Sometimes the best thing to say is everything. Sometimes everything can be summed up in two simple sentences that are generic enough to encompass the weighing-down on the world.
What to do, what to do, to keep me sane, to keep me here, to keep me from writing frankly awful poetry that steers my soul into that rock face that I faced when I was 27 and driving down a mountain in a blizzard that was covered in sheer black eyes that gleamed like the eyes of all my “mentors”, watching my every step, criticizing arms behind my back, critiquing the way I speak and how I look and how I am around people who won’t ever see me again in just a few short (long) days. What to do is work harder, sleep less, sleep more sometimes and do more every day not for me, but for them, to keep them happy, keep them thinking I can do what I don’t think I can do anymore, so that maybe one day in keeping doing this, I can make myself happy too. But I can’t make myself happy, can I? I never can. I never could. And in that, I am like the people I despise the most. I am like the people who don’t get it, could never get it, and won’t ever even try to get it. There’s darkness behind everything I do, but moreso, there is darkness in everything I don’t do. And I question whether it will always be that way or if one day I can lift that confining black veil and stand in a pale sunlit afternoon looking at the gravestone of my demons.
That I haven’t written,
That my life has become a conveyerbelt; a
I want to scream out, I want to
yell into a pillow while its softness
engrosses my face like
a man’s hand over my lips.
blinding red, wondering without knowing,
anger just because of
anger, on top of
anger, mixed thick with
more and more anger.
Losing my mind
in a pit of lava
creased with volcanic
rock. Frustration is
thoughts slipping out
of my head through
orafices while my
leaden eyes watch them
as they fall.
We live in a a world where teenage girls are thin and wear baggy tops like second skins draping, shedding from their frail bodies and they were glasses frames on their faces with no lenses – why? Because glasses are cool. Because being a ‘nerd’, being a ‘geek’, is cool on the outside but shunned - oh, so deeply, meanly, coldly shunned on the inside. For being cool is an idea. An idea you can wear on your body and your head and your face and you can strut around town sashaying, assassinating boys and sexy girls with your looks – those chilling, vapid looks that say nothing except, “This is the part of me you can see, the part of me that’s cool, the part of me that means something to somebody”. There has to be more to life than this. There has to be more to life than sitting in your house watching TV and wishing so badly, too badly, you could be like them- the unattainable ‘them’ who you think are attainable, because that’s what some invisible man wearing a suit and tie will tell you, but he doesn’t know you! He doesn’t know about the times you scraped your tender little white girl knees learning to ride a bike on the tarmac, determined but scared and finally you felt that coveted rite of passage feeling of soaring down the pavement on your pink two-wheeler for the very first time, vindicated. He doesn’t know you were the best at math in the third grade and in the seventh grade you were failing tests because you thought, “math is for boys”. He doesn’t know that you could barely run three laps around a small gym. He doesn’t know you sat there in school wishing you could disappear and nobody would ever notice you were gone. He doesn’t know your private world of the written word and world maps marked with places you can’t wait to go, in your mind, in the car, on a plane. But he’s sitting there making all your decisions about how you define yourself. And what does he know, anyway?
I have moments of finding and re-discovering passion in what I do on a daily basis. Those moments, as small as they are, are powerful. So powerful. They can only get more powerful. They will get more powerful, when I become the kind of powerful I want to feel in the room. If I can become that. Not if. when.
But sometimes I look at someone else’s life. And I think, “that’s what I wanted. That is exactly what I’ve always wanted. That. Just that. If I could have had that, I would have had everything. I’d wake up every day and feel the way I felt when I was a rock star. When I stood up in front of a room of (mostly) strangers, and lambasted the nine people I’d kissed, in writing, on a stage, with a microphone, and I thought, “I can do this” because everyone who spoke to me that night and told me I should be published, that I was amazing, that I was hilarious, had nothing to lose by telling me that. Did they? I never know.
I never tried. I never tried to make a dream come true. I haven’t tried to make that dream come true for a long time because it seems unreachable. It seems I’m just a tiny, tiny drop of water in a sea of people just like me and I’m just a drop in vast, endless, unknowably deep open waters and the miracle of someone finding just that one tiny drop is so miniscule, it is impossible. So why try? Why not go for a backup plan? Why not give up writing and stop doing something silly and frivolous and poet-sitting-on-a-Paris-rooftop-smoking-and-drinking-and-crying-by-moonlight silly and find some practical way to harness a love of words instead?
I miss it. I’m doing it right now and I still miss it. Something that’s so very much a part of you shouldn’t die the way I’ve let it die, don’t let it die! It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s a fire that wants to keep being stoked and brandished and fanned away. And yet… and yet. There it is. Smoldering and fading into a black, blue, orange smear on a blank page. It’s a dream. It’s Langston Hughes asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” And me providing a concrete answer.
I had a passion, and I have a passion, but the real “thing” – the real concrete “thing” I could and wanted to do with that passion is now so dead and so gone and so utterly and seemingly impossible.. and yet… it’s astounding to me, that I would let myself give up so easily. And then go into a classroom of kids and tell them to never give up. Why is it easier for someone to not give up on something that is second-best for them, than it is to give up something they were once ‘the best’ at?
By starting over, I am allowing myself re-establishment. I am allowing myself strength, empowerment, mentorship, positivity, encouragement, happiness, joy, and risk. Risk. I am taking risks every day. I’m taking too many risks for my body and heart to handle. I’m not taking enough risks and it’s causing fault for my daily life. I could be taking riskier risks, and I’m not. I could just sit back and not take any risks at all. I could stay inside every day because all I can see is the rain. I can’t push past. I can push past. I go back and forth in my weak psyche every day because I know what to do and there’s something inherent in me that prevents me from going all the way with risks. I’m starting over and I’m vowing to myself, and I’m vowing through my life, to keep on taking risks. Because there’s no point in January, February, March or April without risks. Oh, risks. Why can’t I take you? Why can’t I leap into your arms carelessly and recklessly and pretend that I’ve always been that srong person who can stand up in the middle of a crowd and take some huge, intense risk? And what’s the point of a risk anyway? Sometimes there’s not even any point. Sometimes you take stupid risks and they pay off in ways we didn’t expect. Sometimes we take a risk and we end up heartbroken and high-fived. Sometimes we take risks and end up in strange bedrooms, in strange hallways, in strange classrooms, in strange peoples’ company, smiling so you don’t cry, agreeing to every word so you don’t let the cracks show. And sometimes you have to remember something important: YOU CAN CONTROL RISKS! YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR LIFE! YOU CAN TAKE CALCULATED, CONTROLLED RISKS AND KNOW FOR SURE IF THEY’RE GOING TO PAY OFF! YOU CAN! YOU CAN! YOU HAVE TO BECAUSE THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS! THAT’S WHY YOU’RE HERE, THAT’S WHY YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR, THAT’S WHY YOU STAND IN FRONT OF 200 PEOPLE DURING INTERVALS OF THE WEEK AND GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO HOLD ONTO! WITHOUT THAT… WHAT IS THERE? WHY IS THERE?
Tomorrow, we start over.
I started the year with a thousand people dressed to the nines as flappers and gangsters, floating around the Rocky Mountaineer train station with enthusiastic hiball-fueled fury in a sea of flowing white curtains, draped chairs, live music, silver streamers bursting from the ceiling, and complimentary cloyingly sweet champagne.
I spent the year’s end in Maui, lying on beach after beach, rubbing coconut-scented oil onto my skin and listening only to the waves, living day by day and wishing I could be someone with filthy dreadlocks who lived in some village in the middle of nowhere walking around barefoot and buying cheap booze the Safeway and driving around in some old beater, smelling the fragrances of the island – sea salt, hibiscus, coconut, pineapple, kalua pork. I spent a week in Maui that was a relief, a finale, a climax of all the other crazy events, wins, losses, utter disgraces, that plagued and filled and fulfilled my previous year. I spent a week in Maui realizing that whatever happened, good and bad, were blessings, and that I cannot and will not be defeated by them, by anything. Moving forward in life scares me, but so does constantly living in the past. Opening myself to possibilities is sometimes the least scary thing we can do.
This year, I lost someone – physically and mentally, and with that came many, many mental and emotional losses. However, I did what I set out to do years ago, what I’ve always always wanted to do; move to the coast, pursue something terrifying and challenging and nervewracking, just to see if I could because someone gave me a chance to do so. In that journey I met good people and bad people and had good days and bad days and busy days; so many busy days. And at my lowest, I remembered that, I am alive. Because it had been so long – so long – since I cared enough about something to cry about it in front of someone whose opinion mattered.
This year saw me journeying to Seattle, Vancouver Island, Maui, Anaheim, the gorge, and back home again. It saw me make temporary and permanent journeys. It saw me taking risks, cutting corners, burning bridges, staying inside, going out, making new friends, losing old ones, and realizing that those who sometimes present themselves as friends, do not have our best interests at heart, and in strife, prove themselves not ‘friends’ in the slightest. And that unlikely friendships and bonds can form between people from different worlds with different interests and completely different lives, simply based on a few pints and a chat on some unexpected, idle week night.
My life is charmed. It doesn’t seem so at times, but it really is. I’m lucky; I’m lucky that I’m independent and that I have what I have, what I’ve always wanted, and that I have the potential for something greater than I ever thought I could have. In 2013 I needed to remember to be grateful and I needed to remember humility and honesty and loyalty and the meanings of all of those words rather than just hurling them out like stones into the water. Stones create ripples, but only momentarily before their impact dissipates entirely. These three words should be held onto, placed into pockets and on shelves, visible, so that they may last forever.
Happy New Year.