Not the Mommy

Screaming. tears going every which way
on her face. you want her to stop but you’ve
exhausted your arsenal.

Hugs and diaper. Checks. Favorite stuffed animal
A fucking octopus by the way.
A snack and juice, and funny faces.
Only made it worse, actually.
Picked her up, paced around, trying to soothe.

Only ran out of liquid tears.
Still screaming and red-faced.
Finally, you call in reinforcements.

She takes her.
No more screaming. Instant.

Guess some things are true

–Not The Mommy

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One Year Later

One year older and wiser, too.

That’s all it’s been since I packed my apartment and put what I needed in my car and drove away. I’ve driven over 20,000 miles (most of those were work related) but still, I put 7500 on cars going places that I didn’t think I would. I didn’t know I would end up in Charleston, SC. I didn’t know past the first 40 days out. That I’d be hanging out with a friend and then go see my aunt and grandma in Minnesota. I only went back to Texas in February to clean out the storage unit and just have all my things with me.

I’ve seen 6 inches of real snow and been stuck at home the entire time (something about living in the South where we don’t have snow plows).

I’ve seen a truck billowing flames in real life and never thought I would.

I’ve met hundreds of people in learning my new home. And I’ve written more in the last year than I had in the last three combined. That is what I left an entire state behind to do so at least I made progress on that goal. I self-published a book that isn’t terrible but I’m not marketing it like everyone says I should.

There are just too many things to do in a day. And a week. And a month. And a year.

This last year has been a learning experience. I never felt homesick when I left for college. I didn’t when I moved away from college. I didn’t till I was sitting in church, six weeks into a new place and feeling like I had made a mistake. It was also holiday time and I was tired of telling them I wasn’t going home. I wasn’t sure where that was.

Thus, my promise of remaining here two years. Of giving myself and my slow-to-warm-up personality time to make friends and make places here. I still haven’t done it as well as I hoped but I’ve checked the bigger boxes off. I have a place to live and a church to go to. I have restaurants I like and binge eat when I’m feeling like it. I also know where to buy my ice cream for the best deal. I’ve learned the drivers here are insane from firsthand experience and dealt with my first (hopefully only) insurance claim and got a different car in the process.

I still haven’t scanned all my writing so I can go completely digital and I’ve realized I probably never will. I would like to, energy conserving and all that.

But the smell of paper? Give that up? Nonsense.

I don’t have to fight to fill a journal page every day. I actually write something most days beyond my daily task list. I’ve found that the people I like following are following someone else’s original portion and found the undiluted version to mutilate to my needs (David Allen, anyone?).

I’ve tried to make myself put more on the blog to make it fuller and that led to what’s thankfully been deleted. Sure, I need to be more regular in putting something up for people to read, but I don’t need to be putting something horrendous just to fill a calendar slot. I also realized that my greatest skill is not writing. It is fixing things.

I’ve always liked finding problems to turn into solutions. Another man’s trash is someone’s treasure. It’s a gut reaction and broken things are my favorite. It’s why depression shows up in so many of my pieces. Not just because I suffer from it, but my family too. I deal with the anxiety of not doing enough. And I have to remind myself that I’m human.

Enough is enough.

After the last year, I’ve learned a few things about myself.

  • That people think moving halfway across the country without knowing anyone is brave.
  • That you have to think your whole way through from beginning to end and know the way out when you start a journey.
  • That not writing is just as easy when you have all the people demanding your time as not having anyone demanding your time.
  • That I don’t like being lonely.

The first one I get at least once a week when people ask what brought me out to South Carolina from Texas. I’ve never seen it as anything but a desperate last measure of getting out of myself.

I knew what the next 40 days held. Over time, I just haven’t looked past the next month of what I’m doing till this week when I resigned my lease. So I know where I’ll be for the next year anyway.

Without anyone dragging me out to this or that, without my parents insisting I come to dinner once in a while, I still didn’t write all the time. I didn’t make time for it. It only happens when I’ve got the itch of a good piece. And that doesn’t happen often enough to make me feel like I’m doing what I should.

The fourth one is a little more recent and probably also the earliest feeling I understood. Lonely. It’s being in the center of people and not knowing if they give a damn. Knowing that you could disappear tomorrow and they would forget you. It’s been apparent to me a lot when they talk about people who have moved away a year or so ago and yet everyone still loves them. Whereas me, who’s to say they will say anything about me in a year or so if I move on?

Going places…going…gone

I’m still working on getting my writing to pay my living. It’s a dream and it seems less likely every day that passes. Not because I see other people succeeding and my work is just lagging.  It’s knowing that I’m not trying the right way. I’m just writing, and writing and not learning how to put myself forward. It’s a choice that I really need to hold myself to and work on. It’s the only thing that really holds me back.

I blame my childhood for this one. It was a good one, but being the shiny star was frowned on. I just had to be good enough for them but I never was. I was pushed into academia and not allowed sports because it would have practice on Sunday. But my younger siblings were allowed sports. I’ve always thought it super unfair because I still had to play an instrument and that was not a choice. They were allowed to quit and try something else and I wasn’t.

Writing sometimes feels like that. Where I have to keep pushing forward until I make do because that is what I’ve put so much time in. And it’s frustrating. I think that’s why my dreams lately have been so scattered. So focused on being the failure and not good enough. I don’t like it. And then I start writing from my anger and betrayal and some of my best stuff comes out. Some of it is dark and depressing and other parts are bright and happy or at least romantically sarcastic. It’s because I stop shoving all my emotions in a box to deal with later and the pop out like Pandora’s box.

Like this piece. It was just supposed to be an update and now it’s become some kind of journal entry about how all my feelings are feeling like a skein of yarn that caught a knot while I was turning it into a ball.

Alas, that it about how everything feels when it has been raining for weeks and the sun only comes out for a little while every day and I’m not working because I don’t want to flood out my car when downtown doesn’t drain.

Rack ’em

Spark.
Light the fire.
Find the flame
Grow until the brush fire eats it all.

Let go and let it burn out in the barrel.
Take yourself,
and walk away.

It won’t keep you warm–
dwelling on the
would have,
could have,
should have.

It won’t keep you warm–
holding on to memories
best left forgotten.

Remember the patter of heels on bricks
in an alley on the way back to your car.
the gatorade waiting and warm to start
the process of sobering up.

Remember the night you walked out
and the sky opened and you skipped
the quarter mile to your parked car
drenched.

Remember the click-clack of balls
hitting table walls and each other.
After a break. You stand up straight
and watch them
spread.

 

Cotton

There is something about your fingers going a special kind of numb.
That feel of cotton and it just has this push that slowly takes your
thumbpad into a sense of distraction.

It only takes an hour or so for the feeling to come and hours to go
but it feels like home all the same. That feeling of making and
taking apart the projects you worked on so hard. And they didn’t.

Just like any group project really, you remember those?
That sense of dread that the teacher speaks about hopes
And seem to forget how much trust is left afterward.

But just remember. The threads always come undone
Even if you have to yank on them a little more.

Trick Question

I loved you the day I met you.
I just couldn’t have you
As you were, it was everything I
promised to never settle for.

Selfish and needy.
Invalidating and rude.
You wanted me though.

So you tried to change.

There were fits and starts
You asked ‘experts’ to assist,
You asked friends and family,
And finally me.

You saw what I wanted and wanted it to.
The best kind of wish was for you to grow,
The best gift was to watch you change.

In the middle of it all, you asked,
“Do you love me yet?”
Don’t you understand that trick question,
I loved you the day we met.

I just could not have you.
I told you “yes,” You said, “Good,
because I not only like myself now,
I know what love is.”

It’s not something you can teach
It’s not something you book learn
You show it when you do the dishes
standing silent in thought as you pass
clean dishes ready to dry.

You feel it when they do well
when you gain nothing from it
nothing but their happiness, anyways.

I asked, “Do you love me?”
Yes, but I can’t have you.”
“Oh really? Why?” you asked.

“I bring nothing to this. It was all you
this change didn’t start with me.”

“It didn’t start with me either.
That’s why it’s a trick question.”

starting over

burn it down.
start over.
choose your poison.

 

eat your dinner
make your bed.
get dressed.
die in your sleep.

it’s all coming out of you.
the blood pumping your veins.
the thoughts inside killing you
the food you eat keeping you alive.

for another day of what?

hopes and dreams
sitting on shelves, expiring
just like yogurt you bought

burn it down.
start over.
eat that yogurt
run that mile (okay walk)
take a moment
and think out loud.

 

wish. so deep your unconscious hear and puts it on automatic.

plans change but no map
gets you stuck
wrong way on a one way.

the only way to beat your monsters
is to realize they aren’t.
and that they can be used.

afraid? use the scary one.
missing details? let the worrywart handle that
feeling off course? scream along with the radio
feel like half of yourself? open the journal and bleed
can’t breathe? count backward from 5 and

go.