Friday, October 27, 2017

A complaint for the ages

I know I've led a semi-privileged life. Aside from the brief period when Joey and I were both unemployed, I've never gone hungry. I've never been (really) homeless, even though I don't have my own home right now. I tended to outgrow my snow boots every winter as a child, but have never gone without shoes, even if they were the wrong size. I rarely received the toys I wanted, but I wanted books more, and I was filthy rich when it came to kid lit. School came easily to me for the most part, and when math became too difficult my parents were able to get me a tutor for a short time. I didn't have a lot of what the world thought was necessary for happiness, but I had enough. My family loved me, I had a few good friends, and it was enough.

But I'm in a strange period of life now. This in-between-ness. I have enough... for now. And just for right now. The future is coming at me fast and I don't know what I'm going to do when it arrives. I just know that what I have now, which is enough for right now, won't be enough for later.

I miss my clothes. Maybe that sounds stupid, but I can't tell you how frustrating it is to walk between seasons and know that I own a coat, a really nice one, but I can't get to it. I also have lots of nice "professional" clothes but when I had an interview last month I didn't have anything. I had to improvise. I miss my blouses and my nice shoes and my winter boots and all of my many pairs of warm socks.

I have bought more socks in the last month than I've bought in the last year, simply because I cannot access my sock collection. It's a nice collection, too.

I miss my books. I brought only three books with me on the trip out to Seattle. This complaint is not about having enough reading material (I mean, I could always buy more, right? Or borrow some.) It is about the comforting presence of my own beloved books, the sacredness of their weathered pages and illicitly written-in margins.

I miss the treasure trove of coffee mugs Joey and I kept. It's strange to only have four mugs to my name. Two I bought at a thrift store out of necessity, and two I inherited from my grandmother's house.

On that note, I miss my grandmother. This is possibly a strange place to mention such news, but she passed away in late September. She was 92. I have no hard feelings about her passing--she led a good life. She filled us up with her love and wisdom. My grief is soft, like a blanket. I miss her because she was wonderful and warm and she loved me. I think perhaps her greatest gift to me was that she received my love for her so willingly. She wrote fondly of my artistry and appreciated every picture I drew for her, every card I sent her, every doodle I might have scribbled. She soaked it up. I suppose that's a grandma's job.

I miss my desk. I have a "new" one now ($5 at Goodwill) and it has its own drawers, but the surface area isn't as big. I also miss all my office supplies. I miss my white board calendar and my hot glue gun and my stash of fancy markers. I have a stash of less fancy markers now--and by less fancy I really mean they are just terrible markers. Just the worst.

I miss my church and my friends in Waukegan. I miss holding hands and standing in a circle with all my CNC friends, singing "I Need You to Survive" and wondering at the double meaning. I needed them to survive for their own sake. I needed them for my own survival. I still do.

And I miss my dog. I miss the quiet moments when she would rest her big floppy head on my feet. I miss her warm little body against mine in the bed. I felt her loss most painfully the first cold morning here in Renton. How she used to love naptime with me on a chilly day. She would be so happy snuggled under the blanket for an hour or so. She wouldn't squirm or grumble, she just pressed herself into my chest and sighed contentedly in that way that a dog sighs with their whole body.

But of course, missing things doesn't mean I'm unhappy.

Goodness gracious. I am so happy. I am so sad, and so happy, at the same time.

All at once my heart is so light, and yet so burdened. There is such joy at what has been restored to me and such heavy sadness at what I've lost. All at once.

If I had not come home when I did, I never would have been able to say goodbye to my grandma. I couldn't have painted her one last picture or held her hand. The last thing she said to me was, "I love you," and I remember that. I remember her face when she said it. I wouldn't have that memory if I wasn't here. I couldn't tell you the last thing she said to me, or when it was.

If I had not come home when I did, I would feel her death more intensely. I have spent many years being absent for funerals and memorials and it is pointedly awful. It is so isolating. Death is so much more ominous and somehow haunting when it is unapproachable.

I am glad to be here, home, to have my goodbyes. I'm glad to help plan the memorial and wade through the ocean of photographs that embody my grandparents' lives. I'm glad to be able to support my mama and be the daughter I've always wanted to be but couldn't, because I was too far away.

This seems like a list of complaints. It is, but it isn't. It's just the way my life is right now. These are simply facts. I am so happy, and so sad, and so excited for the future, but so anxious.

And the most beautiful thing is that God is sitting with me in all of it. He holds my hand when I drown in the photographs and sticker collection at grandma's house. He gives me sleep when I am reminded, yet again, that I can't say goodnight to my dog because she's gone. He does not expect me to only see the good in life, but doesn't want me to see only the bad. He does not expect me to toss off the life he helped me build in Illinois, nor does he wish for me to drown in grief. He allows me to be in the middle, between feelings, between stages, between periods of having and not having enough.

Having him with me, in darkness and light, is the greatest privilege of all.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mountains and Valleys

Funny to think about not blogging since April. I put such an emphasis on National Poetry Month and then my motivation for writing seems to disappear. I suppose it was also around that time that things really began to shift up and down in my world.

I applied for a job in Washington state. It took the potential employer a long time to make up his mind, but eventually he came to a decision and I didn't get the job. But we decided to move home anyways. The really wonderful and terrifying thing about trusting God is that sometimes he thrusts an adventure into your schedule at the last minute and you have no choice but to follow along--we could have had a grand expedition across the country, or not moved home and been homeless and poor and continued in various types of misery.

We went home to Washington briefly the end of June/beginning of July for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Their anniversary weekend was held in Bandon, Oregon at one of my family's favorite coastal locations. It was the best vacation I've ever experienced. It wasn't glamorous or particularly thrilling but we drank lots of coffee and ate lots of tacos. I collected lots of seashells and sunburns. (Yes, you read that correctly.) We also began making plans for the move home.

When we arrived back in Illinois we had just 20 days to raise the money for the move along with pack up our lives. This is not an exciting thing to write about so I'll be brief. We worked a lot, I had several doctor's appointments and one biopsy, we had trouble getting the trailer for the move and didn't have a lot of money and our last few days in Illinois were terrible. Also our whole county was flooded. I didn't sleep a lot.

The drive back to Seattle was the worst road trip I could have imagined. We had car trouble, and because of the loaded trailer (which was packed to the brim with belongings, but no furniture--I had to leave all of that behind) our gas costs doubled. Rather than spend money on lodgings we occasionally slept for a few hours in parking lots. The dog enjoyed the trip immensely, of course. We had her kennel cradled in the backseat and she just slept in there, peering out the window occasionally.

Driving a little sedan with a 2000-pound trailer behind it is awful. As a short person, I often do not enjoy driving simply because I feel physically disadvantaged. My hands also go numb. But on the last leg of the trip Joey had grown tired (no surprise there) and I was SO OVER being in the car. The Rocky Mountains had really done us in--it was a slow ascent, descent, ascent, descent, over and over again all through western Montana and all of Idaho. Joey was exhausted by it all.

So the second-to-last stretch of the trip was all me. It was the middle of the night but I was a warrior of darkness and speed. I took us all the way down out of Idaho and trekked through Eastern Washington until we found a Walmart parking lot for the night.

The next morning we finished the drive to Seattle. The dog perked up as soon as we rounded Snoqualmie Pass and couldn't stop sticking her little head out the window. The air was so fresh and clean in comparison to the midwest, and I think she knew we were home.

Since then things have been mostly steady. We house-sat for relatives, then stayed with a friend for a few days, then house-sat again, and now we're renting a room from a family friend. The last several days have been heartbreaking as we had to put Holly down on Friday.

I am not sure what comes next. I don't have a job, so I have a lot of time by myself while Joey is at work. I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do. God has allowed me to experience some great losses in all this. I've lost my beautiful little church and the family within it, I've lost all my furniture, and don't have access to my worldly possessions as they are all in storage. I've lost my job simply by moving away from it and now I've lost Holly, my very best friend in the whole world.

I've been in these valleys before. I know this one like the back of my hand. But there is so much pressure to deny the valley any power, to simply trek back on up the mountain and stay there because that's "how it's done." I just have a feeling that I have to live in the valley for a little while--to rest in the shadows from the mountains, to drink from the rivers, to pause and reflect on all the mountainous land surrounding me before choosing which one to climb.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

NPM Day 30 {Rocks & Feathers}

Rocks & Feathers
April 27, 2017

The lowest tides bring the highest pain,
she is reminded on the shore
of stones smooth and cold, and sits
to let the frigid waters wash her feet.
Wind ruffles red tendrils of hair,
rattles the anxiety caging her heart,
and a murky sunset catches all
the blue from watering eyes.
She blinks until the sky is gray,
letting waves of salty atmosphere
dry tears and clear off the seagulls.
This hurt cannot be smoothed out
and left upon the winnowing beach
among shells and gentle driftwood.
We cannot know the history of things,
how large or small a creation came
from a pebble, a branch, a leaf.
We are all just rocks and feathers.
She sees all that's been forgotten,
sandy remnants of other shores, things
which tell no stories of former greatness.
And as the night air rushes downward
it carries her, and she knows,
she could have been a mountain,
and she could have been a bird.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

NPM Day 29 {Position}

September 9, 2016

Let it be my turn.
I have begged.
In a modern era
I have found myself kneeling
under desks and
in the dark.
Let it be my turn.
I have burned photographs
and filtered out
supposed poisons,
Let it be my turn.
Always patient,
although devastated,
but somehow
never questioning
my position.
But perhaps
I should be pleading
to simply be allowed

to stand in line.

Friday, April 28, 2017

NPM Day 28 {The Pause}

The Pause
April 9, 2017

I envision myself paused, my hands pressed
against praying lips, eyes closed, all senses omitted
except the sound of my heart beating.
It's a sagacious and frequently visited image,
hoping it will lead me somewhere new,
but whether I see my body swaying
mid-song, or crouched under this desk,
I am infinitely alone in such a moment.
The world offers no insight to, nor respite from,
the haunting desire that captures me,
that subtle yet emboldened pain
always just beyond my grasp, feigning
an approach and then fading fast.
And so intrepidly I take pause, always
assuming position in solitude, always hoping
that if I open my eyes, my heartbeat
will be stronger alongside yours.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

NPM Day 27 {Roundabout}

This poem used to give me chills. They were sort of good chills, sort of bad chills. When I wrote this over seven years ago, they were my only way of processing one of the biggest fights with a friend I've ever experienced. I honestly can't even remember what the fight was about, but it went on for several months longer than I felt capable of enduring.

All I had were these words. 

And I've avoided this poem over the years, but it doesn't have power over me anymore. 

So here you go.

February 12, 2010

You are the friend of my conveniences,
coffee cups cold with petty sympathies.
You are a walk in the dark,
the translation of my nightmares,
and you lay your hands down on me
like a sacrificial beast into the flames.
You bear the knife in clammy palms,
breathing out my fate like a grudge
that holds on hopelessly.

You are the arrow that misses my heart
a thousand times too many for pity.
You stab me in the back
and apologize. You are so sorry.
Patterns go roundabout, but maybe
you will hit the target next time.

You are the accumulation of ice,
the shivering abandonment of reason.
You stab me in the back
and apologize. You are so sorry.
Patterns go roundabout,
yes is a maybe and maybe means no.
You stab me in the back

and sympathize. You are so sorry
that I am such a sorry sight.
You stab me in the hand
and put the blade in my bloody fingers
and you scream for me.
You say I did it to myself and
you say it's all my fault and
you stab me in the heart and
patronize. You are so sorry
that I don't see it your way.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NPM Day 26 {Chalet}

December 20, 2016

Rickety seats and bright nights,
cool summers, proximal mountains,
all fade and grow hazy
under a new star.
Nobody takes these memories from me.
I say a thing can be beautiful
even after you’ve touched it,
even after I swore
it was ruined for forever.
I’m taking them all back now,
the theaters and cemeteries,
the antique stores, the lake.
I will reclaim jokes in stairwells,
and the blue tiles I stared at
during my first panic attack.
Nobody holds their record
except for me
and when they play across the silver screen
the credits will misplace your name.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

NPM Day 25 {What Kind Are You}

What Kind Are You
October 1, 2016

Dewdrop sunrising,
rumble engine drum,
shushing trees
and a draught of coffee.
I wish.

Middleofthenight anxiety,
moonlit unrest
with the Almighty.
Black tears or a dirty face.
I wish you were.

Momentous scarlet hope,
undaring questions,
gentle darkness cushions
and words pacify.

Monday, April 24, 2017

NPM Day 24 {Barefoot}

--This doesn't have to be one of your favorites, but it is one of mine.

September 29, 2016

When I was younger,
I lived in the rain;
pain held no beauty or treasure,
and no one ever spoke of
the stillness
brought in with summer’s end.
Autumn in Auburn
was damp and evergreen,
not like here where
I can stand in the parking lot
suddenly silent
without the hum of a thousand
air conditioners
and then I can move
in any direction
to crush a leaf beneath my feet.
The crisp noise resonates
off those bricks, still sore
from the cicadas’ song.
No one ever told me
the falling leaves
among ill-tempered winds
would break my heart,
would whisper my name
back against a wall of memory
until I was just a little girl again
running in the rain,
fearless of any consequences
–even barefoot.
I feel it coming every year
like the hushed breath
before a storm,
and I catch myself
longing for it and
dreading it all the same,
but can never quite prepare
for the falling
beautiful ache.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

NPM Day 23 {The night before the first step}

The night before the first step
February 27, 2017

I try

have tried

to be the gift

before you are received.

But I

only I

see the impossible

before it is conceived.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NPM Day 22 {Winter Resurgence}

Winter Resurgence
December 19, 2016

under the moon that night

it blinked down
like a veiled eye

i said
i can be brave
when i can’t feel my hands

under the glitter trees

where berries frost
and disappointments freeze

i said
i killed a wolf
you just killed a man

Friday, April 21, 2017

NPM Day 21 {Removed}

January 18, 2017

How can a heartbeat
be something bad?
I would give everything
to carry what you had.
In different measures
we go under the knife.
I remove poison.
You remove life.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

NPM Day 20 {Pull Into the Station}

Pull Into the Station
October 4, 2016

Be the morning light
in my hair.
Take me
to the edge and back
with flair.

When we were here before
on the tracks I grieved.
And when we returned
my body had been freed.

So be sunlight
or be sorrow.
I want to go
there and back again.
Be merciless
or generous
just make my journey

worth the pain.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NPM Day 19 {Pretty With a Pistol}

I wrote this back in 2009, concerning a certain terrible breakup. I posted it as a "note" on Facebook. My poetry professor, and English adviser at the time, casually commented, "Is this written by you? It's great. The aridity has its own values and assets and we profit from the Moroccan Street experience, don't we?"

I didn't ask him to read it, but it wasn't the first/last time he commented on my poetry. It was the exact kind of validation I needed. I thought I wanted validation about my failed relationship. I wanted people to tell [unnamed terrible boyfriend] that he'd made a mistake, and we should get back together.

Ya'll know me a little, by now. I get invested in people rather quickly. Even 8 years ago, that was true.

I was just barely beginning to allow myself to be angry about the situation when I wrote this poem. I'd spent almost an entire month simply wishing I could still be with [unnamed terrible boyfriend.] I managed to fly home to Washington for spring break just a few weeks prior to this piece being written, and at my mother's Bible study I asked everyone to pray that I could "get him back." (I was young and INVESTED, okay? I want all of my relationships to work out, no matter what. I don't give up easily. I'm gonna end these parenthesis before this blog is like 50% excuses for loving the wrong person.) And after all the talks with my friends, even amidst a thousand other encouraging voices, I recall my friend Marianne (may she rest in peace) shaking her head and explaining how silly that was. She said he had treated me poorly, that he didn't deserve me, and that if he didn't understand how artistic and incredible I was he wasn't worth my time. But her most important sentiment: "I'm angry at him for you, even if you aren't!"

So when I look back on it, I am kindly reminded that my heart was being heard above the nonsense of my sadness. In a time where I felt confused, disappointed, and rejected there were trusted people outside the situation who knew what I needed to hear, even if I didn't want it at the time. I needed to feel angry about how I had been treated, not about the fact that we'd broken up. (I am, obviously, glad we broke up. I married Joey, after all.)

So here you go. The Moroccan Street experience.

Pretty With a Pistol
April 1, 2009

Today is one of those blue-sky, wide-open types.
Just a reminder of how much I love the desert,
the sandy wind all abrasive against my skin.
I miss the spice in the air and rattle snakes
warning us to never go into the long grass.
Days and nights blended under that sun.

We don't have to go stay at that city, though.
I could never make anyone enjoy that heat
as much as I did. Your heart is much too closed.

But maybe we could go somewhere else for a while.
Let's go to Moroccan Street, just you and me.
Brick houses will shade us where there are no trees,
and everyone will greet you with a foreign smile.
We'll dress up and sweat in the dusty afternoon.

I've always wanted to wear a fancy gown
and drag you into the incense-flavored sunset,
to dance and fade into a cool midnight.
You never gave me the chance, though.

When I look back up into the blue canvas of sky,
and look back down at the gray slab of cement,
I am reminded that I'm not going to the desert again.
But if I could go and we danced in the sunset,
I'd dance you into the middle of the burning dirt road

and I would shoot you straight through the heart.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NPM Day 18 {Landlocked}

November 17, 2016

Each night, unsleeping eyes
see her face and dream of
on a distant shore.
The waves pull me
into nightmares
where she is sorry
and she explains
although I never hear the words.
In slumber my sobs
are so frightfully real
unlike her anger
which was always
and is still, all these years,
so silent.
And medicated
I see her more clearly,
free of the anxiety
yet still anxiously seeking her out.
I wonder if there is a reason
for her midnight eyes
behind my blue,
for her mischief
inside my somnolent visions.
Crashing against the rocks
of consciousness
I am only reminded
our reunion is not real,
she has left me for good,
and there is no ocean

to bring us together.

Monday, April 17, 2017

NPM Day 17 {Willow Tree}

Willow Tree
May 30, 2016

it was long ago under a willow tree
you spoke and made me still

i heard you
i felt you
i breathed you
in the wind

as it passed so steadily
in time like a divine heartbeat

through the grass
through the flowing branches
through my hair
through me

i can close my eyes and remember
that final moment of stillness
being so perfectly held

before you moved
the world all around me
before you moved
in the branches above me
before you moved
within me

Saturday, April 15, 2017

NPM Day 16 {Hours in Eternity}

A poem for Easter. A break from the norm with some simple rhyming, and also a break from the norm because I try not to do holiday poems but whatever. I feel what I feel. I do what I want.

Hours in Eternity
April 16, 2017

Darkness willows down
and settles itself
like a cape of cloud
unsettling all else.
The sycamore tree
where you redeemed
a man shrouded
by his greed
trembles and fades
in shadows now
as thunder breaks
the sky aloud.

You are the one
we've waited for
to fight the darkness
and win the war.
And long ago
when you lived
among the dust
only to give
away your life
we couldn't know
what waiting still
you would bestow.

This blackest night
after death's display
calmed the hate
once set ablaze.
Your followers
fell in despair
believing you had
abandoned them there.
And in your time
they waited one day
while here and now
we still wait and pray.

But these are hours
in eternity,
in time you've claimed
to set us free.
Kept in darkness
I watch and wait
holding the hope
you illustrate,
and knowing forever
I would wait for you,
even without knowing
when the light shines through.

NPM Day 15 {Except}

March 20, 2017

Today I walked longingly
through splintered barricades
where we wept. You faded,
in a hushing, ferocious way,
like a trampled flower once alive
and then snuffed out. And I’m sorry
that everything changes,
that the world you knew
could never be reformed,
and that every impulse since
has disappointed or dismantled
what you believed was love.
I’m sorry that the Love you had
has been diluted by poison rain.
And I’m sorry you are bridled
by knowing that everything changes,
that winds die down and ice melts,
that fathers make sorry mothers
and mothers neglect their children,
that evergreens die someday
and some storms contain no rainbow,
that our creations are not sustainable
by sheer will. I’m sorry
you seem to think that
since everything changes
so does Love. But it doesn’t.

Friday, April 14, 2017

NPM Day 14 {In the same ditch}

In the same ditch
April 5, 2017

These are images of a misunderstanding,
I try to write them down in notes but
I just keep seeing myself sitting on a rock
all cringes and winces and perplexity.
It's a real thing, what I've done for my enemy,
the sleepless hours spent scavenging
for something to win you over.
Nobody asked me to celebrate your birth
or offer you kindness, or even smile
in your general direction--especially
since you apparently don't understand me.
I did it anyways, hoping you'd grow
to respect me, even from afar.
But understanding is not friendship
nor is friendship understanding, like
two weeds just growing in the same ditch.
And I know I'm not a weed but I think
perhaps you are, taking up all this space,
stifling me and stealing my sunshine
and pushing me into the rocks where I sit

and now I cannot get this stupid look off my face.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NPM Day 13 {A Contender}

A Contender
September 27, 2016

Here, absolved with shadows,
I will stand my ground and demand
to see you eye to eye.
We are not equals,
but I will fight.
Make me a contender.
Let me hold the weapons
you will only destroy.
Raise me up with valor
which you will only crush.
Allow me a moment
to look you in the face
and hope I might have a chance
at some small victory.
Fight me until I am weak.
Strike me until I am bruised.
Love me enough
to break me
so that I can rebuild.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NPM Day 12 {Bludgeon}

January 1, 2017

It’s not like a hammer.
There’s a head to hit,
but it’s mine–
there’s no nail.
Just me, beating
my skull against a wall,
over and over again,
asking the same question,
repeating the heartbreak
every time
the flowers wither
or the snow melts.
Each impact
is somebody else
getting what I want,
each bruise just a reminder
that even if I was the wall
instead of the bludgeon
it still wouldn’t be my turn
to win.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NPM Day 11 {Contain}

August 31, 2016

Infant tears unmeasured.

Wrinkles uncounted, unsurprised.

I tried to save sand in my pockets.

I attempted to hold whole lives.

Slipping away like sunbeams.

The last sign of light is the best.

What we contain cannot be known.

What remains is the test.

Monday, April 10, 2017

NPM Day 10 {Clutching}

--This one still hits me in the gut. Every. Single. Day.

November 24, 2016

It was this time last year,
my hands thick with flour,
lungs swelling with cinnamon,
wondering how
I could have said such things.

Here I wait at a precipice,
no longer looking down
but gazing out,
with this clutching feeling
at my collarbone
where my body filled with rage,
and I forsook you.

How did I collect such feelings
without anyone else seeing?
How did the world turn
while I held on and on and on,
but you had let go
when we were young?

No one ever stopped us.
No one ever said
to love more softly,
to give you up freely,
to succumb to the emptiness of loss.
No one told you
to love more fiercely,
to hold onto my dearly,
to understand how we
needed each other.

And then no one let me grieve.

Until this time last year.
I poured my regrets
and stirred my tears
in with the spices,
waking up with the sunlight,
alone in the kitchen,
wondering how
could I have said those things,
how did my bitterness taste
in your mouth,
how could I go on like this,
how could I,
how could I love,
could I love you less.

Mid-NPM Ramble #1 [The Heckler]

I'm awake right now because the dog woke me up. The dog woke me up because we didn't take her out recently. We didn't take her out recently because went to bed before midnight. And we went to bed before midnight because my hubby is tired.

I, however, was less tired because I was sick this morning and skipped church and therefore when the dog woke me up I'd only been asleep for about 45 minutes so I've just been putzing around the apartment trying to get tired again.

So I'll tell you a story.

It's 9 o'clock. Joey has gone to fetch us some dinner and left me at Ross. I need to buy a few things, like a bow tie and a sports bra. You know, normal stuff that people buy from discount stores at 9pm.

After half an hour of wandering and finding neither sports bra nor bow tie (thrilling, I know) I meander up to the checkout area. I have just one item in my cart--a shiny silver soap dish. I hate checking out with one random item but I sincerely like and need this soap dish. This soap dish will fit in that stupid little nook next to the faucet handle, and bars of soap will actually fit inside the dish, so even though I feel silly, there is no way I'm putting it back and abandoning the cart.

The only other people in the store are an Indian woman and her daughter, and they are already in line ahead of me. Mother is heckling the cashier about getting a 20% discount on a handful of items and the daughter is struggling to hold all the other items not yet on the counter.

While I wait in line I peruse the assortment of junk food. It's mostly jelly beans. I hate jelly beans. I'm hoping for a bag of those mini gummi bears (Yes, they are MINI gummi bears. They are tiny and delicious and freakin adorable.) but have no luck.

Meanwhile Joey and I are texting back and forth. He's asking why I'm taking so long, and I tell him about the Heckler and her daughter. He says that the husband/father is outside smoking a cigarette and uses an irritated emoji, and I laugh quietly. Joey is tired and cranky. He threatens to eat dinner without me in the car and I explain that the Heckler is about to leave, so he should watch the door to see this tiny little girl holding a bag twice as big as her filled with--who knows what.

Maybe they bought all the sports bras and bow ties.

The cashier greets me, I greet her, and I set my pretty soap dish on the counter, only to be interrupted by a jarring BE-E-EP, BE-E-EP, BE-E-EP. 

The Heckler turns around, looking furious that something has set off the alarms, and the Heckler's Daughter looks disheveled. I take away my soap dish just in time as they slam Santa's Bag of Toys (or bag of sports bras and bow ties) back on the counter, narrowly escaping soap-dish-death.

To avoid awkwardness I keep looking at the junk food while the Heckler continues heckling. There's a bag of regular-sized gummi bears and I quickly text Joey just as the Heckler and the Heckler's Daughter are leaving again.

"Do you want 4lbs of gummi bears?" I ask him.

I put the soap dish on the counter. The cashier apologizes for the delay, I dismiss her worries, and just as she's putting my receipt in the bag I check my phone one last time.

Joey's response: YES.

Another transaction is made as I purchase the gigantic bag of deliciousness.

Meanwhile, Joey has seen the Heckler's Daughter and the huge bag of whatever.

"THAT IS A CRAP TON OF CRAP," he texts me.

When I finally exit the store I see the Heckler's Husband putting out his cigarette. Their minivan is parked next to us, where my husband is blasting Murder Train. (A joke, for anyone who has ever watched How I Met Your Mother.)

I get one last text message: "!!!!!!!!!!!"

As he increases the volume I raise the bag gummi bears above my head in victory.

I may have no bow ties, no sports bras, no sleep, and no sanity.

But I will now have a handful of gummi bears and attempt to go back to bed.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

NPM Day 9 {Suki (On Being Both)}

I channeled my nerdy side for this one. Only a few dear friends will get the reference (hopefully) but as hard as I tried to deflect these nerdy words toward some other topic... it just couldn't be helped.

I am what I am, I suppose.

Suki (On Being Both)
February 21, 2017

These are solid reflections
on being both
one thing and another but
they are facets,
not opposing forces.
I am one thing, but
also another.
I have always been a fighter,
sometimes only fighting
to belong in the fight.
You think I am not able
to have courage and comfort
in the same breath,
but you can touch me,
you can feel my heartbeat,
and you must know
that I am a rhythm filled
with both passion and aggression,
love and rage, all withheld
until I am certain of my mark.
I am both nurturing
and combative,
a mother and a murderer,
and in the same daylight
can thirst for revenge
or find myself tender
in the wake of another’s darkness.
I am a warrior, but
I am a woman too.
And this body longs
for blood or retribution,
for a caress or a companion,
and what relief it would be
to be understood in my ability
to hold a sword or a hand
and still be known.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

NPM Day 8 {Even You}

Even You
August 18, 2016

It is not for sinners,
vagabonds encrusted
by a lifetime’s angry soiling.
It is not for the redeemed,
the purified or vilified
or sanctified by
personal efforts.
It is not for your goodness,
for your righteous silence,
or task-oriented piety.
It is not a compensation
for your surrender
or your gratitude
or your penance.
It is not earned
but wholly entrusted,
thrust upon you brazenly
that may often feel
like a reward
but can weigh you down
like someone else’s burden.
And it is not delivered
because you asked,
even though you may.
It is given
because we are all in need.
Even you.

Friday, April 7, 2017

NPM Day 7 {All I Have Left}

All I Have Left
November 10, 2016

I give up.
I give up.
It’s a lie, but I’m saying it.
I give up.

I don’t want an explanation.
You don’t have to give me answers.
Those are lies, but I’m saying them.
I give up.

You don’t have to tell me why,
or say how long I have to wait.
I’m lying, but who cares?
I give up.

All I really want is comfort.
Touch me and I’ll be fine.
That’s the truth, it’s all I have left,
but in regards to everything else

I give up.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

NPM Day 6 {Vicious Grace}

Vicious Grace
December 7, 2016

Belief has given power
where none was found
or could be made,
and we hold it at arm’s length,
pausing to receive
a gentler truth
we might pass on.
But there is still
grief in this voice
and there is still
anger waiting in the dark
and still
a vicious grace.
It comes out in all our words,
it blinds the weak
and rattles nerves,
and still for all our trembling
and that which we give away,
written in dusty margins
or tucked in a lover’s coat pocket,

we still believe.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

NPM Day 5 {Practical}

October 2, 2016

I felt it today.
Between zipping up my jacket
and the realization
I wore the wrong shoes for rain.
You were always so
but your amusement did not follow
my foolishness today.
I could feel your spirit
leaving me,
turning through the air,
fading like wisps
from cradled teacups.
Your absence is
a settled weight
pulling down the shutters
then collapsing at the window
and I can hardly bare it,
knowing you are gone.
I felt it with such strength
when we said goodbye
I swallowed the pain
and now it sits like a rock,
holding me here in the dark.
I have held you closer
than expected,
but like every breath
of fresh air
I must let you go

or we will both cease to be.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

NPM Day 4 {Still}

August 15, 2016

if you are near
as near as breath
as near as touch
wash over me

and be nearer still
be closer still

as close as a kiss
as close as a heartbeat
as close as blood
wash over the inside

for I am a vessel
be inside my heart
be inside my soul

be nearer
be closer still
wash over me
wash over and fill

as close as a memory
as close as you were
inside my thoughts

as close as this moment
as close as sunlight
as close as love

Monday, April 3, 2017

NPM Day 3 {Crystalline}

September 30, 2016

You used to say
you were too prismatic
and I’d hate all of your other sides.
I never believed you,
I didn’t believe it,
even when I saw
that crystalline dagger
coming for me.
And no one believed me
when I said you were beautiful,
when I believed in your beauty,
when I put all my hope
in the colors
I swore I saw
from my point of view.
But that damned perspective
saved my life so many nights,
even when I cursed at you,
even when I regretted you,
even when I simply
your dark side
for what I thought
must have only been the first time.
And all these years later
I still call you a hero
though we haven’t spoken
and we haven’t reconciled
and we’ve thrown all our love
out of the light.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

NPM Day 2 {Beckoned}

April 2, 2017

The Oregon sun was petulantly dry,
the earth beside the road quiet and choked
with enchanting travelers' dust, clustered
with tiny mountains sharp, yellow rocks
between blinding white daisies or
a thrush of persistent dandelions.

A short climb through grass on the left
led to dragonflies, green and blue,
darting over the river stones and gerridae
and the sun was not cruel but tender
as water rolled and gushed around boulders,
thundering to be freed over the falls.
To the right the ground sloped, ending
abruptly, giving way to the truth below
where waters dangerous and blue beckoned,
and it was there I flung my tiny body
over the cliff, into the deep, feeling my feet
just touch the murdering rock below the surface.

If I close my eyes I can still feel the sun
purifying the gold in my long hair,
and the air around me cooling in descent
just before the water meets me gladly,
devouring me up from my toes as
I plunge myself into the unknown, and
wondering almost infinitely--
if I break the surface, will it break me?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

National Poetry Month 2017 - Day 1 {From the Back Door Looking Forward}

I may have lost my motivation to blog regularly. But I'll never grow out of poetry, and I'll never not participate in National Poetry Month because, well, I have no good reason to abstain. It's funny, though. A whole year later and not much has changed, not on the inside, and yet on the outside my life looks entirely different. A completely new cluster of friendships have emerged and therefore a whole new group of people will be privy to experiencing this side of me.

This will go the same way it always does. I'll give you titles and original dates. If there's a relevant backstory I'll include it. Here is Day 1.

From the Back Door Looking Forward
June 23, 2016

Absorb my fears
into your trembling hand.
Prophesy my tears
into the burning sand.
My voice
will soak barren lands,
will move mountains
strong and grand.
But did you know then
what I hope to know now,
before peasants rose up
and emperors bowed?
I am the dessert
to be soothed.
I am the mountain
to be moved.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Midnight & Mountains

I started writing at exactly midnight, and writing feels like climbing, with my arms and legs burning and my eyes stinging from the harsh wind. I want to stop and sleep. But I can't. 

I started climbing this mountain a week ago. I’ve been in the foothills all week and we are nearing the summit now. By Monday I’ll have reached the opposite edge after which I’ll freely tumble down. I’ll take a nap when I reach the bottom.

There is so much here to be said, and I would like to be brief, but you see… I still have this mountain to climb. I don’t get to stop climbing until 1:00am. It’s a decision I made on my own, without fully understanding what it would mean for me, but hear me out. I’m not crazy for doing it.

See, I’ve written about post-cancer life—and yes, I have decided to just call it “cancer” because that’s honestly what it was. Poison is poison, no matter what clothes it may be wearing. I've talked about the doctors appointments, the nonsense I have endured at their hands, the surprise biopsies and terrible responses to what I want to do with my life.

I haven’t written about the most recent and unexpected change in my life, however.

It’s not that I’ve been keeping it a secret. There are just so many details. So many words to be said. So many thoughts to express, emotions to explore. I am actually planning on writing a book about the experience, if things ever calm down for more than four days at a time. It will be all of the funniest things I'll ever say for the rest of my life. Probably.

Here is the not-secret-secret: I got a second job at a restaurant.

This has come with a multitude of complications, of course. It’s the same restaurant where my husband is a server. I work as a host, a job which is easy enough, but requires a lot of energy for a poor introvert like myself.

I am trying desperately to avoid telling you everything about the work I do. I have a multitude of hilarious stories, but they’ll have to wait for another time, because this is a serious post. 

Seriously, I mean it!

Not surprisingly, this job wears me out. My back stopped hurting after a few weeks but my feet still get sore—my right foot in particular is in constant pain because it “suffered trauma” once. (That’s doctor talk for “it broke.”) The hours are long, you don’t always get to eat or take a break, and even if you get yourself something to drink or bring a water bottle someone else will inevitably move your drink, or spill it, or toss it out because it “might get in the way.” (Goodbye, my beloved cup of coffee…)

What I didn’t expect that during these first days of each month, these days where I take a drug (see other blog posts for that excitement) that makes me hungry for odd foods (I am really craving pineapple right now), I would find myself in a state of compressed exhaustion and I would lose my ability to stay up late.

It's really too bad that I must stay up late.

On the weekends the restaurant is open until 11pm. I am often a “last guest closer", which means I have to stay in the restaurant until the last guest leaves. So if a family comes in at 10:59pm and they enjoy their meal until 12:27am, I don’t get to walk out the door until I have watched them leave first.

So, back to the drugs.

I have to take them at the same time every day. And I mean the that. The same. Exact. Time. 

This is not like an allergy pill, or even birth control, where you can take it 5 minutes or perhaps  an hour late and you’ll be fine. If I take this 5 minutes late, the entire cycle of pills is wasted. I won’t get to reset until the next month.

I actually took 2 months off from taking it just because I was so concerned about getting it wrong. Don’t you worry, my anxiety about this was not misguided!

When January came I started taking it again. I concluded, based on my work schedule, that I would take it and my antidepressant at 1am. These are the only two meds I take that require a schedule and so it’s easier to take them at the same time, rather than set extra alarms and carry drugs around with me all day and potentially lose them. I know I’ll be home by 1am and so this was the most logical solution I could come up with.

You get it now? You see that this was logical?

It was logical, I promise. I planned well, to the best of my knowledge. But little did I know that for the next three weeks I would NOT be a “last guest closer;" rather I would be home before 10pm, but I’ve already started taking the pills at 1am and it can’t be undone!

So here I am. Sitting. Waiting. Ready for bed, Wishing I was asleep. I have been in this state for three hours, and I'm getting so close.

It’s within my grasp now; I can see the mountain top. My eyelids are heavy, my breathing slow and even, I am warm and comfortable and totally prepared to plunge my pickaxe into the rock and rest for the night.