"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff



Saturday, December 31, 2011

My body is so smart

it knows things
things you can't learn in books
things you can't even remember.

The steam was an after thought.
I have one pan, one lid...in use
so a plate, as a lid
and once lifted
THE STEAM!

and my thumb blistered before my brain could even register
heat
and my hand released.
Save the fingers
fuck the plate

and it shattered.
There were four, now three
and I am concerned
that I can't get another to match
and the downstairs neighbors must have jumped, and perhaps the baby next door was woken from it's nap and the mother is tired and the floor is messy and there is no thought to the fingers that bubble like boiling water.

but my body knows.

my body knows that in this place
the bathroom door does not need to be locked...
my hand does not even shut the door
and that is a strange freedom
but perhaps not a healthy one.

i am amazed that with all the times I have gagged this body
all the times I have taught it not to care for itself
all the times I have told it to lie
that it still knows how to save it's life!

I am listening to my body.

I don't think I should be the only one.
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wading Through

Yestarday there were no tears. The first of such a day in a long time. Today I am all tears. I feel the target of many arrows. They sting. Everyone has their own agenda. I'm not going to try and explain myself anymore. I'm just going to do the only thing I know to do at this point, for myself, my husband, and our relationship. I suppose no one else has to understand it. We will understand it when we are through it. My husband and I have always been the King and Queen of hindsight.

Each of us is unique, a fingerprint, a snowflake. There is a language between myself and God. It is like no other. You cannot speak it. It is pain. Where once I would use denial, sin, alcohol, busyness, and lies to deflect this conversation between God and I, now I sit on the footstool in rapt attention. I WANT to learn the lesson no matter how much it hurts. I am hoping that on the other side of this, we will speak differently. My ears may only be attuned to the language of my parents. That has been no aid to me. It is no fault of God's that he must speak to me in the language I hear.

_____________________

He asked me if I talk to God.

"I beg him" I say.

And what does he tell you?

"He no longer speaks English. His language is pain."

And?

"And it hurts to understand."

Do you want to?

"I'm afraid."

Of?

"Pain. It's muddy. It transfers. It cannot be controlled. I cannot keep it to myself."

Should you?

"Should is no longer relevant I suppose. I can't."

Then what are you begging for?

"Hope."

________________________

Today is my husband's birthday. He does not need to wish for hope. He has always had it.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baseballs & Smiles

Hold each thought and emotion separately.
Cling to none.
Push away none.

Like pitches across the plate, each thought is watched and labeled. "That is a curve ball."  "That is a fast ball." Do not catch them. Do not swing for the fences. Observe and label, feel and release. Wait for the next. This is a metaphor in mindfulness and my daily exercise. With this practice I will eventually know a strike from a ball.

________________________________


Yesterday I was at Office Max waiting for a print job. A man was at the counter. He turned to leave and smiled at me. I thought I smiled back. He said, "Oh, don't give me that kind of smile. I've been getting those fake smiles all day." I gave him my best false 'Cheese'. He wasn't so thrilled with that one either. Another man walked in the door. He said, "Smile. It can't be all that bad!"  I said, "Are people going to tell me to smile all day? Do I look that pathetic?"  He said, "You woke up breathing didn't you? Smile."

The old cliche, "Things could always be worse" never really has any teeth. Of course they could! That's why we have the story of Job. I'm not sure when I'll feel like smiling again. I am grateful for my family, health, jobs, bills paid, grace, mercy, forgiveness. So much. But a smile comes from somewhere else, somewhere beyond gratitude. I'll know it when it comes. I'll take a swing at it.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas

I held my sobbing husband in my arms. Once again it was my doing...this pain. I want to take it all back, to comfort, to heal. But there is no other way but through this now or I will just continue to harm him with my lies. I don't think anyone understands and I feel the weight of global disapproval. That can't matter. This time I must see it through. Lies are not best. I will use this time to find my truth and examine it, separate the wheat from the chaff, be open to anything but pretense.

We had breakfast as a family. I watched my boys tussle. I watched my husbands hands shake. We played dice and I saw my youngest follow in the tracks of my personality and my oldest pattern after his father. They are great young men. They are the best things we ever did and I have had nothing much to invest in them these last few years. That has to change.

It is Christmas day noon and I am now alone as the family gathers elsewhere. I have lived almost 50 years and even in the worst of them, I have never been alone on Christmas. Ah, but I am not alone. God is here and I feel him tugging to heal our relationship, for it is fractured like so many other things I tried to tape together. I am eating chips for Christmas dinner. It's almost humorous as I eat them with such a method. Suck the salt, pulverize the chip, swallow with a wine chaser. I can actually watch my hands swell.

I lay down on the floor and watch the sky turn against the trees and blacken their bark with fire. It is a high window in a high ceiling, and I so far down below it.

-from my iphone

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Truth Monster



The carpet is brown.
I am laying on the floor of this apartment
like a dirty snow angel
limbs askew...one shoe off, one shoe on
bare feet or shoes?bare feet or shoes.barefeetorshoesorbarefeetorshoes

My teeth are clenched
these jaws of life
having given birth to sequestered monsters
that ate the heart of man
while I held his convulsing body in my spent arms.

The monsters got too big to swallow.
Thou art loosed and the battle has begun.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Knowing More




We're afraid.
So we hole up in our preservations and stew in our fear.

We watch the steam rise from the water of our immobility and our skin starts to boil. We know we should be on a mission to escape, but the water has warmed so slowly that we thought we were simply bathing.....
....until we knew more.

And when the temperature gained ground, we reached out to turn a knob, and there our fingers scalded. We pulled back to preserve a hand...
...not realizing we might lose a life....
....until we knew more.

We heard a noise, like eggs coming to boil
realized the cacophony of our own bones rattling far beyond simmer.
To attempt a release now will surely be a far worse burn, for the flames....
...the flames are licking at the rim and dissonant against our skeletal racket.

The tea kettle starts to whistle, yet no one has called for tea. We find our mouths open and recognize the wail from our self tortured soul as anything as simple as tea.
We are knowing more.

Subconsciously, we begin to churn the water, our legs...barely within our reasoning...furiously kick. And our arms slap the water, making waves. We are so petrified to create movement with our mind
that our body
lie detector that it is
says "ENOUGH"
and as if, without our consent,
creates
The Perfect Storm.

We invite the wind.
We throw open the shutters and pull a tornado out of our hat.
We are knowing now....
that we WILL be moved...
that our bodies have rescued us from being poached,
or worse, hard boiled.

We've blamed the pot
we've blamed the water
we've blamed the bones.
We see movement only as a physical migration...
and for a time it has to be
we are so hot, so burned, so tired of heat.

We will come to know more.

Perhaps it wasn't about the pot.
it wasn't about the water.
It was just the bones
having something to say.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feather



I thought I could be a feather
airy like that
no weight
moved by the will of a whisper
or merely by will itself
a footless print
a ridgeless finger
and being so unidentifiable, so light
I could do no damage, no harm
but to my own plumage
an oath, a denier's creed
desirous to be so anemic

but I sank
all iron feet and fingers
and with me I took you
choking and astonished
that your feather
could ever be something you were unable to carry.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Grandma's Heart



Fragile is the ornament on my grandmother's tree
and her mother's before that, and my mother after.

Every year I unwrap this glass heart that could easily crush
with a tremor of my thumb.
I am amazed that year after year it withstands my clumsiness
though all the grace I have, I give it.

Do you think it survives because it has acknowledged it's own fragility...
puts on no airs as anything but?
It wears the word delicate as a namesake
a right for living so long.
Or perhaps it just always was, and is...

I am delicate.
Period.

My heart has made no such claim.
It has machismo and makes concrete statements, like
"I can handle this."
"I can carry you."

If I had conceded early on, that my heart was tissue thin
and crushable in an instant of unexpected cruelty,
would it make any difference?

I am delicate.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretense

'Without Pretense'
Artist Barbara Cole


Die to self.
I tried.
I believe I am dead, and yet
the pain is horrendous.
Do the dead have nerves?
Do they bleed from the insincerity of their eyes?

If so
I revoke my wish for death.
There is no peace in it.


__________________________

I would like to live more honest. I keep trying and failing, assuming there are appearances to keep, and people I need to live for. I have thought that to protect people from my ugly feelings was the kindest path to take. I have taken everything I felt that was not in line with how I thought I should feel and tucked it under my arm. Can you believe I thought that would work? The decay of that thing became the unmistakable odor of pretense. What a fraud! A friend called me egotistical. It is the grandest egotism to think that I can make someone else happy. I cannot. At this point I cannot even make myself happy.

I apologize to the blogs I follow. I tell myself...go there. I tell myself...read. I tell myself...comment. I should, I should, I SHOULD. And yet, I have nothing to give you. I am a fraud, even there. There was a time I had an investment that was true. Now I really have nothing of value to give you. I am too empty. Writing helps me, if I can be honest in it. I'll continue writing here, but won't be around much to your blogs. I've been dropping off, dropping out...too confused and too ashamed and too lost. Now I just don't want to fake it anymore. I have a lot of work to do. And can you believe, I want to ask your forgiveness for being absent where you write out your own hearts, your lives, your own pain?  I feel like such a shit.
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Battering



The wind is worried today,
restless spirit, touching here
touching there
unable to decide if he has whipped this landscape
enough for penance
or defrocked that tree sufficiently
that her completely bare and naked shape
is intimately acquainted with his touch.

He has knit his brows together in the clouds
concern an ever deepening wrinkle
that perhaps the work is not done
and never is.

So he strikes again, and Again, and AGAIN
at the weary world, as if to subdue it.

The sea fights back
with angry white swells that batter boats
as if to subdue them

and the boats bang the docks
as if to subdue them.

The work is not done.
And no one is free.
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Monday, November 28, 2011

Swamp Women (for Marion)



If we lived near each other, I would go bang on your door come midnight
though the full moon would've already disturbed your slumber...
the both of you, just staring at each other all googly eyed as you do...
but this night, I his hand to draw you.

In my plaid flannel PJ's,
grabbing the hem of your rose print cotton nightgown..
Come on, Come on   I'd tug
cuz you're not that old and your hip will survive the outing
into the swamp where we'd find old timber
and set it on fire with the gasoline of our piss.

We'd whoop and holler and get naked,
just to show Mr. Moon that we still got some magic in the kindest light...
maybe not in the full spectrum sun,
where our carriage tends to turn again to pumpkin
but in the dim light of the planets and stars,
our skin still glows and our breasts have some allure

at least the alligators think so ;)
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Monday, November 21, 2011

His Journals




He bequeaths me his journals
hand to page
pressing in, on the fabric of self
a scratch, a wound, a scar
petroglyph, fossil, a museum of the mind.

I do not take this lightly.
I can see the artifacts lined up above the piano
grave stones to passing years
the dusty mind of a younger man.

I rope my arm to the chair
for it would snake out to brrrshk brrrshk each cover
my lips to blow
yearly deposits of inattention from drying spines.

Why must I wait for death
to receive this gift?

Why is such a treasure held in a rubber band coffin,
the exhumation of which is only offered
when the pain is fresh and questions
lay like a wilting bouquet in the lap of an epitaph?

Is that it?
The questions?

I won't ask them!!!!
But let me know you while you live.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Come back


Stephanie and Me


Her smile dies in still birth
eyes weeping against the curvature
willowed lashes bent in the posture of submission
repeatedly coming up empty, but for a fist of soil
wishing to god-breath-it to life, into the shape her fingers trace, airly
above the space of a cavernous bed

I promised him
promised I'd take good care of her
because you'll promise anything when it feels sacrificial
enough for death

We watched each other fighting in separate wars
reached out a hand
but there was no trust in it
no salvation

We'd never needed each other more
or had each other less
I broke it Mike. I broke my promise

"So did she" his spirit assuages.
And he was that guy, that guy who never held you
to a drunk slur, or a bet you couldn't back.

I wanted to be better. More.

I tried to smile for her
she tried to navigate for me
and we both got lost
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Friday, November 4, 2011

The Crutch



Your fingers slide into the palm of your addiction
press intently...red crescent moons anchoring
into the fleshy thing that has become your Bathsheba.

The one glance you stole
has become a hot need in your pants
quivering, seeking, alive.
And if it's alive, then to deprive it is death,
and so we don't.
Nicotine, alcohol, drugs, pornography, aggression...

What if I told you, you could live without it?
What if you believed me?
What then?
It makes you nervous just to consider that you could...
don't it? Yeah. I know.

There was a man.
He lived without a face.
13,800 volts for 3 minutes and his face was gone.
He took down all the mirrors, saying
"on occasion I would catch my reflection in a butter knife
and that was enough."

He lived without something as fundamental as features.
And then again,
they aren't so fundamental are they?
We think our face is unique and intrinsic to our identity.
But I look like Cindy Williams
and Sally Fields
and that neurosurgeon in Lodi
and that girl you kissed under the bleachers.

But a man without a face?
I am humbled by that man.
It's amazing what we can live without as soon as we have to.
Perhaps we should live that way
before the choice...no longer ours.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Creepy Halloween Post



She was given no key. "Don't need one in these parts," they had said...and it seemed right, as the cottage was nestled among orchards of orange blossoms. The door swung open easily to a coverlet of red roses and the end of the world painted on the wall.

A small restroom held the necessities and three small shelves. She fingered the potions left for her...strange names like Mehyam, Si, Raen, and a clear jar self labeled 'Ant Poison' in a hurried script. She touched herself with Milk & Shea Butter, feeling decadent and fertile. After a moments reflection, she turned from the mirror. Behind her, a breeze startled the delicate white lace curtain covering the window, and the appliqued dragons began to hunt.

She brought nothing with her but what she wore, that being easy enough to discard. She pulled the dress over her head in one sharp tear, wishing with it, a layer of skin. Each foot removed the shoe of the other, and she left them by the door where they might be easily stolen.


He wached her shadow pass behind the flimsy shade, noticed when the form rose, dancing to music he couldn't hear, but it was jazz by the size of it.

In his hands the knife turned ever so slowly as he built his need. The rusty blade didn't seem to bother him, though the dullness would be a factor.

Ah the blood,     
the blood he would use to paint the roses.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Old Man Gutter



As long as I can remember he is sweeping the gutters.
They are immaculate, those gutters.
as if his children would eat
from that trough, the sewage of the streets.
I can think of many things I should clean
but the street falls short.

His hair was brown
but it ran down the handle of his broom and into the grate
that said "no dumping" with a cobalt stencil of a fish.
I ain't never seen a cobalt fish
but it makes as much sense as all that sweeping I guess.

In the morning he swept
In the afternoon he swept
And in the evening, oh that poor damn leaf
having loosed itself of the branch
resting peacefully from aerial life,
he swept
the last vestige of its color right down the drain
where mysterious cobalt fish now play slap jack with rebellious leaves.

swish  swish  s w i s h
and his own joy along with it.

His hair is now gray,
as flat and lifeless as the gutter he rid
of everything it tried to gather.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Atypical




I've decided to refuse.

Yes, it's actually my decision,
seeming as one of few
(though a truer lie never spoken),
so I am POWER in it...
all might and back bone
as if this one adjective were the shackle
and I, ready now, to gnaw off my foot.

I've blacklisted the word
of, or pertaining to, this woman

What word?

It's gone. Redacted.

In its place, a fingerprint
scored along my hip
which you colored so far outside the lines
it is unrecognizable by sight,
but to your fingers
it is Braille.

Paint me, every day love...
for I have never been so beautifully atypical.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carnival





I drove by a sleeping carnival early one morning, watched the sun rise and bathe it in mood. Finally loneliness had perfect images. Silent. Abandoned. Eeerie. I walked around in complete anonymity taking pictures. No security, no maintenance workers. Just me, alone, fingering fish bowls, leatherette seats, blinking lights on ticket booths, and staring at myself in the fun house mirror. Big rig cabs were lined up with curtains drawn as I imagined snoring carnies and their life on the road. If any one of them had been awake, I might have stumbled across an interview...some fodder for a story. As it was, the story found me anyway.




He was nothing more than a pipsqueak, scruffy hair plastered down with Brylcreem to please Momma in the mornings, but flying free by noon, which pleased him just fine. In first grade you learn to read. You learn a lot of things that get etched in your marrow. Sometimes they turn to cancer, and sometimes they don't. The flier next to the water fountain said "Carnival".  He KNEW what carnival was. He felt it rub up against his shin in good and bad ways, a cat with sharp claws. He scratched his chin with the back of his nails as if he had stubble, a gesture he would come to repeat so often it was like a tic. Casting a furtive glance at the empty play yard, he tore the flier off it's nail and shoved it in the back pocket of his jeans, depository of such treasures as coins, rocks, and broken toys that it had never seemed right to abandon.

With measured steps he ambled home, smoothed the leaflet out as best he could and placed it under his mattress, figuring to ask his teacher to point out July 4 on the calendar. Making his way into the kitchen he opened a can of beans for dinner...pots and spoons rattling around the empty house as if for company. He was grateful for the noise.

******************

One year earlier, as now, he had no curfew except to eventually show up, as if that were indication enough all was well. It was not. Holes had been forming where tendernesses should have been, and scabs across the backs of little hands that should have been held within bigger ones. He was hungry in ways that would never be satisfied. He knew it already, at the tender age of six, though having no words for the ache. Having spent the night darting among tents, staring mesmerized at the red and green lights dancing across the water of the little boat ride, and collecting tickets dropped by the throngs of the attendees, he was the last one standing. It was Carnival. It was dark. He was alone, and he'd never felt lonelier.

Soiled leaflets stuttered across the pavement and one forgotten fish swam lazily in an eternal arc around a bowl with a ping pong sized mouth. He turned towards it. He didn't like being forgotten and imagined the fish liked it less. But his ears lurched in another direction and his eyes did a slow uneasy roll towards the sound. Music coming in bursts and sputters, the kind that came from Grandma's music box when the ballerina was about to stop. He liked the country tunes that sometimes played on the radio when his parents were home and of a mood. But this was....an avoided sound, a siren song, a taunt. He was able to shut it out well enough when the park was packed and his buddies were screeching at the carnies for a free ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Alone, he could not block the sound anymore than he could stop his feet now moving in the direction of it. The Merry-go-round wanted a rider.

Stories had been passed down, gaining speed and heft as stories do, along with a goodly dose of fiction in most cases. But he didn't think "Merry" was accurate, not by a long shot. He'd heard that Merry-go-round horses were not solid. They had mouths, and inside the hollow tunnel that fed their gut....it was not empty. His mind backpedaled, but the song was the long arm of a sticky substance that wrapped itself around his narrow shoulders and pulled. Perhaps he knew that this was just one of many things he was going to have to face down alone. Squaring up, he kept walking, imaging himself taller and broader, when in fact he was a small boy, bearing the stature of his mother. When at last he stood before the horse, (the black one, with a blood red seat and a chipped smile, as if horses could smile...but it was...and not in a nice way. It was the same smile the bullies gave him when "after school" was going to be a big deal) he was barely nose to nose with it.

He fingered the trinkets in his worn jeans and then watched in mute panic as his hand reached unsteadily forward. He thought about the horror flicks he'd seen on the side of Mel's Diner, how everyone knew you shouldn't open that door, or enter the woods, or get in that car...but those actors always did anyway. Now he knew they had little choice in the matter. Knowing what was coming did nothing to lessen his terror when something alive snaked out of that horse so fast he would have missed it had he blinked. He stumbled backwards.....straight into a solid form.

not again, not again, not again.

Turning, he beseeched the radiation of a thousand suns and shrunk to the size of a marble, rolling away as fast as the uneven pavement would allow. As scared as he was of that Merry-go-round...clowns were far worse.



~ Epilogue ~

She removed the rainbow colored wig and shook out her brunette mane of curls. Shaking her head, she wiped a forearm across the white/red paint that made up her smile. It was no use chasing him down. She'd made attempts, but he was a fast little sprite. She tried so hard to love the boy. He never could let her.






Friday, September 30, 2011

More importantly...

A favorite painting of my Dad's (this being just a crappy photo of a tiny replica postcard)


There...at my equator, you can split me like an Easter egg
my spirit saying up - up
a toddler longing for the saddle of a crooked hip
and a pillowy breast

my body pulled down
as if gravity were the mouth of a barren land
needing the nourishment of my decayed remains
to re-seed for another season.

None of this is particularly troublesome.
Of their own volition
my arms reach toward constellations I can't see
loving my own infinity
while the grass eats at my trunk
so slowly, I almost forget that I am dying.

But when my hands
fall
in vein attempt
to take back from the field all it has required,
my very soul lights a torch, smoke signal to all those stars,
and rallies for separation.

oh yes.
YES, YES!
I am not my body.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Fibs and Fibonacci




I have a talent for avoiding math, cultivated by my extreme anxiety over same. I think I am the first and last person to get a BA without taking one single math course. Perhaps I should have. I'm sold! I find this riveting, compelling and mysterious. I want to go find a sunflower and start counting!

*************


It's difficult for me to just accept someones word...no matter how accredited. ARE YOU FIBBING ME? When they told me Pergo flooring was nearly indestructible, I balked. "You do understand I have two little boys?" So I took a piece home and lit it on fire. They were right. I ran Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks on it, Crayons and Sharpies. I generally beat the hell out of that plank and it still smiled at me with nary a bruise. Pergo got several of our paychecks and we got sore backs learning to lay it down tongue and groove. I have not been sorry, and for someone with acute buyers remorse over just about everything...that's REALLY quite an endorsement!

I am bartering my bookkeeping services for a new granite kitchen counter. I was told granite would hold up to just about anything. I balked. "Have you seen the mess I make when I cook? It looks like the top blew off the blender!" So...I got me a sample chunk. I smushed a blackberry and a tomato on it and left them all day. No stain. I left a puddle of olive oil, and another of wine, coffee, balsamic vinegar, and let them sit over night. NO STAIN! I burned it. I lit it on fire (yes...I'm a bit of a pyro) and I am sold on granite!

My husband told me to look into buying a Mac, because I am always yelling at my PC for hobbling along behind me when I need it to giddy-up! I had to poll Facebook, everyone I met, and bang on one myself at the Apple Store (they wouldn't allow my torch in there, so I'm not sure how it will hold up in a fire). I'm sold! I'm getting a iMac this week. I'll be without my PC for awhile and deep into the Mac learning curve, which hopefully isn't too steep. But I want to learn it now before I'm too old to remember which room my desk is in, much less how to work a computer. I'm excited. Be back soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Missing The Point

 


I'm listening to my mother ramble on along the nerves of my voicemail. Blah blah blah..."movie, I think you recommended it..." yadda yadda yadda "no need to call me back, I just loved the scenery, which I think you mentioned..." yackety yack...eye roll, finger drum..."I just shaved my friend's head and I'm heading back home."

My eyes snap to attention with pin-pricks of tears. I am surprised at myself and dab at the offense as if they were foreign objects instead of close friends.

My mother is calling me with more frequency. She is holding her words out to me like connective dots. She is reaching and I see her arms, one thin and one lymphatic, as they extend...wait...retract empty.

Monday, I asked her how she is. "I am....." (long pause and my toe tapping) "....sad." A woman she plays bridge with is Stage Four. It's like a chapter, no...a book...a monument, a continent. STAGE FOUR. I've battled stage four every which way but physically. I won't do it again. I will stamp it on my forehead like a destination and pack my bags for everywhere I've ever wanted to go. I've warned my family. They know.

But this woman has engaged in the battle and she is not winning. This round of chemo has her walking with a cane and trying to hide her clumpy hair under an ill fitting hat.  "I refuse to pay $17.00 for someone to shave my head," she says. "It's ludicrous." And I know how much cancer costs in dollars. I know how much it costs in other ways. I know how much it eats. My mother tells her, "I will shave it for you", and my first thought is those unsteady hands of hers. I wonder if she will have a drink first and give those cells over to their craving before she puts a blade in her hands.

My mother has actually called because she is sad about her friend and upset over the fact that she cannot get her hair clippers to work. The thought passed through my mind like the single filament of a cobweb...

mine work...

but I let it pass in the stiff breeze of my concern with time and distance...and proximity.

I should have gone. I should have seat-belted my clippers in for the three hour drive and just gone...held the hand of my mother, and shaved the head of a stranger. I should have. And I could talk about how I never seem to do the right thing, but the fact is...this deed did not need me. It got done. I just missed it.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pearls and Possibilities



The story is no longer unique. It's as tired as the seat of my favorite blue jeans. Abuse - Adoption - Molestation - Irreconciliation. And yet...it was a unique opportunity I had to photograph this wedding...to discover that two broken families had made their way back to each other.

When the bride was five years old, her family attended my church. Her father, Jack, had a brother....Sam. I became very good friends with Sam and his wife. Through the course of our friendship I discovered that, like myself, Sam was also adopted. He CHOSE to be adopted. When they were in high school, Jack and Sam were best friends. Sam's mother was a beast....a wretched woman who abused him in many ways. Jack's family offered to adopt him, and Jack took their name. They took him in as their own son, and two kids who always felt like brothers, now were. Sam and Jack both fell in love with beautiful women and had beautiful sons and daughters.  The two families were very close, spending holidays together, vacations and daily interactions.

When Jack's daughter was five, Sam's son babysat her. They were alone. He molested her. The family broke apart. The son was labeled, the daughter was broken. The friends, turned brothers, became nothing...as dead as if they had died. Sam was no longer considered family for a myriad of complicated reasons. It was sad to watch. A decade went by with little or no contact other than police and attorney's and whatnot. Anyway, that's as short as I can make a long story. Eventually there was a hand out, and a hand receptive, and the two families started speaking again.

Saturday, Jack's daughter got married. Sam and his wife attended. Sam's daughter photographed the wedding with me. I am immensely happy for this bride, that on this day she is reconciled and the brothers are reconciled. Jack's son is absent, but that's not really the point.

Healing is possible.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Funeral Friday



I think lives have themes. Genres perhaps. You will find hers under TRIUMPH and his under COMEDY. I fear to name mine, as in doing so I might self-fulfill (but I already have. Shhhh, ignorance is bliss!)

************

Fridays are for funerals. Mondays...for mourning. All the days in between try to cheer me. They do a damn good job. Too good! Loss, that tenacious animal, poses as a mid-day and sneaks green-eyed peeks at how good I feel, how comfortable, how unaware of any boom about to jibe.

Then that beast reasserts itself. I hate that fucker...how it mocks. "I lulled you into something you enjoyed. I placed your hand into that of another and (heh heh...) you though it fit. You thought today was forever and you assumed you were some kind of gift and therefore....there were gifts you could keep (heh heh...)."

*************

I stare at my translucent hands and they have no mass. They are incapable of holding a single thing. They have no property, though on a Tuesday or Wednesday they grasp at Deeds. How could I know that paper so easily burned while I held it, and Title was just an accelerant?

*************

I am attending another wake today.

Looking down at my shoes, I burst out laughing. The canvas background is jet black, though peace signs, hearts and flowers scribble their way across the permanent theme.

What the hell? They must think it's a Wednesday!
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

All We "Know"





It's easy to live within the circle of your own sanctity
but out on the edge
is where chickens die.

Inviolable is an envious place
yet even condoms have holes
and the impenetrable get pregnant.

Do you lie to yourself when you say there is no god?
Your knowing is not immutable.
I would rather stalk truth
relentlessly
than squat down with my stake
cemented in the corner of a world I did not build.

Certainty is a slippery slope.
How long were we convinced the world was flat?

If you are closed to any truth
but the button you have pinned to your lapel,
the bumper sticker layered over the last worn statement,
it will crack you open like an egg.
You will run out and watch yourself separate
into what you know and what is true, and then untrue,
and then unknown.

I have been the bakers dozen
and that thirteenth was nearly my undoing.

I watched the sun rise this morning.
I watched it seduce the clouds
lick the underside of things thought dead.
I thought to rise tomorrow, ready to capture such a miracle again
as if it were a certainty
tomorrow
sun
rise
me

At that point I called my own folly
and labeled myself the fool.



(I've stared at my journal for the better part of a week. "Write something upbeat Annie. Write something POSITIVE. Be brilliant but bright." Ha! All I accomplished was to snuff out my muse. I know nothing but what needs to be written during a short lunch. This poem is stained with cucumber and pesto chicken. Perhaps it was indigestion.)
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Sea of Gullible Hearts




"You sexy", she say. "So tan. Tan berry sexy on man."

Handing him his folded laundry, she thinks their relationship is solidified. She greases the customer and counts her cash drawer, but he is not one to be counted on. Sue has no idea he will leave his laundry AND the bill. Her small Asian hands have handled that which is intimate with his skin. And yet...and yet...he is completely unknown. He doesn't give a shit about Sue, or The Fluff & Fold. He uses sexy as a decoy. Women and men are shooting blanks at a false target. Sue has an earthquake in her forecast and only the dog trembles.

He gives notice via e-mail. He stands on the shore with his bourbon in hand, "sexy tan" and Burberry shades. One pedicured toe draws body parts in the sand, and with the other he shoves this ship out to sea with barely a backward glance at the crew he once led. They had vowed to invest in his life and did....helped him rent a home, helped him with the subterranean layers of business, threw birthday parties and wedding showers.

And when it trickles down,
as all lies finally do,
and words start falling foreign on shaking heads
(finding their purchase on ears most shattered in their hearing)
they watch in silent incredulity,
unsure of how to stand face to face with the retreating backside of a fraud.

So they stare at each other,   red mouths bobbing
like wooden buoys on an undulating sea of recycled people,
taking on water
through the portholes of gullible hearts.

and it comes as no surprise to anyone really
that they've been taken for a ride,
only that it ended so soon.




(My boss was open with his hedonism. He made no bones about the fact that he would throw you under the bus if it would save himself. The photos of his children, were diversions among his office things. They simply drained his paycheck. Yes...he said that. We knew. We KNEW...but he was so engaging. Funny. Cheeky. I wanted to bottle him for dissection. So up front one moment, and the next he was passing out lies like soup to the homeless. Somehow we lapped it up. He left us on a Monday without warning. We are still finding all he swept under the rug.)
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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

After





"Is this what you meant by how I should treat you after?" he said....kissing her lips with his plump ones, and teasing her nipple between his fingers.

"yeah...something like that", she said.

"Well, let's go get that drink", he said....and it wasn't just one, but two...or many, as she knew it would be. Quantity mattered little in such an equation. And there was no sweetness, no tenderness, no after. He'd learned nothing. More importantly, she'd learned less. The world spun no heavier on one side, though it should have.

She pulled the cheap hotel tissue from the box and soaked him up from between her thighs. She brought the tissue to her nose and inhaled the smell of regret. It was musty. Of course it would be. Mistakes are ancient and repeated. They are destined to the fate of a sratched record...annoying as hell...but no one wants to leave the arms of their "lover" to change the album, much less the needle. So we skip along.

He didn't kiss her after.
He didn't touch her.
She didn't really think he would.
But it was worth a shot.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rebellious Bones




When he forced himself into her mouth, she gagged
told herself it was just a reflex...simple addition and all that.
But with her mouth so filled, it was hard to tell herself anything.

She fought behind her nipples though
and spread her legs into a mouth...labia forming pubic obscenities
which felt shouted. She sure as hell heard 'em!

We all know such things are carried into our silence by fear,
but it felt like she declined surrender
and she praised herself for it
for awhile.

Finally, it was her ribs that rebelled.
It was her ribs that never forgot their origin OF, not AS.
They cracked apart like wish bones and found their parallels and intersections
building of themselves a crude ladder.

Into her mouth, words effervesced...opinions
her opinions
HER OWN

With such notions escaping, such unpopular notions, (and at that she laughed...for hadn't 'agreeable' at one time or two hundred been a goal?) there was no longer space for him inside her mouth. Only between her ears.






(This piece is about the way I was raised for the most part. It is a story about the removal of a gag that I carried into my marriage. I felt such a need to be agreeable, to accept another's opinions as my own. I felt guilty for having opposing views. Ribs, and OF verses AS have biblical significance for me.) 
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imagining Surrender




Sometimes I want to spread my arms in surrender, drop responsibilities like a sack of groceries. I want to lord over them with my arms crossed, stare down at all that mess as if it were someone else's. I would watch the eggs run and marvel at the glorious golden yolk, foregoing any inclination to save them. The whites would sizzle on the pavement as the paper sack reaches....wicking moisture like a parched pheasant at the well. I would not think about salmonella, or litter, or which bits belong in green waste and which to recycle. I would say "Ain't my job!" like I wear a hard hat and drive a back hoe, and anything outside my job description is a union infringement. INFRINGEMENT, you hear me!


I'd wager against my contents and equally for it. I would watch jars tumble and roll...place my nickles against olives and double or nothing for jam. I'd watch the heat mirage against the bread and imagine the mold building a nest of green down, like it's a beautiful thing...like the eggs belonged there and would incubate, grow, be productive members of the coop! I would not bend at the waist, nor use my thighs to squat in rescue, because somebody is coming....somebody else...(as if, as if)


Sometimes I want to spread my arms in surrender, drop responsibilities like a sack of groceries. But my arms are stiff, and muscle has memory, and as I understand it...there ain't no job description.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Dancer in Doc Martens




One day you will doubt your life, and everything in it. You will try on the days like shirts, discarding one after another as an ill fit. You will buy shirts that hang in the closet, their paper tags...scratchy wind chimes against the flit of your hand over so many choices. You won't know your size, or the colors that highlight your skin. You'll choose a peuce silk that clings to EVERYTHING and makes you look ill or pregnant, and wonder how the hell it even wound up in your wardrobe. You'll put on a sweater to cover the lack of tailoring, and a coat to cover the sweater. The day will be hot and humid and you, a wilting lettuce beneath layers that do not belong.

You'll buy shoes....for shoes are always a good idea. But not these. You will put them on - a nurse in stilettos, a dancer in Doc Martens. You don't know who you are anymore. Just a person with shoes. Too many shoes. You'll throw the shoes against the people in your life, rip clothes from hangers and toss them at their feet until they are mountains of questions. You'll strip from your clothes and stand before the naked stranger.

You will question the slant of your eyes and your hair cut. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR HAIR? You will pin it up and let it down. You will brush it until it starts to fall into cancerous clumps, which you will pick up and hold beneath your armpits. You will hunch over in a neolithic stance, wondering of your age, concerned with where your childhood went and how long it will take to die.

You will run into the yard and lay your naked body down in the grass, center yourself and pray: "God take me", and He won't, because it is the one prayer that goes unanswered. And your tears will fall steady without sobs, just a river of grief with no distinct beginning and no funeral to attend. You will be startled by the grasshopper that lands on your leg, and again when the leaf falls upon your nipple. You will not know if it is day or night, winter or spring. But soon, you are no longer nude. You are clothed in insects and flora, completely outside your own effort. You rise again to the reflection and a glimmer of recognition dawns...something subliminal that feels known to you. You'll lean your forehead against the glass and look at your out of focus face...

...suddenly it all seems clear as mud.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mask of Evil




It's barely harnessed...
this underlying benevolence that leaks out
from the corners of her disingenuous remarks.

It breathes beneath the surface of her deception
and I watch it straining against the leash
bug eyed and wanting.

Fuck how it strains!
Moorings are no match for this evil...
this way that it bloats

Part of me wants to sit court,
wait for the kind arrangement of features to crack...
watch the lava erupt from her boiling core
her face breaking off and carried away
like little toy boats
disintegrating and helpless in the molten bath

But the wiser self knows
I am a paper craft, and no match for fire.
I row my distance and watch her self destruction
with a telegraphed eye.



(Co-workers. Gotta love 'em. Or not.)
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Monday, August 15, 2011

immersion



In this baptism
he worships the water
small mind knowing nothing but want
his want having no need
for he merely steps off the inkling of his desire
and into the fulfillment,
as if acquiescence were the soles of his feet




He unzips his arms
reveals the cavity of his chest
the waters rushing over the breakers of his ribs
infantile ideas carried on the rapids
churning down into his groin where they stir primal interests
submerge, resurface, bob, sink, drown.




The simplicity of it baffles me.
I want, I take.
I need, I enter...
unaware his joy is witnessed, photographed, journaled.
Man. Water. Baptism.
The ancient combination.




Over and over he enters, submerged and reborn.
A child joins him, sensing a kindred age.
A woman next, tentative against the spray
but his fingers stroke her conviction and she believes



It is said a little child shall lead them.
And so it was
a toddler in the body of a man.




(Where I work, there are several homes for the mentally challenged nearby. I spent my lunch hour photographing them playing in the park fountain. He almost had me. I was one towel away from going in.)






Monday, August 1, 2011

SWAMPED

Sorry folks. I need a blog vacation. I can't get to your posts, I can't write, I can't do much of anything but work. Sorry. I hate it when I can't keep up. I'll be back sometime...

Friday, July 29, 2011

His Perfect Ending




Where do I place him? The bed, the chair? Shall I center him like a television that we all gather around? Should I frame him in the hallway, where we will be sure and brush against him in the narrow passage? Do I hide him in the spare room so my denial can bake itself into a cheese lasagna on the kitchen counter?

What should I wear...his favorite dress, my naked skin? God how I hate my naked skin. God how he loves it. So for him, for me, this last vision....what? Naked. Clothed. Shit, I should have started that diet...been a lasting vision in one of those negligees that show everything instead of this saggy ass frump. Bermuda shorts and a low v-neck. Yeah. I guess. Shit.

How do I touch him? His face. Do I cup his sweet face? Do I hold his hand? Why does that seem so patronizing? Should I place his hand on my breast, pass my beats across the divide of dying? Should I lay against his side with our hearts together, his slowing, mine racing inevitably towards panic? Can he feel that? Should I show it,? Should I make a pretense at calm? Fuck calm. I can't hold my tears. He knows I can't. Why do I try? Why can't I shut up my mind and just sit with this, let it be it's own thing, watch it like a movie played out in super grain 8mm. Silent.

Do I call the children in? How do I share this? I don't want to share this. I have to pee. What if that's the moment? They say loved ones wait until you're out of the room. That's what they say. Right? What if he dies as I wipe? It's too common...too common a moment for death. I won't pee. I'll hold it. I'll pee right here in these fucking bermuda shorts. I'll void myself into the space he'll leave and maybe it won't seem so empty.

Oh hell! I can't control this. There is no way to set this stage and perfect this ending. Look at him! He's just watching me like I'm a fly buzzing around the room. "Land. Land. Land." He's amused. Doesn't even look sad. He looks amused. It's his death. Sheesh! Just ask.

"What do you want, babe....?"



(Our friend Matt W is home dying. One day...three...maybe four. I know nothing of these last moments for them. I just imagine. This is how my mind works itself into a state, whether it be over death, or a choice between brown or cream plates. Racing. I wish it would stop. Will I be buzzing around your death or able to just be still in it? I am wondering, and I'm sad.)
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Good Death


There is no single best kind of death. A good death is one that is "appropriate" for that 'being'. It is a death in which the hand of the way of dying slips easily into the glove of the act itself. It is in character, ego-syntonic. It, the death, fits the 'dying'. It is a death that one might choose if it were realistically possible for one to choose one's own death. - Edwin Shneidman, A Commonsense Book of Death


I thought he was dead. I reached down, wanting to touch him, wanting to feel the delicacy I saw. But my gentle stroke brought an arch to his body and my error was realized. Not dead, but passing over. Surely now I could hear him gasp...labor in these last moments. He was on his back, dying like a turtle...like a slow, heavy turtle. This was no good death. To die on the doorstep of an ugly building on an ugly swath of cement, could not be a good death. To be grounded in the path of footfalls, people who come and go and rarely look anywhere but into the screens of their cell phones...could not be a good death.

I thought of burial, perhaps to honor him. I wanted to honor this dragonfly for Marion. I reached down, but saw movement again and I was afraid. I have never been comfortable keeping watch with the dying. There is a choreography to it that I have not learned. I am even less comfortable with the dead. I remember my husband touching his dead father's hand...holding it. I could not. I remember his mother, and my sister in laws who dressed her embalmed body, and set her hair...loving in it...but I could not. The shell of a person frightens me. They are no longer of it, nor can I be. Not yet.

I got a piece of paper and gently turned him over onto the page. His leg scritched against it momentarily, as if to write, perhaps an epitaph. Burial now seemed a ludicrous idea. Carrying him carefully against the shield of my body, concerned the breeze would send him free falling, I preserved his pristine wings and unmarked body.  I found a shaded section of the parking lot with foliage he could decay into with dignity. I left him, coward that I am, to die there in the arms of a flower. But I think he prefered it, having been at home with her all his life.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Not Her



She wears her face like a patch
the stitches unraveling
weaving into the haphazard disarray of hair
around the eyes, especially, the seams have torn
and the stuffing of insanity seems to dwarf the blue
irises ticking back and forth with shuddering apprehension

it is her face
only it isn't

in an arc she shuffles
an invisible tether to her front door
that reaches to mine    no further
she will not enter anymore
presuming nefarious intent, or some other untruth
yet to her...it is stark raving certainty
hidden cameras are watching

behind her sewn on eyes
cockled with fear
my neighbor is in there...somewhere

her paranoia is warranted
'cuz sure as shit, someone took her away
and we are all watching
her face

only it isn't
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alive in Almanor

I heard footsteps.
That small yet distinctive sound of carpet pile
crushed under human weight.

It seemed off,
like a dinner bell at sunrise,
but I easily relegated it to my imagination....
until I heard it again....closer.
And again.
My ears now tuned to the frequency
and my heart beating a path away from the intrusion.

I heard the intake of air, a breath, not mine
and following it
my own gasp
as I wrestled covers and fought the lamp.

I saw no one, yet wide awake
noticed the window
more precisely, the view... 


It was 5:20 AM and the moon was brilliantly large, like the rising sun...
as bright as...seemingly,
and I began to wonder,
who woke me for such splendor?

Whomever.
It was not to be wasted.
I found a coat, size 10
in whose world, I cannot imagine
for it dwarfed me, though the temperature made fashion
nonsensical

And my feet, Converse baring
cold, yet free
hit the pedals of my bike
basket full of cameras


Glorious.
The mist, the lake, the mystery.
Mine.
I saw no one, yet wide awake.



A parting shot
though as all leavings go
a cycle of emotion
around the inevitable funeral
digging the plotted field in preparation for burial
which gave birth to this...most glorious relic



And exhausting myself with it
smitten...
a rusty school girl crush, expended in film,
I took my ardor
higher
to a cratered lake
emerald as any jewel


Hiking beyond limits
up towards high contrast
to the Aspens
instruments of the wind
glittering in the sun against the envy of pine

Even fallen, their beauty
assuaged my weary limbs
forehead to stump
I pulled from it the remaining color
once life
now art



only to have it returned
from the fingers of a child
a color wicked with whimsy
slathered
as should color be
upon the skin of us
having been wakened
and so fully alive.



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Monday, July 18, 2011

Farm Update

I was in the mountains over the weekend without Internet and I couldn't get back to all the comments, however, your support is sweet! You guys rocked the support....seriously! Someone offered to let me work on their Facebook farm, which was neglected and near death. Cute!

An update and point of clarification:

I VOLUNTEERED at the farm. It is not a paying gig...but something I want to do, and have done since we started the thing five years ago. I do their marketing, newsletter, and work at the farm on Saturday mornings. I still have my full time job, and two side jobs.

I did talk to the owner face to face on Thursday. Prayed on the way over that I would be humble, because I was pretty much in my mad place by then. She was unable to tell me specifically what I had not done well or when. I spoke very specifically about how hurt I was and how I thought someone took my speed and efficiency as a sign that I wanted to be done and gone quickly, or that I was not being meticulous in my work. I spoke to that assumption and how it was incorrect. I am task oriented, but it doesn't mean I don't care or that I'm not doing a good job. 

She was willing to see the points I was making and apologized. Came down to it really being my negativity that made her think I didn't want to be there. She assumed I would be relieved at being released from packing duty. I know my black rain cloud can get on people's nerves. I told her just to slap me upside the head with it. I'm not that delicate. She said she would in the future. When we left, the plan was to have Farmer Bob contact me when he had extra work in the fields to do. I've never made any secret of the fact that I would rather be working in the dirt than in the "kitchen" with the women. I'll be more conscious of my attitude. She won't make assumptions. All relationships have ups and downs. All relationships require work. We have a little work to do, and we both want to.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Change

"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it'll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is... I'm heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right."

(Kathleen Kelly - You've Got mail)

This is one of my most quoted movies besides The Sandlot and Steel Magnolias! I am thinking of this quote today, as well as one other...

Joe Fox: "It wasn't... personal."

Kathleen Kelly: "What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's 'personal' to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?"

Joe Fox: "Uh, nothing."

Kathleen Kelly: "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."



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Monday, July 11, 2011

Blind Sided



I got fired from my farm today. I opened my e-mail with my face straight to it...no fear...and without caution received a right hook so pointed it may have well been a bullet. You know this moment?...when your skin goes hot and nerves fire a heated buzz. A hive of confusion. A physical WTF! Blood rushes places that never seemed to know blood, yet now smart with being alive. I've never been fired from anything in my life, especially anything I volunteered for. But fired I am. I got an e-mail. After five years, I got an e-mail from my friend, and farm owner, saying things were more efficient without me on Saturdays, thank you very much, and I can pick up my crop share at the health food store along with everyone else. She said she could tell that packing the crates was not my "cup of tea" and that I just really didn't want to be there. (Have you read my posts about the farm? I am confused.)

I called her...asked her what was going on. She said I wasn't doing a good job. I said I didn't understand. She said that when Bob has to tell me three times to clean the crates, well that I must just not care. I was cleaning the crates as best I could with a jet spray hose and a round brush that had a hard time getting in the corners. I was cleaning them the regular way when Bob told me to make sure to clean all sides because they were really dirty. So I did. I had a system. Because I am fast, does not mean I am inefficient. I am a pretty fastidious person. I cleaned onions for an hour...was concerned it was taking me too long.

None-the-less, I told her I was sorry for whatever I had not done well, that if she'd give me another chance I would do it right. She said I complained about cleaning the carrots, that I didn't want to do it. Well, no one wants to do it. It's a shitty job and takes a long time. I said, "I complain about most things. When have you ever known me to be content in anything?" I told her..."I won't be me. I won't complain at all. Just give me another chance."  She said she didn't think she was comfortable with that. I said, "Let's just try it another Saturday. If you are uncomfortable I won't come back." She said she would really need to think about that.

We've been friends for over ten years. Last week I asked her if she thought I was different on my medication, that I was afraid I was getting too talkative, perhaps manically energized. She said she didn't think so, and that she, of all people, would of course tell me. And now I'm fired. And I really don't understand. I apologized....for exactly what, I'm still not sure. But I humbled myself and did it because I love my farm. I have backed it and promoted it, and worked it since it's birth. And now I have done something irreconcilable. I am beyond sad. My body is running out of fluid for tears and my lips are chapped. If you have tears to lend, I could use them.

A huge part of me is dead. And perhaps a friendship with it. I have somehow horribly offended. I wish someone would tell me straight, so I could fix it. But there ain't always a fix, is there? Even I know that.
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