Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thunder Thighs

One summer, when I was 13…. 13 and dorky and completely unaware of myself, of the world, of anything and everything that would come to formulate my experience in my adulthood… 13 and suppressed by my own spirit’s refusal to leave the sanction of the small bit of innocence I managed to hold onto….

One summer when I was 13, and dorky, and happy to be taking in the trees of Yosemite National Park, I became aware of my body. In a giant, unwelcome flash of consciousness, I became aware of the meat on my bones. Dark and thick and filling up the clothing on my body like a butcher fills his casings with sweet, sweaty pork and beef.

I was walking across a bridge, I remember, that allowed for a cool river to run beneath it. People were splashing each other with the crisp, cold water on that warm day. It was when I was walking across that bridge that I heard it, for the first time… and not for the last time….


Thunder thighs.

Thuuuuunder thighs.

Thuuuuunder thighs.

Oblivious. I was completely oblivious that these words filled with hate and disgust were being violently thrust in my direction. It wasn't until I heard a wave of laughter coming from the stream that I looked down and realized someone was saying something to me.

Pointing and laughing, they belted out once again…. Hey! Thunder Thighs.

I stopped, tilted my head and stared down.

A group of boys and girls, just about my age. Pale, thin, with hair looking like a field of wheat in the process of both death and rebirth.

I continued on, and they provided me with my personal soundtrack.


Watch out! Thunder thighs is on the move!

I stopped and looked at them again. They all stood, legs apart, grasping onto the air as if they were holding on to imaginary poles, waving their bodies back and forth as other spectators looked back and forth with embarrassed amusement.

I started moving again.


And I kept on moving. Pulling at my shorts. Pulling at my shirt. Pulling at my pride. Pulling at my spirit that wanted to make one last getaway into the sky.

Later that night, I heard my brothers socializing around the camp fire. Thirsty for a bit of joy, I looked out of my tent and saw highlights of the same wheat fields that once waded in the water. I sealed the zipper, and with it, I sealed up my body. 

In the coming years, I’d become increasingly aware of my growing body, maturing much faster than what seemed to be imaginable to me.

Pulling at my shirts, pulling at my pants, pulling at my spirit that wanted to fly away every time I heard a cry of mockery or lust as I walked down the street.


THUUUNDER THIGHS…. The memory echoed.

I quickly began to have a hungry desire to detach myself from my body. To fantasize about slithering out of it, discarding it in some putrid gutter where it belonged. I covered it, slathered it with men’s clothing too big. Hiding it from everyone. From myself. Covering mirrors in the bathroom after showers. Removing anything that reflected from my path so that I wouldn't catch the disease that was me.

For all the compliments and admiration I began to receive on the shapes my body made when I entered my 20’s, all that ever echoed back to me was…

Thunder Thighs! 
Stop moving! You’re gonna kill us!!

I’m not exactly sure when it happened. Why…. But sometime…. Some short years ago, I caught a glimpse of my naked back in the mirror. I raised my arms, lowered them again. Raised my arms. Lowered them again. I became fascinated with the curves of my shoulder blades, the changing shapes of my back, my arms…

I felt ashamed to be so fascinated by these curves that invaded my body.
But fascinated I was.

I secretly explored them. Finger by finger. Scientifically examining just what all of this was that hung on to me like a thirsty child at his mother’s chest. How every last bit of it moved, flexed, flowed, bounced, was pulled and retracted, was pushed and pulled and beaten time and time again by the sun, the wind, the heat, the dagger words and that still clung to me. Thirsty.

Until one day I saw myself in my entirety. Completely bare. Uncovered and fully vulnerable.
I looked down at my thighs. My thunder thighs.

Thick and brown, propelling me forward every day.

Yes… there was thunder in my thighs.

Thick and commanding, ripping through the air. Announcing the coming of the storm that is me, and my body, and my power.

There was thunder in my thighs and I began to recognize that they did, in fact, make people shake.

Yes, children of 13, hold on to your imaginary poles… there is some mighty thunder in my thighs.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


There's a Bukowski in my heart, and it wants to come out.
But I tell it -No! Don't give in! Stay there.
But he sits there like a pimple,
Boiling and pulsating,
Breathing heavy gin breaths
Spitting every so often
Those bitter lime peels.
There's a Bukowski in my heart and it wants to come out,
But I say
Stay there
Don't give in
Don't fall apart
Don't stick that cigarette in your mouth and start sucking down anything above a 7%
But he sits there, pulsating
Angry and bitter and sad
And then the old lady at the bar
Taps me on the shoulder and says
My God dear, you have a beautiful smile.
There's a Bukowski in my heart
Rolling over, farting and starting to snore.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ghost Chaser

I’m a ghost chaser.

I find myself constantly chasing ghosts.

Under the bed, in the closets, in hallways and alley ways lifting and tossing stones along the way. I sit at bus stops and train stations and wait for them to come. I get on the bus with them, watching them, hunting them, but never seeking to demolish them.

I’m a ghost chaser.  I come from a long, personal history of chasing ghosts. Thirty three years, perhaps. I feel it may be more like twenty-five, starting sometime after I turned eight.

I realized this yesterday as I was walking through the rolling gardens of Mater Dolorosa, a retreat center for people seeking a bit of respite and refuge from their worlds. They come seeking answers, seeking questions, seeking some sort of peace of mind, or piece of mind. The grounds are littered with bloody Jesus’. Bloody Jesus. Every so often you come across an altar with a bright white engraving of one of the stations of the cross; Jesus falls for the first time, Jesus falls a second time, Mary wipes his blood and sweat. It’s all, in complete honesty, frightening. Each little station of the cross has a small wooden bench you can sit on, so that you can contemplate that particular station of the cross. In between the stations are a few statues of various patron saints. Diego, St. Paul, St. Bernadette, St. Me…

The small hills rolling underneath the altars are well manicured green lawns or miniature landscapes of cacti and succulents stretching out into the sun. There are three pathways carpeted with fallen leaves from the giant rubber trees that line the area. If you walk slow enough, you’ll travel through space and find yourself isolated somewhere in the Garden of Eden, just before Adam & Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

And then the gardener starts up his leaf blower and you know that apple has been bitten. 

On one of my walks I spotted a rubber tree standing in a large open field. The field was not well manicured; it wasn’t cared for by gardeners. It didn’t seem that it was cared for by the wildlife neither. There were no small rolling hills, no cacti, not a single blade of green grass. It was yellowing and dying, like an old letter in an attic that was never sent. Lying flat and defeated on a bed of dirt, its tiny mouths of dried grass and weeds staring at the sky like open mouths waiting for droplets of water to fall from the greedy clouds. Fading away.

I saw it and I chased it.

I was nowhere near equipped to go on this little journey, a whole 20 some yards away. I was wearing my soft cotton shoes, the ones I wear to feel light. The weeds’ splinters immediately began stabbing my toes and every so often I’d get one of nature’s little ninja stars jabbed into my sole. They kept jumping at my feet, stabbing me, making me look down at them. I’d pick them off and they’d look at me saying “don’t…”

As if they knew what I was going to discover.


I did anyway, and I got to the tree, which was encircled with fading brick. At it’s base, in front of me, a low-laying bench, one to kneel on – to pray on. It obviously hadn't sprouted from the earth. It was obviously built, and built well, by someone, sometime.

I thought it was a bit curious for there to be a praying bench at the base of this tree, on this land filled with bloody Jesus’ and small wooden benches to contemplate his pain and grief. Yet here, a tree.

I dusted off the bench, as if it were to do any good after years of neglect, and knelt, looked up and saw the carvings on its branches. They typical initials and hearts and a few dates. Who were they? Why were they at that tree, in that field, in that retreat center, in this world, in that time, in that state of mind. Who were they?

I heard a rustling in the weeds and noticed a few small quail running through the patches of desert sage that were, despite all their odds, thriving in the field. Then, an altar appeared. Well, I suppose it was always there, and always unnoticed. It was a small square structure, with small wooden beams for a roof and small wooden benches for walls.  I walked another ten yards to it and discovered a small statute of the virgin sitting, alone and white, on a small wall made of the same brick surrounding the tree.

I stepped over the bench and sat for a while. At the base of her feet was a small cactus plant, dying. Strange, I’ve never seen a dying cactus. I’m sure they die, I’m sure people see it, but I’ve never seen a dying cactus plant. There were a few other remnants of what I can only imagine were at one point a small bouquet of roses.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be there, so I looked behind me to see if there were any gardeners chasing after me, waving their leaf blowers telling me to get out of there. But there weren’t. Instead I discovered that there was a small concrete path leading right to the altar. It was broken and some weeds had already penetrated its innocence, but there it was, leading directly to where I was sitting.

I turned back around and stared at the brightness of the statue, the lightness of her, singing white in that field of dying yellow.

And I started crying. Not a mournful sob, not a confused lost cry. It was a simple cry, with no real emotion attached to it. I started crying in the middle of nowhere, with nothing in particular to cry about. At that lonely altar in the dead field full of life. I started wondering who else cried there, why was I feeling their sorrow or joy or whatever it was that was driving my tears out of me.

Staring at the dead bouquet of flowers, I felt compelled to arrange them. They still smelled like roses, but they were hardly recognizable as roses. Skeletal. How long had they been there?

Then I realized… I can’t help but to think about ghosts all the time. Everyone’s ghosts. Living ghosts, dead ghosts, ghosts who want to be thought of and ghosts who want to be forgotten.

Who are you? What haunts you? What galaxy of vast infinite stars lay in your eyes?

Who was here? What was their sorrow? Why did they cry, why did they come to this place and these grounds? So many questions about ghosts haunting the halls, the beds, the grave yard in the rolling green hills, the lit windows downtown, the busses and the bus stops - each one of them leaving a lingering scent. But I’m not afraid, I’m never afraid. I’m curious, curious to know what stirs inside of this world, living and dead. Curious to look into windows and see the other side of the world that doesn’t know I or you exist. Living in sorrow, making cups of coffee, parting bread, slipping into cool sheets in the middle of the night, staring at walls, being the person the world doesn’t know.

Ghosts, all the time ghosts.

“Don’t,” the blades were telling me. Was I ready? It didn’t matter anymore, I’m here. Chasing ghosts.

I chase them down, look for them, want to hold them and comfort them and tell them they can haunt me if they want to, they can seek me out in dying fields and barren hallways, in passing glances and carried off in clouds of violet sighs, in old letters and photographs that fall at my feet when I open books.

I’m a ghost chaser, I come from a long personal history of chasing ghosts. I myself am a ghost, I suppose.

I feel like I’m restless. I’m constantly shifting and traveling and redefining which way is up. I’m never still, stirring and tumbling constantly, inside of me. As if the nerves in my body are those broken concrete paths being penetrated by dying weeds and small patches of desert sage. I’m constantly searching them, hacking them down, clearing them away and then watching the weeds take them over. Crossing them again, pulling at the blades, standing aside and watching them take over again. Finding my way through to liver rubber trees with ghosts that hang from its branches, kneeling at my spleen, rolling through my lungs, taking naps in the caves of my temples, sitting still in my intestines; tumbling, tumbling, tumbling and at night laying in the grass, in the middle of my chest, staring that the stars that illuminate my brain. What ghosts am I chasing?

Just as I see the world filled with ghosts, my body is an inverted universe – this is where I exist. Bleed and bruise I’m sure to do, but the millions of particles in me are a universe, condensed in meat and bone. The energy inside of me, the energy that is me, pushing, breathing, thinking, beating, is me. My skin, nails, hair, everything grows and heals and scars from the inside.

The world external another universe, breathing into me, pushing into me. The world external, my world internal, energies like a magnet pressing us together creating more energy.

What place is there for ghosts? Maybe this is why I’m always chasing ghosts, what place is there for them in the ever constricting space between our warm bodies and the cool universe? What of the ghosts, of their stories, of their memories and open windows…

I’m a ghost chaser.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How many....

How many sighs, of so many different colors.

The gold ones that float to the top in relief, in satisfaction, in the blessing that has been you're purgatorial life.

I've been waiting.... I've been waiting... I've been waiting so long....

I'm not even sure,

Is... this... it.

How many more sighs of blue grey
Sinking down

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 0

Maybe yesterday was my apocalypse. Today my 2012. Cleaning out my wounds with secret bathroom tears. Whispering to the ant on the sink "why? why? we didn't even try..."

Hoping he'd carry away my burdens. Why? Why? We didn't even try.

Trying to feel angry. Trying to feel betrayed. Trying to feel what you're supposed to feel when things just fall away.

Rising out of me, bubbling, bubbling... then falling flat. Swept under the door with sighs of blue and gray.

Wanting to yell and scream "what have you done to me?!!"

Opening my mouth, ready for steam...

Calling out...
Please, mom, can I stay?

And so I lay here in a child's bed, thinking of another place I'd rather be instead, another place I'd rather lay my head, another way for my soul to be fed...

Picking at the ribbons that keep me to you, unearthing the anchor that kept you at my bay. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Maybe it'll just crumble.
    She thought.
Maybe it'll just crumble, and I'll slide on through. Then that will be that. Issue resolved.
    She stared at her feet and thought.

The tiles beneath her bare feet

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear John ... Or, How I learned to stop hatin' and love the V-bomb

Scene: You walk into a large, empty, decrepit gymnasium. Up on the left corner of the roof, there are various shades of brown and beige making their escape from an inverse crater caused by last winter’s storm. To the right, a bucket catching the 10-second interval drops of water coming from a wet roof that, for whatever reasons, has defied natural law and refuses to dry up.

There are a few mis-matched chairs arranged in a scattered and poor-excuse of a U shape in front of a podium. The podium’s laminate face shines in the flickering light and makes it the most ethereal thing in the down-trodden room. You walk toward the chairs, drawing “eeks” and “ooos” from the elderly wooden floor beneath you. You pick the chair that doesn’t look up at you in fear and take a seat. As the chairs moan and groan with every deep breath you take, a woman in her early 30’s stands and walks behind the podium.

She takes a few silent breaths, looks up at the flickering light and with lips of petrified tree bark says,

“Hello, I am 32 and (sighhhhh) I have never had a Valentine…”

The few silent bodies in the room shift uncomfortably in their creaking chairs and begin to whisper “oh my, not one? … never? … oh… noo….”

This is the scene I conjured up in my head almost three years ago when I hit the 30 mark. I was going to have to seek intervention of some sort because all of my friends, males and females alike, had some Valentine’s day story to share. They were of varying degrees of intensity and … sentiments, but stories nonetheless:

 “When I was 21, my boyfriend took me on a romantic hike.”
“The bitch broke up with me on Valentine’s day”
“He sent flowers to my home, my work AND left some on my car.”
“She make me cupcakes, they were the best thing ever.”

And then there’s me, now almost 33 years old with not one Valentine’s story to share. That’s right, folks, I have never had a Valentine. Every year, February 14th rolls around and I find myself pumping my own gas, clearing insurance fliers (not flowers) from my windshield, eating a Twix bar I bought for myself because the box of chocolates got lost in the mail.

Every year I also find myself being sought out by friends who tell me “you should come hang out with us, we’re having an anti-Valentine party! Who needs ‘em?! Screw them!”
After about 23 years of not having a Valentine, I started dreading the days when giant stuffed teddy bears made their appearance on street corners with heart-shaped balloons, red and white carnation arrangements and ridiculously large cards.

As if the size of the card is going to cover-up the size of the mistake you make just a week ago, as if a giant stuffed teddy bear is going to really tell a person how much they love them even if it is sewed onto that plush heart he’s holding. As if sending flowers is going to make them want you more, as if eating chocolates is going to make everything better…

Ok, maybe eating chocolates does make everything better.

This was my 23 year old self. Hatin’ on Valentine’s day, pumping up my sarcasm to 11 around my friends who had a Valentine. Sending out “I hate you every day, I don’t discriminate” messages to my loved ones. All the while, secretly hoping that whatever person who was somewhat in my life at the time would just say something, do something, show me something. But it never came, the flowers, the chocolates, the cards, the stupid child-labor teddy bears. None of it ever came.

And so the hate on love just continued to build.

It began to boil around mid-January, when the stores started putting out red and pink colored foods. Increased in early February, when people started putting cut out hearts and cupids in their windows and finally over-flowed around February 10th, when the street corners started to fill with contraband merchandise.

One year, my older sister thought it would be “cute” to give me some love on Valentine’s Day and gave me a couple of flowers along with a “Grow-A-Man.” A small, space-material doll shaped like a man in boxer shorts that you would submerge in water to expand out. I gave her a snarl and said “yeah, thanks.” In my head I was thinking ‘man, what a bitch.’ 



So how did this all start? Where did it all go to hate?

A cartoon flashback….

I used to be so enthusiastic about Valentine’s day, I loved everything and everyone. I would get excited giving things to people, because I could. I do remember laying on the floor with my Big Bear pencil and writing every person’s name in my class on those Strawberry Shortcake cards and putting them on people’s desks. I didn’t care that no one had a crush on my, that my hair wasn’t pulled on the playground or that I wasn’t chosen first for kick-ball. I just had massive amounts of love for my friends, because they were my friends.

Gradually, I started gaining interest in a number of other things, but my love for my friends was always there. Even as the loneresque punk rock high schooler that was actually a pretty well-known geek, my bad ‘The red seas of my heart will part and fill the sky with my bloody Valentine’ poetry was shrouded in good intentions. It should have read ‘I love you pimple-faced, bipolar bastards even if you do get me in trouble with the Algebra teacher.’

Well, after my schooling was over and I became an adult and realized that the rest of the world thinks about things other than taking over administrative building, smoking pot on magazine production nights (sorry mom) and shoving chapters of information into my brain. I suppose I had lost some of this love-fest- connection with my friends who had gone off and done things of their own and created their own experiences. I suppose it was after I graduated and jumped out of the metaphorical threshold of the world yelling “Here I am, baby, all smart and powerful and shit!!” that I began noticing that people buy each other crap on Valentine’s day. That I wasn’t receiving this crap, and so, did that mean then that I was less of a person? That I was going to be forever alone? Then, one day, someone told me that Valentine’s day was a holiday conjured up by American Greetings and See’s Chocolates to boost sales.

And that was good enough for the communist in me.  Bring on the rage.

So here I am, almost 33 years old, sitting on my bed, alone again. Granted, this year I made an important decision to wake up alone this morning in the name of personal growth. Nevertheless, here I am drinking ONE cup of bay-leaf tea (helps your pooper shooter, try it). Looking over at the ONE empty can of diet soda I had with my meal last night, thinking about making ONE breakfast sandwich… and I’m perfectly content, alive, healthy, and on my way to having the cleanest colon on the eastside. 

This morning I woke up and told my 23 year old self that no, Lu, Valentine’s Day wasn’t a conspiracy against you invented by greeting card companies and chocolate manufacturers to make you feel more alone and grumpy. No one really knows who this St. Valentine is, actually. He was said to be a Catholic priest who secretly married Roman soldiers and their young lovers when the king outlawed marriages (single men fought better in wars, I suppose?). Others say he was a Catholic something or other who was jailed for something or other and on the eve of his execution, wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter, with whom he had the hots for, and signed it “your Valentine.”  

As you can tell, my historical facts may not be all that accurate but the point is that Valentine’s day has been celebrated for thousands of years. This is a fact – bitter, angry, raging, 23 year old Lu. People love each other on Valentine’s day – you old ninny. And being single on Valentine’s day doesn’t make you any MORE single than February 13th or February 15th, nor any other weekend in February when your coupled up friends go out and have dinners and conversations together, with or without you. So why should stuffed animals and mylar balloons make you feel anymore alone than on any other night that you are, physically, alone? You remember, those nights you sit in your booty shorts and t-shirt, eat weird crap and watch bad movies, fart and say “gah’damn I’m so glad to have some alone time.”

So it’s February 14, 2012 and this is my Dear John letter to hatin’ on love.

Dear John (aka 23 year old grumpy Lu),

Seeing people in love makes me believe in love. Watching my sisters get flowers makes me feel happy that the people I love have people who love them. Hearing my friends tell stories of how they received tokens of affection, with smiles on their faces makes me smile as well.

And while I may not have an enormous stuffed animal sitting on my chair – that I would probably put in storage tomorrow – I know that I am loved as well. I know this when I receive those early-morning messages that wish me a great day. When my friends care enough to share their feelings of gratitude toward the people in their lives, when I see my 73 year old father give my 72 year old mother potted flowers (they last longer), when the kids around me in all their little-kid enthusiasm trade hand-made cards, yeah, I feel the love.

So, so long, grumpy-puss. I don’t want you in my life anymore. I’m no longer scared of your Valentine’s bombs, your creeping feelings of self-pity and misery. Your “woe-is-me” ice cream buckets and empty bottles of wine. Be gone with you, bitter Betty, there’s no room for you inside my head. I don’t want to wallow in your mud anymore. If people want to give each other stuff, let them give each other stuff, because people like getting stuff like you like people telling you to have an awesome day. I’m going to love today, like I’m going to love tomorrow and everyone in my days to come. 

Hope I don’t see ya’ around anymore,
(almost) 33 year old Lu.

p.s. I know where you stashed your old love notes from high school, you hypocrite!

And so I say Happy freakin' day to you all. Make it awesome. No, make it freakin' awesome. Hell yeah. I'm loving all this love shit.