Lookbook

I woke up from a nice dream. Rather, movie. I also woke up to an allergy or the beginning of a cold (hope not).

The latter part of the dream felt incredibly lucid, except I was both a viewer and inside one of the major characters. It was a day in the life, except in a montage of moments and memories in the arc of someone else’s life. Someone I know online, actually, a musician.

I know virtually nothing about him, apart from his music and his obsession with K-pop.

But in this dream, I got to live inside his world, look through his eyes and the eyes of the woman he loved and trusted the most. I didn’t know if she was his wife or would become his wife in a few years. I just dropped into their charming courtship, as he chased his dreams.

I felt what she felt. Thought what she thought. I could even feel his long legs draped over the seat next to him, over my lap, as I viewed his life movie through her. She felt happy whenever he touched her, even accidentally. She felt absolutely euphoric when he leaned on her, shared his deepest confidence, and allowed her to go through some harrowing, frustrating adventures together.

He let her work on his Lookbook with him. They tried to get him through the door with this Lookbook. I saw her holding it once in a corporate office while this lawyer stuffed suit type tried to mess with her while her musician boyfriend/husband was in another room. I felt his growing rage and her trying to keep him calm, as they walked out of the office together. He kept repeating, “I won’t punch him,” while she held onto his arm and the Lookbook.

I think all this time, the dreams I’ve been having weren’t necessarily about me, but about these people who wander in. I get to see what they see, feel what they feel, experience what they experience. Some of it’s prophetic, some of it’s empathic.

I came away from this particular dream closer to understanding that I’ve been arrogant about my personal suffering. I act like I’m the only one bad things happen to, when that’s far from the case.

Everybody goes through the same backstabbing shit, the setbacks, the pricks in stuffed suits. Everybody reacts the same to adversity.

I’m no different. I’m not special. There’s a strange comfort in that.

I am a little ashamed that it’s taken me so long to figure this out. I prided myself on my empathy.

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Trying to Reach the 6th Floor

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Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

I’m trying to remember which floor the Twilight Zone Museum’s on, the one with the strange, scary ride. Two or three strangers are with me. At least I think they’re strangers. Who knows in dreams. People often appear to me in different guises. I know who they are if I spend enough time around them and pick up on their energies.

Every time I’m in this shopping mall which resembles Aiea High School — with condo levels — and a Vancouver suburb, I’m trying to get to the museum. The ride changes every time, but it’s so worth the trouble. It’s like a time machine and life lesson in overdrive.

The last time I made it through, I learned about the Atom bomb and developed a greater appreciation for the jitterbug. Once, I went to the future, not a lot, just enough to follow Sheila through the rubble with a bag of potato chips, as she searched for her friends at the next party. Her friends were her salvation, the one thing keeping her from going over the edge.

“It’s gotta be on the sixth floor,” I said, to no one in particular. “Hit the six button, fast before— ” and we were off. The buildings began flattening, first a shudder then a quake.

I need to go back in time, I thought, as I watched shoppers collapse in a heap with their Louis Vuittons.

the lovely bones

“If I had but an hour of love, if that be all that is given me, an hour of love upon this earth, I would give my love to thee.” —”The Lovely Bones”

I think of him lying there, in small doses, for I would fall into the deep dark blue, like a child peeking over a tall building, one tiny hand clasped, the other letting wind and rain flutter bird-like, a cloud of vague temptation.

Death is far away when you are young. Farther for the beautiful who accept Christ in their lives, doe-eyed and fresh-faced, the obedient pay for their parents’ winless fortunes. I am closer now, remembering him frozen in time, the moon, his hands, the cells of multi-colored spotlights, those long, long legs, taller than the tallest trees.

I hold his hand. He is a little boy again, save for those eyes.

Beautiful Voice

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Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

A weather report, snow somewhere East of here, East of him

A brief glimpse, faint like the sound of a car accident or muffled bullets:

She’s skiing this weekend.

Her Facebook timeline confirms the facts. I wish I could conjure up his cure, too afraid to look inside his broken doll house, the sticks, the dreams

In a Nyquil dream today, I walked into my ageless son’s room. His toys roll toward me, a dog from a Netflix show barked and whined. My son curled up in a ball in my father’s smokeless living room.

We need to move.

No jobs on Linked In. Just a private message from a beautiful singer who blames me for costing her everything. I write for free, in between time I don’t have — the cancer growing. She says I am a bad person, in not so many words.

But I was kind.

So, I listen to Mark Wade’s new album, “Moving Day,” to keep me warm and help me forget my sniffles.

He has maybe two years left.

Hospital

I am in an examining room, but there are no doctors. I am told they are occupied with far greater patients and that I’ve been laying here for hours, for nothing. They will never come. Somehow, my internal pain is caught up in finding an eyeglass repair shop and going back to the dentist at the top of the building in the middle of Bishop Street in downtown Honolulu — open only at night. I know, because I used to watch the city lights flicker outside the windows, lying and waiting for the mind-numbing drill to expose me.

There’s no point in screaming. They won’t come. The system’s beyond repair. It’s like looking behind the curtain of Oz. Set your Bibles down, love. It’s time to wake up.

Even the music sounds off.

Ivy

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Photo by Maike Bergold on Unsplash

An online clairvoyant once read my fortune. She said my husband used to be a man of God, and that we would have two children, maybe three, two daughters and a son.

I used to think that man of God was my current husband, even though I could never picture him preaching in a church.

Years later, I dreamed a wonderful dream, what Steely Dan once called time out of mind. In it, I ran from an elaborate dresser at one end of the sun-lit room to the other, leaping on top of the bed next to my beaming beloved. I remember I was chattering away, impassioned by the injustices of the world, slapping an open newspaper for effect, as he gazed at me as if I were an oasis in a desert and he had traveled for days to find me.

About two years ago, I dreamed of church, the one I’d left in 2006. My birthday party? Everyone there, but him. He arrived late, but walked toward me with a branch of ivy in his hands, a gift for me. Then, gone.

The definition of love we’ve been handed, handed down from generation to generation since the Industrial Age means nothing. That love is a shallow, stupid invention of Hollywood, meant solely for entertainment, a never-ending hamster wheel, the carrot and the stick, image for money.

Love doesn’t often make sense. You could sneak looks at a complete stranger from across a crowded room, hide behind his tall, tall frame as he stirs up steel-cut oatmeal and gently laughs as his youngest finds you for a game of hide ‘n seek. And then he’s gone, the level of his words a resonant Scripture stronger than the Bible.

You have Eddie for many more years to come and I urge you to cherish and nurture each other as long as you have breath. Never, ever quit or come to some elusive ‘end of your rope’ because there are rope stores EVERYWHERE now, so there is no excuse to become part of that ridiculous 50% crowd who says divorce/marriage is a crap shoot!”

I will love you forever.

Lower Level

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

I’ve seen them die. Kitchen remodels. An extended vacation. High on a roof watching my son during recess, or between classes. Christmas in an indoor mall, close to the California shore.

They hustle and bustle right through me, multi-colored, sparkling hallways of tinsel, monkey lights, the latest fashions wrapped in red and green bows. A million pixel posts shooting through this tunnel, Facebook musings over lunch, a party at Instagram, word fights on Twitter… facets of a fading diamond.

I’m back home in my mom’s Section 8, staring out her lanai window, confused. Is it prom, or pudding time? Nadine and maybe Beth visit me, each with their own haunted story. Names run away from me, locked inside these pills on a tray every hour, the TV news in a loop, just like my father-in-law.

I see them too, waiting for me, rearranging the spices. That’s how I knew Bobby died on 9/11, his mother left the thyme and rosemary behind.

Somewhere close, Hall & Oates sing “Rich Girl” on the radio station known as KIKI-AM. I am between 12 and 13.

Watch me go.

The Point Between F5 And F6

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Who is the foreigner on my shelf, bathed in a bass blush? (Photo by Alex on Unsplash)

 

20 years ago, I saw myself in a lovely ballgown, green and grey, blue and flame-red like smoky alabaster
I was a little girl again in this cover model body, surprising in the mirror,
checking the price tag — that’s my dad
before the divorce they never saw coming


on another page, I saw her young, lovely pastor’s wife face break out in a thousand-watt smile
after a dream about the abuse, the betrayal, the lost years because he would not obey

I warned her, I said, “You are a superhero and a villain. Choose one. Choose wisely. Choose your family, your husband and your children, they are your salvation.”

maybe I was talking about myself


I am the heretic on the street corner, next to the vagrant and the drug dealer,
a virgin prophet, the Scarlet letter, his dirty little secret, the one he keeps between the folds of his post-gastric bypass and those late nights fisting lube & memory

the small man in faded denims, spectacles, sensible shoes — Lord, how I hated his mean-spirited sermons posing as the frontierman — preaching fire and brimstone,
you are a piece of shit!
I watched the dog-and-pony show
all the pretty little Christians lined up in rows
behind careful smiles, crafted masks

waiting to throw them at me

I read the headlines: God is dead,
they raped her body in the woods, then raised a glass in Tinsel Town
Hooray for Hollywood.

this can’t be my world


tonight I look for the man with brass who can take down an entire forest in the middle of a desert
with one note
I know, I saw him

he always waits for me in the cabin beyond this bridge over troubled waters between Seattle and Vancouver, his books and his music, an Irish pub and the neighborhood street fair

it is 1947 or 2012

he loves me, the way the waves love the shore when tourists leave town, leaving us to the moonlight

he watches me make the slow dance toward him, arms limp yet light as a ballerina, his ballerina, drunk with sleep, in everlasting dreams

we watch the setting sun from his backyard mottled with cattails, green tea warms in my hands
he smells of honeysuckle and home

dark

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“A Pint of Beer” by Anders Nord on Unsplash

they say death is dark
a cold alabaster in your hands
the click of a telephone
“Keep me posted” “Thoughts and prayers” “Take care”

Nadine visits. Her smile and these pills, this chair and my strange mangled hands.

I drive in my dreams toward the end of the road. A ferry will take me to the water that glistens like newly fermented craft beer. I see Mark King and his burly Isle of Wight mates standing around the shore. The beer reminds me of orange soda when I drowned off the edge of a cliff after my grandmother pushed me in her broken Korean.

I can’t tell anymore if I’m alive or made.

travel girl

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Photo by Leandro Gándara Mendez on Unsplash

rootless destinations

a church on a hill, below secondhand smoky fog
the rising Cliffs of Montauk before splinters of him sprayed in a majestic husk
oh how thunderous the stars over Honokaa, an exit mile post to that bleary-eyed Haleakala morning
flickering snapshots of blue silk, arriving postcards, the wise sentinels of Red Rock

“Mommy, do plane people change the scenery around while we eat nuts and drink Coca-Cola?”

“He not your father.”

little rapes through a thousand years, I write down the figures as fast as I can as the bodies fade, borrow memories from fancy men in black suits, their six-figure whores in the back of a stretch Hummer

“No one love you now”