Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Oh man I love poems.  I’ve always loved them.  
Sometimes I wonder where predilection comes from, how it starts.  Why, for instance, do I like poems but my sister can’t stand them (unless I’m reading her one of my own which I still think she can’t stand bless her heart).  I mean my aunt is a writer, my mom is an actress and my dad is a real thoughtful conversationalist.  Not to mention a dozen other relations who work with words in one way or the other.  So I wonder if this melange of characteristics climbed my DNA ladder and settled onto the idiom rung in the only Kay Miller out there?  I sort of need a patented answer but I like the idea of talent climbing that cool ribbon full of dots in vitro so I’ll stick with that theory for now.  
Clearly wasn’t born a scientist.  
But I rap in T stations late at night and randomly.  I sing Les Miserables with the same voice, inflection and (i hope) passion as the original cast.  I freestyle rapped with my great friend Pois at an uppity restaurant in the South End for a friend's birthday.  Part of it is on tape.  When I was young I used to sit in the bathroom and read the backs of whatever was in the cabinet at the time - usually shampoo or shaving cream labels.  I’d read them out loud and pretend I was on TV.  Then I’d reread them in poetry slam-esque ways, still sitting on the lid of the toilet, maybe trying to look up in the mirror as if speaking to an audience.  Then I’d try to read the ingredients listed on the back of deodorant fluidly and with no messups.  Cyclopentasiloxane was a tough one.
There’s something about words that thrill me.
Which is why I want to share with you a poem that thrilled me.  Not at first, but after a read or two I fell in love with its echo.  If you don’t like poetry, I get it.  It’s like me trying to decipher politics.  So I’ll say goodbye to you kind folk now.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  We need you.
For the rest of you, here is a poem by Barbara Ras titled, “Washing the Elephant”. I hope you enjoy.
Isn’t it always the heart that wants to wash
the elephant, begging the body to do it
with soap and water, a ladder, hands,
in tree shade big enough for the vast savannas
of your sadness, the strangler fig of your guilt,
the cratered full moon’s light fuelling
the windy spooling memory of elephant?

What if Father Quinn had said, “Of course you’ll recognize
your parents in Heaven,” instead of
“Being one with God will make your mother and father
pointless.” That was back when I was young enough
to love them absolutely though still fear for their place
in Heaven, imagining their souls like sponges full
of something resembling street water after rain.

Still my mother sent me every Saturday to confess,
to wring the sins out of my small baffled soul, and I made up lies
about lying, disobeying, chewing gum in church, to offer them
as carefully as I handed over the knotted handkerchief of coins
to the grocer when my mother sent me for a loaf of Wonder,
Land of Lakes, and two Camels.

If guilt is the damage of childhood, then eros is the fall of adolescence.
Or the fall begins there, and never ends, desire after desire parading
through a lifetime like the Ringling Brothers elephants
made to walk through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel
and down Thirty-fourth Street to the Garden.
So much of our desire like their bulky, shadowy walking
after midnight, exiled from the wild and destined
for a circus with its tawdry gaudiness, its unspoken

It takes more than half a century to figure out who they were,
the few real loves-of-your-life, and how much of the rest—
the mad breaking-heart stickiness—falls away, slowly,
unnoticed, the way you lose your taste for things
like popsicles unthinkingly.
And though dailiness may have no place
for the ones who have etched themselves in the laugh lines
and frown lines on the face that’s harder and harder
to claim as your own, often one love-of-your-life
will appear in a dream, arriving
with the weight and certitude of an elephant,
and it’s always the heart that wants to go out and wash
the huge mysteriousness of what they meant, those memories
that have only memories to feed them, and only you to keep them clean.
word swords

Sunday, March 28, 2010

my day is a fortress and my night is a shark

In my former line of work, I used to pride myself in knowing a little about a lot of things.  I was an account manager at a high profile ad agency and was told when I was first hired that we were the “Drew Bledsoes” of the Ad Game; learning the plays, taking marching orders onto the field, calling the shots, making use of other people’s skills...and that’s about where the analogy stopped. 
I think in life we can be experts in our particular field, but in general, we all (hopefully) know a few more things.  Maybe not much more, but some basic structure about how things are supposed to be versus how things really are.  
Here are a few things i know in no particular order:
3am is the witching hour.  It is the absolute scariest time to wake up and feel like the only one in the whole world who’s awake.  unfortunately, I wake up at 3am almost every night.  I wish I liked being afraid.
you can do anything for one minute.  I reminded myself of this on my 3rd of 8 hill reps whilst battling a headwind that was so sasha FIERCE it should have a song named after it.  seriously, you can do anything for exactly 60 seconds:  hold your breath, make out, devour a cake, do pushups, throw up, stand on your head.  maybe all in that order!  I mean, people have died for one minute and have lived to tell about it.  whenever i’m scared, I think: just do it for a minute and then decide if you can keep doing it.
despite popular opinion, you don’t need to wash the following items after the first wear:
sports bra
running pants/shorts 
layer #2
actually, unless it’s covered in stains or smells like b.o., the only thing you really need to wash after you’ve worn it once is underwear.  
integrity can be annoying.  especially when the thing that tempts you doesn’t feel wrong. we’ve all heard the siren calls: “just this once” , or “only a little”, “nobody will know”, “it’s no big deal”, “everybody has”, “take the easy road, that’s why it’s there” so when integrity puts the shine on, pricks the conscience, stirs the soul, it’s like the dj stopped the music and all you want to do is dance.  integrity i love your persistence.  keep me on your side because it’s flippn hard to earn you back once you’re gone.
people like to complain about the weather.  it is and always will be a people-unifier.
no matter how many good men come into your life, you will always remember your first love.  That time in your life has got like a teleporter attached to it and all you need sometimes is the smell of an old car or flannel shirts or old spice after-shave to bring you back.  it kind of sucks in a good way.
you don’t get warm by piling on sweatshirts or sweatpants or long-sleeve cotton shirts.  silk underwear may seem like a joke but it’s the bomb-dizzle and so is thin merino wool.  but really the best way to get warm is to get naked.  take camping, for instance.  just jump into your sleeping bag buck bare as a baby’s butt.  you’ll warm up like nobody’s business.  unless you make it somebody’s business.  and that’s a whole other story.
nother isn’t a word.  i was about to use it in that last sentence.
Hard work pays off.  
Cliches are cliche and that’s not fair because we could really learn from them except they feel too cliche and therefore a stigma is attached.  Cliches are like songs that are overplayed on the radio (Example: “You Found Me” by The Fray).  I’m going to re-listen to all the cliches I know and write them down so they feel different.
Hugs are good.
Finally, a true friend recently told me to “Choose faith, not fear.”  I like this because all over the radioTVinternetsairwaves there is so much that just makes my heart ache: death, destruction, people cheating on their spouses, greed...the list goes on forever.  How easy it would be to throw our hands up.  Everyday we simply make the choice to give up.  Or everyday we choose not to.  I know that faith has a lot more going for it than fear.  And the branches give way just enough for me to take the next step in this world.  Like today, for instance.  I was walking out of the grocery store and two boys employed at the Market Basket - no more than 12 years old I swear - were racing a whole line of carts towards the store when they happened upon an older woman getting ready to load her car with groceries.  No one else was around.  The boys stopped and without hesitation, offered to help her load her trunk.  I’m not sure anyone else witnessed these tiny little men help someone who is so far out of their hemisphere of coolness.  I’m not gonna lie, I sat in my car with tears in my eyes thanking God for allowing me to see that transaction.  For some reason today, I needed to see that.
Which reminds me of one more!  the kindness of strangers is a beautiful thing to behold.   I always thought it was a cool feeling to be the giver of a gift.  And of course, being the receiver is awesome, too.   But what’s surprisingly awesomer is being witness to it - especially when you least expect to see it happen.  It’s like coming face-to-face with a huge animal in the forest.  You have a moment.
That’s it for tonight!  Now off to bed with Pad Thai, my herbal-stuffed Panda I bought in Boulder at the Whole Foods.  That’s another thing - naming things makes them funner to own.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

my leg is sparkles my leg is pins

We used the arch of our feet and our body weight to push the shovel deeper into the forest soil, “See?  If it takes serious effort to turn over the soil because the roots are snapping, it means nothing was buried here.  Let’s try over here instead...”  Amy and I were at the bottom of a steep hill in the middle of our town on a quiet street up by the granite excavation place or whatevertheheckscary place I always considered it to be.  
We were digging for a body.  Or maybe a skull or dog bones or a box full of money like you see in the movies.  We were digging next to a fallen tree in this exact-ish spot because 5 months ago I was on a 10-miler and at the bottom of the steepest hardest hill in the middle of nature with my chest heaving from exertion there in front of me was a beat-up truck parked on the side of the road and a man digging a hole beside a tree.  A man was digging a hole in the middle of nowhere.  Now, as Amy reasoned, he might’ve been burying his dog that he grew up with - a man’s best friend.  Or perhaps he was digging for mushrooms, I don’t know.  All I know is that I HAD to pass him in order to get home.  And my legs ran as fast as my imagination did in those few minutes.  I haven’t run there alone since.  And I haven’t forgotten that feeling I had of willing myself i-n-v-i-s-i-b-l-e as I flew past him.  Today on a run, I recounted this story to my friend, Amy.  Amy is fearless.  Or, as she explains it, just doesn’t think about the what-ifs in scary situations.  She just does what she knows she can do.  “Sometimes the best solutions are the simple ones, Kay.  So let’s get a shovel, check it out and close the book on this thing.”  Alright, Amy, so long as you’re the brave one.
i have a serious fear of burglars and muggers and generally sneaky criminals.  
i know everyone who is sane probably has a healthy fear, but i would say my fear is borderline unhealthy.  it’s the 5th cookie you eat after dinner.
It can’t be helped.  When I was nine, my family was thisclose to sending me to a psychologist because I was so deeply terrified of Freddy Krueger that I kept myself (and my sister) up until 4am for two months straight.  I slept at the foot of Mary’s bed in the event Freddy decided to split my bed in half with his razor fingers like he did in the movie.  Not that I’d seen the movie.  David Habif was obsessed with horror movies and brought a Freddy picture book into reading class.  I was his reading partner.  Sweet.
Then when I was 13, a man tried to break into our 1980 two-toned Dodge Ram Van named Carlos while my family were sleeping IN IT.  We were on a road trip and had pulled off a Connecticut exit in the middle of the night to get some rest.  I distinctly remember my father telling me for the hundredth time that, “No, no gang is going to walk up to our car and kidnap you kids.  Go to sleep, Kay.”, my mom mumbling to me to go to sleep as I stealthy poked her arm repetitively as I watched the man walk around the car as he decided which window he would break to get in.  Not until blue lights surrounded our car by what I can only consider to be angels, did my family rouse from slumber.  
2 points for Kay.
So, here I am 20 years later, chipping away at deep soil wearing bright running clothes and watching my friend maneuver the shovel into sink holes near one fallen tree after another.  Here I am, hoping to unearth something incredibly important or nothing but worms and black soil so that the storyline running through my head could either be true, be false, and just be put to bed once and for all.  
We found broken glass bottles and a stash of acorns.  That’s it.  But it felt good to be out there, facing the assumption in the face.  I think oftentimes the not knowing is the fear, and the assumption is what we use to placate it - to ground it.  Sometimes our hunches are correct and sometimes they are wildly off and can lead us to sleeping at the foot of someone else’s bed.
And you know what?  To the ten cars that passed us?  We probably looked like the crazy ones!  Two girls hopping around, laughing at the sky, digging random holes and jumping up on fallen trees in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a fear that was now nothing but a beautifully deep forest and a cold spring brook that I hadn’t ever noticed on my runs because i was too busy building a fear.  I'm not gonna lie - I'll still be the 5th cookie person with a mildly unhealthy fear (or, as I see it, an incredible imagination) of burglars or creepy people , but not every strange thing is a bad thing and not every noise is a burglar.  
Amy, thank you for being brave.  It may seem like a small and stupid thing, but for someone who sometimes has difficulty letting go of being spooked, it was a great lesson; when you’re scared, face the fear. It’s simple and it’s actionable and you get results no matter what.  And those results may well be just a pile of acorns in a beautiful forest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

By the dawn's early light.

My sister is coming home TODAY!!  Not here home.  Not Maine.  She's coming back to the red, white and blue.  The stars and stripes.  Her USofA...(or u sofa I just made that up but it's not very clever, is it?).  
And though she won’t be in my time zone she will be HERE.  And here is a lovely, lovely place to be.  I am blasted with happiness!
I just spoke with her a few hours ago as she boarded her flight from Melbourne to LA.  Oof, long flight but she will be back in Boulder tomorrow night.  Yeahhhhh!  No more “Kay, I’m 9 hours behind you but the next day....”  None of this, “Kay, you’re confused.  Tazzy is 13 hours ahead of you which means it’s 2am here....”  In 24 hours, she’ll be a few hours behind me (weird).  But I love it.  I love her.  I am so blessed.  
Now I just need to find a cheap ticket out to visit.
Welcome home, Mooser.

Monday, March 15, 2010

for the record....

I’m drinking way too much coffee.
I’m drinking wine like a frenchman and there is no end in sight.
I ate an entire bag of Cadbury mini chocolate eggs in four days. 
i made cookies, ate the batter off the mixer which may or may not have had at least 1/4 of the batter left in it.
Fruit tastes weird.
I haven’t worn mascara in the last week.
I forgot to put on deodorant twice and wasn’t the first to notice.
I’ve skipped dinner a few times and opted for buttered toast.  And cheddar cheese.  And diced cucumber.
Showering is tedious.
I went out to a friend’s surprise party and by 10pm was SO EXHAUSTED:)
I went to tmz.com for the first time in 6 months.  
I’ve had multiple dreams about bathroom remodeling where I royally screw up the tiling.
I avoided my Bible study on purpose.  For days.
Had a mini dance-off with myself whilst cleaning my room.  This is the second time I won.
i haven’t picked up my camera in an embarrassingly long amount of time.
i hope it’s the weather, my winter slump come late.  maybe i’ll wake up tomorrow, jump out of bed at the first blink, throw back the curtains and run outside with fistfuls of fruit in my hand twirling in the sunny skies per the usual kay.  but for now, this is me and i’m okay with it.  
just wanted to go on record.

Friday, March 12, 2010

cedar road loop

saw a tree in a field by the road on a run when the sun went down
with the sun sitting low in the sky it was i and my shadow, my shoulders, no sound
and my shadow ran out of the pavement and out of the tar - or into it (shadows are mysterious like that) but not very far.  we were connected, you see, so that tree
that tree that i saw in a field on my run wasn’t one...it was two
it was two but they grew so close so close that i knew
it was proximity or, scientifically speaking, it may have been grafted
shaped to weather the storm together shaped to take each other on from the beginning 
though neither was winning or both have won, both wrap and twirl around the other’s bark and in the sun and as i run i get to thinking, isn’t it funny the way it grows and how we know the way it goes and how we grew?  it’s true, and it’s clever, this lesson i learned that day (for i was carrying the weight of my world, unfurled and hurled into the sky.  it was just i. which wasn’t enough but I’d try) i’d pray
then i saw a tree in a field on that run when the sun it shone. i drew close and i saw it was two always two never one and i knew and i know i am never alone.

xo and ©

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

College and Cashews. Non-expectations never tasted so good.

When you expect a weekend to be brilliant it absolutely has to live within or above your expectations or one becomes mildly depressed.  Don’t think I’m crazy, pretty sure I’m accurate.  And equally, the best times are often the ones that aren’t planned, predicted or pressure-cooked.  Nature of the beast, Murphy’s Law, whatevs.  I was never more aware of how right these truths were than I was the four years I attended college.  It was almost laughable.  The second we started creating buzz around the Biggest Party Ever, we knew instantly that we would wake up the next morning thinking that the pre-party around the living room futon would be the highlight.  It’s just how it is.  Expectations are like 5lb weights on a balloon.
This weekend I had no expectations (I just knew truths, which were: the friends I was visiting were the gems of the universe.  Even if we were to yell at each other, it would have been hilarious and memorable in some random good way.  I digress...) 
This weekend was spent with former college teammates and friends; Walshie, Fo, Em, JB, Hodge-Podge and Soy Sauce.  Their nicknames don’t even begin to hold a mirror to a candle to light the justice they deserve.  They are simply, outrageously awesome.  And because I don’t get to see them often, it is easy to forget just how good and filled-up you can be when you are around people who make you want to be a better person.  I am so lucky to have them in my life.
I could regale you with hilarious moments as we ran our Converses through the city, made friends with the parking attendant, terrorized the men’s neckties at Filene’s Basement, danced with shoe salesmen, rocked some bars, more bars, more dance floors, got a waitress named Kara promoted and reaffirmed why the Moscow Mule is the bomb but only if your throat is as tough as a cowboy’s hands.  We were invincible.

At the end of the night, when it was early morning and my 29-almost-30 year old feet were on fire with happiness and a Russian mule was still kicking the back of my throat, we made our way to Arlington, where we proceeded to eat our way through a loaf of Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread, Gluten-Free Pizza, Almonds, Chocolate Chips, Biscottis and dry-roasted Cashews.  Looking around the table I saw hearts bigger than the moon, friends who have been with me for years, strangers to me once.  These random insights I am grateful for.  It’s pinching your skin and seeing the flush rush to the surface as if to say, “yes, then. I am alive and this is real.”  

Random moments of the day spill out in raucous laughter, a few non-sequitur quotations of Summer Heights High, more handfuls of nuts and slowly goodnights.  Good Nights.  A good night’s sleep in a house full of friends in a world full of people who land in the laps and lives of other people and become family.  Everyday this happens and we are given this gift of sitting late at night, eating cashews and wiping laughter off our faces so we can finally, finally settle for sleep and a brand new day.  See what awaits us there.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

In the night I die and in the morning I am born again.

TED is this cool forum where really smart, geeky/cool people talk to an audience full of really smart geek/cool people.  Most are extremely accomplished.  In a line-up of all stars, Raghava (unknown to me and to many) shared his inspiring testimony, his many avatars.  It is beautiful and inspiring.  I venture to say he stole the show.

There are no words to lead you here...just go and enjoy:)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

in our chest we breathe.

in college, Mary and I would lead the soccer team on “cool-down” runs after Tuesday practices.  it was this 3-mile loop out in the agriculture fields behind the university.  beautiful trails and trees and everything you expect from a college town in the middle of nowhere maine.  trouble was, no matter how tired and worn-out and spent we were following practice (which we were, every single time), the pace would inevitably get faster.  we’d pick it up in such minutia amounts at first that, should you have been traveling in the pack, you might think you were going crazy or that you were extra tired or that you had a heart problem.  and there was no way to slow it down.  Even if you could sputter, “guysslowitdown!” while your lungs smashed the drumbeat of “Wipe Out” against your rib bone, you didn’t.  no one tried to slow the pack.  every run went from laughing to pure silence in minutes, and by the time we were on our way out of the clearing and on the last stretch towards the Big M, we were in full throttle.  i loved/hated it.  we always hung in, we had to. but we always talked about how next time would be different. 
fast-forward eight years and i still have a hard time cooling down after any sort of workout.  I started skipping cool-downs altogether because there is so much that habitually fires off.  it’s like the kick of a rifle against my shoulder.  
i’ve begun adding chill songs to the back end of my shuffle to force me to stick around and it’s sort of working.  this one song keeps getting the repeat button from me (which is mildly hilarious because I strap the shuffle to my sports bra - it’s the most comfortable position - though it looks like i’m mini-high-fiving the chest every time i hit the button).  Great band.  Their songs make me feel like I could cool-down forever.  but I’m just getting started....
Le Loup’s (Fear Not) and "We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!
sidebar:  le loup is a DC-born indie band.  I would love to hear them live.  they look fun.  let’s go.
another sidebar:  i will regale you with more off-season soccer stories in later posts.  they were crazy and i remember my nerves jangled like Caribbean ankle bracelets from 1998 - 2002.  for how much i feared those days, i learned that hearts don’t break.  but i do think they come very close.