Friday, May 16, 2014

Sometimes: a collective list

We began with a single word: Sometimes. After that, each sentence went off on its own path. Together we created a collective list, divided into random sections to make it easier to read. Start with the first line and read on to the last, or dip in and out, willy-nilly. You might decide you want to create a long list of Sometimes sentences of your own: write the first word and see where it takes you . . . .

Sometimes when I read a poem, I'm blown away — how did she do that? Sometimes I miss the polite English weather of my childhood. Sometimes I want to lie in the bath all day, eating oranges, spitting out the pips. Sometimes it is easier to get instructions from a book than it is to find the answer in myself. Sometimes red, sometimes orange, sometimes green, sometimes blue; never red and green, or orange and blue, no never. Sometimes I'll learn a new word like "nishio" which, in sudoku, means "what the hell...just go for it," and I'll think: this could be my new middle name. Sometimes I can't write because I can't think of anything to say and even if I could, who'd be listening; but if I write this down, these words exactly, I discover there's one person listening — me. Sometimes I wish I could list everything I know on one side of the page and everything I don't know on the other, and see which list is longer.

Sometimes I wonder if geese think they control the world. Sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry – about the very same thing. Sometimes I like to stay in bed and listen to the birds sing. Sometimes when I hear those songs we call "the golden oldies" I feel like a sixteen year old again. Sometimes my mother's face looks back at me in the mirror. Sometimes when driving I think I should turn right but instead I turn left and get where I needed to go. Sometimes I fear I am on a foreign planet and my ride has left me. Sometimes I remember to catch my breath and inhale patience and calm instead of releasing my breath in anger, frustration, and fear. Sometimes we need a catalyst in our lives to shake us out of the familiar trench we've dug ourselves into, so we can step out and explore new ground. Sometimes the fabric matches. Sometimes you're there, and I'm here; sometimes you're here and I'm there. Sometimes a love note can come from a friend. Sometimes the sunset reminds me that I'll  never see it the same way again. Sometimes I don't want to take a picture because the memory is enough. 

Sometimes I can almost translate chickadee-speak into people-speak. Sometimes clouds can't decide whether to float free or hover ominously. Sometimes it's good to just sit and let a headache speak its message. Sometimes I want to go running through a field of daisies with my arms outstretched and sometimes I do run through my backyard, through the dandelions, arms outstretched. Sometimes I wonder and sometimes I know. Sometimes the wind blows and I cry for joy. Sometimes I miss my parents; sometimes I miss my children. Sometimes you just need ice cream. Sometimes New Yorker articles are too damn long. Sometimes I like to break the rules. Sometimes I have but one minute to spare. Sometimes the best ideas come when I don't think. Sometimes at the bus stop I wonder where all the young people are going. Sometimes in the presence of young people and children I think maybe it will all be okay.

Sometimes I act like I'm listening, but I'm really not. Sometimes I think of my first love and wonder if we could reunite in our eighties, have a picnic, and go fishing at Tenkiller Lake. Sometimes I watch my teenage daughters while they sleep, just like I did when they were little. Sometimes when the light at dusk is just right I want to freeze that moment in time forever. Sometimes when we touch, the honesty is too much. Sometimes I miss my father so much, I think I'm going to cry — but I never do. Sometimes I wish my cats were black so they would match my clothing. Sometimes staring at the TV when it's off, I watch the drama of my own life. Sometimes I want grief to be kinder. Sometimes brilliant thoughts refuse to flow through the pen onto the paper. Sometimes on the way home from work I imagine your smile when opening the door of our home. Sometimes I forget that we are all doing the best we can.

Sometimes I wonder where I really should live. Sometimes the sun hits just the right spot on the tree and illuminates a small miraculous leaf. Sometimes the first hummingbird of spring is the best affirmation of hope. Sometimes I miss the last lines of a song on the radio and make up my own, only to be disappointed later to hear that those aren't the real words. Sometimes the bear comes with cubs to the birdfeeder; sometimes she comes alone. Sometimes I would rather read. Sometimes I miss you the moment you leave; sometimes I drop into my chair and gobble up silence. Sometimes even a western wind blows me all the way back to Nebraska. Sometimes I watch the frogs crossing the road and wonder why. Sometimes I find myself smiling in the dark, talking to the wind. Sometimes there might be really big spiders under the fridge. Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever see my daughter again. Sometimes I react with despair to small criticism. Sometimes I pass by roses, tulips, and violets, without pausing to appreciate them. Sometimes I write ten words when two will do.

Sometimes I think I should have just left my job and hiked the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes I wake up with the craziest hair-do. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be Fern and listen to the animals in the barn. Sometimes I think I would be happiest living in a lean-to. Sometimes I forget to look for the moon. Sometimes I have long conversations with my cat without even speaking a word, and sometimes she answers back; but sometimes she looks away as if she can't be bothered.Sometimes I wish I were fog so I could stick myself to cherry blossoms. Sometimes the daisy doesn't have enough petals. Sometimes red efts never return to their aquatic form. Sometimes I am tired of being the adult. Sometimes my shoes feel like someone else's. Sometimes I re-cut my hair myself when I return from the salon. Sometimes I use my oven. Sometimes I check my body for deer ticks. Sometimes I look at the atlas and remember all the places I've been. Sometimes I hear crickets and grasshoppers inside my head.

Sometimes I tuck my shirt in so the women can see my Skoal ring. Sometimes, when I turn over a new leaf, I find a bug. Sometimes I am just so annoyed. Sometimes I can't believe I'm this old, but sometimes I can. Sometimes I do impulsive things without thinking about the implications or the complications or the reasons pro and con, but mostly I don’t. Sometimes I worry too much about what other people think and on those days it’s hard to leave my house. Sometimes I find inspiration in the simple doing without any reason or reward necessary, and there is grace in this doing. Sometimes in the dark of night the persistent whir of the air purifier is my closest friend. Sometimes a sore at the end of your finger from the wild rose pricker bush is a good thing. Sometimes the sight of you takes my breath away, even after all these years. Sometimes I can hear myself as you might, and I wish I would shut up. Sometimes my head and my heart disagree, and then there’s what my body is saying, too.

Sometimes I have so many ideas and things I'm very excited about doing right away that I freeze up from sheer abundance, can't decide where to start, and end up doing nothing at all. Sometimes I get so much done in one day that I decide I don't have to do anything else the rest of the week. Sometimes I tell jokes to inanimate objects just to hear myself talk — a big blue bowl of overripe bananas, most recently. Sometimes I take a sound nap on my couch just to be refreshed. Sometimes I want to be at a beach on Cape Cod to hear the ocean waves and smell the salty air. Sometimes I think about going canoeing in the Adirondacks again, since I haven't done so in years. Sometimes I remember being in my teens on top of a wagon load of hay bales looking at the sky and seeing some falling stars. Sometimes I yearn for more. Sometimes I stay up late and read and that's like sneaking joy. Sometimes I find myself staring off and thinking but I don't know what I'm looking at and can't remember that I was thinking anything at all.

Sometimes I soap backwards, starting with my left leg rather than arm. Sometimes a stranger becomes closer in a minute than a friend in a year. Sometimes I forget my age and want to run down the street in a downpour. Sometimes I fall asleep singing. Sometimes I dance naked in my kitchen with all the lights off. Sometimes I miss him and can't imagine why. Sometimes I look through my old address book and wonder who the hell all these people are. Sometimes there really aren't enough hours in the day and sometimes there are too many. Sometimes I am at a loss for words. Sometimes I can't get out of my own way. Sometimes it is so very clear that dogs are the more evolved beings in the arrangement. Sometimes sage fixes everything, and sometimes morning light on my neighbor's fence also fixes everything. Sometimes I just want to sit on the porch with my mother. Sometimes I talk to myself and laugh out loud while walking down the street. Sometimes I crawl across the floor like an inchworm. Sometimes I eat 20 cookies and a huge bowl of ice cream doused in sprinkles, all in one sitting.

Sometimes Odetta's voice intoning "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child" wipes me out; at other times I do know whose child I am. Sometimes it's clear that I'm the grumpy one. Sometimes I'm totally surprised by a pang of that first great love long ago. Sometimes I wish I possessed the self-respect of our Pomeranian. Sometimes a cup of tea can't make it better, but at least it's no worse. Sometimes, your mother, spouse, child, or biggest critic is dead-on right — and you are wrong. Sometimes, the worst happens and you suffer greatly. Sometimes you reach your goals and they no longer matter. Sometimes my song is silent. Sometimes life happens so fast that I want to consume the moment. Sometimes the dandelions celebrate by smiling at the sun. Sometimes laughter sneaks up on me to uncover an inner happiness I forgot was there. Sometimes only a large bowl of buttered homemade popcorn will fix what ails me. Sometimes the smell of moist earth is my favorite perfume. Sometimes I realize my ground is as steady here as it ever was anywhere. Sometimes when I reach for the logical all I get is the illogical. Sometimes forgetting can be a blessing in disguise.

Sometimes I lie. Sometimes, after a day of sorting and packing, the soles of my feet tingle and I think about amputation. Sometimes I wish I'd had more children. Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to live in Manhattan — with unlimited funds, of course. Sometimes I wish I could turn the clock back 30 years. Sometimes a word sounds much more sinister than its meaning: valerian, for example. Sometimes the rain drains the pink joy from the crabapple tree. Sometimes a monster scratches on the attic window when the night breeze blows the honey locust branches. Sometimes it is necessary to quote Monty Python. Sometimes the crow digging for breakfast worms in the gutter outside my bedroom window is my wake-up caw. Sometimes my daughter still answers to the name Stinky Old Juicy Goofball. Sometimes the pollen on the back porch is so thick it makes the chipmunks sneeze. Sometimes I look in windows as longingly as I look out them. Sometimes I pay more attention to the white stripe on the side of the road than the yellow line in the middle. Sometimes I wish I was awake to enjoy my dreams. Sometimes I remember where all the paper came from. Sometimes the wishbone works.

Sometimes I put hair gel on my toothpaste. Sometimes I look at my smartphone in the middle of the night. Sometimes I wonder what might have been; sometimes I'm grateful for what is. Sometimes I feel anxiety in my chest like a vibrating weight; sometimes I'm calm and serene. Sometimes I feel old; sometimes I feel timeless. Sometimes I think about jumping up on the table at a restaurant and launching into a tirade. Sometimes I want to say yes. Sometimes I'm afraid of myself. Sometimes the grass is actually greener on the other side. Sometimes I think I am the most important human being ever. Sometimes living inside my own head gets lonely. Sometimes a new sweater is exactly the thing. Sometimes, but only if the magnolia is in bloom, I do a lot of weeding in the garden. Sometimes you can write random things and they all fit together. Sometimes there are things to look forward to. Sometimes I know what I do not want. Sometimes I wish I could tell a weed from a flower. Sometimes my worries find words. Sometimes I weep inside and smile outside. Sometimes I feel my wisdom and forget my forgetfulness.

Sometimes I dream he's still alive. Sometimes I cry and my tears turn the wine bitter and sad. Sometimes I miss the touch of her hands on me. Sometimes I buy olives, but I always finish them by the time I get to the parking lot. Sometimes I kiss my cat and then kiss my lover and then he's the one with cat hair in his mouth. Sometimes when I stay very still I can see the grass grow. Sometimes a coyote’s howl brings back vivid memories. Sometimes sadness besieges me so I besiege it back, and the strongest survives. Sometimes the perfect song plays, just when I need it most. Sometimes the light gets her face in the sweetest smile. Sometimes letting go makes no sense at all. Sometimes you forget I exist. Sometimes I feel lost, alone, and afraid. Sometimes the conduit is clear and the words flow without effort. Sometimes the world expands as a ripple. Sometimes I'm on time. Sometimes I need more than anyone can give. Sometimes I pause while hectoring myself.

Sometimes I cry for my mother who is long gone. Sometimes I laugh with my friends. Sometimes I swim in my pond and see small turtles at the edge. Sometimes I see a fox with an impossibly long tail trotting across the flat rock outside the window. Sometimes I feel all grown up, but most of the time I marvel that I am nearly fifty and still don’t feel like what I thought a grownup was supposed to feel like. Sometimes my car doesn’t start because the connection to the battery is loose and as I open the hood and push the cable back on with my fingers I wonder why I don’t bother to find the wrench and tighten it. Sometimes I dream so vividly I am not sure what's real the next morning. Sometimes a bat gets into my house and flies from one end to the other while my cats and I watch. Sometimes I understand my mother. Sometimes I remember how big the universe is: usually on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Sometimes I just want you to hurt as much as I do. Sometimes I am not sorry, I'm just tired of being angry. Sometimes I hide the feeling of relief behind the pretense of enthusiasm. Sometimes I need to hear you say it first. Sometimes I wish everything didn't have to be so hard. Sometimes I dream of being free and independent. Sometimes I regret fighting with my best friend. Sometimes I wish I could get out and be more of me.

Sometimes words are sticky and drag, like stubborn children. Sometimes the past is both a lesson and a trap. Sometimes some nights feel longer than others. Sometimes things just aren't fair. Sometimes I want, very badly, to rule the world. Sometimes my anger seeps out and oozes all over the innocent. Sometimes it's better to keep the windows closed. Sometimes I love run-on sentences and this may be why I never write haiku. Sometimes I make up stories about running away from home and I think of them as non-fiction. Sometimes I am sorry for what I said to Mr. Davis when I was eight years old. Sometimes the rain falls down and the wind picks up. Sometimes you don't know and sometimes you know. Sometimes the light is just right. Sometimes you see a Baltimore oriole and you paint your fingernails orange. 

Sometimes it is enough simply remember your beautiful gentle/strong hands, preparing meatballs, holding a library book open on your lap, rubbing my back in small circles while you whispered mamala, mamala. Sometimes "lighten up" is good advice. Sometimes all I see is light instead of bodies. Sometimes I don't believe in love. Sometimes I just want to be a model for all the shoes I love — yes, I am that shallow. Sometimes Buddha is the only one who can help even if you never believed in him. Sometimes love is not unconditional. Sometimes emptiness is the hardest thing for people to obtain. Sometimes gardening is to look for the self you wish to be. Sometimes we forget we exist. Sometimes the rain cleans the air; sometimes it thickens it. Sometimes I'll pick lilacs off my tree and fill the whole house with that sweet scent. Sometimes the world is too bright and amazing. Sometimes I live in the country and sometimes I live in town. Sometimes I can't stop talking. Sometimes I think it will always be like this. Sometimes I rush around and sometimes I'm quiet. Sometimes I miss the deadline.

Thank you to all these wonderful contributors:

Antoinette Di Ciaccio
Antonia Matthew
Barbara Cartwright
Barbara Kane Lewis
Barbara West
Belinda Howell
Belinda Longoria
Cady Fontana
Carol Bossard
Chaya Spector
Cora M. Yao
Deirdre Silverman
Diane Sullivan
Ed Swayze
Edna S. Brown
Gabrielle Vehar
Jackie Andrews
Janet Klock
Jennifer Groff
Judith Sornberger
Karen Koyanagi
Karey Solomon
Kathleen Gale
Kathleen Galland-Bennett
Kathy May
Lavana Kray
Lilace Mellin Guignard
Linda Keeler
Louise Vignaux
Lydia Pettis
Lynn Johnson
Lynne Taetzsch
Marcy Little
Martha Blue Waters
Mary Alice Peck
Maude Rith
Melissa Hamilton
Meryl Young
Mo Owens
Molly Sutton
Nancy Gabriel
Nancy Barno Reynolds
Nancy Wells
Natalie Detert
Nathaniel Ferriss
Nicola Morris
Nina Miller
Patricia Longoria
Patrick Robbins
Patty Flannery
Paula Culver
Peggy Miller
Priscilla Walker
Rachel J Siegel
Railey Jane Savage
Ray Edwin
Rita Odeh
Rob Sullivan
Ross Haarstad
Sara Robbins
Saskya van Nouhuys
Sharon K. Yntema
Sherron Brown
Shloka Shankar
Sue Crowley
Sue Norvell
Sue Perlgut
Susan Lesser
Susan Lytle
Susanne Morgan
Vikki Armstrong
Vivian Relta
Xin Li
Yasmin Kassam-Jamal
Yvonne Fisher
Zee Zahava