Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Do You Have a Sister?

If you do, then you'll understand.  If you don't, I feel so sorry for you.  I may or may not have sobbed my eyes out at the last scene of the movie Warrior with Tom Hardy.  And it is approximately the fifteenth time I've watched it.  There is a moment in that movie, a significant, and important moment, when a man holds onto his brother, in a choke-hold, and tells him that he loves him, that it is ok, that he can let go.  And his brother, Tommy, taps out, gives in, and accepts the love and peace offered from his brother.  I don't care that I'm spoiling the movie for those of you that haven't seen it.  The message offered strikes so close to home that I wonder if it was written just for me, just for me and my sister, just for me, my sister, and my brother.

The love and understanding that I have for my sister is epic, it is historic, it is something that will never be diminished - only strengthened.

She knows what has happened.  She held my hand through the darkest of hours.  She knows all of my secrets, my confessions, my joys and my plummets into hell.  She has been there for me. She has held me fast.

She had never judged, she has never faltered.  She is always there with wisdom, she is always there with a sound mind, a sober countenance, a reasonable solution to any problem that I may ever encounter.  She is younger, but she is wiser.  She had done more, experienced more, said and done and felt and seen more.  She is my sister.  She is my best friend.  She is my conscience and my better judgement.  She is what no one will ever understand.  She infuriates me.  But she inspires me too.

She will always be there.  She will always have my back.  She will continue to be in my corner and get what no one else can.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Why We Write

Write what is true.  

Write so you may be clear.  

Write concisely and without frills.  Write so that you may be understood.  Write to make an impact.  Write to make them wonder.   

Write so that you may be happy.  Write so that you may maintain your sanity as well as that little part of you that is crazy for believing this can be done.

Write so that others may still feel connected to you.  Write so that you can feel like you might not someday be forgotten.

Write so you can still feel brave and vulnerable all at the same time.  Writing the truth is the scariest thing of all.  Writing the truth is giving song to your soul – it makes the unknown known, the secrets public, the quiet confessions public record. 

Write so that you are fearful you’ve written too much, and worry about it all day.  But know that writing it out may help, and it may help more than just you.

Write so that you have somewhere to let it all out.  Write so that you can say that you too are part of a creative family.  Write so that you make yourself proud. 

Write so that you may be scared of the right things.

Write so that you may no longer feel irrational fear.

Write so that you are comforted.

Write the words that only you can tell yourself.  Write the words you don’t want to hear. 

Write it all.  Write the pain.  Write the triumphs.  Write the wrongs and write the rights.  Write when there is nothing to say.  Write when there is too much, too, too much.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Write hard and clear about what hurts

Write hard and clear about what hurts. – Ernest Hemingway.

It hurts to be alone.  It hurts to be rejected.  It hurts to be told just how great you are, how brilliant you are, how pretty you are, and to go home alone.  It hurts to be here, in this place, alone. 

It hurts to be told you’re not good enough, you’re not going to make it, you’re not good enough to introduce to other people, to tell other people about, to ask to stand next to in the hard times the fun times the whatever times.   

It hurts.

It hurts to not be enough.

It hurts to try and try and try and be and be and be myself and what others’ want and what my family wants and what my bosses want and what the world wants.  It hurts to try that hard.

It hurts to try and be what I want to be.  It hurts to fulfill the expectation of who I want to be.   It hurts to wake up every. god. damn. day. and not be who and where and what I want to be.  It hurts to be so fucking disappointing.

It hurts to try so hard.  It hurts to succeed and it hurts when no one is there to see it.  It hurts to do what I had to learn to do by myself.  It hurts to not get any credit for it.  It hurts to try and tell strangers who don’t care what you just did.  It hurts to tell people sitting at my bar just how proud I was that I worked out that hard or that I started a new project or I got promoted but shhh don’t tell anyone yet because it isn’t happening yet and it isn’t that big of a deal anyway that you probably shouldn’t brag about it.  

It hurts.

It hurts to not get what I want who I want when I want it.  I want it all.  I want this life.  I want what it has to offer.  I want to take advantage.  I want to consider myself brave.  I want to risk it all.  I want to be hurt and not always the one that is hurting.  I want to be broken.  I want to be fragile.  It hurts to be so strong and separate.  It hurts to feel so much without anyone else around.  It hurts that I feel so alone.  It hurts to be in this place.

Soft Light

Today I am yearning for an empty space - my own empty room. 

I am wishing that I didn't have so many things even though in truth and comparatively, I don't have that many at all.  I wish for cool and worn wooden floors.  I wish for a white-painted radiator that blends into the white-washed walls.  I wish for sheer curtains and soft sunlight coming in through the windows that reach almost to the floor.  I want a simple brass bed messily covered in muslin linens.

I hope for the time the stretches on, for the life that does not demand my time.  I want the time to read books.  I want the time to write them.  I want to cancel all of my plans.  I want to break all of my promises.  I want to abandon my few things and start over somewhere.  I dream of shunning all obligations and lust after the glorious selfishness of doing what I want when I want to do it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Big Tent Revival

The blue-Christmas light glow of the moon shot him back to the memory of his childhood.  The warm smell of the wet grass and the humid air and the chirping of the locusts.  It reminded him of the big tent revivals he sat through for nearly a decade deep in the heart of Mississippi, revivals full of hell fire, brimstone, "amen's" and "praise Jesus's."

And then the light as he walked towards his car after his third board meeting of the day was the same, the reflection of the moon came down blue making the shadows of the parked cars look like they were glowing.  It was the same blue of the parking lot lights of his grandmother's church glaring through the billowy white folds of the tent, strung up and held high for ten days during the hottest part of July.

When he was young enough for his mother to tell him what to wear, he would sit there, in his starched white collared shirt and pray for nothing more than a breeze.  He tried to think about all of the bad things he had done: pinching his sister, stealing a cookie from his grandmother's jar of Oreo's meant only for his grandfather, or that morning when he had rushed a group of ducks in the pond between his house and their neighbors.  But instead of forgiveness, the only thing that he could think to ask God for was a bit of cool air, some relief from the suffocating heat that seemed to be trapped all around him under that vast tent.

He remembered looking up to the pulpit, watching the preacher sweat through his shirt, the rivers of damp expanding wide on either side of his suspenders.  He couldn't feel any breeze inside of the tent but would sometimes catch constant a beating pulse, hot as the air surrounding him.  It was the church ladies' fans, each with a new scripture printed and handed out every night.  In their hats and white gloves and moist wool dresses, they feverishly pumped the sticky scriptures back and forth in front of their faces so fast it caused the tent to look as if it were inhaling and exhaling, in and out, in and out, the feverish the panting of a hound in heat.

Sometimes the women fainted, the warbling of their high-pitched voices calling out "Oh Jesus!" as they slumped over and down onto their neighbor before dropping onto the flattened grass beneath them.  He knows now that it was the heat, the suffocation of the too-many bodies and the dehydration and the humidity.  But then in that tent in that heat in his ten-year-old mind, he felt the presence of God, moving around like vapor, like a more tangible ghost that touched and swelled and squeezed the hearts of the congregation.  He felt the squeeze in his own small heart when he remembered the Spirit.  He had been taught that it lives in all of them, even in him, even in his sister.  And whenever he thought about the Spirit, that presence that had to be invited in and could never leave, he would feel his heart constrict, tighten, his already quick breathing become even quicker.  He imagined a tiny person in his chest, a small bearded man that would grab onto him and hug and squeeze and flex his tiny muscles around his tiny pumping heart.

It had been a long time since he felt a squeeze on his heart.  He came back to himself, there, walking through the parking lot.  He didn't want to get into his car yet, to be greeted with the reminder to buy gas, listening to the synthesized songs on the radio whose singers voices weren't even their own and their "music" was created by a computer.  He leaned against the car door, remaining there, in that intoxicating nostalgia, that thick as mud memory of his years fearing preachers and Satan and worldly ways, he could avoid thinking about his present, his current distractions, his own adult problems.  He wished he could return to a time when the worst thing he had to endure was a suffocating heat for three hours with the promise of pecan pie and Cool Whip on a paper plate, kicking his feet as he swung on his grandparents' porch, smiling wide in gratitude for the breeze that God gave him as he moved back and forth, back and forth, back and forth on their swing.