introspective periscope : peeking inside since Y2K


at arm's length

like a wagon wheel - 4 july 2017

"if you can place your hands on me, then we'll dance."~david o'dowda

my mother spent a lot of summers on a farm in upstate new york as a kid. her wild imaginative l.m. montgomery-esque childhood was unfolding as her dad was dying and her mom was always working or at the hospital. mom and her brothers spent a lot of time running around mixed in with their myriad cousins then. she was surrounded with incredible women who all seemed to know a thing or two about a thing or two. all that knowledge got passed down to her and she was eager to absorb it. she loves stories as much as i do: family lore about relatives whose names i've only heard uttered here and there that spill out like historical fiction that, overlapping in the telling over the years, formed full-on epics in my heart. the names of all the plants and flowers and all the actually interesting weather-talk which led to intuitive and delightful weather-prediction. knowledge about weirdo antiques and furniture and (our shared favorite) beautiful old dishes. my parents took my sister, brother, and me everywhere they could--they wanted us to see everything from factory tours to all those little blue historical plaques on the side of the road. they took us to see things that they were seeing for the first time themselves--the grand canyon, the continental divide. it was only recently, as i take my son on tiny adventure after tiny adventure, that i realize my parents were just kids having adventures of their own, dragging us along in a really inclusive incredible way. my mom had a story about pretty much everything we did whether it was taking a back road home to swing by a one room schoolhouse where my parents once lived together or a museum in a new city. our immediate family history is rich and varied and i am grateful to have learned what i have from my parents. i am wholly aware of the privilege they afforded us with their hard work and belief in education through enrichment. but this isn't about's about something i've been feeling so vividly lately that i can't stop thinking about it.

a thing i love about my mother is how in tune and in love she is with every season. she meets each like an old friend and, if you catch her lately peering out a window, she'll tell you the same beautiful stories with every changing leaf or budding flower. i observe the characteristic warmly and count on it but i do not know if she is aware of the structure and predictability of it: her heart remembers in wheels of time. i have felt that happening more and more clearly in the structure of my own memories recently which makes me connection to the idea of place and home. i carry with me a ghost of history that is wrought upon the landscape where i tread and my awareness of this is a thing i've tried to nurture in myself for a long time.

sometime in my early twenties i started formally acknowledging the wheel of the year, marking off in my heart (and sometimes in communion with others) the turn of seasons: equinox, solstice, equinox, solstice. i remember a year of commuting between my college town and the suburb north of pittsburgh where i was working at the time. the drive was about an hour and a half one-way. i watched farmers' fields cycle from frozen to thaw to plowed to planted to knee-high-by-the-fourth-of-july to harvest to winter's first frosts again. the only thing that changed for me in that year was a landscape. i was in an emotional holding pattern while my heart was in triage, cauterizing here, replacing with cold unfeeling metal there. that was the year of the robot heart. that was the year i got a myspace. that was the year i stopped letting anyone close but wrote like i was letting someone peer inside me. the only thing i really felt then was the change in the air, the shortening of the days. i was otherwise emotionally devestated. it, like all things, eventually passed. the summer i worked for the census bureau i felt pretty connected to those fields again, commuting from indiana, pa to johnstown, pa every day for months. my heart was lighter then and i lived on the sun and coffee and cigarettes and drove with windows open and my body moved along to the music which didn't stop that summer ever. there are albums i play late at night every summer to conjure that summer tom and i stayed up all night every night and listened to music and scraped by somehow. the seasons, for me, bring a mindfulness of where i've been, what i've learned, who i've loved, who i have become. they bring the narrative into focus, the soundtrack changes just the same.

not many years before my son was born, i started to really just try to be outside for the solstices. more recently, i take those days to turn off my phone, unplug from social media, and be where i am with people i love. it has become a thing i look forward to...but one day hasn't been feeling like enough lately at a time when i find myself needing more and more consecutive days away from reading politics to keep from self-destructing. so, for the week of summer solstice, i shut most of it down and deleted the apps from my phone. i locked up this journal. i effectively disappeared for awhile. it made me think of the girl who swore she didn't need a cell phone and nobody fucking did and if you need me call and listen to my stupid answering machine message de jour and leave me a message and i'll get back to you when i get back to you. all those happy summers with my head in the trees and clouds and not stuck in a phone. the more i think about how we used to live the more i feel like that is how i want to be again. sure, my twitter is back on but perhaps it has outlived it's usefulness just like facebooks and myspaces that came before it. time will tell. the point is that after a week, i am increasingly aware of the way these apps have changed how i feel about being around other people, how i feel about being in the real world. i am already an introvert but these apps have served to keep me at arm's length from every goddamned thing that matters to me. if i'm tweeting, i'm not living. not really. not in that very moment. i've removed myself from life. i'm at arm's length from everyone. one app in particular made me keenly aware of my marking off the time with the seasons, photos has a way of throwing pictures at me and poking me to remember what happened last year at this time. two years ago. three years ago. sometimes, that app makes me remember things i'd like to forget as much as it recalls pictures of me i love and forgot. each image holds a story of who i was taking it for, what i wanted to remember. i left that one alone to keep doing it's thing for now.

i want to be connected again. i want to know who i am and where i am. i have done some serious introspective inspecting these last few weeks and discovered that one of the things that has been hurting my heart the most is being kept at arm's length when i all i want, truly, is to to be drawn close once and for all. but am i being kept at arm's length or am i keeping myself safely there, too? both, i suppose. i want to restore the animal wildness to the this old broken down heart. i want to put the meat back where the metal has been for so long...or at least i think i do. i want to keep making memories for this little kid. i want to be on road trip adventures to see and do everything before i'm out of time on this planet. i am so grateful for the communicative kind people that have been surrounding me and lifting me up lately...the people that have been inspiring me to be less connected but more connected.

so now i focus on other things again. my little guy and i haven't let one day escape us this summer and we aren't wasting a minute of daylight. my skin is turning brown from being out in it. we get our hands dirty. we sweat. i teach him things like how to spot the deer in the woods--and with patience, we were lucky to spot a deer nursing twin fawns on saturday. i teach him to help out, carrying long bark strips to the muddy sections of the trail. i take him to museums and to see music. we talk about the farms we pass on the highway on the way to a biking destination and sing songs as we drive through tunnels. he tells me stories that i would be missing if i were tweeting it all out so i'm just not feeling it as much. we are local and we are global. we are gonna get a landline and fuck cell phone signal issues. i can read a map. it seems funny to think of ditching a phone as a radical idea when i consider that girl all those years ago who never wanted one in the first place.

i am thankful for my solstice week this summer. i am thankful for the knowledge passed on to me from my parents, today particularly the things passed to me from my mother. i feel like i am prioritizing and getting back on track. my heart isn't as heavy as it was and i have finally caught my breath a little. for now i will swim in the social media pool but i don't know for how much longer. i am thankful for being able to be mindful.



.what came before. - .what happened next.

ear-worms live on memories you preserve in your brain - 14 july 2018
606 days - 18 june 2019
a diamond at the bottom of the drain - 20 october 2017
baseball season to football season, abbreviated - 25 september 2017
the doodles - 11 july 2017

latest entry

about me




random entry

other diaries: