Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Sunday, November 22, 2015

being thankful

A couple weeks ago, I experienced a series of health scares that had me spending more time than I would’ve liked at the hospital and in doctors’ offices. Not only were these experiences alone, very troubling, I for years have had a phobia of seeking medical attention. Quite frankly, I have a difficult time trusting medical professionals (for a laundry list of reasons).

Anyway, the long and short of this little anecdote is that after a bunch of neurological tests, I was simply told that they don’t know why my body has been acting the way it has and they would like to continue to monitor my brain’s behavior in the future. Basically, they told me, “Who the hell knows what’s going on in there.”   

On lighter occasions, I probably would’ve agreed with them, but in this particular situation I wanted answers. I also wanted solutions. Instead, I left the hospital after an emergency MRI disheartened, annoyed, and feeling a little sorry for myself. That was until I came home and saw the news.

See, at the time, when I was stuck in that claustrophobic, little tube listening to Chopin blasting intermittently between the awful, knocking sounds of the machine (it sounds like you are in a coffin and someone is forcefully hammering each nail in), there were people dying in Paris (and yes, other parts of the world). Of course, I wasn’t aware of this in the moment, but when I got home and heard the news, I immediately felt this terrible sadness come over me and my focus shifted—it was no longer about me, my pain was redirected, not just toward the victims of these heinous acts, but for humanity as a whole, my heart was breaking.

In the past, I’ve been hesitant to jump on any propaganda regarding what is happening in the world, since just thinking about the situations of others, is enough to make my head spin. It’s overwhelming to think about all the tragedy and pain others are suffering (even in our back yards) and to feel utter hopelessness. And that by having association to the “Western World”, as a middle-class, Caucasian, I am ashamed to be grouped in as an entitled American who turns “causes” into hashtags and Facebook feeds, while sitting safely and comfortably in my home, saying how terrible it is that there are people who have it worse off than we do, and that something really needs to change.

 I’ve had these questions: How do you become the change you want to see? What do you really have control over? (If personal choices, to an extent.) How can you promote peace in your community? How can you make loving your “brothers” and “sisters” from all backgrounds and walks of life, a contagious mentality? How do you foster healthy and communal relationships with your friends and family, your neighbors and acquaintances? How do you learn to trust, instead of live in fear? How do you learn to help, instead of fight? How do you learn to share and inspire, instead of take and consume?

The holiday called Thanksgiving has its own troubling history. Early-European settlers came to America and slaughtered an estimated 80-90% of the indigenous population who lived here. But when the seasons turned brutal and the settlers were having trouble getting by, it was an indigenous population who lent hands as teachers and guides, supposedly sharing survival secrets and a table with the settlers. And what did those colonizers share with the natives? Guns and disease.

When I learned the sanitized version of this story in grade school, I wanted to believe that “pilgrims” broke bread with “Indians” in the name of peace. Later, when I learned about my own native heritage, and the reality of the massacres and genocide that occurred (and still occur all over the world, today) in the name of religion, I felt this despondency toward humankind. And sadly, my view of the world became increasingly more cynical as I got older and learned more about the ways of the world.

So, why all this long-winded rant? I know, a lot of build-up to the bottom line.

I’ve decided this year, I’m going to make another small change in what I choose to believe and what I choose to practice.  Usually, I see Thanksgiving as a time to reflect on what I am thankful for, which is typically a self-serving meditation. However, this year I would like to instead thank the people in my life who have taught me something about being a better person. I would like to acknowledge those people, because they have influenced me in some shape or form, by doing something that mattered. And because I want to believe if we as a culture, a society, a world, spent more time acknowledging others and telling them they matter, and less time acquiring what we  think we “deserve”, more of the “for the better good” attitude would be inspired all around.

So, here’s a challenge for you, my reader. Take the time this week to acknowledge others. Whether it is by sending out a bunch of ‘thank you’ cards and emails, or by simply telling someone ‘thank you’. Tell them specifically why you want to thank them, or just say, “Thank you, for being you.” Show these people they matter to you. And if you are really feeling good, tell a perfect stranger they matter. 

Let’s see what happens!
by jef aerosol,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It’s a scary time. Mass killings, violence all over the world, hate crimes, the abuse of power, greed, discrimination. How could any human being ever feel safe in this day in age? 

And the real kicker is that we created this—this is chaos and catastrophe of our own design. Years and generations of competing for resources, “progress” and territorial rights. Warring for control disguised as “civil liberties” and “freedom”.

Join the cause, they say. Jump on board, and support the democratic vision. But turn a blind eye and ignore the fact that you are part of a system that continues to fail its people.

I fear for the future of humanity. I fear that we have no place that is sacred anymore—churches, schools, places of leisure, like parks and theaters; they are as susceptible to violence, as any.

We don’t get to choose where we are born, but there was a time when I actually subscribed to believing we had a choice when it comes to other areas of how we live our lives.  Unfortunately, I have lost that belief. 

Because no matter how conscientious a person tries be, no matter how honest and sincere they are in their actions and how they treat others, there is no absolute protection for them. Every day they walk out the door, there is a risk involved, outside their control. They can pray and put faith in a God. But whose mercy are they really at? Being so vulnerable, anywhere they choose to be in the world.

Friday, November 6, 2015


Sitting in the dark, listening to the trees and the deer feed,
there’s a moon out there somewhere…………..
in a place we cannot see—
past the traffic and the rain + optical lights,
the drunken lessons of the day and
the sex that makes us feel diecious
and sometimes foreign,
like pistachios and persimmons.

There’s always been smoke to soothe the
        crudely-imagined soul—
the ever-misguided,-misplaced, -misinterpreted.
Somewhere out there,
there’s a lot we just don’t know.
So, our eyes keep seeking and
        our hearts still yearn,
in that forgiving copse we call solidarity.

But what of the purest form? I want to ask,
“Is it bird prints on beaches, writing out their wills for the world
in cuneiform?”
We must listen closer, my friend,
to what we’re missing—

it whirls on like a whorl.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

how deep does it go?

“What if I opened my soul to sing to my absolute self…” – Allen Ginsburg, 1966

The problem with being a writer who balks at writing about one’s self—okay, let me rephrase that:  Why do I struggle so profoundly with writing about anything identifiable? Here I am, always agonizing over writing something true, and yet I know that I am just not that interesting.

Of course, I try to avoid obvious conventionalism, and I typically don’t subscribe to any norms or trends that could possibly threaten my individualism. Most of the time I’d say I am elusive, even to myself, and have a tendency to fall into bouts of mania and depression—with extreme highs and lows. And yet, I would never suggest that a little bit a crazy makes me interesting in any way, or at least interesting enough to write about. Many lives I have already lived, though I know I crave more and that there is more, and there will always be.

But where else does a story come from other than from within? So much of creativity is the internalized experience, translated to a person’s sense of the world in which they live. “Why don’t you just make things up?” some suggest, when I get into a funk, looking at the bigger picture. How deep would that really let me go? I wonder. And then, Would I have to live with being a fabrication, another illusion, and a coward for not getting at the heart of it all?

I don’t want to be a person who just fills up space with more nonsense, or another one spinning yarn with the superficial and the trite. And I don’t need to be read or seen as interesting, or necessarily worthy, as long as I am writing as if I really exist, and that I know I exist—feeling my way through this world like everyone else.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

that "sparkling nerve-library" that wants to speak

I find that there are reoccurring themes that pop up in my writing. This is not always intentional. Sometimes, I don’t even notice right-off when a theme has reappeared for yet another attempt at making a statement. Other times, when I do pick up on these references, I tend to become guarded, as if I have revealed something deeply personal about my perspective.  When this happens I catch myself retreating a bit in my writing, either because I don’t feel ready or able to address what lies at the root of these longstanding thoughts and feelings.

I’m still trying to come up with ways to best explore these ideas and concepts, whether it is by creating a scene in fiction, handling the abstract in poetry, or examining the ego and the id with personal essay. At least when I was writing journalism, it forced me to concentrate on the subject at hand, allowing little room for unrelated themes to sneak their way in. I recognize now, that type of work just enabled my avoidance of writing about what truly burns inside.

So, what’s the best way to tackle these patterns of thought? I wish I had an answer. I’d like to think that the most natural form will appear over time, as I explore various kinds of written expression. And it is likely I won’t even know how to write out and express those untapped corners of my mind, until I’ve hit that systemic nerve, and then there will be no turning back—that is, there is no cut and dry way or formula, but when things align in the creative process and come into focus, it is best to push on, to keep striving to create something close to that universal truth we seek out and live for.

“...there was nothing one could do when love came. It was fast, and it was strong, and if it were not good, then surely God would not have allowed it such power.” 

 "You lodge details of the world in your sparkling nerve-library that spirals through your brain and coils down your arms and legs, collects in your belly and your sex. You write, even if you can't always "write.""

― Luis Alberto Urrea

Friday, October 16, 2015

A big 'thank you' to Owen Kaelin & the Gone Lawn webjournal for publishing this piece:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

work space.
As some of you have noticed, I haven’t been as active on this blog as I was in years prior. I took a bit of a hiatus these last 12 months, a time spent settling into my new environment in Central Vermont.

Last September (2014), my partner and I began the process of renovating a two hundred year old village home, nestled in a rural valley, cut from the first branch of the White River.  

Coming from Maine to this place where we’ve landed, wasn’t an extreme transition for either of us, and didn’t take much getting used to. Living all over New England at different stages of my life, all the small towns I’ve been through, now feel somewhat similar to one another. And for my partner, who grew up in a tight-knit community on the mid-coast, this area reminded him of being back home.

So, I can’t completely blame my lack of presence on an “adjustment period”. Honestly, I never knew a place could feel so much like home, after being unsettled for as long as I had. It was just time to rest my weary self. And that ladies and gentlemen, was what took some adjusting.

When a person is accustomed to bouncing around and packing up and leaving to explore new destinations, it is a bit of a learning curve when they discover something or someone that’s worth sticking around for. Something evolves inside, something different and surprising. This change was probably desired all along, but depending on circumstances that person wasn’t capable at that point or ready to graduate to that next place.

As for my writing, it didn’t take a backseat, per se. Up until rather recently, I was turning out material for a local, weekly paper. However, during that period I found myself reassessing the ideas I’ve been wanting to put out into the world, and in some cases, going back to the drawing board with some of the ideas that I was stuck on. Let’s call it a time spent evolving in my craft and my emotional and mental capacities. The passion was still there and thriving, but I was becoming more conscientious about what I spent my time and energy on. 

Working for the paper was a good way for me to become involved in my community, and to learn the histories and stories of the people who live here. But I missed being able to write for myself, being able to write what I wanted, when I wanted to. So, I reclaimed my creative control, and now I'm here again with a nuanced focus. 

It has taken some time to get my bearings and accept that I’m not going anywhere for a while. And if anything, I now wonder what took me so long to end up here.

When you realize how valuable your time and energy is, you become more conservative, thoughtful, and efficient as a producer. Then you look at your life and want to simplify it to something honest, worthwhile and meaningful. This carries over to your art, your work, whatever that may be. Then there is of course, the influence all these things can have on your relationship(s).

I do not question whether I should be anywhere else, right now. And this very well could be sharing too much. But isn't life like writing, in that it's about having and sharing the experience? 

the river room.

Campstove hissing propane blue flame,
coffee warming, and the neighbor’s dog chewing on our freshly-planted phlox
and mercilessly digging up dahlia bulbs to bury in the leaves with
the wild riverbank ramps.
They will come as a surprise
to be discovered again,
after another shift and thaw.
This season we call spring
with a wish to start anew.

Beneath my fingernails there’s soil, from a whole lotta late-day weeding,
the kind of naturally acceptable filth
that honors working hands.
But the soul’s so clean—
so possible and full,
and collected,
like lavender herb.

The river pushes on—
pushing melt behind the barn,
as a trio of mallards rise in flight before the rapids.

We’ve subscribed to this alternate reality
that runs parallel,
even though two grooves in wood, eventually merge over time.
What we do know, is a house of rainbow-stained glass and
worn floors, hand hewn frames holding
memories and histories,
beauty and tragedy.

What was, becomes right now, until it is
and that’s all we need,  
for this place to become
so warm,
like the compression of your chest
against my cold fraught shoulders—
that loving clutch you give on frosty valley mornings.

Is it just another day of me pointing out 
that the tulips are up,
as you secure another piece of our home?
Is it not the vision of sunlight painted walls?

This is a life not fabricated:
the minutes we eek out, until the day recedes
and we pay reverence to each blessing
and lesson

we derive from old ghosts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

changing with the leaves

There’s a day during the fall season when the leaves are at their most vibrant—their peak. I drive a daily commute through mountains and valleys. The breeze scatters rusts and auburns and mustards across the winding road. And just before a bend or hill, there’s a view so spectacular—colors so rich against the azure of sky, the still green pastures and the soulful purples of distant ranges.  I take a walk and relish in how even decay can be beautiful, too.  I ask myself, was today that day? I can’t be sure. Tomorrow will only tell.

It’s amazing the details that hold weight in a day and how many get overlooked. Can we truly pinpoint an exact or particular moment, and predict how significant that experience will be for us in the future? And if we blink and miss that moment, did it not still occur regardless of whether we were paying attention?

When I experience change, I tend to look back in retrospect and think about all the learning I’ve done thus far. I think about all those days and details that have added up over time. I know I can’t remember it all, but I have this drive inside that wants to account for the sum of all I am—to gather up all those details I didn’t get a chance to record, the things that have gone unexpressed or nearly forgotten. And even with new experiences and information coming at me every millisecond I’m alive (begging to be processed in that instant), I am also endlessly sorting through a backlog of history to understand what being a self-aware person really means to me. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

my affliction: an open letter to those I hold close

To Those I Hold Close,

First off, let me apologize for choosing the path of an artist. Of all the routes I could have gone, I chose to devote my life to trying to come up with new ways of expressing the human experience. And of course, being a writer is probably one of the most selfish pursuits one could have. Therefore, I must compensate by being a better person, more compassionate and thoughtful in my actions, and by having a genuine interest in helping others.

There’s this need I have, to protect those I hold close from the burdens of my art—the anxiety of failure; the guilt of designating too much time and priority to writing and my preoccupations; the self-consciousness that comes with revealing myself in a raw and truthful way; the torment and madness of accepting complete fulfillment, as life no longer worth living; and all the other absurd, morbid, vile things that my psyche digs up.

Let me tell you what writing is to me and maybe someday you will understand that I had no other choice. Writing and creating is harder than heartache (I’m a masochist, there’s no denying it). It is not just about seeking out the divine, beautiful things—the aspects that can be translated into acceptable, easy-on-the-eyes manifestations. Writing is a gritty and arduous attempt to understand one’s reality, and for me, it is the most effective way to process my manic moods and emotions—writing, simply, is a filter for my head. Here she goes into talking about how cathartic writing is, you’re probably thinking. Sure, it’s cheaper than therapy, but unlike therapy, I wouldn’t suggest that more people need to be writers.

What I am trying to say is: a good story can transcend time, can move people, and can live on to inspire. I haven’t written that story yet, but be patient with me, I plan on living long enough to write something worthwhile.

I don’t expect others to share my same feelings about adjusting or coping, about letting go, or nurturing the things I believe in. In turn, I try to be respectful of what others hold true, to try and not judge, assume, or be resentful. This is my mantra: every day I wake, is another opportunity to be a better person—which encompasses many areas of my life, but most importantly, how I regard and interact with others. Jorge Luis Borges had a great explanation for the roles we play in each other's lives: "I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people I have met, all the women I have loved, all the cities I have visited." There is something to be said about our relationships. Could I be an artist without ever knowing love, pain, ecstasy, tension, or conflict? I highly doubt it.

It is my only hope that my affliction, in time, will lead to a keener awareness of all things. Perhaps, an unattainable goal, but just the same, writing has been my lifeline when I have had nowhere else to turn. I know nothing else, and yet writing is the key to my growth and happiness.

So, forgive this mess I’ve dragged along— this obsession, this consuming hunger for life and knowledge. I know I’ve made mistakes, given up too easily at times, and sometimes left altogether to clear my head. What I can’t change about myself, is what makes me who I am: Writer, woman, human, in no particular order.

So, you are saints for putting up with me, I couldn’t do this without your support. And I have a feeling, when the times comes, my first dedication page is going to have to be really, really long.

Respectfully yours,


Thursday, September 24, 2015

we all have our ideals.

Art that I can live with—now that’s a challenge. There’s no shortage of affordable, decorative and eye-catching art circulating out there. Though, when it comes to making a purchase and supporting a working artist, I want to own art I will continue to look at and appreciate for years to come—art I will never tire of. I want art that is timeless, that never becomes outdated, because at its core it exists as part of the human experience.

My preference for art isn’t about whether it matches my walls or my furniture, but instead my inclinations come from an emotional place—how the art makes me feel. I don’t want a pretty picture to look at. I want art that is charged with character and soul, and is engaging to the psyche.  

As a writer, I want to attract an audience who sees and admires my writing in a similar way. I want my work to be the kind of art that endures. I also want my writing to be filled with such rich meaning that it can be revisited and contemplated, and appeal to various readers from different backgrounds.

And just as I can be content in a home with blank wall space (because I haven’t quite found the art that fits), I am also a patient writer who knows that staring at blank pages requires dedication and the wherewithal to create worthy material.

The most compelling art, for me, has layers tied up with stories and history. To think that some art is made purely for aesthetic or entertainment value—which has nothing to do with developing “taste” or providing a cultural contribution, and everything to do with making money—makes me wonder what these artifacts will suggest to future civilizations.

The literary world isn’t much different than the art world, selling flashy book jackets and indulgent content—the under-achieving stepchild of modern art. Writers are too quick to get published, worried that if they don’t act now they won’t get another opportunity. This impatience leads to writing that lacks heart, depth, and maturity of craft.

Call me a snob, but for some it’s easier to subscribe to the mainstream. God-forbid we expect something more and be disappointed, or even feel ignorant in our understanding. Society accommodates this ignorance. But for those of us who want to be challenged, to expand our minds—we must really do the leg work and search.

This carries over to other areas, too—the degradation of the film and music industries. There will never be another Charlie Parker or John Coltrane, but there are and will be others with the same spirit to create ground-breaking art.

Just as you’ll never find me writing in a particular genre, it’s just not in my nature to be a consumer who’s sold on trendy art.


“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being … When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups … I want to speak to their souls.” –John Coltrane

“When I first heard music, I thought it should be very clean, very precise. Something that people could understand, something that was beautiful.” –Charlie Parker