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So many firsts already on this inaugural day of 2013: first sunrise lightening the night sky, first flakes of snow falling to the ground, first cup of coffee laced with cinnamon, first blog post written and published, first 100 words entry nearly completed, first bag of trash taken out of the kitchen, first run of the dishwasher, first devotions of the year, first kiss, first cookies waiting to be baked, first hopes, first prayers, first load of laundry to be folded and put away, first floor to be swept, first errand to be run, first hugs from tiny arms, first...
I took my little girl to storytime at Barnes and Noble this morning, and while we were there, I bought a new journal. I didn't really need one—there's one with a flowered cover on top of the printer right now—but I was drawn to it somehow, I suppose in the same way moths are drawn to flames and my kitchen light. And ever since we got home, I've been thinking about how I'll fill my new journal's pages. With poetry? Prayers? Short story notes or novel ideas? I'm not sure yet. There's so much possibility within the pages.
I don't know if I'm ever going to get this thing figured out; I don't know if I'll ever be able to balance my need for sleep with my need to write and read and just be alone for awhile—alone with my thoughts, free to think without someone else grabbing my attention, no matter how wonderful and amazing that someone is, no matter how much I love him or her. Four or five hours of sleep a night is not enough, though, and that's why I find myself now at naptime—too tired to write, too busy to rest.
One of my goals this year is to be more grateful, so today the kids and I are starting the Gratitude Jar project, an idea I found online. Each day family members write down things they're thankful for and place those papers in a jar. They can also write down the good things that happened that day. At the end of the year, everyone reads the papers. I think this is a really good way to learn gratitude. After all, it's easy to recall bad things, but memories of those small, good things that happen each day are often fleeting.
I don't think you know just how much your words affected me yesterday. Maybe you do. When you looked at me thoughtfully and asked to see my license...well, you witnessed my reaction: smile spread from ear to ear, my exclamations of "Thank you so much!" You
make my night, you know. I went to the grocery store afterwards and wandered the aisles, grinning the whole time, looking like a crazy person, I'm sure. Who smiles when they're picking out soup? I had a big birthday last year. Now thanks to you, I don't feel so old.
I don't know if there's any disappointment worse than the disappointment I feel when angry words spill from my mouth, words that I don't want to say, words that I know are hurtful, and at those times I feel as though I'm standing outside of myself, watching myself say these things, seeing the horrible contortions of my face as my verbal daggers slice through the air, as they cut into you, and I want more than anything to stop myself, but somehow I can't—the words keep coming, edged in glass, until finally—
—the terrible tirade ends.
I saw three cats, two grays and a beautiful calico, walking along the neighbor's stone wall today while I was making lunch, so I called my daughter into the room to see them. As I lifted her up to the window, I noticed that we were no longer witnessing a peaceful scene. The two grays were, to be as descriptive as possible in the fewest number of words, gang-raping the calico, who did not seem happy to be trapped the way she was, one cat on her and the other in front of them, seemingly cheering him on. Sad.
Just as the smile was starting to fade from the "I-need-to-see-your-license-please" carding event at one of my rare trips to the liquor store last week, last night I was given more good news, this time about writing, and now the grin is back, bigger than ever, as I contemplate the fun that lies ahead because of that one congratulatory email, and even though I haven't really told anyone yet—I still want to savor the news on my own—I feel like people are looking at me differently, or maybe that's only my imagination...
I have so much to do, so much to think about, yet I'm doing nothing right now, sitting here overwhelmed yet happy, debating if I should take a nap since I got so little sleep last night and then rationalizing that sleep now would be dumb—no time with all the things I need to do—and I'm awake, and so I sit, looking at the research I have to do, the writing, the reading, even the ridiculous, mundane cleaning—everything that needs to be accomplished—and I can't bring myself to work on anything, not even the fun things.
I want more hours in my day. I want to be able to cross off everything from my list and go to bed at a decent hour, satisfied that everything is done and I can begin fresh the next morning. I want more time to work on all the writing projects I have lined up right now, and I want to be able to give them all the attention they deserve. And I want to be able to twitch my nose like Samantha on
and see my house clean itself— *poof*—shiny, spotless, more time for me.
Today is Pajama Day at my son's school, and it may as well be here, too. I feel lazy. I'm not schlepping around in PJs and slippers, but I should be. I think I just needed a "don't think too hard" kind of day—a mental health day. I'm taking it.
I haven't felt much inspiration to write these last few days. I don't have much to say, I guess, so I've ended up joining together nonsense words until I discover I've written a sentence, and I call it good. I need to get out of this rut.
Up since just before sunrise with notebook, pen, coffee, writing poetry and watching the first pink rays light the sky. There's something about witnessing the first light of day that ignites my creativity, inspiring me to put pen to paper and paint word-pictures of the images before me—the trees, black against the brightening sky; the lights snapping on in neighbor's houses throughout the neighborhood; the dogs barking their hellos to a new day... It's this poetry in creation I enjoy, the poetry
creation, of choosing the right words—the perfect words—these snapshots of life.
Live your dream.
Follow your heart.
It gets better.
Miracles do happen.
Keep holding on.
Never stop dreaming.
Live, love, laugh.
Only one life.
Keep the faith.
Inspiration, creativity, peace.
Nothing lasts forever.
Seize the day.
Forgive. Move on.
Hug your children.
Guard your health.
Appreciate the moment.
Feel the wind.
Never stop believing.
Pursue your passion.
Laugh every day.
Count your blessings.
Take a chance.
Stop and breathe.
I'm drinking black coffee laced with cinnamon and listening to the silence. Sometimes my ears burn with it, as much as I long for it most days, as much as I crave it when the yelling, the fighting, even the playing become too much for my forty-year-old, aging ears. It's only my ears that suffer; my heart longs for the joy my children bring to this tiny, cramped, over-filled house, this house my children say they want to live in forever, even after they're married, even after they "get kids" of their own, as my daughter says.
A friend posed this question on her blog: Am I using my time well? It's a good question and something that's on my mind a lot of the time, especially since I've realized that I'm getting older. This is my life; it's the only one I have. What am I going to do with it? Sometimes I think the answer is pretty clear—a resounding yes. Other times I think that while I believe I'm using my time well in some areas, there are other areas in which I need to improve. It's a more difficult question than it seems.
At lunchtime, I squeezed the soy sauce packet too hard and sent its contents soaring across the room, where they landed on a stack of books I want to read, which would have been okay had the brown goo not splattered the one brand-new book in the pile, the book I purchased from Barnes and Noble last week, the book I've been carrying from room to room since then in my excitement to read it, and although I acted quickly, I discovered that soy sauce, while tasty, is also nasty, and now my book's pristine pages are no more.
I've been sitting here at the computer for about ten minutes, trying to come up with a topic, and then I realized that sometimes there aren't any topics, nothing that seems worthy of one hundred words, so I just started typing the whatever: the randomness that goes through my mind—
•Strawberry cake tastes better than it smells.
•Rope makes a good photo subject.
•An afternoon nap just makes me more tired.
•There are so many things I want to do, but sometimes I feel too lazy.
•I need more sleep tonight.
It seems that the times I most want to write are the times when I find it the hardest to do so. Even when inspiration strikes—even when my muse has planted an idea so deeply in my mind that I haven't been able to shake it for days—something, some anti-muse, prevents me from getting those ideas and thoughts on paper. In school, writing was something I
to do; when a paper was due, I
to write it. Now I have the luxury of writing for me—but not always the ability.
I don't understand the people who say they have no regrets. I used to be one of them, but now that I'm a mom, I can't believe that I ever felt that way. Maybe I'm too hard on myself, but I can't think of a day that's passed without my feeling sad or upset or angry about something I said or did and wishing I could change it. To me, being a mom is synonymous with feeling guilt—guilt about wanting more time to myself; guilt about not feeling like playing games or reading children's books; guilt about being me.
Writing Haiku in church—perhaps irreverent, but the muse struck, and I acted, pulling paper and pen from my purse and scribbling the verse on an old store list, then crossing out and scribbling in and crossing out again until I finally had something I was happy with, three lines of poetry—a brief verse, yes, but one that says so much—and now I am home again and sitting at this computer, typing the Haiku and seeing how it changes, how the act of typing turns soft words hard, harder than handwriting: a nuance, a subtle change in meaning.
It's stupid, really, how excited I get over things like Internet orders and how much I anticipate the arrival of the items I buy. This morning, with gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, I logged on to Amazon and began my search. Oh, I was looking for two very specific things—a digital voice recorder and another item I need for my memoir project—but I couldn't resist having a look at the books as well, and of course I purchased one. I've checked it out from the library and read it many times. I know it's good.
Somehow, mid-afternoon coffee just doesn't taste as good as that first morning cup, although I suppose it
serve its purpose—keeping me from laying my head down on the keyboard in sheer exhaustion—and yes, there are definitely days when I feel in desperate need of that steaming elixir, even though I know its magic isn't nearly as potent as in the early hours, when that first sip of dark brown liquid rewards my stagger downstairs, my eyes still closed to the morning, my mind fighting away dreamland, my body still waging its war against daylight.
I just got off the phone after an hour-long conversation with my best friend, who had called just as I sat down to do a little writing. I love talking to her—she's been sick, and we haven't seen each other in a month, despite the fact that we live only twenty minutes apart—and we had a lot to catch up on, but all I could think about as we chatted was the poem I want to write and that line I need to revise in my Haiku and those one hundred words I still need to compose...
"We become sad in the first place because we have nothing stirring to do." ~Herman Melville
There's a lot of truth in this, I think. We all need to find the things that drive us, that make us want to get up in the morning. We
to find our passions. I don't think it's possible to live a fulfilling life without any driving force, without things that stir us. Poetry stirs me, as do writing and art—creativity. Family history, nature—trees and sunrises and butterflies... We all need something that drives us toward tomorrow.
"Did you do it?
"No! Why are you asking me that? How could you even
"Honestly? Sometimes people don't change as much as they say they do."
"You don't know anything."
"Don't I? I think I do. We're all the same, you know. I could do it. I didn't, but I could. And you could, too. Let's just end this now. I know you did it."
"Throwing me out won't make it go away. Mark my words. It will never go away."
He always carried a battered notebook. Even when we were just starting elementary school and barely knew how to write, I saw him carting it around, stopping often to scribble some word or picture, even doing so as we talked to him, which we found rude and unnerving: Was he writing about us? Years later, I read
Harriet the Spy
and wondered if that's what he'd been doing in his own childish way—learning our secrets. I lost track of him after high school, but I think of him from time to time and wonder about that notebook.
My old room was pink. I remember the day my parents painted, how even as they rolled the cotton candy hue up and down the walls, I begged to live in a purple cave, maybe one with a pink ceiling—my concession. But despite my pleas, the walls turned pink and stayed pink for years, until one day they were green, although I can't remember why or who had decided on that color. And all these decades later, they're still green, both in my memory and in reality—a green that hugs the room where so many memories are stored.
Silence is relative. There's only almost-silence. Even now, while my daughter naps and the television is quiet, sounds still assault. The refrigerator's hum. The clicking of the computer keys. The traffic outside. Voices from next door. There are always external sounds, even when I believe I am engulfed in silence. Internal sounds also never go away. I hear myself talking in my mind; I hear characters; I hear my muse shouting out the first line of my next poem; I hear the dialogue I'll soon have when I confront the woman who blows through that stop sign every morning...
In my mind, I see myself walking over to him, stopping, saying "This probably sounds weird, but I feel like I know you." He would smile in his Ben way and flick back the hair falling across his left eye. Maybe he'd slide over on the stoop he's sitting on and offer me a seat. Yes, I think that's what he
do. I know it is.
But I don't go over there. I'm only brave in my mind. I pass by the place he's sitting, look at him out of the corner of my eye.
Unlike the rest of us, who kept sighing—some more loudly than others—and shifting back and forth, the youngish guy at the front of the line stood with his feet shoulder-width apart and his eyes straight ahead. He had a placid smile on his face, and although he was alone in a line full of couples and groups, he seemed content and unselfconscious, as though being by himself here was the most natural thing in the world. I saw him move from his position once only—to push his black, rectangular glasses back up on his Aquiline nose.
When I walked out of his apartment for the last time, I left my toothbrush, a pair of jeans, the book I'd been reading, some CDs, and the spare key to my own apartment—I'd need to get the locks changed. It was all just stuff, things that could easily be replaced. I didn't want it. However, I did leave behind one thing that I couldn't replace, something that I knew I would never get back. I left my heart. Seventeen years later, it's still there—still beating in his bed, still waiting to feel whole again. I miss it.
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