Sunday, January 31, 2016

Rant


If I'm being honest with myself. I knew you liked me and you knew I liked you but we were too chicken to define it, both too afraid to admit it. And so we carried on in limbo until it couldn't be sustained any longer. The careful balance snapped and you vanished. I resented your leaving, still do. How cowardly. But I still think of you. I wonder about you. I dream about you. Did you vanish to save me from disappointment? Who was I imagining you would be? Would you change for me and show yourself? I had kept my guard up with you... Though I tried to discard it! So I sent you bold words, sweet words. Sent them off to Silence. The best friend of Rejection. And so. I stopped trying. And my wondering became a disgust. A good riddance incantation to heal my bruises. I wanted to retract all of the compliments, any of the attention I gave you. Why do you keep me away? Are you afraid of me? Don't I fit? Don't you see who I am, see me? You do not. And you are too afraid to. You peer at me through the looking glass. My smiles my pretty glances my robust energy. You watch and you wonder. But you don't dare answer your own question. 
You're afraid of disappointment. You’re afraid that I don't see you


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Aperture

She was unconscious. 
Darkness swarmed 
Behind her eyes 
and she heard murmuring
and she spoke
Irises expand, swivel, swirl

Drops of light land softly among the blue

“Now I see, dear mother.”
Words rambled on, telling everything she knew
Great heaps of information

But

The aperture opened once more.
Drops of light landed gently among the blue.

“Oh mother! Now! Now I can see.”
And her words swelled, a revelation
Light speed recounting
Facts, fancies
Questions, answers
Assured was she

But

The irises opened yet again
Drops of light landed tenderly among the blue.

The girl stopped talking

Tired lips rest.

Dear mother took her child’s hand
She combed her child’s hair


“Oh. Now I see.”

_____

I once had the experience of being unconscious. Or rather, I had the experience of coming back into consciousness. I think about it all the time actually, as a great metaphor for life. Every cycle of life is a new revelation, what we thought we knew before becomes clear in a way we could not have predicted. Like putting on glasses to see how crisp the scenery becomes. 
Right now I ride a glorious wave that is sure to break. One day I will see things that aren't clear to me yet. Can't be clear to me yet, because the next wave hasn't arrived. And that's OK. 
I think we champion our life to the best of our ability. With what we have and what we know.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

She's a B*tch.

Alyssa Dunphey was a bitch. 

     Everyone knew this and it was a widely accepted fact at Prestonwood Baptist Church. New members of the church were warned, “That little one? With the dark hair? She’s a bitch, so don’t worry about it if she smites you, it’s not you, it’s her.”
     Mrs. Dunphey realized this about her daughter when she as 4 years old. They were at a birthday party for one of the girls in her play group. The little girl was opening presents and received a bright pink pony with shiny silver and purple hair. Alyssa locked eyes with the pony, entranced. When told the pony was for Mara, the birthday girl, Alyssa narrowed her eyes, just briefly, then lifted her tiny chin and silently gulped. Shortly thereafter, while the cake was being distributed, Mrs. Dunphey found her daughter at the present table cutting the mane and tail off the small pink horse. Alyssa pursed her lips and shrugged her right shoulder when Mrs. Dunphey took the scissors away and admonished her child. 
     But it wasn’t just incidents like that in which Mrs. Dunphey realized her daughter’s true nature. It wasn’t just the “You’re fat” or “Your face looks funny” or “You have big breasts” comments that Alyssa frequently doled out. It was the thread of self-serving malfeasance that lingered in her young, narrowed eyes which Mrs. Dunphey found astonishing.

     As Alyssa grew up, she slowly began to realize the nature of her own bitchiness. It was like a twitch couldn’t control. Unlike when she was 4, people began to be less forgiving of her lewd, if honest, comments. They were no longer funny, and a planet away from charming, coming from an 8 year old. So Alyssa took it upon herself to prune this nameless persona. 

When she was 9 she was first told what she was. 

     Jimmy gave her the word. He was 12, and on that particular day at Prestonwood Baptist Church, the Sunday School classes were lumped together due to low attendance, pooling the 9 through 12 year old pupils into the same classroom. Jimmy took an immediate liking to Jessica, another girl Alyssa’s year with short strawberry-blonde hair. Alyssa thought hair that color was unnatural and intolerable. She also thought Jimmy’s freckles were unnatural in quantity and equally intolerable. Both people in question made Alyssa narrow her eyes whenever they spoke. 

“Who can tell me what a parable is?” The long nose teacher asked in her high voice.

     Jimmy stared at Jessica as she answered, “It’s a story that teaches a lesson.” The teacher smiled at her, “Well said, Jessica.” The girl bobbed her tomato head and smiled back. Alyssa narrowed her eyes. 
     After the lesson ended, all of the pupils gathered in the dining hall for donut holes before their attendance was required at the morning service. Jimmy leaned toward Jessica in line and stuttered as he asked her something about the bracelet she was wearing. Alyssa narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as Jessica smile back at him. 
     When it was her turn at the breakfast table, Alyssa carefully filled her cup of orange juice and made her way to the table were Jimmy sat. The boys at the table gave her an odd fleeting glance, surprised she had decided to sit next to them, then turned back to their conversations. Alyssa picked up her orange juice as if to take a sip, then delicately tipped it over, so that the contents landed perfectly in Jimmy’s lap. Jimmy threw a small fit of course, and so Alyssa took her cue and found somewhere else to sit. It was at that moment Jessica came back from the bathroom, and Alyssa made sure to fill her in on the commotion, Jimmy wet his pants. 
“You’re a bitch.” Jimmy’s words rolled across the room and landed comfortably on Alyssa. Yes, she thought, that’s what I am.
    It was then that she really started working at it, perfecting her bitchiness. She’d spend 45 minutes in the bathroom mirror just looking at herself in the mirror, adjusting her eyes and lips until she attained the perfect bitch face.

     Mrs. Dunphey was ever ashamed of being responsible for the girl know as “the little bitch” among the worshippers at Prestonwood Baptist Church. But Alyssa was born that way, and if God gave her a bitch for a daughter, well, Mrs. Dunphey planned to love her little bitch of a child all the same. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Absence

I feel your absence in every room.
I’m tired of looking for you

Wait, you say
I am waiting too long!
I’m afraid I’ll forget
To open the door for you 
I might lie idle 
Consigned to oblivion

You hide
You ask me to wait
I forget what I am waiting for

With each new face
You remind me

Your kiss has been there, all along
On the lips of others
That wear different eyes
And hold me 
With different hands

Your kindness has been there
While I sit across the table
From a different man

Your passion has danced
In the eyes of one whose words
Relay a separate truth

Your generosity has been there
There in the hearts of many
Sharing comfort
Warmth

I see you and feel you
At every crossing
Coming and going
Wearing many faces
Women with hats
Men with shoes


I feel your presence in every room.

___________________________________________


Maddieonthings.com


Sunday, January 3, 2016

I know what it's like.

When I turned 30, I sat down to write. I thought I'd write about life and everything I still don't know about it or haven't experienced. I started to write about the shame I feel not having been in a long term relationship. Let my weepy heart weep! But it was like trying to force yourself to cry when the tears just aren't there. The shame just wasn't there, wasn't prevalent. What was prevalent? Eagerness. That's what I feel most. An incredible eagerness for life, for what's to come, and a gladness for what's been. Life astounds me. The process. How delicate and hardy it is. I'm astounded by all the things I'll never know. But hey, here's a start. 
_________________________________

I know what’s it’s like. 

I know what it’s like to be young.
To win a gold medal. To pee in my pants. Ride a horse. Pee in my pants while riding a horse. Get lice. Break an arm. Ride a bike. Do a handstand. Climb a tree. Make a fool of myself. Be loved. Be cherished. Feel grace. Feel wonder.

I know what it’s like to have great friends. To have blood sisters. To bind myself in absolute and fret going off to college in ten years time. 
I know what it’s like to fight. To forgive. To move on.

I know what it’s like to forge a new path.
To leave family, to move away from friends, to walk down damp new streets.
I know what it’s like to be brave.

I know what it’s like to explore. 
To feel the splash of the sea salt on an early morning beneath soaring cliffs and squawking fruit bats. To dive in the calm. The slow inhale and exhale of bubbles. 
I know what it’s like to get lost in a city eat strange fruits dance until the sun comes up jump a flaming rope swim in hot rivers hold a sloth sky dive over mountains smell a volcano pluck leeches from my ankles stare at the stars sleep among the shrieks of hyenas, among lions, among elephants. 

I know the cold of a buss station floor in the dead of night. The stench. 
I know what it’s like to be threatened. To be mugged. 
I know what it’s like to be scared.

I know what its like to grow older and feel younger. To throw a party. To eat cake.
To write a poem cry into a book to love to envy to kiss to miss for far too long. To be alone. To be embraced.

I know what it’s like to be alive and to slowly awaken. To unravel. 

To marvel at the wondrous adventure.





Saturday, September 19, 2015

Residue


via alexandravalenti.com

“It was him. It didn’t look like him. He wore a different face. But I knew it was him.” 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Sara wrinkles her face in disgust.
“My dream, Sara, he was in my dream again” I sigh. I thought she would understand. 

I had dreamt about him again, though it was the first time in months. After the split he’d haunted me. Filling my head each night as an thick shadow, whispering to me, tapping on the inside of my skull, demanding my attention. 
Leave me alone!  Tap, Tap. Let me sleep! Tap!
But he never would. 

Months later, I couldn’t believe I still wasn’t over him. His touch was on everything here. T-shirts hiding in the corners of my closet still carried his smell. Constant reminders invaded my day. His name was too common, I felt a pang every time someone said it, or when I walked by a house he once said he liked, or condoms. I opened a drawer searching for a pair of socks when saw the shiny foiled packet. A flood of chemicals flushed the lining of my stomach, and he was back, teasing me with his absence. 

“Look girl. He wasn’t good enough for you anyway. He didn't fit in with us.” I could never find comfort in Sara’s words of condolement. 

Doesn’t fit in with us?
I look at myself in the mirror. Grey t-shirt. Grey cotton shorts. Hair in a wild bun atop my head. I’m just a girl. I’m anyone. 

But Sara hit a partial truth. He never was at home in my world. We’d sit at dinner with a group of friends, my friends, sipping wine and he would nod his head, obviously bored. With the pretension of them all, he’d later explain. 

“Why do you have to be so judgmental?” We bickered constantly. From the front seat of his car he’d slip insults from the corner of his mouth. I’d break from my sally-sweetheart routine and reach out my hands to strangle the words in his throat. Somehow we’d always end up kissing until the air left our lungs. 
Toxic, they said.
...

When darkness falls, reason loses its footing and I hear his tap.
I miss you, I whisper back to his shadow. Night after night, I miss you. 
And night after night I’d fall asleep to the sound of the abyss taking up residence on his side of the mattress. 


One May morning, the light broke through. 

Rays filtered through the yellowing glass of the window pane, stroking my face back into consciousness. 
He had been there last night, walking around in the tunnels of my dream state. I realize he hadn't visited for weeks. 

My dreams had been traveling elsewhere. His shadow, now a wisp. 

I close my eyes and try to focus on his face. But it isn’t there. The edges of his jaw and lips are fuzzy and I can’t make out the blue of his eyes. 
It was the first morning I woke up not wanting him.

I look over at myself in the mirror by the bed. Same grey t-shirt, same anyone girl. I close my eyes again, and my sockets fill with vapors. Faceless, I feel what I am. Layered and powerful. 

As the wound dries, within it something immense grows. It quiets the tapping.

The last traces of him all but evaporated. I look around the room for his fingerprints.
A film of him on my wine glass, between my sheets, or atop my desk where he’d sit write me songs? They’d forgotten his touch. 
The months had slowly rubbed away at his stubborn residue. 
The morning made me think of the first time I wore glasses. The world I had known was vibrant and beautiful, but through the lenses the crisp of the leaves reached out to me, and nature shone with new definition. 

He was like poor eyesight. You don’t realize how blurry things are until you put glasses on.

...

I enter the living room and Sara glances up from her magazine. “You’re looking great today, girl!” 

I’ve heard that loves remains. 

Once the traces of him finally faded, his stubborn residue removed, what was I left with?

Memories warp. They thin. They dim. His became cast in a rosy glow. The fights, once appalling, breathed romance and nostalgia. The way he held my hand in the dark. The way he whispered to me with thick breathe, and I could feel the smile in his words.

I’ll never be completely clean. But as I cross the room, it’s not the residue of him I carry. It’s the love that etched itself onto the soles of my shoes. 


It’s the residue of love that remains.

*[fictional]

Monday, September 14, 2015

Glamtrepreneur


Brooke Shields via Elle.com

Yesterday I spoke in front of about 25 young girls (4th-5th grade) about being an entrepreneur, or glamtrepreneur if you will. The event was given this special word to snazzy up bland business talk.
Upon being asking to talk, I immediately said yes. I was totally psyched to talk to these girls. It was fun imagining myself as a dazzling and successful entrepreneur, even if it was just in my head. But as the speaking date drew closer, I realized I needed to come up with something worthwhile to say…
“Just tell your story,” the organizer advised me. Well the truth is, that was exactly the problem. My story is just getting started…
However, after rolling it around in my head a bit, I decided I’d share a few basic principles for living confidently that will help anyone’s ideas to take root and thrive. 

Here are the three nuggets of wisdom I offered the girls: 

    1. Be brave. Or better yet, Be Fearless!
    I know that looking back on my life in 5 years, I want to feel proud of myself. I want to be able to say, Hey girl, you tried something! The possibility of failure is always looming, but failure is merely the word we give to very valuable feedback. It tells us what works and what to change. Failure is never a Stop sign, but rather a road map. 

    BONUS: Two tricks for being fearless and feeling more confident: 

    1. Self talk 
    When I am feeling unsure, or when that little voice in my head starts to chime in and say, you won’t be able to do that. People won’t support you in that. Who are you to do something like that? I quiet it with deliberate self talk. You can look in a mirror or you can close your eyes, but ALL of you should be talking to yourselves more often! Just say “Hey. You got this.” or “Kaley, be fearless!” Three simple words put the pep back in my step. Because honestly, that tiny voice that tries to test your confidence? He’s not really helping anybody. 

    2. Power posturing
    This one is weird and awesome. Have you ever heard of power posturing? It’s very simple, and VERY powerful. It works like this: When you stand in a power pose (hands on hips, chest puffed out, or arms to the sky) for two minutes, the cortisol levels in your body drop and your testosterone levels rise, making you physically feel more powerful and confident. It’s an amazingly simple way to trick your brain that works on a physical level! Let’s try it! 

    2.  “Go for it” or “Fake it till you make it” 
                  This is one of the reasons I am here. Oh, you don’t feel like a successful entrepreneur, Kaley? Well fake it till you make it, woman. Stand in front of those girls with all the confidence of a glamtreprenuer and magic will happen. (Here again, utilizing self talk!)
    You CANNOT create anything in your life if you don’t have the thought and the vision for it first. Harness your vision and your desires by acting as though they have already come to fruition. You’re not crazy, you’re creating. 

    Don’t underestimate the power of faking it.

    3. Educate yourself! 
                  You don’t know how to run a successful digital marketing campaign? Doesn't matter. (Fake it till you make it!) Don’t ever let the “not-knowing” hold you back. 

    Really, there’s no excuse: 

  • The resources out there are endless - educate yourself! Read books or articles, read blogs, watch videos…. Take the initiative to learn what you want to learn and empower yourself with that knowledge.
  • Most importantly, you can talk to people. Talk to people that have done what you are trying to do, or that do parts of what your are trying to do. You’ll be surprised by how willing people are to help you out. There are brilliant people all around Austin, brimming with knowledge. Ask for meetings with them. Sit down for a chat. Listen. Allow yourself to learn through their experience. It’s never a waste of time to hear someone else’s experiences and make connections with smart people.


Solid advice right?

I truly thought this was revelatory information. These girls lives would be changed! But as I spoke, I watched the girls eat happy meals and color posters with magazine clippings of dogs or high heels pasted all over it. They couldn’t care less that I was standing up in front of them. Granted, the power-posturing practice seemed to be a fun break from their oreos and markers, but in all honesty, they didn’t relate to anything I was saying. 


I went in assuming they needed to learn how to be confident, how to overcome roadblocks and thrive in the world as young inexperienced women. In hindsight, I think all they really need is the chance to figure all of this out on their own. To have exposure to the world and learn from their own pitfalls. How many 10 years olds already have a business vision? Very few. And this is probably how it should be. Let them live, let them grow, show them all that’s possible and when the time comes, they’ll be the ones that end up teaching us a thing or two.