On German Food

Food descriptions in Munisch och Garmisch, Deutschland

huge Turkish sandwich stuffed with lettuce, tomato, fresh parsley springy and green, hot sauce, yogurt sauce, onions, root vegetables roasted and fried, wrapped in a soft bread, like a large, flat pita

blood orange juice, washing over tongue with tang and ache and lust, deep release

fresh-squeezed orange juice, pulp excited jostling in the sweet liquid sunshine

tomatoes red on the vine, waiting ripe and heavy, expectant, in the rough wooden bowl

brambér jam is thick and startling! more flavor bursting and somersaulting than expected, dark and airy at the same time, tangy and bright but also musty and sacred (blackberry jam)

frambér jam is like sauce, or pie filling (strawberry)

hazelnut sweet bread, coated with sugar

strong strong strong, thick coffee at früstück

loose-leaf Earl Grey tea, aromatic and cutting

pretzel and bright orange cheese dip – strong, aged, like a shockingly sharp cream cheese, topped with red onion and green scallions

carrot, apple, ginger, orange juice – overwhelmingly sweet and full of eager carrot pulp

“classic chocolat” creamy sweet clouds of cocoa-filled warmth

a sandy, bitter, and rich “butter” that I guessed to be tamarind paste, but turned out to be tahini date paste, and now I’m wondering what tamarind paste tastes like

white, bloated sausages, large and phallic, floating in water. Chris and I were a bit too repulsed to try them

white, slightly sweet grits, thick and sticky

On Cafe Daydreams

Character sketches at a cafe in Garmisch, Germany

thin waitress wearing light gold glasses and white shirt, very focused and quiet, not interacting with her coworkers much, except with thin-lipped eye crinkles to show appreciation and respect

woman pushing a stroller wearing jeans and a silvery, mirror-like raincoat that falls down to her knees, covering her arms and shoulders, reflecting the light in rainbow pools

dark blue t-shirt on a tan, blond man with a chiseled face and deep-set eyes

blond woman with light blue jeans, dark sandals, and embroidered pants with a rip in the knee

two women with short hair, severe faces, and biking outfits

heavy lash makeup barista with dark red hair tied up in a high ponytail with a thin silver scrunchy, wearing a dark outfit with white stripes down her pant leg and thick white sneakers

woman on her phone wearing a raspberry-colored wide, long dress and a creamy muslin hijab, thick and sturdy covering her head

wide, built woman wearing jeans and a beige t-shirt with gold dots on the front, holds herself as royalty or great beauty


On Beauty and Strangeness

Beauty and Strangeness
drop to the sand

come, get the ropes
(who are, after all, not mild
but militant)

I don’t think I am old yet,
half asleep,
not
all at once
but steadily

I know I have already lived



Words found in Mary Oliver’s book of essays Upstream and rearranged to my heart’s content. I found the words, but was careful not to copy any phrases or pairs of words. Each word is its own island set in the fabric of this poem.

On Honesty

I’m gonna be honest, I’m looking forward to this daily writing challenge being over. I’m tired of prose. I miss poetry. I miss not making any sense, but making the most sense at the same time. I don’t wanna write coherent sentences anymore. But I must. I’m sticking to the challenge. I almost switched into poetry tonight, but then I stopped myself. Siena, I thought, you gotta finish what you started. There’s a reason you wanted to write prose every day, right? A reason, even if you can’t remember it right now. You can’t just give up.

Except the thought was much more like: you’re being lazy. Just write about how you don’t wanna write. You have to write anyway, so might as well be honest.

And that’s not even how it went. It was really more like: what the fuck am I doing here on earth. Why did I open my computer again? What is the meaning of all this bullshit?

Alright, it’s time for some truth-telling. There were reasons I started this challenge, and I do remember them, and here they are:
1) I was moving from Rochester, NY to live in Big Coppitt Key, Florida for the month. It seemed like a good opportunity to challenge myself, since I was placing myself in a new environment. It’s sometimes hard to start a new habit when you’re surrounded by the same stuff.

2) I wanted something I said on here to be true enough to enough people, that the post would go viral and I wouldn’t have to work anymore to have a platform for my voice. I wanted the chance to be completely myself without constantly trying to tell people why they should follow me, come to my shows, or give me money. I was tired of using my “Story” as a marketing tactic, like I feel forced to do in my music business.

3) I think I’m a really good writer, and I want to become a great one. And, I want other people to think I’m a great writer. This one pains me to write here. I don’t think anyone should be motivated by wanting other people to think they’re good, so I try to keep this as secret as possible.

4) I seem to be more into words than music. This is another difficult one for me to write down, because music is my “career,” whatever the hell that means in 2021. Music is what I center my identity on, at the moment. I guess that’s a more 2021 way to say it. So, saying that I connect more with words than I do with music is a bit sacrilege. It’s a bit squirmy. Do I need to choose between them? No. But do I need to parse out this balance between words and music, and understand the relationship between them better? Yes. And I started this challenge hoping that the true shape of my desire, for music and/or words, would start to emerge.

5) I’m going to publish a book. I don’t know when, and I don’t know what will be in it, but it’s out there. Well, it’s in here. It’s out there and in here simultaneously, and the book will get written at some point. I saw this as the practice round.

6) I love language. And I missed writing language that was public. I missed the thrill of knowing someone would read your words, that you were sharing something of yourself. Turns out I love performing even when it’s not musical.

7) I like the communal idea of a blog. I wanted to see people’s comments, to see their reactions to my stories. You get to converse with people without actually having to sit down with them and sip coffee for two hours.

8) I took the month off social media, and this seemed like a cleaner, more truthful (less influenced by the algorithm) way to share myself with the world. I still felt connected to other people, but didn’t have to pander to the unspoken rules of Instagram and Facebook.

9) I had a lot of questions. Not a lot of things made sense to me, including my own reactions to my home and my partner. I needed to figure some shit out, and this seemed like a chance for me to do that. Maybe once I was away from my familiar backdrop of domestic partnership, home, and performing grind, something would reveal itself. And if it did, I would catch it. I’d write it down.

So why didn’t I want to write tonight? I told you already, I’m tired of prose. I kind of got more into it once I started, and it was nice remembering all the reasons I decided to do this challenge in the first place, but I still feel this heavy sense of purposelessness. Also, I’m tired of myself. This whole month I’ve been writing about my own experiences, my thoughts, my inner world. It’s almost blasphemous how self-centered the blog format is. Ignoring the community. I thought I was writing for “the community” (whatever that is) but I might just be blowing hot air.

How do people spend 80 years doing this shit? Living with all the questions all the time? We’re all just wandering around trying to make something out of ourselves, trying to figure out what it is we really want, trying to figure out how to love and be loved. It’s all complete bullshit, but it’s so beautiful too. The heady realization that we can keep learning, every single day, makes me feel alive and a little less tired. I do think writing these posts every day has made me feel more alive. Maybe.

On Decay

Today I wandered into a cemetery filled with palm trees and cracked stone. I felt lighter than I had in weeks. Everywhere I turned, there was life demanding to be acknowledged. A baby palm tree pushing up from the grass. An iguana sunning itself on a grave. A bird alighting on a post. It didn’t seem like a place of death at all, especially not in the sunshine, with the grass shining greenly underfoot. I was reminded of Whitman, who wrote in Song of Myself that there is no death (I’ve included the full excerpt below). Later, I opened Rumi, searching for a response. I found it in this poem:

Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me,
if this is the time.

Do it gently with a touch of a hand, or a look.
Every morning I wait at dawn. That’s when
it’s happened before. Or do it suddenly
like an execution. How else
can I get ready for death?

You breathe without a body like a spark.
You grieve, and I begin to feel lighter.
You keep me away with your arm,
but the keeping away is pulling me in.


While Whitman asserts that death doesn’t exist, Rumi speaks of waiting at dawn for an execution. Both reflect the feeling I had today: that death is never permanent. Something will always disintegrate and decay, and something else will always grow from the nutrients/energy of the decayed thing. The graves today were filled with life. Grieving really does make us feel lighter, like Rumi writes in this near-perfect poem. Giving space to the darkness in us, being vulnerable and letting parts of ourselves die, can allow light to come in.

Full excerpt from Song of Myself (Leaves of Grass) by Whitman:
Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the
vegetation.
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means,
Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff,
I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.


Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them,
It may be you are from old people, or from offspring taken soon
out of their mothers’ laps,
And here you are the mothers’ laps.


This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues,
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for
nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and
women,

And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken
soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere,
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the
end to arrest it,
And ceas’d the moment life appear’d.

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,

And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

On People

Honestly, it was the most fun I’ve had in awhile. I sat on the porch of a cafe this afternoon, eating banana bread and sipping a café con leche, and writing about the people I saw. Here are some of the ‘characters’ that inspired me today.


Old guy with defined abs drives a golf cart down the middle of the road.

Middle-aged couple stop to discuss the construction site across the street. They are tan and comfortable with each other, as if they could be walking on the moon and still feel at home together.

Woman wearing a stoic look, a short bob cut, and an old 90s sweater strides past.

Man with wild, stylish white hair smokes a cigarette out of his car window, glancing at me in hopes of some attention.

Two very fat people hunched over on scooters ride by in lurid, pastel-colored shirts.

Trio of old guys stop on the sidewalk to check out a construction site across the street. They speculate. They shade their eyes with their palms. They wonder and exchange ideas. As they move on, a woman I hadn’t seen before falls in line and walks with them silently.

Teenager, lanky, with faded, oversized tie-dye shirt, carries a backpack and looks at their phone intently. Their long, blond hair hides their face as they walk.

Pink-in-the-face guy with cigar and light blue shirt bikes by, adjusting his baseball hat.

Woman with bright blue flowing skirt and skin-tight shirt carries herself like a festival queen.

Very prepared tourist couple come into view with freshly-purchased straw hats and gatorade. They each carry a bag, and stroll in an easy way that allows them to turn their heads in all directions to see the sights.

Two guys drive up in a white van, one driving, one delivering. The delivering one runs out with a single package of toilet paper, jogs the package into the cafe, then leaves. I hear laughter and Latino music as they drive away.

Stylish older couple float by. They both hold themselves with a lot of grace, and have grown their hair out long. The man has arm tats and the woman’s arm is in a sling. She carries a breathy white bag. I inhale and think about my future.

Little girl, about 10, rides in an open-air tour bus, wearing an oversized cream-colored tee shirt, looking off into the distance at nothing in particular. She looks tired. There are little wisps of hair all around her chubby face.

Guy in a white tee hunches over an exceedingly noisy scooter, which is probably about to fall apart.

Woman in black tee and a ponytail points to the cafe, saying “And that’s the coffee house my next-door neighbor used to own.” She’s riding a beach cruiser bike. Her friend, trailing behind on her own bike, looks at the cafe with interest.

A young couple walks by on the other side of the street. Their body language looks a bit dejected, like they’ve given up on something. The man walks slightly in front of the women. She keeps her body in really good shape, him not so much. He takes out his phone as they turn around, probably lost.

Young guy on a scooter holds a guitar in one hand, and steers with the other. He yell-sings “Hey! Come, come on!” as he zooms past me, blond hair flowing and waving wildly in the wind. I smile. How can you not, when someone is singing and scootering.


Once I started noticing all these things, it was impossible not to be interested in every single one of these people. I wanted them to succeed, whatever that meant to them. Once you start noticing, like Mary Oliver once said, you start loving. “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” Here’s the full excerpt, from her collection of essays, Upstream:

“Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.” -Mary Oliver, Upstream





Reality

I live in my dreams
I haunt reality
my mother sings to me
she sings me to sleep

Reality doesn’t have much to give me
I’d rather be sleeping and hide in my dreams


awake I can’t breathe
the light is so heavy
asleep I can see
the colors wide and deep

Reality doesn’t have much to give me
I’d rather be sleeping and hide in my dreams
Reality doesn’t have much to give me