I don’t understand

It was a simple question. 

“How do you feel today, Sweetie?” My Mother asked, as I came downstairs.

I hesitated, searching for the right word.

She waited patiently, as she’d been all week. 

There are things about myself I’ve taken pride in, such as physical health, creativity, and learned (well, maybe forced) patience. Most of all though, throughout my life, my wit has given me the most pride. Being called “witty” is a compliment I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy on many occasions. Conversation is important to me. Looks fade, as we all eventually realize, but having a sharp mind, being able to converse…intellectualism: that’s the good stuff in life. 

I’m not so sharp these last weeks. My mind is a dull knife, a cracked egg, and I struggle for words. They’re in there somewhere, but it’s as if they’re stuck in a honey pot and I have to fish through the stickiness to retrieve them. Writing these few words takes hours.

“I’m OK,” I respond. Easy answer.

She’s been here since the accident. Since the man pulling the big trailer with his big truck plowed into my little Volvo on the freeway. Since my “bell was rung” and my brain slowed and filled with thick honey. 

In the ambulance I wanted to close my eyes and sleep, but they wouldn’t let me. It seemed there were countless questions, some that were easy to understand and some that were alien. I couldn’t see the paperwork I was to sign through my blurry eyes, so they pointed and I scribbled something with my shaking hand. 

The pain in my head raged on.

Police officers, doctors, firefighters, and family wanted to know what happened. I tried to describe events, pains…but where were all of my words? And why couldn’t I simply sleep?

My mother fixes me plain yogurt with fresh fruit, and I eat a little bit. She tells me I should eat more. Afterward I go to shower to soak my sore, bruised body in the warm water hoping it will relax my muscles and help with the pain. 

In the shower I struggle remembering if I’d washed my body already. I can’t tilt my head back properly to wash my hair through the pain. All this brings me to cry and my head to pound even more. 

I’m told it will get better, and it does…slowly. Days turn into a month and so on. I try to sleep, rest as the tell me to, struggle through writing little bits at a time, and read. But mostly…I wait. 




“To love is easy and therefore common – but to understand – how rare it is!”
-L.M. Montgomery, Emily of New Moon

The Germans call it seelenerwandte, the Italians, anima gemella, and the Americans kindred spirits. 

She gave me a warm hug, then looked me in the eyes and told me that although we were only just meeting in person, she felt as though we had known each other for a very long time. The next week would prove that yes indeed, she and I were kindred spirits. Woman who although very different in cultural upbringing, held inside of us the feeling we had known each other a very long time – a commonality of the heart which cannot be described. 

Kindred spirits mirror one another, and without ego. 

It’s nice when you meet a friend like that. And also very rare. I have a number of friends, yet only one or two I feel a kindred spirt. It isn’t something that grows either. It’s something that simply exists from the moment you meet a person. No matter your differences.

Sometimes the kindred spirt is a dear friend like Sonngard, and occasionally the seelenerwandte is much more. 


Knowing I have a great love of architecture, she guided me through MedienHafen in Dusseldorf. We spoke of artists, writers, architecture. Of course we appreciated the same things, however different our views of them were. 

Ahead of us, holding hands, were our children. They themselves finding an anima gemella in one another.

“I feel so much pain for them,” she whispered to me. 

“Me too.”

They had met the last year while her daughter was studying abroad. She and her husband had both done so and wanted the same for their children. My son had dated many girls, and had even claimed to love one or two of them, but when he brought the German home, even though I liked her immediately, I wondered how they’d get along. She was different than the others he’d brought home. They interacted differently too. She challenged him, and he her. Challenged in a good, healthy, loving way. 

She spent many evenings with us and I had a chance to get to know her well. Many times she would talk of her mother and how alike we were. We had already made plans to holiday at the beach in Italy before he leaves for university, so when an invitation came from her parents to make a stop in Germany we accepted.

Being very practical and thinking only with their heads, they agreed they would not try to have a long distance relationship and that they would go their separate ways after the visit. 

“This is uncommon you know – how they get along and balance one another. So sad they live far away and are so young yet. They think only with the head now, but the heart doesn’t work that way. We know this.” 

I thought for a moment before responding. 

“It’s like that, isn’t it Sonngard?  They feel as though they have no time. They’re too young and impatient to understand the years in front of them. Although, maybe the pain is the same when you are old…but for a different reason. When you’re young you don’t understand that there is still time left in this life, and when you are older, you are so keen on just how little time there is left. The pain is the same.” 

As a parent you wish for your children to never feel pain. But they will. You wish to take all the pain from them. But we can’t. 

When we hugged goodby at the airport both of us knew it wasn’t really goodbye. We were old enough to understand how rare a connection like ours was and so vowed to keep it. We’ll visit, talk, etc.

We stepped aside and let our confused children embrace and say goodbye.

New Website, New Book – jenniferallison.co

Please note that I have a new Portfolio website – You can find my travel photographs, as well as paintings and sketches, at jenniferallison.co

I will continue to keep One Street Shy as a place for snapshots, essays, poems, and links to my Portfolio page.

My book, Roam: Essays and Photographs on Travel, will be hitting the shelves in mid-2019 (as soon as my Publicist says so at least…)

Thank you for following my work all these years. I appreciate you.


Essence, A Poem


She kept with her a spoon
locked behind her brain
with a string that led to her heart.
And while her lover slept
or held her close,
she delicately, carefully
scooped out his core.
Holding it in her hands
as if she were a scientist, 
she examined every perfection
and imperfection.
Until proudly, like a child
presenting a 
gift to a secret crush,
she held it out for him to examine with her.
Angrily, he grabbed his core back from her
and swallowed his essence
before anyone noticed his nakedness.
It’s sweetness turned bitter, sour
and tasted of fear and doubt.
Gagging, he forced it back down
as it threatened to reveal itself once again.
Rejected, she retreated to the oasis
inside of her head

where she waited for her same
who owned a spoon attached to a string
to his heart.

by Jennifer Allison

Dream Jennifer Allison

A Place of Myths

“How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I know a place…

High up on a hill, with walls thick and tall…magical.

A fortress guarded on every side by ancient olive trees and wild cats who demand attention when not hunting the field mice.

A quiet place, where you can hear the sound of the sheep’s bells from miles away and the faint whispers of warriors past that rise from the cobblestone pathways.

Their whispers feel like a soft breeze and carry with them the scent of oranges, lemons, magnolias and lavender which grow from every garden in the village. 

Bright white are the walls and red are the rooftops – but lush green are the hills which like waves in the ocean, are as vast as the eye can see. A green ocean dotted with ancient whitecaps/houses.

And if you sit quietly enough on the steps of the fortress when the sun begins to leave you for the day, you’ll witness a fire in the sky. Close your eyes for a moment or two, then open as quickly as you can, and you’ll see off in the distance, the (your) dragon coming home to sit beside you. 




Free, A Photograph and Poem



We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

– Maya Angelou


Modern Love

I’ve loved design and architecture for the whole of my adult life. While a Fine Art major in college years ago, I had considered studying design instead of scientific illustration (I ended up with a degree in Literature and Writing in the end…go figure..)

There are many different types of architectural design I like, but none so dear to my heart as Midcentury Modern – Desert Modernism to be specific. Brought on by a mixture of both the International style and Bauhaus Movement, each building has function, style and a grace that makes my heart go pitter patter.

There is nowhere else in the world you can find more mid-century marvels than in Palm Springs, California. Recently the Art Museum of Palm Springs (a fantastic place to visit if given the opportunity) opened the Architecture and Design Center in the historic Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan building designed by renowned modern architect E. Stewart Williams.

Palm Springs itself (one of my favorite places to visit in the United States) has managed to keep its Hollywood flare. It wasn’t a place stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the likes went to bask on the beaches. It’s where they went to have dinner parties, lounge by private swimming pools like desert lizards. It’s where the cocktail hour was serious business…and still is.

I’ll not forget the residents of today though. They are as contemporary and modern as the architecture itself and I adore their flamboyancy. I’ll write about them in another post though. This post is strictly architecture and design.

I was salivating at the idea of the new museum so naturally this week I headed to Palm Springs.

Being a small city, I was able to walk to most places although I did rent a bike (a lovely city cruiser with a basket and bell) for three house early in the morning. This helped me cover more ground on my tour of homes. It was a sunny 75 degree and not a cloud in the sky. I had headed into the neighborhoods and downtown. I had wanted to view my favorite house – The Kaufmann Desert House. The Frey House II (designed by Albert Frey, another favorite of mine) sits on a hillside and is private so I was unable to see one of my other great loves..but oh well.

After my long ride, I showered, changed and set out on foot to the museum. First I stopped by the Art Museum to do some Christmas Shopping and see the exhibits. I then headed to The Architecture and Design Museum – saving the best for last.

Deep sigh….

It was quiet inside as it was mid-day and everyone else was having lunch or just waking from the last nights partying (they party a lot there.)

I was in heaven. The current exhibit, An Eloquent Modernist: E. Stewart Williams, Architect, showcases Williams’, as well as his sons, dedication to both good city planning and even better modern architecture.

I could go on and on here and I can’t recommend the exhibit enough. So for anyone interested, you can find more information at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/

With regards to my favorite Kaufmann Desert House, I was hoping the house, designed by Richard Neutra (http://www.ncmodernist.org/neutra.htm) would be open to the public in February during Modernism Week (February 12-22nd) but I believe it wont be (insert sad face here.) I will, however, be viewing the Frey House II (insert happy face here.)

Below are a few photos I took while on my cruiser. I’ve chosen not to convert them to black and white as I believe the desert colors are quite lovely. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Every great architect is – necessarily – a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
-Frank Lloyd Wright

IMG_5001 IMG_5020 IMG_5025 IMG_5035

I smell…

“Ooh, but I still smell her.”
Giovanni Arpino, The Scent of a Woman

I smell…

Like a woman.

Although sometimes, when leaving my house, I’ll add one spritz of CoCo Chanel Mademoiselle or Dolce and Gabbana’s Light Blue (depending on the occasion) to my décolletage. But generally I wear Jennifer.

I like the smell of a man too. The natural scent of skin and sweat and all the good things that come with it and it’s something I miss about not having a partner near. Sure I have my favorite male cologne that I enjoy once in a while, but like my Jennifer scent, I prefer the natural scent of whomever I’m with.

As you can imagine, I was in shock when I read a NY magazine article about a new Silicon Valley start-up company who’ve created a pro-biotic strong enough to make a woman’s vagina smell like peaches. And I mean an actual peach.

I understand there may be women (and men for that matter) that have a strong odor and to that I cannot speak as I’ve not experienced it. So admittedly I’m generalizing here – using the average woman and her average smells.

But what about the scent of a woman? The average woman. And men…the average man.

Without a doubt, men have their own pressures. Soon they’ll be a pill that will change the smell of semen to something fruity. However, it seems as though society has gone a bit overboard on our gender pressures, both socially and physiologically.

When did smelling like a human become so utterly unbecoming?

When did smelling like a woman become passé?

For that matter, when did looking like a woman become passé?

Is it just me, or is all the customizing of us humans considerably dehumanizing?

I’ve not had my personal Jennifer scent critiqued, but I’ve had my body on the chopping block a few times. One partner thought that I was too fat, another I was too thin, and yet to another, I was just right; womanly. Yes, like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. Interestingly enough, my “too fat” and “too skinny” were within only 6 lbs of each other. I realized later in life that if I tried to please everyone with a measly 6lbs of flesh, I’d confuse the hell out of myself. Therefore, I simply accepted my small but curvy frame.

Lord knows we’ve pressure to look a certain way and now it appears that we must smell a certain way as well. I’ve already written about the female genital mutilation so prevalent within Europe and the United States in my article “Barbie’s Vagina” so I won’t go on about that. However, doesn’t the idea of not allowing ourselves to have a lovely natural smell seem a bit absurd?

Would I be too off base to guess that the makers of the “peachy” product don’t like woman much, or the smells that come with loving one. Or would they say that, on the contrary, they love woman to bits, which is why they would like to control the way they smell….and look….and act….

Reflection, A Photograph

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
– Mary Oliver


Escape, A Photograph and Manic Episode

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I’m always irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it’s very shocking to the system.”
― Flannery O’Connor

So far, the process of writing a book is much like my own life – a roller coaster; manic, emotional, yet oddly fulfilling. There are days when I feel on top of the world and words flow seamlessly, one to the other, page after page. Although unfortunately, there even more days when the I feel my own black hole of insecurities and doubts take over and not a single word can escape.

Burdened by the reality of being a poor writer and artist, I often wonder why I’ve chosen such a “career” (if I can call it that.) After all, a nice high-paying job selling pharmaceuticals would surely allow me plenty of room to breath. Wouldn’t it?

Truly though, I suppose I’m experienced enough with in-authenticity to know that the air I’d inhale would be stifling, fake, and knowing me, I’d run for the hills. Boxes don’t suite me at all.

So instead I’ll remain here, on the fire escape, breathing in the manic and emotional air I’ve grown so accustomed to as I type away… and sigh


Friendship, A Photograph of Life in Lisbon

“Friendship is a precious thing, Sayuri. One mustn’t throw it away.”
– Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

They sat outside on a small make-shift bench laughing and enjoying the warm evening. When asked if I could take their photo they straightened up a bit, making sure to pull their dresses down properly and graced me with beautiful smiles while they giggled to each other. I was reminded how important the women in my life are. So this photo is for all the women I am fortunate enough to call my girlfriends and family….