~femininity

I always thought I would be too big.

Too long and gangly, unwieldy,

ungraceful, it would be too difficult.

You picked me up and spun me

like I weigh so much of nothing

and for a second I was flying

then I tumbled in the grass,

giddy and laughing

because I got to be what I wanted.

Just for a few moments

I was all the feather-lightness

that girls are supposed to be,

I was dainty and trim

(and didn’t have to carry myself)

and I was silk and gossamer.

When I landed, I was,

of course, once again,

Me, bones, sharp edges,

heavy weights

but for a bit I was someone else.

—who doesn’t know aching so well,

who never thinks twice before wearing heels,

she asks for help like it’s easy

she’s enviably at home in her skin

she glides and smiles and spins.

I was spinning, then rolling across grass,

shook it out of my hair, spat it out of my mouth,

resettled on the blanket and looked over at you.

you looked at me like I was

(still her, pretty, small, dainty, girlish)

something else, special.

I still feel a little big

(a little less so when you smile)

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scars

I’ve been thinking about scars, sort of. Rarely the visible kind, actually. The inner ones–right now, the secondhand ones. The kind you get from the people closest to you. The kind you get sitting in the dark, holding someone’s hand as they explain how they’ve been hurt and how it has shaped them, and you are hurt and crying for them.

It’s an ugly thing to realize that this is something you can’t fix, can’t erase, couldn’t have prevented. A sick thing rolls in the pit of my stomach every time I think of the way we have to live forever with the consequences of wounds someone else thoughtlessly inflicted.

My scars are stupid ones. I fell off a scooter and have a odd, prickly looking scar on my knee. I burned myself cooking or baking, cut myself on glass and metal at work and so my hands are covered in tiny little imperfections; silver-white lines and splotches that don’t really tell any story other than that of my clumsiness, which is hardly remarkable. I have one on my thigh from an unfortunate incident involving a carpet staple and a younger sister. She really felt horrible about that. I have scar that bisects my left eyebrow, and I spend a really inordinate period of time most days pencil hiding it with eyebrow pencil. It exists because I was a dumb, clumsy eight year old that decided to not only try on a pair of heels that were three sizes too big but also try to walk down a flight of stairs in them.

My not-so-physical scars don’t really have entertaining stories behind them. Behind them there are hurts that I’ll probably never forget, doubts, fears, panic attacks, and unfinished suicide notes. That’s not how it is for everyone. Some people simply have fewer scars. God knows I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But there’s a scary permanence in scars. It’s not like I was hurt once and I’ll never have to deal with it again. Hurts like that shape you. They change your personality, can even change your character, if you let them. They can make you more open, more compassionate, and more forgiving. Or you can become bitter and twisted, angry forever at things beyond your control.

Hurt is inevitable. Everyone faces some level of hurt at some point in their lives. Transform it into a gift. It takes a while. You have to forgive the person who hurt you, and learn to actually deal with your pain, instead of hide it away. But, once you’ve dealt with it, worked through it in your head and heart, turn it into something you can use.

When you’ve suffered, you are in a unique position to help people that have been hurt similarly. Which is hard, because every time you talk to that person, it will bring up your own hurt and if you haven’t handled it properly, it festers. But the deepest hurts can’t be explained in a textbook, you can’t just be taught to help someone who has endured trauma, abuse, assault–unimaginable pain.

Scars are a lot of things. Stories you may or may not want to share. Hurts that you don’t particularly want to revisit. A way to minister to others. A way to, perhaps, lessen their scars. Keep them from having scars so deep.

 

The Artist’s Self-Portrait

Withdrawal is a bitch. There’s no other appropriate, or inappropriate, way to put it. Due to a screw-up on the part of my physician, the anti-depressant that I’ve been on for almost two years was not refilled on time. It has been almost a week since my last dose. There were about four days where I was nauseous, achy, had vertigo so bad I could barely stand, and a bit of a headache.

It’s evened out now, and I’ve actually never been this stable without medication since I was in middle school. (which was a while ago, to my horror as I reflect.)

I’ve never been quite in this good of a place to not be on an anti-depressant.

My family and I are…struggling. Specifically, my parents and I have quite ceased to see eye-to-eye on everything from my haircut to my boyfriend. But I have such good friends that have happily stepped in and behaved as family.

I currently have a better relationship with my boyfriend’s mom than my own. Isn’t that a twist of fate!

But other than that niggling stress, I’m quite happy. I’m moving/moved here now, and don’t necessarily see myself leaving in the foreseeable future. I’ve got an endless stream of coffeeshop visiting and Netflix binging set up for my summer. I’m rather excited about the friends I have, and the fun I can have this summer. Though I will have to work plenty, it won’t be nearly as much as this past year–50 hour weeks no more!

About 10 publishers are looking at my poetry. I’d never considered publishing before, so just the chutzpah to submit some of my writing came slow. I’ve received three rejections so far, but I’m so un-distressed by that. Poetry is like wine, I think. It improves with age; the more life I live, the better it will become. Just because my poetry does not get published now does not mean it never will.

I journal several times a week now, for the first time in my life. I just am doing so many things, and learning so much about myself and about life that I can’t keep track without writing it down. I feel that some day I will look back at what I’m writing now with some kind of amusement. But so much is happening so quickly that I scrawl it down illegibly and move on to my next adventure.

It’s not just my relationship either. (which, by the way, is fantastic. this man waited for months for me to realize that he was genuinely interested in me, and when I didn’t, finally just stopped me in my tracks and told me in the face of my shock. he has an endless well of patience, fortunately for me, because I test it at every turn through sheer ignorance and incompetence. {and i love him, and he loves me} and somehow we are opposites in the strangest ways but still manage to slot together like puzzle pieces, and balance each other perfectly.)

But no, it’s not just that. Honestly, who would want to date someone that wasn’t a complete, growing, dynamic person in and of themselves? Which I’d like to say I am. A bit of distance from who I was all growing up, some space from those preconceptions and expectations has been wonderful.

In the absence of knowing my name, people describe me as the tall girl with the rings. I wear four, generally. Middle and ring fingers of both hands. Most of them change, but one of them is always a golden, green-eyed snake whose nose stabs at my knuckled if I move my hand wrong.

I’ve been described by my scarf collection. I’m the girl with the hipster glasses, the woman with the pixie cut, the lady with the bright purple or pink lipstick. The one that always has a coffee cup, the one that talks with her hands, the one that wears all the different outfits and manages to pull them off.

I’m an odd picture of a person–an impish smile, bright lipstick, dark eyeshadow, short hair still brassy red from a theater-mandated dye job gone bad. I toss back my head when I laugh, and people notice. The necklace I always wear was my great-grandmother’s. I gesture wildly when I talk about things I’m passionate about, which is everything from Marvel’s latest movies to laws regarding the parental rights of rapists (which, incidentally, exist and are horrifying.)

27VANGOGHJP2-superJumbo

I’m like a VanGogh painting–brilliant and sweeping and hiding an aching pain that is sometimes worse than others. Even on the days I don’t necessarily get out of bed promptly, or function well, there is still some beauty in it. Needing anti-depressants never defined anyone– anyway I’d rather be appreciated for my scarves, or lipstick, or whatever. One doesn’t cancel out the other, though. I’m a bit of both; strange juxtaposition of the dark and light that sweeps around, and hides hurts under eyeshadow and a bright blue blazer.

But even though my body wonders where my prescription is, even though my hands are trembling from it, even though I’ve got concealer under my eyes to hide the purple, this is beautiful in the ways spring is. When everything grows back, the flowers bloom, and there are thunderstorms and mud, and annoying geese laying eggs and defending them viciously, so it’s the good mingled with the bad, and you choose which you focus on.

 

Joy for the Broken

In light of the fact of the tragedies that have taken place in the past week, I don’t think I can share good news.

Even though I just spent a while all but (possibly including) jumping up and down.

And then I opened my facebook, and saw all the French flags, and my heart fell.

I was fortunate enough not to have anyone I knew harmed in Paris. Or Beirut. Or Baghdad. Or in any of the tiny tragedies that were much were closer–a close acquaintance had a family member die, but he was old and in pain and it is likely, in most ways better that he passed away.

And I am eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving. I’ve seen very little of my family in quite a while, and eventually phone calls just are not enough. I have already had on Thanksgiving dinner with friends, and I’ve got one or two more planned, but there is really nothing like going home, and sleeping in the bed that’s been mine since I was 12, and petting the cats that know all of my childhood secrets, then eating my grandma’s broccoli casserole and stretching out on the couch right next to the recliner where I know my dad will go to sleep during the football game.

And lest I forget, there will be no sleeping in. My younger siblings look forward the Macey’s parade all year, and are unwilling to let me miss any of it. My youngest brother in particular, will crawl into bed next to me and press his cold hands and feet against me to wake me up.

And then I think of the video I saw. The brother of one of the terrorists in France addressed reporters, and I won’t quote him at length. But he was broken-hearted, both for what his brother had done, and for his brother’s death.

I feel a little bit guilty–I’m not currently suffering, not on that kind of scale. But I was reminded tonight that we’re all a little broken. We all have our pains and struggles. We’ve not all had that kind of tragedy. But one of the friends I was with tonight had a close friend die this past weekend. Another one has spent most of the day with a migraine that’s a symptom of a past traumatic brain injury. Yesterday and today have been rough for me, as it often is when I’m under stress, and not managing my depression well or remembering to eat properly.

I think we’re allowed to be a little broken and hate it, and not feel guilty because we feel like like we aren’t hurt enough to be qualified to express pain.

We cannot let our problems overwhelm everyone else’s. We should feel horror and empathy and hurt over the acts of terrorism that we have watched occur in the past few days. On the other hand, we cannot let other’s tragedy guilt us out of dealing with our own.

There are always going to people who have it worse than us. If we assess our right to grieve based on other’s pain, we will always feel that ours is inadequate to allow us to feel it.

Also, maybe it is acceptable to share my good news. It would be inappropriate to go up to someone who had just lost a spouse or child or sibling or friend to a terrorist and tell them ‘oh guess what, this fantastic thing just happened to me. now you have to be happy for me, see.’ But in the grand scheme of things, why can’t I be glad? I have, in a weird way, earned it. I’ve suffered through my portion until this moment, so in this moment, I can rejoice in my good.

I guess I still won’t explain my good news. For one, it would be somewhat hard to explain to someone who is only familiar with my life in abstract. And abstract is the part of me that the internet gets. Also, it isn’t the content of it that is important, just that it is a spot of joy in the middle of tragedy and my own stress.

All I’ve got to close is a tiny little piece of the Psalms.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

~Psalm 51:8

blog

I’ve never really been the kind of girl that falls in love, that has a dainty back-and-forth Austenesque dance of a courtship, and a beautiful church wedding.

Never fear, I’m still not. My hair is boyishly short, my outfit delicately androgynous, and my leather jacket makes me look somewhere between biker chic and punk-rock. And I like it that way.

I’m sort of fond of my crazy, off-the-wall self. And marriage, I’ve always been afraid, would take that away from me.

But lately I’ve had to consider “what if?” What if, somewhere in the world, there is a guy that is going to like me, with all my issues, and my coffee addiction, and my strange affinity for English literature, and my high-heels that send me towering over everyone else.

And God help me, someone showing interest is the most terrifying thing to exist in this universe, hands down.

I spent high school going from a background character in someone else’s life to my own main character. The title character. I’ve never thought my life had room for a co-star, never thought that my Director and Producer might just be doing auditions for a romantic interest.

But maybe, maybe, maybe

And yes, it’s weird and scary. Which is definitely mature adult terminology except for in every way how it’s not, how I feel like this mousy middle-school girl again, wearing an ugly turtleneck, bedecked with braces and an unfortunate haircut and unflattering glasses.

And I’ve proved over and over to myself and those around me that the rituals of normal human relationships escape me. To my everlasting and unsurprising shame, it took a phone conversation with my Dad for me to realize that he was flirting. My Dad had to tell me, adult-woman-me, that I was being flirted with.

Can you see why this might be an issue?

But this tiny part of me is relishing it, too. I’ve never seen myself as any kind of adequate companion. I’m a fun friend, brimful of pop culture knowledge and witty commentary and random facts and cheery arguments. But frankly, the idea of someone seeing that and thinking “oh, i think i want that around me almost 24/7 for the rest of my life” seems ludicrous. Asinine, even.

There are days, in all honesty, where I don’t like to live with myself.

Why would someone else like to live with me, then?

Of course, I’ve reached the age where everyone around me is getting married, in relationships, and becoming parents or aunts and uncles. And it doesn’t wake in me a very particular longing.

But, what if it does for someone else? And their tentative pursuit of me reflects their desire for “normalcy” and not any desire for my company?

I guess maybe I’ll find out.

I like my life best as a sit-com, and not a soap opera though. I hope my Director knows what He’s doing. He’s done fine before, but this is one of the those casting decisions that might mean a change in set and in filming location, and those are the kind of decisions that make me antsy and desperate to assume control.

It’s also flattering, honestly. To potentially to be liked, not in spite of my quirks, but because of them. It’s heady and intoxicating. And, in case you’ve missed it the last few times I’ve mentioned, pretty scary.

I don’t really believe in soulmates or love at first sight. Caring, let alone dating, and love, and marriage, are a lot of work, that I’m not really sure I want to deal with very quickly.

I’m going to try to let this one play out. Very slowly. See where it goes. Follow my script, not miss my cues, pay attention to the background music, that sort of thing.

SEPTEMBER 11

Nothing makes me feel quite as old as September 11th. I distinctly remember sitting cross-legged in front of the television watching in horror as the first tower burned, and screaming as the plane hit the second tower. With the news of the other attacks and plane crashes scrolling across the bottom of the screen, my mom and I sat in the living room, blankly watching the nightmare unfold.

It is little surprise to me that with that as such a vivd childhood memory, the sound of an airplane overhead still inspires fear in me, especially if I am anywhere above the first couple of floors in a building. Nonsensically enough, I enjoy flying, but for some reason, the sounds of planes still scare me if I think about it.

It amazes me how much that one event shaped our world. As a child, I hardly ever entered an airport, so I have no memory of how it was before the myriad of security screenings and searches became an integral part of travel. The war on terror was on the news every night. I don’t really remember a time where the US was not at war with someone.

The idea of being a child of war usually brings to mind bruised and malnourished toddlers, infants with bloated bellies, and adolescents doing the work of adults who are no longer present. But we are on the verge of a second generation just like me–one who cannot remember a time before the everlasting conflict in the middle east. In that way, we have a generation that, instead of generation x or generation y, is the generation that are all children of war. Because whether or not we are in a war zone, our worldview and perspective is shaped by what we know. And I cannot remember a day where joining the army did not mean entirely too possible active service.

9/11 is supposed to be remembrance for who we lost. I was fortunate enough not to lose anyone I personally knew. Instead, September 11th always brings to mind what I lost. I lost some of my sense of personal safety–that people could attack somewhere in the middle of the US terrified me. As cliche as it sounds, I lost some of my innocence: no one who watched could forget the people who leapt from windows and plunged to the street below to escape being burned to death.

It would be so infinitely wonderful to be able to turn on the news and not hear about whatever terrorist organization or dictator has become part of this near 14-year war. Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Hussein, Bin Laden, Isis–I can practically breathe these names. I remember the breathless shock it was when Bin Laden was killed. One of my younger siblings though that his death would mean that every American in the Middle East could come home, that the death of one man was victory. Oh, don’t we all wish!

I wish to God that I could not search the name of my aunt’s brother and find an article about his death in Saudi Arabia as the result of a suicide bombing. I wish, when my friend told me he had enlisted and was going to basic that “Afghanistan after that.” had never had to come out of his mouth. I wish I had never had to open my laptop and see a headline about terrorist beheading journalists and posting the video on the internet. I wish I had never had to stand on a sidewalk in my hometown to see a parade honoring a dead Afghanistan vet–I wish even more that I hadn’t known what his friends said in their eulogy, hadn’t known his mother received a letter two days after she found out he was dead, hadn’t hugged his sister while she cried.

September 11th makes me feel so old, so worn and tired, and so full of empty wishful thinking for a world where such atrocities were unthinkable.

Year Four

This, if you know me, what you are likely to consider “year two” of the rest of my life.

No one knows me quite well enough to know that it is actually year four of when I decided to start living.

That is, I confess, sort of misleading. Maybe.

I read an article yesterday that a friend shared. It was someone who borrowed the ‘coming out’ metaphor for being open about their depression. ‘Well’ I though, ‘okay, is this for me?’

No, I don’t think so. Because coming out of the closet indicates it’s a secret. It’s never been a secret, the opposite, in fact, as I’ve all but begged people to notice, to fix it, to help me fix myself.

So this is year four because I stopped begging. I put down the pen, tucked away the paper. I took the soul-sucking misery and let it take over. I let it make me angry, furious. That anything would try to take me from myself, lock me away, chain me up– Then I stood up. Sort of like when you stand up when you’ve had the breath knocked out of you. I staggered to my feet, when I shouldn’t have been able to. But I wrenched myself up and held on. My fingers bled from how I held myself up and tore the skin away.

Once in a while, the best metaphor I had was that I wrenched my ribcage open. I’d never really been able to understand why someone would get a tattoo of their bones showing through their skin. I’ve considered it now.

I cleaned my desk out about six weeks ago and found a crumpled sheet of paper that I had shoved into the desk drawer in a panic years before. I smoothed it out on my desk. Usually, even if I tuck something away, I have a vague memory of writing it. This one, not so much. And as I read the first line, panic swamped me as I realized what it was. It was a suicide note.

It was unfinished, little consolation. It’s one of at least three. It’s the only one I know of still having, though. One, I know, I carefully shredded into confetti while sitting on the ground sobbing and wishing I could just do it and be done.

I picked up a taste for music that was a little bit harder and louder, and a bit more miserable. I decided I really like my coffee bitter. I ran and ran and ran until I was dripping with sweat and tears. I took every step I could toward fixing myself. No one else could or maybe, they just wouldn’t. Or, somehow in my pride, I hadn’t let them.

It didn’t matter much by then, and it doesn’t much now. This is year four, and I’ve earned every second of it in agony and tears.

There are still days where I regret living. Generally, those are the days I get up anyway.

I personally have a friend who is devastated by Nimoy’s death. She is a devoted Trekkie, and a life-long fan. She’s older than me, and eagerly kept up with original series as it came out, and was carefully critical of all the new adaptations. We met and bonded over her Star Trek purse and Optimus Prime bumper sticker. Nothing like mutual-geekiness will bring two people together.

Nimoy died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cause by his decades of smoking. He was 83. His parents were Jewish immigrants from what is know the Ukraine. His Jewish heritage served him well–the v-shaped Vulcan salute, and the words “live long and prosper” that accompanied it were added to the character of Spock by Nimoy himself, and are part of a traditional Jewish blessing. Despite being known best as the Star Trek character, Nimoy also did theatre acting, and has a filmography that encompasses a great deal more than the character of Spock. He also directed, did photography, and wrote–two biographies and several volumes of poetry. He even served in the US Army Reserve for 18 months. His first autobiography was entitled I Am Not Spock and he wasn’t! He could read and speak Yiddish, was married twice, and had two children. Many actors resent being strongly identified with a famous character they have played, but Nimoy accepted, and even embraced it, signing all his tweets with the acronym LLAP, which stands for the traditional Vulcan goodbye “live long and prosper”, and frequently greeting fans with the Vulcan salute.

I won’t remember Leonard Nimoy as Spock. The first time I saw him grace the screen of my television was when a local network played an old, old episode of Columbo–the only episode Nimoy appeared in. I won’t even necessarily remember him as an actor, writer, director, or photographer. Instead, every time I hear his name, I think of my friend. He lived a full life, and had an exemplary career, and it seems almost rude or unfeeling to acknowledge that in a few years or a decade I will hardly remember that at all. But I attribute the nerd culture he, in part, represented, for giving me more than one good friend. I sort of doubt he would be offended by how quickly I throw off his personal memory in favor of the memories of very real friendships and the good times we had together. The last thing Nimoy posted on the internet was a quote from one of his poems; “Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” One of my perfect moments that is preserved in my memory with the clarity of a photograph was the thrill of a new friendship that began because of a shared interest in something Nimoy participated in.

If I get the chance to choose my legacy, I might prefer this.

This is, obviously, late. I wrote it and forgot it, came back and cried over it, then finally edited it to publish it. And my feelings have not changed. The actors that I love I rarely love for them, but for their influence–the movies that I watched with my family, the movies that brought fanfiction and Halloween costumes in my home, the television shows that taught me and those around me valuable life lessons. If you dance, sing, write, or are a part of the arts in any capacity, I think this is what you work for, the way something seemingly fleeting sticks in the memory and works as a vehicle for love.

My friend and I may have to schedule a Star Trek marathon. We would have our own little memorial then. Her’s would be to a favourite actor. Mine would be to a man I never met who inadvertently gave me a friend.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.

Four days. Four interminable days. I wish whoever it was that decided when Christmas would be on our modern calendar they had placed like Thanksgiving and made it the fourth Monday of the month of December. Instead, it is a date. Sometimes it falls on a Sunday (which is awful, because then–zero time off!), sometimes it falls on…….a Wednesday, which means you spend all weekend getting excited, then, whammo! normal (read, absolutely awful) Monday. Because we all know that it will be. Then, of course, who sleeps (well) on Christmas Eve? You’d think that you hit “adulthood” and then you would sleep well–too old to wildly anticipate Christmas, Santa Claus, stockings, presents, etc., but you are not! I received word from my mother yesterday. Since we will have no extended family with us on Christmas (the reason we used up some of my favorite traditions on Thanksgiving), and we have all eaten way too much turkey and/or ham (ANY turkey or ham is way too much for me), we will be having a very non-traditional Christmas dinner–lasagna. Admittedly, it had to have been Dad’s decision. It’s been his favorite dish since who-only-knows-when. But we aren’t Italian………..I think. Actually, come to think of it, our family genealogy is not that clear, so then again, we could be! It would explain Dad’s nose (which he in turn passed on to me–of course!) But that isn’t really related.

Four days. I just hope Monday and Tuesday fly by. Sunday could too, actually. I love my church, but really! Maybe I’ll just go to bed and sleep for the next three-and-one-half days. I feel as though I could.

I’m not really sure what makes me so excited about Christmas. It really isn’t the presents, or the food, or the traditions. And as much as I want to sound pious, I don’t even think it is about celebrating the birth of Christ, not this year. Awful, right? But honestly, as much as I gripe about the wait, I don’t know if I really care, or am trying to talk myself into it. “Oh Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas carol ever. Because, usually, Christmas feels holy. As if there is something sacred about it. The birth of the Messiah, the closeness of family, dear friends, wonderful traditions–they are the “holy” part of Christmas. But this year, it feels commercial. As if the holiness got lost. Or I lost it. Instead of great songs of Christmas past, celebrating family, the Christ Child, etc., all I hear is whiny songs about “Last Christmas” or, “Santa Baby”. And nothing is “fixing” it. The lights blinking when it is dark outside, the smell of warm cookies, the Christmas story–I’ve tried everything………

Four days. Maybe it will be better by then.

Merry Christmas!

Almost Christmas

It’s been too long since I posted. Not because I have followers, or anyone who really cares, but because it helps me. It’s a purge–things that have been weighing me down are brought out in the open, all without having to scream at people I love, or people I go to church with, or people I work with.
The video is your Christmas bonus. I found it recently and have since watched it…..several times. I did not realize that you could do a legitimate music video when you did not sing only played one single instrument. Guess that’s easy. Just find two other people! But I’ve always thought of Josh Bell as snobby, upper-class music. This isn’t. And I love violin. And Christmas carols.
I’m so glad it’s almost Christmas. The break is amazing. I’ve been needing to take more breaks. I’m not that old, I think, just bogged down from several consecutive years without really taking a break. Instead, breaks have become the time to catch up on cleaning, finish a project, sort out my closet, read a book that I don’t really, really want to read, but I really *should.* This year, when I’m given a break, I’m trying to savor it. Try a new tea, read a new book that I really want to, watch a movie that I’ve been dying to, write, sing: all the things that I never really have time to do. This Christmas break I am seriously considering jumping into the Lord of the Rings books. That way, I can read the books, have the last movie come out, then marathon the movies. That is way cheaper than going to all the movies anyway!
I’m just so glad it is almost Christmas!