I’m Not Young Enough To Know Everything

“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


426299_3462935531267_2111031890_nMy brother and I at the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, London…in 1986…

My first tattoo is quite terrible, and in a terribly predictable spot on my body. My “Tramp Stamp” is of one of the faeries from the book “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” by J.M. Barrie. This specific faerie was drawn by Arthur Rackham, my favorite children’s book illustrator, and is a depiction of one of the faeries who carry lonely, orphaned and abandoned Peter to safety. The tattoo was made many years ago, when I was all of nineteen, at a tattoo shop on 6th Street in Austin, before I knew anything about getting tattoos. It fades with each passing year, and needs to be retouched very much. But, the sentiment of it remains.

peter_with_fairies

Today, I am reminded, from the advice of my wonderful friend Julie, to be grateful everyday for all the things that are happening. To keep the faith, so to speak. I wrote the following in my journal the other night. I typically don’t combine my journals with the blog, but will today…

“Always remember each lesson, each truth as it is revealed, and be grateful for each, even if in hindsight.

Always remember the power of being true to myself, and that boundaries don’t have to be walls.

Always remember the raw beauty of love, of being in love, even if I fall in love with not the right people…be able to love, and to really understand love as accepting the differences between myself and other people and being able to see the beauty of others through seeing the world through their eyes: to accept others, to really forgive.

To let people teach me, even if their way is confusing or difficult or different from the way I would like.

Remember to be grateful just to have this time to make these realizations. To understand unconditional love and do my best to let go of fear. To be peaceful and loving and happy. To accept people’s faults and my own. To believe people’s compliments.

For more on the Snow Moon, you can read Angel’s more detailed interpretation of the impact of February on the psyche here…..

02 arthur.rackham.imagina.1914.frontispiece.

Advertisements

Six Houses in One Year

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”

– Anais Nin

Gypsy Caravan Simple Sue 2The tiny, less than 350 square foot-ness of my new house is making me think of the interiors of caravans. When I was a little girl, we would drive through the countryside in England and sometimes, I would be lucky enough to catch sight of these in fields. I have always dreamed of making one of my own…

I have lived a vagabond lifestyle over the past year; leaving my row house in South Philly last April started a path of moving every month or two, from house to house.When I move into the new house next week, it will be my sixth home in one year. A year ago, I lived on Rosewood Street, in between Broad Street and Mifflin Street in the Newbold neighborhood of South Philly. About one year ago, my house was broken into and everything I owned was thrown into piles of disarray in the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. I remember walking through the door that day, into the darkness of the living room, darkness created by heavy velvet curtains on the front windows, and noticed the cushions of the couch, books, decorations were all jumbled on the floor, tumbled into a giant mess. When I walked upstairs into my room, my mattress was tossed in one direction, and everything in my bedroom was torn asunder, cabinets opened, shelves ripped apart, everything on the floor as if a tornado had ripped it all apart.

tumblr_m4x9jp6UsE1r1qrlfo1_400

I remember that night vividly, despite the tequila haze that clouded my vision. I spent the whole night on my leather couch, after putting it back together, calling everyone I knew and trying to figure out how this all happened. I kept walking upstairs to try to deal with my bedroom, only to see it again, and walk back downstairs. It took me 24 hours to be able to even go into that room.

After that day, I never felt safe in the house, and ceased to sleep well. It has taken until the last few weeks to be able to sleep well again. About a month after that, my roommate and I got rid of all but our most important possessions, and moved out: she to her brother’s house, and me to my friend’s. That was house #2, in Germantown. It was a beautiful house filled with a beautiful family and their many pets: I shared a room with a canary who sang. House #3 came about a month or so later, when I drove to Maine and landed in my parent’s basement. I took every sheet I could find and made the basement into a giant tent, in which I lived until August. In August, I moved into House #4 in Seal Harbor, Maine; a house with no cell phone reception. I had to walk one mile to the beach to use my phone, and spent many nights there sitting at the dining room table, facing my demons, writing about them, meeting them halfway. I spent nights sitting on the Seal Harbor beach sketching, and drank tea on the rocks in the waning summer sunlight.  In late September, I traveled across the country, and then returned to Maine in late October, moving into house #5, on Lookout Lane in Northeast Harbor. Here I have been, in the house that floats above the street, in this beautiful garage apartment, until now. Next week, I shall gather together the few possessions that I have in bins and boxes, and trundle across town to the new house. The house that I don’t have to leave, because, although I am still a renter, it is mine.

The little house that sleeps on the harbor, up on a hill, next to a day parking lot, and a tree-lined path down to the ocean. Across the street from a few houses, an art studio, a restaurant, and a jewelry gallery, behind a museum and a demolition company with a fleet of red trucks.

Waiting

Bruegel_1565_Winter-scene-with-a-bird-trap_WIK

Pieter Bruegel the Elder – A Winter Scene, 1562

What do I think of when I am lying there?: on my stomach, propped up on my elbows, leafing through art books on Toulouse Lautrec and Pieter Bruegel and Peter Beard; gazing upon the paintings in the collection of the Mauritshuis Museum.

Mad_meg

Dulle Griet by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pressed into the floor, feeling the coarse plastic fibers of commercial carpet dig into my elbows, through the fabric of my light shirt, I catch myself looking around. Behind me is a pool table, under which stand two polar bears, staring out at me. Above me are deeply pocked marks of pool cues’ chalk, all over the ceiling. To my left are giraffes and hyenas, and up above the window, the skeleton of a sea turtle, many years gone from this world. To my right is my dearest friend here, lost in his own thoughts.

Before me is an off-white enameled Jotul wood stove, with a front window already stained with soot. Through the soot shadow, one can depict the licking of bright orange flames made amber as they filter through the dirty shade. The flames grow and gather, spewing up and across the ceiling of the stove, recirculating.

img645 web

I am thinking about birds’ wings and the lips of Nepenthes plants. I am thinking about patches of snow on the surface of Little Long Pond, and of playing Pac Man on the table consoles at Pizza Hut in the ’80s. I am thinking about the tea that I am drinking, about artificial, non-dairy creamer: the stuff you can light on fire if you sprinkle it onto a candle’s flame. I am thinking about scent, about wood shavings, about ice melting, about the songs of the birds that just recently reappeared.

I am thinking about change.

Mad-Meg-by-Pieter-Bruegel-I-PARTIAL-butthead

We all know that birds’ bones are hollow so that their bodies and wings are lighter than ours: this is one of the reasons that they can fly and we are glued to the Earth. Each morning I watch five crows flit around from tree to tree along my street. They break into peoples’ garbage seeking treasure. They yammer at the the doves and the blue jays yammer back at them. They swoop and dive, and turn their heads to look at each other, and to me, as I stare at them. They pretend to be scared of me, when I know better. They were here before me.

Yesterday I went skating, maybe for the last time, and played an age-old game on ice skates. Pretending that the patches of snow were obstacles, were pools of lava, my friend and I skated round and round them, ever tightening our circles in between and through them, forming curly-cues and slashes and ellipses and circles in skate marks between the snow patches. The snow patches, large and small, close together and far apart, became deadly territory that would turn you into a ghost if you touched them, and provided fodder for chasing each other, not too quickly, between them in a game of ghost tag. Ghost tag, so much like Pac Man, making me think of the way the crust crunched at Pizza Hut when I was a child: how greasy it was, and how all the windows were made of diamond shaped stained glass in clear and red. How we sat at booths together but snuck off to play video games at those strangely stalwart video game tables.

img651 web

These are the thoughts that cross my mind in mid-winter, in February, as the ice and snow melt outside, again. I learned my lesson last week, when a short February thaw had me convinced I’d be in sundresses in no time, only to be blasted by a fierce winter storm once more.

After the snow came roaring through, again, a few days ago, my friend and I drove down to Jordan Pond to assess the likelihood of skating. As we clambered over a snowbank, carrying skates down the path to the water, we crossed another, larger snowbank and were hit, full force, full frontal with 55 mph gusts of blowing snow. Wind so fierce that it blew ice crystals into your eyes. Wind so strong you couldn’t even look into it. Wind so loud it howled around and through your ears. Wind so tough that we both laughed and walked back to the truck; recognizing when to go home is a skill one learns during winter in Maine.

Mad-Meg-by-Pieter-Bruegel-I-PARTIAL-butthead

Winter is drawing to a close: you can feel it in the air. There is a lightness to the sky, as if the sun is coming back. The birds are calling. The days are full of sunshine, when for so long, they have been so dark. There is a sadness in this: a loss. The darker times when all that is before you is you and your work, you and the tiny world that surrounds you, when the sun sets before 4 and all you can think to do is create; well that time is shifting and going away. The light is returning, flooding us with the recognition that soon, buds will burst open on tree limbs, grass will grow, crocus will appear in front of our eyes. Soon, the light will return and the sunsets will change, the water colour will, too, and people will return to this place that has been so quiet and lovely for so long. Flowers will grow, shoulders will be bared, times will change. People will change.

People already are changing: a nervousness is invading every cell of every person, causing each of us angst and anxiety, expressed in unique ways. Peoples’ eyes flit back and forth, as if they are watching for something. Some people draw back, into themselves, away from those that they have held dear during the darker months. Some people are planning, some people are counting down the days, some people are thankful for the retreat of the ice and snow.

Some people are waiting; listening for the ice to crack.

Mad-Meg-by-Pieter-Bruegel-I-PARTIAL-woman

Photodiary — Snowshoeing on Jordan Pond

“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person.”

Sylvia Plath

snowshoeing

snowshoeing14

snowshoeing12

Last week we had a huge snowstorm here. Nemo, we were warned, was the storm of the century, but it turned out just to be about two feet of snow and lots of wind. The wind woke me up that night because it shook the house. I dislike sleeping on the second floor of buildings: I am more comfortable on the first floor, and this apartment is very high off the ground. At some points it felt as if the whole building was twisting around its center point, and I remembered how, in the old days here, they used to bolt the houses into the ground using ropes and later, cables, that were driven into the bedrock to stop the houses from blowing away during the gales. The coast of Maine: so wild, so windy, with its daily changing weather and unpredictable light, dark, air, stars, water. Last week, during the storm, the seas were up to 30 foot swells and the boats stayed in the harbor, lashed down to the docks with nylon ropes. The sea roiled and boiled and changed color to a darker winter green as it swooped all around our island. A storm surge of 2 feet covered the rocks and froze the grasses at water’s edge.

snowshoeing5

After the storm had passed, and I had dug myself out of the driveway, I went snowshoeing for the first time, down at Jordan Pond, my favorite skating spot that was now covered in snow.

snowshoeing6

This place is a winter wonderland, and now that I am no longer scared of winter, and know what it is, and how long it lasts and how different it makes you feel, so reflective, I love to go outside and explore how it changes from day to day. Each day is distinct: as if the environment switches, late at night, when we are asleep, like the screens in that story The Veldt. Each morning when I wake up I see differences in the snow, in the ice, in the light; I hear different bird calls and the shadows on the rocks have changed. The idea of Earth as Dynamic is nowhere more true than here: where you can watch the landscape change almost before your eyes.

snowshoeing8

Here I am, just past the point of no return for winter, when the first hints of spring are peeping in the tips of oak trees in the forests….when the birds are singing more than they have for three months. In other places, plants are bursting forth, but for us, we have a while yet to wait.

snowshoeing2

snowshoeing9

snowshoeing11

While snowshoeing, I paid attention to the snow, and noticed how much it looked like sandstone in the desert. The wind had licked layers of ice crystals and made beautiful dunes that reminded me of being at the beach in England, or in the desert of California.

snowshoeing13snowshoeing10snowshoeing7

After snowshoeing on top of the frozen lake, on top of the powdery snow, I took a moment to snowshoe into the woods at pond’s edge and look at the trees. So much like the setting of a fairy story, this wintertime; I am constantly on the lookout for wolves, or harpies, or secret, magic people dressed in capes, or….something. Mostly, though, I see no one at all.

snowshoeing16snowshoeing15snowshoeing17“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”

John Muir

How to Not Get Lost

schooner headSchooner Head, Acadia National Park – February 1st

“When we come back down from the north it’s like coming down from a mountain. We descend through layers of clarity, of coolness and uncluttered light, down past the last granite outcrop, the last small raggedy-edged lake, into the thicker air, the dampness and warm heaviness, the cricket noises and weedy meadow smells of the south.

We reach our house in the afternoon. It looks strange, different, as if enchanted. Thistles and goldenrod have grown up around it, like a thorny hedge, out of the mud. The huge hole and the mountain of earth next door have vanished, and in their place is a new house. How has this happened? I wasn’t expecting such changes.”

Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye

schooner head2

schooner head3

tumblr_l7isrcAM3p1qbmt20

If tomorrow morning the sky falls…

have clouds for breakfast.

If night falls…

use stars for streetlights.

If the moon gets stuck in a tree…

cover the hole in the sky with a strawberry.

If you have butterflies in your stomach…

ask them into your heart.

tumblr_l7istdozha1qbmt20If your heart catches in your throat…

ask a bird how she sings.

If the birds forget their songs…

listen to a pebble instead.

If you lose a memory…

embroider a new one in its place.

yardSale3If you lose the key…

throw away the house.

If the clock stops…

use your own hands to tell time.

If the light goes out…

wear it around your neck and go dancing.

If the bus doesn’t come…

catch a fast cloud.

If it’s the last dance…

dance backwards.

If you find your socks don’t match…

stand in a flowerbed.

tumblr_l7isrnuP4l1qbmt20

If your shoes don’t fit…

give them to the fish in the pond.

If your horse needs shoes…

let him use his wings.

If the sun never shines again…

hold fireflies in your hands to keep warm.

If you’re afraid of the dark…

remember the night rainbow.

If there is no happy ending…

make one out of cookie dough.

tumblr_l7issc0Qlm1qbmt20“I believe that man has three basic qualities: a sensitive and intuitive perception that can exercise itself in the world of the senses, an analytical capability that expresses itself in the abstract world of concepts and thought, and finally a prophetic capability that belongs to the artists, the poets, the creators, the inventors.

These three always integrated qualities exist in all human creatures and they are always directed toward the intelligent consciousness of others and of the world that surrounds us. That is why the most natural response to the question “Why are we here?” becomes: to know.”

– Gae Aulenti, Italian Architect, designed the Musee d’Orsay in Paris

“Be gentle on yourself. You have a right to be here.” If you find yourself lost, in the dark, take some time, take a deep breath, and keep moving forward.

schooner head4

All pictures and poetic text is from the wonderful book “If You’re Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow” by Cooper Edens.