Sunday, March 17, 2013


After this, there'll only be five more posts before 500. Five hundred. I've seen the number climbing for awhile now, ever closer to that mark, and slowing my pace as I wonder what my five-hundredth-post will be about. Such pressure.

My thoughts of late have been traveling with my head: in a gravitational pull toward my pillow. That rest I was craving did arrive, eventually, though it was not as I expected, or when, and not near often enough. Much the same as I expect God to yell loudly, and he whispers instead. Or that feeling when you think you're about to drink water, but take a swig of milk. Somewhere on the edges of and between those two analogies lies the definition of my week.

Nights needed me awake, and mornings were spent grasping at sleep. Afternoons filled up with urgent diversions, feelings of guilt, feelings of elation, tedium, routine, and routine breakers. Evenings stretched themselves out and knocked me sideways into bed at odd hours.

There were interruptions, sour in smell and taste. Like bad milk unexpected, I found dark corners of my heart where I was sure good light had been. My innards boiled in helpless defensiveness and I carved words on to the sign post, so I remember next time: grace is for those who need it. I wonder if I will remember next time.

The week was redeemed with enough beauty to pause the heart and start it up again forever; wild joy and quiet thanks abound. Humbly, I remark on the privelege of being present. In the middle of an operating room, nurses rustling, doctors attending, machines filled with beeps and whirs, came a baby's cry; soft but unmistakable; quiet, but here. He arrived early but with care and attention, and though my sister had a feeling it was a boy she was still delighted at the announcement. I viewed his arrival through my camera lense and tears. A kiss on her relieved forehead, and a quiet reprimanding of the clock: my brother-in-law is on his way! A few more hours and he'd be the one kissing her; the one standing here instead. When his flight lands, I show him pictures, and give them space, and think how little I care of sleep, so long as my new little nephew is okay.

There were moments I was too busy, and too over my head. There were rare hours of quiet, still, peace. I got to watch the eyes I love look at me as though I were beautiful, as I sat disheveled, hair in tatters, back curved from lack of sleep. I saw that life is fast paced and I am too hazy to keep up, though it continues to show me beauty so I might try.

 Afterthought #495: I am happy life has me happy to try.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

guest post: Naomi

An introduction to Naomi.

I could have called this: "guest post: poetry from a version of my future self." You've read, more than once, about my struggle with balance. I often cite the things that keep me from what I should be doing, or the things that keep me drawn because I should be doing them. Sometimes I can't tell which is which; these days, life is made up of
all good things, so even my distractions have purpose and value. As I examine my life, dreams, and expectations, and then factor in the worlds I now love to call my own, I worry that I won't get anything done. What of art, if the schedule beckons? What of solitude and study, if relationship is also joy?

In response to the questions, which have come through in both specific sentences and unspoken threads in the fabric of all I write about, I received a wonderful email from a cherished friend of mine. Naomi had taken the time to reflect on these things, had been reflecting on them already, and wrote a stunning poem.
Here is a woman - an artist - who has managed to find the balance; in her home, in her artistic endeavors, in her relationships. Here is a woman who gets things done, while remaining honest about the journey it takes to do so. Her words are for her children (who are all, by the way, exact replica cutouts of wide-eyed dimpled fairytale creatures), and I found comfort in the things she said. As I look toward a future filled with all-good-things, I am less nervous, knowing that it is okay to love a craft and a diversion at the same time.

Poem by Naomi Pahl.

You look at me and whimpers shake you
Even though
    right now
I am trying to unburden my soul
by trying to express everything within it

You need
    (more than my need)

And even though I feel stifled-
   in that moment
that world
      that revolves in your eyes
           that revolves around you
Pulls me into its orbit

I don't make you wait any longer
I make my will bow
     to your will

I bring you your bread and your milk
no thanks
no words
     just hungry satisfaction

I return to my resolve to CREATE
Trying to steal time

You appear under my arm
       and smile
Crumbs falling on my lap
    create a mess I choose to ignore

Lift me
Hold me

Your blanket appears
in a pile on my leg
You clutch my knee
trying to climb the mountain
onto the soft oracle
    The one who
makes everything feel safe

I put my art aside
relegating it for another moment in time

I bring your face close
and smell your sweet milky breath
          Your eyes nod into mine

And I stare
And I marvel
And I stare
because you're the one perfect SOUL EXPRESSION
       I made
     without even trying.

Watermelon Juice. Photo by Naomi Pahl.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

overtired introvert manifesto

Nom Kinnear King

Why is there always something
standing in the way of rest?
I'm sick I'm overscheduled;
with the time I've got, I do my best.
Be it memories' with holding,
or future planned distress,
it  seems I can't get away from
this feeling in my chest.

I look at the things that are breaking me,
and think, "what luck is this!"
I've got more good than the world has,
I live in situational bliss.
There is plenty of food on the table,
and love; more than I could wish.
Yet I find myself looking at crevices,
small pauses,
and wondering if, here, are the things I miss.

I want an evening for me,
with aloneness and pages and less;
so my thoughts can remind me,
my heartbeat re-steady,
and I and my soul decompress.

I want to be selfish,
I want to rest.

© afterthoughtcomposer

Saturday, March 2, 2013

friends who define the word

Sometimes the house gets too messy to clean, with every unkempt project-in-waiting feeling like a weight on the chest. So I pick away at things like a bird in a feeder, moving seeds here and there, never making significant progress in the pile. In theory I consider myself an organized person, but theory doesn't leave much room for my real-life inabilities; inabilities such as: keep organized in real life. I know, it seems more than contradictory to first say I consider myself strong in an area, and then to admit weakness in the same. C'est my vie.

My friend Anita and I send emails between desks all day, passing those inevitable slow moments with a quip or thought, an update or a how's your day. In the busyness we send words to calm or, when necessary, distract. It's a good system.

Yesterday's thread:

Me, to Anita: Do you know anyone who wants to be paid to come and clean my whole house? By that I mean, fold and organize my laundry (which has taken over my whole house). I pay in cookies.

Anita, to me: I'm really good at folding and organizing laundry!!!!!!  Can I come over tomorrow?  afternoon?  Cookies not necessary.

I don’t think you realize the degree to which my house has turned itself inside out. My clothes are everywhere. Everywhere. I want to burn them, but then I’d have to buy a new wardrobe, and I don’t quite have the energy for that either. Predicament.

Remarkably, she kept insisting she wanted to come over. Truth be told, I thought she was joking. Surely, the offer was a hoax. So yah, okay let's have you come to my office tomorrow to get my house key so you can go tidy my apartment while I'm at work, that's fantastic! When she showed up on my lunch break today, I had readied myself for a coffee date. Instead, she held out her hand for the key. And went to my house while I was at work. And folded all the laundry on my couch.

So now, I am home and my house feels better. All because of Anita, who I dubbed in yesterday's email reply as 
'MOTHER THERESA INCARNATE, a blessing to all, a burden to none, and the cutest tush this side of the River Thames.'

My feeble thanks came in the form of a pin with Wonder Woman on the front. 
A silly gift indeed, for a friend who defines the word.