Monday, September 30, 2013

Been there, done that.

For my friends and readers, don't panic, while this post is a little dark, I am not talking to or about myself here. This is a combination of to someone and a writing assignment. all is well here. xox

Poetry doesn't make anything better.  Pain is pain, even when it’s depicted in pretty turns of phrase.  I read it because it brought joy to ones I have loved at one time or another. Some of it I understood, some I just tried to, and some I just hated. I always felt guilty about it.

I always felt guilty about it, but it didn't change the fact that I hated it. Not with poetry or with anything else.  My brother used to say that worry was the greatest sin – it has no power to change anything, it’s only accomplishment is your prolonged suffering. As trite as it is the only thing that changes anything is time. The bitch of that is, when pain is involved, time crawls like a turtle through peanut butter.

Like a turtle through peanut butter and you know if you make it out, and into the capable hands of your rescuers, you’ll be forever changed.  It’s a lie to believe that change is always a good one.  Not all change is caterpillar to butterfly, and much of it comes with a feeling akin to chewing broken glass.

Chewing broken glass, or just on the pieces of disappointment that follow a failure, a loss, a broken heart, won’t wipe you out, but I know you won’t be able to convince yourself of that at 2:30 in the morning when you’re busy choking on the blood of those past mistakes.

Those past mistakes, they only matter to you.  
Second chances and second guesses never served anyone.  Don’t torture yourself reliving a handful of good moments plucked from a decade of pain.

Plucked from a decade of pain, the voice in your head works hard to cut you to ribbons. Quiet it, with the truth – nothing else will do. You didn't earn this and it’s not your job to hold it.  

It’s not your job to hold it anymore than it’s my job to fix it. It doesn't matter how I phrase it, pain isn't pretty even in a sonnet.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


You know you’ve had enough when a sick full of dirty dishwater caused by an upside down sink plug wedged in the drain reduces you to tears. When people say life is all about the little things I don’t think this is what they mean. Bailing water so you can see the object of your frustration, everything that isn’t what you want, what you expected, or at all what you hoped climbs on your shoulders and laughs in your ear. Searching for something, anything to grab the stubborn plug in the drain, the laughter gets louder, where are the pliers , not with the screwdrivers and hammers, not with the batteries and assorted chargers, not in the toolbox – oh no, why would they be there . Last resort you find something and laugh at yourself for thinking it will actually work and not just make you feel even worse. Astonished when it grips, holds, and pulls the drain out, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry harder as you watch the last of the water circle into the drain. Your savior – still dripping in your right hand? A pair of large dog nail trimmers.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stripper funerals, indecisive vowels and feral cows

My pre-teen aged niece posted something on facebook about missing someone so much she wanted to write “I miss you” on a rock and throw it at their face., so they would know
how much it hurts. It made me laugh, and then it made me think of you. There’s
nothing to be done now, I’m damn good at closing a door and putting a dresser
behind it. I know it was unfair, me leaving the way I did. I know I owed you
more, you deserved more. More proof, if anyone needed it, that I don’t always make
the best decisions at 4 am. There wasn’t even a bottle of Jack Daniels in the
room, at least not an open one.
What I managed to do was talk myself out of this situation, this (potential) relationship by isolating the faults in myself that convinced me that whatever a good person (in this case,
you) might bring to my life, my inadequacy is going to screw the pooch, as they
say. So I start bailing, back pedaling, just plain running away. It seems I’m
hung up on wasted time. I don’t’ have to look too far back into my past to see where that originated. I’m sort of stunned by the urgency of it within me though.
If I’m honest with myself (and why else would I be writing at this hour if not to be
honest) this one really sucks. It’s just not that often I find people, any
people, but especially men that I connect with on multiple levels. I’m ashamed
to say, it was just too much for me. After all the crap I gave you about
refusing to look at the end before we even got started, I exited, stage left,
because I could see the heartbreak that was in store for me. I woke up that
morning, not because you called, but full of a sense of dread, full of just how
bad it was going to be when your calls weren’t what woke me.

I tortured myself for a couple of hours, thinking and writing, trying to tell myself that
the ride would be worth the fall, that I’d take the 10 minutes, 10 weeks,
whatever, of happy, but I couldn’t get my head there, my heart was already at
humpty-dumpty post fall. And I had no faith in the king’s men.

Not too long ago, I wrote myself a little love letter, and it was all full of hope and
happy things. Where that bitch went, I don’t know, but she seems to have packed
and left for the coast. She better come back sunburned thorugh, because there
sure isn’t any sunshine here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Polka dot engine block*

Once, seeing me hurt, a guy I knew dragged me out to the parking lot, tucked me into his red, 2-seater, death trap and took off, flyingup Hayfield Road. Driving with one hand well above the posted limits, digging a roach out of the car’s ashtray with the other hand, Fred assured me that laying he cause of my pain on a staircase and jumping on his knees would solve everything.
All he needed was name.

I don’t know that I’ve inspired such ferocity in anyone since – and I don’t really know why I did in him, really, as we weren’t that close. Touched even in my current state of hurt (and fear) – I still was able to recognize that his wasn’t exactly a healthy, much less normal response. I only remember bits of the rest of the car ride, and believe I spent it trying to calm him down and prevent life-long orthopedic injury to the person who hurt me that day.

Fred returned me in one piece, and while I never gave him that name, it is his threat that returns to my head when people I love are wounded in the same way. Fred was abandoned by his parents, left on the streets when he was in grade school, in and out of foster care, eventually returning to
live out most of his adolescence on the streets of Baltimore. Abused his entire life in virtually every possible fashion, Fred believed in violence. Not as a solution, he was too smart for that, but that it gave temporary relief to the mounting pressure in both head and heart, there was no denying. He told me that day, that he believed he had nothing left. All the feeling had been beaten, starved, belittled, or neglected right out of him. All he had left to offer, Fred said, was defense of those who could still feel. He wanted to save in others what had been stolen from him. There was no dissuading him of his belief that he had nothing left, I tried for all the years I knew him and there was never a flicker of hope in him. This was maybe the saddest thing I have ever seen.
He disappeared from my life almost as quickly as he appeared.

This morning I got to thinking about Fred. I wonder if it was easier to never have any expectations, except possibly to expect the worst of people, than it is to have expectations dashed, to be disappointed in those who do the dashing? Would that be easier to live with? I realize I’ll
never know the answer, unless I find another Fred in the world, because at least for me, hope may take the occasional day trip, but it does indeed always return.

I think of Fred more often than seems necessary, and often wish I knew where he was, or if he’s even still alive. Some part of me knows that if he never found hope for himself that is likely the very thing that killed him.

*Fred worked as an auto mechanic, once when he had my brother's car, he painted polka dots all over his engine block. It's the only memory I have of Fred doing something not out of anger.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A little love letter

My very first boyfriend once drove to my house late at night, threw rocks at my bedroom window and failing to wake me wrote the lyrics to “Just Like Heaven” by the Cure on a worn piece of paper torn from a spiral notebook and left it under my windshield wiper. At the time, I remember thinking this was the most romantic thing in the world.

A few months ago, I got talked into playing foosball with a bunch of half-drunk friends. The next morning stretched across my bed nursing a hangover and scratching my dog’s head, I had the realization that I was happy. That moment, the one Daisy told me would come last spring, over cold beers and more than a few tears from both of us, had arrived.

Today, I’m thinking about the fact that the people I am closest to are those that I never would have met if I hadn’t done something completely unexpected. These are the friends I can count on to tell me to pack my duffel bag and get on the greyhound bus, go lift some heavy shit, or show up at my doorstep on a random Tuesday night because she didn’t like the way I sounded. I wouldn’t give these people back to the universe for anything. I surely don’t know how I would have gotten here from there without these people.

I have a long history of being too hard on myself. It isn’t something I like it is just something I fail at controlling more often than I care to admit. It is no coincidence that the song lyric “every day I fight a war against the mirror, can’t stand the person looking back at me” speaks to me. Loudly. It is not all about physical appearance it is much deeper than that. I occasionally think this will go away, but reality says that at 42, I’m not likely to give it up.It’s as much a part of me as my freckles. I’d like very much to be as kind to myself as these people are to me. I’d like to be able, like Daisy does to hear myself saying or thinking something harsh and have my ‘kinder half’ jump up and cry “FOUL!” I’d like to have that same half remind me that in the past, I didn’t always sound as happy as I insisted I was, or even just remind me that in spite of my irrational fears I am still loved, and lovable.

Those handwritten Cure lyrics smeared from morning dew were the closest thing I have ever gotten to a love letter. I remember that for months after that first relationship ended I could not listen to that song. I know those now, 20-some odd years later, I still think of him when I hear it. Gratefully, I no longer have the accompanying gut-wrenching, heartbroken feeling, but instead I have gratitude for the gift of feeling loved at such a young age. The gift is in knowing that even then, with little to no direction, nothing I could call my own, and a diehard belief that platinum blond hair was the best look for me, he found me worthy of loving.
There’s no doubt I grew into a better version of that girl. There’s no doubt that 20-some odd years later, I am still worthy, even on those days I’m at war with the person in the mirror. There’s also no doubt that I hate the part of me that needs external reassurance of these things.

When I started dating it was incredibly forced, and probably, I had no business being there. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be on a date; to sit across the dinner table from someone who could get through a meal without looking at their cell phone once. It turns out, there are people in this world who find me infinitely more interesting, than their phone. That, in fact, when it rings, or buzzes or whistles, they actually only touch it to turn it OFF.

Last year when things were at their worst - I thought I had done the best I could do. I didn’t believe there was any more in me or for me. Turns out I was wrong about that. There is more, in me and for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Beautiful Life

This morning, I woke up a full two hours before my alarm was due to go off. At first I thought I had left the ‘auto’ setting on the coffee pot, and then I thought it was the rain, or the dog that’s ears seem to be bothering him, even though I can’t see any reason why. After all that, I decided that just like 90% of the mornings since the first part of the year, I was just awake. Usually, when this happens, I find my thoughts racing to the extent that I am reminded of that amusement park ride, the one where you line up against the wall and the room spins and spins, and eventually the floor drops out. Although that kind of force seems to have left, I still have moments where it does seem the floor has yet to make a full comeback.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been a ‘everything happens for a reason’ person, with enough emotional distance I’m usually able to see the sunnier side of the darkest things. This is no exception, I’m in the right place, although I couldn’t have predicted it, I learned another lesson about who belongs in my life and who didn’t deserve to exist in it, even its gutters. It’s almost funny that it’s her betrayal that has cut more deeply. The girl I shared much with over the last few years; training victories and dilemmas, parental relationship difficulties, boyfriend/husband stories, and just the financial obligation to get back and forth to the trainer we both felt so good about, is now waking up every morning with the last man I ever thought I’d love.
Sometimes, my gender deserves its very worst reputation.
I don’t think this is what keeps me awake at night anymore; I think it’s just the rest. Everything from jobs, to dog training to the slightly crazy guy I’ve been dating for a couple of months. It’s good to be here. It’s good to see that the parts of me I have always been able to count on, are still intact. It’s better to see that I had more friends that surprised me with their love and loyalty and only one that let me down. In any equation, I call that a win.
My friend Mandy often quotes “Two tears in a bucket….” And I’m blessedly, finally, there. Some things belong in the rear view, even if you have to back over it a few times before you go.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mindlessness Matters

This time of year, everything slows down, including, sadly, my dog training. Between the heat, lack of rain, and the fire ants overrunning my tracking fields, my priorities change, there is no beating the summer in late July/August in North Carolina. So Mojo and I do short spurts of obedience with the reward being a floatie toy tossed into the pond, lather, rinse, repeat.

My goal becomes keeping him fit, happy, and keeping both of us sane.
This entire year, I’ve been struggling with insomnia. Headed into the 8th month of the year, with little improvement, despite over the counter remedies, prescription remedies ‘have a glass f wine before you go to bed’, work out before you go to bed, turn off the TV ½ hour before you go to bed, etc., and still no change, I’m resigned to getting comfortable being uncomfortably tired most of the time.

This morning, up far too early (again) I did something I’ve been doing a few times a week for the last 4 years. I got up, and went out to sit on the deck stairs with my first cup of coffee, and play a game of 2-ball fetch with Mojo. Not too long ago I read a discussion thread about how useless this game is. The speakers described the game as “mindless” and the human participant as no better than “a ball machine”. I remember feeling a little bad about doing it when I read the discussion. It’s one of the things I do all summer for sure, but honestly all the time for him. As I watched Mojo light up with joy when I came out the back door with two balls this morning, I decided (again and finally) that I really don’t care what those people think of this game. Dog training pros they might be, and many more may agree., but I know that 2 dozen tosses of a ball before 5 am on a day predicted to hit 100 degrees is Mojo’s equivalent to me sitting down and watching Survivor. It IS mindless. So what of it? I ask a lot of him. I ask him to track well, be quick and correct in obedience, be strong and convincing, and very under control in bite work. I ask him not to bite the neighbors, or my old dog, and overall, Mojo complies. Not always joyfully (okay, rarely joyfully), but he complies.

When I started running I used to go between 4 and 5 am. I started running in July of 2005, I told myself it was because of the heat, really, I just wanted the cover of darkness. Running is hard, and if I needed to stop and suck wind, I wanted as few witnesses as possible. Somewhere along the way I got over that. Maybe just as the running got harder, and I had to focus on it more, I stopped realizing anyone else existed during those “I’m sucking wind” moments. Entirely possible, running hurts.

Whatever the truth, when I watch Mojo racing across the lawn in the pre-dawn hours during our ‘mindless game’ what comes to mind is what his breeder told me when I pushed her about the fact that I hadn’t signed a contract. She said she wasn’t worried about it because she knew I would take care of him. That, in the end is what matters. Of course he needs a job, and mental stimulation, and he has that. But he also needs a bowl of popcorn and a sofa to cheer on idiots left in a jungle with a bag of rice 2 months.

This all may seem simplistic, and maybe it is. I’m not really sure what else someone who hasn’t slept more than 5 hours at a time for the last 8 months is capable of. I just know that the events of the last 8 months of made me re-evaluate a whole host of things in my life., not just dog training bits, some much more personal and hard to hear.

I’m not dumb enough to think I have it all figured out, I've made that mistake too often, but I do know that Mojo is out back, laying in his baby pool, drinking some of the same water, happy. That, coupled with leaning into being okay with the decisions I am making these days, get me a whole lot closer to happy as well.