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poem of the past.

Yesterday I got an instant message from an old friend.
Not really a friend, but one I did pretend-
That helped me breathe in times of thick
And made me well when I was sick.
That winter so cold it was hot with lies,
Imagined hateful looks from his big brown eyes.
And so there I sat yesterday in my chair,
Reading words near impossible to bear.
“Hello” “It’s been an awful long time”
Not long enough to forget your crime.
Cleaning up the mess your friend made,
Never admitting why he didn’t with me stay.
So I replied with the only words I knew how
“Hello” “It has been about a year now,
since we last spoke I suppose,”
And careful not to let my tears flow;
I continued my friendly banter for hours
And tried to forget the Sedona flowers.
The skies, the mountains, the pebbles and trees
The sight of perfection as I ever I did see
When we looked out into the valley
And the red brick trail that carried our sally.
As my thoughts of the past left me taunted
I recalled my current love who I very much wanted.
And breathed a big sigh, it’s all in the past,
Love that surreal is never meant to last.

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Indeed it is

It is a waste alright. I, too, have been begged to keep writing.

There is an analogy that Steven Covey likes to use. No, I don’t typically quote Steven Covey, but this is particularly apropos. You have a vase, three big rocks, and a bunch of pebbles. If you put all the pebbles in, and then add the rocks, they won’t all fit. If you add the rocks first, and then pour the pebbles in around them, everything just fits. The big rocks are supposed to be your highest priorities, while the pebbles are all the “little junk” that tends to take up your time.

My husband just described an op-ed piece he’d read, in which the writer used the analogy of an oxygen mask. You put on your own first, and then your child’s. It makes sense, right? If you pass out while putting a mask on your kid, you aren’t around to put on your own.

I used to believe this line of reasoning – so much so that I went around lecturing other working women about them. “How can you be a good mom if you’re sick?” etc. etc.

Now, in this and in so many other things, I am eating my own words. There are so many things I didn’t understand… and still don’t. My job is to advise people all day long, and yet I think back on all the advice I’ve given in my personal life and realize that it was all arrogance borne of inexperience.

I do have three big rocks and a bunch of pebbles. The big rocks? My husband, my daughter, my job. No room for four big rocks, or more. What I have done to ensure that I fit in the vase, along with my friends, is to shave little bits off of the three big rocks, make a pebble for myself and one for all of my friends put together, and stick these two pebbles into tiny gaps. What does it mean? Every second I spend reading, or writing, or soaking in the bath, or doing yoga, or daydreaming, or chatting with friends… is stolen time. I have about six months worth of blog posts rattling around in my head right now. I’ve jotted down names of concepts on a few sheets of paper (even that was stolen – I wrote it all down during a meeting at work – shhh…), but I know that most of them will be empty words to me by the time I get to them. There’s a whole book in my head – one I’d enjoy reading, I might add – dormant. And, of course, the vast majority of my little pebble of time is spent making up for lost time sleeping, which is oh-so-productive for all of the things I actually want to do. Because, not only do I have a ton of creative endeavors I want to pursue, I have a chronic stupid pain disorder that sucks the life out of me and makes me dull and foggy in the head.

I don’t begrudge them this time, exactly. But it catches up with you, you know? All those ideas start shoving around looking for room, like all the souls in John Malcovich’s head, and you can’t think. The time I’ve carved out for friends helps; a little frivolity that keeps me plugged into the rest of the world.

I’ve talked to other working moms about this. Not only is this normal, it’s expected. No working moms are anything but tired. We do our best not to come across as resentful, but our every complaint on our own behalf is met with either, “well, you asked for it,” or “just quit your job like a real mom would, then!” or “what did you expect?” or “how selfish can you be?” or “ooh, but isn’t it worth it?” It is, you know, worth it. That doesn’t make me any less tired, or make me have any less longing for a few creative hours now and again.

And last, but not least…. blogging is met with the oddest sorts of animosity. There are those in the workplace, upon hearing that I have or participate in a blog, who have said, “Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of time?” With a wry, disdainful look, I might add. Yet I told the same person, months ago of course, that I tried to write something on most days, and she said, “Oh, you have a journal? How wonderful!” Give. me. a. break.

Others understand that a blog is a public journal, but they think the term “Journal” means an academic publication. Therefore, a blog post must be grammatically correct, spelled entirely perfectly, and contribute something unique to human knowledge. It’s my own personal musings. I’m just honoring you with the trust to let you read them. I’m not a) fishing for somebody to send me a consolation note, b) trying to contribute something unique to human knowledge, or c) (yes I got this directly once) wallowing. What I am doing is telling you (with stolen moments that often deprive me of editing-time) the way I see it, right now, today. I don’t want you to worry. I just want you to think, “Gosh, yeah, I’ve felt like that” or “Wow, I’ve never thought about it that way.” Or any other number of thing one might think when presented with something to which they really relate, or really don’t.

How wasteful

People have been asking…no begging…no nagging me to update my blogs. 3women was created for the sole purpose of developing a creative blog, and well, when one of the authors doesn’t feel very creative, the blog suffers.

It’s like having a palette of greys, whites, and blacks when all you want are rich reds, bright yellows, and sultry blues. And then, finding the will to paint, the will to sit down and paint, write, create is near excruciating. It’s embarrassing as talented as I suppose I am and as educated and privileged as I am that I sit here with severe writer’s block, slowly slipping into the worst kinds of sorrows, anxieties and fears.

Look at the world around us. Take a good look. Wars. Famon. Poverty. Hate. Murder suicides over unpaid bills. Uncertain economy. Dow Jones. Rent is due. Massive layoffs. Obesity. Early retirements. Angry emails. Lethargic bodies lying on couches watching the world go by. Lack there of’s.Career changes. Cold weather.

Nothing’s really that funny or worth writing about. Revisiting my past with creativity seems ridiculous when I can barely find reason to live in this moment. I know I’m a bit dreary and negative, but aren’t we all lately?

I promise to write more. I hope my two other women will too. Let’s just get this shit out, even if no one reads it.

Lost Time

This past month has been lost time. Time spent reading the Twilight series, hanging on Alan’s couch, restless sleep, drinking beer and most of all revaluating the “big picture”. Who am I and what am I doing here kind of shit.

The 9-5 wasn’t working for me anyway. I’d scratch my head at the obvious questions they’d ask me and wonder how they got where they are today. I saw myself 5 years down the road, unhappy, vapid, worrying about fax machines and conference calls instead of how to finish the chapter in my novel or what kind of wine would go best with my dinner party in a new home. There’s nothing more heartbreaking then leading a life I’d never really want to live.

So, I’m back on the hunt, searching for who I really am and lucky to have some companions helping me along the way. The silence on my end is embarrassing – I should be writing more but instead I have been busy with errands, laundry, applications and figuring out how this whole “career” thing is supposed to work. I miss my mom and my dad. I’m drinking beer instead of tea before bed some nights. My jeans are hating me again and I don’t blame them.

Hopefully Decemeber will pan out to be a better month than November or even October for that matter. Sometimes I wish I were a 1950’s housewife who secretly wrote a great novel in her husband’s home office while he was busy at work. The kids would be playing or watching the TV in the next room, the laundry tumbling in the machines, and I with frenzied hand would write as much as I could before it was time to drop the kids off at dance class or to a playdate.

But I live in 2008 nearing 2009 and I don’t have a husband or kids or laundry that tumbles in the background. I have a one bedroom apartment, laundry on the floor and a strange habit of saying I’m a writer when I barely do these days.

Jabbering Job

I’m serenaded by the sound of middle-aged chitter-chatter as I sit here at my desk alone. I quickly gaze over at my little sign hidden on my desk of Norman Rockwell’s “Gossip” and smile. I’m the social outcast. Not because I don’t fit in or because I’m unfriendly by any means, but simply because of a personal choice.

 

The work day beings for me at 6:00 AM when I am jolted awake either by my alarm clock or my boyfriend calling to wish me a good morning. I drag myself into the bathroom and pluck my toothbrush into my mouth while staring at my half-awake appearance in the mirror. It is in this meditative state that I always forget how cold the shower actually is in the morning. After much time spent stressing over a wardrobe that is at least 2 sizes too big, I speed through my morning girly rituals only to glance at the clock and realize that I’ve let an hour spin by and I’m running late. Again. My morning drive is always cold, after all I do live in Oregon, and sometimes rainy. I have at least 3 umbrellas stocked away in my car somewhere. After driving an hour, on a drive that should only take 20 minutes, I usually use one of them in a sad attempt to keep myself dry while walking the 3 blocks from my parking garage to my office. By the time I swagger into the office; cold, wet and still asleep…I find myself relatively grumpy…and greeted by the same sound of cackles and exclamations from the office gossip.

 

Every morning it is the same thing. Day after day…the continual chatter about nonsense.

 

I’m one of those people who always makes and effort to complete their hardest work first thing in the morning. I’ve found that the large majority of today’s working women do nothing for the first several hours of their work day but gossip, get coffee, gossip some more and shop online. It is all really necessary I ponder? What is the purpose of knowing the life stories and all the drama of people in the building that you hardly ever see? I don’t care what my coworkers did over the weekend. Why do they feel the need to go into details every morning about the night before? They can sit for hours and discuss the sale going on at Nordstrom’s. I personally don’t care how much weight the receptionist in the office above us has gained. There is no interest sparked within me to hear about their child’s friend’s mother’s affair. What is the point of all this I ask? I’m just here to accomplish the task that I’m getting paid for…and that is to provide quality work for my employer.

 

About 6 months ago I had an epiphany about all this and while I might be totally off base I thought I’d share my concept. I feel that when you gossip at work, you are technically “stealing time” away from your employer. I’m not perfect as I’ll admit that I blog at work, surf my forums and play around on Facebook…but then again I’m at my desk and if someone walks in it appears that I’m working hard on something. To add to that, I never do these things when there is work that needs to be done. The chatter here occurs mostly in the morning and continues in spurts throughout the day. I don’t understand how anyone can accomplish anything with that sporadic of a work schedule.

 

Maybe I’m just a Negative Nancy to my officemates and have painted myself as a social outcast by continuously choosing to refrain from their pointless conversations. On the flipside however, I am my boss’s obvious favorite and hold her trust, which is difficult to earn. I am offered more opportunities than my coworkers and trusted with projects of the highest confidential nature. I can only hope that this is a direct correlation with my dedication to my job and my choice to refrain from “girl talk” in the office.

 

I guess what I’m trying to illustrate here, is some simple advice to ladies everywhere; and that is to remember that even while it is fun to talk with the girls and gossip it is also unproductive and not what you were hired to accomplish. Respect your gender by not living up to the stereotype. Be productive. Be proud. Be silent. Good things will come to you.

Creativity

When I was very small… probably no more than 3-1/2 or 4… I loved to listen to my mom playing Fur Elise and Gertrude’s Dream Waltz. I wanted to play the piano, not because she wanted me to, but because I wanted to play those songs like her. I learned them, probably at about 10-12, and they’re the only two pieces I still know how to play. I sight-read OK, so I can play other tunes, but those two are the ones I can remember. I never mastered Fur Elise; my rendition is pretty lame, but it satisfies me and reminds me of the comfort of being near Mom.

Sitting at the piano frightens me. Learning new pieces frustrates me, and I’ve always played tentatively. I dream that I sit at ease, playing with real skill and enthusiasm.

When I was in junior high, I took up playing the flute. It was never easy. I fought the thing, just like I fought the piano. I learned a lot of difficult pieces and made it to the top of my high school band. And it was never, once, easy. I found it most difficult to play with a piano accompaniment. My favorite piece to play, a solo I learned that had no accompaniment, is the only piece I still can play. It requires some “testing the waters” and reading of music, but I can do it if I try.

The flute tried my patience. I dream that I play clearly and effortlessly, eyes closed, taking pleasure in the flow of breath and resonance in the hands.

I took a drawing class when I was in elementary school. I learned to draw faces – rather two-dimensional ones, but still faces. Later, in 5th grade, I learned to draw more-or-less realistic (though, again, two-dimensional) trees. I won a poster contest with one of my trees in 6th grade. I can draw OK from something stationary – a doll, a hand, a bowl. But from my mind’s eye, all I can draw is a tree.

The stark contrast between the image in my mind and the one put on paper angers me. I dream of creating this idea, that nightmare, another idea, in vibrant color and clarity, for all the world to see.

I can hear… I can see… the way I want things to come out. And the end-product is a shabby copy of what’s inside.

Sorrow

Sorrow is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s there with you in the morning, like messy hair and stale breath- it’s just there. Other times it suddenly comes upon you like a sneeze or a muscle cramp. It’s a reminder that you are human, susceptible to life’s complexities and pain.

There are some periods when sorrow will linger- a chronic feeling that sometimes gets better after spending time in the sunlight; sometimes gets worse after finding an old photo or hearing an old message on the machine.

It is not a scratch that can be buffed out but rather a stain that will always discolor part of the soul.

I am the sorrowful. I am the lingering sad that hovers even on OK days. I am the sudden urge, the sudden loss of breath when pain becomes too unbearable. I have the ability to go to bed smiling and wake in such anguish, tortured by horrifying dreams.

It is as real as anything: leaves on a tree, wind on my face- sorrow is real. It is no trend or fashion. It is a very part of who I am and the side effects of that sorrow lead to the fears, the lazy, the wall between publishing and living alone with notebooks of writings and unfinished canvases stacked high.

I am the sorrowful.