That Moment When…

This is for the ones who had to break through in order to become.

There are many reasons that I find religion so troubling

but all of them stem from my intimate experience growing up in a religious household, attending church and summer camps, and youth seminars, and Sunday school.

It is a lovely community when you are part of the crowd.

Just like any community, if you don’t fit in, then you don’t find peace and belonging.

There can be no peace where there is no radical acceptance.

I learned to be a chameleon, to change my colors based on the needs and requirements of my surroundings.

All the while jealously admiring the beauty of the peacocks who dared to show their brilliance and be shunned.

My true moment came in college.

That was when i realized my horizons were pencil drawn and my reality was a translucent bubble.

All along I had been screaming and scratching inside that bubble

but to them my screams sounded like youthful rebellion

and were promptly silenced or ignored.

I sat on the floor of my room sobbing my tears into the floor

itching to tear apart this life that didn’t fit, didn’t feel like mine.

My existence, a ghost within a cloak.

and so i wrote.

In one long song of pain and rock bottom misery, I wrote my heart

and peeled back my cocoon to breathe the fresh air.

I felt the beauty of true fear, and the excitement of possibility.

Most of the time parents and adults do the best they can to build little humans into fully functional responsive and sensitive beings that can hold responsibilities and interact with kindness. We all live with the results of the mis-steps and mistakes, but at some point- we each have to take ownership of our lives and ourselves, and grow into the people we feel inside. Terrifying and challenging, though it may be. I promise you- it is entirely better.

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Children of the Universe

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you, but not from you and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. – Kahlil Gibran

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and self awareness study lately. Trying to uncover the root of some unhealthy weeds in my life. Why am i so bad at accepting criticism. Why does have a difficult conversation put a pit in my stomach. Why do I knee jerk rebel to any authority figure…

The kinds of behaviors that seem so ingrained we pass them off as personality traits. But I want to be a better person, and I want to be healthy and un-bothered. So I’ve got to examine and root, or I’ll fester and get worse.

One thing I’ve been paying close attention to is parents. And I’m not parent bashing, because god knows that there is enough of that going around and that it is a tough often thankless job.

I remember my first knee jerk rebel response. I was arguing with my dad over something so unimportant (even in my 11 year old mind it was trivial) and he got frustrated with my arguing and told me, “you’re just a child” and I was indignant, “So! I know what I’m talking about and this is what I want and feel.” And his conversation ending response: “You are MY child, and I will tell you whats good for you.

Yah. Not his best parenting moment.

But from a traditional and societally-encouraged perspective, it wasn’t far off point.

I’ve read remarks by licensed psychologists asserting, “your kids are your manifestation in the world” and from woke and aware parents stating, “they are my heart and soul being put out into existence”.

It all comes down to that same reaction. “You are of me, and therefore you are mine.”

And I’ve been a rebel ever since. It took me years to figure out what value drove that– indendence, freedom. But at that moment– I knew exactly what I wasn’t. I am my own.

Yes my parents created and birthed, and raised me. But I don’t owe them for my life. That kind of thinking leads to a lifetime of guilt and servitude.

I love my parents, and absolutely would give every vital organ to them, would take care of them, would love and support them to the very end of my days. Whatever they need to be, live, and exist and pursue their dreams– They have but to ask and I will do my best to give.

But I am not theirs. I have my dads sense of humor and my mom’s assertive nature. But I have my own will and my own soul and I’ll chase that horizon as far as it takes me. Because that’s me. A child of the universe same as them.

And here it is– where children and adults alike of enmeshed families start the gut wrenching mind clenching guilt ride. If you’ve been there, you know exactly what this means.

But know this– people who love you, truly love you, and want you to be happy and healthy– don’t want you to feel guilty. They don’t benefit from it. The guilt you feel does not improve their place or get them what they want. Anyone who thrives off your guilt, or “wins” off your guilt response, is manipulating you.

I am a knee jerk rebel. When I feel a high sense of anxiety with that, the rebellion stems from the feeling that someone is stepping on my autonomy and I’m afraid of losing parts of my independence and self. But when it comes with a sneaky sense of anger- it’s just plain old childlike angst at being told what do to (and in those cases I need to suck it up and be better)

Who Are You

When I think of you now

I feel warm water

comforting and enveloping.

But I’ve learned better

even in tepid water

if i don’t continue to push

and fight

You will drown me

you will fill my mouth

and suffocate the life out of me

You will displace the air in my lungs

as you try to smother me with your essence

My screams will erupt as soundless bubbles against you

its odd

I embrace you and love you and wade in above my head

wanting to feel the goodness of you

while you hold me tentatively

waiting to snuff me out

and have me as your own,

forever.

future angel

The angle on my shoulder

has sharp teeth

and a wide friendly smile

but she doesn’t talk much

She paces her small ledge anxiously

her positive thoughts are harried and frenetic

sometiems she can’t get a word in edgewise between

the haphazard conceptions

She sings dark songs under her breath

when she thinks no one is listening

and holds a bejewled dagger in one hand

the other rests on her hip

She’s a darling

a dizzy vision in silver

hopping from one moment to the next

hardly before each is finished

She lives in the future

leaping always a few tiny steps ahead of me

driving me and guiding me

and yet

we don’t often mis-step into the same muddled puddles

A word on The Epstein’s of the world

Just a thought

or maybe a notion

Perhaps these men who swathe themselves in false mystery and make outlandish remarks to laugh in the pitiful face of society, who bask in an oddly dim glow from no discernible origin, who seem to have it all– all the trappings of a life well lived (while we are all unclear on who determines that) , who have all the answers to all the unasked questions, and whose daily conversations consist of ideas and thoughts beyond our mere mortal minds comprehension, who stand on a marble pedestal with a murky bootstrap story propelling them through the American dream, who stand in darkened rooms perpetuating unspeakable acts while stoically congratulating each other on the lurid facade they’ve pulled over our eyes.

Perhaps they are just dull, uninteresting, invented dolls with plastic eyes and wispy hair. Perhaps the emptiness within them is all that exists and without the slightest wind of thought or attention they would fade into nothingness. Perhaps the only existing thing about these men is all the humanity and realness that they lack

How pathetic, to only exist as a deficit.

Not even worth the pity such a state of being engenders.

Noise

Noise: /noiz/ a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.

A yellow sun baking in a clear blue sky oven cut neatly by squealing jet engines trailing white clouds at their wings

crispy brown and orange leaves grinding under my bare heels.

The slight delay of vision to sound transference

its like the world taking a breath

Our TV buzzed with a lofi sound and glowed green when you turned it off

Electricity buzzed through the surge protector, like an un-swattable fly

an extant holdover from the advent of a tech-forward life

a limping rolly polly drags his useless hind leg across the floor and the sound of his scraping husk on the ground follows him

someone is talking, she has pigtails and smells like sunscreen all the time just like she talks…all the time.

But someone is always talking. Inside, outdoors, through music, in a book, with a look, or without a sound

its the inexorable state of being

the suffocating presence of it

The last gasp of my screaming youth was spent trying to outrun the noise.

Independence

My father would take us to the speedway on the 4th of July
Mama packed a picnic basket,
like
an actual picnic basket woven with wicket
and sturdy wood handles.
I’d put stickers on our faces
and glitter in my hair
saving the face for a paint canvas

the dry heat didn’t bother me much back then
but you could feel radiant heat from the cars all the way up in the stands.
something like a convection oven
the next day your face would have patches of dry dead skin

We’d hover above the metal benches, bouncing on our toes to see
the immaculate and brightly painted cars before they bolted down the track

The sound was enormous but it was the rumbling feeling of the engines
in my chest that had me enamored.

Then there were fireworks and camaraderie and everyone singing the National Anthem.
It was a moment of pure “God Bless America” sentiment,
a mass hypnosis of spirited nationalism.

But that speedway…
July 4th became my favorite holiday
just for those long 7 hour days in the mountain sun feeling my heart beat mix with the engine currents,
the smell of mama’s cornbread,
the way my dad excitedly rattled off facts and figures about his childhood love- cars.
When the planes flew overhead (his 2nd childhood love) I think it felt like heaven to him.

One year we inexplicably stopped going,
like childhood–
it faded in an instant.

The sanctity of the day was memorialized
in my mind.
unrepeatable in its
repleteness

Shame

I’m not there
and
you’re not here

I slide my fingers over my
rippled scar

it didn’t heal
right

it didn’t heal crisp
clean
and invisible

it didn’t blend
back into my skin

it’s tinged a darker black
then my black

(i didn’t even know I could get any blacker)

There’s an old folk tale that scars on the earth surface
when re-opened
are portals to hell

Isn’t that the truth?

Don’t the scars we wear protect mini- pathways
back to the hell
we survived.

I like to think the rumpled silver-black sliver
in my skin
dignifies the raging battles
it covers.

Redemption

It assumes, with its hooded cloak
that I’m an unwitting sinner
an oblivious woeful traveler
whom happenstance and luck
spat on with vengeance.

A fateful assumption in itself.

I was raised in the guilt-laden shadow
of religions velvet talons.
Am sharply aware of the valleys and alleys
that can waylay the progress of an unassuming pilgrim.

Like Aphrodite, Persephone, Mary,Joan,
Nefertiti, Elizabeth, Harriet, Sojourner
I never sought the warm cushion of redemption’s false grasp.
To breathe free and seek the hearts yearnings, to fill
the yawning gaps in my mind.
To wander and find beyond what I seek.

To rule myself truly and completely.
To never fear the depths and darkness,
and by that virtue
live true.

On Why Margaritas have a Salt Rim

Ado looked down at the bottom of her shoe with annoyance, “Lot, I just stepped in gum!”

Her husband was busy looking at his tired reflection in the storefront window. His belly girth had grown and the bags under his eyes were swollen and grey. But he caught the shining spark of his gold watch and felt better. All those hard working hours in the office were worth it, when he could flaunt his wealth.

“Don’t worry about it dear, we’ll buy you a new pair.” He held out his arm for her to grab hold so they could continue their stroll.

She muttered under her breath but latched onto his elbow.

The had lunch in a picturesque bell-tower with vines winding up the sides, where Ado complained of the draft and Lot dismissed the wine selection haughtily. They sent their waiter away with a bag of her gum-sole shoes to dispose of as they admired her new red-soled replacements.

On the way back to the hotel they whispered to each other in disgust about the citizens of the city. They were tattooed and pierced, unhurried, simplistic people with easy smiles, and dirty jokes. Lot proclaimed his intention to finish his work early so they could depart the city as  soon as possible without looking back.

A short, purple haired witch stood at a corner market with her wife, an amazonian black transgender individual. Her green eyes gleamed with glee as she overheard Lot and his wife laughing at the city-folk. She could hardly hold back a snort as Ado lamented the lack of yoga centers in the city, and how “un-centered” she felt.

“Let it pass, honey”, her partners smooth maple voice circled her, as they picked through the apples. The witch grinned, “oh absolutely not. I never miss a chance to share a parting gift with visitors to our fair city!” She lifted her wife’s henna painted hand and kissed a knuckle, “I’ll meet you at the ceremony, just have to pop home for a moment” Her wife shook their lovely mane, “Padma will never forgive you if you are late, but I’ll save you a seat love, do your thing!”

It only took the little witch a few minutes to get home and prepare her herbaceous recipe on the stove. It bubbled and smoked up the entire kitchen, while she whispered a few words over the concoction.

A few days later Lot and Ado sat comfortably in first class, and ordered a couple of cocktails to celebrate. “I am just so glad we are leaving that den of weirdo’s and heathens! Did you notice they didn’t even have a single church there?” Ado shivered, “I pity the sinners. They need a missionary to go in and save their sad souls.” She took a sip of her drink and immediately spat it out, “Is this some kind of joke?” She glared at the flight attendant, who appeared surprised, “I’m sorry?”

Ado pointed at the drink in her hand, “Is this a prank? My drink taste like salty water?!” Lot tried to calm her, “Let me try.” He took a sip and frowned, “Yes, this is undrinkable. Just bring her a glass of champagne. Make it fast!” He began raising his voice, “This is unacceptable. when we take off I want to talk to the person in charge.” The shocked flight attendant took the drink and disappeared.

She returned with a freshly poured glass of bubbly, but Lot and Ado insisted it also tasted like salty water and their ire grew. They demanded the flight attendant take a sip, which she did, and tasted refreshing bubbly champagne. Very soon all the officials on the plane were gathered around Lot and Ado trying to calm their frantic anguish at their current treatment. Every drink that was handed to them and passed between their lips tasted like salty water, but to everyone else tasted fine. No one could determine the cause, and finally the pilot offered to have them escorted off the plane and wait for the next flight out. Ado and Lot quickly stopped complaining and arguing and sat back in their seats in stony silence.

On Ado’s seat back tray sat a bottle of water and a glass of white wine. Undrinkable.

The salty taste took 5 weeks and multiple doctor and therapy appointments to wear off for Lot and Ado. They could never fully take a sip of a drink again without the faintest hint of salt in the first taste.

Back at Padma’s wedding, the purple witch stood on her chair to give a toast among her friends- writers, painters, garbage-men, software developers, taxi drivers, students, cooks, and servers. “We Love, Live and work for our existence. In That Order. No judgments, just acceptance.” Everyone clinked glasses heartily and sipped their lovely cocktails through a salt rim.

Padma took her new husbands hand, “Let the salt remind us all that every sip of life comes with a taste of bitterness to drink up the goodness!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Younger Years

A random Instagram post by The Wild Woman Magazine   was a letter to the authors younger self.
That idea instantly got me thinking about my younger years, and what I would tell little ole me, if I got to see her again.

The thought of it makes me somewhat emotional, because I love younger me. Everything about her is just incredible for her age. I was so strong resilient, and open. I embraced life and was still curious. I was a horizon.

That lead me into considering my partner J, as a younger version. We met when he was a fully formed adult. No trace of youthful exuberance left.
He never seems to reflect back on his youth, and if he does it doesn’t seem as impact-fully fond as my review.

I only know the younger J through stories, photos, and memories. So i sat down and wrote a letter to that version of J. The J I’ll never meet.

I hope he doesn’t hate that I share it now:

Dear younger J,

I know life is a whirlwind and a mess sometimes.
I know that you feel confused and stuck and unmotivated. I know its hard. Believe me! I know.
I want you to know its okay. It’s okay to have no idea what you want, and its okay to change your mind every 10 minutes.
Enjoy your friends, you’ll never be closer than you are now. Enjoy your experiences, they will make for some great stories. And just be the steady man that you are becoming. It’s worth it.
One day you’ll meet a starry-eyed wild girl who drinks and swears like a sailor, but she will love the shit out of you. She will love all the pieces of you that you don’t understand. She will love you hard and mean and she’ll ask you a million questions. She’ll make no sense at all sometimes.
She’ll have her head in the atmosphere and you’ll be her rock. Your heart will be a song she’s never heard but loves instantly. It’ll soothe her soul and lure her home.
You will find your center, and you two will make a life. It’ll be messy and untamed and spontaneous…but you will be loved.

Love,
Me

Should have been

It really is not use thinking about the “should haves” in life, unless you are a writer— then it is an infinite exploration. This flash story is a piece of that. A work in progress, but an idea.

She gasped frantically.
Dying to take in air.
But really just dying. She was floundering in the depths, too far out from the shore to be seen by the few folks milling about, setting up their blankets.
No one had even seen her skim out onto the waves. Her surfboard was the same appealing blue color of the ocean. She was trying to avoid the people, she didn’t want them disrupting her peace on the crisp sweet morning.
Ironic she thought as she struggled to keep her head above water, sputtering out the salty brine from her mouth. Now that peace would literally drown her.
She was a strong swimmer, but even the strongest swimmers can’t fight the power of the vast deep. She felt davy jones’ locker pulling her leg, dragging her beneath the thrashing waves.
She thought it would take longer, the struggle for her life. But it didn’t.

She died.
And when she awoke, she found herself staring up into the eyes of herself.
She startled and jumped to her feet. the being that stood in front of her, was her. Her own eyes, and dark frazzled hair. Her own full lips, thick hips, and dark skin. She was looking in a mirror at herself it seems. But she wasn’t. the other her smiled gently and reached out her hand, “Hello Callie, it’s lovely to meet you.” Callie ignored the hand and frowned. “Who are you, what is going on?”

Other Callie held her hands up next to her head, palms out. “It’s okay. You will be confused for awhile. You did just die. and I’m sorry about that. But, this is hell. and I’m you.”

Callie threw up, it was a vile salty sour mix of seawater and her morning breakfast.She wiped her mouth, “excuse me? hell?”

Other Callie handed her a handkerchief, “Yes, again I am so sorry about all of this.”

Callie choked, “why are we in hell? Fuck– this is too much.”

Other Callie gave her a sympathetic pat on the shouler and looked out over the vast white emptiness around them. “It’s not use asking why Callie, you should have learned that on earth. Its kinda a pleasant place, but you aren’t going to like it as much as I do.”

Callie lifted her chin defiantly, “Why?”

Other Callie sighed lifted her hair off the back of her neck and knotted it into a quick bun atop her head. “Because I’m the you that you should have been.”