These are the the kind of things that will ignite my soul–if you care about these types of things.

My mom’s favorite attribute of me is my loyalty. She says it’s unwavering, fierce, and swallows one hole. She outlines differences between my brothers and I by telling of a situation where I walk into the room and search until I find her first before addressing anyone else. My brothers tend to go through everyone else until they finally make it to her, last. I like this story a lot, but I suspect I like it because of the deep desire to be so important to someone else that they see me first; building blocks of how to love.

This theme follows me into many story lines of love, and the literal manifestation of it almost always fails to capture the essence of which my mom speaks. I’ve watched as one I’ve made my world walks into a room full of others and charms the crowd casually keeping an eye out for me. All the while I was at the entrance watching my beloved like a ghost. If I were truly a ghost like the ones from the past that tightly grab on to haunt because any life is better than not living, well then I would have been seen–definitely. But, I am not a ghost and I’m not a crowd. I’m just another person looking to be recognized above all else.

There were times upon falling in love that I avoided rooms all together because this ultimate test in compatibility proved I couldn’t be loved that much. As I get older, I realize it’s not that I am unlovable but rather I have walked into the wrong room–someone else’s.

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Thank You Nuclear Families, Tummy Tucks, and a Thanksgiving without newspaper smudges.

It’s fascinating how our Thanks You’s transform over time.

In childhood I was mostly thankful for having more than my brother to play with as we gathered at Granny Erwin’s house.  Back in those days–the days of large family gatherings–we’d bring picnic tables into the living room so that we could all partake in the merriment of family.  The protruding bellies of my uncles, gossiping-voices of my aunts, and little cousin tattle-telling threats; this was Thanksgiving as I knew it.  Once Aunt Debbie–our beautician–cleaned her scissors and shears from the last haircut of the day, Thanksgiving had come to its end.  I was thankful for the following:  Dear Santa Letters we read from the local newspaper in hopes of seeing ours published, the end of Uncle Thed and Puff’s tickling torture, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, The Macy’s Day Parade, Aunt Glenda’s delightful full-bellied laugh, an Aunt LuLu and Uncle Darry Lee sighting, being in a family that danced, Crystal telling me about boys, Joe and Red shooting slingshots and my finding the best rock to shoot at the barn versus listening to Crystal’s boy-crazed stories, Bubba and Donnie sneaking into the tool shed, and my nuclear family.

High school was tricky as family units began to separate and splinter off into several small siloed Thanksgiving gatherings.  There wasn’t a headquarters any more, but rather several remote ones in which transformed the holiday into a chore.  There were new faces without the history or tradition in which defined family to me.  Bubba and I spent time with new families, outsiders looking in from the window, missing what Thanksgiving used to be.  Maybe we would get to see the characters of our family if our visit corresponded with their schedule, otherwise we would try to see them on Christmas.  I was thankful for the following: no more bickering, having a buddy like my brother to experience days like these with, our new baby brother Blake, my birthday so I could choose my own guest list, and the silence and alienation that allowed me to cherish memories and learn how to be alone.

College, I went where I wanted and I always went back home.  I was searching for myself, but mostly I was hoping to find the characters of my family again.  People had moved on; cousins married, loved ones died, slingshots were passé, picnic tables remained outside, gossiping sounded more faint, we were less enthused with newspapers and Santa, everyone was doing Weight Watchers, and Aunt Debbie forgot her scissors and sheers.  I was thankful for the following: being home, newspaper smudges on my fingers, eating despite being broke, playing with my cousin’s children, being too old for tickle torture, that CD that turned into family dancing, divorce allowing happiness, for not having to eat smaller portions, not having to tell Aunt Debbie I needed a more complex type of haircut, not being married, and the remembrance of those we lost along the way.

Today, I have to decide between Thanksgiving or Christmas, the latter always wins going home.  My family has extended into its own social network and text messaging allows me to tell all these characters how thankful I am they are in my life or have passed through it.  Newspapers are electronic as to prevent smudging, gossiping is viral, tummy tucks replaced dieting, Aunt Debbie is retired so no haircuts rendered, my cousins have divorced and remarried, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton have had so much plastic surgery their faces don’t move, I’m not sure slingshots are even sold any more but Crystal is still boy crazy, new faces are no longer intimidating, and I’m okay with Thanksgiving this way.  I’ll dance on Christmas, but the Macy’s Day Parade is on in all our homes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how it works: heal, breathe, and use your words.

I haven’t deliberated over my life in quite some time, but leave it to the powers that be to slow me down with a broken rib.  Breathing requires such concentration that I have no choice but to focus on the only thing I can do, at the moment–think.  I wouldn’t claim to be a wordsmith, anymore.  No, that title left me months ago along with other descriptors–confident, spiritually evolved, kind, gentle, optimistic, loving, hopeful…to name a few.  Nothing in particular happened to derail me, but rather caught up to me.

As I get older and time becomes more valuable, moments of reflection get smaller and more specific.  An outlook on the world becomes too large to manage, and scaling back is the only way to not become overwhelmed, so interpretation on a case-by-case basis shapes perspective.  And, perspectives change; so much change.  It’s hard to get a good grip on change and such concepts as “using your words”–wordsmith skills– can easily slip through your fingers unless you practice,  after all practice makes perfect.  Behavior is surprising enough without throwing in an inability to communicate.

Last month I was headed to an event with two friends.  We were in a cab exchanging self-characteristic type things.  I launched into a characteristic about myself, and then paused mid-sentence. “Actually, that’s not true,” I said. “It’s one of those things I would like to think was true about me, but isn’t.”  For the life of me I can’t recall the characteristic, but it wasn’t an inherent characteristic of me and one I would likely never acquire.  It made me feel strange and uncomfortable to admit that, but it was true.  Cue Regina Spektor‘s “On The Radio”

…this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again…

I’m figuring out that, for the most part, people teach you about yourself.  Someone told me, once, that hate is equally important than love; love teaches you about others, but hate teaches you about yourself.  Entrusting another with your heart is a scary event–even more so if you don’t  have a clear perspective on who you are in the first place–but each invitation brings a new moment to practice being you.

Love, take it to the mattresses.

There’s a subtle shift that occurs after two people realize they’re standing in the moment of finality. It’s as if the world whispers, “Don’t blink or you’ll lose the last moment where you know who is standing in front of you.” The moment of truth, arrived, and this is what it’s like to not know each other anymore.

She slept on mattress on the floor—the same mattress I had purchased after the heartbreak before her—when I passed by the hallway packing the last of my things. I thought, “She has a place to rest her head even if she sleeps near the ground for now, but she’ll get a frame to lift it back up.” It was that same line of thinking I had after the initial shock of the I’m-going-to-leave-my-marriage realization; I’m doing the right thing for both of us in the long run even if the short run scorches our feet.

I’m sleeping on an air mattress tonight in my renovated shoebox in Alphabet City. It’s been quite some time—5 months to be exact—since I’ve been comfortable in my own space. Despite the obvious disarray from the move, I’m free to be free. Although, if I’m truly being honest, here, that uncomforted space issue started one year and five months ago. While I’m being honest, let’s face it, freedom is never free.

Shopping for mattresses is a lot like soul work; you have to know yourself well enough to know what you like, how much you’re willing to invest in your comfort, and not rush it. I was upsold on the first overpriced mattress, a firm with a pillow top, like many other things during that period in my life. Later, I was also talked into tossing it for a terribly old, piss stained, non-pillow top mattress, by a girlfriend attached to most everything except me. After she hurt me in the most despicable way possible, I was sans mattress, not that one fit into my inherited vagabond lifestyle in the first place; couch surfing required less capital and emotional investment.

Futons, the minimalist way of resting your head, was the way to Zen. Mattresses were heavy and laborious constructs of luxury that I didn’t need. No, out with the old and in with the new. I acquired a different, vibrant, soul enriching, school of thought, and the only way to happiness was through the suffering–and, let me just say this about suffering; there were some painstakingly difficult nights of sleep where my back was concerned. Futon people don’t have significant romantic relationships. They just can’t, really, because a futon person is in a transitory state of living that no one wants to catch.

With the first indication of love interest, I tossed that sucker and bought a new mattress, firm, for her back problems. Solving her problems, giving her comfort, and making certain she never woke up in pain, was how I spent the next four-or-so years. Sleeping on that firm mattress, built to sustain the strength of the spine, it occurred to me that this firm mattress was not mine. I purchased it, yes, but this was not where I was supposed to rest my head.

I left her the firm mattress, which was now on the floor with her. I had my freedom, so I marched into Macy’s listening to the divorce theme song “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine and I plopped down on that plush Euro bed mattress.

“Can I help you?”

I smiled, big. “Yes, I’m in the market for a new mattress.”

“Feel like testing out the others?”

I closed my eyes, briefly, and despite being internally sold on the one I was on I shook my head yes.

She led me to different makes and styles of mattresses, and I obliged because I had never taken my time before, until we made a full round and stood in front of the first choice; the queen plush Euro bed. “Do you know the comfort level you want?” She asked.

“I do,” I replied. “I want to sleep in a cloud.”

“So this one seems like the perfect fit.” She pointed.

“Yes.”

We made small talk as I spent an extravagant amount of money on my mattress–MY mattress.

“What’s the reason for the purchase today?” She looked up from entering my credit card information.

“I was married for four years and the trade-off was the firm mattress.” I paused and felt a tremendous amount of fulfillment. “Now that I’m teetering on the brink of divorce, I want to rest my head in the clouds.”

The cloud-like mattress arrives on Thursday, so for now I’m making do with the air mattress. I’d rather be like one with air than two on an old piss stained non-pillowtop, firm, break-my-back-for-love type of mattress. So, while we may be strangers and prefer different mattresses, I know one thing to be true about myself–I prefer plush.

 

NEWSFLASH: Toilet Paper in bulk, the leading cause of divorce.

If I haven’t written in a month or so, forgive me.  There are bigger mind-numbing issues at hand like say my pending divorce; the untangling of my life from another.  Between school, work, house selling, divorce dissonance, and the splitting of hairs, I’ve not had much sanity to sit with myself and pound feelings out onto a screen–not that sanity has ever been a writing device.  Alas, here I am attempting to tap into the irreverent confessional known as this blog.  I’ll spare you the shit show.

There’s really a lot to learn from  marrying someone and then divorcing them, and even more to learn about the person they loved and married and subsequently grew to despise during divorce.  Take for example the status progression of orange juice:

MARRY ME—

‘No pulp’ for me, please.

Oh, you like ‘lots of pulp’?

No problem, let’s get married and we’ll buy ‘some pulp.’

I WANT A DIVORCE—

Open fridge, stare at ‘lots of pulp’ orange juice.

Shut fridge, go to brunch with friends for fresh squeezed.

There’s also a Costco effect that happens within any single person struck with the realization that they must walk away from someone they no longer love.  In Eat Pray Love, she had this moment of epiphany in her bathroom–crying, kneeling, begging God for answers.  In Personal Velocity, Greta is at the kitchen table and its her husband’s cheap shoes.  For me, it was standing in the wholesale warehouse of Costco looking at a mountainous shelf of toilet paper in bulk.  The concrete below my feet felt of ice because it was December, and floor insulation is rendered an unnecessary overhead cost since it doesn’t generated any sort of significant revenue per-square-foot for a place that uses such a discount strategy as Costco.  There is a distinct moment of panic–kind of like a hot flash–that occurs when a simple and underwhelming task of buying toilet paper suddenly overwhelms you and becomes not so simple, and thus defines your life.   In a snap, you’re back but not the same person that wandered down aisle six in search for the 600-count roll of industrial strength toilet paper.  No, you left that person–whoever she was–in the frozen food section sampling the mini pigs-in-a-blanket.  This person, standing in front of a ridiculous barrier of paper products just wants a single roll of toilet paper from a Bodega in Manhattan.  This person has no reason to buy in bulk, and truth be told, never thought of herself as a buyer of bulk, a drinker of ‘lots of pulp,’ a homeowner in dirty Jersey, or a pigs-in-a-blanket eater.

This person is going to leave her marriage.

Life is a mix tape.

Over the weekend I discovered a mix CD that an acquaintance made for me.  Thinking back in the history of my sometimes fleeting, sometimes lasting, and always significant connections, there have more often than not an exchange of  music in whatever new format.  Perhaps, that is the nature in which my life veered as first a passion and then into a career that makes people express themselves in the medium of sound.  The dualistic side of me also expresses sentiments in words to which books are given earlier and found much later – in transition – when needed.  On this mix was a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” by Letters To Cleo.  Truth be told, it’s a really great cover and I’m a complete and utter hater of covers, mostly.  But, this particular cover started playing as a day of Spring seeped into my Land Rover’s windows during a drive around Washington Square Park. One of those much-needed soul-lifting type of days injected with Vitamin D from the long-lust sunshine of Spring warding off Winter’s discontent.  The weather is just right, the sun kisses your cheeks, and the world wraps its arms around you, for just a moment, to let you know that everything is as it should be.

It was in the verse, “Now here I go again, I see, the crystal visions / I keep my visions to myself / It’s only me / Who wants to wrap around your dreams and… / Have you any dreams you’d like to sell? / Dreams of loneliness… / Like a heartbeat drives you mad… /
In the stillness of remembering / What you had / And what you lost,”  I found perspective.  That moment left an indelible imprint in my soul; the moment I could now put a name to this particular song, a face, an experience that would forever be conjured up in any future playing of the song.

There is nothing easy with the ending of a connection, really, and if it’s too easy to disconnect  then perhaps you should look around at the company you’re keeping.  The point is…you never can fully disconnect because you absorb them into you.  But, that won’t stop you from trying to abandon them (and perhaps you will).  After all, life is a mix tape.

A Sea of Broken Windows

In the intensity of people you’ll often times find a misaligned suffering in which if you’re not careful could pull you under.  An amorous disposition here would likely result in a near drowning in the immortal songs of Jeff Buckley.  You hear the warnings of lifeguards, you see the no swimming signs, and for a minute you stand with apprehension and watch the sea swell and then break upon the shore.  The velvet of the sand beneath your feet massaging from ground up and basking in the sun of contentment should be enough to keep away a vehement desire to swim in an erratic ocean.  Digging your feet into the sand, there you go, running into choppy waters.

The mightiest of all emotions, passion, overwhelms reason every single time.  I’ve told people that there was only a small but significant window of time in which your mind has a chance to save you before you fall into the abyss of love.  But, at that juncture freewill is rarely exercised so you tumble downward.  You would think, I presume, since those are my fighting words that I would be exempt from love foolery.  Alas, I am not.  I am clumsy at best and vying for a second-coming of naivety.  Despite this awareness, I break windows. I just hope the cuts heal in time to collect the sea glass.

 

Blake’s Fallen Hero.

I’m an adult, I’ll finally admit this.  But, when Blake is upset I curl up in the fetal position and cry because he is sad.  I can’t explain how my little brother’s emotions become my own, but when he hurts I hurt.  It begins with sharing, which is not something he does easily so I know he trusts me.  His speak of Jeffrey, our deceased brother….his hero, is unique in the sense that he rarely speaks of him at all so when he begins I listen with all my soul.  The thing about Jeffrey was that he was ‘the man of the house’ and he took Blake under his wing like his very own son.  Blake was, with all intents and purposes, his.

I can not describe the difficulty of telling Blake, that very tumultuous day, that his hero was missing, gone, vanished, and I had no explanation at the time.  Seven year-old’s are smart, whether you credit them or not, and in an already confusing situation a seven year-old can question a lot.  A simple “He’s missing” doesn’t bode well, so heading into life and death territory may seem like a mature topic.  But, these were not usual circumstances and eventually it had to be done.

Blake was forced out of childhood into topics even adults shouldn’t have to endure.  He held his mother’s hand as she laid paralyzed with grief in bed, begging God to take her instead of her dear son, Jeffrey.  He braved through morbid conversations that no seven-year old should be privy to.  Blake held my heavy head as I cried my eyes out into his shirt for Jeffrey to be alive.  He just assumed the responsibility, but I should have assumed more of the role than I allowed him to take on.  After all, I was the oldest.

There’s a connection between he and I.  Without Jeffrey, I have overcompensated to fill that void.  On occasions, like tonight, Blake confides in me his pain. How he wished Jeffrey could have stuck around, but I remind him how special he was to Jeffrey.  As a matter of fact, Jeffrey was the only person that promised mom he would take care of Blake when she found out she was pregnant.  I know if he just pays attention, he’ll find Jeffrey is just a few step ahead of him.  Luckily, I’m their big sister so I’ve got it covered, but there will never be enough coverage for a fallen hero.

I love you, Blake Allen Miller, and more than anything I hope you know that Jeffrey loved you more than anyone else in this world.  You were/are his soulmate. XOXO.

 

Muse and Wine

There was a bit of irony about Monday.  Sitting in a bar with a couple of friends discussing how one needed a muse.  Two wines later, a Facebook post went out – the friend sent it out into the world.

In life, I’ve found muses occupy the space in your waking life that you rarely allow yourself to be.  Between schedules, stress, here and there, the notion of a ‘muse’ is lost within the blur of day-to-day.  There’s a pulsation in life that you can be swept up in;  a vibration a little softer than a whisper that becomes louder than the world.  You can’t control those whispers of prose, but you’ll want to create poetry.  You’ve met your muse.

There’s a deeper level of discovery that comes along with a muse, which makes you want to display the collection of beauty for all to see while withholding the source of inspiration.  Not a secret, but a refusal to sell your soul.  The art is for the world, the muse for you.  A penetration to the soul, the purest form of creation, that any good muse retracts from you.  However, the motivation yours; a study in humanity.

Some find muses in people around them, in quick glances of strangers, old friends, imaginary friends, topics, famous people, inside themselves, or nature. Others are discovered by their muses – previously dormant,  waiting to be heard, poking and prodding until you see what you’ve never seen before at the end of  your glass of wine.

 

 

 

Law of Attraction in a shoe size that fits

“I am that which I am, and I am pleased with it, joyful in it. And you are that which you are, and while it is different perhaps from that which I am, it is also good. …Because I am able to focus upon that which I want, even if there are those differences between us that are dramatic, I do not suffer negative emotion because I am wise enough to focus upon that which brings me discomfort. I have come to understand, as I am one who is applying the Art of Allowing, that I have not come forth into this physical world to get everyone to follow the “truth” that I think is the truth. I have not come forth to encourage conformity or sameness–for I am wise enough to understand that in sameness, in conformity, there is not diversity that stimulates creativity. In focusing upon bringing about conformity, I am pointed toward an ending rather than a continuing of creation.” —The Law of Attraction

This passage is a powerful one, and for several days I couldn’t get it out of my head so I thought it deserved a posting. I’ve been able to touch upon the first part of this passage but learning how to do it wasn’t easy.

The first time, I hurt an innocent person, it had nothing to do with him and said nothing about who he was because he was a decent man. Some people assume that hurting someone else is the easier part of hurt, but it’s not always. Sometimes hurting someone is necessary to become who we are. We make choices, this much is true but when life is fresh and self, unformed, can you be held accountable for immature choices of gratification? Probably not until you’re the one that gets hurt. It’s easy to see the goodness in someone and be comforted by that in the unsettled self, but selfishness exists in the truth that you’re living in motions that belong to someone else. It’s not easy to let go of goodness for the spiritually corrupt and when you do there exists an extraordinary demoralization, so it’s no wonder you jump into the shoes of the one you hurt in your next lesson. After all, life is both the yin and the yang.

When I was in the military, the main tactic was to break you down emotionally so that you could be rebuilt a solider. Life, in general, is about the same. It is in the rebuild that you regain a courage that you remember from your innocence. A child, taking strides to walk, toward independence. A soldier, marching into the world, armed to take it over. The child falls, cries, gets back up determined to walk. The solider falls, locked and loaded, armed to assess the surroundings with emotions in check and gets up again. It is the rising that we determine our worth.

It’s not easy, either, to be hurt by someone else. You meet someone, throw caution to the wind, give more than you have to give. There is a subtle danger and a strong beauty in loving because you’ve never been hurt. Musicals make sense when you’re on the love drug. You associate elation with childhood happiness. The world opens up and surprise there’s only two of you out of the bazillions of people in the world, and you met in this lifetime. The new car smell, I love that smell. The only problem is that after a while you get comfortable enough to start eating McDonald’s in it. Instead of a monthly tune-up, you opt instead to overlook it altogether because the oil light hasn’t lit up. You ignore the signs of maintenance. You even ignore the signs that maybe the car you bought isn’t safe, at all. The used car dealer, which in this case would be the heart, fooled that gut feeling that something just wasn’t right. The price was too high all along, but you got lured in by the speed in which the car could achieve. Not to mention, it looked sharp and the leather seats heated your ass. Have you ever left those seat heaters on, dangerously, longer than you should? It burns like a good seat heater should.

I guess what I’m alluding to is life is an easier path when you realize that there are people who just don’t walk the same as you. Some walk slower, some take the shortcut, some push others out-of-the-way, and some never begin. It doesn’t matter, at the finish line, who walked, ran, or stumbled, quicker or better. In the end, we all cross it one way or another–together or separate. We may as well cross it understanding that it’s okay to walk in your own shoes. I don’t know about you but I wear a size 8 and while on certain occasions I can get away with a 7 1/2, I have never been able to wear a 9 and if I tried I felt like a clown and forget about a size 7…all that does is hurt.

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