Breaking the shopping twitch: Maybe things really are different now

Tonight, I wandered into a giant Forever 21. I was by myself, talking long-distance with my dad through my earbuds. We were deep into one of our political conversations. It’s a rousing game of word tennis that we play — an amicable exchange. I love this about my relationship with my dad.

I had been wandering along Southern California Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage when he called me. Equipped with my Sony camera and a bottle of water, I intended to enjoy the California sunshine for as long as possible this evening. Near the end of our chat, the sun had fallen behind the San Jacinto mountains, and a big glass box emblazoned with FOREVER21 beckoned me.

As I wandered inside, the raucous music of the younger retail stores was blocked out by our conversation. I felt strangely calm, periodically assessing something for its feasibility (and often shaking my head at the impracticality of so many items).

A beautiful thing happened: the typical thrill of shopping was absent. I often feel a certain thirsty zeal when I’m in a retail environment. My eyes gobble up the array of fabrics and patterns and options — simultaneously energized and overwhelmed. I’m drawn in by all the potential people I can be. A bohemian? A little retro glam? Perfectly girly in a frilly top? Maybe sporty spice in this raglan shirt?

I am not just looking for clothing, I’m looking for myself. My identity. I’m looking for ways to transform, become a better version of myself.

Or at least, I was. Maybe things really are different now. I certainly hope so.


Here’s Ranchito Conchito. Say it out loud, it’s fun!

Dad said goodnight; it was late in Pennsylvania. My earbuds defaulted to the Jerry Paper song that had been playing before he called me. How pleasant to continue ignoring the overbearing bass of Forever’s soundtrack. How pleasant to ignore the allure of new clothing.

Walking back to my hotel, I stopped at Five Guys for a cheeseburger with all the fixins’. I toggled through the photos I had taken on my Sony of Ranchito Conchito (a tiny stone house that happens to be the oldest in Rancho Mirage). I felt strangely peaceful.


Spring me forward

What I didn’t understand
when I first woke up
was that by nearly 7 o’clock
I would be running hard on
the treadmill, peering out
onto a translucent blue sky
peppered with puffy clouds
Blue sky
Not black! Not black
like the winter sky, trapping
everyone in tarps by a
measly 5 o’clock.
That dusty blue sky, and
a peculiar gent sitting
right outside, braiding
some long, purple grass
to sell as a rose at the
gas station.
People do not enjoy
crafts outdoors in
the winter. This
was a spring night.
A gentle reminder
of happier times,
when the outdoors
is kind.
Okay, please.
me forward.


The hallucinator sees
the contents of their mind

spread out before them,
like dusty old knickknacks

brought up from the basement
and strewn out in the front yard.

Their minds become a

They look at their life
and see themselves
as a miracle.

An accidental poem by this article in The Atlantic.


Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle 


This great love:
it bursts into bloom,
it grows to fit any

All of the particulars
change: city, age, job,
even friends.

We’ve been to the bottom
of ourselves (and each other).
We’ve been frustrated,
frightened. And yet,
we have wandered out
of the darkest crevasses

It’s magic.

Golden Gardens, Seattle