Category Archives: Past

Love (Found & Lost) Along the Road

So, the context provided in the entry before this one should explain that I’d followed love to a strange set of life-decisions. After having planned for over a year to move from Boston to Los Angeles, I finally did, and a year later I left to drive haphazardly across the country. Because of a Boy. Seriously, read that damn entry first.

So I left Los Angeles on June 3rd. It was very hard to do. My stuff was in storage, my birds were in their travel cage, there was less money in my bank account than I’d hoped, and I was very, very, nervous. I had just moved to LA a year before. I’d been so excited to start my life there. I kept looking at my favorite restaurants, favorite haunts, thinking to myself that I’d be back in two months, that I’d just settle right back in, hopefully bringing the Boy back with me.

The only way I was able to leave was by reminding myself I’d be back soon. Reminding myself that I had an adventure to go on, and that I’d be home again before I knew it. That the time would fly by.

So I drove to Las Vegas. I checked into my hotel room at The Artisan, a hotel I’d stayed at many times before and have stayed at many times since. I spent the next two weeks working – booking tables, selling bottles, hosting parties, Go-Go dancing, bar-tending private parties, gambling even, all cash and quick. The plan was to make as much money as I could fast, and to head East.

A few days before my expected leaving date, I met Ghost. Ghost has a real name, but I don’t feel like using it, as few people know it and by keeping it close I feel it makes him still belong to me in some way, even though I’m giving away this story.  Continue reading Love (Found & Lost) Along the Road

The Context (Leading up to the Summer of 2011)

Two years ago, I was in a very different space. So different, in fact, that I can barely recall it, so I flip through journals and pictures and try to reassemble the jumble of memories. I loved a Boy who lived 2,000 miles away from me, and I struggle to remember why. I try to remember kisses and adventures on chemicals in a forest land in upstate New York where we found one another among the clutter of New Age festival wildness.

Two years ago, I packed my life up and drove across the country for three months. That’s the story I’ve been wanting to tell, but before I do, I have to explain why I did, which is a story in and of itself. So there are few entries to read, and they’re autobiographical nonsense of a girl in her early 20s who seems to make a lot of life-altering decisions for boys. But these experiences, for all that they twist me around and make me run off on crazy paths in alternate directions, they’ve really shaped who I happen to be.

So, I guess we’ll back up to July of 2010, when I flew from my home in Los Angeles to New York for an annual hippie festival I’d been attending for years. It was already set to be a wild adventure – I flew out with clothing, a sleeping bag and a pillow, but no tent. I had no room for one in my baggage and decided I knew so many people at the festival that I would find someone to let me share their tent. It was a crazy idea, I’ll admit, but I love those kinds of situations. I have always made the best of not knowing what comes next, and Brushwood is a real home for me, filled with friends of my parents, friends of mine, former lovers, and lovers yet to be discovered. Continue reading The Context (Leading up to the Summer of 2011)

My Socrates

On March 23rd, 2009, a great man passed away. I meant to post this on the anniversary of his death, but I’m off by a few days. I have recently been talking more about him, as he inspired one of my tattoos (that story is for another entry someday).

This is what I wrote, the day of his funeral.

I was a student at Manchester Community College from June 2002 until May 2005. One of my very first classes was Critical Thinking with Eugene Rice, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30-11am. I was 14, he was 72. Our connection was dynamic – we were both full of questions and answers. I developed my questions through rebellion and discovered my answers through speculation, and presented both arrogantly. He achieved both through experience and trial and error, and presented both in various fashions, from elegance to antagonism.

What we had in common was a desire for thorough knowledge, and an antagonistic spirit to achieve said knowledge.

He hated the word “teacher” he told us, one class, due to his belief that it implies indoctrination, preferring to refer to himself as a “mid-wife”. Knowledge was already inside us, you see, and he was simply there to assist with the birth of it.  Continue reading My Socrates

Autumnal Equinox

I feel like an awkward conversation between two people is about to occur – why? Because I’m going to talk about the weather now.

The Autumnal Equinox happened this weekend. One of two days of the year where the day is the same length as the night: this one marks the coming of winter.

It’s funny though, to think about the seasons changing. I grew up in New England, and one of the perks of our location, my mother always told me, was “four distinctive seasons”. We had a cold, snowy, icy winter followed by a rainy and warming spring full of green, turning to a hot, humid, sunny summer and finally a crisp, cooling, leaf-turning autumn. In retrospect, it was picturesque, and I recall hoping for snow on Christmas day, loving the color of the leaves of autumn on my birthday. I remember the hot days and begging to go to the city pool in the summer, and the first hints of springtime, when the snow finally stopped and my mother’s garden would begin to green.

When I prepared to move to Los Angeles from Boston, I was looking forward to leaving the cold of winter and the humidity of summer behind. Everyone was always telling me it was 70° (fahrenheit) and sunny every day in West LA and oh, I couldn’t wait. Continue reading Autumnal Equinox

The Five Year Plan

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” he asked me.

I had thought this was a date, perhaps, and then it started to feel like a job interview. I sipped my glass of wine and gave a number of cheeky answers followed by a few of the five-year ideas that spin around in my head. I added more to the answer a few hours later.

I get asked variations of this question often recently, and my answers are usually in the same direction every time, but they’re not concrete. Still, since he asked me I’ve started to ponder it seriously.

As he said later, “one cannot think about one’s five year plan too often”.

See, I used to know exactly what I wanted. Granted, teenagers think they know everything – but I really did have some five year plans in mind.

I was fourteen the day I started college and when people asked me what I wanted to do, I told them I wanted to study law and politics and run for state representative four years down the road. I wanted to move up through New Hampshire politics all the way to Governor, where I’d facilitate the great libertarian experiment – the Free State Project.

I wanted to make a difference, you see, and I was an idealist. Continue reading The Five Year Plan

Poetry of the Past – Snippet

Apocalypse Snippet

a burning bush
told me to seek higher ground
to build a boat and float around
for forty days and forty nights
of mighty rain and wind and dark
but there’s no wood for this ark
all the trees have been cut stark
made into paper for a billion Bibles
when all God needed to do was smile
and tell us one word from above: Love

Avens O’Brien, May 2006

I Wasn’t There

Today is September 11, 2011.  Ten years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

I could use this anniversary to talk about how our country came together in the months following the attacks.  I could tell you my perspective on how our politicians did and continue to capitalize on the public’s fear of further attacks.  I could tell you about what I perceive as foreign and domestic policy mishaps prior to and after the attacks, about blowback and wars of concept.  I could tell you that a few months ago we learned that the mastermind behind these attacks met his end at the hands of our Navy Seals.  But those things happened after, and I want to talk about that day, and this one.

I could tell you where I was when it happened.  I could ask you where you were.  But the significance of September 11, 2001 isn’t about you or me.  I can tell you where we weren’t.

Neither of us were one of the nineteen hijackers.

We were not one of the 246 passengers or crew aboard United 93, United 175, American 11 or American 77.

We were not one of the 411 first responding personnel of the FDNY, NYPD, Port Authority Police Department, EMTs or paramedics who died trying to rescue people or fight fires.

We were not one of the 658 employees at Cantor Fitzgerald, nor were we among the 358 employees of March Inc. or the 175 employees of Aon Corporation, all of whom where trapped above the point of impact and had no chance of escape.

In fact, we weren’t one of the 1,355 people in the North Tower at or above point of impact.  We weren’t one of the 107 below who didn’t make it.

We weren’t one of the 630 people in the South Tower, which thankfully had begun evacuating after the North Tower was hit.

We weren’t one of the 125 people killed at the Pentagon, 55 of whom were military personnel.

We weren’t one of the 2,977 innocent people who died that day as a result of this terrorist attack.

I wasn’t there.  I was safe.  I was alive.  I am safe.  I am alive.  I hope you are safe.  If you’re reading this, you are alive.

We are alive.  We’ve been able to process, come to terms with, place blame for, respond, and capitalize on a shared moment in time in which many were murdered – and we live on.

It’s September 11, 2011.  Ten years ago today, nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial airline jets, two of which forever changed the skyline of one of America’s most beloved cities.

Today is just another day that we are still alive.

I’m appreciative of that fact.  Please, use today to appreciate that fact.

The Birds

I have two small parrots in the passenger seat of my car for this trip across the country.  When I tell people that, they tend to look at me like I’m crazy.  Where will I keep them when I stop on the trip?  Aren’t they loud?  Won’t they fly away? Who the hell brings two parrots on a cross-country drive?

A bird-mama does.

I have given up custody of these dear children of mine once since I’ve had them.  A painful nine months where I simply could not have them due to my housing situation.  It was hard.  I didn’t see them the entire time because I didn’t want to feel guilty saying good-bye every time.  They were in good, capable hands.

Since I got them back – fourteen days has been my limit.  The longest I will tolerate being away from them.

When I was a kid, I wanted a pet, and my mother told me I was allergic to cats and dogs (not true, different story).  So we got me a pair of budgerigars.  Small birds, colloquially known as “parakeets”.  Two turned into four, and my interest in birds grew, so I slowly acquired more – bigger each time. Continue reading The Birds


The other night, I decided to listen to two of my favorite albums by Fiona Apple. She was one of my favorite musicians throughout my teenage years. Her turns of phrase, melodies and contralto composed a soundtrack to my development into adulthood – the arrogance of adolescence, the catapult of indignation, the soap-boxing, and that threatening but necessary lurch into realizing you fight for independence only to find you’re not quite sure what to do with it. Listening to the songs I loved tremendously – still do – brought back all those emotions and ideas that permeated my thought-processes from ages 12 to 20.

I’ve been keeping blogs for more than 10 years. Looking back, I want to hit myself sometimes, realizing my ideals, my half-formed concepts, my passions and my pains have been posted publicly in a place that doesn’t really have an erase-all option. Even if I went back in, deleting where I could, Google’s got some unforgiving caches, and in the arena of wish-I-hadn’t-said-that, I’m pretty screwed.

My generation, and the ones following us, have this to worry about. My parents might’ve had some wild ideas in the ’60s and ’70s, and a few regrettable Letters to the Editor might be located if one were to dig. The fact remains, however, that the witnesses to those developmental years of paranoia, self-importance, confusion, rationalization and opinion-forming are generally human, anecdotal, and aging. I don’t mean to pick on my parents specifically. Both of them may read this and send me indignant e-mails expressing their certainty that they never had bullshit theories or ideals that would come back to haunt them if they’d been armed with a blog address and an internet connection. I already know they did – they named my brothers after characters in epic sagas of idealistic political philosophy. It’s okay.

The fact remains that young people today are growing up in a world where, by the time they’ve hit college, they’ve already been exposed to political opinions and social ideals that may run contrary to their own. Chances are, through Facebook, message boards, Twitter, or a blog platform, they’ve already had a few things to say right back. They aren’t just reading the newspaper and crafting a carefully worded Letter To The Editor – which may or may not be published. They’re capable of quick-posting everything from “First comment!” to “[the writer] is an [inflammatory remark]!” to “the media is biased!” to “legalize weed” or, well, anything.

I’m not saying that isn’t awesome sometimes. There’s not much that is more satisfying than seeing an intelligent 16-year-old lay down the facts on some idiot online, by giving a well-reasoned reply to a inflammatory comment. But it’s still tough when I see my own commentary from age 15 regarding [insert pretty much ANY political issue here]. Though I’m happy to report I was generally using correct spelling, grammar and a thesaurus, I was also full of a whole lot of bullshit. Not to say I’m completely clean-and-sober of the bullshit now – I just try to cut out the logical fallacies, mass generalizations, and character attacks I used back then.

But, here I am, 23 years old, and thus far reasonably unscathed by the very public and sometimes obnoxious diatribes of my less humble youth. Although, it’d be interesting to run for President some day and see how much of it comes back to haunt me.

Over the past few years, this realization has made me a less active blogger. My 12- to 20-year-old self had a lot of dramatic ideas, especially philosophies of the religious, romantic, and political kind. Heck, I wrote a lot of bad poetry that is still lingering around on the Internet.

I’ve become convinced that no matter how thoughtful I attempt to be in my writing, I’m going to look back at it in five years and think, “Who gave that girl a blog?”

Despite my self-doubt, I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on me, and where I am in the world now.  If I were to compose a letter to my fourteen year old self (which I’m certain 14-year-old me would scoff at and ignore), it’d warn firstly that I will encounter love, loss, heartbreak and lies between then and now.  Secondly, that nothing can indicate exactly what my response to these events will be, just to maybe save my most passionate reactions for the paper-journal, not the digital one.  And thirdly, it’d remind me that I am small, the world is big, and the world revolves around this thing called the sun, not myself nor my generation.  There’s a lot of notes I’d leave myself.  And 10 years from now I’ll be telling my 23 year old self the same thing differently.

But here goes.