a truth universally acknowledged

August 31, 2009

my favorite sweatshirt is one i purchased last year at aggie outfitters at the mall in college station. it's too big for me, but that's one of the reasons i love it. it falls to the middle of my thigh, and the sleeves are long enough that my hands are hidden by the fabric. and it's hooded.

i can get lost in this sweatshirt.

i ain't that scarred when i'm covered up (beth hart -- leave the light on).

and it's thick, good, strong, warm cotton. wearing it is like being wrapped up in a thick, flannel blanket.

but the best thing is the giant 12 imprinted on the front in worn white numbers, trimmed in gold. big, bold blocks of twelfth man.

i wear it when my soul is at its weakest.

i was walking the streets of cardiff at three in the morning, back to the hotel after a quest to find a debit machine so i could get the cash i needed to pay the cab fare for transit from the hotel to the airport.

like any other city, the streets of cardiff at three a.m. look nothing like the streets at three p.m. i marveled at the city's ability to clean up the excessive debris from a drunken night of debauchery in such a short time. if one were to be on those streets at ten a.m., all evidence of the previous night's party would have been swept up and tossed in the garbage. but on this night, as i was walking, i think there might have been two hundred plastic cups broken and crushed on the concrete in front of one bar. i passed a lot of bars.

at three a.m., just like at three p.m., a lot of people are milling about, but the early morning's crowd is dressed dramatically different than the afternoon's, and, instead of anticipating the fine time to come as the afternoon's crowd does, the early morning's bunch are coming down from the high of having that fine time.

and here's me, who's been up for maybe ninety minutes, who's exhausted from a mediocre vacation and a mild depressive episode. i'm shoving my way back to the surface. at least, i'm trying to do so. i've had a good day's rest, and i'm bound for the airport, for family, for home, so i'm a little better.

but better is a fragile thing.

here's me, in my comfort clothes, making my way through the crowds as quickly, as unobtrusively as possible. i'm a little scared, so i don't look at anyone directly. i try not to call too much attention to myself.

but there's that giant, white twelve, and quite a few notice it.

no one says anything. not until i'm a couple of blocks away from the hotel, just around the corner. and i'm thinking almost there, almost there. i'm reveling in the knowledge that i've made it unharmed.

three men walk by me. after they've passed, one of them calls out, hey, twelve! you're not a number! you're a female!

i'm considering saying something when i hear another say, and ugly!

mentally, everything stops. in my head, i just stand there, frozen, shocked, humiliated, hurt, and horrified that my day has begun this way. in my head, i cry. i can almost feel the breath freeze in my lungs and my heart stop, just for a second.

but outside, i appear as though i am unfazed. there's not a hitch in my step that betrays me. there's not a shift in my posture so that my shoulders seem slumped. i keep walking.

it's not normally a shocking sentiment. i've heard this more times, so many more times than i care to recall. it's not new. it's not something i've not told myself more times than i've heard it, in hopes that hearing it would hurt less.

it's that i've not heard it in a while. that i liked my face well enough when i got dressed that morning. that it's been said by someone on the other side of the world.

it's that the sentiment is now universal.

and the sweatshirt, the thing that once provided some small bit of solace, i'll have to get a different one, a new one, for that because this one is now tainted by the taunts of three men i met on the streets of cardiff at three in the morning, and every time i look at it, i'll think of them, of that day, of that ugliness.


August 10, 2009

i hate that tingle
the one that comes just before tears fall
hate how it moves like lightning
up, through the body
down the arms to the tips of fingers
back up again, coming to rest in the skull
pounding, like thunder’s rumble
i hate its chill
the one that seems to freeze everything
everything but my heart and the ocean my eyes become
no one can hold me
or whisper words of comfort
the chill strengthening with each strike of that tingle
like the current of a rapid river
then the tears come
an angry rush of waves
falling endlessly to some unseen shore
no one’s here to hold me
to soothe my soul
my arms bring no warmth
no words i could whisper would comfort
for it’s my voice, my soul that aches
no one would hold me
i’m alone
i hate that, too

the structure outside in the park reminds me of a whirlpool, of that night with you, lying on your sofa with your arms around me, your legs entwined with mine, your words beating on, then breaking my happy, idyllic bubble, sinking me, of drowning, my tears leaking onto your shirt, mopped up with your tissue.
a boy whizzes past on his skateboard. the wheels over the concrete sound like water down the drain. there i go. there we go. but everything goes on around me, just as it had
seconds before, reminding me that this was years ago and not yesterday, that i have resurfaced. memories of you pull me
back under, but not as deeply as before, and not nearly as long
there’s laughter, squeals, joy in almost everything. a
girl hangs upside down and
grins. i watch
from inside

night terrors
half past midnight
his body fails him, falls, breaks
his spirit flees
miles away, my parents sleep
more miles, my pain begins
stomach cramps and surliness

a stranger finds him
fifty feet from the entrance
broken, face-down, dead on concrete
they sleep
the pain is fierce
i leave my friends for my apartment
the streets are slick with mist
i worry i won’t make it
it won’t rain, but it can’t be dry

another stranger, an officer
bound to protect and serve
wakes my parents
they lie in bed holding each other, crying together
i weed my musical garden
stop for a second to admire one of its blooms
a song of loss, of grief, of forced solitude
not even the trees

i step outside
smoke a cigarette
white smoke rises and fades into white sky
it won’t rain, but it can’t be dry
i sleep on the sofa

the phone
my father wakes me
my brother’s gone

have another cookie

August 8, 2009

a friend gave me this one. it tastes much better.

we should always remember that we are special and have been called to be a voice of encouragement and affirmation to this generation. many times we hear a word of discouragement, and it keeps us stagnant because we believe the lie that we are not able. what we must remember is that god says all things are possible to those who believe. we must put aside every word that comes our way trying to keep us down and believe what god says about us. the bible says we are victors and not victims, the head and not the tail, we are above only and not beneath. (matthew 17:20) (deuteronomy 28:13)

the lord sees us as a can-do people, but many times we believe what others say about us rather than believing the truth of what god says. be encouraged to take part in the mission that god has for you. let your light shine, your voice be heard, your talents be displayed, and simply follow the path that god has prepared for you. believe in yourself as god believes in you and all things will be possible. (matthew 5:16)

fortune cookies

August 7, 2009

god wants me to know that i can only give away what i already have inside myself. true giving happens when i am overflowing from the inside and cannot help but share, when there is so much love within me that it has to flow to others or i would burst open. there is no thinking involved, no willpower in such sharing. it just flows out. if i have to force myself to be kind, to love, to feel compassion, i've missed the first step of filling in myself with these emotions.


once upon a time there was a verizon kiosk at the top of the escalator at the talbot's entrance of the mall. this is where i would go to pay my bills and fix the glitches of my cellular. i'd kind of become decent acquaintances with two of the men who worked there.

one of those men and i would discuss, quite frequently, the different ways in which men and women handle relationship complications. more often than not, the things he would share with me about how men think wouldn't be that much of a shock. for example, guys think that having sex fixes everything. no. really?

we'd been talking about a woman's fix. i've mentioned it before, i think. if i've had a bad day or i'm not feeling well, the best remedy is to be held. women like that sort of thing.

which he knew, and he shrugged it off.

so i explained it a little better.

sometimes, my emotions become so intense, so overpowering, that i'm more aware of them than i am my physical presence. it's as though they numb every physical sensation i might have, so i can't feel anything but that emotion. and being held reminds me that however big that emotion might be, it's not bigger than me.

he got this awed look on his face. and then he said, wow. that's deep.

i hadn't planned on writing anything today. well, i never plan on writing anything, to be honest. but i'd told myself i'm not blogging today. i've done a lot of blogging lately, and it kind of wears me out, this thinking, so i try not to do it so often. plus, i was feeling like i'd been a little too serious lately.

but today, i logged onto facebook, and i saw that one of my friends had done this thing -- i'm not really sure what to call's not a quiz, because it doesn't ask any's more like opening a fortune cookie. i was interested, so i clicked a link and then another, and i got my fortune.

but, i'm pretty sure god knew i knew this already.

generosity and compassion, even kindness sometimes, these are not aspects of my character that require improvement.

but then, maybe that's the point. maybe i'm supposed to make the level of kindness i offer as strong as generosity and compassion.

. . .

this was where it was going to stop, and in so doing, this particular blog, i think, would've been a little lighter, but...then came this:

oh. i forgot. i took some quizzie a while back that said i came across as restrained. i remember thinking it a laughable result at the time. but i've thought about it fairly frequently since then...

my management team thinks i need to work harder on masking my personal thoughts and feelings and focusing on the work at hand. like the moment i walk in the door, all the personal shit should be left outside.

what they don't understand is i do a pretty impressive job of masking it already. i do.

i remember being twenty minutes late to work once because i'd had a really nasty bout with wrath an hour before i was supposed to be there. i scared the crap out of myself. that's how ugly it was. me and wrath, we go round pretty regularly, and it's never, never pleasant. but this time...this time, i laid in bed, raging, and there was this part of me that felt like i was floating above and looking down on my rabid self, and that part of me cried. quiet, slow, slippery tears. it took some time to recover.

so...i can only give away what i have within myself...

generosity, compassion, a decent amount of kindness, sadness, anxiety, fear...wrath.


today had been a pretty okay day.


August 2, 2009

i was told i would never amount to much.

i heard this so often as a girl that by the time i became an adult, i was more confident of my insignificance than anything else. i am not that important. i am not leaving my mark on this world with the work i perform. i do not have a tight circle of friends. i am not always pleasant company. i am not the one on whom others generally rely for amusement.

when we were getting ready for my older brother's memorial service, my mom gave me the task of getting the word out to his friends that such a service would be taking place. i was baffled by this. why, why would she pick me, and not my younger brother, or better yet, one of my older brother's friends?

this was his gift: he could befriend anyone in a matter of seconds. i, on the other hand, am clumsy and shy...and insignificant.

i did the best thing i could think of doing. i drove to one of his oldest, closest friend's place of employment and passed the task to him.

this was on a wednesday. the service was on a friday.

i hadn't expected that many people to show up.

i underestimated the force of my brother's friendship...or overestimated the amount of damage his demons had done to diminish that force.

there must've been a hundred people there. maybe, to you, that's a small number. but, given the fact that these people had two days' notice and some of them were coming in from as far as new york...i was astounded and impressed and incredibly touched.

today's mass was about nourishment again.

apparently, i hadn't quite gotten the message.

maybe god should make a bigger sign.

i worked at cashwrap today. next to the cafe (where i have had the good fortune not to work), cashwrap is my least favorite place. almost. children's on a weekend night would beat it, but during the week, it may be a tie.

anyway. the customers tend to treat our string of registers like they would one register in a grocery store. they meander to the check-out line, and then they bunch up behind the customer standing at the closest register. as if crowding the cashier is going to get her to work more quickly.

(chances are really good, folks, that crowding her will have the opposite effect, and she's most likely to make a mistake with the customer before her, so back off...but she can't say that.)

there's a giant sign that stands at chest level that reads: please WAIT HERE.

they're oblivious to this.

or they don't care that it's there.

one of my friends and i were talking about obstacles the other day. i'm of the mind that there are two kind: ones that god puts before you to discourage you from going down that path any further; and ones that god puts in your path that you must overcome.

one of the songs we sang at mass was strength for the journey. not a good song, by the way, but that's besides the point. one of the verses was comprised of this:
how many times have you doubted my word?
how many times must i call your name?

how many times has he been telling me to do this thing or that thing, and i've ignored him? how many times has he told me, and i've not heard? how many times have i turned away from obstacles i was meant to overcome? how many times have i wasted effort on attempting to hurdle one instead of walking away from it, as he'd intended? how many times has he shown me the answers, and i've not seen?

we also sang there will be bread. i say we. i didn't sing much this time. i didn't know the songs. and i didn't like them very much. but anyway...
we feel so very helpless
though our gifts appear too little, we must have faith that he will increase them

like the five loaves and two fishes...

we read a continuation of that parable.

so the song, the parable and the homily, all of these things covered the notion that god will make them (food, talent...whatever) greater.

that instead of thinking of our own nourishment, we should focus on how we can nourish others.

all these years, i've focused on that one path i'm supposed to find and follow, the talent god wants me to share more than any others, that one thing i'm supposed to do with my life.

i've been trying to see the big picture.

my mom said, though, that providing nourishment could be so simple, so seemingly insignificant as complimenting a woman on her hairstyle or attire. that one compliment could be the thing that brightens what could be an incredibly bleak day.

why do i always have to make things so much more complicated than they need to be? how can someone as intelligent as i am be so obtuse?

see? there i go again. reinforcing the notion that i am insignificant. that, that is simple. i wish that it weren't.

i wish i could get it out of my head that significance isn't measured by the work you've done or will do, or the number of friends you have or the number of times you inspire laughter.