Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween: Candy, Anonymity, and Pure Old-Fashioned Fun

We carved the pumpkins, made the costumes, and toasted the pumpkin seesds.  The required viewing of Charlie Brown and the The Great Pumpkin has taken place.  We are now in the appropriate frame of mind for Halloween.  My kids don't need much prodding to become excited for this particular holiday.  The idea of dressing up and pretending to be someone else, as well as getting enough candy to choke a horse stimulates them enough.  They begin the countdown a week ahead of time and anxiously await the day they can put on their costumes and go trick-or-treating.  I find it amazing how the holiday has grown from a small affair of running wild, tipping outhouses and cows, to a full-blown mass-marketed extravaganza of decorations, masks and clothing, and candy galore. 

Initially, Halloween stemmed from a Celtic holiday originating some 2000 years ago called Samhain.  It celebrated the end of the year and the start of a new one.  On the night before New Year's Day, November 1st, the wall between the living and dead came down and spirits were thought to roam the earth, causing mischief.  People dressed up in outlandish costumes and roamed the streets to scare away the spirits.  They also built bonfires and would place embers into hollowed out turnips with holes in them to frighten any of the undead away.

Over the years, it progressed into a wild night, where gangs of young boys would run rampant throughout the cities and towns.  Some people, in efforts to keep their property from being vandalized began giving out candies and treats to placate the young people, and eventually it evolved into what we do today.  As a child, I remember the low hum of excitement all day long, wishing the sun to set faster so that the festivities could begin.  Kids adore this holiday because it allows them to play pretend in a big way as well as rake in all the goodies they can handle.  The interesting part for me, however, remains how involved adults become in this kid-centered holiday.  Adults seem to enjoy it more than the children, but for vastly different reasons.

On Saturday night, I went to the bar with my sister and a few friends.  People were dressed up in costumes of all kinds.  Sexiness, however, constituted the predominant theme running through the draculas, nurses, witches, fairies, et al.  Also, I noticed a sense of light-heartedness and freedom above and beyond what people exhibit at the bar on regular nights.  The idea of anonymity, even in it's merest forms, gave the patrons a sense of liberation not normally present.  The alcohol didn't have much to do with the increased levels of playfulness, flirtation, and freedom, it all had to do with pretending to be someone else entirely.

For example, a man I know from the bar normally dresses to the nines, has a calm and cool demeanor, and exhibits quite reserved behavior.  He's intelligent, quiet, and fun, but not usually outlandish in any fashion.  On Saturday, he showed up as a derelict and acted completely opposite to his normal behavior.  He had a blast dancing, flirting, talking to anyone and everyone.  I had a great time watching him morph into an alter-ego of sorts and just let loose.  I think then, that the major appeal of this holiday for adults would be to become someone else.  We all have that desire from time to time to be different than what we are, to behave in a way that excites or titillates us but doesn't fit with our everyday personalities.  Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to do so.

So, shake things up a bit.  Put on a costume and a mask, pretend to be someone you are not, and enjoy yourself fully until the yearly bachanalia of candy and anonymity puts itself to bed.  I certainly know I shall do just that.  Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tightrope Walker

Recently, I have had several conversations with some people online that made me consider what constitutes the necessary requirements for self-motivation and personal drive.  I have noticed that some people just determine what they want to do and then absolutely go for it.  They become single-minded, focused machines whose sole intent comprises accomplishing whatever goals they have set for themselves.  I am amazed at some of the lengths that people go to to achieve their heart's desire.  They forgo fun, entertainment, personal satisfaction, relationships, all kinds of things just to become what they consider to be successful.  While I admire this doggedness, I wonder if sometimes they do a disservice to themselves by not allowing for more room for personal growth and emotional fulfillment.  Sure, they work diligently to make themselves a good life, but when they finally attain it, will they be devoid of a rich inner life at the same time?  And what use is a high-end lifestyle if a person doesn't have the emotional, mental, and spiritual means to truly appreciate and enjoy it?

On the other hand, certain people in this world lack even the merest hint of self-motivation.  They choose to do nothing at all unless poked and prodded by someone else.  Usually when motivated in this fashion, they do half-assed work and take no pride in their finishing of a task.  To me this type of behavior damages a person equally as too much drive.  If a person does nothing all day and every day or does so little as to not have pride in his or her own work, there cannot be present a rich emotional and mental life either.  That requires a certain level of self-respect that can only be created and maintained through accomplishment and success.  And those two things are dependent upon getting off one's hind end and doing something worthwhile.

Much like a tightrope walker, a balance needs to be struck.  Truth lies in the statement, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."  Truth also resides in, "Unity of purpose knows only victory."  A person should have motivation and drive to succeed and to achieve personal and professional goals.  However, in order to lead a happy, well-developed and personally-satisfying life, one needs also to remember to have quiet time, entertainment, and meaningful relationships.  A garden does not grow unless someone tends it.  A person really needs to tend his or her own garden through a balanced combination of work and play. 

In regard to my own situation, I wish I were more like the people I spoke to this past week.  I work hard every day, but I don't necessarily work hard at the things that are important.  I often avoid working diligently at what means the most to me because I fear failing to meet my goals in regard to them.  Fear holds me back and inhibits my personal drive.  I expend my energies on trivial fluff, and I am very good at getting those things done, but not so hot at putting myself out there to accomplish the bigger objectives in my life.

I would like to have a higher level of personal desire and motivation to achieve things that are dear to my heart.  I would like to become more focused on the accomplishment of those intangible goals that I set and then allow to meander their way through my life.  If I could gain a keener drive to get things done, my life might be quite different in certain areas.  I have an abundant inner life, rich and full of creativity, imagination, love, and hope.  I am happy with it, but not completely satisfied because I do not have the external success to go along with it.  I suppose then, I should reinforce my motivation more often and force myself to move outside my comfort levels in regard to personal drive.  In essence, I need to get off my ass, stop hesitating, and get some important things done.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rainbows and Butterflies: Symbols of the Unseen

Have you ever noticed that when something major in your life occurs, it seems as if people whose circumstances mirror yours,  pop up unexpectedly all over the place?  For instance, if you become pregnant  every third person you see has a baby belly.  You never noticed before just how many mothers-to-be roam the earth but now that you have joined their ranks, they show up everywhere.  The same thing happens if you break a bone and wear a cast, you see more broken people wandering around.  This phenomena also happens with baby names.  My husband and I looked for a name that wasn't too common and sounded pretty rolling off the tongue for our daughter.  We chose Abigail.  I hadn't even met an Abigail in twenty years, so I thought that the name would be relatively unique.  Now there are so many Abby's in my daughter's age group that the coaches on her soccer league call all the girls by their last names. 

All of this happens, not because we draw these people into our immediate surroundings just by the mere fact of sharing a condition or circumstance with them, but because we automatically become more aware of shared connections.  People constantly seek out connection and understanding with others, without even realizing it.  One divine spark searching for another will find it through common ground.  We stive to find reinforcement of the knowledge that we do not live as solitary, self-contained units.  We search continually for shared experiences even though we don't consciously acknowledge our quest for connection.  Most people go through their entire lives and can never articulate this seeking.  They feel it, they witness it in being more aware of people with similar circumstances, and they may even obliquely speak of it from time to time, but they don't truly explore the truth of it. And the truth is so much bigger than anyone realizes.

Lately I've been thinking about all of the parts of life we choose to ignore but that remain present right before our eyes.  If you took the time to pay close attention to all the little, random events that occur every single day, you would understand that coincidences don't exist and that the world is a much deeper, richer, and varied place than we assume it to be.  Acknowledging that hidden world of inter-connectedness even in the slightest degree, opens up a person to an infinite number of profound experiences.

I began to notice things like this after the death of my grandfather in 1994 when I was 21.  I had a life-altering experience at the moment he died, and I think it made me conscious of things I had never paid attention to before. I began to actively notice tiny instances where something would happen or pop up and I just knew that they weren't random or coincidental.  Those moments triggered in me a watchfulness that has continued to increase as the years pass.  I began to pay attention to signs and signals and often, I would feel as if my grandfather visited me when these things occurred.  Many times, lights would flicker when I thought about him or when I really wished I had his advice.  When that would happen, I knew he had listened to me, had acknowledged me.  After my mother passed away, my understanding of the unseen aspects of the world only intensified.

I know people who see a random penny on the street and believe that their loved one placed it there.  Some people see yellow butterflies and for them it's a departed friend saying hello. Some object usually associated with a loved one who has died will become a symbol indicating the presence of that person's soul.  And the thing is, these pennies, butterflies, ladybugs, and others show up when most needed usually.  Almost all people experience this one type of seeing into the hidden part of the world.  It's common, but it's not recognized for what it is...a true example of the interconnection between all things. 

For me, my mother shows up with rainbows.  On the day of her memorial service, in January (not a typical time for rainbows in New Mexico) a giant double rainbow appeared through the clouds over Capitan.  I knew she came to say goodbye and to tell us all would be well.  For the past seven years, when I needed her the most or I sought reassurance that things would be well, rainbows appeared.  For me, these sightings were not and are not random coincidence. The rainbows provide tangible proof for my beliefs, and I am deeply grateful for the comfort they bring to me.  I am happy that I have gotten to a point in my life where I actively look for the hidden, the unseen, the unacknowledged.  My eyes and heart stay open so that I see and feel all the things that this life of ours provides. Abundance exists, you just have to choose to see it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011



Grief strikes at such odd times during the day.
Blindsided by the applejuice you drank in lieu of water,
I couldn't finish the shopping.
So I went to the car and cried.
Alone in my see-through sanctuary
made wet and humid by tears,
the windows steamed and fogged--as if the embrace of lovers
and not the clutch of sadness made it so.
More hot tears of loss began
to puddle, and purl, and soak,
to sting, and storm, and stream,
to fully flood me until I drowned
in a whirlpool of numbness.
Circling at the bottom of hope
until exhaustion suffocated sadness
and I could move again.

Look Into Heaven
(A Sonnet)

Look into Heaven with newborn, wet eyes
and cast yourself on the wings of warm fate.
Accede the dark night to the bright sunrise,
waiting and wishing Hope a clean slate.
Alas, you know she is soon to dying.
Pitiful time--this earliest hour.
So faintly, so sad, this wordless crying,
desiring the day with all of your power.
Features in black, in black with light recessed,
retreating in steps so small but not missed.
Forgetting the Hope and cursing the Blessed.
You alone weep--this day's not to be kissed.
In mourning there's only an hour to Hope.
The rest of the day is cursed, and we cope.

The Thief

I would close my eyes to keep from seeing such a thief.
But so blinded, I still feel the threat imminent.
My mouth makes wonderful little lies.
Though I cannot fool my heart into not breaking a hundred different ways.
The truth invades, ruthless and brutal.
Dying cells ennervate your body,
your hair disappears beneath my hands,
and I am so damned angry.
I would draw this thief out and have him savage me instead,
but I am not innocent enough for his tastes.
So I will watch, and pray, and love
keeping my eyes wide open
seeing you for as long as I can.

Prisoner of Condolences

I hold your hand on this day.
Your fingers filling the spaces between my own.
My warmth disappears into your palm,
evaporating into chilled skin and bone.
My whole body shakes with words unsaid,
and my tears deprived of descent
drown me inside out.
I am a prisoner of condolences
and shredding self control.
I nod thank yous and the like,
wanting only to climb in that dark bed with you,
pull you close,
whisper my love,
and will my fractured heart
to stop beating too.

Small Things

I am anxious about  small things.
Trivial fluff crowds my days.
These protective dust bunnies
keep my breakdown at bay.

I shuffle mounds of laundry
cursing the never ending chores,
but secretly thankful for too much to do,
so to not obsess on you.

There are scuffs on the floor to be rubbed out,
handprints on the fridge to be removed.
I wish I could dissolve my scars
with happiness solvent too,
but I am stained with insoluble grief.

Irreparable, torn beyond the seam,
my ragged threads refuse gentle mending.
So back and forth I sew, in numbing repetition
getting nowhere fast.
Monotony is my drug of choice these days.

And then, sparks of memory intrude
and every breath brings a slicing thought
of Momma's hand, and heart, and soul.
Even busy work cannot keep my
shattered self whole.

Before Dawn, They Come
(An ABC Poem; C-P)

Cigarettes smolder, buring
down to my pink fingertips.
Every time it happens, I savor the
fiery sensation, feeling alive.
Grasping straws...
Hell, don't
I know know it.  But I'll do anything.
Jesus, anything to
keep my demons from
lashing out, lowering
me into the
naked, early morning
pit of depression.

I Am Here

I am in the shadows
with a sunshine kiss,
and in the breeze that strokes your cheek
on a summer's night.

You can find me in birdsong,
or the sound of swaying trees
each swish and creak
my whisper in your ears.

I am floating with the clouds.
Innocence on air,
sliding down rainbow beams
to reach a verdant earth.

I am never far away,
just a thought within your heart,
a name upon your lips,
a love everlasting
immortal within you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Big Sister Blues

 Big Sister Blues

I can see beneath the decay,
the water-logged wood, the rusted metal
to summers past when you and I would run
heedless to the wind.

We would pose ourselves--bronzed statues
at the edge of the dock and curl our toes under the lip of wood
to balance childish bodies.

Waiting for weightlessness,
I would stare into the endless bottom,
black beneath a rippled sun.

I knew you lusted for the ladder,
afraid to jump, fearing air beneath your feet.
But those curious tickles in my stomach
made me push you screaming
into the icy lake.

I believe you wanted me to do it,
even when you cried--to force the unknown
around you, into your nostils and mouth.
You spit me out with the water, climbed up and walked away.

And I never said, "I'm sorry."

Unfinished Business

My heart is incomplete.
It's missing pieces; like Osiris
lost in the Nile, they cannot be found.
Unfortunately, fertile imagination and myth
have no power to replace the parts.
Every day the empty spaces
remind me of what's been stolen.

Beachside Arguments

Beachside arguments--
they smelled of old sunshine and salt.
Familiar and sometimes welcome.

You irritated me like sand caught between my toes.
So, it was necessary to behave like a child,
picking at scabs until you bled coppery ters.

I felt better watching you cry.
Even in the shade, we would not retreat
from the undulating unrest.

Your voice filled my ears like water
and I drowned in my guilty pleasure
of causing you pain.

And So We Dance

And so we dance
to keep the demons distanced.
Swirling together we forget.
We hide the hatred when I feel
your hand upon my back,
my fingers pressed into your chest.
Sliding against each other
you and I create some heat
and a friction that feels
like happiness.

Take a Chance

I am possibility incarnate.
I am choice unlimited.
I am escape.
Come take a ride.

Make a decision to leave this place
and we'll feel fatalism fade.
Behind us,
desperation goes soft focus.

Take a chance,
turn left or right,
but don't look back or we may turn to salt.

Sunday Morning

Sunday morning breaks bright white
across the red brick wall and recessed door.
Cutting cleanly through the night,
sharp and tangy like isopropyl alcohol
lingering in my nose.

The party is over, the debauchery done.

Sunday morning cracks wide open
with a hangover squint and daggered eyes.
Swallowing nocturnal sonic vibrations
like a shot of mouthwash, minty fresh.

The dancing is finished, go home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friends: Life's Charming Gardeners

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ----Marcel Proust

This past week I've had little sleep, many stresses, and a sincere desire to escape to somewhere calm and relaxed.  Nothing overwhelmingly bad occurred so I have managed to muddle my way through the past seven days fairly gracefully on my own. Nonetheless, times like these illustrate to me the necessity of friendship in a person's life.  Without the support and caring of friends most people would struggle through troubles in a much more difficult fashion.

Friends keep the sense of isolation and loneliness that we all feel sometimes at bay.  Even when they live far away, the knowledge that someone thinks of you and cares what happens in your life makes hard circumstances more bearable. I believe in the power of positive thought, of directing one's energy to aid someone else, and this past week I have felt the love of many friends sent my way. For me, just the power of thought creates a tangible difference in my life and my feelings.

Friendship embodies the idea that all humans are connected on a fundamental level.  We seek each other out to fulfill those parts of us that need reinforcement and strengthening. We also seek friends so that we may share of ourselves with them. Giving of our time, thoughts, ideas, energy and love only creates a greater abundance of that in ourselves.

I am so grateful for the friends in my life.  They truly enrich my experiences, my hardships, my joys.  Friends make everything deeper, more fulfilling, more meaningful. I appreciated them this week more than they will ever know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Sandwich Generation, and I'm Not Talking About Lunch

I generally write about how I have enjoyed getting older and becoming more comfortable in my own skin.  I acknowledge that many things about aging benefit my mental and emotion well-being, and so far I have enjoyed growing up, so to speak. One thing, however, does not make me feel good about aging and that comprises watching those older than me get even older, especially those I love.  There is nothing fun about this, nothing comfortable or easy about it whatsoever.  In fact, it can be quite painful to watch.

We all have an idea of what age we are on the inside, the age we feel. For instance, I think I shall be permanently twenty-seven.  I always liked that age. By the same token, I think we see our parents at a certain age as well....kind of static and unchanging.  Then one day, you wake up  and for one reason or another, you realize your parents somehow got old overnight. Yesterday, vibrant and frail and elderly.  That realization, for lack of a better term, sucks.

Almost seven years ago my mother died suddenly of a heart attack at age 64.  She lived fully until the moment she died, and I never had to see her grow sick, frail, or weak.  I miss her every day and wish constantly that I had more time with her, but I also recognize the fact that she will permanently reside in my mind as the lively, exuberant woman I knew. That is a blessing.  My father had a massive stroke one month after my mother died, and while he recovered well and currently lives independently, I have had to watch him struggle with medical issues, getting less mobile, and becoming weaker as time passes.  I am grateful every day that he is here, but trust me, it's a hard thing to see.

Most days I deal with his aging and all its accompanying trials and tribulations rather well.  I am optimistic and full of gratitude that I get to spend time with him for as long as I can.  Other days, however, I feel an impending loss that I don't know if I am ready to handle. I remember my mother, the day her father died, crying and saying, "Don't leave me, Daddy...I don't want to be an orphan."  She was 54 years old, had adult children herself, and it is only now, when my father's health becomes more compromised every day that I truly understand what she meant.  I don't want to be an orphan either.

 I am at the age where I fall into the category of the "sandwich" generation.  I am raising children and taking care of my father as well.  I am having to learn how to deal tactfully with some role reversal in my relationship with my dad due to my increasing responsibility for his welfare.  Because I parent young children, I have to be careful not treat my dad in the same manner I do my kids.  I walk that fine line between respecting his wishes and ensuring his well-being.  It is a very narrow line and sometimes I make a misstep which results in offending him or not meeting his needs well enough.  It is a hard line to walk most days and I constantly question whether or not I am doing the right thing.  I have a tendency to feel guilty on a regular basis for my failings in this...not doing enough, doing too much, doing the wrong thing.  I constantly remind myself that I can only do what I can do, and most times this reminder helps me put things into perspective.

I had a friend tell me once, "Life is never fair, sometimes difficult, but always beautiful." I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and it puts perspective on this situation as well.  We all face challenges in our lives, at every stage of our lives. This is but another challenge specific to my particular age...managing children and parents at the same time.  Each day I shall be grateful that I have the opportunity for this particular challenge, because it means that I have one more day with my father to learn from him, to share with him, and to love him. And even though life is never fair, and watching someone age is sometimes difficult, the relationship and the love is always beautiful.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ethics: First Do No Harm

Yesterday I engaged in an interesting conversation with a friend regarding ethics, ethical codes, and ethical dilemmas. It prompted me to do a bit of research and some deep thinking about ethics in general and my own personal ideas concerning morality. The dictionary defines ethics as 1. the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment; moral philosophy 2. a system or code of morals for a particular person, group, religion, or profession.  Philosophers have devoted entire lifetimes across the ages to the study of morals and the constitution of ethical behavior.  Therefore, tremendous differences exist in what people believe to be right or wrong, and good or evil.  Ethics also refers to the moral standards by which one lives his or her life.  That begs the question then, "What does a person consider to be a good way in which to live?"  I discovered a few things when researching this topic, primarily that most people follow a broad spectrum of morality, in which there are certain universal absolutes, but that they also engage in situation ethics that allows them to be flexible, pragmatic, or even indulgent.

Most people get their moral standards from the culture or environment in which they live.  Parental influence and guidance primarily instill moral values, as does religion, education, and community.  Some people break from the norm and create their own ethical codes.  They search themselves for what they believe to be true and then act upon it.  In other cases, some people (and we have all met at least one or two in our lives) seem to live by no moral code whatsoever. 

In my opinion, I believe that most people, including myself, know what constitutes ethical behavior.  We are aware of what is morally acceptable and what is morally repugnant, even though we don't necessarily agree on the fine details.  Yet we struggle every day to fit our ideas, our actions, and our thoughts into our moral frameworks and often fail at meeting the standards that we have either set for ourselves or have been determined for us by the culture in which we grew up.  To me, that struggle determines how humanity operates.  It is this constant friction between knowing what is right and doing what is right that moves people either to action or inaction, tolerance or intolerance, happiness or misery.

Personally, I find ethics to be a fascinating subject, and I often think about and critique whether or not my behaviors live up to the ideals I have set for myself.  My moral standards have been influenced by Judeo-Christian tradition, by what my parents knew to be true, and by my own internalized, yet possibly not fully articulated beliefs, and currently I am comfortable with what I believe to be right thinking and right behavior.  I know, though, that I often fall short of what I should be thinking and doing, and I use situational ethics to justify when I have failed.  Just acknowledging that, however, makes me realize that I am on the right track because of my awareness of these slips ups and because of the cognitive dissonance I experience when I engage in bad behavior.  My conscience is a doozy.  I feel every bit of what I do, when I know it violates my moral code.

As in everything in life, ethics can be finely nuanced.  Certain situations require a determination of what constitutes the greater good, or the best benefit when determining between right and wrong actions.  I usually settle these ethical dilemmas by my one overarching standard: Do not do anything to hurt another person unnecessarily.  By following this, pretty much everything else falls into place. It is just a variation on the Golden Rule, and almost all cultures I know hold this to be one of their most fundamental moral standards.  For me it is the primary one in my life and I don't compromise on it.  I hate hurting people and avoid it whenever I can.  Not to say that I never disappoint someone or inadvertently hurt someone through thoughtless action or statements, but I never intentionally or blatantly try to injure another person. 

At the very core of me, I am a lover of humanity and a believer in morality. While my ideas of what constitute right and wrong or good and evil might not always agree with other views, I am a good person.  I try every day to live by what those beliefs that I know are true, and right, and good.  And when I fail, as I am wont to do, I will get up and try again.  If I am lucky enough, aware enough, and try hard enough I may just leave this world a bit better than when I entered it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Waking up Weird

Do you ever have those days where you wake up and feel somewhat "off" or weird?  My weirdness today seems to be just underneath my skin, as if I am almost vibrating with it.  Maybe my planets are not aligned properly, maybe I am just tired and hormonal, or maybe my tanks of weirdness have filled to the point of overflowing.  I am not quite sure in any regard.  Nonetheless, it did get me to thinking about some of the stranger poetry I've written and I decided to share some in this entry today.

A picture of a calico cat, fat and fluffy, staring lustily at a bust of Elvis inspired me to write this poem a few years back.  It is one of favorite strange ones.

I Want To Eat The King

I am obsessed with Elvis.
As a tiny kitten, sprawled on speakers
in our living room, I felt him.
He moved through my lazy, lay-about body
and I loved him entirely, adored him absolutely.

Strange, but now he lives in my backyard.
He says nothing, does nothing.
I am suspicious of his silence.
I watch him, wait for his gift.
I think he might be sleeping.
Maybe he is tired and needs a rest.
Sometimes I get so unbearably sleepy,
I collapse where I stand for an afternoon nap.
I understand.

Nevermind the quiet, it is an afterthought.
I cannot get out of my mind
the image of me devouring him completely.
Right this very second, every second
I want to forget all I know
about dignity and restraint
and sink my feline teeth into his majesty.
Oh, but to taste him, to swallow him whole!
To make him dance and gyrate while I
bat him with my paws until he
disappears inside my waiting soul.

I want to feel his rock-n-roll
sliding down my throat
to jitterbug in my belly
and swell me with
electric sound.

I want to eat the king.

In this poem, I attempted to mislead the reader.  See if you can guess what the poem describes before the ending.

Making Something Beautiful

Yellow like the sun
and full of my powerful potential,
I eagerly await
the hands that long to hold me,
fingers creating a sweet refuge
of direction.

He picks me up,
tenderly strokes the length of me,
and I dream in those moments
of his need, his creativity
meshed with my ability
to make something beautiful.

Such release,
when the very tip
of my being touches
the expanse of white.
Gray shades and hues,
clean lines and circles--
a pencil's dream
to be of such use.

 I wrote this poem to remind myself that sometimes the things we consider to be wrong with ourselves, aren't necessarily bad qualities.  Sometimes, what others consider to be character flaws comprise our most powerful traits.

Character Flaw

So he said to me these things,
these ugly words that I tucked
behind my ear
like a cancerous rose.

Oh! The thrill of my malignancy of character
on display for all eyes
to devour in a feast of pity.

I owned those words.
I shamed those verbal fists
into timidity, and whipped them with
my audacity to flaunt

these things he said to me.

The Lion in Winter, one of the best movies ever about Eleanor of Aquitane and Henry II inspired me to write this poem.  It's about a relationship that loves as passionately as it hates.

Loved Another

You should have lied to me--
told me that the need for loving never stops.
But now, I am hungry out of habit,
and not among the ones who give a damn.

No, I won't let it be that simple.
Forget sending rusty lust to the cellar
with its entourage of hope and affection
to let it molder into the grotesque.

My love is a dead cat--
no curiosity resides behind those lifeless eyes.
Somehow, the most terrible thing I think,
would be to deny that I lived with everything I lost
and loved another through it all.

This poem attempts to describe a singular emotion as vividly as possible.


Uncertainty vibrates,
almost shakes through my skin
and pools like beads of sweat.

It collects and concentrates.
Nervous rivulets swirl
and gather to burn like fire.

So surprised it doesn't move you,
go through you
and crawl upon your body.

Over your limbs,
into your eyes and mouth
slipping through budding ears
to burrow beneath your faith
to undermine your certitude.

Colonizing like a parasite,
I know it well.
I know it will
drain your reserves
sap your still-to-be-born spirit
and make a pale reflection
of all you once knew
to be true.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Guess What?!! I'm Gay! (National Coming Out Day, Oct. 11th)

National Coming Out Day, founded in 1988, is an internationally observed day for "coming out of the closet" for homosexuals and a day for discussion regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.

I fully support LGBT causes, even though I am about as straight as a person can get.  Many of my friends throughout my lifetime have been gay and lesbian, and one of my closest friends actually rocked the drag queen circuit for several years before giving up the heels, earrings and wigs.  However, he still retains his utter and complete fabulosity, which I attempt to emulate in small doses.  Another close friend of mine inspires me to greater heights of "Martha-ness" with his culinary skill, impeccable interior design, and Victorian tea parties fit for a queen. Recently, I have made several good friends within my town's lesbian community and I am enjoying their company immensely.  The only thing these aforementioned people have in common, though, remains their sexuality....they are all homosexuals, but who really cares? 

I like these people for who they are, not who they do.  I couldn't care less one way or another about their personal sexual orientation.  I am drawn to my friends because of their unique personalities, their humor, kindness, intelligence, and character.  I know the same qualities attract me to straight people. I don't pay attention to sexual orientation because for me, it comprises only one small facet of a person's life.  I like you for you, or I don't.  Sexual orientation, much like color, religion, or ethnicity never enters into my equation of what constitutes an interesting person or a good friend.

I recognize, however, that many people don't feel the same as I do.  For them, being LGBT signifies an innate perversity, character flaw, and suspect morals.  Homosexuals, bisexuals, and the transgendered frighten these narrow-minded people with their difference,  their "otherness", and they allow that fear to breed hatred, contempt, and discrimination.  This climate of hostility and negativity makes it difficult for some LGBT people to acknowledge to themselves that they have a non-straight sexual orientation, and even more painful to announce it to the ones they love and the world at large. 

I have heard coming out stories from my friends, and I felt their pain, their discomfort, and ultimately their satisfaction at having recognized who they were and sharing that knowledge with others.  I've seen so many students struggle with being gay or lesbian and how damaging it can be to hold all their feelings inside for fear of being tormented, bullied, and even physically assaulted by other students.  I've also seen them mature and come back to visit secure in themselves, and happy for the first time in their lives once they accepted who they are. 

"Coming out" marks an incredibly important turning point in a LGBT person's life.  It signifies the first step toward self-acceptance and self-love.  It allows a person to fully acknowledge oneself and it engenders them with a renewed confidence about their own worthiness and validity as a human being.  It is important for those who love LGBT people to be understanding, supportive and accepting of them.  This support makes a difficult time a bit easier, and if you love someone, isn't that your utlimate goal?  Friends and family should provide unconditional love, comfort, and acceptance.  We should also support LGBT causes in addition to National Coming Out Day.  LGBT people, just like anyone else, deserve happiness, respect, and the opportunity to live full lives.  They should be afforded all the legal protections and privileges afforded to straight Americans, and this includes marriage equality, adoption rights, and protection from discrimination and abuse.

So, in honor of National Coming Out Day, I would like to tell all my LGBT friends how proud I am of you all for being brave enough to acknowledge yourselves and to share that knowledge with the world.  I am lucky to be your friend, and not just because many of you are too fabulous for words, or you have an incedible sense of style, or your snarky queen-like humor amuses, but because you are you.  All my friends have wonderful aspects and I appreciate being a part of your lives every day.  I promise, as well, to continue supporting LGBT causes and equality for everyone, because that's just what friends do for one another.  We try to make this world just a little better for the people who live in it, especially those whom we care about and cherish.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I am the Lucky One

My husband, children and I spent the day just being together.  First, we attended soccer games for our daughter and oldest son in the morning, then we raked leaves in the backyard as a family, had a cozy supper together with my father, and spent the evening talking and laughing.  The weather could not have been more perfect, and the day went beautifully.  My children amaze me.  Spending time with them and enjoying them makes me blissfully happy.  They are, by far, the best part of my life.  I am the lucky one in this family because I get to be a mother to Abby, Jack and Joshua. Seeing the world through the eyes of your children, renews your confidence in humanity, in the true beauty of life.  So, in honor of my kids, here are a few poems I have written about childhood and children.

Assuming the Position

Assuming the position, our arms
held out in supplication
palms raised to the sun
heads thrown back in bliss
necks exposed and vulnerable
backs straight and stretched
one foot out with pointed toe
twirling, swirling energy
compressed into ever tighter circles
a centrifuge of pure, childish joy
turning again and again
until I collapse into a breathless
heap of humanity
in the fragrant summer grass
with you giggling in my arms
asking for more.

Goodnight Moon

In the moon, there is a man
and every night he takes your hand.
He whispers softly, "Go to sleep
and dream your dreams of the deep."

When your eyes begin to fall
and to the day you gave your all
in bed you'll climb, safe and sound
and draw your blanket all around.

Then your breath will even out
to sleep you'll go without a doubt
to visit visions in your head
snugly tucked inside your bed.

Say, "Goodnight moon and goodnight star,
take me to the lands afar.
Keep me there until daylight.
We'll meet again tomorrow night."

Hummingbird Cake

Cream cheese frosting
hid the tiny birds
that I knew would burst forth any moment
from the two-layer cake on the table.

My five-year old nose may have been fooled
by the scents of vanilla and cinnamon,
but my ears knew they could hear humming.
I could almost see them
waiting frantically inside for me to notice.

They rootsed in a nest spun
from sugar and flour and eggs.
They snacked on mashed bananas and pineapple,
nibbling on chopped pecans,
biding their time.

Then, like a song of sixpence,
when Mother sliced the cake,
they would start to fly
before snipping off my nose.

Abigail's Christmas

Backlit by glowing little lights,
multi-hued beauty refracted on your face,
adding lovely to loveliness.
My gaze lingered on your slumbering form
until I shut my eyes against the bittersweetness
of your growing up.
In self-imposed night, memories of lavender
that slipped from your brow down
mint-green cheeks nestled in
rosy pouting lips,
and stayed as my vision.
You dreamt under pine boughs, waiting
for Santa Claus, and the tinsel swayed
back and forth, buoyed by your baby breath.
I inhaled the winter warmth that danced
around your body, scented like earth
and something sweeter yet. I worshipped
your perfection until my heart broke
with the joy of loving you so.

Remembering Four

A weekend ritual--
this playing in the park.
You and I run on equally short legs
never noticing the inadequacies of youth.

I can tell you are smiling--
doggy-pink tongue lolling then lapping
with enthusiasm that makes
your golden body shake, feathered tail wag.

Leaning over to hug you,
I grasp your grass-scented fur
in my pudgy four-year-old fingers
creating a tactile memory to keep.

When you and I are older
and age becomes and brings distraction,
I will unwrap remembrance
and hold childhood in my hands.

Mother and Child

Mother and child
create a circle--
a forever entity,
with arms outstretched
and hands held tightly.

Love sparkles
like fireflies
in rippled water
on the edge of an evening
as their heartsongs melt
into a setting sun.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fat Girl: Why People Hate The Overweight

A few days ago, while surfing the internet, I came across a couple of Adele videos.  Adele's musical talent and beauty equally amaze me.  I scrolled down to read some comments referencing "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You", thinking that they would generally be positive and laudatory.  As I read these entries, I became more and more disgusted and angry at the comments.  At least half of them concerned her weight and not her obvious talent.  People left seriously mean and ugly remarks--profoundly hurtful comments meant solely to demean and degrade her. Why do that?  Why negate everything someone is just because he or she isn't a size six?  Why do so many people think that being overweight or obese is the very last acceptable minority to discriminate against and humiliate?  To me, a woman who has been overweight since childhood, these questions perplexed and saddened me, and compelled me to find an answer to them.

I have always been a large person.  I cannot ever remember a time when I fit the standard model of perfectly average or normal. And I cannot remember a time when my size has not elicited comments, usually degrading and ugly ones.  Comments from adults, peers, and children have been with me my entire life. As a child, my sister and I used to be tormented because we were the "fat" kids at school.  Not satisfied with just namecalling, kids also used to chase us home while throwing rocks at us, and sometimes even physically assaulting us.  We were fair game to them...the fat kids didn't deserve anything but their contempt and anger. Oftentimes, their parents were complicit in this abuse because they never chose to stop it.   Why?  Why do this to two little girls?  Why become so angry at the sight of us that it was necessary to emotionally abuse us and physically hurt us?  I didn't understand it then and I don't pretend to understand it today.

As my sister and I grew older, we combatted this in different ways.  I became razor sharp with verbal insults and my sister just beat the shit of anyone who messed with her. People learned not to mess with us, but it didn't always stop the comments, and to some extent, these degrading and random insults still happen today.  I am a beautiful, intelligent, successful 39 year-old woman, why would anyone unnecessarily hurt me?  For example, just last week when I went out with friends for dancing and drinks, as we were leaving a man made some rude comment regarding my size.  I am sure that this man would never shout the N-word to a black man leaving the bar, or call any other ethnicity a derrogatory name.  He might even refrain from insulting gay people because he might know now that it's not the right thing to do.  So why then, is it still okay to openly insult fat people?  What makes it acceptable in our society to abuse and degrade overweight and obese people, to make them feel inferior and less-than on a constant basis?  My response that night, by the way, pretty much reflected how I operate with people who insult me for no good reason.  I gave him a verbal dressing-down, pinpointing all his innate flaws and weaknesses, and made him feel about two feet tall. I almost made him cry.  He deserved it, the bastard.

After thinking about this topic for the past couple of days, I've come to realize that people view those who are overweight or obese as innately suspect, inferior, weak-willed, and fatally flawed.  Being fat automatically triggers the notion that this overweight person has no self-control, no self-esteem, and definitely no ability to prosper and be successful at life.  These beliefs could not be further from the truth.  Just because our bodies do not conform to what society accepts as beautiful or normal, does not negate who we are are on the inside.  Sure some fat people never experience success, some live lives that most people would deem to be undesireable or negative, some are just not nice people.  Others go on to amazing heights, like Adele, Rosie O'Donnel, Steve Wozniak. That said, however, success or failure is not based on their size.  It's because of their personalities or their circumstances.  People shouldn't lump all races, religions, or ethnicities together and determine they all behave one way, and they should damn well not assume that about fat people.  We are all individuals...some of us good, some of us bad, some of us indifferent.

I also think that people treat overweight persons badly because they fear that they may one day become obese.  Fear causes people to strike out at what scares them, hoping to banish it or negate it.  They fear fat for a variety of reasons....the objectification by society, the ostracism of their peers, the appearance of a fundamental lack of self control.  Being fat exemplifies for them everything that is negative and wrong with humanity at large. (No pun intended.) What I find most interesting about fat discrimination and weight-based bullying remains that it crosses the entire spectrum of humanity.  All races, religions, sexual-orientations have those in their midst that abhor fat people.  Even though many minorities have felt the sting and humilation of discrimination and open-hostility, they engage in it themselves towards overweight and obese people.  I've even seen fat men and women immediately go to the fat jokes and insults about someone who is larger than themselves! It amazes me that one oppressed group actively participates in the oppression of another, but historically this has always happened and shouldn't surprise me much.  One characteristic of humans that I loathe is their capacity for cruelty and hypocrisy.

Nonetheless, I think that this particular issue should have more attention.  It is never okay to openly and willingly hurt another person.  Never!  People should embrace humanity in all its variations...all sizes, shapes, and colors.  When a person deliberately hurts another, the only consequence will be the spreading of negativity and ugliness through the world.  We have too much of that already.  Just remember please that all people deserve respect and to be treated like worthy human beings, at least until they prove themselves otherwise.  I am going to continue doing what I do, loving myself in all my buxom, BBW glory, and fight the good fight.  I hope you take up the good fight as well and help end weight-based bullying and hate.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Queen of Denial

In order to get through the vagaries of life, most people at some point or another engage in denial.  I like to think of myself as a straight-shooter, someone who meets crisis head on and deals pragmatically with problems.  Lately, however, I have come to realize I too use denial as a mechanism for self-preservation.  In some instances, I could accurately be called the Queen of Denial.  Life contains certain things I just choose not to acknowledge, especially when I perceive that I am already under immense stress, and just one more difficulty would be the thing to topple my emotional house of cards.  In a way, this actually proves to be a helpful self-defense mechanism for most people.  It allows them to address problems one at a time, or in such a way as to keep calm, focused, and clear.  I am not knocking denial, I'm just saying it should be used sparingly, and I guess I am also saying then, that I need to take my own damned advice regarding this.

Right now, as of this moment, I feel like I have desperately and quietly been unraveling for the past week or so.  Everything seems off, and I am under an incredible amount of stress regarding my extended family.  I am a chronic worrier about the well-being of the people I love, and when I cannot help them in any meaningful way or if I think they are making the wrong decisions, I become highly agitated and anxious.  I usually use denial to sublimate these feelings, but currently it isn't working all that well.  It feels as if just beneath the surface of myself, all this built up tension will explode at the merest of scratches and I am concerned what will happen if I do erupt.  I will end up saying some truths and hurting people's feelings.  I hate doing that.

I honestly don't know what to do about some of the situations I am concerned with at the moment.  I don't have many people in my life to talk with, or rather, many people that I will openly talk with regarding my emotions.  I have always been the person people come to for advice, not the person who seeks it.  I am not good at unburdening myself by sharing my burden with others.  I never have been good at that, and I do use denial to cope with the fact that I am not free with my negative, anxious, or worried feelings.  I believe that a person shouldn't complain too much. Nonetheless, I encourage people to talk with me about their problems and I do not construe that as complaining.  However, when I discuss my problems, I feel as if I am complaining and no one wants to hear that.  So, what do I do? I deny, deny, deny.  I stuff it all down, do what I can to focus on other stuff, and hold the feelings inside.  Much like tears, though, they have a way of leaking out and making things messy.

I need to fix this about myself.  A little denial in life can be a good thing, but this level just does not allow me to be authentic, which remains one of my primary goals in life---to be true to who I am.  I guess I have some thinking to do, some issues to fully face, and some serious work on becoming more commonly true and much less the Queen of Denial.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Enjoy the Ride: Old Time is Still A-Flying

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old Time is still a-flying. And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.”--Robert Herrick

I woke up this morning thinking about nothing much except that I wanted to crawl back under my comforter, snuggle down and sleep some more.  I really, really enjoy sleeping.  My dream life entertains me immensely and usually my nightly journeys consist of happy, interesting, and exciting dreams.  Nightmares rarely enter my dreamland state.  However, I occasionally wake with a vague feeling of unease, and its then that I know my dreams did not comprise the entertaining and energizing kind.  After I staggering from bed this morning, pouring the prerequisite cup of steaming, black coffee, and taking my fifteen minutes to contemplate the weight of the world, I felt the hairy, creeping fingers of unease tickling the back of my memory.  I guess I dreamt of something unpleasant last night so I focused on what the issue could be that niggled at me.

After some contemplation, I remembered my dream, and realized that my emotional discomfort came from the fact that time moves way too quickly these days.  I dreamt about aging too quickly and missing my life due to my inattention and general distraction.  I hate the idea of not seeing the forest for the trees.  I want to fully participate in my life and acknowledge the important events and people present in it, as well as those remarkable small moments that make an impact on me.  If I distract myself with mundane and trivial things, then I won't see any of the essential stuff.  That scares me.

I have a hard time believing its October already.  Where did this year go?  When did my children get that much taller already, that much more talkative and knowledgeable?  The days disappear in what feels like mere hours, and the weeks roll by so quickly that a month seems half as long as it did just a few short years ago. I want to slow down time...put the brakes on, and just enjoy the moment, enjoy my children and husband, friends and family, my life in general.  I want to recognize and acknowledge and save those wonderful golden moments we all have.  I don't want to miss a thing.  

I know I can't get bogged down in this unsettled emotion I am entertaining at the moment.  I need to shake it off and focus on the fact that I do take the time to appreciate the people and events in my life, even though the inane and trivial tasks take up so much of my days.  I can only do what I can do in that regard, so why worry too much about it?  Time spent worrying takes away from time spent wisely on paying attention to the important aspects of my life.  I think I am going to gather all my rosebuds today and tomorrow and the next.  Old Time is still a-flying, so I might as well roll with it and enjoy the ride.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Light Years Away: Too Much Technology?

My daughter asked me today if I remembered the invention of television.  I had to laugh because a child's concept of time varies so much from that of an adult.  Her idea of 39 years old and my knowledge of the same age don't even come close.  I giggled at her assumption of my antiquity, and  I told her that her grandfather, aged 72, didn't have a television for the better part of his childhood. It had only been invented around the time he turned 12 and his family did not own one until his teens.  This information blew her away.  The idea of growing up without a t.v. seemed utterly and completely shocking to her. I then began to think of all the things she's known since birth that never existed for me as a child, and how all of this exposure to technology will affect her understanding of the world. 

Being born in 1972 doesn't seem all that long ago to me, but in terms of technology, it might as well be lightyears away.  My daughter, in her ten short years, has had an amazing amount of technology in her life.  There has always been a computer and internet access in her house, a hundred different television channels, ipods, video games, microwaves, cell phones, dvd players, and hand-held game systems.  As a kid, none of this existed for me.  It makes me wonder if I am able to have the right perspective on technology use in regard to my children.  How much television, internet, and video games constitutes too much or just enough? I struggle with the amount of time they want to watch television, play games on either the computer or the Wii, and use their DS systems.  I think that most parents, these days, have difficulty reigning in their children's use of technology, especially the entertainment variety of tech-stuff.

My husband and I have always agreed that we will only have one television in the house hooked up to cable.  This ensures that we constantly monitor what the children watch, and it also limits the time they have for watching t.v.  Sharing with their siblings constitutes an added benefit as well.  The kids learn negotiation skills and how to compromise.  We also have the computer in the livingroom so that we can see what they are doing at all times.  I think these measures will prove to be helpful in the long run, but are they enough? In addition, our children are only allowed to play their DS systems for a short period of time each day.  This engenders a lot of arguing and whining from them, but I think it's essential that they do other things besides instant-gratification, other-centered, non-creative entertainment.  It's important to read, to do arts and crafts, to engage in imaginative, make-believe play.  I encourage them to this and occasionally we will have a totally tech-free day.  Those days start slowly, but usually end on a high note with a deep level of satisfaction on the part of my children.

I want them to have some of the same experiences I did as a child.  I can remember only having three channels on the t.v., and no cartoons other than Saturday mornings.  I also remember a time with no cell phones, no computers, no game systems, no microwaves, no vcr, even!  What did I do as a kid?  I played outside from early morning to afternoon.  I explored the woods with my sister and built forts in which to hide and create fantasic stories to act out.  I played barbies, stuffed animals, and tinkertoys.  I read all the time.  I painted and drew pictures.  I had conversation just for conversation's sake. 

I want this for my kids.  I want them to be able to entertain themselves without having to rely on anything else but their own imaginations.  I want them to be social creatures, to enjoy the company of others.  I think much of today's technology has an isolatory effect.  People don't go visiting like they did in the old days.  Why bother?  Just get on facebook and voila!  Everything you need to know about someone is already posted.  I want them to get bored sometimes and struggle to find something to do that's fun.  I also want them to be able to have patience and perseverence in a project or activity. Unfortunately, that quality can be difficult to achieve when everything automatically arrives at the touch of a button these days. 

I am going to continue to try my best to integrate a good level of technology in their lives so that they have skill and mastery with the things that have become common place and even necessary in today's world.  Nonetheless, I am also going to constantly strive to have them tap into their innner creativity and imagination, and know what life can be like without a complete reliance on technology.  I hope I am striking a healthy balance with this.  Time will tell...speaking of which....there was a point when even clocks were considered new-fangled technology.  I guess then, it's not such a bad thing after all.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Interesting Bedfellows: The Fear Factor

Fear makes for an interesting bedfellow.  I noticed this when my children asked to watch a movie while going to bed this past Friday.  They all sleep in one room for this treat and watch a video by which to fall asleep.  This night, the arguing between Jack and Abby caught my interest because they fussed not over the merits of any particular movie, but over which movies couldn't be watched at night due to the scariness factor.  My daughter prefers mellow movies in the evenings while Jack likes slighty creepier and darker fare.  The movies that Abby refuses to watch, especially at night, trigger Jack's imagination in a much different way. He gets thrilled and she becomes terrified.  This made me start thinking about how certain people are born with different levels of tolerance for frightening things.

I remember this same phenomena as a child when my sister and I used to go to sleep listening to stories on the record player.  My mother let us each choose one story, and my sister always chose the tales with more adventure, like The Hobbit or Jack and the Beanstalk.  I always selected the softer, sweeter fairytales.  I still can almost touch that feeling of sheer terror listening to The Hobbit in the darkness of our room we shared.  My imagination would run wild with images as I curled up underneath my blankets, sure all the creepy things would come for me in the middle of the night.  My sister would lay there, thrilling to the somber music, the deep baritone of the narrator's voice, and get excited during the telling of the story.  We were and still are two very different creatures.  She has always been a risk-taker and a go-getter while I have been more subdued in many ways.  This fear factor definitely shaped our lives and how we tend to do things.

Due to genetic factors, most assuredly, some people just require higher levels of stimulation than others in order to feel alive, or in some cases, to feel merely normal.  On average, the majority of people fall somewhere in the middle, needing just a little scare to get that endorphin rush such a horror movie, biking fast, skiing downhill quickly, or moderate carnival rides.  But extreme outliers do exist as well.  People can panic at the thought leaving their homes, speaking in front of others, or even driving more than 35 miles an hour.  On the other end, certain people feel deadened if they aren't riding the most extreme rollercoasters, skydiving, or climbing incredibly high mountains. 

It is this level of necessary stimulation that determines quite a bit about how a person will live one's life.  Those who do not like the feeling of fear will lead quieter, more secure lives, while the others become the risk-takers always seeking adventure.  Listening to my children fuss with each other last night made me think about what experiences they would seek out and embrace, how they would behave as adults, and ultimtely the manner in which they would lead their lives.  I haven't even mentioned my third child, Joshua, yet in this entry.  I already know he is completely fearless and will probably become a professional naked skydiver/extreme sports afficionado.  My three kids illustrate well the spectrum of fear tolerance.  A quiet one, a moderate one, and an extreme one.  My life has already been enriched by these three beautiful, wonderful children, but I am also looking forward to seeing how they will grow up and what they will choose to do.  I know, for certain, that I am in for one interesting ride.