Wunderkind

I recently moved across the country in order to start a new job, and while some parts of this transition have been difficult (namely living by myself for the first time and trying to make sure I don’t choke to death alone in my apartment) it has been a rather exciting time.

Editor’s note: choking to death alone in my apartment is a legitimate fear. When I was in middle school (ok…it was college), my father instituted a rule that I could not eat dinner while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, because I would laugh to the point of hurting myself. For real. I choked on my food and had to give myself the Heimlich maneuver…twice.

One of the harder parts of this transition has been lacking the time to write poetry. I am working full time now, and I’ve found that a busy mind with too much solitude was the ideal environment to let my imagination run obnoxiously wild. I fear that I have lost that gift for the time being, the trade-off being living the life for which I was pining. To gain one thing often means letting go of another, but I grieve the loss of late nights, fevered dreams and furrowed brows just the same.

Last week I was thrilled to see my goddaughter Ana perform as a “bonbon” in her ballet school’s production of The Nutcracker. I was even more thrilled that while she waited backstage, she used the time to pen some poetry in her mini spiral notebook.

Below are two poems written by Ana (age 8):

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I’m pretty proud to know this kid.

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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

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

A Winey Conversation

I love my friend Bobbis. His real name is Rob. One night at a Christmas party, while wearing the antlers of truth, we sat in a circle and admitted our most embarrassing nicknames. In elementary school he was given the nickname “Bobbis Bobuardo.” He hated it. So it caught on. Then he really hated it. He hated it so much, that it still makes him angry even after two decades. It makes him so angry, that I am left with no choice but to call him Bobbis at every opportunity. He is extremely patient with me.

Tonight Bobbis and I shared most of a bottle of wine (and whine), some laughs, some hugs, and even a tear or two. After two glasses of wine our conversation struck me as being especially hilarious. I’m sure I’ll read this tomorrow and be like “Say whaaaaaaa?? That’s not even funny.” But much like waking up from a crazy dream and realizing I’ve just discovered the outline and plot of my upcoming bestselling screen-play, right now I am convinced it is brilliant. Bear with me:

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“But to be a sugar daddy don’t you have to have some sugar?”

“I could be daddy. I just don’t have too much sugar.”

**********

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Sorry, not you. I was talking to the dog.”

“Wait…what?”

“Well I know you already. I want her to like me.”

**********

“Lemme ask you a serious question…”

“Ok.”

“If I won the lottery do you think you’d ever hear from me agai…”

“Nope.”

“Dammit, why does everyone say that?!”

**********

“You know, all of my Christmas decorating will culminate in one year. Have you seen national lampoon’s Christmas vacation? Its gonna be like that. I’m going ape-shit with Christmas lights…then never again.”

**********

“If had to pick one person to describe me…no wait…listen…it would be three people.”

“Ok, who?”

“Dwight Schultz, Ellen DeGeneres and George Constanza.”

“Who the hell is Dwight Schultz?”

“Ya know…Murdoch from The A-Team.”

“So you would pick a lesbian woman as a celebrity who embodies your personality?”

“And two men!”

**********

Thanks for always being there Bobbis Bobuardo, and for supplying me with endless hours of conversation.

And since I am still wearing the antlers of truth, I will admit that my most hated nickname growing up was “Krisinini-dukatinie”…shortened to “Dukey.” A four-year old little girl with the nickname “Dukey.”

You’re welcome.

wpid-IMG_20130630_020649.jpgThis was the wine we decided on.

wpid-IMG_20130630_020733.jpgAnd this is why we made the decision…girls night in.

The Pictures in My Head

Many writers say they write because they have to. I always rolled my eyes and felt that it was a terribly clichéd thing to say.

I don’t roll my eyes anymore.

I write because I have to.

When I was little I had aspirations to be an artist. I loved to draw. I drew all the time and carried a sketch pad with me everywhere. But I was a terrible artist. I would get so frustrated, because I had a picture in my head about what I felt, and I wanted to show everyone else. I had no way to accomplish it. I had no way to put down on paper, or in clay, or on canvas the things I saw in my head. So the pictures stayed locked away for almost 20 years.

A few years ago I was having a terribly hard time. Things at my job had been going downhill for about a year and a half. It was a slow and steady boiling of the water, and much like the frog, I was being scalded. I had been in the soup for a while before I realized I was being cooked. The situation deteriorated quickly and after months of manipulation and dodging, the decision was made to close our branch. Within a one week period of time I turned 30, was downsized from my job, said goodbye to my grandpa (he made it to 92 God bless him) and was dumped twice by text message. By the same doofus.

I also have underlying issues of clinical depression and anxiety. And a host of things in my life that, at the time, I was refusing to acknowledge. I was hurting. I was sad. I was lost about what I should do and where I should go. It was a bad time, and I have no wish to relive it, but looking back over those terrible weeks which stretched into terrible months, I can honestly see God’s mercy. Sounds naive. Sounds mad. Sounds…cliched. But it’s true. I am a master procrastinator (some slam poetry right there…booyah) and I had decades worth of garbage that I was pushing deep, deep, deep down. I hoarded everything, although somehow it was only the bad, grimy pieces I kept and not the bright shiny ones.

I began to see a therapist who happened to be a Christian. I’d seen therapists before, so this wasn’t a new process for me. However, most of my experience was with therapists who were condescending or openly hostile towards my beliefs; and the few who were sympathetic where only interested in pushing medication (side-note, I am all for medication if it helps you, and I reject the stigma in some Christian circles that depression is simply an issue of sin…but that’s a post for another day). Bob was my first  therapist who wanted to know about me. He wanted to know about my heart. He asked me questions about my motivations and aspirations. And he was not afraid to hand me my own ass if the situation required it.

I was having a really difficult time even focusing on a coherent thought, let alone praying. It’s kind of hard to pray to God when you’re angry with Him. Bob suggested writing out my prayers. It would force me to acknowledge the bad feelings rather than pushing them down while putting on the brave Christian face. It would force me to take my time, to realize why I was mad, or sad, or even happy. His other suggestion was to model them after the Psalms. I had never noticed it before, but King David was pretty pissed in some of those Psalms. He’s mad and sad. But he usually ends happy, choosing to put his faith in his Maker.

You see, my brain is full of junk, piles of old newspapers stacked to the ceiling and garbage littering the floor. But it’s also full of treasures. I have pictures in my head. Words are the only medium I have found to get them out.

That’s why I write.

Rusty Chains

I cannot sleep. I cannot rest.
My thoughts descend in circles deep.
The melody falls on my brain, until this page with ink I stain.

Each thought is like a spider web
Waiting to snare me if it can.
But I am armed with pen and ink. At least some thoughts I’ll try to link.

At first the chain is cheap and frail,
With weakened links and rusty clasps.
The more I’ll write the more I’ll see, and then my mind will soon break free.

By the end I hope to have
A cable strong yet beautiful,
To climb as I fall back asleep, and dream to heights so very steep.

originally written on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 9:32pm

Ground Zero

I am so ridiculously thrilled to announce that the poetry anthology Ground Zero by Nicholas Gagnier is now available to order on Amazon.com. Much thanks to Nicholas Gagnier and Retcon Poet for allowing me to be a contributor. All proceeds are benefiting charities specializing in mental health. Pick up your copy at Amazon.com (if you’re into this kind of thing).

Much love!

ground zero

Ground Zero at Amazon.com