So Long, Farewell!

Dear Friends in Blogland,

I first want to apologize for my absence from this arena. As sometimes happens, life has become so incredibly busy that I am unable to keep writing in two different places. I will continue my writing/blogging at http://www.skirt.com, so if you are actually interested, please visit me there. I can’t wait to see you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Thoughts

A Letter to My Husband and the Rest of the World

There are times when it is difficult for me, the me from my childhood, my young adulthood, to reconcile who I am now, who you have been forever, with what was fed to me by those who knew no better.

The fact that you, a Palestinian, a Catholic, an Arab, the father of my children, love of my life, are, for some, someone or something to be disposed of simply because of where you were born, breaks me. They do not know who you are. They do not see the life that has blended with mine, the heart that encompasses so much more than they could possibly imagine. The belief that one is the same as all makes no sense. Not here nor there. We place upon others the very restrictions that we despise, simply because they are not “like us.”

The idea that you lived the first 17 years of your life afraid of not living one more day I cannot fathom. I understand that people think it is all about a place. That it is all about God. What I I don’t understand is that they can reconcile God and the dead that come from their passions out of control. Maybe they are afraid. I know I was. To challenge, or even open the door for questions concerning what I was always made to believe to be true was something I fought with every ounce of my being. I was in a comfortably numb condition that I had no desire to leave. Asking questions makes people nervous, especially when they don’t have the answer. I wish they could see inside my head, see through my eyes, who you and your people are. Understand the mothers that take care of their children when they are sick. Fathers who go to work everyday to provide a sort of existence for a family that may not live out the years allotted to them. I was one of them, though I am sometimes ashamed to admit it. I couldn’t get past the scriptures that had been quoted to me time and time again, from a preacher who seemed to only use one part of a huge guide for life to limit the way we see life in general. I thank you for opening my eyes. I thank your mother for nursing me, too, when I was too weak to take care of myself, making chicken soup the way my own mother did when I was a child.  I thank your father for raising you to be an honorable man, one who is not ashamed of who he is, or where he is from. You shouldn’t be. I thank you for being a partner who believes in living life to the fullest. Who works to keep our world safe from those that are often equated with you just because of your beautiful face, accent, or name. I hope that one day they will open their eyes and hearts to try to know the man you are. I pray that one day you will be able to safely and proudly show our children the beautiful lands that you used to roam as a child, introducing them to your home. But my biggest hope, is that we will live to see the people of the world loving their enemies as they do themselves, and know that, as our own country changes and moves in a direction that we have needed for so incredibly long, we are capable of making a difference just by learning. Just by understanding.

Thank you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Thoughts

Letter to My Friend

Dear You,

I’m not a very good friend. This is one of the angels/demons of truth that has lighted upon my shoulder, whispering into my ear over the past month. There are many things I know about myself, some I choose to hide from you and some that just I hide from. Then there are those “things” that surface whether you want them to or not. The friend thing would be just that.

There are so many reasons why I am not best friend material. I hate talking on the phone. (This is not reserved only for you, my dear, but is for the entire phone addicted world.) I don’t send “thank you” notes, though the idea of sweet words on beautiful paper appeals to me. I seldom carve out time to visit you, crying exhaustion and the need to just go home. Sometimes I forget when you have really important things going on that I want to remember to ask you about, and I don’t. I don’t comment on your inspiring words that move me to want to write more, write “better”. I forget birthdays. Over too infrequent dinners, I talk endlessly about myself and MY psychotic moments, hardly ever focusing on you. I am consumed with my microcosm. The thing is, it is not all because I am thoughtless. On the contrary, I am very thoughtful and afraid. I am afraid to lose you because I lost them, and it almost broke all of my heart.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl named Melanie. She was 16 years old and alive forever with me. Every afternoon, following a very forgettable school lunch, we would race to psychology class, each wanting to get there before the other,  in order to score the seat beside the untouchable Adonis Chad whose last name I can no longer remember. It was a game, as was all of life back then. She was beautiful. 5’4 on really tall days, olive skin in a sea of South Carolina pale, dark curls that are often brought front and center in my mind when my own curly-haired cherub dashes by. Love lived in laughing eyes, and a voice that with crackle and happy hoarseness would scream my name across a crowded quad full of teenagers too busy running and doing to realize they were going nowhere. There were issues. We fought over a boy I had already let go, but pride is pride, and mine was wounded. It eventually passed, as most pubescent storms do, and we loved each other again. She, too, let that boy go and quickly found another puffy, oversized football letterman jacket to keep her warm on cold, endless nights. She was happy, and we were ready to take on the world.  Then she was dead.  On the same day she sent me balloons and a flower to wish me luck in our high school pagent, we were told she arrived at the empty house belonging to that boy, went to his room, and shot herself in the head with a shotgun. There were conflicting reports. It was said that he was actually home, that he had not gone out of town. He was seen at a local football game that very night, wearing the jacket that had been in Melanie’s car. It was also said that the carpets from his room were rolled up and taken away the very next day by garbage men, not the law enforcement agency that the boy’s mother worked for. To this day I don’t know what I believe. What I DO know is that Melanie loved being alive with every minute fiber of her vibrant being. I know that she made my world a better place to occupy. I know that I still miss her face. 

So I went to college less one beautiful friend, needing someone to fill that sweet Melanie girl-shaped hole in my heart. It was there that I found Aleise. She was the polar opposite of Melanie, blonde and blue-eyed, no less angelic. I think it was the raspiness of her voice that drew me to her. Our friendship started with a healthy dose of competition. She was a singer, as was/am I, and we met during a national singing event the summer before we started college. One of us placed first, the other second (I won’t clarify) and a friendly rivalry ensued. We were both surprised when we ran into each other on a tiny college campus in Georgia. Trophies, crowds, and microphones forgotten, we bonded, and along with 2 other Georgia peaches, became the offical Charlie’s Angels of Franklin County, Georgia. There was nothing left to the imagination in our over-protective world. From topless sunbathing on the deck of the girls dorm to midnight excursions (after curfew, even) to the local pancake house, it seemed we broke every rule that the under-equipped Christian school could throw at us. We travelled the southeast together, on break from our studies, singing anywhere we could. I learned what it meant to be soulmates with women. Figured out that it was okay to give my heart away again in exchange for the peace and security that comes with true friendship. I took her home with me to South Carolina often, and she became part of my family. We spent Christmases in Dallas, Texas, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, causing the best kind of trouble everywhere we went. My world was bright and electric. After first semester in our junior year, Aleise told us that she needed to take the next semester off to work in order to save up money for school. Her mother was elderly, and her father had died a few years before, so she was responsible for her tuition. As sad as I was to see her go, I knew in my heart she would be back. We wrote letters to each other, spoke often on the telephone, and I scheduled as many weekend trips to Clinton, NC as I possibly could. We were making it work. Then, on a night that seemed like all the others before it, the door to my dorm room opened, and the two who remained walked slowly to the side of my bed. I caught a glimpse of my clock, and seeing that it was 3 in the morning, caught my breath. “Aleise is dead.” I heard “car accident” and “on impact” and little else. Just like that. Then I cracked. I lost myself that night. I was later told that I spent the remainder of the evening and early morning curled up in a corner of the hall bathroom, sobbing and trying to crawl into the walls. The weeks and months that followed the loss of part of my heart are a blur to this day. It was then that my writing became more what it is now, I think, tinged with hints of sadness and dark. The three of us who were left to live without her light went, one last time together, to her home. We sat with her mother, looked through her photos, held her pillow and tried to smell the life she left there. I went back, years later, with my husband, needing to see her mother, to tell her how much her daughter had changed me. I found her one month before she too died, and that familly was gone forever.  I still feel the dull reminders of fresh hurt, of learning what it means to suffer loss as a young woman trying to figure out how to go on, to open up again. I believe that much of what I have done in my life was somehow ignited (for better or worse) by the losses that scar my soul. I must admit that this suffering, it seems, has kept me at a distance from those wanting to know more of me. I believed myself capable of being only a surface friend, there for the immediate, the not too involved, not too deep kind of friend stuff.  Then I heard your voice, a familiar raspy song, calling  my name in a crowd of people, in a place I didn’t expect to find you. You think of me when I cannot think of myself. You love me when I know that I do not deserve it. You help me sort through the mass of twisted cord that wraps around my head and heart, straightening, explaining, pointing me to my purpose. I push you away in my mind, often afraid that you, too, will go away. But you don’t. Thank you for making me live. Thank you for living with me. Thank you. 

Love,

Your Friend

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Thoughts

My Best Friend

My friend is not well. She is 14 years old and very tired. There are times when I just don’t understand how she continues to hold on, but then I catch her eyes following me across a room when her legs won’t allow her to trail behind me. I see her climb the stairs slowly, painfully, circling the bed of each of my children, making sure they are tucked in for the night, safe and sound. I hear the grunts as she descends those same stairs to return to my side. Her name is Digit. When she was a rollie pollie puppy, she would chew on my fingers and toes, thus earning her that very fitting moniker. Our relationship has lasted longer than any I have had, with the exception of the best friend and blood relatives. She reads my feelings better than anyone, knowing when to be playful, when to flash the fat sad puppy eyes, and when to just put her graying head on my lap and be still. I am hoping my children will learn from her. She has lived in 3 states, 6 cities, made it through 3 Olympics, more elections than she cares to remember, and my countless loser boyfriends before ending up with her permanent stallion daddy. She is indeed a trooper. There have been times, especially before I was married with children, when she was my only true companion. Cold nights were made less so by her mere presence by my side. I can say that I truly and completely love her, and I am positive that she loves me. But now she is old. Now she hurts. Her body no longer wants to accommodate her mind, which I’m sure still romps through the yard chasing cats like crazy. She has trouble standing, and even more trouble walking. She suffers from seizures and must take medication daily, which I am happy to administer in order to keep her with me. I might be selfish. No, I know full well that I am. I need this friend, this companion who loves me even when I’m feeling nasty and humbuggish. I refuse to let her go without a fight simply because I know that she would do the same for me. She has been present for so much of my life that letting her go would feel like I’m giving up a part of me, and giving up on her. I am struggling with wanting to do what is best for her, and I would love some advice from you guys….

7 Comments

Filed under Random Thoughts

Messin’ With My Happy

Messin’ With My Happy

As most of you know, I had an audition for a couple of solos for a big ol’ Christmas performance at church, and…..dum dum da dummmmmm…I got it! I did! My hard work paid off, and so I shall be singing a couple of lines all by myself on stage this year!! Yee haw, right!? I thought so. Until we started rehearsals with soloists included last night. Imagine my DISMAY when two of the members of the choir who had also auditioned for the same parts (this one’s easy to figure out) started whispering in each other’s ear during and after our first practice. I’m talkin’ angry, catty, snotty, snide, snarky, crotchety, bitter woman whispers regarding those that got the part, and even making reference to “fighting battles” to make things right. Really? REALLY??? We’re gonna go there? I honestly couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that you could be a big grown-up, adult woman, with children, with a husband, with a so-called life, and behave like a 3rd grader pissed off at the winner of the spelling bee. SHUT UP! Get over it! I paid no one, I sucked up not at all, kissed no one’s arse, tampered not with the ballots, none of that. I earned it. I deserved it. I WORKED HARD. So, that being saidvented (thank you for your time, everyone) ladies, you may BITE ME where it counts. I mean that. So, what do I do? Do I say something? Do I revert to middle school and address the issue? Or, do I model acceptable woman to woman behavior and ignore?


5 Comments

Filed under Random Thoughts

The Things I Love Today

The things I love today make me who I am and are molding who I will be. They shine a light on the sweet parts of my past, and help me to realize what is important and valuable in my present. All of this I will take into my future. I love that every second with my children makes me appreciate this life, even when times are harder than they have been ‘round these parts. I love that a simple trip in the car turns into an evening at the Improv, and it’s all free and mine. I love to look into my rear view mirror and see Dora’s face as she memorizes the face of her brother, dimple by dimple. The fact that she is smiling as she calls him a “wrinkledbabypottyyummypinkytreehead” while doing this is only icing on the cake. (No, I did NOT teach her that one. I tend to insert purpley where the pinky is.) I love that I come home to find her on the lap of my father, nestled in the crook of his arm. That very same crook haven has kept me safe, warm, and often hidden from the too harsh for me world since I was a child. I understand the peace that a simple place beside a not so simple man holds. I love that that same man asks Dora to tell her mommy where she went walking with her papa today. Went a little something like this: Clueless Me: HELLLLOOOOOOO baby girl! WHAT?! You went walking with your papa? Where did you go? Dora: I got to go pet the sweet little pink flowers, mommy! CM: The pink flowers! Oh how nice! (I am now trying to figure out where pink flowers are growing in these parts right now, ‘cause it’s freakin’ 20’s cold down here these days.) Were there any unicorns? D: No, no, no, Mommy! Don’t be silly. We walked all around the tall rocks and fakey flowers. PAPA: Tell mommy what was UNDER those flowers, Dora. (I sometimes think he does things as secret payback. He’s not QUITE as overt as the moms.) D: BODIES! There were BODIES UNDER THOSE FLOWERS THERE WERE! (Please read in “I’m Henry the 8th, I Am,” mode. Thank you.) There were people bones all on the underneath of those big rocks! That’s where they put them when they got dead, but that’s only their body, not their hearts, ‘cause they send that to live in Heaven, and then, and then, they put big rocks with their names’ carved on it RIGHT ON TOP, and then, and then, they get to pick out their favorite flowers to put on their heads. CM: ummmm……what?! (Parents of CM now seeing the WTH look rolling across my face.) Papa: Grandma had to go to a funeral during the middle of the afternoon, and we didn’t have anywhere to take Dora, so I stayed with her on the other side (wording totally freaked me out) until it was finished. She didn’t see or hear the “stuff” going on. We walked and talked together about lots of different things. You have a great little girl. Good job. CM: (Totally diffused, as usual.) Thanks, daddy. Can I sit on the other side?

Leave a comment

Filed under Random Thoughts

Invisible Children

 

I started the week worried about my cheese. I agonized over my job and the size of my pants. Then I previewed the documentary “Invisible Children”, which I would be showing to my class as an introduction to the memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. For those of you who haven’t been kept abreast of the situation in Sierra Leone, Uganda, and the surrounding areas (thank you, American media), children are being forced (abducted), as early as age 5, to leave their homes and families, made to join the rebel forces. If they are not killed for crying as they leave their villages, maneuverings through the bodies of friends and family left behind in the melee, they finally make it to the “bush”, where they are brainwashed, becoming obsessed with killing and blood instead of books and baseball. They are separated from mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends forever, most of the time never knowing who make it out alive and who went into the next world holding the hands of terror and pain. I believed that this would be an eye-opening experience for my students, as I realize more and more that I want them to learn about, and feel a need to impact the world and the people in it as much as I want them to love the beauty of Shakespeare or be moved by the power of Beowulf. I didn’t realize that this would be MY prompting to do more. We don’t start the memoir until Monday, yet my mind is already teeming with ideas on how I can help, how my students can make a difference. The greatest part is, they want it. In a classroom filled with 30 young men, normally bubbling over, constantly moving and talking, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop after the viewing of this documentary. There were tears in their eyes, heads shook, chins dropped, lives changed. They want to be a part of the bracelet campaign (check out www.invisiblechildren.com), they want to make t-shirts, selling them to raise funds. They want to GO, and I want to go with them. For now, I will help with my ability to make others aware of the struggles of these children who hide at night under awnings, in damp, dark basements of hospitals, away from those they love, only out of the basic desire to survive until the sun rises. I will help with my talent, as I encourage my students to create a children’s book that tells the story of these children no longer children, in an effort to allow the next generation of African souls to enjoy the lives they were given, breathing freely, sleeping soundly. I will help by not just watching, but by doing. I know that my own children sleep soundly in warm beds, waking to a peaceful existence in comparison to those that dream of death as an escape from their bleak reality. Our children will never leave our arms to avoid the instant adulthood that comes when you are given a weapon and forced to stop the heart of another human being. Our children are safe. I don’t think I could possibly be alone in believing that childhood is, and should be, the sweetest, most innocent moment of a life. Together we have the power to change the lives of children, giving back to them that precious gift of time, one by one. Help me help them. For those of you in or around Greensboro, NC, the author of A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah, will be speaking on Thursday night, October 30th, on the campus of University of North Carolina at Greensboro. You may find more information on their website.

1 Comment

Filed under Random Thoughts