Impatiece, Truth Coffee, Newton’s First Law, & Meeting Henry.

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Much to do this morning in a hard, cold world that makes all travelers, all the living feel the world is against them, waiting to thaw, hoping to thaw soon, wondering where has everyone gone post-blizzard Grayson? The birds are still flitting past icy roofs and trees, streetlamps, bannisters. They do not land, only flitting, asking, “Where, where, where?”

I watch the ice cube melt in my blue and green coffee mug knowing that this moment defines me. Holding it warms my fingers but too hot on my lips and throat, I will not wait for it to cool in a cold, hard morning. I will force it to cool with ice I wouldn’t invite into my house, but I want to drink it and must have it now now now. 

I think of my son who negotiates his responsibilities, everything is tied to everything else. I can only write in green now. I won’t write with anything else, my thoughts won’t come in black or blue. (This isn’t true, but it was an interesting thought that flitted through my head, “Where where where?”) 

I sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee grounds and it makes the house smell heavenly. I can drink mouthfuls of you but you will soon be gone, and I will stammer in stunned cold deciding if I want another, and pace and taste my mouth to see if it is dry, note the time, scribble in green pen, watch patches of snow melt and drop from roof flashings, when I should be packing getting ready to meet Henry in Raleigh.

(I will only go if the roads are safe, I don’t know if the roads are safe, how will I know)

I will meet Henry Rollins tonight for my ticket says I’m VIP. I will meet his eyes, say nothing useful, he’s heard it all before, perhaps he will be chatty and not run for the door as soon as the gig is done, back to the hotel where he will pace and sip water and read and write and think alone, carrying small memories of us back to his room for he is all he needs.  He’s not afraid of icy roads, I’ll bet, but oh, he carries his own demons, and I wouldn’t swap concerns with him today. 

My coffee is almost too cool to enjoy now. God bless microwaves, heroes of the impatient, we who don’t have all minute to sort out which way we are going, let alone what color underwear to put on after a hot shower in a cold room, gathering speed to go forward. Or just pace and check the parking lot to see if the magic snow plow came in the night, or sit down and read bad news and lose all the goodwill the magic green pen brought me. It will be sunset soon in Raleigh, Henry does not await me, and my blue and green coffee mug pulls at my sleeve, saying, “Really? You gotta do this now?”

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Rest.

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20171231_203836Too often the ticking of the clock informs our lives.  Do not let the ticking of the clock inform your life.  It is loud and constant. It is easy to fall into the march of time, that everything must be done before it’s too late.

It is the day of the next year. The night before it all falls apart. We hinge our everything on the ticking of the clock, a countdown. Where have we been, what have we done, what have we yet to do? Lists on paper or chilled on ice in the back of our minds, all we failed to do, and we fear we’ll never do unless we state a resolution, loud and proud, in ink, on TV, on Twitter, that we will achieve that thing we’ve been chasing.

Do not fall prey to the ticking of time.  The clock is loud, but our love and lives should be louder. Forget measures. Forget time. Your magic doesn’t stop at midnight, it doesn’t begin at midnight, it never has. We are beautiful and powerful and hopeful and wonderful every night of our lives. Don’t fall prey to the ticking of time or trickling of bubbles in a glass. Forget the promises you forced yourself to make last year and the year before.

What if, just for tonight, you were here, hearing the ticking of the clock, and just felt happy that the wind is 16.5 knots, the sun will rise tomorrow, and whatever you wish will stir at your command when you are ready. Not tonight, or tomorrow, or maybe next week.  The world doesn’t begin or end tonight. So celebrate the changing of the guard, the return of the light, and give yourself power over your life.

Solstice at the Thirsty Camel

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There is glitter on the table and salt in my book
gritty on my arm as I press down to write.
I sip and lick salt from my fingers.

No one sits in the center of the room
bodies huddle at the bar, hug the walls,
so I sit at the back where I can see you all
Ballcaps, hoodies, Santa hats, sweaters
Blondie in a ballgown texting who knows what.

I claimed a table for friends tonight,
brought a candle and journal to fill the time until their faces appear.
One by one they come and we make the ‘howdy stranger’ talk
over light beers, battered onions, and speakers playing a bit too loud.

She came in last, her withered body wrapped in sagging jeans
and a pretty white sweater made of cloud,
her face tells me her kitchen is on fire.
We danced around her fire all night trying to douse it with smiles
and talk of the sunlit moon, Saturn in transit, but
she wanted to sit in her kitchen fire.
We left her there watching as she poured old wine into older skins
wondering why everything in her world leaks
pushing hope away on the longest night of the year.

Lenny came on and gently, so very gently, plucked strings in the dark
to tell us about that famous blue raincoat, the one torn at the shoulder
and I knew we were meant to be here

and that we should always carry hope like a lighter in our pocket
for those nights we go astray.

My petal face is showing

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Well, I could choose to ignore the fact that Christmas is coming and let the cards write themselves, let the gifts magically appear fully wrapped in my sleigh so all I have to do is show up… or I could choose to ignore the fact that Christmas is coming at all. Or, I could make way. Clear the decks. Prepare a space–a quiet space–and open the book of Christmas past. Time to open my address book and look on the names.

So many people that have moved once, twice, thrice. I know their children’s names, but not her grandchildren’s names. It’s a basic book, so I have to squeeze in birthdates, anniversaries, the day they died. So many spaces are blank, but I am slowly filling in the memories.  So many changes, people who’ve moved on with no forwarding address, and that’s okay. It’s like walking into a silent church, I can smell the incense, I see faces and remember my heart big in my chest at seeing you and you and you. I light a votive today as I write cards for friends and family whose paths have diverged. You are remembered with love and I always carry a light for you.

I have a rex begonia growing on my bedroom windowsill. It’s my first. I had to re-arrange the sill because the prayer plant will need her own apartment soon, she’s taking over the place. Rex begonia saw fit to rise up through the soil and create a space for a bloom, and she opened today, five tender pink petals.  Pink like the address book I’ve been carrying around all these years. My desk is clear. My right pinky is smeared in green ink from writing everything I needed to say, finally. Begonia tells me if she can bloom here then, hell, I can do anything.

Writing through seasonal change

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If I were in New York on my drive in to work and on my way home I’d see lots of cars with christmas trees tied to the roof, headed for a warm house soon to be seated in a bowl of cool water the cat will surely drink from.  Folks will add evergreen nutrients and water their needley tree so its boughs will stay risen and green as they add tinsel, orbs of glass, or baby’s first ornament from sixteen years ago.

I haven’t seen many cars go by with trees on their roofs here in Virginia. Maybe that’s because they’re all on the interstate while my business usually keeps me on the “back roads,” or maybe it’s because folks lean towards artificial trees, who knows. Either way, there will be evening road trips where we pile into cars and head for neighborhoods where streetlights still look like gaslights decked in climbing pine needles, festive ribbons, homes adorned with candles and others filled with inflatable icons, christmas music blaring, preparations begun in September.

All I know is that I watched him take the fairy lights down. The backyard is his purview and he’s in charge or almost in charge of everything in it. There will be no christmas tree in his house this year because they are leaving, headed for the lands of three-foot-snow. The fairy lights will be gone. His yard will be empty. His puppy will dig holes far away and learn the joys of snowplowing headfirst at five in the morning.  All life is tucked into boxes marked this room and that room and his kayak will be stuffed last into the moving truck.  A new neighbor will come, and I doubt they will finish the mural his wife began on the property wall.  I will miss the tiny blue fairy lights that lined his fence, that gave me comfort all those nights I paced and watched the trees sway or thrash depending on the mood of the wind.

I think about the saying “still waters run deep” as I spritz my windows in preparation of sticking holiday clings to them.  That will be the extent of my decorating. No lights, no noise. Just a quiet acknowledgement that I still believe in peace and joy and love. Every card I sign carries hope and goodwill, and I wish it all for my neighbor as he moves into his winter wonderland.

Pacifice et nimis incommode morior

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Another day of life, another day I get to choose. Hold on, let me light some sage and pace the floor and forsake the waiting page because I’m not ready yet. Willing, able, but not ready to commit words to page, creating something from nothing.

Another day of life, another day I get to choose not to hate, to clench my jaw, to think and feel and say terrible things though you surely earned it.

Another day I get to give up. To throw in the towel. To say fuck it, nothing matters. (Insert leaping rainbow dolphin meme here.)  Another day to despair and ask, “Why do I give a shit? What’s the point? I’m wasting my time and energy. A woman’s voice does not matter and will never be heard.” Another day to wallow, to feel helpless, to watch things not go my way, to watch sufferings and wrongs that cannot be curtailed by the wave of my wand that means well, but has the exact power of a mythical unicorn. Another day to spend in tears because the child hurts, the women hurt, the world hurts, and can I point to anything at all I have done or have yet to do that will make real, lasting change?

Another day to to choose hedonism in favor of being in this world because wouldn’t I rather just live on Vanuatu and never give another flying fuck about this world ever again? My tick tock clock is countdown calling, and wouldn’t it just be better to surrender to the good life, a life of living moment to moment without sadness for the past or fear of the future, just hand to mouth and embrace that dirt nap when it comes in volcanic soil, without caring that I never had a soul to begin with? It’s just easier believing we are a parasite on a rock, hakuna matata, the end.

Another day to acknowledge the pain in my bones and my skin when I hear that no one believes the women, another day to acknowledge the betrayal of all I hold sacred if I turn my back on us. Another day of life to not give up on doing what’s right. To choose action, to speak out, to make a stand, to do what’s right, parasite or no.

Men and women are different. The guys have the upper body strength, but women have the gift of stamina. We keep going. You and I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t keep up with you all those colicky nights. No matter the shit or the threats, the bruises or the cum on our dresses, our fear to speak honestly because “No,” or “I will have,” “I deserve,” “I need” equals “No one will believe you,” women find ways to keep going.  And if I curl up and say fuck it and stay in my bed and wallow and wait for the soil then how could I ever deserve to requiescat in pace? I know that right now the few are running the world for the rest of us. Lying down and letting them steamroll us hurts our daughters and sons in ways that’s hard to see when we don’t know where dinner is coming from, but we must never give up. It’s hard to see a better future when we’re unbelieved today, but we just  have to keep going.

Another day of life to choose to keep going.

Tick-Tock-Clock

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It was a little home on two floors that smelled of roast beef and carrots and tea brewing in a saucepan, with the faintest whiff of motor oil wafting up from grandpa’s boots at the bottom of the stairs.

I was greeted by a faux-angry dachshund who I wanted to believe loved me and no one else. I got to walk him and sleep with him in the hammock and felt sad that my mother refused to trust or love him.

Spending a week with Mom Mom and Pop Pop alone was a different world than when everyone else was around. I got to choose where I wanted to sleep instead of having to be thrown into the hospital bed in the attic away from all the action, where the grownups were hanging out.  I slept on the couch in my clothes beneath scratchy knitted blankets in black and pink and orange and white. I could hear their enormous pink and white Big Ben ticking all night. If everything was quiet, you could it hear it from any room in the house.  I knew then why people suggest putting tick-tock clocks in with puppies to help them sleep at night.

No alarm clock woke me on those summer mornings. I think it was the sound of her slippered feet scuffing into the kitchen to get breakfast ready for her man, the sound of his razor, the scent of aftershave that woke me.  I’ve been longing for an enormous pink and white tick-tock clock to help me sleep at night. But maybe what I really need is just to write about those nights instead.

Jim Nabors

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Jim Nabors has left us. I am glad he is in peace. I can’t say that he’s the reason I wanted to be a Marine. It’s too complicated for that. (It’s certainly more complicated than the unyielding call of the jets flying over the warehouse where I toiled.)  His most recognizable character, Gomer Pyle, was simple in nature, kind of heart, which seems antithetical to being part of the war machine. He was part of my childhood thanks to Mom and his voice… oh. Jim Nabors’ voice.  I learned about passion by his voice alongside Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Cher, Barbra Streisand, so many more. I heard his voice sing the hymnals I recognized from church, and it moved me, a girl of impressionable age.   Jim moved on, and I am grateful to the internet for sharing his performance of Impossible Dream (The Quest).  I dare you to listen and not be moved and reminded that the world is the life and we are stewards of it all, and our voices are holy. Our voices are holy.  (don’t waste it all.)   He is with my mother now, who introduced me to black and white TV. Shazam, and Golly, and Surprise.

Oh, by the way.  Tell me how you feel after reading the lyrics to this song. How does one bear it, how will you learn to bear it, where does your strength come from to sing those notes he sings effortlessly the power of that poem, to find the will, and the will, and the will to do anything at all, in those years that I didn’t know I had any power at all, little girl? Jim’s song seems effortless. I will never write or live or be as effortless as the victory of his voice… but it sure does give me something to strive for.

I may or may not stop weeping on the sound and the voice of his memory. And that’s just okay.

Sexist Me

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In 1984, at the age of sixteen, I heard about female genital mutilation.  I was horrified and angry, but I had nowhere to share this information or how I felt, no way to make a change. People at home were too busy fighting, and everyone at school was all about everything you can imagine going on in high school. Horrified, angry, and helpless make for flinty bedfellows. I internalized and built me a case for hating men.

In 1991, five years after I graduated from high school, Anita Hill testified that Clarence Thomas, supreme court nominee, sexually harassed her.  I thought she was brave for coming forward, I believed her, and after he was confirmed my hatred for men accelerated.  How could anyone let this pig become a judge?  (Side note: I didn’t even understand at the time that he would be a judge for a lifetime and what that meant, or how his wife’s politicking everyone ignores.)

Four years later, 1995,  I married my best friend. My high school years and many after did nothing to help me learn and grow into becoming the best person I could be. I was a man-hating woman hell-bent ready to punish everyone and everything who brutalized women. I. Won’t. Be. Your. Victim. Anymore!!!   Those years were tumultuous, years without a strong support system. I hated men less because my husband was kind, but the lurking vigilante shadow was never far away, and I did little to banish it.

In 1998 my son was an infant, and I was enmeshed in the daily life of being wife and mother.  I kept up with the news in a fairly background noise kind of way.  I heard that Clinton was being accused and dragged to court and impeached for lying under oath. Well that was stupid, Bill, what the hell were you thinking?  I heard the woman he was with was a willing, if not eager, partner, and I gave him a pass.  What?   Yes.  I gave him a pass.  He seemed like a charming dude, really good on camera whether it was an address or a spot on a talk show.  I mean, how could a dude who seemed so decent (yes, he had a dalliance and he’s all humbled by it) be the predator these other women and politicians made him out to be?  I felt like the women coming forward were the unfortunate victims of those who had a political axe to grind.  I felt like, if Hillary stood by him, why shouldn’t I?  I gave Bill Clinton a Democratic pass because he favored the same things I did, he was charming, and I was not paying attention to the deeper, more relevant, issues.

Twenty-eight years after I graduated high school, 2014, I found myself in the lobby of a hospital waiting to visit my son.  I picked up a copy of Vanity Fair which I don’t normally read, but this issue caught my attention.  I read about Monica Lewinsky’s life after the scandal.  The focus of the article was humiliation and bullying. 2014 was a pivotal time for me in so many ways, and this article was part of it.  Ms. Lewinsky describes her life after the scandal and her hopes for what women need to do going forward.  Monica had been a throwaway for me. She was a willing participant in an affair, so what, let’s move on. After reading the article I learned how wrong I was.

In October of 2016 I became enraged and sickened by the words of a president-elect caught on tape. I looked forward to his sad-faced confession and withdrawal from the race, but that did not happen.  People did not seem to care that he admitted to groping women without their consent, enjoying it without fear of retribution because when you’re famous you can get away with it.  The Narcissist-in-Chief is our president, and I mourn every day.

It is November 2017 and I am questioning everything I know about myself as a woman and everything I believed right up until this day.  Three women accused Bill Clinton of rape or misconduct. No one cared. Sixteen women came forward to describe being abused by Trump before his inauguration. No one cared.  Harvey Weinstein was exposed, a tap was opened and it appears the floodgates are breached. Every day more women and men are coming forward to share stories of their abuse by the famous and the unknown.  As I sit back in amazement at the revelations I cannot help but look at myself for being complicit.  I gave Bill Clinton a Democratic pass, ignoring the women he abused. Should I give that same treatment to Al Franken because his sins were not that big a deal? Why turn my back on Roy Moore but not Charlie Rose?

The harder we put men’s bad behavior under the microscope, the harder I take a look at myself, the closer I listen to my internal tape recorder. I am shocked by what I find. I read a female journalist’s book and in several places I felt annoyed and frustrated that she was complaining about her hair, or her choice to give up her relationship and comfortable life in exchange for face-time on air covering a presidential candidate. I heard my inner voice saying to the cashier where I buy groceries, “Geez, lady, would it kill you to smile?”  I am sexist just like all the rest, but at least now I know it and I am willing to work hard to do better. I no longer want to exercise vigilante justice under the cover of my superpower, invisibility.  I know now that knowledge is power, and so is my voice. I have to stand up and speak out equally for what is right, instead of giving a pass to the folks I kinda like because they’re cute or funny on a talk-show.  Justice looks so different to me now. I hope my voice will add geometrically and make a real, lasting change.  I pray for equal vision, equal treatment, and an open heart and mind always.

November Evening

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Hey Mister Away Man, will you turn your green light out tonight? You never kept it lit before, the one that burns outside your door, Mister Away Man, please turn out your light. All these lights are killing my stars.

Hey Smiling Cat Lady, you keep your blinds down now. I miss seeing your big cat boy,
calico windowsill warmer who stood up and greeted only at seeing your shadow.

Hey blind boy, your big blue eyes not seeing me, I miss your gentle feline crooning coming from next door.  I’m sure mama was not too pleased I PsssPsssPsssPsssted you, causing you curiousity on the windowsill, her little blind boy crooning for the door, but his big, blue eyes were too much for me to ignore.

Hey new neighbor piloting your giant red pick-up, I hear your dinner in the microwave, the door slamming, and it reminds me not to eat in the midnight hours. Who wants to hear bumping doors all hours of the night, or the toilet flushing, or maybe the sound of a Tums bottle opening again.  Hey new neighbor, built like a stick, bent in the wind, long pretty hair blowing as you carry your wee laundry bag downstairs like it weighs all of the world. Are you okay?

Hey lone neighbor will you ever wave to me, or does your digital cammo tell you there’s no law that says we must be friendly.

I hear you, Missus neighbor, coming home from a long day, boots clomping down the walk like Clydesdales heading for the barn. I hope your day was good.

You see me in and out my door 50 times a day, leaning over the balcony looking down on the grass Mister Tony works so hard to raise from the dead. You see me sometimes in jammies, or shorts, most often in jeans and a t-shirt that makes you wonder. Do you know that you make me wonder, and would you worry if you knew I am writing about you?

Oh yeah, mister, you know who you are.  I got my eye on you, and I am definitely writing about you. I think your days are numbered.