Sunrise from Jersey City

March 14, 2021By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in January 2019. Jersey City, NJ.

I didn’t think very much. I just reviewed my list from a year and 8 months ago and figured it was valid. I got to this park that is supposedly great for sunrise… except when the PATH got me to Newport, I looked on the map, and saw that the route was taking me through a mall and over light rail tracks. It felt like I was going to grandmother’s house.

I arrived to this “recommended sunrise spot,” and it was just a small city park surrounded by brick buildings. I then noticed one street that opened up to the east and tried to imagine the light coming in through this NE roadway and hitting the surrounding buildings with a golden hue. The problem was that there was a building directly where we might see the sunrise and full cloud coverage. 

I had two choices: either stay here and find the beauty in this small park mostly covered in shadow, and have to wait 45 minutes at-minimum to notice the light changing, or, I knew the river faces east, and I’m a mile and a half away from it. But the sun rises in six minutes. I’d miss its initial ascent even with a Lyft. So stay, make the most of it, or go to a place that is closer to what I want, and potentially not get what I want anyways.

To stay or to go. This has been a ponderance for the last few months.

Sometimes the answer is obvious, like, when I was given the opportunity to stay in NYC for an extra six days. But with this, and with other things, it’s often not a matter of do I want what’s better, but can I actually have  it?

I’ve been saying no a lot lately. And it’s strange that every time I say it, I turn myself on a little bit more. It’s also made it easier to hear that word. There’s something in my body that wants to stay untouched. It wants time to rid itself of the past. I tend to merge with others so easily that they never forget what it was like: me touching them.

I realize that my touch is a gift. My passion is astral. It is felt and experienced beyond the body. Giving this gift binds me to another – I can feel the other persons’ intentions, desires, thoughts… the hard part is, they don’t always want me when they have me, and I can feel that, too. They can’t always experience what I’m giving in the moment, because they don’t always know what they want. This confusion feeds into me: when I wasn’t doubting before, I have now taken on theirs. So “no,” and “go” are the answers for now!

I’m being highly selective; so far no one has made it through my filters. I’d rather be a few minutes late on the sun rising than stay some place I don’t want to be, that keeps me in the dark. I was rewarded for this, this morning. As the space in the clouds that let the rays in was about 20 minutes above the horizon. 

I know what I want. I want to smell the ocean, I want to be staying still with my tripod, as the morning commuters race past me. I hope I’m reminding them to look over the water every now and then. To not take for granted the view that people like myself would make a special trip for. When I find my person who I feel safe letting in, I won’t forget how rare it is. I will look at them every day with the same sense of awe that a tourist views the Manhattan skyline. I will remember that healthy love hasn’t ever been a normal occurrence for me. I will remember how hard I’ve worked to get to a place where I love myself enough to say “no” this much. Where I appreciate my vulnerability enough to be more selective. Where I honor the power of my touch enough that it is treated as the gift that it is.

I will not give this precious energy to just anyone. This energy has shit to accomplish. This energy will stay focused and stay on task. I’m feeling myself right now and it feels sensitive.

I’m allowing life to happen as I experience the flow of it. I let the river pull me downstream and I stop fighting the current. I’m ready and tapped in. I go where the Hudson River wants to take me. I follow my bliss, even if it’s a little late, because never really is.

Sunrise from Marina and Craig’s

March 10, 2021By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in January 2019. Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York.

Put the phone down. Put your computer away. Focusing on him won’t change the fact that he’s gone. Thinking so hard about whether or not he’s thinking of you won’t suddenly make him think of you again. How many weeks of  processing, spontaneously crying on the sidewalk and playing detective is it going to take to understand that he’s just not coming back? Will knowing anything more actually help? Should I reach for that phone and search for the answers some more?

The answers are in the silence. The darkness you’re sifting through tells you everything you needed to know. Look at reality. He hasn’t called He hasn’t text. He hasn’t made any efforts to help you understand; because even he doesn’t understand. And you’ve seen this before. He will sit on his hands and say there’s nothing he can do. He will fill his cup with Monster Zero calorie so he can plow through projects and work but stay dehydrated – never getting the nutrition his body needs – depleting himself and then telling the world around him that he can’t do what needs to be done. He can’t take on a new form and purge his past because he’s “just” too busy. He doesn’t see that if he just stepped aside and dropped the baggage, mailed some of it back and burned the rest, that he could move forward faster without all that extra sugar.

And universe – haven’t I done enough suffering already? Hasn’t it been hard enough, long enough – can’t I just enjoy love already?

The sunrise says back to me,

“This suffering is of your own making. Am I responsible for you checking your phone, looking for answers that you know will never satisfy you and dwelling on a person that through action has shown you that they don’t want you in their lives? You are not in the dark about anything. I’ve shined light on it all. I’ve shined light on his absence, his silence and his not being there when you needed him most. Isn’t that enough for you? Don’t you know that you know that you deserve better? Don’t you know how strong you are?

You have woken up every day for nearly two years and asked yourself how you can do better. How you can strengthen your body, your mind and your spirit. I have watched you run miles under my direct light, through tears, heartache and headaches. I have seen you watch me and appreciate me by getting up to watch me rise, to allow us to have conversations about life.

I have seen you on a hilltop watching me go away and you never cling to me. You never mourn, you appreciate the goodnight and the remnants of blue I leave after. Because you know I will always return to you. Whether or not you’ve made mistakes, whether or not you meditated that day. Whether or not you’re on your mountain. I will keep coming back because that is what is in my nature. I see you. I see all of you – and I can tell you – you deserve someone who sees you like I do and who will keep coming back. You deserve someone who will love you like I do. Like the sun does.”

Sunrise Through the Rochester Trees

March 5, 2021By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in January 2019; Rochester, NY.

There was neon orange. I could tell what the sunrise would look like from another vantage, from some rich person’s home, probably. Why build on this hill and then surround the hill with trees, blocking the view? How much of a terrible human am I to be asking that? These trees are massive. They’ve been around and came about before a selfish decision to cut them down for the sake of a view could be considered. And a view of what, exactly? Buildings protecting humans from weather that would otherwise kill them. There are people out there now that are dying on the sidewalks. Someone told me that they actually count the homeless up here. Is it even possible to do so in LA? When I was working for a homeless youth care shelter, I learned that a third of the homeless in LA are underage: mostly runaways. I think that’s the difference between up here and down there.

In SoCal, people are running away from the bad weather, their broken homes, their dangerous country, harsh criticism, illegal weed and anyone telling them they have to be something or a certain way. Up here, in the northeast, people stick it out, almost stubbornly so. It’s cold? Put on another layer. Had a fight with your family or spouse? Go to the pub. Don’t like what someone said to you? Ask yourself why you don’t like it, try to apply that lesson. Or just tell them why they’re wrong and move on with your day. Someone suggests maybe you’re going down the wrong path? Find new friends, or hey, maybe they’re right. Deal with it by smoking illegal pot and just pick out the seeds.
So where’s the balance? 

I get it. I get asking yourself, “Does it actually have to be this hard? Couldn’t we just go somewhere where these conditions aren’t so prevalent? Where the culture accepts fluidity and Peter Pan syndrome and acts as a beacon for lost boys who want to stay young forever?” But do you actually want to die young? Years on you but, never having grown up? Never having evolved? Never having faced the things the people in our path reflect back at us, and coming to grit decisions about who we are and why we chose to come to that conclusion? Every time I come back here, I always hope the spirit of the northeast rubs off on me in this way; so that I can enact this in a place that doesn’t cause my fingers and toes to lose their mobility. If your appendages don’t work, you lose your balance. I need them to work. I need the bite of the cold to wake me up sometimes and show me my strength. But I need for blood to still circulate to my hands and my feet, so I can stand in tree pose and not fall over. So I can grind up against a potential new lover in a goth club. So I can walk around my neighborhood as the sun sets, staring at the pink in gratitude of the bookends we receive every day. So I can improve my chaturanga. So I can run my hands through someone else’s hair. So I can take these photos. So I can write these words. 

Sunrise off of McDonald Road

February 23, 2021By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken + words written January 2019; Town of Onondaga, New York.

It’s negative one degree’s out.
I don’t know why I thought, even the few minutes I’d be out here,
I could handle this with kid gloves on.
My chest feels tight; I was holding my breath.
It’s hard to stay present when the temperature is killing you.

I read yesterday that all that is not “matter”
Is nothingness;  and in that nothingness
We can connect with the unmanifested.
That is to say, by paying attention to the 
Space between things, between walls, between us and them,
We can find our soul.
But an hour later I was in a sauna wondering,
“What about temperature? What about oxygen and carbon monoxide?” 
What about the very things that allow us to BE
In these bodies as manifested in solid matter?
Are these nothingness? We can’t see the space
Between these molecules, because we can’t see the molecules.
Therefore, if space is the portal into the unknown, 
and matter we can see represents the known
What about the known matter, that we cannot see?

I know I am sad and scared and nervous to get back to Los Angeles,
Yet I cannot see these emotions. Perhaps
They are just chemical: a physical
manifestation that my soul wanted to experience
Through the sensitivity of humanness.
I try to trust that this is what is supposed to happen.
That I signed some contract many lifetimes back
That would hex me against technology and lovers where I
Would in turn get so used to it that I would
Hex myself. So what I’m still trying to figure out is,
Am I meant to somehow fight against all this?
Claim that I deserve better,
It doesn’t have to be this way,
Break my back to overcome every obstacle
And actualize my life into one that my soul and ego were proud of?
Or do I surrender into what is? Surrender that 
Maybe I won’t ever get married or have a family
Maybe I will have to move back home
Maybe I’ve made my family’s life worse by being in it,
I keep seeing myself make mistake after mistake.
I try to do better, yet the resistance is powerful.
I try to overcome every self-destructive tendency
Until pleasure wants to take over and
Just run the show.

He was going through this same battle. 
He surrendered.
I was still fighting. I am
Still fighting.
But I no longer blame him
For breaking our contract. 

Sunrise Over Denver

February 16, 2021By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and poem written in November 2018. Denver, CO.

Thumping to a count of 10
My heart pitters then jumps
It’s often overwhelming
When I look outside in Denver.

The crisp of the air, not killing me,
But chilling me. Strengthening 
My ability to handle the changes.
For if I’m braced for winter, I can
Handle any weather.

If you don’t like what’s happening
Wait. It will change. It has to. I 
Used to relish this knowledge:
Knowing if I didn’t like where I was
I would never stay there.

What about now when I don’t want
To go anywhere? When the changes are
Rapid but I don’t want to go on tonight’s
Plane? What if I wanted to slow down
The pace of the day, so I could 
Spend more moments in pure

Every day taken off, hand held, sacrifice,
Gas pump, Late-to-bed followed by
Early-to-rise… every time I said something 
Fear-based that was met with understanding.
Every little action that adds up to love
In action. I’m seeing it. I’m feeling it.
I’m trying to believe it and want it to stick
Around to see if it stays.

I don’t want to stray; I’m just scared of
What will happen in this city without
My influence. What will happen when
I’m in a position that requires faith?
My heart is thawing. I’m melting in
Wonder. I give myself over to the
Unknown. I give myself over and let go.

Sunrise Over Grassfish at Mendocino Magic

July 11, 2019By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in July 2018. Mendocino, CA.

Pulling my left then my right lids down.
I can’t vouch for my creativity when I can’t see the lines I’m writing between.
Feet out, lean back,
The sun will crest over eventually. Let it be your alarm clock.
Nature had a different tone. When you get the call you have to go.
From bronze to gold to bright, bright green. It’s all relative and irrelevant.
When you plan to cheat,
Take the work, less healing
When the sun is further
In the sky.

These are extreme conditions.
Big love, four nights, one tent.
Seventy-five burners. I know no
One. Social stamina muscle
Is built, voice is broken.

It feels so good to listen,
Especially since everyone
Has had a wild ride
So far.

The Art of Not Giving a Fuck employed.
Grab that tambourine, feel the beat, or miss it, pick it back up again.
The point is to have fun trying.
To show people that you’re not afraid of your ego dying. Make a big mess of yourself now. No better time to let those fucks go. No one can do you like you can – and it’s needed here and hey – it’s needed everywhere.

The more you try to fit your gifts to what you think other people want, the further away you get from doing just that.
Yourself is what’s needed.
Sing a song and trail to a tangent then click away knowing that you can take the shifts and changes within and without you and it is always going to be needed, whatever your gifts so happen to be.

Sunrise at One Love Fest

February 9, 2019By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in October 2017. One Love Fest, CA.

I wish I was a bird
Their mating rituals are so simple
And with my love song
I’d know damn well when
He was calling on another.

Love the people in these photos
But everyone wants a perfect time
Let’s stop teaching the myth of “ready”
And instead replace it,
With the reality of choice.

My necklace that contains
Sodalite for self-love
Rose quartz for unconditional love
And amethyst for healing
Went missing last night.
But my bet is my stones’ called on another
Cause for me they’d done all they could do.

I listened to myself.
My body, my need
For boundaries.
I’m not ready for a good time.
I’m ready for a real time, or a nap
Whichever comes first.
It’s been one real of a week.
I put sparkles on my cheeks and
Cat ears on my head.
To feel like my life
Was some time else.

Either in the past where
My trust was still
As low pressure
As my playa tires
Or the future where
I love myself so
Much, that I
Listen to myself
And give me what
I need against peace.

Sunrise at my Audition in the LES

October 26, 2018By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in October 2017. New York, NY.

I didn’t get picked again.
He didn’t even touch my hair.
Doesn’t he know that it’s virgin hair??
Not picked, rejected, the idiots.
Idiots! Sounds familiar.

If he had only touched it he would have known.
I look at their choices and feel pity
for their stupidity that who they are
looking for is me. I am that girl.
I have that thick, luscious hair, with
High cheek bones, eyes that will
kill you with their stare; I am Medusa
Look at me and risk your life.
You don’t know what you want
You don’t know what you want
You don’t know what you want
Look at me: I will hold
you with my hair, I will encapsulate
Everything that thrills you and terrifies
you with one stare.

I’m every girl you ever wanted in one.
Why is it taking so long for someone
to figure this out? I can chill with you
on your couch, then fuck you in your car.
I look good on your arm and get your weird
humor. You can say weird shit like “I
want to chew up your eyeballs and spit them
out” and I will get it and love you for it.
Your desire for me scares you because it
has taken you over. You don’t know if there’s
room for anything else. You know I’m the
end. You know this is a mudslide.
You don’t want me to hold you because
you know once you succomb to me
your will is useless. It’s over. The rest
of your life is in my hands. Idiot!

I never gave myself that power only you.
You will hunt for the forbidden fruit
only to look back years from now, see that
I’ve hardly aged, I’m exceeding you in our
Careers and that I’m ridiculously happy
without you.
You will feel sorry; you will realize how stupid you
were. You were realize you were such a
goddamn idiot for not even trying,
not even touching my… hair. Not even
seeing what could be possible with this
beauty, this body, this mind, these eyes,
these arms, these hands, this heart, this smile.
Coward. Step out of your own way and stop looking.
I’m right here. Focus now, readjust that focal length.
You need a more shallow depth of field because I’m
RIGHT HERE. Stop looking. You’ve found it.
Don’t be an idiot.

Sunrise at Woodlawn Cemetery

October 9, 2018By Focal NomadBLOG, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken and words written in October 2017. Syracuse, NY.

I chickened out two mornings ago making the excuse about cloud coverage. I was really afraid of the legends that this place was haunted. Would my camera be blown away? Would I see a dark shadow that I could not erase from memory?

My grandmother always used to say “don’t be afraid of the dead, be afraid of the living.” So I pushed forward through the dark and deserted roads, that, I wasn’t even sure if I was supposed to be driving on. The office light was on but it was closed. I parked, and took my bridesmaid’s bouquet with me in case I stumbled upon her.

“Lucile?” I called out.

I walked up the east side, grateful that the nimbus had lifted just enough to see some orange. The wind blew me towards her; I knew I was close. My memory of what it was, was that it was flat, barren. I felt like she might like to be buried next to where the sun would rise. I thought about how maybe we were both looking at it together.

I moved on. I found Batman on top of one, “Live a little” on another: both too young to wonder whether it was worth it. I thought I heard bells ringing. I wondered who was buried that was waking from their slumber. Wind chimes. “Isn’t that a bit misleading?” I thought. I always believed that I wanted to be buried, not embalmed, with a bell – because I’m stubborn as hell and will always try to get the last word in.

The leaves lost their crunch in last nights rain. One was floating and I only assumed by an invisible web. I took in the autumn serenity as my toes began to freeze. The office would be open soon – and I could find her. Distracted in my thoughts I wandered in zigzags. With every hundred persons deceased I passed I learned something: everyone here was a hero to someone. Their tombstone gifts said it all. A firefighter, a coach, a mother, a solder. Some marked many generations after their existence. I could live with that reputation.

Two visitors, separate of each other, told me to go back to the east side because there was a whole family of foxes. I didn’t see a one. I saw some squirrels, and then I remembered that face that called me one, and that he was a fox, my fox. I then remembered my grandmother’s words again and realized I wasn’t afraid of dying. I was afraid of dying with out ever knowing true, lasting love.

Inside the office, I learned where she was buried – it was right where the wind was taking me, yet when I saw it, was completely different from last time. Bushes were planted, a mausoleum nearby, and a tall marker for her and now her husband, Edward. Once I saw her name I collapsed. “I love you.” I said. Memories of my mentor flooding through but mostly just her voice saying sweetly “Amanda, my Amanda.” I was angry with myself for not calling sooner, for not keeping up, for having the intention to organize her files as a gift to her but not having actually done so.

Six months before she passed she said she’d like me to call her anytime. She’d like to be a mentor to me. I was heartbroken then, too. “Find someone who loves you just a little more than you love him or her,” she would tell me. I have yet to find that. Lucille was my coach, she taught me how to feel fully. She made me realize how special I was when all the kids would just call me weird. I wanted for some words of wisdom to pass through the wind – in lieu of words I got heartache. Heartache at the loss, the loneliness and wishing someone could just tell me what to do.

Through the characters she helped me portray, advice, words I wrote, the bullies she helped me have compassion for, a word came to mind: resiliency. Do it. Don’t over think it. Love fully, love until your heart bursts. Follow-through. Life is too short to not try, to not feel, to not give, to not love. As I was pulling away I heard it. “I’ll always be here for you.” So maybe with that, I have found true love.

Sunrise from Flight 24

December 8, 2017By Focal NomadPOETRY, SUNRISE SERIES

Photos taken (on my iPhone) and words written in October 2017. LAX to SYR.

I thought we weren’t going to see it.
I was sure the light would hit the pilots
Eyes and we would just get a magnificent
Casting of orange over the mountains of
Clouds. But sometimes when we think
We’re only being given a glimmer
The skies surprise us.

Facing just east enough to catch it in
The top left corner of my oval window
I feel a rush. Bright, neon orange crescent
Peaking over peaks and valleys of clouds.
I almost forgot to shoot this one, hence,
The iPhone. My smart device doesn’t really
Do it justice but I’m proud of myself for
Showing up. Most often, that’s what counts.

I’m exhausted and can’t figure out how to
Sleep. My heart is finally back in its chest again
Because it took getting up here to find it again
As for the past week I’ve been bathing in the
Sunsets I’ve shared and remembering them
In the reflection of these icey blue eyes
Eyes that sat above lips that were always primed
To be kissing mine. I found my heart –
And my head – again; back in these clouds.

I look forward to crimson and rusted leaves
Biting into tart and sweet Empire apples
Drinking cinnamon-spiced hot apple cider
Wrapping myself into a long navy blue dress
And standing there in the family dirt surrounded
By my favorite senses, alongside my whole family
to wish my sister and her husband a life as
full as my heart. The only other person in my
life to know what it’s like to pick the biggest
apple at the top, to have dad carrying 2 massive
bags down the hill, to not be able to have just
one fried apple fritter. To know that
some days the apples are too sour, sometimes
we can’t get to the top, sometimes it’s muddy
but we’ll always find each other connected by
our traditions, and our showing up for them,
and that, is love.