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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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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.

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Goodbye Orange

First and foremost, there is glitter on my shirt and I have no idea where it came from. It’s driving me crazy!

 

The events of last week have been staggering and unfortunately have kept me from posting something profound on this blog. I apologize for that. Let me explain…

 

Oregon’s Capitol Building is old, very old, and was last renovated back in the 1970’s complete with the installation of the brightest burnt orange carpet one has ever seen. When you first start working in the building you become nauseated by the overwhelming color foul committed by the squares of dingy orange chasing you around the senate wing. After a few months of working in the building you have trained yourself to never look down and eventually after your year anniversary you are numb in sight from your ankles down. It is something that all senate employees have become accustomed to over the last 30 years.

 

Recently, budget funds allowed for a renovation of the wings (senate and house) which included removing every disgusting orange square of carpet and modernizing the look of Oregon’s most recognized building. Unfortunately my office, being in the main part of the building and not the wings, was not included for total remodel but at least we scored new carpet and hand-me-down office furniture to update our environment. Trust me, after two years of orange and old, I was thrilled.

 

My excitement was soon foiled as I am highly allergic to whatever substance is in carpet glue and between recovering from a cold and the constant exposure to a substance worse then phermeldahyde I’ve become the poster child for decongestant and Kleenex. In a sniffle-some process that took about a week my coworkers and I packed up our offices, cleaned, reorganized, plat mapped and watched as our little rooms transformed into the jewel of modernization. I’ve never been so happy to finally see the weekend roll around.

 

Over the weekend, however, a fire broke out in the office of a very influential member of Oregon government. It just happens that it is within the building and on the same floor that I work. The entire 70-year-old office, which housed historical items from the foundation of Oregon, is a total loss and the entire building is a smoke-infused mess. Upon returning to work cheerful and fully-loaded with Sudafed, I am greeted by cleaning crews, environmental safety specialists and the overwhelming smell of ancient barbeque permeating my nostrils.

 

I have no idea how, between carpet glue, cleaners and fire residue I’m still the everglowing personality behind a desk of the senate parliamentary administration. There are boxes piled in my office a mile high that need unpacking, no furniture to unpack them into yet and I can’t find my stapler, which I promise is TOTALLY unrelated to the fire. At least I have Pedro, the angry beta fish, to keep me company in this insanity they call “government”.

 

Hope all is well with my 2 other talented ladies on 3 Women and our dedicated readers…much love to you all.

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Revisiting my freshman year of college in my mind brought me to a startling scene of a girl jolted into the transition into a woman. I had fun during that first Mardi Gras, the one with Renee and the giggling, despite disappointments over the discovery of my crush’s girlfriend, a girl he had only mentioned during the Lundi Gras festivities in the French quarter while he literally carried me down bourbon street. This one man, possibly from Middle Eastern decent, had grabbed my right breast in a fit of arousal and intoxication. I found myself suddenly surrounded by these men, helpless, and wondering what other awkward part of my body they would try to grasp, until I was hoisted up in the air by familiar arms, my hero and crush.

I had no practical reasons for finding this man attractive. He was a republican, and I am still near green to this day. His father was a successful lawyer, probably a real asshole, who had defended some lousy scum bags. He wore glasses that made him look like a board member of a tech company. His hair was wiry and ash blonde, his skin an uneven tone of pale and plotted with reminders of adolescence. By no means should he have been the object of my 18-year-old –California-Girl affections but he was. And perhaps, for the first time, did I start to feel the pangs of desire that young women feel when they finally start to become a woman.

Or was it just the excessive amount of drive-thru Daiquiri that I was consuming? In any case, nothing happened, just a strong clasp of arms around my waist, carrying me until there was a break in the crowd, where he then set me down next to a pile of Mardi Gras waste, vomit, pee, and beer. Hardly the romantic scene. He told me that he had to carry his girlfriend out of places like that before. I told him that I didn’t know he had a girlfriend to which he replied a simple, “7 years”, like they had 2 kids and a white picket fence.

So why did this memory suddenly come to mind the other day? I’ve wondered that myself, frankly. That was probably one of the first times in my life where I was confronted with what I felt was the brutal and disgusting truth of raw, male desire. My first instinct should have been to run, run far away from the crowds, or maybe even refused to walk down Bourbon Street. My curiosity lead me down to watch the hundreds and thousands of people behave in bizarre ways, wearing outlandish costumes, or in some cases, nothing at all.

This wasn’t the kind of Mardi Gras I had seen in photos when my mother was a girl. My grandparents, just starting to show the signs of aging in their face, my mother’s round, cherub cheeks, and my aunt’s stunning blue eyes all peered out from adorable cat costumes while waiting for the parades to start. They looked so happy in those costumes that day, a memory that I’ve held onto tightly for my grandma, and an honor I hold closely for my late grandfather and aunt.

But there were no adorable cat costumes or cherub-like faces that night, just the faces of the drunken folks who peeled pieces of their clothes off to expose wretched parts of their bodies. It’s not that I’m against nudity, or partying, or even Mardi Gras in general, though in recent years I have expressed my distaste in Fat Tuesday, it’s just that I was 18 and I didn’t know any better.

Now as I approach my mid –twenties, several years later with experiences, stories, and realities under my belt, I suppose that I was the most naïve girl who was ever carried down Bourbon St., or, at the very least, in that moment I was.

ARTICLEURL

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I can see it, out of the corner of my eye, the pointed graphite tip laughing at me. I’m trying to resist but I know that I won’t be able to think about anything else until I do it. I reach over, and turn the point-side pencil back down so the metallic gleam of its end is back in the light. My pencil cup is perfect again.

 

 

Obsessive compulsive disorder, most of us have a touch of it here and there. Little things we don’t realize we tweak about from how the toilet paper spins off the roll, the way we eat our food to even the way we park our car.

 

 

My compulsions are not as extreme as what you would see televised about the disorder. I don’t have crazy rituals, breathing exercises or constantly fret that someone in my life will die without everything in order. Mostly I find myself centered on organization, hygiene and cleanliness.

 

 

My kitchen is cleaner then most hospital operating rooms, pre-op of course. *shudder* If you opened my pantry you would find each box, can and bag neatly tucked into place where I can clearly see each label. My refrigerator marches in the same militant order. I never reuse plastic wrap after pulling it off the dish once. Just try to find something expired in my house other than what has already been cast into the trash can in the garage. I’m meticulous about the way I cook slicing each vegetable with precision in a geometric fashion.

 

 

I sort my laundry in specific color and fabric piles and couldn’t bear to toss just one white washcloth in with the rest of my soft whites. Determining the correct amount of soap and softener to put in has become a perfected art. My clean clothing is sorted by purpose, style, color and length in my closet and drawers. I can shyly boast an organized undergarment drawer that would put most high-end department stores to shame. You could say that my ever-growing collection of heels could be coordinated easily into a library’s dichotomous key the way I have them arranged.

 

 

Most of my OCD issues perk up at work where I can’t stand to have anything out of order on my desk. Everything has its place and I can tell when someone has been messing around there because something will have moved. I cross out days on the calendar to track the date even though my computer and phone both show the date digitally. My email inbox is sorted into a folder-archiving system and gets cleaned out once a month just because I can’t stand having hundreds of emails staring at me. Everything from the chairs, bulletin boards, filing cabinets to the artificial trees have been perfectly aligned, by yours truly, to fit the room’s composition. It is so bad sometimes that I think my coworkers purposely turn my pencils upside-down and drop paperclips on the floor just because they know I can’t walk by with out fixing it. There is more than likely some monetary value issued between them to torturing me like this.

 

 

Now that I’ve turned that pencil back to global order and written this post, I’m going to have to face what my real reason for procrastinating. Today is Potluck day. Hopefully I made enough cucumber salad for myself because glaring at all the fruit salads, quiches and baked beans, I can’t help but think, who knows what the kitchen looks like where those were made. I don’t even want to think about it. Meh…I’ll eat a big dinner tonight.

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Born in north Jersey, I spent a few years of my early childhood playing acrobats in the evenings with my father, dancing to Sesame street songs, and going to bed with pink curlers in my hair. I survived my adolescence in busy Los Angeles through shopping trips with my mother, my high school English teachers, and bleached blond hair. I went searching for this thing called “myself” in humid New Orleans, and ended up finding out how to eat boiled crawfish, the potentiality for evil in human nature when flooded out by mother nature, and my calling in life: Writing.

So, here I am. In Austin, “the oasis of Texas” as one of my poetry professors once said. And, in some ways, it has been my oasis from a tumultuous life in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Living in a “One Dead in Attic” mentality had aged me out of my early twenties and into an ageless state of cynicism and woe. I now have my tiny apartment adorned with tiny treasures from my travels abroad in Paris, Venice, London, and my short stay in Boston in the fall of 2005. And of course, I now have a magnificent man in my life, The Chemist.

The scenes of my apartment best describe me. My Miles Davis poster from Hollywood is taped tight to my fridge door; an Indian ivory salt and pepper shaker brought back from my grandfather in WWII accompanies family photos on a bookshelf. Dried roses from my mother rest in my grandmother’s old vase atop a chest I acquired in New Orleans. Spices on my kitchen sit on a shelf with an old broken rosary belonging to my great grandmother.

My bookshelves are packed with an eclectic mix of goods from SoCal wacky to Parisian tacky with a giant, silver Effiel Tower candle propped next to my signed copy of Candace Bushnell’s ‘Trading Up’. She wished me ‘Good Luck in Writing’ in big, black permanent ink, and it’s something that I look at every day, something that breaks the writer’s block.

I am my bookshelves in a way. I’m packed with literature, from Chaucer to Hemingway. I value and display my books, my trinkets, my rosary collection, and even the 40 some odd Pez dispensers that are lined up like a choir on the top left shelf. I am not just one thing- I’m not just a writer, or a woman, or a high school actress, or a daughter, or a girlfriend- I’m all of those things and hopefully more.

I find my creativity is best unleashed for the world to see, rather than bottled up. I struggle daily with my level of confidence- I don’t give myself enough credit. My friends tell me I’m beautiful and I believe that they need an eye exam.

But, when you boil it down, at heart I am that construction paper book written in crayon when I was a young girl, tucked away on the bottom corner of the shelf, innocent, full of color and life, and waiting for someone to open me up and read me. But, I need to open me up first, write the stories that I was born to write, publish those stories for the masses, and really learn how to live and love life.

Joyce Carol Oates’ advice from one of her books is for young writers it to “write [their] hearts out.”

3 Women is just one of many facets of my heart.

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Home

My turn…

I’m “east coast,” although “east coast” isn’t quite home. A Texan by birth and rearing, I still feel far from home sometimes, even after a year.

They say “home is where the heart is.” In the first six months after moving out east, I truly learned what that phrase means. I literally (yes literally) felt like my heart was evenly distributed between Texas and my new home, where I had my dear husband and darling daughter. Some nights, it my heart rattled so hard, it felt like somebody was kicking my bed. Some days, I think I took one sip of air every minute or so – just enough to stay alive – because my chest hurt so bad.

The transition was one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) things I’ve ever been through, but here I am, and my heart has decided to move back into my chest, where it belongs. In the process of moving away from my home, my friends, and my family, I discovered many things about myself, about identity crises and where they come from, and about the world of social networking and blogging sites. I’ve never been good with the phone, and through various online media, I’ve been able to get in touch with people I haven’t heard from in years, as well as stay in touch with those most dear (excepting those who live with me, of course). And fairly recently, I’ve been meeting new friends this way as well. Suddenly, I feel like I’m part of the world again (virtual though it may be ;-).

Meredith’s invitation to start this blog together also inspired me to migrate my own blog into a more public forum; check out bearablelight.wordpress.com, or “Forever…” in our blogroll. I’ll have plenty of new material soon, as well as re-postings or revisions of some earlier material.

A chemist by training, I’m also in love with philosophy, film, literature, art, handiwork, costuming, and people (as individuals and in small numbers). I have a tendency to pour myself into everything and to grow extremely attached to people. This tendency leads to utter devastation in the face of failure of a project or loss of a friend, but far more satisfaction in the face of success. Passion does tend to lend itself to extremes, I suppose.

I love to write, I think more in metaphor and movie/music quotes than in plain English, and I’ve just taken up drawing in order to give life to some of my less-articulable ideas. I hope you enjoy our blog! Let us know what you think!

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