34 tagged with #family

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I blink and the hour flashes by. I see my father, stuffing old photographs into a box, in preparation for what he intends as his last move across an ocean. "Photographs are memories," he defends. "Those are the only important things to save."

Writing is an act of desperation, of dragging things out of my brain and sealing them onto some externally visible substrate. It is an act borne of fear, the anxiety of watching the minutes and days change over outside of human control. There is no stopping the tide that pulls your carefully sculpted sandcastle to sea; there is no holding the sides of your snow fort together during a midweek rainstorm.

Annually, folks ask each other for their goals and resolutions for the new year; it is curiosity, mutual accountability, idea-stealing, and maybe just idly filling the space with another human's desires so your own space seems less lonely. This, too, is an act borne of fear. This is us huddled together around a fire as the sunlight fades, wondering what dangers might reach us during the vulnerable period of sleep. We check in with other friendly souls to see who is still standing with us. The only way to survive is to cluster in groups.

I flip backwards through pages and pages of notes, filled with words torn out of my head. Does giving them form make them real? Does capturing them dispel their power? Does removing them free that space for others?

What am I so afraid of? What can any of us be so afraid of?

Fear is an emotional response to the perception of danger. High levels of uncertainty and confusion can present the appearance of danger. Just because you experience fear, does not mean you cannot continue forward.

This has been a good year for lessons.

31 December 2020 13:57

this is an allegory

your mother bought you this pair of shoes when you were young. they didn't seem to fit, but she told you they fit and looked pretty on you and she bought them just for you.

sometimes they catch on things and you trip; your mother scolds you for ripping your pants. you always have blisters.

later, she buys you another pair because you outgrew those. they don't feel any better but you have been told that they fit and look pretty on you. they were bought just for you.

when you are old enough to buy your own shoes, you try on the size you learned to wear. they make hot spots immediately, but you know that is just how shoes feel.

but one day, you are in a shoe store where the shoe person takes the time to measure your feet and present to you something that doesn't rub on your blisters or leave a big gap around your toes. you stand up and take some steps, disbelieving that you could walk without pain.

you learn your new shoe size, and realize that you can try on any kind of shoe you want because there are no rules forbidding it. you learn to run, hike, climb in specialty shoes that you previously never conceived of trying out. sometimes, you enjoy walking around barefoot, airing out your feet that are no longer raw and cramped.

when you visit your mother, she presents to you shoes she got on sale to give to you as a gift. you tell her they're not the right size. she is confused and hurt, because she has bought you shoes for years, how could they not fit?

instead of wedging your feet into that old painful shape again, you don't, because you know that your feet have to support you through so many adventures and you can't go back to hurting them again.

you thank your mother for thinking of you and buying you shoes, but you also say that you prefer to shop for shoes yourself now.

and the memory of all the times you tripped over your own feet, wincing at the blisters, is how you know who you are.

30 October 2019 16:46


there's a shoebox full of letters in a language i can hardly read. years ago, when my mother was packing up her things so she could sell her house and move to a small island, she created piles and piles of objects she didn't want to take with her.

i took this box when she wasn't looking.

i don't think i have the right to read any of these letters, even if i could piece together the glyphs into sentences, thoughts, ideas. but i didn't think she had the right to throw them away.

all objects are just objects, i tell myself. but some objects seem more precious than others.

they will all be dust someday.

04 December 2018 00:02


i'd go to the office with my father when i was in grade school, and he'd park me in the copy room where i was allowed to take a few sheets each from the cubby holes of rainbow paper, and i was allowed to draw on the whiteboard around his flow charts.

sometimes, i'd look over his shoulder and watch lines and lines of code inch down the screen as he stepped through the debugger. 'did you write all of that?' i asked him; earlier, he'd taught me how to write a prompt that would record your name and give you simple arithmetic questions and grade your responses, and the effort it took me to produce a few dozen lines of code seemed monumental. i couldn't imagine how long it would take to produce files and files and files with hundreds and thousands of lines.

i didn't yet know what it meant to spend forty hours a week at the office, writing and testing and fixing programs. now i look at projects that i've pecked on for a few inches every few days, weaving together structures that grow into worlds, and perhaps i am starting to understand.

there's this life lived, and there's the recorded efforts that we hope justify it.

09 July 2018 22:59


fireflies press against the screens, blinking blearily like how i feel when i had to set an alarm several hours before i'd have been ready to wake up. they drift around, seemingly getting sucked back against the plastic grid, flashing like they're trying to send a signal to my glowing phone light inside.

in the smokies, the park closed for weeks around firefly season, citing light pollution from cars as confusing their native firefly population. you could buy a ticket on one of a small number of shuttles that would bring visitors, once or twice a night, to a designated spot, where you would then get out and walk over a hillside and settle in to watch the show. last year, poorly-scheduled demolition projects ran kleeg lights all night long, and people reported poor firefly turnout.

when we lived in iowa, my mother caught fireflies, waited for them to flash, then pinched off the sac of luciferen so she could paint images on my arms; i cried, realizing she was killing things to decorate my body.

in a recent phone call to my mother, i admitted to feeling on edge, riding the crest of stress and near-burnout, and that my response was to find everything calamitous, all words spoken to me as personal attacks. she laughed a little, telling me that she's known since i was a child that i tend towards oversensitivity, that i am quick to find things earth-shattering and disturbing.

23 June 2018 21:54

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