Choose the Wolf.

The dialogue in New Moon when Bella tells Jacob, “I’m not like a car you can fix. I’m never going to run right.”

Every woman has felt that/thought that/said that.

Especially when presented with a choice in partner who is the antithesis to a former abusive partner. A partner who is kind, generous, unassuming. Who doesn’t raise his voice or play mind games. A partner who seems to genuinely listen. Who laughs at her jokes and remembers the name of her favorite movie and brings her flowers for no reason.

No reason. But there has to be a reason.

She searches his romantic gestures for explanation because she’s never had love without lies, without strings, without a catch.

Being face to face with a person who is solid, who is good, it’s startling. It is uncharted territory. It’s for someone else, because someone that great could not truly love someone like us. Suddenly we see with clarity just how dysfunctional our previous partnerships were.

In the movie, Bella chooses Edward. Edward, who crushed her spirit, who left her in pieces on the floor.

It was Jacob who healed her, who brought life back to her empty shell of a body, who pointed her towards the sun on the grayest of days. When she called to him, he came. Always. He was faithful and loyal and true.

She chose to spend her (eternal) life with a man who broke her.

Why am I writing about this? Because it’s on tv right now and I just watched Bella say those words to Jacob and it struck me how similar this is to real life. I’m annoyed by the romanticized abuse, the willful walk towards pain, narcissism, sadness.

So many women (men, too, I suppose) choose the love they think they deserve instead of the one the actually DO deserve – the one that will allow them to become their best selves alongside a partner who nurtures and encourages them.

I want to say to everyone reading this: You deserve a Jacob. Someone warm and understanding who treats you like the treasure you are. Do not settle for an Edward just because he’s pretty or it hurts to let him go. Better it hurt once, for now, than every day, for the rest of your life.

Given a choice between a vampire and a werewolf, always choose the wolf.

Echo

Sending little notes

Emotional bread crumbs

Into the ether

Straining eyes and ears

For the slightest response

As if a ghost –

A vapor –

Might take the bait

And, hearing my words,

Whisper them back.

Goodnight

I want to die an old woman

Smirking in her sleep

Dreaming about all the rules I broke

All the hearts, too.

I want to have been several women

By then,

Having lived myriad lives

The thought of dying only saddens me

When I think

Of disappointing myself.

Weep Not for the Memories

Driving today with my elder son in the back seat, a Sarah McLachlan song came on the radio.  I smiled and sang along.

I will remember you/Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by/Weep not for the memories.

There’s a surface meaning to the song, as with any song, and at first I was only thinking surface thoughts.  Swiftly transported to a simpler time in my life – high school and early college days – when love was messy and dramatic and fascinating and painful and I wanted every part of it.  I also thought about my brother, (who is probably Sarah McLachlan’s number one fan), because he used to burn me CDs and make me notes on what to listen for.  He’s an audiophile, I can’t hear the things he does, but I still loved getting CDs from him, and I listened to them dutifully and repeatedly.

As the song went on I started thinking about the lyrics having a deeper and more profound context. I imagined a conversation with my Grandaddy Curtis. He’s been on my mind the past few days.  I see him standing in front of me, smiling.  He was always smiling.

“I will remember you”, I say.  “Will you remember me?” He nods at me silently. It’s like a verbal handshake – a pact – we make.  “Weep not for the memories,” I say to myself.  I miss him, but I am not sad.  I have been loved more earnestly and well than some people will ever dream, and I can only be grateful for it. Sarah kept singing:

You gave me everything you had, you gave me light.

I leave the imaginary scene and focus my attention on the road ahead.  The sky looks a shade or two grayer than it did this morning.  I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.  So in my imagination, Grandaddy and I made a deal to keep the other alive, through love and conversation.

You know that age old question – “If a tree falls in the woods…”?  Well, let me put it to you another way.  If a person exists – if a human life is lived – and there is no one to bear witness – is it truly lived?  What proof is there to point to that person, what certainty can we have about them?  I suppose the answer depends on how much you think existence has to do with things like community, connection, love, family, and legacy.

Isn’t that what every person wants?  To be remembered?  To have mattered?

Existential crises are a part of the Human Condition.  We all, whether we realize it or not, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, yearn to matter.   I believe with all my heart that this is why we are driven to create.  Most of us (maybe all of us), usually from a young age, feel a compulsion to make.  Writers, painters, singers, dancers, even people who create in different ways, like businessmen and inventors, all respond to the familiar call to make something of their lives – and by extension, of themselves, of their time here.

To be honest I think this is (at least in part) why some of us have children.  We want to leave behind something of significance, and we want someone to bear witness to our lives. We want some assurance that the stories we grew up with – the recipes, the traditions, the places and people we love, even the dimples passed down on our father’s side – don’t cease to exist when we are laid to rest in the damp, dark earth.  We hope that the generation we raise will be better than us, we hope they aspire to greater heights, we pray they will work as hard as we have to make some kind of mark on the world, to give their contribution to the collective.

We want it all to mean something.

It’s futile.  It’s absurd.  It’s romantic and brave.

And isn’t it a lot like writing a manifesto in the sand?  We toil and sweat and bleed and give of ourselves, mining the depths of our hearts to produce something raw and true and worthy.   The tides of time will likely wash it all away eventually.  We know.  In the back of our minds, we have always known. Yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

Stranger still, there is inherent value in the markings left on the beach, even if they aren’t seen or acknowledged on a global scale and even if they only last a fraction of a second.  Ironically, the value isn’t as much in the words as it is in heart and motivation of the person desperately scrawling them; not as much in the thing created as in the creating.

Sounds like one big, terrific, cosmic joke.

Perhaps the punchline is this: Love is what lasts.  Love is what transcends. Only love.  Real love is eternal.  It exists here and it exists in the after, and it is the only thing that does.  So really, all this creating is nonsense, and all our sleepless nights and working lunches and grand projects are useless, except for the loving.  Who we love, how well we love them, whether and how we express it, where we allow it to take us, how much of that love we pour into others and into the universe is what bleeds over into the cosmos and echoes in the night sky after we are gone.

I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.

I will remember you.  Will you remember me?

 

 

 

 

p e r s p e c t i v e

When you’re sitting down there on the floor, all cried out and delirious, eyes red and swollen, flicking the lamp switch back and forth, mascara smudged all over your face and you just can’t see that it doesn’t matter if he has her or she has him…

You can’t see because right now you’re just deep in it, you’re thinking about boiling bunnies and you are still turning the goddamn lights on and off while blasting Madame Butterfly through the speakers and wearing his cologne because he shattered your heart…

You were Alex for him, a damn good Alex too, until he decided Alex wasn’t what he wanted and all the things that made you exciting and intriguing now make you a human land mine and he’s afraid of taking another step…

I want you to know that it doesn’t matter if he lied or broke your heart or used you or made you feel cheap, that he spat out beautiful bullshit with a Cheshire grin, it won’t matter after this momentary break or in any other instant after…

It won’t matter because you’re not Alex. Alex was never who you really are, only a part you played once, someone who fit his mold and expectations, who made him feel important, a woman who thrilled and intimidated him, a woman he callously dismissed and discarded…

It won’t matter because the truth is evident now, you can see it and taste it and feel it, that fire burning in your gut, that voice that tells you you’re stronger without him and you were made to handle tough things, the one that dares you to prove it to yourself…

It won’t matter because – plot twist – you’re Glenn Fucking Close and when this moment is over you’re going to stand up, put your pants on, take a long drag off a longer cigarette and go eat some over-seasoned salmon on the balcony of a hotel where the sheets cost more than most people’s dignity and you will never shed a tear over him again…

And that, my dear, is perspective.

Misdiagnosed- A Memory

This picture (below) was taken a little over a year ago at Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. We had taken Wy to our local ER and that visit quickly turned traumatic, as we were told he (95% likelihood) had leukemia.

Leukemia. Cancer. The ER doctor said words like “morbidity” and “prognosis”. I didn’t cry. I remember clearly that I, quite uncharacteristically, did not dissolve into a heap of tears. I was angry. Indignant. I came here expecting to hear he has the flu, and now you’re spouting life-expectancy statistics? I was mad. At who? I don’t know. Everyone?

It was close to midnight. I called my dad. We drove home, left our older son with family, packed a bag and traveled to Atlanta to be seen immediately (around 3 am) by an Oncologist. It was a quiet car ride. I texted my Doctor friend and my Mom (who is an RN) the entire time.

In my stomach I felt sure the doctor was wrong. I don’t know how, I just knew he was. Wyatt had fought through so much just to be born. Just to be our son. He can’t have gone through that kind of hell in order to live, just to die two years later. It wasn’t possible. I believed he was well. Sitting in the back seat of my father’s sedan, I felt an overwhelming peace. Wyatt was ok. My job was to be calm for him and to gather information, so that’s what I would do.

Still, it was a tough couple of days. Blood tests, screaming, scouring Google, waiting. Sitting in the Oncologist’s office a few days later we waited to find out the lab results. Wyatt gave in to his exhaustion and fell asleep on the palm of my hand. I was exhausted too. I started giggling. I think it was that nervous kind, like when you laugh at a funeral. None of us had really slept in days.

Thankfully, Wyatt was cleared as quickly as he had been diagnosed. We weren’t given much of an explanation, and frankly I didn’t care for one. I wasn’t mad at the ER doctor and I wasn’t upset at what my family had just been through.

I remember this string of days with enormous gratitude. So much gratitude, it probably seeped from my pores. My big little guy was healthy, and all was right with the world.

This whole fiasco is on my heart today as Wyatt has been very difficult this weekend. I am reminded of how much I cherish him, and how quickly things can change. I take a deep breath, regain composure, and hug him tight. I’ll take a temper tantrum over a night in the ER every day of the week.

Wyatt and his beloved Doggy

contrarywise

Sometimes time runs backwards

And sometimes beggars do choose

Sometimes silence is deafening

And sometimes to win is to lose.

Rainbows aren’t always colorful

Stars don’t always shine

Sometimes lies are the only truth

The sourest grapes make the sweetest wine.

Sometimes the day feels like night time,

And sometimes we sow what we reap

Sometimes the hymn is not sung in church

Sometimes the wolf is a sheep.

Sometimes insanity grounds us

And sometimes darkness is light

Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all

Our blindness allows us clear sight.

 

 

 

artist’s dilemma

it’s tough to write about things i don’t know about,

and i do it with some amount of humility

careful not to overstep or offend

which usually results in rubbish

it’s tougher to write about personal things,

but much more real, raw, accurate

which usually results in spectacular prose

not everything here is autobiographical

(except my disdain for uppercase, that’s all me)

writing a book right now – a novel – a fiction

it’s hilarious how much of it is drawn from real life

and how much of it is drawn from this other life,

one i’ve imagined a million times but never visited

and how authentic they both feel to me.

it’s not that one is real and one is imaginary

both are real, to me. both are me. both are.

i want to present a story that is gripping, heart-wrenching,

imaginative, amusing, compelling, magic.

to do that i have to tell my readers things i’ve never told anyone

admit to things, examine them, lay them bare

i’m mostly ok with that, except

judgement, of myself and of my work – that is myself

i think all writers feel this way, or at least

the good ones do.

Running Down a Dream

I’ve been visited by dead people before.  It’s pretty common for me.  When someone I love dies, they will visit me in a dream. We may chat, or have a picnic, or cry together.  It’s a sweet way to get closure, and I can always tell when a dream is not just a dream, but a visit.  I’m grateful for whatever part of me is open enough to let them through.  Sometimes other people’s loved ones come to me in dreams, too, and ask me to relay messages, which I do.  I know there are plenty of people out there who don’t believe in this sort of thing, to which I’ll now respond with my favorite Nicolas Cage quote (from City of Angels) – “Some things are true whether you believe in them or not.”

 

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This is my Sincere Face.

Last night, I had a dream that was a visitation.  It was about Tom Petty.  Yes, the celebrity/singer/songwriter/cowboy/Traveling Wilbury.  That one.   I have always felt a special connection to Tom’s music, since I was a kid I’ve loved his songs and identified with his lyrics. I was sad, as a lot of people were, to hear of his passing and disappointed that I’d never been to see him in concert.  It wasn’t something I dwelled on, though, and as life does, mine moved on.

So the last few nights I have had some strange and colorful dreams.  I attribute it to the full moon + partial lunar eclipse in Capricorn (don’t get me started on Capricorn).  Last night’s dream was colorful and lively, but different. If you’ve had visitations you know what I’m talking about.  It’s almost like lucid dreaming, in that you’re aware something is different and this moment should be cherished, you try to look around and remember things because you know it will be over soon and you don’t want it to be.  At the same time you’re trying to listen and pay attention to whatever wisdom the visitor is there to impart.

I won’t detail the whole dream, but I will say that the part that felt most important had to do with my boots (navy blue Doc Martens with a zipper on the heel) and his boots (unknown brand).  We compared boots.  Tom Petty gave me some tips on how to care for mine, and how to make the leather feel smooth and buttery like his.  (Yes, I felt Tom Petty’s boots, and yes, they were as soft and luxurious as you might imagine.)

The other important part had to do with him having daughters.  One a brunette, she had a little chubby-cheek face and a dress on and she was precocious and chatty.  I mark this as important because it wasn’t something I knew about him.  I didn’t know TP had children at all, and I had to look it up on the internet to confirm it.  Two daughters, according to Google, and according to Dream Tom.  That, for me, is a confirmation.

All of this has left me with a sincere curiosity, and a hope that maybe the great Tom Petty is one of my spirit guides.   He’s not the first person to visit me after passing, but he is one of the most interesting and I hope we get to chat again.

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Damn the Torpedoes. My guides are cooler than yours.

A couple important notes about dream visitations: Our loved ones, guides, anyone on that plane can take on any form.  My grandfather sometimes visits as the “him” I remember, and sometimes as his younger self.  Tom Petty went back and forth between young and old, seeming equally comfortable with all of his different human “selves”.  Also, visitations are not usually romantic in nature (unless the person was a romantic partner, and even then it’s not likely.)  If you dream about making out with Steve McQueen in the back of a limo it is probably a wish-fulfillment dream courtesy of your own subconscious, and not an actual visit.

No.

I have had my ass grabbed in meetings.

My breasts the subject of conference calls.

I have been shushed, interrupted, and disrespected.

Twice I have been assaulted.

Both were men I trusted.

And yes, my scars run deep and no, it’s no excuse.

It is, though, the truth.

So when a man I love tells me to trust him

I’m already a little bit wary

Stepping out on to the ledge, will you really carry

Me

Or will I fall again, break apart, hold my own heart?

What you can’t understand is how hard I’ve fought

Just to be treated as a person, an equal.

But we are not colleagues, roomies, friends.

There is no equal, that’s all just pretend.

We are simply beguiling predator and his hapless prey.

So please, stay away.

I can assemble my life without this kind of help.

Kindly walk yourself to the door and out

Keep your hands off my ass and

My name out of your mouth

And just

Leave.