This I Believe

Prepared for Mr. Ed Tettemer himself.


I believe in chosen family, that we define ourselves by those we choose to use in our juxtaposition.  Maybe it harkens back to the eternal battle of nature and nurture, between destiny and free will, but I'd rather believe that who we bring into our lives to share our days says more about ourselves than the woman in whose womb I was incubated, the accidental or planned siblings with whom I was raised.

I don't mean to assign undue value to very person in my life- some people are just distant cousins who I spent a nice summer abroad with, some are childhood pen pals from what seems like another planet, and some are your grandmother's sisters who you know you should respect but maybe don't understand all the reasons why. Nor do I intend to discredit that through the crucible of life the very person who slept in the top bunk your whole childhood is who you most undoubtedly would have chosen anyway or that the parent who sacrificed much will always be deserving of eternal gratitude and a call on Sunday.

The person who protects and teases, that's my brother. Some of my brothers share bits of my DNA, some do not. The person who commiserates and makes mischief is my sister. One of my sisters I washed in a tub when she was a baby, one washed me as an adult. The person who lent quiet strength, that is my mother. She was 50 when I was born. 

Just like we can move into neighborhoods with nice neighbors, we can put ourselves in baskets on river banks and allow serendipity and bit of faith help us find our family.


Apples in Our Eyes Mix

“Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing” – Magnetic Fields

“Sea of Love” – Cat Power

“I’ll Be Seeing You” – Billie Holiday

“Chariot” – Page France

“Thank You for Your Love” – Antony and the Johnsons

“Let Me Be Your Bride” – Virgin of the Birds

“Fade Into You” – Mazzy Star

“Peace Like a River” – Spoon

“When the Night Comes” – Dan Auerbach

“Honey or Tar” – CocoRosie

“Ask Her to Dance” – Coconut Records

“I’ll Come Running Back to You” – Sam Cooke

“By Your Side” – CocoRosie

“Heartbeats” – Jose Gonzalez

“You Really Got a Hold on Me” – She & Him

“Home” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

“Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” – Ingrid Michaelson

“I Summon You” – Spoon


The Blood Off Your Tendons (and thoughts on circles)

It's the blood off your tendons that makes the leather of your new shoes soft. The pain of a long journey and the regrets we feel when we step on cracks in the sidewalk. The backs we've broken. The callouses we've built that our loved ones won't rub at night. The pain of a long journey and the burn on our cheeks where our rose-tinted glasses failed us.

It's strange how we soldier forward; strange that we've stood naked- in degrees between literal and analogical- so proud, so strong and sure, for men we've lost the addresses for. Strange how we looked with eyes so soft and shaded when the winds blew wild enough to knot and noose our hair.

The pain of a long journey, like when you stare too directly and too long at passerbys on the train, when you look at the edges of two objects too color-contrasted they seem two-dimensional, the embarrassment you feel when you're caught. The vanishing of the thought that maybe one day you'd mindlessly rub their callouses in front of a blaring television without wondering where they came from, that one day you'd stand naked in front of them- in degrees between literal and analogical.

It's the blood off your tendons that makes the leather of your new shoes soft.



"Took some broad here on our first date cause shes vegetarian. I figured "hey, its a chinese place i'm sure i'll like something." I figured wrong. Everything tasted like funnel cake! I don't get it. Granted I'm sure if I was a weirdo vegan and this is the best I could do I'd love it but alas I'm normal and like meat. Vegan food is too much for me and I would assume the same for most normals."

an actual review for Harmony Vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia (via www.urbanspoon.com)


Just Old

I just feel old.

Every morning I'm more surprised that my knees don't creak and my back still straightens. My chest feels old, my stomach, my eyes- all old.

All "oh, I've seen it all before." All "time will tell."

I think I've always been this way. Maybe I was born like Benjamin Button, except different.

If I feel this way now, how will I feel when my skin is actually crumpled crepe paper? When I actually have clouded eyes? When I can open pickle jars or button my clothes?

I do wonder if I'll get any better at crossword puzzles...



With stakes and some twine, we made a rectangle and decided which soft green bed of grass would be turned and made to garden. Not for ourselves, but for those who let us sleep on the floors of their now-grown children. We were in the mountains somewhere, in the South somewhere, sometime in the spring, but the sun beat down on our cheeks and made them flush, coaxed the sweat and salt from our skin.

I had a shovel, and you had one too. Carefully, I lined up the back of my shovel with the twine on one side. I bore down, with the handle pushing hard against my ribs. I didn't make it down more than a couple inches, embarrassed and frustrated with my feminine physical incapabilities. My cheeks flushed more. The sweat dripped and dampened the small of my back, and the back of my neck, and my underarms, the space behind my knees. I watched you, casually, pick up a shovel- its handle like splintered bone and its dull metalic blade- watched you position next to the twine and drive deep straight and solid into the grass to the blade's hilt, reared back, and turned the soil.

I watched your arm bulge when you lifted the Apalachian soil, turned it and pushed aside the rocks. I saw the rivulets of sweat on your temples and through the hair on your chest, the beads on your forehead, saw the veins in your arm deliver oxygen to your extremities. I watched you drive deep into the earth, over and over, and over, turning it inside out, leaving it exposed and rough.