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Concrete Blonde - Scene of a Perfect Crime

My eyes are jaded and complicated,
tired of the liars and the masqueraded
Who steals our innocence away,
like a thief in the night?
Who took away our faith in what we know to be right?
That was another world, then
that was another time
You can never go back to the scene of a perfect crime.

Whatever became of the child I was
I never want to lose her no
I won't give her up
and now my heart is harder,
my skin is getting tougher and tougher
That was another world then
That was another time
You can never go back to the place where love is blind
You can never go back to the scene of a perfect crime

Whatever became of our sweet blind love
As long as we could be together it was more than enough
Now we're all grown up and we need so much
I never knew that the price would go up as such
That was another world then, then
That was another time

Well you can never go back to the place where love is blind.
Well you can never go back to the place where love is blind.
Well you can never go back to the place where love is blind.
You can never go back to the scene of a perfect crime.


Hello Livejournal!

James and I have created a Tumblr page for our Jordan trip. Feel free to join us, from pre-trip preparation to final destination!
I want to say that I am jubilant. I mean, shouldn't I be? In a Law & Order sort of way? Shouldn't I have that moment where the camera pans in on me, my family, and then sweeps out when the jury hands down the guilty verdict?

But I'm not having that moment. I'm still numb. And it's not a regular numbness; it's a numbness with lots of ripples moving beneath the surface, just like this whole 9/11 fiasco has been from the start.

I'm trying to mouth the words, "I m glad he is dead." But I can't. That doesn't mean I'm not, but the wires in my brain have been crossed for so long now that all I am capable of doing is dropping into the third person again. And I watch me, and I watch the world. And somewhere inside I am left wondering how this all happened in the way it did.

But I do have one nagging thought. They have his body. But we'll never find my father's body. Something about that is, to me, a reflection of the injustice of all of this.


For those of you not on Facebook, I was awarded a full summer scholarship to the Qasid Institute for Arabic studies in Amman, Jordan. James and I will be leaving the states on June 15 and returning on August 27.

We are very excited for this adventure!

Just checking in

Hi all! I am not posting a lot lately, but I am checking in and reading on a semi-regular basis. Big hugs to you all.

17 Days in a Chilean Mine

At the end of Jonathan Saffron Foer's masterpiece, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," you will find, instead of words, a series of pictures. I call them the falling-up pictures. You see a shot of one of the twin towers, and slowly, page after page, the body of a man in a suit falls up, and up, and up. He falls up and disappears from the picture altogether. The protagonist, my beloved Oscar, who lost his father on 9/11, finally can begin to accept and to heal because if you just look at things backwards, sometimes everything can be okay.

I remember the days of not knowing where my dad was, and all of the grand ideas that my family concocted, desperate in an attempt to locate, signify, and identify. Or basically, we just wanted to KNOW something, even if it had to be invented. My beloved Oscar from Foer's novel spent hours inventing when he could not fall asleep at night.

After 17 days - and I swear this is not an arbitrary number - we gave up hope. It took much longer to accept the not-knowingness that now colors our daily lives, and on occasion, leads to grand speculation. Sometimes, I admit, I dream that my dad is just an amnesiac somewhere. Even ten years later, I have daydreams in which he comes home. I can't help it.

So I have been asking myself lately: what is it like to learn that your dad is alive after 17 days of swearing he was dead? What if you had accepted the tragedy of a life cut short, but suddenly, your wildest dream came true?

I saw the answer in the face of that small boy whose dad emerged from the mine second. I saw the boy wait, and wait, and then I saw his face crumble and cry. I saw him hug his dad. I saw in that moment his future, a beautiful and mundane future of having a dad to tell him what to do, tell him to go ask his mother, to eat his vegetables, to be careful with the car, to get into a good college or get a good job, to take a math class, as my dad used to beg me to do when I was in college.

After 17 days, tap tap, lightning spark, you find out he is alive. Will he stay alive? Is he okay? Then food is sent down. Then even cigarettes. And, how amazing, letters go back and forth. I try to imagine what it would be like to have gotten one last letter. I try and imagine what it must have been like to write it or to receive it. I try to imagine what it is to be the wife and mother of that boy and that man.

And 69 days later, he comes home with the world watching. He hugs the president. He hugs his family. He smiles, and humbly steps off of the world stage to make way for the rest of the seemingly endless procession of men who will fall up, and up, and up.

33 dads came home in the last two days. They fell up. My dad never came home or fell up, but I got to experience what that must be like last night as I streamed the footage on my laptop. I got to experience it as I watched TV in the locker room at my gym after a long, arduous workout. I just sat there on the locker room bench and cried. I felt the strange melancholy of hope realized and deep-seeded tragedy not-quite buried in the back of my head every day.

Welcome home to all of the 33 miners who went to hell and back. I watched you fall up for thousands of feet, tick by tick, pathetic tears rolling down. I shared moments with strangers in a locker room with women I do not know because we were all, whether we like it or not, affected, amazed, and privileged to share in this moment.

Please, please, keep falling up so I can return to this footage night after night and cry. In the good way.

"Only love can leave such a mark." - Bono

Sep. 24th, 2010


Ogun at the forge
Puts a hand down and
Departs the woods.

The smell of blood in his nostrils
Reaping the harvest of
What falls at the side of his blade

Ogun leaves the forest and becomes city.

(Who is the saint of Wall and Broadway?)

He steps out into the street
And meets Chango there.


I want to reconcile what happened.

3 years pass 4 years pass
and we are left, here, to languish
in endless hours

we bury the dead or at least we try
we rest our hands and wash them

(blood, soil and iron, upon them)

Ogun left the forge and met Chango there.


If we could have seen blade on blade
Or understood the force
And the flame, if we
Could have opened our eyes as the santeros did

(amulets lifted rosary to lips kissed we wanted to witness)

oludumare cannot explain it so we
seek inside ourselves, we project,

take to the city
we must learn to comprehend.

pulling meaning from misery
purity from the putrid
compassion from the chaos

Ogun left the forge and met Chango there.


applied perception will grant you clarity.
we construct our own worlds
from the perceptions we make.

(I don a skirt of palms,
Machete in my hand)

Take to the city.

Bare feet upon pavement,
Ahead through the smoke

Anvil lies silent in the trees
Fire smoldering charcoals cooling
The forge is quiet.

Take to the city.

Ogun left the forest
And met Chango there.

9/11/10 - A View from the Land of Backwards

Everything just feels backwards right now. In fact, our entire country seems to have regressed, lapsing into a state of fear and suspicion. The economy is in shambles, foreclosures are happening every day, and I feel like there is no end in sight. There is a certain sense of hopelessness and despair in our daily lives, and frankly it’s getting too heavy for all of us to carry.

Is there a way that we can set down the weight of the last nine years, even if just for a little while? Can we stop and rest for a moment, finding solidarity, peace, and community in the face of imminent downward spirals?

I thought, personally, that I would find this respite at Burning Man. After all, I had wanted to go since at least 2003. I anticipated that there, out in the desert, I would find something magical, something beyond what I have in my daily life, something ethereal or transformative. Sadly, that was not the case. I did find community within the confines of my camp and the few friends that I knew were scattered all over the playa. But as a whole? It just felt like another place where people go to escape their “reality,” a place to burn off steam and escape drudgery. My own boundaries were violated by the constant stream of people who disregarded one another’s experience in favor of their own spring-breakish behaviors. Of course, it was not everyone. Many people were out there making and appreciating art, sharing all that they had, and milking every last drop of beauty out of their experience. In the end, though, we left before they burned the man.

I did not find peace in the desert. I did not set my sorrows down by the proverbial riverside and experience wild and untainted release. Instead, I longed for home, in some moments crying as I stood there looking off into the perfect desert sky. I felt like I had failed myself because I could not make this experience into something redeemable. I felt like I didn’t belong. But how I love my home...

And back here on the ranch that is the rest of the United States, people are fighting like tomcats protecting their territory. Everyone thinks that they have it right and that the other side is full of shit. Everyone has their mind made up about what is right and who is wrong and damn, are people angry. They take their anger out on immigrants, or on Christians, or on Glen Beck, or on Muslims, or on President Obama. There is always someone to point a finger at.

Meanwhile I still feel lost. I’m standing in the middle of a very strange playing field.

This last year, I have watched my academic dreams crash and burn, at least temporarily. It’s not unredeemable, but damn if I am not worse for the wear. I have also re-gained forty pounds, which for me has been like hoisting a bag of rocks over my shoulder and dragging them around, physically and emotionally. This year has been so full of dark moments that have punctuated my tiny tiki-paradise.

I feel so heavy, body and soul.

Nine years and counting, dad. Nine years since you vanished without a trace and these damn wounds aren’t closing. I have long since accepted that they are never going to, but I swear it is so hard to deal with my other wounds when there is this gash across my heart that haunts me every day.

I feel like I am operating backwards, regressing back toward 9-11, just like the rest of this country. With each pound gained, I can point out yet another incident of someone doing something terrible to Muslim-Americans.

If anyone burns a Qur’an, I am going to punch them in the face.

Or how about this – I will sit down with them and read it with them, doing my best to make clear this book that has so many people acting like tomcats. I will tell them about the radical Saudi clerics who cherry pick verses and turn them into darts full of hate. I will tell them that the vast majority of Muslims do not know Qur’anic Arabic, and are therefore dependent on translations and the scholars that do know it. I will tell them about the small number of men who are content in their positions of power and who use this book to keep themselves wealthy and fed while their fellow Muslims live in raging poverty.

Pakistan is flooding and yet we pay more attention to some idiot cleric who is convinced that women should be wearing a specific garment?

The more time we spend bickering about the placement of a Muslim house of prayer, the more we are missing the point. The more time we spend paying attention to Terry Jones, the idiot pastor from my former state, the more we have failed ourselves. Let’s take a lesson from my dear friend, Syed, who I think might just save the world.

“Outside of geo-political concerns, Muslims should not even raise an eyebrow about the burning of the Qur'an. Its presence is not with ink and paper. It exists because of its presence in hearts, minds and souls.”

So how do we stop moving backwards? How do I stop moving backwards?

I’ll find my own way to figure out what to do with these 40 pounds. But for the rest of it? I’m going to continue to do what my father would have done. He loved this country and he cherished his freedom. He valued the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States and made a better life for his family without taking advantage of anyone. He worked hard and had, as my mom puts it, simple needs. He made his own way, moving forward always.

I miss you dad. Help me move forward.

Jun. 5th, 2010

Rest in Peace, Lee Michael Desmond.
I hope you find peace, finally, wherever you are.

I'll never forget you.

Mar. 12th, 2010

Toni Morrison, you always remind me that I am something, that I am a woman, I am.


Zen Debris Girl
Lazy stormsongs wind through the night
Zen Debris

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