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I live in a world of nightmares and long for a world of dreams…

So often, I think, we humans do what the title of this post suggests. We live in the world we’ve got, where we perceive things as nightmares and droll, dull, and bad, and yet still yearn to live in a place where dreams come true, life is good, and the boring things disappear in excitement and happiness.

Growing up sucks. I’m sorry, but it does. When you’re a kid, your imagination is the center of how you view things. Monsters exist, but so do heroes. If something bad happens, more often than not, there is someone there to direct you to something more positive and shelter you from all the “bad.” As an adult, that filter you most likely had as a kid is gone. Instead, every pain is felt deep, people really do go and not come back, people you love don’t love you back, and the world is a bit duller, the days move faster, and instead of holding onto hope it’ll be different, you start living in this doubt you’ve learned exists.

I wrote a poem recently. First poem I’ve written in 10 years. Nope. Not an exaggeration. It started off as most of my poems do. A simple line that triggers an image. Living in a nightmare…hoping for a dream. Then, as most writers can tell you, the words and ideas took charge and I ended up in a different place than I started. Thematically, it worked. The poem’s far from my best. But, rereading it tonight, it kinda did what a poem should do for me. It encapsulated exactly what I’m feeling and exactly what I’m filled with fear about.

I’ve always told people I tend to write when certain emotions take me over. I’ve been very reluctant to go there this year, as my last post would hint as to why. Growing up just sucks, and the difference between being the writer I used to be and the grown-up writer I am now is not just a measure of skill or technicality. I don’t want to jump and serve the feelings. I don’t want everything I write, everyone I communicate with, and everything I do serve what’s going on inside like I used to. My writing was prolific in quantity then, but I really don’t like it. It’s confusing. It’s angry. It’s alienating, and quite frankly, only shows one side of who I am. I’m mercurial. There’s always more than one side, and it’s about damn time people got to see it.

People get the angry, cranky, sheltered person I am. They don’t see the girl that feels everything everyone around her feels. If you’re hurt, I’m hurt. If you’re sad, I get sad. They don’t see the person who is willing to throw down and put everything on the line for someone who barely glances at her. The person that smiles when she wants to cry. The person that jumps cliffs just to prove herself to the one person that’s never watching. I’m the girl that sits against the walls at parties, watching everyone mingle and instead of being jealous, just enjoys the atmosphere of the room. I’m the girl whose voice muddles with everyone else’s. I’d rather feel than not, and I remember what it’s like when I shut myself down. I could read a book in a room surrounded by people talking among themselves, and feel a part of the book’s world and the people’s world I’m in at the same time.

I’m the girl that stares at stars and wonders who also looked. I like playing in mud and dirt, and I’ve been known to dance in the rain. I hate the cold, but I won’t hesitate to play in the snow. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want help. I want to be more than I am thought to be. I like to travel, even if I can’t go where I want. I love knowing where I came from. I want to see the land my ancestors walked. I want to know every bit of what made me me.

I miss the people that are gone. The same way anyone reading this misses the people they’ve lost. I miss the full heart I used to have when I could walk through a day and just know that this person existed. I miss being aggravated with them. I miss the normal of it.

Nothing’s gonna change with that. They’re gone. I’ve accepted it. I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it. That’s what I am good at. I’m adaptable. I’m Gemini. I’m a Monkey (Chinese astrology y’all…look it up. haha). I can change. I can grow. I get it. But, I don’t like it. And, I think there’s just some things that won’t change.

My love for my family won’t change. I forgive everything, but I don’t forget everything. I’ll continue to put my heart and my soul out there for others, even all those people that logical part of my brain says not to. I’ll continue to stare out the window at night and gaze at the stars, listen to a song 12 times in a row to memorize lyrics that I won’t care about in two years, write crappy poems about crappy subjects that I’ll feel stupid about for years to come. I’ll continue to wake up, go to work, and put on that happy face, and I’ll continue to fall in love as I always do. I’ll still find the beauty in a sunset, or dance in a summer rain. I’ll still listen to the sound of peepers in summer, and shudder when the woodpecker sounds (it’s the Predator, don’t you know?). I’ll love the smell of manure, as bad as it is, and the smell of fresh mowed grass and the cold, brisk wind during a snowfall. I’ll still lift the snow’s weight on a shovel, and I’ll still enjoy the taste of hot cocoa (PEPPERMINT MOCHA FOR THE WIN!).

I left that world of dreams behind me more than a decade ago. That world was one where I willingly left responsibility to the side to foster being “taken care of.” I call it my world of dreams, not because I have given up getting them, but more that they were real then. Truth is, I felt I mattered in that world of dreams, not because of who I was, but because of who I wanted to be. It was easy to pretend, to fill a role, to let that become my focus and my life. I live in the world of nightmares now. It’s not that it’s scary. It’s just…not dreamy. It can hurt. It can bruise. But, it’s real. It’s who I am.

And yet, even so, the dreamer in me hasn’t let go. Maybe she never will. Maybe I’ll never let her.

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Posted by on 11/24/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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This has been a while in coming…

I have debated writing this blog, but often I’ve shied from saying things I want to say in favor of keeping the status quo and making everyone happy. I’ve really spent much of my life trying to please others so much that I often lose sight of what I really want.

What I really want to do is talk about my sister. It’s been over a month since my sister passed away. That scares me that time has still passed and she isn’t here.

I don’t even know what I want to really say about this event. I don’t know if I want to post about the medical specifics that led to my family’s decision to let her pass as naturally as possible given her condition at the time, or about the feelings left behind when she did finally leave this world. I don’t even know if I can adequately say what I’m feeling, or have felt, since my world completely changed starting September 23rd. I guess what I will say is what I know in my heart, and if it’s coming out in complete disorder, I beg the forgiveness of those reading.

I don’t even remember how old I was when I learned Jaime was different. I was 14 months younger, and practically developed alongside her. I don’t remember a time where I just thought, “Wow, she’s different.” I suppose that is the awesome thing about growing up with Jaime. My older brothers were of an age to notice differences; I knew nothing different. I vaguely remember things of my early childhood. Some of it, I’m sure, I’ve just lost to the ravages of time. Others, I think, got muddled into parts I’d rather not remember. A lot of it, however, was probably the mundane parts of life you hardly remember, and in honesty, that was probably where a lot of my early childhood memories with Jaime lived.

For those that don’t know, my sister was mentally and physically handicapped. She struggled through most of her life with health troubles, enduring many major surgeries that my parents had to be absent in my childhood to be with her for. I rarely remember this absence, lest people think I’m complaining. It was an assumption of normality, I think, with my memory. It was just how life was. But, damn, was she a spitfire. She was fun, and loved to laugh, play, and just enjoy things. She wanted to be in the middle of it all, even if she didn’t fully comprehend the game we were all playing. She wanted to be a part of life, and that was enough.

I suppose the first time I learned Jaime was different was when I noticed strangers’ reactions to her. Jaime could be loud, did often drool, and sometimes knew no personal boundaries. I admit I sometimes noticed this more than I wished I could have ignored it. If not for others’ reactions, I’d probably never had a moment of saying, “something’s weird.” I think I was 12 or so when I first noticed this, and my hyper-awareness of such things led to my own discomfort with myself. I began to anticipate, even if it was an unfair assumption, what others thought.

But, as I grew, I realized that some people just never have encountered someone that could challenge their status quo, and it was more an ignorance than a willful way of being rude that controlled their actions. I struggled to teach people a new way to think, a new way to regard the word, “retarded” and to realize how their casual misapplication of the term could hurt. The best part of growing up was being able to take everything I ever felt as a kid and through reflection, begin to dissect and understand it. Even better, to accept it.

There were so many things I learned in the days between September 23rd and October 4th. I learned that, despite what limitations she had been born and grown with, my sister had a full life, with many friends and people who adored her. I learned that the infectious sense of humor she always showed my family blossomed with those that worked and lived with her. I learned of her unfailing ability to wake every morning with an optimism I envy, and went to bed every night wanting to be surrounded by love and companionship. I learned of resilience. I always knew my sister was strong. No, Jaime was beyond strong. But, I learned of the strength inside of myself. I learned the strength of love and forgiveness. How much hope can hold you up, how far you can fall when it’s taken away, the strength to fight when it’s futile and the ability to understand loss in the most profound and oddly beautiful of ways.

I thought I had been strong when she finally passed. I learned after the fact that I hadn’t been. The awareness of how you remember things, and the knowledge that truth is not just your viewpoint but the shared recollection of an event strikes me as so profound, and I took from that a sincere wish to be even stronger than I could before. This is not from embarrassment or shame. I just want to know the truth. The truth of how it was, and live life in deference to that fact.

At the services, I feel like my brother delivered an amazing eulogy that summarized what Jaime was to so many, but as in all human things, it lacked too. Not out of lack of effort, feeling, or want, but because some things, and some people are just undefinable. Sometimes, you just cannot really say it all. Sometimes, words just fail.

This year was a hard one. I lost many people I had grown close with, grown up with, and loved far more than I could ever express. I realize that as an adult, this is a consequence of life that I will have to accept as more normal the older I get. But, with the loss of Jaime, I don’t feel like an adult or that I’m getting older. I just feel like that 3-4 year old that played along side her on merry-go-rounds, and wrestled with her with my grandfather. Despite all the things that have changed in our lives since that point, that is where I want my heart and love to reside. I want it to sit in the time where Jaime’s differences were not a defining characteristic and the only thing that matter was that she was my sister.

She was my sister. And, that is gone now.

 
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Posted by on 11/12/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Posting commencing shortly…minor hiccup in the works.

A few writing thoughts have infiltrated my brain lately, but as I’ve been dealing with a lot of family and work issues (the family issues of which I’ve attempted to write a post about 12 times. No, I’m not exaggerating. 12 is the times I’ve opened the document I started last month), I’ve been reluctant to write in a state of stress and unhappiness.

So, I’ve spent the past couple of months trying to comprehend why things work out the way they do, why I’m obsessive the way I am, and why I wrote poetry as much as I used to. I can’t say I’ve found the answers to those things, but maybe that’s the point. I am a questioning sort; what fun is it if the questions get answered?

I spent last night going through my writing files and digesting some of my poetry. This is a good and bad thing. Good because it inspires me and gives me hope that I’m not a total hack when it comes to writing. Bad in that I regret that I’ve somehow lost that momentum and inspiration I had to just write whenever the mood came upon me. Some of the last few posts here have concerned themselves with writing of the past, and I’ve longed to come up with something new, but failed.

In a couple days, I’m going to work up the courage to write about my sister. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, the last 12 times I’ve attempted to write a post before this one, I’ve ended up in tears and abandoning the document. While I think a facebook post detailing, briefly, the sentiment I feel when thinking of my sister helped say what I wanted to then, as the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, those thoughts won’t suffice. I think I will need to say what’s been swimming in my head, and here is my outlet.

The bonus in all of this comes from the fact that I had the courage to open some dusty files and have those seductive writing thoughts I pushed away. Perhaps this time I won’t lose it so quickly.

 
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Posted by on 11/10/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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My favorite, ever…or what happens when Lauren thinks about things late at night.

So, I wrote poetry. Yeah, I used to write a poem a week, sometimes a poem a night. I used to write crappy stuff, and I had an occasional poem come out a success. This is one of those successes. And yes, it’s all me, written by me, you can’t have it, I copyright it, so nyahh to you.

It’s called Peaceful Turmoil. While it was written, my life really was in turmoil. To the outside observer, maybe not so much was going on, but I was still trying to find myself. I frequently point to this poem when I tell people I write poetry. I would argue it’s probably one of my best, and I’m not sure if that’s something to brag about or not.

What I can tell you, though, is that it wasn’t written in anger, depression, or anxiety, despite how it feels. One night, the first two lines came to me, and the rest poured out. It was one of the stronger free writing moments I’ve ever had, and I’m still not sure what my mindset was during it. I just know when I was done, I felt a bit more free than I had before it, and all the thoughts, visions, and scenes in my head stopped. It was done. I wouldn’t see anymore. This is always the one I reread:

 

 

Peaceful Turmoil

© 2002, by Lauren L. Canfield, All Rights Reserved.

April 16, 2002

I: Past

The light in the distance is moving closer;
My hand grips the soft, velvety grass I’m laying on.
It’s bigger and bigger, falling faster and faster.
I close my eyes and sleep.
So many dreams and visions inhabit me;
The pain of years long past visit me and depart,
Never to return again, though I cling to them,
Trying to capture a moment’s understanding
Of a heart so defined by hurt.

The visions fade, all turns black,
Mountains of bodies appear, fall, crumble,
With limbs flying here and there like pebbles
Cascading down a hillside.
Dropping into a river of red, they are washed away,
Only to find their destination in the ocean,
The sea.
The souls of the dearly departed beckon
From the sea of tears cast down upon their death
And spiritless, their souls leech onto the newcomer’s
Strong, nubile body so unused to the currents and undertows.
The body swims amongst the decaying bodies,
Gruesome, defiling itself, yet reveling in it,
If only for the cleansing must happen.
Years of watching loved ones die from actions
Caused by my hand have sullied me,
Caked me in muddy ugliness,
And, forced her to swim amongst the ruin,
Damned for all eternity in the pain I have caused.

Particulars resurrected,
Given more chances than some
To make good their past misdeeds
Shrivel underneath the hot, blistering sun
While the waters that fed the ones they hurt,
Draw away in repulsive anger.
Yet, still the souls seek to quench inside,
The ignoble tyranny that binds them to kill,
Destroy, maim, and corrupt the hills of righteousness they dared to climb.

Martyrs fallen,
Dying with the heat of passion
For some higher purpose,
Known only to a god or a king,
And never explained to the happy participants
Surrendering their rights
To be told the truth of what they are.
Evil permeating every thread of being,
Wrapping each body and spirit in some desire
For all that is defined by men writing rules
On things that can all but be destroyed.
Morals, absolutes, fall to the wayside
As another sword is brought up in the hand
Of an opponent so riddled with curses and lies,
His very nature is suspect within his own kin.
Yet, still, his quench is unsatisfied, and the martyr falls,
Willing victim, honored forevermore.

The light in the distance is moving closer;
My hand grips the soft, velvety grass I’m laying on.
It’s bigger and bigger, falling faster and faster.
I close my eyes and sleep.

II. Present

Strong currents pull me along a thread
Woven so deeply in a fabric, and I cast myself a spell,
Reckoning I might make it to leap out of this tapestry
One so horrendously mistook me for being part of.
I stare down at where I come from and see happy little flowers
Woven to look like wind dancing angels,
While my fellow strong spirits pass their time in
Winsome meanderings.
Hard is the lump in my throat, moving down
As it settles in my stomach, I erupt
In a spasm of anger and irrational fear
As I do not wish to be woven in so tight to never break free
From the paradise someone’s mind cast me to be in.
All along the river of time, I cast my net and wonder
Just how many fish this time will appear in my net
And how many more will swim free, unafraid of the ominous spirit
Sitting beside and casting his own, much larger net a ways down the stream.
Feeling quite proud that they lived past my net,
When they are tangled in his, they flop,
Stupidly waiting for him to draw them up
And swallow them whole.
Silly fishes they seem, so free to the spirit who takes them,
Yet, they’re trapped, prisoners in a cell,
They never divined, yet always loved.

And finally, I come to the final painting, hanging on the wall,
Casting odd shapes here and there in some
Panic-stricken landscape that only the artist can see and know.
Some educated art collector will one day stand before it,
Ironically proclaiming the truth of what it is,
While the artist lies dead, consumed by time’s wear,
In a tomb with only his spirit to stand in the room,
Listening to the ironic drivel of the man in front,
Who hopes to make it rich off of someone else’s means.

III. Future

Angelic beauties flutter around their idyllic meadows,
Picking flowers and giving the scene such pretty images
Of happiness, love, faith and devotion,
All mixed with the symbols of hope:
If you do good, little children, life’s gifts will be revealed to you
Upon the death you so fear. So live good, dear children,
And may we shine our smiles and blessings upon you once more.

And yet, still I stare up,
Lying on my back on grass freshly mowed,
And still, I stare up,
Supposedly being blessed by angels above,
Dropping a fairy dust of sort on my silly head,
Which gathers such gruesome images for them to scold me for.
And yet, while I stare up, I see no mysterious truth revealed,
And the light is pulling away, as I realize I’ve been taken from my
Solitary lesson in life’s confusing ways,
And I am forever lost to that which I saw.
I stare up, not on grass, but on sheets,
And I see not a sky, but a white ceiling,
And the light is not a star, a comet, or a sun,
But only the final light pushed over,
As the doctor searches my body,
For signs of struggle,
And removes the grass still stuck under fingernails,
And sighs as such a young one was consumed
By so cruel a fate.

I stand over him and smile, walk on my way,
And whistle.
The visions plague me no more.

I am free.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 08/08/2014 in Uncategorized

 

Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part III: The acceleration into madness.

(Sorry for the delay in getting this out–excuses don’t work anymore, so I won’t give any. Here I am just to spout off again, though, so enjoy.)

I create the story out of simple inspiration, and free write until it scares me that I won’t ever have a true plot point to follow. I decide to jot down an outline, loosely describing for myself the stages the story will progress through. So, what’s next?

I’ve spent a good deal of time to this point thinking of the purpose for the actions of characters, and envisioning them. I’ve become good friends with them: they yell at me often. Once I hit that prior stage of outlining, it’s impressed upon me that I need to finish this work, and so begins the manic writing phase.

With the guidance of the few notes I’ve jotted down, I write almost as freely as I did before, but pauses don’t exist. Deviations do not happen. It is almost like I am on a drug and I need to keep writing to keep the high moving. Unlike the initial writing phase, the “good” or “bad” writing actually matters to me as the story has become complex enough to need to make sense. I am usually up late at night, typing in darkness, listening to some inspirational music, reciting the words as they’re typed out on the screen. Sleep is secondary. My mind is consumed now with where my characters are going. Before, the visions inspired the text. Now, the text inspires the vision. The movie is in my head. The dialogue pops out, the voices are loud and clear, and I feel the adrenaline rush in this stage more than ever before.

I put so much energy into it. I want to talk about it, describe the feelings I am having, but people don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t blame them for this. Part of me does. The passion I pour into the story starts driving me. Nothing else matters. I see an end point that I need to reach, and I need to do it fast.

When I finally come to the conclusive point, I’m emotionally exhausted and sad. I do cry. I do reread the last few pages. I actually type: The End. I let the grief of letting go take over me, and I reluctantly close the document and stand up from the computer. My mind is still engaged in the world on the paper. I haven’t spent many hours away from it, and I miss it like one does an old home. My characters don’t speak to me now. They’re quiet. Not dead, just quiet. They’ve moved elsewhere for a moment, and the lonely feeling overcomes that manic high I was living on just moments before.

Because I’m me (and thus, never shut up and keep going and going and going…), despite the ending of one particular work, the story never ends. I love my characters so much that I know there are further stories to tell, and that I want to tell them. This is why I’ve rarely wrote a standalone work. It’s why I love movies that end up with sequels, and I tend to like spin-offs of tv shows. I enjoy the possibility of different stories, different perspectives, further interaction (even if different) with characters I’ve come to care about. And another part that makes me who I am is that my mind is apt to change, so often my motivation for keeping a story singular ends up with a trilogy simply because I shifted the storyline from one character to another.

Sometimes, I take a break between writing. Sometimes, eager to keep that high, I write for another week or two on a sequel (or prequel), and coast on being stuck in the world before it leaves me.  Often, though, I let it sit. I read. I let a bit of a mourning period go on, and then I start all over. Loving a new time period, engaging in the life of new characters, and spinning around some new ideas in this overactive brain of mine.

Heck, writing this may have confused you more than explaining my process, and perhaps it makes no sense. But, it follow the route I tend to take, and may explain the choices I’ve made in life and the paths I’ve taken as a writer.

 

 
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Posted by on 07/21/2014 in writing

 

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Gently, gently I go…a little poetic insight.

This is a poem I wrote 12 years ago. This was when I was extremely deep into writing poetry, and while not my best work, it is a great way to convey my mindset in this time of year. Titled: The Fourth.

The Fourth

© 2002, by Lauren L. Canfield, All Rights Reserved.
February 20, 2002.

Sunlight dances across the floor,
The wind blows my curtains
Gently toward my bed.
The sound of lawnmowers
Vrooming around yards
Reverberate in my ears
And the aroma of fresh cut grass floods my nostrils
As I turn over in my bed
And stare out the window.

I’ve never seen a sky so much that color.
So blue your eyes hurt.
The green, bright, vibrant.
The browns, yellows of the tall grasses.
The green, veined leaves of corn rustling
While in green, silk-laden beds,
The cobs lay maturing.
The purples, reds and pinks of flowers
Breaking the fifteen million shades of green
And the smell of lilac mingling
With the grass and the roses,
Peonies and lilies.
Dandelion puffs float by my window.

I stand up, stretch, dressed in shorts and shirt,
Rub my eyes,
Inhale.
Staggering, I make my way through
Short, dark hallways,
Into light-laden rooms.
At the stove, pasta is boiling.
On the table, red, yellow, and green
Peppers lay chopped
While onions and celery sit beside
Red tomatoes,
Greenish rimmed, milky-white cucumbers
And a jar of dressing wait.
I smile.

Open the door to it.
I do.
Inside, marinating
In a special sauce,
Is chicken.
I smell the vinegar
And close my eyes.
I can taste it now.

I return to throw on
Jean shorts, old tee
Some old sneakers, and maybe
A baseball cap.
Jumping down from the back door,
I hit a small path of pavement
Before reaching the soft, silky grass.
I almost wish to be barefoot,
But still see stalks of clover
And bees around.
Not safe for bare feet! I think
And walk to the shed.

Ah, the shed,
Home to a million diversions
For a country kid
Who excels at finding ways
To keep occupied.
Stepping up,
I locate, in the nearly empty shed,
A rake.
Doing my chores,
I finish the lawn in an hour.

Raking up cut grass
Can be dirty.
It stains.
It’s somewhat wet
From being mowed
Just after the dew evaporates.
It sticks.
I fling it to the cows,
Who, with the bulls, rush over.
My heart races;
I fear them breaking through.
They don’t.
Just munch on my gift.

The smell of cooking chicken hits me;
Just placed on the grill,
I have time.
Dragging my bike out of the shed,
I take off.
First, a mile down the road, turn around,
Over a small, wooden bridge next,
Then back.
Passing my house,
The sounds of my sister playing,
My dog barking,
My dad doing some odds and ends project,
Flood my mind,
But I soon forget to hear it.

Instead, I head to it.
Entering it, the tall maples,
Oaks, and numerous other trees
Create a soft, cool shade.
The sun breaks through in spots.
I make it to the first bridge.

A small man-made waterfall
From where they diverted the creek
Greets my eye.
As memory places me
Four years old,
Sitting on it as the water tumbled around
With my mom next to me.
I remember the freshwater crabs,
How they hid under rocks,
Then dared to snip at you when you neared.
I look across at the other side.

A well-known, well-worn path breaks through
To the creek side
I’m tempted to walk down
See if any crabs are left,
But, instead, I push on.
It becomes harder to bike,
As there are tiny hills here and there,
The second bridge comes into sight.
Much higher over the water,
No easy access down in,
It’s merely a marker.
Bored, I bike on,
Hit Bridge #3,
Two roads then diverge.

One, goes into a house, parked deep in
Hidden by a hillside.
The second leads nearly five more miles in.
The smell of dank woods hits me here.
I’m uncertain.
Should I go on, turn back?

I go on.

Road becomes narrower.
There are no guides on the side.
I might fall in, if spooked.
I keep going,
Forgetting time, responsibilities.
I love the cool arms of it.
It holds me, makes me feel at home,
I’m comfortable,
Confident,
Yet, frightened to wits end.

I turn around.
I think something’s up ahead.
I can never get to Monkey Circle.
I can never get beyond this point.
Staring over my shoulder,
Before I push off,
I shiver.
Something’s not right there.

I head home, all downhill.
The rush as I round curves,
Not bothering to brake,
My speed increasing.
I close my eyes on the straight-aways.
I open them just to turn,
And whiz past
The gorge I’ve climbed,
And slid down.
The water holes I swam in,
The waterfall where crabs nipped,
And by the tall trees shading
The entrance.

Bam!

Almost like a brick wall,
I hit the sunlight.
Easing on my brake, I coast by my yard,
Turn into my driveway.
As my mom carries the chicken inside.
She can see I’m happy,
Though I should be scolded for being
Away for so long.
She just smiles.

We eat.
The cleanup is done quickly.
The sun lowers in the sky, we set up the yard games,
Bring out the horseshoes and balls and gloves.

Our guest begin to arrive,
Bringing themselves
Maybe some chips or some soda.
Maybe a frozen treat.
Here comes Gramp,
Mysterious bag in hand.
I grin while the younger kids just stare
We take chairs to the front lawn.
The older people sit.
The kids run, chasing each other,
Water balloons flying all over.

I stare at the stars and inhale the night air.
Barefoot now, I lay back on the grass,
Still aromatic.
Closing my eyes, I move back in age,
Younger, chasing cousins and siblings with
Sparklers, dazzling the air with little bits of light.
Then, out came the big ones.
Parachute men, the wheel ones,
Some with big bangs,
Others silent as can be.
Gramp would bring them,
And we would jump for more.
When the woman across town would call,
The police came, but ignored it.
Nevertheless, we had hid them well.

Then, when they were done,
They’d pack up the cars,
We’d say goodbye.

I opened my eyes.
I heard a few talking above me,
I wiped a tear away,
Moved from the group,
Stared at the sky.

That fourth was different than
Others had been.

I can return to that town,
And I might smell fresh cut grass,
But it’s not our grass from our yard.

I might smell a barbecue,
But it is not our chicken.

The lilacs are purple and in bloom,
But they are not ours.

The road still leads to my wooden bridge,
But I have no bike to cross it.

The tall trees still stand,
The three bridges stand over the low creek,
The road still diverges.
They are mine.
They will always be mine.

And, no one will take my fourth away.

 

 
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Posted by on 07/18/2014 in family, weather, writing

 

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Not so random random thoughts on Christmas.

So, yesterday was Christmas. Everyone seems to get a little batty in the weeks leading up to this holiday. Scrounging up all the money you can to purchase gifts so you can give them to people, worries over hosting Christmas family banquets and negotiating schedules seem to drive even the most mild mannered person into a frenzy. People frequently exclaim how fast the holiday is coming, though it’s truly not any faster than any other year. The inevitable sigh and new frenzy to make New Year’s plans begin. 

I like Christmas. Of most memories I have, Christmas and Fourth of Julys probably reign supreme as the “best.” Many more positives, fewer negatives. I like Christmas because even though I’ve grown to adulthood, I’ve still managed to hold a bit of the childhood wonder over the idea of Santa and the other magical gifts Christmas could bring. I have a few required items to make Christmas Christmas. Some of my Christmas random thoughts/memories for you:

1. I Need my smelly-thing. I know, sounds like a horrible thing. I assure you, it’s pleasant. My mother bought wax potpourri figurines for each child and gave them to us as adults. Mine happens to be two children kissing under a wire held mistletoe over a stack of presents. After all these years, the fragrance is still pretty potent. It goes on my stand in the living room every year. It’s not Christmas until I smell that figurine as I walk into a room. I actually exclaim, “It smells like Christmas!” because, well, it does!

2. I have to watch a minimum of four movies before Christmas is over. They are: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, White Christmas and Scrooge (the musical version with Albert Finney). For one, I watched these with my family growing up (and A Christmas Story was watched by us well before it became a day long marathon on TV), and thus share memories of us all narrating and repeating the lines. It’s also just not Christmas without them.

3. I remember Christmas eve parties with my family. We’d usually host, and my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins would come and we’d all eat way too many chips, dips, cookies, snacks, and top it all off with way too much punch. We kids would be louder than loud, invariably my grandfather would flip someone off (usually whomever held a camera or camcorder), and I would actually get to stay up late. When everyone left, and my parents would want us to settle down, I frequently remember White Christmas playing on the TV. If we were good and it wasn’t too late, we’d get to stay up and watch the end of it before rushing off to bed for the magic of “presents appearing” to begin.

4. My sister, who demanded “Tree” whenever we’d have it set up, sometimes was the first up and out. One Christmas, she managed to be the last one out. This was unheard of as there were two college aged guys in the house at the time. She was hilarious to watch open presents: usually she forced one of my older brothers to start playing with every single gift she got unless they were clothes. Then, she’d look at them, grab them out of the boxes, and throw them over her shoulder. 

As I’ve gotten older, Christmas has really changed for me. For the last near decade, I’ve been one of the many who work the holiday. Only one year in my current employment have I not worked it, and that was last year. There is a different perspective to gain when you look as one who literally “Schedules” Christmas versus as a kid, Christmas kinda  just comes to you.  Probably the closest I got to Christmas of memory was actually observed on Sunday, and I happened to be missing a brother and his family at that time. I still enjoy it, but a little part of me misses being all together. 

I worked yesterday, so I spent my morning there. It’s not as bad as one thinks. Sure, I’m working, but usually everyone is in such a good mood because it is a holiday.  This year, I also found out how appreciated we are. I had a customer buy my coworkers and I flowers for working the holiday. Often, I was thanked for being there. I heard several say, “It sucks you have to the work the holiday.” Our only response was, “If we didn’t, you couldn’t come and get what you’re here for.” Often, I think, that’s forgotten.

One of the big hullabaloos this year was that retailers were making associates work Thanksgiving to boost sales. Yes, it does kinda suck that when in retail and service industries, you usually end up working holidays. But, to be honest those who bemoan this corporate greed: If you didn’t shop, they would take advantage of it and extend hours, thus making those employees you feel bad for work. It all ends up to the statement in the above paragraph. If someone wasn’t working, there wouldn’t be someone to be there for what you need. While retail is an unessential service (unlike medical, law enforcement or public safety positions), the only reason stores started having hours at these times was because the overall public necessitated it.

 

But think people: For every outcry you make on behalf of retail associates, remember they aren’t the only ones working. No: Cops, doctors, paramedics, nurses, fireman, and dispatchers also report to work, and their job is far more important to the public good. They do not ask people to bemoan their predicament. They accept it. It’s part of the profession, and truly, they are the ones we should salute for working holidays. Not the people like me who, if the businesses wanted, wouldn’t need to be open the holidays. We need the emergency providers. 

I really don’t know where I’ve gone or where I’m going with this post. I guess a lot of it was wallowing in my brain as I worked yesterday. I guess where everything stems from is that some of the magic of  Christmas I recalled above is very diminished now because everything has to be so scheduled and determined. Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas this year. Here’s to hoping 2014 changes all that.

 
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Posted by on 12/26/2013 in Uncategorized