Yggdrasil) and since they are shed and re-grown every year represent fertility, rejuvenation and rebirth. Carl Jung noted that “the stag is an allegory of Christ because legend attributes to it the capacity for self-renewal … In alchemy, Mercurius is allegorized as the stag because the stag can renew itself.”

This close to Easter, my mind is swirling with birth, bunnies, blossoms, eggs, animals, the moon, the sun, Christology, oh and sure, I’ve some room for chocolate in there, too. After all, it is the sweet delectables, the luscious plenty, the little gifts, and the small rewards that make such great love and transformation possible. But was my dream telling me to lay off the Twilight series by conjuring a vampire deer? Was I truly dead? Rutting? No‚ÄĒI’d like to think it’s the change on the horizon, the promise of sun, a great white fire I¬†am still chasing after in the woods. Some promise borne out of rain, softening the edges, washing away the ashes, waiting for me to rise from a bed of flowers and turn my head up to the clouds of shattered eggshell to see the robin blue sky.

death, dreams, health, language, myth, nature, philosophy, psychology, technology

Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

i am not politically inclined to comment.
i am not so easily terrified by ‘terror.’
i avoid most news to maximize joy.

but i have some thoughts on these things,
in grand universal brush strokes . . .

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Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

In the world, there is forever fever:
We read the signs,
blazing in historic orange.
We straddle our majestic fates,
ride our caution horses up to the edge,
and prepare ourselves to be known,
We drop our weapons in the dust,
and unveil with the other prairie dogs‚ÄĒa global disrobal.

We read too much tar for no pleasure,
while we patch ourselves up with nicotine band-aids.
We let the talking heads scare us into the show,
We become cancerous clowns in the tumor circus.
We cannot duck and cover in the Alcoholocaust.
We cannot stay dry in the headswim of worry
and forward motion.

Compartmentalization leads to:
rubix cubicles,
paralyzed prizes,
spastic plastic,
and Tupperware death,

All the ever meanwhile,
Howling sweet exultations
and consuming quietly our consummations
so that we may die pure
and be saved by our cleverly patented,
widely acknowledged,
billions served,
guaranteed
one-hundred thousand mile drive chain
Luxury Christ.

When we hunker down
And cast our last breath under the elective curtain,
when they unearth our sterile bones,
will they say they truly understood what fine
encyclopedic creatures we were ?
Will we leave bones?
Bones for wolves to make soup,
for women to make breastplates,
and for men to make cages to keep their wolves
and women warriors in.

They may see the hinted drop stitchwork,
the soft, green loop to crochet the new world from,
but will they want such a pattern to follow?
We who all succumbed to communal self-butchery and burnings.
With the burden of our knowledge,
clinging to our near-death faces
though we wake in the night,
suffering insomniacs,
bloated and blue,
‚ÄĒinformation gorge syndrome‚ÄĒ
well coax the current thickening lump and swallow,
and fall back against another chainlink, razorwire
skinless sleep.

Well, for now, caustic dreamers
of blameless, paranoid, age-defying landscapes,
let us multi-task our spiritual trash,
complicate the workable and fertile into fiscal orgasms,
and reduce our grand and beautiful ideas to slogans and acronyms
that suggest other equally unplugged words.

Let us muck around in newfound dark,
continue our acid intercourse,
bring our weary and our winded before our glittering
revolutionary hearth.
But we ask that you ask your loved ones to cover their nettles,
so we cannot trace the frightening highway back to the ocean,
or the forest,
or the desert,
so we do not name the extraneous scar across the trellis of a thousand nations,
so we will not offend our impressionable guests
at dinner date death,
so we cannot recognize our very same,
unrefined pain.

How do we not weep when we know our name is like a dirge,
strangled from threadbare angels.
The earth groans under our weight,
impregnated again and again with a stifling humanity,
eggs rolling off the edge of the earthen table
set by Columbus‚ÄĒ
tiny, hopeful, rudiment vessels,
unpacking the cargo of the daunting future
while crushing the orange partitions of the past.

food, friends, music, photography

back in the saddle

finally – after 2 weeks, i feel more like myself. i battled some evil sickness, some worrisome money woes and some minor depression over those items and a few internal family matters, but my frame of mind is coming around.

i’ve been craving eggs and toast at nite, which means i am craving that much needed protein. oh – and the hot chocolate with marshmallows doesn’t hurt ūüėČ

i’ve been working a lot of extra days lately . . . and it’s a good thing – having to pay for a new (to me) car’s registration, title, tags and insurance takes a bite out of things. Not to mention, i am back in school with 2 courses and textbooks going above $200. Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics, and Psychology of Human Sexuality. i’m yet to learn more about how we live, how we speak, how we fuck and what we think about it all.

i am patiently awaiting the new Beck – Guero. it was released as a deluxe 2-disc edition which was available for pre-sale purchase. Disc 1 has 3 bonus tracks and 4 remixes. Disc 2 is a DVD which features the 5.1 Surround Sound mix of Guero, along with Movie/video remixes for the 13 album tracks by groundbreaking video artists D-Fuse and other fun stuff. Packaged in a 52 booklet of art and photos with a cool foil stamp cover. needless to say – i am psyched!

i secured another wedding photography gig in June from another co-worker. i am very excited to shoot this one, as it will be outdoors, at dusk in a beautiful park. Megan, the bride is lovely and talented: a professional dancer, singer and generally, beautiful person. i recently met her fiancé, Michael, and he is handsome and gentlemanly. i am so fortunate to work with nice, flexible, fun people and NOT Bridezilla and Frankengroom.

my younger sister (30), Racheal, will be visiting me from LA mid-April for a few days. it has been several years since she has visited me here in Maryland. we’ve had what i will delicately call “a strained relationship,” without revealing too much of our personal dirt. but i am looking forward to enjoying some time with her.

with any luck and some honest to goodness flights being booked, the long awaited journey and visit will take place mid to late June Рi will FINALLY meet and entertain two wonderful people (now married) whom i am proud to call friends. Jennifer & Thad- i cannot WAIT to tear up some evenings and put down some wine with you!  much love to you BOTH!

Odin is standing in front of the monitor. He’s ready to eat, and what a great idea . . . i suppose i will have that egg now . . .

more important thoughts as (when) they occur.

nature

One eye in a sea of many . . .

This is a Polyphemus Moth, one of the largest of the Giant Silkworm Moths, although not the largest North American moth, the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia).

Because of the large eyespot on each hind wing, this moth is named after Polyphemus, the legendary Cyclops from Homer’s Odyssey who lived in a cave and tended sheep and ate straying sailors.

From the outside, or underneath, when they are closed, the Polyphemus moths’ wings look like dead leaves. But if this moth is disturbed too much, it may drop onto the ground and flop its wings vigorously. It will snap its wings open as an anti-predation mechanism intended to expose the large eyespots which mimic an owl’s eyes which can startle a predator, such as a squirrel or bird. After a while the moth will cease flopping, then continue to “warm up”. Silk moths are so large that they must warm their flight muscles for a minute or two before they can fly. They do this by shivering and in doing so, the flight muscles vibrate in opposition to each other rather than in synchrony as they would in flight.

The first time I ever held a large Silkmoth I thought the trembling was fear . . . it’s really just getting ready to fly. I guess we are always trembling before something big is about to happen, before we must take flight.

The moth I have pictured is a male, which you can tell by the larger, fan-like antennae. Today, my boss called me to the back office where he pointed out a strange creature hanging from the eaves. as if by miracle . . . it was a female, of the same species. Shortly after I captured her, she laid eggs! I collected them and took her home to meet the male I had.

Now‚ÄĒthe eggs she laid may be infertile‚ÄĒI will know in a few days if they collapse. There is also a good chance they may be viable, in which case this¬†is the caterpillar of the Polyphemus Moth. Then I will be fortunate enough to witness the whole cycle through pupation and rebirth again, with fine, unbattered specimens for later.

This moth is born without mouth parts. It does not eat. There is nothing I can do to preserve it. This is a feature that constantly amazes me. All of its energy and food will have been stored up from all the eating it did as a caterpillar. It will mate and it will lay eggs and it will die.

A rainstorm came tonight, windy and cold, whispering around the house. I let the moths out of their enclosure, they crawled over my hands, scaled the length of my arm, crawled up my neck and lit off from the top of my head into the air of the room, the cats watched and I forbade them to leap or attack. I put them away and they flailed helplessly, battering against the edges of the world. could I keep them, knowing they die soon anyway and I would be left with their colorful cases? could I watch them die or come back to find them this way‚ÄĒcolorful, then pale and ragged?

I opened the front door, opened the cage and the male found its way out immediately fluttering somewhere above the rain into the treetops. the female dragged herself lightly along, her abdomen a heavy half-moon curved to lay eggs, looking more tired, flagged, drugged, close to sleep. I wonder how I will find her in the morning.

I have to respect a creature whose ending life cycle seeks only to love briefly and to die. It spends 10 to 14 days in its tiny white infancy, eats its own shell after being born and then begins to eat everything it is presented, absorbing all it can. it sheds itself five or 6 times, each one called an “instar” and then it crawls away to hide, spins a cocoon in August or September and sleeps until May or June where upon emerging a shriveled childlike thing again, it will blossom fully and live briefly.

This is so much like us‚ÄĒwe spend our first years helpless and hungry, we take everything we are given, swallow it up whole, we shed our skins several times trying to be stars and by the time we know, by the time we are calm and nearly perfect, our days left to love and to live are considerably short.

Best to keep our eyes open at night, to flap around for attention to prove we exist, to shiver for warmth and work our muscles to gather internal strength when we must finally take our leave, and to leave knowing we have loved.