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super subtle spring pt 2

In 100, by Nora on December 23, 2021 at 4:32 pm

california makes me now miss that jumble of days that feel momentous in may: your eyes become laser-focused, able to pick out the waifish green of a bud on a naked branch from blocks away, that was not there yesterday. each minute change is heightened and clear, you become a tracker, expert in the moment – the very fucking moment – it becomes spring and you’ve survived. earning it is keeping your eyes wide open. you thirst for closure, and the bud is the evidence that it happened. summer feels so impossibly far from frigid, slick, hibernating now; but that bud, man…



In 100, by Nora on December 6, 2021 at 12:21 pm

Hold my head. Not pounding, maybe throbbing, maybe just tender. Hold my weight. Let it sink, into the earth, into arms, the body behind curving to mine. Losing, constantly. Falling. Uncapturable moment. Moment of infinity, holding everything important and nothing at all.

the hands i want are feeble now, less connected to the sturdy brain, the cognitive tissues that made the hands someone’s, hers, are frayed and glutted and glassy and milky-plaqued.

sleeping is a refuge that exists now, if only i could access that sweet nothingness that i’ve sometimes captured. i just need someone’s hands to hold my head.

super subtle spring pt 1

In 100, by Nora on March 10, 2021 at 11:15 am

i’ve sort of come around to spring. i used to hate having to wait, when all i wanted was to sweat through my linens and be out all day and all humid-limpid night. after the great slow down, the great blanket of darkness, the great retreat: the achingly-slow putting on speed. watery sunlight weak and shy, almost blushing with modesty. tepid or bleak or trying. cruel gusts of wind piercing through your hopeful wardrobe selections. pallid feet unsocked too soon. make up your fucking mind, ok. it took years to see that slowly, for my vision to encompass glacial-pace change.

like spring like water

In 100, by Nora on February 14, 2021 at 1:39 pm

like spring the glisten thawing, building, slowly gathering speed, cresting, not an instant flash-change

like water flowing down from snowed peaks, solid to liquid, fluid, filling spaces

like water gathering its bits into a wave imperceptibly

not like spring: my cold heart thaws. not like water: drawing breathing after being underwater

sun-limning life, not fundamentally changing or fixing it, its form sublimating, sublime

what is there like this? can this be metaphor-stretched from nature?

and ice is not the enemy: delicate brittle-hard lace tracing firm around air, the eye’s impression of diamond but the feel tender melting to the fingertip-touch

strange being the only one who stays on the road pt 4

In 100, by Nora on February 3, 2021 at 9:26 am

flash floods scatter the cars but i push through, finally some spanish radio, kissing ciudad juarez through el paso. the skies yawning, opening up endless, unblemished above honest workaday trucks and rolling scrubland. injury lawyer ads give way to corrugated steel and fences, tiny metal windmill, far off bluish mesa lines in arid-fuzzy air; alone but for a gentle highway patrol officer. then the largest never-worked-a-day-in-their-lives trucks, bulbous tanks, aggressively stickered, parking backwards. finally crossing into california, i’m back to the familiar self-congratulatory teslas, aggressive audis, and old mitsubishi trucks bursting with gardening gear, my roads. this is my stop.

diebenkorn pt one million

In 100, by Nora on January 21, 2021 at 1:08 pm

facing west on Washington, at the top of Nob Hill, the street falls away in front of me as I ease my way down the pavement, leaning back against the gravity, knees bent. I can see down into the flat valley of mildly-insipid shopfronts on Polk and the unfriendly, muscular, constantly-under-construction Van Ness. And then the snap-break in common-sensical reality: the street rears up again, straight into the air in front of me, the horizon higher than the peeling eaves of the apartments I’m passing. the absurdity of a folded-up landscape on a rigid, man-made grid: how is man rational?

strange being the only one who stays on the road pt 3

In 100, by Nora on January 16, 2021 at 1:07 pm

Still i’m driving, skirting from south to west i’m tangled in a rash of highways intertwined and overcrowded, darker cars, fancier cars, lower cars, cars speeding in and out tailgating heavily, never using turn signals, honking. I collect assholes, accruing them and letting them fall away, but I stay. I’ll be on the road long after they’ve reached their places. Kudzu proliferates around me along with american indian names, Chattahoochee and Chattanooga and Waxahatchie. Winding roads become flat and straight again, cotton bales and floating puffs, straight-piped mobile homes, jesus 2020 signs, evangelical preachers re-congregate on the radio, again. I drive.

thank you baby

In 100, by Nora on January 7, 2021 at 4:46 pm

pearl strings of words in each story and memory bursting full, hearts opening violet reveal

storm torrent trickle, silk threads and sparks cradling sweetness and tough jerky leather

iron bleak and beautiful watery oceans held back by a string

shining knife horizon but it’s only more ocean, forever

but never the same a thousand billion gallons constantly roiling foaming lapping rocking thrumming idling lulling gently caressing imperceptibly shifting into another unknown ocean

sometimes blue-dark rough with jagged fear

for a long time for a long while maybe always

this ocean-wet dirt between my toes that grip the olive tree trunk

once again (washington square 12/15)

In 100, by Nora on December 18, 2020 at 11:54 am

i instantly felt the mood and the energy of the air change, settle into something menacing, something at my expense, something that made me an object.

i couldn’t even hear what he was saying, becoming deaf to it in defense. i honestly couldn’t tell if he was slur-pronouncing me hot or hideous; the meaning was the same:

shut the fuck up, i get to tell you what to do and how to be and whether you matter. you don’t.

& there is no “correct answer” – that split second instinct to somehow defuse, evade, respond – gut-punching impossibility. just grin and bear it.

fog bois

In 100, by Nora on December 13, 2020 at 4:40 pm

i’d like to be a cheeky droplet of water, so small that gravity pulls at me lazily – so nonthreatening that it doesn’t feel the urgency to pull me to its center – so that i float, buffeting and zagging in the prevailing puffs of wind, joining forces now and then with others like me, following and moving and clinging to their motions like a bird or a fish (the fauna of fluid dynamics), colorless & completely clear but somehow obliterative when amongst my peers, and perhaps – for a time – spreading myself unimaginably thin, soaking, glistening, lacquering, sheening across crackled and rippled surfaces.

strange being the only one who stays on the road pt 2

In 100, by Nora on December 4, 2020 at 11:51 am

I’m still driving. just as the mesas receded with the Spanish names, now the corn is giving way to burgeoning granite and reddening trees. the roads finally begin to wind again, radio & landscape twangier and country-thrush, the cars get smaller, more beat-up. abandoned, rusting cars appear on the side of the highway as if it was a reasonable place to park. billboards for injury lawyers promising thousands and thousands. Red and yellow speckled forests densify and the air outside my cracked windows congeals and condenses and moistens, almost misty. Others exit these highways, but I turn south toward humid air.

strange being the only one who stays on the road pt 1

In 100, by Nora on December 3, 2020 at 2:36 pm

In the West, I’m dwarfed, surrounded by vans and RVs and towed teardrops with mattresses, people who spend their dusty lives tracing canyons, looking for BLM land, staying at hot springs, the journey is the destination, the road is the hotel. As I move East I gain more hills and aspens root beneath the road and eventually evangelical radio preachers accumulate. Trump signs, anti-choice, AR 15s for sale. The cars become boxier and more performative, tow-trucks that don’t actually tow, 4-wheel-drives only used for playing pop country extra loud. Corn arrives, unending sentinels along disturbingly straight road. I keep driving.

the earth is not flat (oct 19)

In 100, by Nora on December 2, 2020 at 2:54 pm

not a square inch of flat surface on this seemingly level grassy meadow. nothing moving but everything quivering twitching humming, nothing silent but not a sound. zinging bees and minuscule flies, birds flitting and landing and unfurling wings. the only weight the weight of my body on itself, which is to say nothing, no weight at all. an empty sky, pierced by innumerable cloud wisps, trails of plane exhaust, a blue smoke rising intentionally from one property over. completely alone, idling, on my frayed turkish towel nestled in this meadow in the blue ridge mountains. empty but also completely full.

night hike (oct 1)

In 100, by Nora on November 30, 2020 at 2:58 pm

after many dragging hours working, writing, physics, math, hiding from the merciless utah sun in the rickety airbnb, we pile into the truck, wedging pots of air-cooled savory beans and crusty bread and dripping melons between bare, prickly legs. the light starts down-shifting as we reach the lazy colorado river, perch on hulking red boulders sluiced by purpling water, canned beers drained and crushed, bats swooping. then further into the darkness in the undaunted truck, up looping rocky roads until the night is velvet. a warm wind winds between monumental sentinel rocks more sensed than seen, the silence is softness.

kudzu to cotton (AL, 10/21)

In 100, by Nora on November 29, 2020 at 6:23 pm

there is something dripping here. even in the dry plywood and concrete and gravel, there is ooze just under the surface. Perhaps the viscosity only works in the 4th dimension: it may not feel sticky to the touch, but its sticks back to the past, gumming to the violence and glory of a racist seceded nation, 4 years in sovereign existence but hundreds in conception. the clinging kudzu has been displaced by fields of cotton, innocent cloudy puffs of dazzling white, that likewise insidiously stick to their stalks, necessitating the inexhaustible, infinite hands. an open mewling maw, still seeping dank sweat.

leaving atlanta (10/21)

In 100, by Nora on November 28, 2020 at 5:04 pm

it’s early in the morning as i free myself from the multi-necked highways hydra that clutches the city, boa-constricting it. i surf the radio for something weird – college radio, 20-year-olds deep into 8-tracks set loose upon the waves – somehow finding myself inside what seems to be the soundtrack for an avant-garde film. as the late-october sky lightens, i’m immersed in a mist, looming with bushy trees. creaky strings build in ominous, erratic tension, then mollifyingly spool into a playful jaunt, then lushly build again with heartfelt emotion; i am now the protagonist, my drive momentous, my future a living mystery.

nice to meet you

In 100, by Nora on November 27, 2020 at 12:04 pm

sometimes you are dazzling, orange-creamsicle quilting the dimming sky. sometimes you creep slickly over the hills, engulf sutro’s spindly tower, slide down its contours, unfurl into basins crenellated with pastel ticky-tack houses, blunt muted stucco further diffused, pointillated into dew-drops, swallowing light, from image to absence of image. sometimes you hover haughtily above the bridge, maintaining a discreet shape though made of nothing, just billions of millions of droplets, stitched together fluidly. sometimes you scurry in puffs past the windows, especially in the evening when the yellowing streetlights cast you into visibility, smelly musty or milky. i guess you’re karl.


In 100, by Nora on November 24, 2020 at 12:32 pm

LIFE starts at CONCEPTION (billboard, KS)

Every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord even the Democrats (big red devil pitchfork) (illustrated church billboard, KY)

WE SELL GUNS – AR-15s – Ammo – SHOOTING RANGE (multiple billboards in a row, KS)

WARNING: Jesus is coming. R u ready ? (church, KY)

Freedom. Family. Jobs. Trump. (billboard, TN)

ASAP: always say a prayer (church, GA)

We believe in Jesus. DON’T YOU (church, AL)

Trump 2020: it’s America vs communism – paid for by the Chinese American Republican Committee of Georgia (billboard, GA)

JESUS 2020 (lawn sign, MS)

We’re closed but god is always open (church, TN)

JESUS CHRIST. (church, KY)

another blue morning (oct 23)

In 100, by Nora on November 22, 2020 at 3:47 pm

Waking up in the warm dew-wet blue New Orleans swamp air, on the top level of a wooden shack with an open mosquito net tumbling onto me, a translucent gecko clinging to its folds, two screened windows open to the jangling church bells at 6am, Cajun piety amidst the sultry swelter. behind my head, the screen climbs with the bright green heart-shaped leaves of a vine. A vase with a single carnation, a magazine cutout of the dalai  lama, a crystal-edged mardi gras mask. at my feet, the screen flows into purpling sky, a city languorously unfolding to buxom life.

the loopiest loop pt 2

In 100, by Nora on November 20, 2020 at 6:02 pm

finally curving, from east to south, to almost west, toward the edge of the world, my edge of the world, following kudzu to cotton through alabama to mississippi to new orleans, finally facing full west, loping lethargically through the dripping atchafalaya swamps to houston, rolling through rugged hill country, dashing through the desolate west texas dark to glistening, glittering rain-slicked new mexico, waking up in the snow-dusted gila, its water-gutted canyons trying to hold me, giving me quiet & caves, reluctantly trundling down into the baked-hot creosote arizona lowlands, not onward but not backward either, the loop is closing, almost home.

diebenkorn pt 9 (one year later)

In 100, by Nora on November 18, 2020 at 11:41 am

a year ago i boarded a plane thinking i’d be back in the gloating springtime of may, six months later, to drop in cheekily on my old new york life, the thing i’d built over a decade.

a year ago i sat in this bizarre glass box of an apartment, thinking i’d spend a few nights a week here maximum, as i scuttled between my childhood home and my newly-chosen mexico city.

a year ago i thought i’d be done with this diebenkorn city by the fog-tickled summer.

instead this city has enwrapped me in its pastel-dewed arms so tightly

the loopiest loop pt 1

In 100, by Nora on November 17, 2020 at 2:26 pm

i’m on the longest largest loop i’ve ever looped, gunning resignedly through flat nevada on the country’s loneliest highway, pausing bewildered in the xeric shrublands and red dust slooping canyons of utah, dabbling into aspen-carpeted colorado, dazedly & determinedly boring a single long corn-edged tube through kansas missouri illinois indiana, slowing into stillness in sloping afternoons of pin-quiet appalachian pines & quivering hickories in kentucky & georgia, east always, early mornings a squinting affair, late afternoons buffeted forward by the sun pushing me away from home, farther from my birthplace of gusty woody garrigue, my humble hardy chaparral, my coastal sagey matorral, onward.

smashing pumpkins after the polls close

In 100, by Nora on November 16, 2020 at 11:03 am

enraged guitar keening, screaming joyous abandoned

emptiness is loneliness

driving fast from a place i hope never to see again, where hate oozed from spitting mouths, gaping with entitlement, hands clutched pearls in racist fright and guns in violent spite and ballots in oxymoronic self-certainty

loneliness is cleanliness

dark dark dry air crackling with arizonan heat, seeping from the cracked red earth, precipitated in the hardiest shrubs

cleanliness is godliness

words ripping from my grinning mouth out the burst-open windows, wind unfurling hair matted from fourteen hours under two masks, gloves, face shield

and god is empty, just like me

(sept 19) lake life

In 100, by Nora on November 15, 2020 at 5:54 pm

sun-honeyed water foaming over toes

being towed behind a boat, clinging onto the air-taut plasticky tube, wind wrapping around my arms fluid like water

as soon as your body moves this fast, unencumbered through space, you are small again. only children can feel how fast they move through space truly, wonderingly. because they are small, all speeds take the breath in check, shock into laughter

smooth broad skin shifting tautly over blunt arms, round-ended fingers, freckles and inflected freckles – melanin skips, negative space

wind rips laughter from our lips, waves bite, the most pliant substance made solid by our inertia

blue morning (oct 17)

In 100, by Nora on November 13, 2020 at 6:26 pm

my fog-dampened mind is slow blue like the dew-greyed mountains framed in the window at the foot of my bed. incrementally wakening, my body floats among the trees; the slim pliant trunks wave gently, dignified, in the dark. tiny, quivering leaves cling and brush. the blue begins to resolve into three, then four folds in the land before me, the closer a textured emerald, the further unfurling and condensing its own fog. the leaves are greening and yellowing, dappling themselves, painting themselves colors as light begins to creep into my room, lighting my toes, up against the impossibly clear glass.

(sept 9) a fire-burnished friend

In 100, by Nora on November 12, 2020 at 7:54 pm

salt-fattened hairs tickle his cheekbones. he stalks barefoot through his ash-spattered yard, tanned, smooth chest & tough feet bare. bonny doon has been decimated, but his beloved house still stands, reassuringly symmetrical, wide eaves a shading sanctuary from the heavy, still-laden air. he will nurture his garden back to life, feeding his sweat and labor back into the ground, just as he chainsaw-tore through & shouldered the brush from the nearby ravine, years of clearing that saved his home in one adrenaline-crisped hour. the last fire was not literal. rebuilding this place, rebuilding himself, had not been easy. he’s survived before, burnished.

there’s a laziness to power

In 100, by Nora on November 11, 2020 at 9:39 am

or maybe it’s just lazy when the power emanates from a heavy, black metal instrument hanging from your waist. its surface is so matte that all light and eyes are drawn into it. even after i look away, the fact of it is still there, deep, my heart beating more cautiously, aware of the predator in its presence. an empty parking lot in a long-abandoned strip mall, chipped orange stucco, a wire hanging aborted and frayed over the ghostly absence of the 90s-era LIQUOR sign. your eyes address mine arrogantly, your leering grin lethargically spreads, that weight giving you power.

xeric shrublands

In 100, by Nora on October 2, 2020 at 9:01 am

domesticated, rubber-encased feet pound the roan-red dust, following the just-discernible trail between fragile, frightening moon forms of desert crust. xeric, i learned, from an old word, greek – xeros – dry. over months and years, the dust masticates to produce these nubby forms, wherein precious molecules of wet hold and temper life. so powerful as to cultivate wisps of spiky verdancy in desperate aridness, so tender as to be vulnerable to an errant footfall. these feet hew to the trail churned by their most recent predecessors, trusting in their wisdom. stay on the path, feet, this earth surface is not only yours.

fog on fire

In 100, by Nora on September 9, 2020 at 7:34 am

i wake up in an orange darkness, a sepia-toned fog so thick that the buildings across the street are muffled against my eyes, the haze autumn-ripe and close. my fancy iphone camera refuses to capture it, resolving it into a grey like any other day, incorporating warmth as brightness, when in fact, it is darker than any blue or purple could ever be.

fires are burning somewhere

it has smelled of smoke before, ashes tucked into the million billion droplets in passing night puffs, seeping through cracks. now we can see it, in our mind’s eyes, a city in flames.

The ground is uneven everywhere I’ve ever lived pt 3

In 100, by Nora on September 8, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Da and Mennie’s house in Berkeley tilted up. The ground floor was a basement, packed earth floors smooth and almost-damp to the barefoot touch. The second floor, the actual house, was perched on top like a doll’s house on stilts. Peeling white-painted front steps led to a light blue door. It was sweetly clean and seemingly miniature, but, like my grandparents, somehow a little off: just inside, the floor sloped away almost imperceptibly, down toward the backyard, which technically straddled the Oakland-Berkeley border, pitching you into the book-filled, light-warmed home, to be offered diet coke, generous opinions, and riotous stories.

it was george eliot who said

In 100, by Nora on July 22, 2020 at 9:04 am

we could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it, if it were not the earth where the same flowers come up again every spring that we used to gather with our tiny fingers as we sat lisping to ourselves on the grass, the same hips and haws on the autumn hedgerows, the same redbreasts that we used to call ‘God’s birds’ because they did no harm to the precious crops. What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known and loved because it is known?

And each home-flight-return it’s clearer.


In 100, by Nora on July 9, 2020 at 10:47 am

snaking dust-warm slot canyons to make richard serra jealous, pictographs, jumping sweaty into frigid lakes, scrabbling on slickrock, underwhelming driveway fireworks and benignly restrictive utah liquor laws, an oblong, yellow moonrise over sagey breeze, like a huge plate rising over the edge of the horizon, obliterating the gathering dusting of stars, greedily but evenly shared plates on a dark porch, music tinnily intruding from a spotifying cracked iphone, dusty legs on creaky floorboards and papery-thin cottons thrown over sun-warmed arms in a lazy attempt at shielding from the finally-cooling air, shivery rustles through the brush and grasses, bees now silent. 


In 100, by Nora on July 8, 2020 at 10:44 am

sitting on a shady porch in the lazy-warm sage-imbued breeze, looking at an absurd set of burnished and crumbling rock formations mesa-ing into the distance, monumental and wise but also constantly changing, bare, teva-imprinted sun-drenched feet, scrapes and bruises happily reminding my body of long childhood summers, when looking at plants and stars and bugs took up maybe 40% of my time; my laptop tries not to spoil the effect, obsequiously offering Google Sheets, wikipedia, and, as I compile a presentation about a convertible 18th-century walking stick/flute/oboe, an instrument for aristocratic pleasure gardens (ones so unlike my own, current one).

all the way west

In 100, by Nora on July 1, 2020 at 12:43 pm

it’s the second half of the day so i’m facing the sun, and when it dips between the cotton-candy-colored crenellated eaves and crinolined crests of bush and divis and golden gate, it glances off that supposed-to-be-covered bottom half of my face. i trail it, trace it, whether it knows it or not. i follow it into the redolent park, where it counterintuitively hides itself behind towering, alien eucalypta dripping with microclimate nasturtia, berries winking to burst. pleasant-surprise sand makes the shady path slower and softer, and when i find the sun again i’m at the end. all the way west.

for a minute there

In 100, by Nora on June 21, 2020 at 7:14 am

a disturbing dream wakes me up, just slightly too warm in the bed, 6am hazy, too-bright-already sunday in a san francisco june. the fog is folding in, sluicing down the bowl of the east bay, emanating from a gently throbbing sun, obscured two layers back in the fog, an unwrapped duvet, a creamy but ephemeral composite, creeping through the spires and guard-wires of the bridge, imperceptibly, caressing its laddered peaks as wisps of backlit fluff drift past from the south, gathering and consolidating all around (physics as a conspiratorial, social function) until the glass box around me is suddenly – afloat.

a new grove

In 100, by Nora on June 14, 2020 at 12:17 pm

I’d never find my way back here on my own – if I follow someone else all the cardinal directions vacate my senses, as if they were actually a reflection of my volition, of my body making its own choices – a grove somewhere deep in the park, eucalyptus-battered sunlight falling into a deep basin of incongruous reeds, lying fully flat on a sun-warmed fallen trunk, base of my skull not uncomfortably wedged against an aborted branch nub, a freudian chaise longue made of crumbly red bark. For the first time in months, I feel myself, my own self, unguarded scream-laughing self.

lemon sunlight

In 100, by Nora on April 1, 2020 at 1:09 pm

the feeling of the late march sunlight is like butter, or lace: delicate, so soft that it’s almost tasteless or weightless, so much so that it takes a few moments for the feeling to register, not urgent. it gently makes its presence known along the bottom of my jaw, along the outer fold of my right ear: the impression of the heat is like a curl of meyer lemon rind, like the curve of a little wing, of her little avian friends who flash by saying hello to her, trailing the smell of lightly damp soil, redwood, olive, cypress, oak.

at dinner tonight Paul told me

In 100, by Nora on November 28, 2019 at 9:16 pm

he was born in 1920, in vienna, a jewish family (fancy, it seems, since they didn’t speak yiddish). in 1939, his great uncle in london just barely secured him a tourist visa to england. the gentleman at immigration, after peering at him, reading his name, said, “vacation?” and he said, “yes.” the man eyed him evenly and said, “make sure you get your return ticket when you get there.” he returned, alright. 50 years later. after australia, the army, buying the first eichler house in palo alto, raising kids, grandkids, great-grandkids. and now turning 100, thanks to that immigration officer that day in vienna.

sorry i’ve been a bad girl !

In 100, by Nora on November 28, 2019 at 9:07 pm

sorry i’ve been unresponsive! my phone has been …. in my hand

sorry i didn’t get back to you last week! i was … home, doing nothing

omg i can’t believe we never…! honestly i was just really tired

i’m so embarrassed i missed your…! i really care about you but i can’t use my perfectly good brain or hands or back right now

oh man, i meant to write back to you about …! did i mention i’m moving? i already moved

wow thank you for offering! i just…did it all myself because i was too tired to ask for help

The ground is uneven everywhere I’ve ever lived pt 2

In 100, by Nora on November 25, 2019 at 3:58 pm

The scuffed wooden floor of my Brooklyn apartment sags deeply, comically, in the middle. If you stood on one side of the apartment, near the heat-leaky windows, on a snowing-cold winter night, looking back at the door to the closet and the bathroom, you would see it: all three door jambs slanted in wonky opposition, the floor sloping blithely toward the ground underneath, three floors below. When that floor was flat, this was an abolitionist neighborhood; now it sags toward the densely-packed C train, the only Underground Railroad left, which may be our last – deeply, comically inadequate – force for diversity.

The ground is uneven everywhere I’ve ever lived pt 1

In 100, by Nora on November 22, 2019 at 7:02 pm

The ground is uneven everywhere I’ve ever lived. Today with inappropriate city boots, I stumped through the grove of sparse and craggy northern california oaks, my re-soled heels finding no purchase against the miniature rolling foothills beneath them, blanketed in dry-yellowed, spiny oak leaves, crisped from their sprawling, just-dying california summer. Jurassic-smooth bone-bleach dead palm tree fronds, feet long, litter the ground like the carcasses of our mesoamerican, ohlone, spanish, gold digging, frontiersmen ancestors. I miss running around barefoot til I was nine basically, feeling the stolen sandstone gravel, the geology and archaeology of my birthplace, through my thickened soles.

diebenkorn pt 8

In 100, by Nora on November 22, 2019 at 6:49 pm

I was only thinking of this as a running prompt, a way of thinking about my move with the healthy distance of my training in art history, interpreting through painting, inserting an object between me and real life. But there it was: a real Diebenkorn painting, closer than I thought, right on my campus, my old playground, the bruise-berry-blood blue of water damage seeping where smooth white wooden window frames meet dun colored, textured stucco. Flatness and distance. Ocean and asphalt. Many edges and the never-ending-ness of each edge. Color is light made solid, or air made liquid. welcome back.

fuckin spiders

In 100, by Nora on November 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm

I’ve never been afraid of snakes. their slick, waxy scales running over smooth, powerful bodies, contracting and stretching, flowing over and around obstacles. spiders, though. motherfuckers! even the little cute ones: HOW DARE YOU TRY TO DISAPPEAR AGAINST THE WALL BY BEING NEARLY TRANSLUCENT? California houses, in my experience, are full of spiders, jittering, jerkily folding and unfolding crooked legs, always showing up in the corner of your eye, in the corner of the white-painted molding, the long crack hair-splitting the curved Spanish colonial entryway, the blue-enameled edge of a terracotta pot. This I had forgotten in New York. Fuck.

there and back again 2009 / 2019

In 100, by Nora on November 19, 2019 at 10:26 am

spent my first night in NYC on ambien watching the patterned wallpaper wave beautifully in underwater wind (after my first cockroach incident and because anxiety, need to sleep well for college move-in next day) and here I am ten years later three ibuprofens and the diazepam they forced on me for my IUD because my neck and arm are immobile with fire pain but maybe it’s psychosomatic the pain of leaving New York but probably the pain of moving 70-plus-pound bags either way I am loopy crazy both coming and going and i still feel i’m moving through a fog.

diebenkorn pt 7

In 100, by Nora on November 16, 2019 at 3:07 pm

as the temperature drops, i’m thinking about earning spring. after huddling through another persecutory winter, you feel exhausted, relieved accomplishment at that first above-45 day. i hate that watery wishy-washy waste of a temperature, the 50s, the 60s, each new cheeky green bud a miraculous gift, when you just want to be fucking sweating in your cutoffs and birks again.

now i’m packing my things, preparing to spend my first winter in ten years in a place where it seems to be perpetually spring: the coolest warmth, wind-bitten sunlight, a pastel diebenkorn-color temperature, all greens dampened with fog dew drops.

C train downtown platform, 23rd street

In 100, by Nora on November 14, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Three E trains have gone by. A frumpy middle-aged white man on the uptown platform opposite is singing Elton John over his standing keyboard, voice sweet and clear

I hope you don’t mind

I hope you don’t mind

and I’m just listening, only listening, between the wild racket of each passing train. A Chelsea native behind me calls: “BEAU-tiful!! Play it again!” So he plays it again just for us. Trains stop,  disgorging busy be-headphoned people. At the end, the old queen and I clap and a couple tears dry on my cheeks as I step onto the long-awaited C.

dark too early, too late

In 100, by Nora on November 13, 2019 at 3:15 pm

i’ve watched the sun set from this 5th-floor tribeca window so many times: when it’s 4:30 and i’m already dreading walking home, bone-shattering cold, bumping along canal; when it’s a totally reasonable 6pm, either cozy fall or bubbly spring, ready to pounce on some oysters and unearned spritz drinks; when i’m isolated in a whirlwind of ineffectiveness and motivated-drained boredom; when i’m hours-deep into furiously buying, cataloguing, shipping, and framing an artwork worth more than my entire lifetime net worth; when it’s bruise pink and champagne clouds; when it’s snow barreling in from jersey; but this time it’s the last time. 

monday evening 11 november

In 100, by Nora on November 12, 2019 at 12:46 pm

leave the tribeca edifice, one gutted and then filled with wafting palo santo, pothos and late-capitalo-feminist yogis, trace Broadway up through new corporate “artist” markets that used to be pearl river mart and real paint stores, the cast iron facades encircled windows that used to open onto the essentialist squats of artists, now squatting finance bros, left on Spring past croissant-hybrid-hyped bakeries, past four separate parasitic weworks, up Hudson through the resolutely neighborhoody part of the village, with real old people, real low-rise brick townhouses, unlimited nearly-nameless bars line small streets, arrive in japanese-american highball bar, order an ume-flavored sake.

diebenkorn pt 6

In 100, by Nora on November 10, 2019 at 9:59 am
hills surround the bay, making visible its form; even from the abstraction of childhood, i understood it. my grandparents were always driving us up and down hills (Zelda blasting old tapes of Gilbert and Sullivan operas from her boxy green Saab, Da and Mennie singing along to the Beatles). From the botanical garden, from zen museum cafes, i could see how the grid was lazy, grid but counterculture, grid but protests and runaways and the haight free clinic and 1968 student protests, a diebenkorn grid. i’ve seen them auctioned in new york for unethical sums; there its the entanglement of life.

diebenkorn pt 5

In 100, by Nora on November 9, 2019 at 9:18 am

at least, up at the top of the long, proselytizing trail of the camino real, california was a colonial backwater: the forced labor and conversion inflicted on the ohlone was exquisite, but not the elaborate, rigorous casta system of the spanish viceroyalty. though the dutch of new york massacred the lenape occasionally, they were not the slave plantations of the british caribbean, the portuguese extraction machines, but rather a free-wheeling mercantile port. i guess neither were so free as the french, who lost new orleans for 19 years along the banks of the mississippi, while gambling and smoking their little cigarettes.