Friday, March 21, 2008

72/365 - Jordan

He was a dark-haired boy; handsome, but with empty eyes. He was liked, in the in-crowd. And then one night, as the story went, he morphed into a monster that made the girls avert their gaze.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

71/365 - Laurel B

The woman of a hundred blazers, each a different color to match her mood. A jovial lady, sometimes hectic and confused, she'd become a hawk, ice-blue eyes zeroing in on what mattered most-kids speaking their minds.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

70/365 - Bogdanka

Bogdanka chain smokes, legs crossed, eyes narrowed, chin up in the air. A woman in black. A movie star. Torch singer, trapped in office desk land. She lights up another. Memories of the Old Country come flooding in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

69/365 - Admir

On Smack Down nights he beamed, eager to shout at the TV along with his three-year-old. "Keep up!" he'd say, broom in hand. Admir ran away from war and here was homesick to tears. Family was everything.

Monday, March 17, 2008

68/365 - Liliya

Those miniskirts made the boys blush, didn't she see? Too busy severing her ties with the thin-scarf village ladies from back home. Talking, her eyes would make contact, then swoop down to the ground, for fear of being found out.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

67/365 - William

William wears his heart on his sleeve, sweaty from trabajo few appreciate. When he says sorry, his eyes water, he sprints out the door. His hometown is jungles, limestone caves, turquoise waters, and resorts spreading like a disease.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

66/365 - Larry

Larryman always had a scheme: strike it big, rake in the dough, live like a blue collar king. A house and some money for poker. He wasn't one for much ass-kissing: one day at work, the next day gone.

Friday, March 14, 2008

65/365 - Dan

Dan was beer, books and buffoonery. A brilliant writer, or so his friends said. His agoraphobic wife became his best excuse, but more likely he made himself scarce when a girl he secretly liked broke his heart.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

64/365 - Mindy

Mindy, the perky girl with a boring boyfriend, wasn't scared of a uniform. At Applebee's she jumped right into a manager seat. Sold phone plans on the side, which worked amazingly like a repellent.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

63/365 - Bobby

Robert was Bobby. Or Owl. Or a walk in the woods. Eyes always smiling, breath withheld as if waiting for something: a better place, enlightenment... Tender, then gone. How did we drift so far apart?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

62/365 - Pancho

The owner downs one Corona after another, watching the white-fleshed girls twirl, heaping plates in hand. Meanwhile Pancho churns out fancy gringo grub, each burrito a quarter closer to the new house for the familia, a school uniform for the hermana, a bus ticket home.

Monday, March 10, 2008

61/365 - Teresa

Teresa, madre de la comunidad. Her voice a hand, a song for: the girl whose mother was taken away; a grandmother, apron hiding her aching breast and tired thighs; a blinding farmer with family behind a fence guarded by guns.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

60/365 - Noah

He was our kind of a boy, or so I thought. But when we, the sisters, unveiled the tall tales from which we all would build our house, Noah went looking for bigger fish to fry.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

59/365 - Aram

Aram: a name that sends you sailing on a turquoise sea somewhere far. Behind his pretty face was a wafer-thin soul. His chess game went fast. One move and check, he had you by the throat. No-chin girl? Not a funny joke.

Friday, March 7, 2008

58/365 - Courtney

Gone for seventeen years and back again, Counterculture Courtney minces no words. She opens her door, serves soup and bread, laughs big. I know I can melt in her arms and cry.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

57/365 - Erika

Erika lived around the corner, her yellow house warm and inviting. She only had her dad. Tragic, I thought. She should have talked some sense into her friend, my boyfriend's other girl.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

56/365 - Bishop

The piano and this jazz cat from another era were a match made in heaven. With a raspy voice and a blink of his one good eye he would greet me. We never spoke at length. He was too much of a man.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

55/365 - Sanna

Like waterfalls, her people's sentences flow and drop from voiced to breathy, the last words inhaled. Her people rub their skin raw in the heat of the sauna. Their houses are made of pine. Around each corner is a lake, waiting.

Monday, March 3, 2008

54/365 - Faith

For three nights I, Iphigenia, called her mother. But she, in her red velvet dress, always kept her distance. Never having had a child, she could not fathom what it would feel like to lose a daughter to the gods.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

53/365 - Bernhard

The jolly robot speaks to me again of caulk and his love of machines. Rent is due, he says. I dread the pipe surgery he's clamoring to perform. When he turns away I pull the curtains closed: "Bye bye, landlord. Go away."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

52/365 - Charles

Charles with eyes of a heroin junkie, collected rent checks by day and preached to lost souls by night. In the basement room with no windows he kept a genie who'd leap out to greet me at laundry time.

Friday, February 29, 2008

51/365 - Stephen

I didn't know what to make of his icy blue eyes and soap actor face. Most of the time we drove across the country in silence, gliding eerily over the plains, all other passengers women or girls, he the only rooster in the coop.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

50/365 - Alan

It is not polite to laugh at a small, graying, wild-haired gringo in cop sunglasses, frozen in fear high up on the steps of the Pyramid of the Moon. Instead, softly beckon him until the fear melts away and the man descends.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

49/365 - Angelina

After two years of living across from her, I meet Angelina of the humble pink house, owner of a maniac sausage dog, wife of a taxi driver who always shouts. It's true; someone else on her block knows Russian.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

48/365 - Tom

Tom barely says hi, so I barely remember his name. His wife is the neighborly one. He drives a silver car, likes to watch sports on TV and has two kids in California.

Monday, February 25, 2008

47/365 - Derrick

He used to say he believes in nothing, but his heart has softened. Derrick, a man of more than seven lives: from an island, from the motherland, the seas, the weapon-filled jungle, and finally the metropolis with cameras for eyes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

46/365 - Suzanne

We'd meet in her attic room devoted to poetry, fire in the gas stove burning, her breathy voice reading poems, so light and easy. I shared mine too, wondering how much longer till I run out of not want, but need.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

45/365 - Louise

Louise, aka Lion Lady, looked like a secret agent and acted like a warden self-promoted to boss. She wanted people to be afraid of her, and most were. Her only weaknesses: her daughter and food.

Friday, February 22, 2008

44/365 - Sanela

She shared her secret: afraid of dying at fourteen, she thought herself crazy. I too was afraid of death at her age, but not because of war. Telling someone shattered the fear, lifted her so she could soar.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

43/365 - Vašek

I recognized him in disguise as the devil when I was five. He appeared at our house in his pinkish tights the way devils do with angels and St. Nicholas each December. The fairytale gone, I raged at the adults for their lies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

42/365 - Elaine

Elaine, the icy piano woman, cringed instead of speaking. When she took over the warm-up for the director, her hands shook. Each eye looked in a different direction. She kept herself walled off from all of us.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

41/365 - Dr. Wright

When everything around was quicksand, Dr. Wright was my lone island of solid ground. He'd yell till his face turned crimson, but he had demands, vision, expectations. He steered us in making music like nothing else mattered.

Monday, February 18, 2008

40/365 - Patrice

I watched her channel a spirit. She sounded half-asleep and parched. I was a king soul, she said; a poet in my last life. Her belief in soul ages struck a chord with me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

39/365 - Rebecca

What a good neighbor she is: always pruning, weeding, bringing over plates of fresh pastries and flowers. When the paramedics came, she hustled over offering help. And we? Ungrateful, reclusive slobs with a toddler who yells and pees on shrubs.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

38/365 - Dagmar

She, my first grade teacher, understood our fragility. When the learning was enough, she let us rest our heads on our desks and told stories like the one in which she went sailing down a river.

Friday, February 15, 2008

37/365 - Mr. Holub

In translation, his name meant pigeon. For the school picture he wore orange and green polyester. The only male teacher in my grade school, he taught gardening. But all I remember was our weekly walk to the plot and others doing the digging.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

36/365 - Carmen

I liked how tough she was - that silent butch look and attitude. I liked her name and how its flamboyance cut through her veneer. The other day, years later, she recognized me and asked: "Are you prego?" "My baby's dead," I could not answer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

35/365 - Filip

Fatherhood transformed this mafioso man-child into a tender young man. No one expected this when only months ago his macho talk shut his woman in the kitchen, his hand on the cash box and ass in shiny leather pants on his supersonic motorbike.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

34/365 - Robert

This old man poet, each poem an ode to self, had a thing for young girls. His hope to dazzle me in his dark house with beef stew and the idea of touch theater sent insects crawling up my spine.

Monday, February 11, 2008

33/365 - Skip

Skip's face was like Bill's: puffy and red with narrow eyes aimed down and sideways. That and too much cologne meant he was not to be trusted. After I left, the ceiling caved in and burying the dusty plaques covering his office walls.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

32/365 - Ahadi

They said she was "so ghetto" and shuddered at the mention of her name. For me, she wrote about her neighborhood: the trash, the gunshots and murders in her building. I said she was talented and watched her hard shell melt away.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

31/365 - George

George, the zombie teacher's right hand boy, was among the walking dead. Vampire-like, he only wore black and kept his nails long and sharp. When grading papers, he would go wild with the red pen, flexing his intellect, elevating himself above his schoolmates.

Friday, February 8, 2008

30/365 - Justin

I was new to the country and scared. Justin lent an ear as an older brother might, squelching the fear in me while we canoed from island to island, sleeping under the stars, eating granola, learning songs.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

29/365 - Randy

Randy, the cheerful school bus driver, handed tootsie rolls out to us immigrant kids. My universe was so small then: school, home, and the strange, dreamy time in between with Randy's smile, small talk with the Brazilian brothers, hot freeway air through the windows.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

28/365 - Bernice

Bernice was everyone's mother. Her voice full of breath soothed and caressed, her hands always helping or fixing things. Wherever she was I pictured her childhood farm surrounding her: the smell of freshly turned soil and bread, starched laundry and dish soap.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

27/365 - Bill

He reveled in being the gatekeeper. His ancient, puffy, beat-colored face and blood-tinged eyes screamed: "Drunk!" With a perpetual shit stain on the back of his pants, he chain-smoked in class and slurred his words. He was a creep, his boyfriend a son-of-a-bitch.

Monday, February 4, 2008

26/365 - Daniel K.

A bastard of a friend who rented out his mouse-ridden Manhattan warehouse pad to us and still came over to bathe. Asked if I was a Jew. With only one foot in his world I made the cut. It irked him that I was already taken.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

25/365 - Stu

Stu was the preoccupied, sensitive one like a teacher in training. He would demo tunes, his hollow voice echoing in the chamber of his balding head. He led: a dark room full of girls massaging each other's toes - a brilliant idea.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

24/365 - Jennifer

A head rush when she lectured and possibilities opening. Excitement in the air. We read Foucault, Freud, Frankenstein... I didn't want the class to end. She was my best professor ever.

Friday, February 1, 2008

23/365 - Dee

A tragic figure. A painter. Really a fantastic artist. Glamorous with a lily behind her ear. Always in pain. Living in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wonder if her work will ever be recognized.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

22/365 - Bobbi

Bobbi, my high school Russian and drama teacher, should not have told me about giving birth to her children at home on all fours. I could think of nothing else when I saw her.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

21/365 - Clara

A delightful, absent-minded professor with a passion for opera, married to Robbie who wanted to be Bob. Her signature: a 7 AM serenade on an out-of-tune piano. Years after splitting up with their son, they are family still.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

20/365 - Martin

Martin, the janitor, was one of three men whose admiration of Hitler I had become privy to in my life. Martin was Mexican with a mullet and mustache. The others were Jews; no mullets or mustaches.

Monday, January 28, 2008

19/365 - Raul

Dinners at Raul's house: a huge homemade spread, tall tales and jokes, kids and friends home for dinner. The kind of atmosphere I always wished for. By the time decaf was served, Raul was asleep in his chair, snoring, content.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

18/365 - Lukas

Lukas heard us speaking his language. That's how we met. He chastised us because "Fakt?"or "Really?" in Czech sounds to good American Christians like "fucked." He showed us Jesus slide shows, hoping to convert us to no avail.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

17/365 - Dumpster Dave

A strange character of few words and many dreads who knew the closing time of shops; the magic hour when trash transformed into treasures. For fun, Dumpster D and crew would "jump Dravis," the steepest Seattle street, in a packed car.

Friday, January 25, 2008

16/365 - Lilah

She was like a river at night - daunting and alive, always moving and stirring. I didn't know then, when my love poem for her made her cry, that in Hebrew her name meant night.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

15/365 - Benji

He offered me gum before our first kiss freshman year. Was it my breath or a commercial he saw? At home he saw my Barbies, met my family, taught me some Tagalog. After that, he never asked me out again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

14/365 - Gregg

He kayaked to work across the Bay, dodging ferries and cargo ships. From his history class I remember nothing, but in woodworking I made a paddle for our trip to the Islands. Twelve teens in tents and canoes... and Gregg. Unforgettable!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

13/365 - Sterling

Close high school friends, we wandered around the city: ping pong, pool, parks, Pike Place Market, hacky sack, classic rock, science, philosophy, gossip. The crisp smell of his leather jacket and his aloof ways sat funny in the pit of my stomach.

Monday, January 21, 2008

12/365 - Helenka

Helenka, the village girl, shared a room with her parents and had a mutt smart as a whip. Grandma wore a scarf and raised chickens, dad drove a garbage truck. We were: festival organizers, store owners, farmers, dj's at eight-, ten-years-old.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

11/365 - Alex

Why Alex and his father decided to come over and mow our lawn once remains a mystery. In return, I helped them paint a room for a Russian exchange student, joking: "As long as it's not pink." And pink it was.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

10/365 - Eva

Bucktoothed and long-toed, she walked with me to school every day. In the afternoons we did homework together. Lucky girl lived in a quiet, neat flat and had her own room where a fish tank hummed softly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

9/365 - Bani

He loved to watch us die for him - expire in front of the class, theater-style, always searching for the sort of genius that was his own. Larger than life, he enlightened or stung like a black widow.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

8/365 - Abigail

Her hands were the culprits: the way she ate her cereal, the way she massaged shoulders. I traveled with her a hundred miles downstream along the same river, longing for more of her world.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

7/365 - Karma

A girl in another world, but on stage everything clicked. She embodied Beckett. No one understood. A good friend hid from her affection: "The crazy girl's after me!" Heard she lived on the street and had a kid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

6/365 - Ricardo ("Ricoco")

Ricoco, the photographer -- vest, scarf, and all -- would pick me, Terecua, up and take me to the squares, pyramids, and old market places, telling the horchata ladies we were married. His dream for us: a goat farm high up in the mountains.

Monday, January 14, 2008

5/365 - Joe

Boss on a throne, drinking beer all night long, watching his busy bees waiting on patrons. "Try this!" he yells in the kitchen about returned food. "Nothing wrong with it!" Under his breath, the customers are bastards.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

4/365 - Adela

At fourteen she was the boss in the family. She worshipped George Michael like a puppy who wets itself with glee. She did not like me dating a black man - the thin thread of our friendship severed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

3/365 - Arvie

Gatekeeper of the knishes, eggs, and soups. A fifty-year-old hairdo, fire engine red lipstick sliding off into the canyons on her face. She swiped our meal cards, her brown beady eyes kind yet pleading like those of a dog trapped inside of itself.

Friday, January 11, 2008

2/365 - Jeremy

An artists' son. A quiet, indifferent boy. We stayed in the woods too long till it got dark. I led us out, holding his hand, feeling for the smooth surface of the path underneath our feet. Slow steps in the pitch black darkness like walking under water.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

1/365 - Mark

I was a quaint alien doll who spoke in charming, mysterious tones. (Immigrants know). I forgive him. He was gentle and he indulged me. In his room I first heard Miles, music that cracked open a world the way shamans do.