"there's a symphony in my head,
& i created it...
there are pages upon pages in my head--
but i can't recollect any of it"



From our first class together, and all those Los Angeles plays attended in your beautiful navy Volvo,
from our dinners with dreadlocked Jesse and Shannon, laughing and joking,
High-fiving that the Democrats won the Senate and the House in one go.
You must know how dear you have become, you are becoming.

Tonight, I saw you for the first time in many months (having been in San Francisco)
We hugged, greeting, enjoying the poetry event side by side
After, you pulled out your tiny planner--not more than 3 inches long,
wanting to share more of your time with me.
Parting, we shook hands.

You, who hesitate with your sentences, teaching me patience and thoughtfulness
and I am learning pensive speech doesn't have to be awkward
I am seeing just how wide and deep the ribbons of your brain are
You, gentle man in beret
you, upcoming 40th anniversary celebrated with a hiking trip to Sequoia & Yosemite.

You, a boy from Kentucky
a 16 year-old with a high school diploma,
a 22 year-old with a doctorate
an 18 year-old with a wife.

You, a 7 week daughter in tow as you embarked on your first British semester
you, a taste for humor, for irony, for good literature (obviously), for politics
you, an ear for listening

& with all this talk of writing, of following our hearts, of family--
I must confess I sometimes want to cry around you
and I understand you as a professor, an advisor--
but as a father?


[a short list of films greatly appreciated by the author since January]

The Darjeeling Limited (how I love Wes Anderson).
I'm Not There (the Bob Dylan biopic--Cate Blanchett is incredible; plus good screenwriting, camera shots, acting, and soundtrack, of course).
Transamerica (a compassionate, endearing, and hilarious look at life as a transgendered person, in the form of a cross-continental roadtrip; Felicity Huffman won an Oscar for this one).
Becoming Jane (the slightly exaggerated story of Jane Austen, and with a sort of painful and true ending; and yes, I realize I love Anne Hathaway far more than I probably should).
Everything is Illuminated (Elijah Wood plays a young Jewish man in a very funny and poignant search for pre-Holocaust lost roots in Ukraine).
The Painted Veil (an on-location beautifully filmed and rending love story between a young British bacteriologist fighting a cholera outbreak in rural 1920s China and his less than affable, unfaithful bride (Naomi Watts). Edward Norton at his best).
Girl with a Pearl Earring (a treat for the senses).

(And by now, hopefully all readers have seen Juno, Into the Wild, and Once.)


Two unpublished posts as of late have me craving more time with a plain pen. There is no need to bore perspective readers with my journey out of culture shock and struggle through understanding (ha!) the Old Testament. A proposal?
To follow the likes of Nelly and Lisa and spend a few weeks posting in photographs.

A weekend with a most beloved friend and former roommate, after 5 months apart. She came up from San Diego to see me. And isn't she beautiful?


& now I have fresh eyes (at last?!) when reading the Old Testament
so much blood, I am reeling
too much blood
such arbitrary violence!
(even from you, Jehovah??)
are you so close to the gods of Enuma Elish, of Gilgamesh and Enkidu?

in class today we "discussed Hell"
I'm just not sure I can even believe in that, anymore

there is no getting away from all this blood
everywhere I look, red
everywhere around, violence
like paint that won't come off my clothes,
ink staining my hands

there's a paper in the bathroom, with all these stupid random facts:
"did you know the aorta of a blue whale is large enough for a human to crawl through?"
I didn't want to know, thanks!
"did you know there's enough pressure in one human heart to spurt blood 30 feet?"

when did the whole world get so bloody?
why must You be involved in these ways?


it won't be long now, baby

Friday night we went to see our friend Joe play at a Santa Barbara coffee shop. Musically, it was good listening: his sound is a sort of Conor Oberst/Iron & Wine/Sufjan/A Weather conglomerate, but he also works with his own harmonies and enlists those of friends Brett and Phil (see blogroll). The song lineup was thoughtful, too; in between, he told us the true story of a teenage girl who committed suicide a few years ago.

I write about it because, to be honest, it was kind of a difficult show to sit in on. The story woven between each song felt sharp, private. It was as if the suicide had just happened, and the girl's family were the ones on stage, the ones testifying to the pain and despair we find in each other.

I think it's more comfortable when we don't have to look so hard for the hope, when redemption sits placated and prominent on a throne. I think it's a little awkward for Joe to sing songs like these. We're not used to such bareness! We look at our feet and try not to find ourselves familiar with our aloneness; we smile tight little smiles to soothe away despair.

Joe sings, "These roads won't last long...and at least we'll have some stories to tell." I pray we adopt his honesty along the way.


culture shock

coming back to the barb (as it were)
is turning out to be much more surreal than i imagined

what was that yesterday outside the library?
those yelling voices i flinched at, thinking fight! (of course),
then wait, it's Westmont
(but don't i hear & see fights multiple times a week?)

& eating kumquats out of the formal gardens, evening walks with You
might be keeping this chest breathing
(peace, child)

saturday eve my flight arrived: a few of us went to the beach,
listened to the waves, smoked cigars, talked until 2am
sunday morning i held back tears
this aint the city anymore, baby

been drawing figures, contours, shading with my fingers
thank You for the little moments of friendship & beauty
especially when i sort of want to scream


cari leaves the city

If the city has taught you anything, it's that the cutest old man you ever met is sitting next to you on the bus--the one in the checkered newsboy cap, dressed like he lives in the Olde World. (This is, sir, San Francisco, and it is, sir, 2008, didn't you know?) He carries Quaker Oats and a loaf of bread, groceries for the week, and his wavering head is nearly resting on your shoulder; he is so tired.

If the city has given you anything, it's a friendship with the mingling smells of sweet wisteria, trash, and alcohol. And now you spot the fog as it descends like a living thing; now you sleep well at night for all the steps taken on concrete by your tired feet.

If the city has taught you anything, it's that Hippie Hill is not a peaceful place, but you love it all the same: for the beat of drum circles, for the sweet smell of marijuana, for the unwashed camaraderie. And you know now, from all those walks and runs through Golden Gate Park, that watching the Eucalyptus light as the sun sets is one of your most favorite things.

If the city has shown you anything, it's that there are beautiful, powerful, incredible women like Ms. Rusty Springer, and that you can be one, too.

If the city has taught you anything, it's taught you to look each day in the face, to embrace it and love it for all its grief and rejoicing, its sadness and dancing. If the city has taught you anything, it has taught you that life is anything but mundane.

You leave the city firm in these baby beliefs. If you know anything, you know life is heartbreaking, but beautiful; you know the days are to be celebrated as they are.


Atrocities Beyond Words

[from The Economist, 3-9 May 2008 edition]

"A ceasefire signed in the town of Goma [Dem. Republic of Congo] in January between the government and more than a score of militias has so far done little to ease the plight of civilians in the east. All sides--government troops, says the United Nations, as well as the militias--continue to use rape as a weapon of war on the most barbarous scale.

"Most victims, as ever, are women and girls, some no more than toddlers, though men and boys have sometimes been targeted too. Local aid workers and UN reports tell of gang rapes, leaving victims with appalling physical and psychological injuries; rapes committed in front of families or whole communities; male relatives forced at gunpoint to rape their own daughters, mothers or sisters; women used as sexed slaves forced to eat excrement or the flesh of murdered relatives. Some women victims have themselves been murdered by bullets fired from a gun barrel shoved into their vagina. Some men, says a worker for the UN Children's Fund (Unicef), have been forced to simulate having sex in holes dug in the ground, with razor blades stuck inside."