how does my life change, how does my brain change
December 30, 2017
the fish with antlers said to me,
December 17, 2017
In a dream, in a blue light, I stand with my back to a cold cushioned mostly empty amphitheater where a few senators sit looking at their phones and wiping their mouths. Above and in front of me is an enormous video screen, which I address by saying, "Mr. President, we simply do NOT have TIME for these ANTICS." On the enormous screen, Donald Trump's enormous drooling head sneers and says, "Actually, we have all the time in the world."
December 10, 2017
Falling asleep in the booth while waiting for Paul to get to Pizza House, I heard "Stand by Me" playing in the ceiling and in rapid succession I thought of three men and a woman and a car commercial.
December 9, 2017
if i could put you on like a deerskin: my head in your head, my hands in your hooves, the rest of you falling across my back
December 3, 2017
Dream of a sandstorm, dream of a snake. We were in the woods, we were in houses, we were on prairies, we were underground. At church someone looked like 21 year old Tom Hembree and someone else looked like 18 year old Daniel Zender. While watching people take communion I remembered something vulgar that happened in Speaking 3 like five years ago, and I thought fondly of Khalid and and Khalifa and Rocio and Sharif.
November 27, 2017
In the afternoon Corey pulled on his coveralls and shuffled around in his basement, sniffing and coughing like an animal in its den, while I stood aboveground looking at the shape of trees against the sky, waiting for him to pass assorted pieces of wood and foam and metal through a 1.5' x 2' hole built into the foundation of his house so I could toss them on a trailer. It was not particularly fun but it was familiar and I felt good about being there. How many times have I helped Corey get rid of whatever's piled up in his house and yard? How many times have I helped the Todds move? How many times have I helped Ryan build a fence? And I hope I'll do all those things again. At night I did a bad job of explaining and justifying my loyalties and actions and attendance, largely because I don't think I should have to. What I should have said was that I will never feel entirely at home in any group or country and that I have no intention of claiming to feel a way that I don't. I feel at home with Ryan, I feel at home with Paul and Nikki, and in various corners of the past I've felt at home with many people. But in general I prefer to make my unathomeness blatant, to delight in finding a little glimmer of it in places I was told it wasn't, rather than trudge my way through the mud of all the places that claim to be my home but aren't, or, at best, are not my only.
November 21, 2017
whatever church you usually go to,
November 14, 2017
i'm 34 and no one is my people
November 11, 2017
I took communion twice in one day and wondered if my bonus sevap points were transferrable. Yesterday I was with my mom and dad and brother. Today I took my sheets and blankets off my bed and put them in my car; I thought I had a place to go but didn't. My mouth and fingers are little drawstring bags of rocks, my heart is a ball of mud, songs and poems are orange and yellow trees.
November 7, 2017
We went to a party but quickly left it to go dance in an alley. My current dance style is an attempt at sockhop feet, Afrikan knees and butt, and Turkish shoulders. I don't think people like it but it feels good to me. Today, for the first time in my life, I found a friend's grave and wept by it. Later, in the woods, Paul found a place in the grass where he said a deer had made its bed and I layed down where the deer had layed down, and it was my first time doing that, too.
October 29, 2017
It's cold at night now. I moved some of my outside plants inside, which is making me relearn how light works in here. People think I'm better at plants than I actually am. Let them have light and water them slightly less often than you think you should; if you start with a lot and are constantly acquiring more, some will survive.
October 28, 2017
I had a small party and I liked it, but Bayar said "so now just quiet standing?" and I asked what he wanted and he said he wanted music and fireworks and dancing. I couldn't disagree. Who doesn't want those things? The next night, as we walked to our cars David read me a poem he had written during class about the origin of Halloween: on the eve of a day that celebrates the lives of all the saints, a night to make a mockery of Death, a spectacle of fears and sorrows in full knowledge of Christ's victory over all of them. I suspect that this is not the real - or at least not the only real - origin of why people wear costumes on Halloween, but I love the idea, and after David and I went separate ways on separate sidewalks I kept thinking about why I love holidays. You can make them whatever you want! Layers and layers and years and years of people doing what they think is fun and what they think is meaningful, and now you get to participate by doing what you think is fun and what you think is meaningful, and by inviting people to do those things with you. Somehow I have learned how to invite friends and acquaintances into my home. I highly recommend it.
October 25, 2017
The tension between contentment and complacency is never pointed out to me by amerikans.
October 24, 2017
no one to carry or be carried by
October 19, 2017
Leaves are green but leaves are dry, wind is warm. I refused to be with my friends, I insisted on being alone. At a stoplight, a dude in a truck began to turn the wrong direction onto a one way street. I held up my hand and shook my head at him, and he confusedly obeyed me and then laughed when he realized what he had almost done. I laughed too, and this brief interaction made me feel that humans are good and hilarious and loveable and worth knowing. But less than an hour later, I was at the Asian market on Glenstone looking for miso and nori and ginger, and a white woman came in screaming vulgarities, making threats, knocking things off the shelves and smashing jars, and the woman working screamed back and jabbed a broom at her until she left. That confrontation and my own inability or refusal to diffuse it or to intervene in any way made me feel that humans are stupid and selfish and pathetic and doomed.
Paul has a new camera that he doesn't understand yet. He's pointing it at me to figure it out while I sit here typing these words. A bright light on Penny and a half light on me; a sad and heavy song playing; beer at supper, beer at Paul's house, whiskey when I'm home.
October 16, 2017
The other day I got a new Quran in the mail and in comparing its translation I opened up my old one for the first time in a long time, and it smelled so much like my apartment in Turkey that I gasped and held it against my face and breathed it in and out for a while, feeling like a deeply strange person. I have a favorite verse from the Quran, but not a favorite Bible verse. Well, maybe I do. The one where Jesus stands up and reads from Isaiah, but intentionally leaves out the part about God's vengeance. There's lots of em that I like, but I don't know what could be better than that one. At masjid today, I realized that for over a month now the four fingers of my left hand have been doing 30 rakats a day. Doctor's orders.
October 13, 2017
do what you do,
no need to name it
October 12, 2017
After a week of dreams about climbing trees to escape strange creatures, a dream in which Joel and Kubilay come to me separately with the same question: if all animals have free will, and if any animal given access to a technology will eventually find a way to destroy itself, why would anyone believe in God?
October 11, 2017
build in me
build in me
build in me
September 27, 2017
you have tied
September 26, 2017
Brandon said "yr shoes got nuts in em, man." Later, I looked at Chris's shoes while he sang his songs and I thought Do people think about each other? What do they think about? I mostly think about each other. Dreams: close conversation and I touch yr back, me and my brother crawl out of a car wreck, snowball fights with Somalis, making out standing on folding chairs and then stepping up onto the table while everyone cheers, Iris and I discuss the tiles on the floor of city hall.
September 25, 2017
Me and Ryan went to St Louis and we were able to do most of the things we went there for. When we got home I was tired and my house was gross and some seeds I had planted had sprouted. I sought solace in letters written sixty years ago, two men on different continents helping each other learn how to live. The next morning at church I felt confused and alone and spent a few minutes resenting everyone in the building. Afterwards someone who wasn't wearing shoes or a shirt yelled HELP and I got out of my car and talked to him. He said "FINALLY a human who can COMMUNICATE" and "CAN YOU READ THIS" and he showed me the bottom of his skateboard. It was green and brown smears of paint but he said it was a universal gospel and asked me for a ride. He was going to the same neighborhood as I was, so we put his stuff in the backseat and rode together for a few minutes, me mostly silent, him singing sweetly into an empty glass jar.
September 24, 2017
I got a massage for fifty dollars and it felt good for an hour but I mean nothing will ever really fix me. I got a tiny bluetooth speaker for twenty dollars and it has noticeably improved my quality of life. At night I can't sleep, I guess for chemical reasons. Is light a chemical? When I do sleep, I dream about turning my back on the national anthem, carrying a star-shaped cookie the size of a small table through the doors of a dark church, or floating above the city with swords in my hand.
When I'm awake I eat spoonfuls of feta and walnuts. I smirk at old men when they hand me small scriptures, I smile at old women when we both have to be patient. I fill a bag with bug spray and flashlights and give it to Josh. I hug a different Josh and drive on the wrong side of the street because I don't want to kill him. I'd much rather he live forever. At home I unroll my mat and lay down on my back. I listen to both fans and the breath moving through my nose. I taste my dinner in the folds of my mouth. I feel the blood in my ears and I remember the lyrics "you heart is a fleshy pump known for consistency". With my eyes still closed I consider the ceiling and I imagine the roof rolling up, revealing the sky and the stars and the moon and I grin and laugh and say "the glory of god the glory of god the glory of god" but what do I know of glory? Despair I know, and delight I know, in human arms and human eyes, and alone on my floor with the roof ripped off.
September 19, 2017
All day long you feel half-erased. When yr friends can't pronounce each other's names, you find another way of thinking about yrself, and you feel like a newly-built, untested bridge.
September 13, 2017
I saw myself on the news and was proud of where I was and why, but was ashamed of my hair and my posture and my constant little movements. It's easier to forgive people for being wrong than for not giving a shit.
September 9, 2017
The pool is one place where I usually feel good. My broken finger has forced me to have better hand form, and that has probably improved my form overall. My breathing has become natural enough that I don't have to pay any attention to it. Except yesterday I heard my bubbles doing dhikr and I started to giggle and then had to stop and cough and laugh and splutter for a few seconds. Before my last lap I paused at the edge to look at light and architecture for a moment, and I remembered a picture I took of Uğur silhouetted against the sky at the Urfa archaeological museum. Twelve hours later, trying to sleep, I could only think about buildings that aren't buildings anymore, faces that will only ever be digital now. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe and saw the courtyard outside the hotel in Casablanca, and a man walking across it that was more of a mummified bird creature on skinny dirty legs, repulsive but somehow elegant.
September 7, 2017
Corey got a little drunk and came to my house and I made popcorn and we each ate a tiny piece of pizza and had a confusing/clarifying conversation. The next night I talked to Garon and Lindsay and helped paint their kitchen. In the morning I felt terrible but got in the car with Ryan and Jerilyn and Elia. Elia discovered that I don't have a thumb and asked if my mom took it from me when I was sleeping so that she would always remember me. Multiple people assumed she was my daughter. Jandyn said "hi Ty!" and I said hi to her and Jacob. Angela said "is it Ty??" and I stood up and hugged her. I fell asleep in the car on the way home and recorded Arabic in the basement. Now it's the next day. I need to read and think and write; that's not the order I want to do it in but that's how it has to happen. The air and light are good and right. I have a new plant whose big broad leaves form delightful drops of water every morning. The farmkids across the street are playing with a trumpet on their porch. I want to give myself a day to rejoice in the world instead of worrying about it.
September 4, 2017
The world feels different than it did a year ago. I don't know what we lost, but it seems unrecoverable. Will I go to the potluck tomorrow night? What will I do on Wednesday? How best to love what I love, how best to defy what degrades us?
In the evening I put on shoes that are quieter than my favorite shoes and went for a walk. The sky and light were very good: that gray and green and purple that I love. People were sitting and talking on their porches and yards had just been mown. I dragged my feet, leaving trails marking my passing in the grass clippings on the sidewalk. On one block I saw two huge trees that had recently fallen. One had been cut into beautiful stumps and piled in a way that was semi-organized and very pleasing. A block earlier, the other just lay like a huge body in the yard, blocking the driveway, making the house look primeval. Two dogs barked at me. The good one had a good human and the annoying one had a bad human. It's the end of summer and new kinds of flowers keep on coming. Moony big white easter ones, and a bush full of yellow sun ones. At one house, framed watercolor paintings of bouquets and Dutch landscapes had been propped up in an empty flowerbed. I was thrilled to hear thunder, but turned backed towards home when it started to sprinkle. I walked past Cali and Scott's house but didn't see their car or any lights inside. No neighbors on my porch. I stomped up the steps and touched the bricks beside my door and then unlocked it. Inside all my things. My apartment is very much my own.
August 27, 2017
Often in the morning when I'm laying in bed digesting my dreams and imagining the day ahead, one of the first things I consciously think about is the unbearable lightness of being vs the unbearable heaviness of being. I've never read the book - I mean, I read, like, the first thirty pages - but I think about the idea all the time. Yesterday it was pouring rain when I woke up. I was thinking about a number of things I didn't want to have to do, and heard myself praying please let it be light o please let it be light o please let it be light o please, and assumed that I was asking that things would not look or feel more ponderous and burdensome than they actually were. I remembered that I was going to have to walk several blocks, and if the rain continued I would just be soaked and miserable all day, and I realized that my prayer was actually about the rain. I kept praying it, and by the time I started walking it had softened. I wore my raincoat but didn't bother with an umbrella. A doctor took x-rays and told me bad news about my hand. I called Ryan and went and complained to him and he put his hands around my hand and prayed for it and he was shaking a little. I avoided a meeting and had brief conversations with Abdullah, Ashlea, and Terry. I called Daniel. Kubilay called me. Driving past the square, I saw people carrying signs. I waved at one of them and hurriedly parked and went back to join them. They were done with the signs, but we stood in the shade and read statements and prayed that an execution would be stopped. Hours later, sitting on my couch, I got a text from my mom telling me that the governor had changed his mind and delayed the execution.
August 23, 2017
Paul of Adana - the man who invented christianity - says that he prays to "the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name."
August 20, 2017
I feel like I've smelled bad all summer. I have many questions about deodorant and wish I could go to hamam. Although I think of myself as a cynical person, in the midst of conversation I am often startled to realize that I am one of the least cynical people in the room, simply because I believe that God is actually good and people are worth knowing.
August 16, 2017
I swam some laps for the first time in weeks or maybe months. I forgot my goggles, and with my broken hand and with my mouth and eyes full of chlorine, I imagined that swimming was physical therapy after having recently come out of a coma: unsure of my body, unsure of the world. Ryan swam for longer than I wanted to, so I sat in the sauna and then took a shower and got dressed and went back to his office. I sat at his desk cutting gauze and rewrapping my finger, and when someone stuck their head in the door and said "where's Ryan?" I said "who?" and they frowned and walked away.
August 14, 2017
communion is subversion
August 13, 2017
May we care more about things that matter and less about things that don't.
August 11, 2017
Last week the class asked me what I'd eaten for dinner the night before and when I told them they said "this is dark food!" and when I said "...what?" they said "a dark recipe!" and I felt bored and annoyed, the closest I get to being offended.
On the weekend I stood in someone's backyard wanting to be in Turkey or Iraq or Iran and feeling foolish for wanting that.
Yesterday my right eye was a deep dark cave that the rest of my face collapsed in around. Instead of going to work I slept in four rooms in two houses. I said the word "hey" to two neighbors and no words to anyone else.
Now it's raining and I'm at Coffee Ethic because my plans for the morning got changed. A dad is saying to his small daughters "PLEASE get the sandwich off the wooden table. That's disgusting. Eat it. Eat the whole thing." Other people are saying things about the rain. I know one of their names and have briefly known the other person's name after having once been introduced. I have a book waiting for me at the library and am trying to think of something beyond that to look forward to.
August 10, 2017
I dreamed that my dad killed a shiny green toad with a hotdog fork and I wept and said "If you can kill a toad, how can I know what you won't kill?" And I dreamed that in order to instill paranoia and an unhealthy type of interdependence, everyone was put into pairs and one person in each pair was issued a weapon. Me and Philip Bowles were assigned to each other; we spent a lot of time together and he always carried a rifle. And I dreamed that after typing to each other so often on the phone, I met a girl in the sunlight and her nose was quite cute in real life.
August 6, 2017
the day was all gray
i wanted to hide
i saw a great snake
encircle the sky
August 3, 2017
when u feel sad u can always cook
August 2, 2017
A quick rain begins to fall mere moments after I realize that I've watered everyone's plants except my own.
July 27, 2017
i want there to be a mirror
and i want to lean down and look in
through the mirror
July 23, 2017
I've been spending a lot of time in other people's houses lately, reading my books, saying my prayers, watering their gardens, watching their netflix. It's always been easier for me to pray and take naps in houses other than my own, maybe because there is a simultaneous presence and absence that makes an empty house seem sacred. Although I've been asked to be there I don't actually belong there; that tension is palpable and I feel at home inside of it. Amerikan protestant churches - in their architecture, and in almost all ways - have lost any sense of the liminal. Bright lights and comfortable chairs and cheerful faces and industrial ceilings inspire no mystery. Give me a cathedral, give me a mosque. God is everywhere, of course, and I have met with God in my car and on mountains and on my bedroom floor, but an empty building longs to be filled, and soaring ceilings encourage imagination, a sense of scale, a smallness and loneliness that can harden into despair or expand into awe. I seem to be capable of experiencing those states only when I am alone, a failure on my part perhaps, but in seeking my own sacred spaces I slowly resanctify the city, or maybe more accurately, in letting dissatisfaction drive me towards patience and imagination and the healthy kind of solitude, lightly waiting just beneath what appears I can learn how to find both what is and what was intended.
July 11, 2017
Eventually each poem solidifies into one precise emotion; no longer to or for or about a single specific person, it becomes a little bright round sticker I can put on someone's shirt just below their collarbone, words and feelings confirming each other each time that same sentence floats back towards me.
July 6, 2017
touch the flowers in the field,
On small highways I rejoice in colors and lights and landscapes, and do my best to resist the impulse to preserve or document them. In conversations I try to answer the asked and unasked questions, try to respond rather than react, ask questions of my own, and let affection guide all things. In my heart I take communion with Rene Girard and Sami Awad and the coptic martyrs and all the people who have never taken communion and never will.
June 27, 2017
Almost all of my friends are landed gentry. I don't know what that means, but what I mean is that they can predict with reasonable accuracy what 95% of the rest of their days will be like, and I don't have that certainty I mean sorrow.
June 22, 2017
the day is young
the world is wide
i choose both sides
i choose both sides
June 21, 2017
when u see yr friend on the day after pentecost:
June 5, 2017
you're a baseball and i'm a plum
May 29, 2017
At lunch with Paul and Nikki, Nikki said "vaguely biblical is your specialty" and I was very proud and pleased. On the way to Josh and Kara's house, I stopped at a gas station that had recently been robbed, and flirted a little with the girl who was working there while children rolled around on the asphalt outside. When I got to their house, almost immediately I filled up their clawfoot bathtub and had a nice long soak, windows open, pink clouds drifting in a purple sky. Now I've crawled out a window and am typing on their roof. The sky is blue again today and I rejoice in the wind and the trees. I have found that I can only truly rejoice when I am by myself, but that it's much easier to rejoice while sitting or laying on someone else's couch or bed than it is to rejoice on my own.
May 28, 2017
At night, while I'm asleep, me and my dad and brother are delighted by a bouncing dog; I am expected to teach from an anti-Shia textbook; I touch yr arm; we learn the prayer of Ezekiel.
At yoga everyone sweats and Josh giggles and I grin. I have to take a break and I lay on my back and close my eyes and imagine the girl next to me stepping the wrong way and putting her foot in my mouth. The lavender spray bottle at the end is like Orthodox church and being told to leave the dark room quietly is like Good Friday and everyone crouching and rolling up their mats is like every Friday at the mosque.
At home, I do my own yoga and my own punches and my own sit-ups. I listen to Afrikan songs, Turkish songs, Amerikan songs, post-Amerikan songs. I talk on the phone for an hour every day and have much shorter conversations in person. I hand Max Rosen a jar of my teeth. My apartment is cool and breezy with the perfect light for a nap, but outside the sun is hot and bright and that's what I usually choose. o lay me in sunlight, o lay me in leaves
May 25, 2017
Last night at the bar I only drank water and it was easy and felt good. We talked again about Jesus and Satan and power and weakness and sigils and magick. Corey said he still wants to see a miracle and I said "I know you do." He reminded me that someone we know believes that she has experienced a miracle and I said "but you wanna see like somebody's leg grow back?" and he said "well, I'd prefer it to be your thumb," and we both laughed and I imagined little green garlic scapes poking out the side of my hand.
My apartment has been nice and quiet lately because no one lives beside me or below me. I would like it to always be this way. Birdsounds and rain and thunder and lightning, but no screaming neighbors or shitty music or yipping dogs. Big winds broke my tomato plants but I think they'll be okay. When I handed in my Arabic final I didn't even make eye contact with Lahmuddin and now I'll never see him again. What do I try to remember, what do I try to write down? Sitting for hours in Abdullah's garage? Us drawing arcs across a map? Corey parking the car, me yawning and scratching my head, a girl letting go of her boyfriend's hand to smile and wave at me? I open all the windows and I live in colors and I live in sounds.
May 20, 2017
Here I come with both swords drawn.
May 18, 2017
Birds sure do love the dawn.
May 9, 2017
I understand words and the organization of words as well as I understand anything, but I understand them in a way that is largely intuitive and requires more patience than effort on my part. A paragraph or essay that you force together like Legos might effectively convey information, but it will be more beautiful and more fun if you let it float and form itself like a cloud that you can follow. I often think of phrases as seeds, and sentences and paragraphs as flowers and bouquets LOL. In class the other day Madhi said that numbers are the only things that give him hope and I was delighted and kept writing bigger and bigger numbers on the board and he kept reading them outloud. I can imagine taking a class that makes me care about numbers by imbuing them with mystery and magic, something that I usually think of them as being entirely devoid of. Alchemy or sacred geometry or whatever. New Math. What else I can imagine is finding myself in a class about words or Jesus or colors or people or places or some other thing that I love to think about in ways that are magic and muddy and kind of dumb, and being forced to reduce them to scholarship or statistics and I am grateful that this has somehow not yet happened to me.
May 5, 2017
After eating lunch with Philip, I went outside and saw a man in a ballcap hug a man in a cowboy hat. Walking around, my city felt like a city. Later, walking around at night, this time with Paul, it felt even moreso. Perhaps not demonstrably cool, but cool enough. A good place to have a good life for a while. We went to Corey's house and him and Tyler and Nikki and Philip were upstairs recording vocals. We stood outside under their open window and I talked to Josh Ohmer about, uuhhhh, history and empire and identity and folk yoga. I talked to Tyler about poetry and place. As everyone else took turns on the mic a heaviness clouded my lightness and I laid down on a shelf and refused to sing, although I wanted to. But I found a way to feel fine by the end of the night.
Now, another gray day with unending rain. Might it ever be my work not to join someone who is sitting at a table by themself, but to sit down by myself at a separate table, normalizing their aloneness by accepting my own?
April 29, 2017
Today I smell like woodsmoke, Turkish cologne, beard oil, and probably urine.
April 27, 2017
we stand in dark kitchens, we sit in dark rooms, we hear two songs at once
April 22, 2017
A poem should be a reminder that even if the world isn't understandable or describable, it is, at least, feelable.
April 19, 2017
It was raining on easter morning, and Jesus got mud on his hands and his nice clean robe as he crawled out of his dark spiderhole and into a world that was wet and green and growing.
April 16, 2017
A few days before easter
A few blocks away
April 13, 2017
I have a body that I barely know what to do with. I take it for walks; I give it to the sun. I walked downtown and on the way I tried to see buildings that I had never seen before, and tried to see familiar buildings as if they were new. There are several brick cubes in the neighborhood that I am convinced are related to the one that I live in. At Coffee Ethic I read about Buddhism and the Quran and the Viet Nam War. The world is huge and hard to keep track of. Someone who I don't know but who I consider to be very intelligent was at the table next to mine for a while and I wanted to say hello but didn't. On the way home I moved a styrofoam box out of the street and remembered being in the car with Kubilay and his transposing of cartoon and carton and weave and view for German reasons.
Last night I went to Good Friday at Hope & Anchor with Corey and afterwards we had an important and encouraging revelation at Purple Burrito. We all went and heard Paul Simon songs and I danced with less self-consciousness than I expected but more than I wanted.
April 15, 2017
don't know if i want many
don't know if i want one
just know that i'm pale
and i want the sun
April 8, 2017
At night I felt the weight of the world and I wept. The morning brought good light and good air and the flags were flying on campus and I stood under the Syrian one for a few minutes. My anger and despair were somehow both shapeless and solid. I found Ryan and my anger faded and I hugged him with great affection out in front of his office, to the consternation of two christian pamphleteers who were standing in the shadows. I grinned at them and asked if their favorite beatitude was the one about being meek and they smiled in confusion and we walked off together, my hand on Ryan's shoulder. Tiny chunks of glass came loose from my feet and sank to the bottom of the pool, or maybe washed around in my wake like all the particles of plastic colloiding all the oceans.
April 7, 2017
Gray clouds made me hopeless most of the day. In the evening I met Corey at the bar and I ate chicken and he ate chips and we both drank beer and talked about our usual things. We went to my house and looked at our phones, then went to his house and he made me a strap for my watch. When Paul showed up we started playing music, but I was too tentative on drums. When Gwen and Kattee showed up Josh started making tortillas. We foraged wild garlic in the dark of the yard, then ate and drank and leaned on each other.
The next day I did my own things: talking on the phone, potting plants, making a strange dessert. In the evening I met Johnny and Aaron and Anthony at Mother's and we drank beer and tried to talk about heresy. At one point I had to prevent myself from mentioning Plato, and I was startled to notice that I am beginning to understand The History Of Thought. Afterwards, in an alley, I used my phone to invite seven people to my house. Paul and Nikki and Gwen and Kattee came and we laughed in the kitchen with wine and blueberry dessert and it felt good to have friends in my home.
On Sunday morning a text message made me happy. I mean I was feelin' great. Then at church I was quickly filled with a gulf of great angst. Seating arrangements seemed symbolic; either everything there was cheap and false or I was. Eventually I recovered. I ate lunch with Paul and Nikki and we looked at the sky and talked about trees. Back at home a phone call felt good. I dozed off while reading about buddhist monks and magicians, and when I woke up I was briefly on another couch on another continent. I spent some time walking through several apartments in Turkey, making sure they're still there. Then I put on shoes and a jacket and walked around my own neighborhood right here in Missouri. Everything was quiet. I learned that a building I have long admired was built in 1830. Now it's late at night. A cat is yowling in the street. I feel good here in my little kitchen but am worried that my bed will feel too big.
April 2, 2017
do u silence sadness every morning,
March 31, 2017
A yellow cat looking for a dry spot
March 29, 2017
While trying to meditate this morning,
I unfocus to refocus:
March 28, 2017
I intended to cook broccoli and sweet potatoes and start writing my paper about wholeness and disfigurement, but instead I took a nap and ate chicken nuggets and went to the bar with Corey. We talked about, you know, law and love and guilt and shame and grace and forgiveness, and Corey said that christians were going to put me in jail. Every morning and most afternoons I pray like a buddhist, and some nights I pray like a muslim. How do christians pray? Laying in bed? Sitting in nice rows?
I had a very good week in which I talked and drove and danced and snuggled, and when we were laying in bed geese flew across our skylight and looking out the window of the plane an optical illusion made all the lights look purple but the longer I looked the realer it seemed. Some things that I'd hoped would be permanent felt like they would be.
March 22, 2017
Have I ever not prayed while smoking a cigarette? I can pray without smoking, and I do, a hundred times a day, but being aware that I'm doing something meaningless prompts me to seek something more meaningful. Me and Corey show up at people's homes and talk for hours about gnosticism and esoteric sufism and it's kinda dumb and probably annoying, but it's because we want to know things and we think we've learned a little bit. Now I'm at my own home, typing and drinking water. Tomorrow my parents and hopefully my brother will be in my home, and on Sunday I'll be in Shannon and Jacob and Miche's home, and on Wednesday I'll be in Hüseyin and KC's home. Do I need to cut my hair and trim my beard? Do I need to relearn how to dance? Should I just go to bed?
March 10, 2017
I went into a church with Ryan and we stood next to each other and sang and then we stood next to each other in a line. When we got to the front he went first and I stared intently at the back of his sweater and I could hear the pastor telling him from the dust you came, and to the dust you will return and I thought about how much I love him. When the pastor was saying it to me and wiping ashes on my forehead her eyes were wet and I thought how hard it must be to say that to so many people while looking at their eyes and touching their faces. When we sat back down I felt intensely happy and Ryan elbowed me and pointed at a mural and I made a joke about white Jesus and we both giggled for a while.
March 1, 2017
In spite of meaninglessness,
February 26, 2017
Every morning I sit on the couch drinking coffee, and my windowpane and the branches of the neighbor's tree work together to write Arabic letters across the sky. In Amerika I am usually tired and often slightly sick and I have trained my heart to be a clump of steel wool. I have two twitchy eyes and a bloody heel. Why, while driving down the road, did I imagine an old man sitting on a chair in his bedroom, sullenly masturbating before putting on his shoes, while his wife hums a song and opens windows in the kitchen?
On Sunday I didn't think I was going to take communion until at the end of the song Philip went up to take it and I decided I wanted to be like him and be with him, so I hopped out of my chair but someone's dad stood up between us, disrupting what I had intended. When I dipped the bread into the juice it dissolved out of my grip and I had to reach deeper in, my fingers swimming and soaking in Jesus's blood, and as I plucked the bread out and put it into my mouth the juice ran all down my hand and wrist and I walked back to my seat, licking my fingers and grinning wildly.
Should I start a separate blog that focuses exclusively on communion crisis?
February 21, 2017
are you pouring the good wine
are you pouring the good wine
are you pouring the good wine yet
February 12, 2017
Tim said he wanted to talk about How I've Been Doing Lately, but instead we mostly talked about knowledge and ethics and exegesis, which was fine and fun and made me feel good. When I got home I kept spilling dirt all over my house so I went for a long walk to pray for the neighborhood and to seek out construction sites and signs of spring. I saw two fat white men trying to fix a grill, two fat white men trying to fix two gigantic red trucks, and a black girl with a red bow in her hair twirling around on a hoverboard. I went to look at a mural, and was unreasonably angry that other people wanted to look at it too. I saw that a fraternity has occupied a house on my side of Grant Street and it felt hard not to believe that Springfield and Amerika and the world at large are all in rapid decline. On the edge of a burning parking lot, I was cheered up a little by giving a dollar to a drunk guy who was sloshing an Olde English around, thereby reminding myself that my affections and allegiances are somewhat strange but not entirely unpredictable.
February 11, 2017
for so many i am unchoppable wood,
February 8, 2017
I made some signs and went to the square and carried them in a circle with a few of my friends and a hundred strangers. While I was there I was very very happy. We were on the news and they asked me for some words but they wouldn't put my words in the paper.
On Sunday I took communion because Barry touched my shoulder. When him and Sherry went up front to talk I was alone in the back row but I didn't feel lonely I just felt confident and defiant, and when everyone else went up to pray for them I scooted one chair over to be by Barry's vest and I put my hand inside of it and I prayed for them from there.
Somewhere in between I got drunk and talked about God and I said that if God is everywhere and in everything then God is somewhere deep inside even the dumbest chemicals and the dumbest laws. It is always unclear whether I should actually believe myself, but I seem to know as much as anyone I've met.
February 6, 2017
Ryan has black goggles and I have blue. At the pool I jump in and grin around for a few seconds while I adjust my googles and I think about light and colors and skintones. While swimming I think about the way my hands and arms and legs are interacting with the water and I pay attention to my breathing for long enough to forget about it. Ryan can swim for longer than I can and I spend the last fifteen minutes in the hot tub trying to meditate lol. Any time I do any form of exercise I begin to understand the appeal of trying to have a good body instead of a good brain, and I get a little glimpse of the power and confidence that could come with having both.
January 27, 2017
I talked with Kubilay for a long time, and then with Gwen, and then with Gwen and Kattee, and then with Gwen and Kattee and Corey and Tyler. At night, walking in a slow drizzle, wearing my rabbit fur cap and carrying six bananas, I crossed paths with a man wearing a tunic and viking horns and we acknowledged each other with a solemn silent nod.
The next day I had banh mi with Paul and Nikki, coffee with Paul, tacos and margaritas with Paul and Corey and Garon and Lindsay and Soren and Anders, beer and champagne with Paul and Corey and Garon and Lindsay, more beer with Corey.
The next day I threw up at Corey's house, at my house, at church, and at Patton Alley, and at night I dreamed that I argued with one uncle about foreign policy and that I helped carry another uncle's casket.
Today I'm typing about books, thinking about theology and community, complacency and contentment. Teach us to use our days wisely, so that we can have wise hearts.
January 16, 2017
rain on my roof and rain on yours
January 15, 2017
wake up smelling like two kinds of fire
January 11, 2017
In darkness a light shines on me;
January 9, 2017
My house is cold and my car is full of gas and the roads are mud and ice. I want to sit quiet and alone in a mosque or forest or cathedral.
January 7, 2017
My boots do dhikr whether I want them to or not.
December 19, 2016
May my love be active and unsentimental and may I know when to wear black.
December 13, 2016
My body liked Turkey better.
December 12, 2016
I dreamed that I disassembled a cigarette,
December 11, 2016
Sitting at Coffee Ethic, thinking and reading and trying to write, I heard someone laugh and tried to think whose laugh it sounded like. I wandered through time and towns and into rooms and across continents looking at my friends and listening for their laughter, and I found all their delighted scrunched up faces but no sounds would come out of any of them.
December 6, 2016
I mostly don't mind walking everywhere, and in fact I often love it.
November 28, 2016
I hardly ever go to the movies but we went to the movies on Wednesday and on Thursday. I liked watching the movie on Wednesday but I felt it was immoral in that it condoned obedience to unjust laws simply because they are laws, and because it promoted the belief that there are two kinds of people. I feel strongly that there is either one kind of people or seven billion kinds of people, or maybe somewhere in between, but there are definitely not two kinds of people. I went to the movie with my family and the man sitting next to me went by himself. It's good to go to a movie by yourself! I have done it a few times and always loved it and I was feeling rather fond of the man next to me for seeing a movie alone on the night before Thanksgiving and I hoped he was having a good time and was assuming that he was. But after the movie when we all stood up to leave, he was crouched over digging around in the depths of his folded-up chair, and I imagined all the times my solitude has been turned into loneliness by something small and stupid and meaningless and I said a little prayer for him. Should I have said words to him instead?
The next night we saw a movie that I liked even more because it made me emotional about time and language and international/intergalactic communication. Can we use both hands at the same time? Can we go both ways at the same time? What is a sentence? What is a word? What is anything? Amen.
November 25, 2016
The day is gray and I've all walked through it. I have made the town tiny in my mind: a brick dropped in a forest. Bricks have been dropped in deserts and at the convergence of rivers and up against mountains, next to the ocean, in good soil and in rocky soil.
November 22, 2016
At breakfast I looked at sentences from the longest novel I have ever read and thought 'if all scripture is god-breathed and if everything is god-breathed, does that make everything scripture?'
November 17, 2016
This morning two men arrived at my apartment twenty minutes earlier than expected to install smoke detectors and do other things that I didn't understand. I love when my friends are in my home, but when strangers are there I am paranoid and panicky. I dressed as cowboy as I could, then hurried out the door and left them to do their work without combing my hair or brushing my teeth.
Walking to school I saw cats prowling around and sitting calmly in the middle of the street; black birds in the trees, some making sounds I had heard many times and some making sounds I had never.
For the last week I have had headaches and a rotting voice and a mustache full of snot, and it felt like I'd been repeatedly kicked in the face. Because of where I was born and the way I was born, it is unlikely that I will ever actually be kicked in the face, but some people have been and more people will be. I don't feel guilty about this but I do feel responsible. And I feel helpless and furious and self-righteous, and beneath all those things I feel a slow and solid and sorrowful love that I have found nowhere to put.
November 15, 2016
The moon looks in my window while we're on the phone. The moon slowly circles the world, watching us both, watching us all.
November 13, 2016
So now we tend different fires but the flames are the same.
November 12, 2016
One morning last week I tried to meditate and ended up facedown on the floor sobbing a vulgar prayer: fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes please fuck up the planes. Every horrible thing you can imagine happens every day. Every president in the world is a piece of shit. They're killing our prophets and our poets are dying.
November 11, 2016
No authority to bless you,
October 31, 2016
Out the morning window,
October 29, 2016
My boots don't hurt anymore. I still think every car is yr car.
October 22, 2016
new ways & true ways
October 17, 2016
The sky got good and then it got dark.
October 15, 2016
In my neighborhood, we sit on our front porches or in chairs in our front yards or lean on cars parked in the street. From a red roof, a yellow cat watches a brown groundhog cross a green lawn. Twice now - in this era, I mean - I have trudged through an assembly line ritual to avoid upsetting anyone, and many other times I have refused to do so, preferring to stay in my seat and sift through my own agony/smugness/humility/hermeneutics. I don't want anything that wants to hold me to hold me.
October 7, 2016
I pretended to know nothing about Mecca and Medina. I asked Rakan to adjust my keffiyeh and I made a friend. I laughed and laughed at the sight of goatfeet and rode home with Gwen. I shovelled grass and scattered seed with Ryan and refused to pray. I tied string around my neck. I saw Jeff at the bike shop, Jen and Rogan and Corey and Anna at the rum club. I tried to imagine my friend carrying a gun and I asked him for a picture. I imagined every neighborhood of my other friend's hometown reduced to blood and rubble and wept while I walked home in the rain, past flashing lights and cops and confusion. I was grateful for my jacket and I fingered my bruise in the mirror.
September 26, 2016
For behold, I am as immutable as oil, as a jar of cold-pressed coconut oil early in the fall.
September 21, 2016
Everywhere I go I show up bleedin'.
September 19, 2016
Amerikan light on amerikan lawns. Smoke from Uğur's cigarette came to me through the phone and I started to cough. I am doing a good job at having just as many real conversations as imaginary ones.
An hour later as I walked downtown I paid attention to flowers and old houses. I remembered how once I walked past the lake and into the forest. In my backpack I had a dead kitten wrapped in a kitchen towel, and in a bright place under the trees I spread leaves over its body and sang a small song.
September 15, 2016
All day long I read about relijun, all day long I send messages across the seas.
In the hallway in the afternoon I heard a student telling another student that I am Russian. When I got home I remembered that my bag is political and that in the decade since I bought it the world has regressed.
In the evening I walk around trying to keep everything quiet and everything open, hoping a poem or a prayer might appear on the sidewalk or rise from within me like a bubble. My neighborhood is a strange age, and it is both painted and unpainted. I do not yet delight in it; I am curious about every house, oblivious to every car, unsure of how the streets line up.
September 7, 2016
My feet do not yet know my own home when I get out of bed in the night, and when I woke up on Ben's couch my steps were even more cautious. I had been sleeping hard and had had a dream about someone I know who is in jail. In the dream I saw this person as a large pecan, still in its shell on a clean white kitchen counter, and God's huge hand reached carefully down and cradled the pecan in his palm and carried it away.
In the morning Ben and Jeshua and Alejandra made an excellent breakfast while I played with Legos with Charlize and Alana. We went to a church that had fascinating clothes and hair and accents and ideas about God. There were multiple people with things they wanted to tell everyone, and one of them said "Turn to the one aside ya and tell em yer a greedy sucker!" We did and we grinned. People sang songs they had written themselves, and no one else knew how to sing along.
August 29, 2016
A light in the dark can be welcoming or it can be a warning.
August 25, 2016
did yr face change did yr face change did yr face change did yr face change
August 21, 2016
I walked happily through the fog and the next morning I rode a bike through a deeper fog and sang very old songs. By early afternoon the fog had burned away but the sun was just as good. And I was doing my best and I was doing good but money and bureaucracy made me feel foolish and furious and helpless until Ryan came to comfort me. At night I nuzzled my head into a tree while urine sprayed against my shins.
August 16, 2016
Last night I dreamed that I stood up in church and said
August 19, 2016
"All is either all or it isn't."
August 12, 2016
We walked through the woods, three men, two baby boys, a little girl, and a dog, and when Lali handed me the stick she was using to clear spiderwebs from the path, I expected to feel like a wizard but I felt more like a water diviner. When we reached the river I took off my shoes and waded in; I thought my feet had grown tough but the rocks here are sharper. We walked a little ways upstream to a gravelbar where I sat and had no thoughts, or tried not to have thoughts of other rocks and other waters. Every summer I relearn the same song:
August 9, 2016
There is a type of flippant spirituality that I feel entitled to but which I seem to expect other people to propel me out of.
August 7, 2016
People who I like but never learned to love limp through my dreams. Giants move into town and we invite them over to try to make friends with them. Paul asks me to help him write a filmscript on a red toy typewriter, but the magnetic keys keep sliding off. Nikki looks at us skeptically and reminds us that our collection of toy horses is the real cause of our socioeconomic situation.
One morning I woke up and gave myself a close shave as an attempt at solidarity with someone who doesn't want it. On some mornings I wake up and do all my prayers and punches and pushups, and on some mornings I wake up and look at my phone and weep for the world. Today is Saturday and I woke up and made coffee and ate cinnamon rolls, and we all watched a rerun of the Olympics opening ceremony. Glowing green lines crawled across the screen while Elia did a dance and gleefully shouted "Let the virus spread!"
August 6, 2016
At mosques I took off my shoes and touched my forehead to the ground and knew I was a christian. At church I wear Paul's shoes and rub my thumb into my palm and know I am a sufi. At my friends' houses we wear our shoes inside like barbarians. I sleep on floors and beds and couches just like I always have.
August 1, 2016