Deep Breath

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 11.54.45 PMIt’s been a crazy month.

Seattle is now just pulling out of about two weeks of suffocating wildfire smoke storms. It’s déjà vu from last August. Last year it was a first. Having been born and raised here, we have never had days on end of toxic air that kept people trapped at home with doors and windows closed — and during a heat wave, no less. Misery. Keep in mind, the majority of Seattleites do not have air conditioning in their homes. Normally we don’t need it.

Well, it happened again. Can’t help but bring up climate change. This is not normal. We are surrounded by wildfires in British Columbia and central/eastern Washington, and some in Cali. If we don’t get onshore air flow, we get submerged under clouds that aren’t clouds, red suns and moons, disappearing ocean and mountains, and air you can see. One should not be able to see air that looks like fog, but is not fog.

It’s been rough.

But, finally, the winds changed and we have relief today. It is much cooler and we have real water clouds coming in with actual rain which we’ve only had a day or two this summer. Seattle…the place where everyone thinks it’s always raining. Our summers are usually 75-90 degrees, mostly sunny, with an occasional bout of rain. Not the last couple summers.

It’s been days of miserably sticky hot smokey days, forced inside, having to wear masks to go anywhere, running the air filter, but can’t open doors. So at night after a 90 degree day, sleep is uncomfortable, air feels like syrup, and skin feels like vaseline.

It sucks that in a place like the PNW where rain is persistent for 9-10 months of the year, we cherish and hold our 2-3 months of glorious summer, and now, if this is the new trend, we are losing 1 month to smoke. Yeah, I’ll say it, it’s not fair. Especially to those in the direct line of fire, and the brave firefighters on the front line.

Bigger than that, it’s a small glimpse of how our earth is changing and how the policies torn down to protect it by the current administration are accelerating its disease and demise.

Vote wisely this November.

I have been absent from WP due to all of this, and just hanging on by the skin of my teeth this summer, mostly for good reasons. It’s been a non-stop whirlwind.  It has definitely pushed my vestibular disorder boundaries. I will need to return to my own self-care and rehab as fall sets in.

I have also been paying close attention to the whirlwind political climate and bombshells that seem to be a daily occurrence. I am catching up on reading, watching, and balancing all the craziness with rest and recovery.

I miss writing, but will not force it when it’s not coming. Silence means paying attention and participating in the world — good things for providing more inspiration for when I do want to crank out with more frequency.

Meanwhile, I send my loyal poetry friends my best and wishes for a good end of summer.

Do turn off the computer, get out there and take advantage of it.

Hopefully, in smoke-free air.

~ Em C.

8..23.18

My photography, minus the obvious ones.


There is supposed to be an ocean and a huge mountain range there. And those are not water clouds, they are smoke clouds.


Ash on my car.


They even had to close the airport due to poor visibility.

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Pearl Jam Days

After two shitty summers where my health was not cooperating, I finally have had a better one – not where I want to be, but better enough that I could participate in life.

The high point has been this last crazy beautiful week in Seattle, finally getting my chance to see Pearl Jam perform live in their and my hometown for The Home Shows!

It’s been a whirlwind of events this week, with the Wednesday night Home Show, the opera Thursday night, a day at Easy Street Friday, and the SubPop 30th Anniversary birthday party at Alki Beach featuring several of their rockstar label signees, including MUDHONEY — whom I never got a chance to see during the grunge heydays, just like Pearl Jam. I am making up for lost opportunity and time. I feel complete.

I also feel every aching bone and muscle in my body after being on my feet in crowds all week. I am not 14 years old anymore. My vestibular disorder has been challenged in this week of stimulation, so this next couple weeks is all about recovery, self care, and getting back on my vestibular rehab exercises which have been neglected in all the hoopla. I was determined not to let these special moments escape me, even if it meant paying for it.

I think come fall, I will have plenty of writing fuel, but for now I am living my summer like I should — in real life.

My favorite moment of the concert was when Eddie Vedder was gradually introducing band mates, he got to the story of how Randy Johnson’s favorite band was Soundgarden. The camera focused in on Matt Cameron’s face on the big screen and the crowd gave the most tender, passionate, and persistently lingering applause that wouldn’t end. He was visibly moved, and for the crowd, a very emotional moment. Longest applause of the night…we knew that moment was for Chris Cornell. Sometimes the most powerful tributes are the subtle ones.

It was all for a great cause as well, to help fight the homelessness crisis in Seattle. As the city’s boom continues to lead to greater prosperity, it has also created a greater divide between the haves and the have nots. Pearl Jam donated almost $12 MILLION to the cause through multiple efforts throughout the city. The whole city was abuzz with the marketing, and the tourists who traveled all over the world to experience PJ in the hometown.

In addition to the homelessness, we are also trying to fight the destruction of historic Seattle buildings that are its identity, and being torn down for more generic condo high rises to house the influx of Amazonian employees.

If you’ve been to Seattle, you know about the music venue The Showbox. It’s next on the chopping block. Seattle musicians are banding together to stop its demolition with a petition to the City Council to designate it as part of the Pike Place Historic District. The Showbox has been a part of Seattle’s music history for decades with the likes of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, and so many many more having played there over the years. You can visit HistoricSeattle.org for more information.

Enjoy looking through the photos! I hope all of your summers are going well.

~ Em 8.13.18

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Mailman

Friday is the one year anniversary of Chris Cornell’s death. I have spent much of this year going through the grief of that loss, especially since I grew up here in Seattle during the grunge era — it is impossible to escape his essence here…he permeates every sea and mountainscape, every gray rainy day, sunny day, every bend in the road, he is the king of this city — his poetic lyrics and music are the soundtrack to my youth.

I have yet to decide how I’m going to mark the day. But, I will be sharing some of his amazing words and music in this next week. I encourage you to really read his lyrics, and listen to his bluesy soulful voice, all 4 octaves.  He simply has the best voice of his generation, and arguably all time. Rest in peace, Chris: “No one sings like you anymore.”

*

Hello don’t you know me
I’m the dirt beneath your feet
The most important fool you forgot to see
I’ve seen how you give it
Now I want you to receive
I’m sure that you would do the same for me

‘Cause I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom

I know I’m headed for the bottom
But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah, I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding, yeah

For all of your kisses turned to spit in my face
For all that reminds me which is my place
For all of the times when you made me disappear
This time I’m sure you will know that I’m here

‘Cause I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way
Riding, riding all the way

My place was beneath you but now I am above
And now I send you a message of love
A simple reminder of what you won’t see
A future so holy without me

I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the bottom
I know I’m headed for the

But I’m riding you all the way
Yeah I’m riding you all the way
I’m riding you all the way

Oh I’m riding you, yes I’m riding you
Oh I’m riding you, yes I’m riding you
Oh I’m riding you all the way

~ Chris Cornell, “Mailman” on the album Superunknown by Soundgarden, 1994

 

Free Me ~ Haiku


 

Choking hazy smoke

Another red sun looming

Free me on sailed sea

 

~ Emily C.

7.6.17

 

***

Day 6:  Smoke is still here. I can smell it in the house when I opened the bedroom door this morning to the hall where it’s an obvious contrast. But, then sitting in the house, one acclimates to it.

I have been running HEPA air purifiers with brand new filters round the clock, and have only opened the doors briefly in morning or night to let the cool air in for a bit. And even THAT has been enough to make it smell smokey in here. Check out my filter picture, the one on the left was new on Thursday. The one on the right is unused. Look at all that dirt caught in only 3 days. Crazy! Glad its in there and not my lungs, but I do feel it a bit anyway.

The first two pics are from Sigma Shreedharan again. Yucky air makes for great art!

The third pic is mine off my back deck at sunset. We are still dealing with heat, but it’s only in the high 80s instead of high 90s now. After the 4 feet of rain we had this winter, I didn’t think I’d be desperate for a raincloud, but here we are. 🙂

Side note: my Mac’s trackpad has been causing issues and making my cursor go berserk in a scary way. So, I haven’t been able to use it and all my poetry bookmarks are on that one. I will be delayed even more in catching up on your awesome words. But, in time will be trying my best to catch up.

Also back to my vestibular therapist tomorrow. Still working my way through that, but definitely not as acute as I was. The new exercises have been a challenge for my brain on top of the environmental triggers lately with the heat and smoke. Looking forward to clean air and improved health.

Miss you all and thank you for your steadfast support.

 

Wildfire Moon

Wildfire moon, orange in night sky
witness to the burn, reflector of fire

night is a hot oven, skin melts puddles
not a fresh breath, nor window open

smoke on tongues, 
numb tingles ripple
lethargy death grip, otherworldly rogue


escape, no option, water, only hope
bunker in basement, hiding to cope


horizon designed, devoid of detail
mountains hide, water invisible

red sun sets, ruby in dead sky
hell on earth, no end in sight


~ Emily C.

8.3.17

***

Things are not good in Seattle and Vancouver and much of the northwest. Hundreds of wildfires in British Columbia have been sending smoke all over including smothering Seattle. We are also having a heat wave in the 90s to near 100 this week with no signs of letting up this coming week. This is day 3 of suffocating haze and smoke smell. It looks like a foggy Christmas Eve around here. Can’t see the city skyline, the mountains have disappeared and the streetlights look out of a dark London alley. We do not have clouds so everything in these pics are smoke. Can’t open windows because of the unhealthy air quality which means the house is ridiculously hot and muggy. Some respite in basement but it’s got moldy smell like basements do…so the choices aren’t pleasant either way. Hoping al are safe in BC. Sounds like at least a few fires have been determined arson. Terrible. The sun has been otherworldly in its redness, and he moon in its orangeness…makes for eerie pictures.

Not looking forward to the next several days.

(All pictures are mine except the red sun and ferry picture by Sigma Shreedharan.)

The haze around the Space Needle is smoke, with orange moon above


Red sun through the trees

(There is supposed to be an ocean and a huge mountain range there…)

Finale

Standing on Emerald city’s edge
rainbow curtain above my head
taking long breaths in…
I lose my balance
I have forgotten my ground
my toes grip granite in vain

your voice my invisible net
saves me from inevitable death
— your voice, oh, that voice
heard now in the call of the gull
the whisper of a sail
echoing on the wings of wind
that tickles my skin deep to spirit

swaying, I flail
failing to trust in life, in love
but there you are again
catching me at sunset
rocking me still
singing me filled

there you are one more time
catching me in song
until the stars light the sky
like clockwork revealing
your diamond soul etched high

the night won’t say goodbye
even if you are only
as tangible as rolling tide
as graspable as fleeting air
as permanent as a passing cloud
flirting at the firmament

Saved by your song,
I’ll be here all night
to witness your flight
your last soundcheck
your final finale:
behind the rainbow
you bow

the city will applaud
in the wake of the bay

forever

~ Emily C.

6.30.17

 

*Friday’s sunset in Seattle. Photography by Sigma Sreedharan Photography.