cucumber

Green and oblong, picked fresh from the garden. The vegetable lay in my hands thick and wide. No gardening prize given to this ordinary crop, but it will go nice on a salad or dipped in hummus. Slicing down, creating thin slices to adorn a crudite platter, the inside is white. The smell is subtle, yet refreshing. Chomping down it is crunchy and lightly sweet, full of moisture. This fresh cucumber would make a great pickle if given the time. All I hear now are the birds singing outside and the rhythmic pattern of my knife on the cutting board, slicing a vegetable from my garden.

Cucumber sandwiches and English society. Outside garden party with tea and fancy petticoats and hats. No guest, no host lifts a finger; It is up to the staff to pour the tea and serve the scones and sandwiches. White bread, no crusts, baby crunch as the sandwich is brought to the Dowager’s lips. That’s lunch. Everybody take five.

Sometimes cucumbers aren’t always good. Sometimes the seeded middle can make them soggy; no pleasurable texture. A regretful bite. But when they are fresh, and perhaps a garnish to a well-muddled mint mojito, it is tasteful, elegant, and refreshing.

Aside from being sliced down the line, the cucumber can also be sliced down the middle, the seeds scooped out, the half flipped over, and expertly sliced into half-pieces. Summertime, springtime, fresh veggie platters. A clean way of living that we forgot how to do with the avalanche of desserts and breads the winter brings. The balance of life. Into the juicer the cucumbers go, creating cucumber juice, water. So good for the body, and the body feels good, the soul reflects on that.

creature

“Sweet Creature” by Harry Styles plays from a car stereo. It is nighttime.

A large octopus, purple or orange, rises above dark ocean waves and scans its eyes across a blank horizon. What is and is not a creature? Dark curtained shadowed night. Water, surprisingly warm. Sea air smells of salt and marine brine. Wind whips and creamy foam pushes from the surf, inhaling and exhaling out on the beach, accompanied by rocks and shells that will cut your feet like glass if you dare to walk across from the dunes. Creatures of the night, creatures of the deep. It’s easy to pretend to not know what we can’t see. But if we lend our minds to imagine what our sight cannot provide us, we will find our hearts beating a little harder, our minds racing a little faster, and our palms accompanied by an everlasting sheen of sweat on a mildly humid summer night; A night where the wind cuts through the humidity and allows you to breathe just a little deeper.

Small shrimp and other crustaceans crawl on the bottom floor of the ocean. Timidly walking; carefully. Coral bubbles and kelp sways side to side as the current brushes alongside it. There is peace below the ocean floor tonight. No predators lurk, no volcanic eruptions or deep sea quakes. My heart is at rest and can sense no danger. I will allow myself this brief vacation and say that I have earned this peace, and acknowledge that this peace will not be forever. Because this is not heaven and I am not dead. I am an emotional EKG readout in real time.

paint

A plum hue replaces the bare white walls. It’s in process. Clear up and down deliberate strokes. She likes the smell of fresh paint. It smells like starting over; Renewal. Every time she moves into a new apartment she repaints it, fully making it her own. (And she’s lived in many apartments.) Today’s mood felt like plum. Dark, mysterious, secure. It’s difficult for her to explain. She inhales the sharp fumes deliberately while she turns up the radio and attaches herself to the sound of the saxophone coming through tinny speakers. The windows have been opened. She accepted no help when offered. This was her time to be alone. When she was done, she’d take a seat on the canvas-draped couch, pour herself a glass of red wine, and gaze about the room at her handiwork.

Smocks in art class. Big t-shirts and aprons. Putting paint on them on purpose – because that’s what they were supposed to be for. Getting in trouble by the substitute art teacher I didn’t like. Likely went toe-to-toe for peer acceptance, not because I actually felt a certain way. But maybe because I was too much of a goody-two shoes – perceived like that, anyway. The freeze of fear and panic being caught saying something I shouldn’t have. The choking feeling of being caught in trouble. Art class. Maybe 6th grade. Maybe 4th. An even number. We might have been coloring or drawing. It was something not very involved. Panic choked me, but I talked my way out, feigning innocent. Starting to build on a life-skill no one ever told me I needed. The art of bullshit. And it was a shame the sub sucked because I really did like art class.

What if every paint can at Home Depot opened up and spilled its contents onto the floor? Would it be declared a state of emergency art project? Would there be too many colors that they would just blend into a murky black and be nothing? Or would we discover some new color, some new combination? Brave new worlds.

The smell and feel of new paintbrushes. Untapped watercolors. It’s just like starting over; Renewal. New supplies. The promise of redemption.

breath

Invisible life force. Unseen to the human eye, except in winter. Foggy breath exits my hesitant nostrils and mouth as my legs go numb and nose gets cold. Shivering snowflakes fall in a rhythmic pattern. Barbed wire frozen to the core. Blue lips, alone in the dark. Human self-made wind life force. Through tunnels and fans. Through my lungs. It hurt a first. Atrophied pulmonary devices pumping oxygen at greater volumes than before. The first time I meditated. It was like I didn’t know my own lungs’ capacity. The air pressing against hesitant cilia, damaged by a few years of welcome smoke. Taste of foreign dust. A muscle I forgot how to use. Hurt to swell. Swell to hurt. I forgot how the body is a temple, a kingdom. It should be treated as such. On a plane, then balcony. Starting my first simple steps of meditation, except every time is the first time, you know?

Family vacation trip to New Hampshire a few summers back. Climbing heights and breathing in that fresh, evening mountain air. It was unlike everything I had ever experienced. The air was clear and sweet. Passed through my lungs and bloodstream faster than ever before, with such fervor I inhaled. The next week in Cape Cod, breathing in that evening shoreline off Hyannis. Made you want to be a Kennedy. Simpler times made more complicated by choice.

Feeling the breath flowing through me in downward dog and when it gets harder I breathe deeper and louder and with intent. I do not care what anyone thinks, because if anyone pays me mind that person is doing themselves a disservice by not focusing on their own breath.

software

Microchip harmony creates pleasant result. Little cities live inside computer towers and laptops. Disc to drive to installer. I’ve done this a hundred times before, if not more. I had my first computer at 3-years-old; After shoving popsicle sticks into the (internal) floppy drive on my dad’s Mac. He decided maybe it would be best if I got my own to mess up. I had and played so many games on it, cultivating a love and understanding of computers that would last for years; A love that is still burning.

Bernstein Bears and Little Critter and Arthur Interactive reading computers games. Magic School Bus, Musical Instruments, Geography, Carmen Sandiego. The joy and hours spent learning and having fun. Bright, Lisa Frank, Emotional rainbow streaks mark my childhood in these moments. And let’s not forget the hellish torture when the computer was taken away as punishment; when I misbehaved. You can’t do much once Dad takes the power cord away and you don’t even know where to begin looking for it, nevermind not being tall enough to even go looking for it in certain places.

I remember graduating to more real PC games like Backyard Baseball, The Sims, and Roller Coaster Tycoon; Elite Force! I even had a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone game. The dryness in my mouth after forgoing food and drink for hours on end. Not wanting to end the joy and excitement. Serotonin rush after school or on the weekend.

I wonder if those games did me any good. I like to think I learned. But I suppose it’s hard to quantify. Hand on the mouse, clicking away. Wanting to know what a didgeridoo sounded like. Or wanting to click on Little Critter’s hot dog on the beach to see it fall in the sand. Putt Putt too! All the Humongous Entertainment games – Spy Fox and Pajama Sam. That demo of Fatty Bear that I was way to old for, but liked playing anyway. Going to CompUSA or COMPAQ off Route 46 to buy these games. It was always a thrill. And they would come in these large boxes, way too big to hold these small games.