I’ll cry if I want to…

In two days time I am driving across the country to begin a new job. One of the reasons I started my WordPress account is that I was laid off from my job about 4 years ago, and I needed some way to channel my thoughts and occupy my time. This new adventure is such a huge change for me, not only because I have not had “regular” employment for 4 years, but also because I have never lived away from home. I don’t mean that figuratively – I have literally lived in the same house for my entire life. I didn’t go away for college and the longest I’ve ever been away from home is for 3 weeks.

I had big plans for today. I was going to run some last-minute errands, finish packing, and have a marathon of Summer Heights High playing in the background. At about 2 pm today I heard a thump in front of my house followed by the worst siren I’ve ever heard. I live in an area where sirens, car accidents and even fights are not all that unusual, but something was different about this siren. I opened the front door to see a dog laying in the middle of the street, who had just been clipped by a car. The husky was trying to move out of the middle of the street but his back legs had been badly injured. The “siren” had been his cries of pain. I ran out to the middle of the street and held the dog in my lap for about half an hour while waiting for animal control to come and assess his condition.

My neighborhood has had it shares of ups and downs. Over the decades, there has been a lot of transition, changes in the community and even violence. But today…today I was so proud of my neighborhood. Everyone responded so quickly. Seconds after I got to Balto, neighbors were directing traffic around us, calling 911, contacting animal support, and getting in touch with the dog’s owners. As I held Balto cradling his head in my lap, his 11-year-old owner came running up, tears streaming down her face. She held my arm and kissed Balto’s head, saying “But he has to be okay. He’s a dad…and he has a dog wife.” It took everything in me to keep from bawling in front of this child, the whole time my brain saying “Dammit kid, I am barely holding it together right now.” I hastily wiped off the dog blood from my arms and hands so she wouldn’t see.

At one point I looked up at a woman who was helping me to keep Balto calm and said, “Today is my birthday…” (I told you I had other plans for the day). She looked at me with tear-brightened eyes and said, “Oh shit.” Animal control came and transported Balto to the emergency vet. I don’t know what’s happened to Balto. I don’t know his humans, only that they live somewhere a few streets down. I don’t even know their names.

I fell in love with that dog in all of five minutes. And such is life. We love. And we say goodbye. It only takes a moment to love, and we are changed by that love just as quickly. And then, we have to pack up our boxes, fill up the car, and take our leave. And it sucks. We bleed out our love and cry out our loss. Loving and saying goodbye is messy, bloody, and hard; then we wake up and do it all again the next day, because we have to. And we speak in metaphors because sometimes the truth requires words that we don’t have.

Untitled

The only thing outweighing rage
Is the pity I feel for you.
No, wait…I take it back.
That part’s not really true.

Sorrow’s reserved for those who knelt
Before your lap, as you dealt
The slap that left a bruise unseen
Delivered by a two-faced fiend.

My concern for you is only this:
For those you robbed of innocence,
Who trembled under weighty kiss
Heavy with self-righteousness.

I’m done with you.
This part’s for them:
Far better things are at the end.
He might have used you as a toy,
But he cannot steal your joy.

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time…I had a good job.

I had money; not a lot certainly, but compared with my financial situation for the past couple years, I was FILTHY rich. I even had benefits, health insurance and a company matched 401k…whaaaaaat??!! Then a mean witch called “corporate downsizing” robbed me of my job and most of my savings. She’s a bitch all right, with a capital B. Yet somehow I can’t complain. Well, I could; and truthfully, I have. But since then, I’ve realized how much I had to lose in order to see what’s really worth holding tight. I had to lose clothes shopping at my favorite stores. I had to lose eating out for lunch every day. I had to lose my daily trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. I had to lose weekly movies and expensive vacations. I had to lose even the cheap vacations. I had to lose all the extra BS that seemed to be necessities at the time, in order to live a life of true necessities. I’ve learned that more money coming in, almost definitely means so much more money going out; that a bigger paycheck doesn’t always last that long when you have to expend soooo much just to keep up with creature comforts.

I’ve learned that coffee in a french press made at home is better than Dunkin’, and way better than Starbucks. I’ve learned that a summer morning spent reading on the front porch surrounded by flowers is an excellent way to spend some hours. I’ve learned that yoga in my living-room can be just as good at stress-relief as yoga in an expensive studio. I’ve learned to truly live on a budget and that I really, really love mac-n-cheese for dinner. I’ve learned that a phone call to your best friend who lives across the country is the very best form of therapy. I’ve learned that being caught in a torrential downpour at a kiddie amusement park with the best friend and her brood is a truly cleansing experience, that jumping in puddles is  awesomely messy, and that fireworks are truly the best.

The best thing I’ve taken away from this time-out, is that I found my voice in my writing. I never had the time before. It was always “later,” or “someday,” or maybe even “never.” I always had the words, but I never had the will or the nerve to put them down on paper (or laptop). They were constantly floating around in my head, bursting at the seams, only to be crammed down again and locked into the dusty box of “one day.”

I’ve learned what true depression is, what causes it, how to cope with it, how to heal from it, and how to plod on every. single. day.

I’ve learned that while money is great, friends and family who love you and support your dreams is even better. If you have a “time out,” don’t be discouraged. Use it as an opportunity to hone the skills that may have been lying dormant all these years. Look inside. Look forward. Look to the flowers, and trees, the birds, and bees, to the sunrise and the sunset, to those you love, and even those who make your blood boil. Love those who can make you giggle and value those who make you think. And always, always keep looking up.

Keep reaching for your goals, my friends; and never be satisfied with giving up.

downpour

evan

ana

tigerlily

War Paint

Where should I go?
What should I do?
The door is wide open.
I fear walking through.
I’ll sit in the shadows
With lights turned down low;
The door is wide open.
I’m too scared to go.
There are sparkling places
That I need to see,
Wandering rivers who sing,
Tallest oaks with stories to tell.
I shouldn’t be scared of a thing.
I’ll put on my war-paint
With trembling hands.
I’ll strap on the backpack of faith.
I’ll light up my torch
With courage and hope.
I’ve gotta get out of this place.

Apathy

No more words
Once the wielding of our swords
Has commenced,
And we have gotten off the fence
Of apathy. Ambivalence
Was always our peacemaker,
The trusted arbitrator.
Our silent pledge to not engage
With thoughts that might enrage.
Sat with hands pressed over eyes,
And deaf ear turned to cries
And pleas from those who have no voice.
Now we have a choice.
Our swords were always there,
But fell to disrepair,
Not from virtuous ideals;
We’d chosen not to care.

remote control

turn it off:
the sound and the fury
of upraised fists,
words spoken in hurry
without a thought for how they cut,
or tear and bruise and even maim.
change the channel
to a gentle response,
of kindness repaid for insult given.
turn it off:
the static of rage
that glows in the heart
when passion ignites;
bingeing on fear
and vomiting hate.
turn it off,
before it’s too late.

They Call

toss and turn. clammy sheets.
trembling hands and frigid feet.
creatures of the wildest kind
existing only in the mind,
hovering neither here nor there;
trudging through with weighty cares.
I know not if they’re bad or good
or simply the misunderstood.

they call, I come.
they chase, I run.
they seem as friends
but quickly lend
a mocking to my misery.
yet when they call each night, I’ll go,
afraid of where they’re leading me.
they speak of all that’s terrible
beyond the dusky shore of sleep.

*originally written on Aug 16, 2012 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

Hold Out

Hold out for hope when none is there.
I will not give in to despair
Or wet my hair with tears each night
And stay awake til mornings light.

I’ll walk in greener pastures soon
Beneath warm sun at midday noon.
And underneath the stars we’ll play
And share the secrets of our day.

I’ll eat again til I am full,
And rest beside you in that lull
That comes with twilight’s steely light.
You’ll read to me into the night.

I will dream of pleasant times;
And file away some lovely rhymes.
Sing me tunes I long to hear,
And hold me close til morning’s here.

*originally written on Dec. 16, 2011 and recently published in the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier of Retcon Poet

Ground Zero

Babble

“She did that!?
Well she said this!”
Mutters gossips sneaky hiss.
“I know what it’s all about
In case there was any doubt.
I’ll spill the secrets she told me.
I’ll tell you two
No, wait…all three.
Listen, listen to my tale.
With lurid details I’ll regale,
And leave you all without a doubt,
That I know what it’s all about.”

gossipimage credit