Fury, My Friend

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If you have walked with our family, you’ve shared in frequent play dates with Grief. A varying of intensities and durations to acclimate. But we were drilled with many deaths of Landon before His as a whole. 

All to say, when Landon died, I anticipated Grief at our door. 

He didn’t ring the doorbell (I waited on the porch). 

I asked He wipe His dirty boots (He declined me the courtesy). 

He forewent the sidewalk, trampled the flower beds and extended no hostess gift. 

Without pleasantries, I waved Him through (He stomped mud tracks all over, through and in me).

I was ready for Grief. No one prepared me for Fury.

In Pampa, on Christine Street, on the second floor, in my closet, on the walls, are my first dabblings in Anger. 

When feeling Pain, I couldn’t bring myself to offer it tears, the same emotive answer a theatre of women offered up in The Notebook, the same involuntary response to breaking a wrist. What Grief I felt for my brother was entitled to match how much I love him.

So starting in middle school, I’d swing open my closet doors, part the sea of hangers and morphed what hurt in my fists into something else, and right into the wall. 

“Hallmark has done a sensational job simplifying Sorrow. Grieving For Dummies,” I think to myself. I am scanning the measly Condolence Card section and laughing at sympathies choked in florals, yet void of touch. “I am deeply sorry for your loss.” It registers like a bad knock-knock joke. If Grief truly has Five Stages, why can’t I find a single card speaking to Anger?

I’m exhausted by apologies for “our loss.”

I lost a pair of headphones.

The Spurs lost the game.

Our neighbor spams the poles with LOST DOG flyers.

I didn’t misplace my brother.

“You know, not everyone experiences all the Stages of Grief,” my therapist said.

“Yeah, well it feels like I’m playing dirty,” I said. “As if I traded Depression like a Pokémon card. And no one wants to play with the girl holding the Anger deck.”

I KonMari to the sea floor of my possessions.

I scrub until my bathroom sink bleeds bleach through porcelain band-aids.

I death-grip the supermarket basket to suppress the wish for a bat to swing at the pyramid perfection of tangerines.

I accidentally collect bruises from wall run-ins, slam two fingers in a car door, shatter a wine glass, a candle and a bowl within a weekend. By accident! By accident.

I fold and refold the freshly-dried towel. I refold it. I’m embarrassed by how unsettled it makes me and move onto a t-shirt knowing full well I’ll return to rererefold the towel.

Lately I lolly-gag between the two spheres: an addiction to starched-collar order or the compulsion to ruin and wreck it.

I have stiff-armed the best-intentioned offers of hugs and Kleenex. 

“I’m here for your tears,” they say. 

Five Stages of Grief, but Sadness is the only suitable for stage. Audiences are expecting that show. Anger holds my hand backstage.

“Can you be here for my fists instead?” I reply.

I have become convinced the Condolence copywriters at Hallmark Inc. have lost nothing more than a few pounds and their baby teeth.

In Sorrow I can only, fruitlessly and selfishly, mourn my inability to have fixed, to have saved my baby brother. 

But at least in my Anger, I can materialize Grief. In Anger, I plug in the Richter Scale to physically measure how Landon’s absence quakes me. 

If Anger were a Condolence card, it’d look like shredded ashes, shoved in a crumpled envelope inscribed: “I destroyed it so you didn’t have to.”

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Smell You Later

Olfaction is the only of The Five Senses to pass through the amygdala and hippocampus. These areas of the brain process and interact with emotion and our memory bank. As a result, memories clocked by nose outlast those made with our eyes, our hands, our tongues.

Lately, I’ve felt like a toddler, curiously plunging in and sniffing up marbles, oblivious to the consequences until I’m bloody snout-smacked in the ER with heavy, glassed-in memories of my late brother.

Makes sense.

— — —

When Landon died I couldn’t shake the movie scenes after a character is killed off. The remaining loved-ones threw themselves, sniffers first, into sneaker inserts still-imprinted, pillow cases still-warm, bath towels still-wet, as if they were police K9s tasked with finding the milk carton kid. They’d lap up any stink of the deceased and I watched their dripping, panicked sinuses dry and pacify from something it dealt, something they felt.

So I gave it a go.

The grey flannel was a staple during his last few weeks and my immediate first claim to Landon Conservation. However, within a week of closet adoption, it gave in to the peerfumed pressure of hanger neighbors. His Galaxy sweatshirt is worn religiously, swallowing me like a BFG hug, but it also resigned traces of him ten washes back.

When I really want to smell Landon unadulterated and unDownyed, I pop the clam mouth of his closet doors and make an assembly line of the frequently-worns, trying to flex muzzle memory. Max, our 12-year-old, couch-potato of a Labrador Retriever, lays in the corner, offering me critique by eyebrow, disappointment from a natural, professional and veteran whiffer.

But I don’t have to get nosy to know of his ghost anymore. Instead I call on the Divine for an allergy plague that’ll render me tasteless, that’ll muzzle-mute the offerings of a five-star restaurant.

Landon? No. No.

365 Whole Foods’ shampoo — Landon’s hair was a barber-exalted vision. In his own brand of affection, he’d zonk his forehead on my shoulder and the squishy tumbleweed would dive-bomb me into a minty swamp of curls. I can’t use the shampoo remains, but I can’t remove the bottle from our shower either.

Landon? No. No.

His room. What little attention Landon gave personal hygiene was at the price of bedroom order. After hours behind the refuge of a closed door, murky air gasped and staggered out at the open, dragging the carnage of musk and dew. Despite the loyalty hours clocked to his beloved room, its startling how quickly this space forgot the fragrance of its former. No one’s here. It’s just a room. Just a room.

Landon? No. No.

Marijuana smoke. Schizo awakened, Mania summoned. When I studied abroad, my roommate and I took a weekend in Amsterdam. Everyone would think Paige and I stayed posted up in the inescapable haze of Amsterdam’s “coffee shops,” clinking joints like coffee mugs. I spent my energy face fixed in a turtleneck, mentally uncrocheting a stomach of yarn, whipping my head around corners with emotional fists at the ready, looking for Landon, waiting for combat.

Landon? No. No.

Some mornings I’ll run the blender and Landon’s sleepy, breakfast breath bubbles up mid-whip. “Good morning, Bubs.” After slurping, he’d plant icy, sticky lips on the side of my face and my cheek would smell like bananas and peanut butter until noon. “Good morning, Sissy.”

I smell him everywhere he isn’t.

If sensation-mirages are permitted for amputees after losing a limb, why wouldn’t I experience phantom-fragrances after losing a Landon? Our Landon. My baby brother, Landon.

Landon? No. No.

But like the cabin-fever migraine post-perfume sampling, I’m begging him to hand me a jar of coffee beans to clear a sopping palette.

Typed + Tapped Out

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helv

You loved me in Helvetia Neue, dependable.familiar. and yet still intriguing.

You, with frantic, chicken-scratched penmanship, would shimmy into a compass of lines, with face that typed me to dissolve me into emoji-blubberings.

comic

I never felt you in Comic Sans. Loving you was never a joke, never suggestive of child care centers or pediatric dentists. You stood close, but never too close for kerning comfort. Solid strokes and somber stilts of letterage. 

times

I was guilty of letting our love type out like Times New Roman. Business as usual. Easy readability at best. Easy skimmed and forgotten. We tapped the typewriter out too early.

courie

We acted Courier, mono-spaced and toned, trying to warn off and buffer signs of love-sick letters collision.

museo

You loved me in Museo Sans, solid slab headings that I draped myself on. Billboard affection that I missed.

baske

Your body, easy on the eyes – I loved you like Baskerville.

avenir

You had me in all six weights of Avenir – and I felt you in every one.

You’ve always been my type.

But like a script, you threw me for a loop.

fall cannonball | newsletter 1


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For the first time since June, the neighborhood school bus rolled up in all its mustard and mundane glory.

The weather was throwing a fit, sympathetic to summer’s end and uncooperative in welcoming Academia’s newest recruits.

An umbrella gang huddled at the curb.

Mom and I squealed, mugs-to-chest, noses-to-glass – we’ve been counting down to this scene for weeks.

A tribe of kindgervirgins and first-graded buffs filed up.
Some clawed to Sr. hands until their first brush with peer-pressure was the passcode that unclamped their fingers.

Some waltzed the plank of Destination Education – chests puffed and backpacks stuffed.

Some split from mothers wearing soppy house slippers and soggy, bitten lips – to halt their own waterworks (but just until the bus doors folded close).
The First Day, bus-stop drop-off has become one of my favorite annual events.

Today I could feel the alleviating reminder of a season changing.
It was a Summer of kicking my feet.

And it left my feet swollen and lungs water-logged.
I wanted to kick out the hot season and kick off my newsletter with a playlist of Summer psalms + snippets of feelings felt between May – August.
I’m trading in exhausted floaties for a cannonball in Fall’s deep-end of relief.


The Swimming Song

This summer I went swimming,

This summer I might have drowned

But I held my breath and I kicked my feet

And I moved my arms around,

I moved my arms around.

My anthem.

No song stuffs the both bitter and blissful basket Summer gifted me quite like this track.
June: my best friend, Kimberly, was married in my hometown, the first visit I’ve paid the Home of the Hustlin’ Harvesters in years.

Pampa was a venue to the dearest pangs and pleasures of growing up. Going back asked me to shake hands with many o’ ghosts, both the good and heavy-hooded.
The wedding reception was held inside the Country Club, a place I had known as the back drop to my summers since ’96. During the celebration I snuck out back by myself. I tied my bridesmaids dress up into a knot, let my overarched heels hit concrete and dipped my feet in the tiny pool.

It rippled in response, as if the water hugged my prodigal feet’s return.

I learned to swim in this pool.

Kimberly’s mom saved my life in this pool. (I challenged the deep-end too soon.)
Swimming is a duel between euphoria and terror.

This summer on open water felt like both.


There Will Be Time

A time to leave, a time to stay

There is a time, a time to cry

A time to love, a time to live.

Mufasa meets Mumford in this brilliant Lion Kingesque ballad.

But on a serious rabbit trail, if Simba had a running playlist, I’d put money on this guy being Track 1.
The drive to the mountains is not for the faint of heart nor innately bored.

First, one must acknowledge a 10.5 hour commute is simply vile.

Next, our journey takes us across Texas’ scraps, landscapes rejected for the state tourism brochures. Soon, we will be greeted by New Mexico’s alley cats, a 4G dead-zone with a speed limit of 65 and a popcorn ceiling terrain.

Now, add a caravan of five vehicles full of men, frequent snackers and one, one-kidney passenger. Patience is a virtue and frequent stops-the ethical test.

As a child, I have laughably unpleasant memories of the car seating chart placing me in the back left of the Expedition, myself: a duffle of a human wedged between a cooler and the poke ’n’ prod of tent poles.

Then.
I unwrapped this gem right as New Mexico gifted a change in landscape.

I quit asking Google for an updated ETA.

I dropped my pleas for Floo Powder.

And I paid attention.


The Emotion

The emotion is suddenly out of me

The emotion is building up inside of me.

I’ve been on a bit of a BORNS kick.

There’s not much he puts out that doesn’t make for instant ant mounds down my arms.

Like involuntary choreography, my head pivots toward my spine and my hand slides from neck’s nape to back’s small. While driving through the mountains, I looped this song
I spent a good time of my May – August overanalyzing the what around feelings.

I toggled between the guilt of Numbness to the lunacy when, all at once, the Numb Family Reunion of Feelings and Sensations camped out on my noggin.


Honey Hi

Honey, honey, honey hi

Even sweeter than wine.

Bed-making is my Olympics. And I am Simone.

I pride myself in crafting Pottery Barn caliber spreads.

I am also ashamed at how quickly fury surfaces when someone dents that of my bed’s.

Many mornings I attempt to make my bed. whilst in my bed.

I stretch the cotton sails of my bedship, pulling the white linens past my forehead, making a jumping jack figure of pajamas and bed hair.

Some of my best made beds have assembled using this careful quilt tactic.

The magic is an inside job.
Much like my methodology, I spent summer-schooled learning my inner-workings- the liability to feel completely.

How to own the sheet creases and fluff my flawed pillows.

This song has always read like a coming-home hymnal – an acknowledgement of blemishes, but  not without throwing credit to the unconditional cuddle of a childhood blankie.
This summer felt a lot like coming home to myself.

In that, how unqualified and ineligible I am to the Love given by my “Honey”s.

And how bed-making doesn’t have to be a solo sport.


You Can Close Your Eyes

And this old world must still be spinning ’round

And I still love you.

There is a land called Creatures of Habita and I am their Queen.

But for one week, every year, for the past 20 years, I shock myself with the reflexive withdrawal and erase of routine.

Our cabin, Papa’s Place, sits on the last plot next to the National Forrest – the most literal “middle of nowhere.”

The place flips my priority pyramid – the most important happenings are undoubtedly the ones happening with the whos, right here. in this moment.
It becomes a blessed and agitated expectation to walk from kitchen to back porch and find no hub of conversation less intense or moving, such as the following.
“What songs are your instant-tearjerkers?” Kennedy asked.

She played this first.
For over an hour, we tossed around melodramatic ballads in the living room.

Some of us half-reading, some puzzle-making, some partially-snoozing, all fully-sobbing.
James Taylor will always remind me of my family. I have to course-correct memories that have him written in my script:

*leaning on the wall in the corner*

*strums softly to tune of conversation*

playing tracks solely on our behalf.
How safe I feel within this family, without control.
I will always think of the rare specimen of a cousin who is Kennedy when I hear this song and know to when to *cue track* should she be breaking the Chipper Metric.
(*bonus round* Can you name three of mine?)


No Line On the Horizon

Time is irrelevant, it’s not linear

Then she put her tongue in my ear

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

No, no line on the horizon, no, no line.

I would consider it both uncharacteristic and shameful-upon-my-family-name to exclude a U2 song on any playlist I supply.
At every given moment, I have at least one U2 track on rotation, the way a Biblical scholar has read through all 66 books, thrice and counting.

This summer, I test-ran several songs that would deem suitable to this twenty-something funk + shifting landscape.
In an interview, Bono told Q Mag that the No Line on the Horizon album is divided into two parts, “Dark” and “Daylight.”

“In my head,” he said, “it all happens over 24 hours.”
The Edge furthered Bono’s theory.

“It’s like when you’re moving forward, but you’re not exactly sure what you’re heading towards – that moment where the sea and the sky blend into one.”
This song is best listened to at volume-high until the drums of your ears get the fuzzies.

It’s an audible plunge into bass riffs + a Bono remedial sermon.

How often, this summer, I felt incapable in marshaling Pain and Growth into separate lines.


I Need a Forest Fire

Stop.

Stop before I build a wall around me.

I’ve been on Operation: Downsize Distraction.

I waved au revoir to social media and chewing gum (going on a month) – for me, two lineman boulders of attention-diversion.

This James Blake + Bon Iver collab is a audible illustration of what happens when intention is met with sparse sparkles and frills.
Like this song, I found myself asking for a metaphorical forest fire.

Like this song, I’ve wanted a catalyst to remove my life’s low-growing underbrush.


Don’t Move

All I have to do is shake, shake

Keep your body still

Keep your body still

But when I hear this song, I. just. can’t.
For a few June weeks, a friend let me bunk up in her home as an extended-stay guest.

One night, digs empty, I lit four candles, cranked this song and cooked dinner in the dark.

My spatula shimmied and my hips swung with olive oil hissing over the stove flames in the cave of a kitchen.

I unwrapped my showered hair from a towel and whipped soaked strands that stuck to my forehead.

I hadn’t felt so uninhibited in weeks.

This song was and has been a reminder that you can always take a life timeout.


Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright

Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
Even you don’t know by now
And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It’ll never do somehow

[I had the hardest time selecting one stanza of this song that stood out among the rest.]
Bob Dylan always unbars the brother memory bank.

Back in college, our homecoming road trips were missional opportunities, hours of divine conversion.

One of us would unbuckle a believer in one another’s latest religious-awakening of an album.
The sky was a leaking faucet, gallons of water swirling around us going 75 for 4 hours.

The grey made luxe blurs of green, a lush appetizer to a somber Bob Dylan set.
Landon chose this song.

We were silent, from start to harmonic finish, giving the slightest synchronized sniffles as my windshield wipers squeaked and waved raindrops “hello.”
I started rererere (actual “re” count) watching Mad Men. This time, though, I am a student and archeologist, unearthing the why’s behind the show. I’ve been watching alongside Mad Men: Carousel, ironically, earning it’s name from this very episode.
This song bookends Episode 13, Season 1. Don is sitting on the staircase of his empty home, whiplashed by the current state of his fractured marriage and rupturing reality.
Earlier in the episode, Don delivered the pitch of a lifetime for Kodak. I actually remember the first time I saw this scene my lower lip wilted to my chin. Even now, I’m no less stunned in response.

“Nostalgia — it’s delicate, but potent.”

That line has been hamster-wheeling in my mind for months.


Harlem

I go, you stay, we break
Tell me that’s OK
I go, you stay, we break
Tell me that’s OK

My sensual thermometer peaks on three occasions:

1.) Post-workout.

huffing.

perspiration singing hoorays down my arms.

2.) Dim-light cooking in my kitchen.

bare-foot.

hand-full glass.

3.) when you look at me like that.

or that.

or that.
Let me set the post-run stage:
Ear phones eagerly pop out, exhausted from the hour-long pep talk they’ve been preaching.

Tight calves unwind like muscly twine.

Sweat tickling my stomach.
I’ve been on a quest for the painkiller grail this summer – at times problematic, strung out en route towards a chemical high of those aforementioned temperatures.
Where there is an endorphin Nirvana, this song brings me back to Earth – an astronaut’s reccaliberating from zero-gravity and pouched + powdered feasts.


My House is Your Home

But if in that moment, there’s nothing for you

I’d still tell the world

You’re a house for me

Packing is my Mona Lisa.

But a last-minute change in departure date obliterated order within my suitcase court.

I was sitting on the floor inside my closet, trying to sort through socks and several feelings.

*enter Jack G*

I took a sip of my drink and set it on a flip-flop of a coaster.

My mojito began sweating. I froze.

This song inside this moment felt too important for movement.

Socks, marching two-by-two, broke into solo stomps.

Mari Kondo folding folded.

I crumpled among pressed-outfits and leaked humility + humming weeps under the severe stare of a closet bulb.


Operation Chill


during God’s Operation board-game on my body, emotion-to-physical response wires were damaged. 

where tears should be waiting backstage for emotive encore,

shivers instead show up* as emotion wallops.

and in turn, a laughably problematic, high-to-low, risk-to-reward in shaving my legs. 

shower efforts will be forgotten at the first sign of heart-stirring. 

truly, fruitless, razor-bladian efforts. 

——————

*this scene:

It’s A Wonderful Life :: George & Mary

*the damn line, “Darlin, you’re soul, could never grow old, it’s evergreen

*when “i love you” is given at a moment i’m especially undeserving

*the We’ve Got Tonight” Winnie + Kevin scene from The Wonder Years

———

i scrubbed a loofah against the back of my right arm. 

little purple thumps scolded me for muffling them the day before and hot water scalded the hopes to heal them the day after. 

i have to wear a strapless dress on saturday where I know they’ll come back as a weepy mob,

*watching my best friend be completely steeped in borrowed, blue, old + new, Mrs. bliss.

i gave up and just let the bumps swell over me. 

———

*after the workout i shouldn’t have survived

*confronting authority

*that time i punched a hole in the wall and still, residual fumes

———

i sat in the grass with him on the other line.

i could feel the silence.

lip prints burned behind my ear and i could feel a lump in my throat.

an accompaniment of lumps bubbled up to right arm’s fence, 

familiar neighbors Uhauled around the corner.

i was extending no welcome-mat greetings, no hospitality-blueberry muffins, so i pinched them until they turned red then purple then blue and choked what was left of the chills. 

i clicked “end” and let mosquitos and shivers eat me up.

———

*my dad talking about me, in front of me. 

*at funerals, when the spouse / parent / child tells the stories

*when i said an indefinite goodbye to my college roommate, Caroline 

———

i was sitting on his kitchen counter.  

mid-sentence went to silence.

*he kissed me behind my right ear.

he sat back and watched me quake. 

the entire half of me lit up like texturized christmas tree bulbs. 

he had learned me well.

my right calf + thigh + hand delivered the quickest response as he hand-delivered acknowledgment. 

pleasure poxes latter-crawled up to my scalp. 

he smirked, aware how much i loathed the inability to sway my soul from being worn on my skin. 

but he took both arms, locked them behind me and *kissed the left. 

the goose bump gospel choir on my left sang back to my right.

he had learned me so well. 

————

i’ll be chasing those chills for awhile. 

Going Mad

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Fall TV premieres launched this past week, but I started Mad Men over.

Again.

For the third time.

I found myself setting the DVR:

Scandal

Grey’s Anatomy

How To Get Away With Murder 

As soon as I hit record, a flood of Draper-pining followed.

Few other entertainment outlets have garnered an equal devotion, Harry Potter the only fandom on a competing pedestal. For Harry, I pressed my nose and sharpie-bolted forehead against the glass of Barnes and Noble book launch after book launch. When the movies dropped, I dropped everything to be the first to see, soak up and compare the two portrayals of a story nothing short of magical.enhanced-buzz-wide-19419-1395844779-17
But for Mad Men, I wasn’t privileged the same pep-rally hype.

No beloved book series could speak for it’s concept, no plot summary could adequately intrigue.

After watching the first episode, I had seen enough of groovy florals and binge-drinking in this chauvinistic pig-stye of a plot setting to take my viewings elsewhere.

In truth, I was bored.

Which is the point.

As I pledged my virtual attendance to the shows above, I realized the reasoning behind my Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price cravings: I wanted more.

Today’s TV is in a codependent relationship with shock-and-awe action. Viewers are left coveting-for, tearing-up and tweeting the extravaganza. Each hour-long show (36 percent being commercials, by the way) is packed with scandal, sex and a whiplash of emotion.

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But Matthew Weiner tapped into a deeper well.

Mad Men boasts theatrics, too, but will ask viewers to pay attention first.

You learn sex and scandal are but the fruits of human beings addicted to dysfunction and irrational fulfillment.

Like the simple-packaged, red-bow ready ads created on the show, every cliche, thrilling crisis is an iceberg peak of a profound human truth.

No character carries a sword, and no character hats a halo. Mad Men’s character development throws Literature 101 out the window, no role cemented in protagonist/antagonist soil.

I have sketched commemorating tattoos to a character, only to find myself next season crafting him into Voodoo doll which I may deliver justice. My television screen has tomato remains on account of Pete Campbell’s idiocy. The next episode I prayed to the show’s writer gods on his behalf to deliver him from a cruel demise.

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Every one character is so human, always a wicked liability, never too far from grace.

And because of the mortality, I found myself in each’s story.

I am Peggy Olson, naive yet discerning of a society’s flawed, misogynist thinking, fearing bold use in my gifts.

I am Joan Holloway, walking into a room, hips-swaying with a stench of confidence, completely guilty of using the same sexist protocol for my own benefit.

I am Sally Draper, invited to the adult table too young, aware of the mortality of my own parents.

I am Megan Draper, addicted to the romance and the challenge, unapologetic in my own dream-pursuit.

I am Betty Draper, difficult and damning myself a victim to being misunderstood and inadequate.

I am Roger Sterling, dependent on sarcasm and wit to escape the consequences of reality.

I am Don, a happiness-skeptic, addicted to the greener grass and struggle to stay (sober) in my own pasture.

So much of myself aligns with the casts’ error-prone evolution.

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The characters are a direct mirror of the ’60’s, the epitome of overindulgence and fearful frugality.

War, assassinations, equal-rights movement, safety bubble *popped*, leaving people in chaos to question what they knew to be right and true. In turn, exploration exploded: space and technology advancement, drug experimentation, free-love and rock-and-roll. Mad Men is smack-dab in the middle of culture swinging between the extreme pendulums of hovering panic and hopeful pleasure.

This show has been telling us so much in its non-verbals.

As opposed to comedies relying on laugh tracks to say,“We-wrote-this-to-be-funny-now-laugh,” Mad Men provides no such emotional prompts.

Which is actually quite uncomfortable.

I’ve found myself embarrassed by an escaped chuckle during a scene so clearly not comical. I’ve been unaware to a t-shirt soaked by a swamp of tears during a scene so mundane.

Lack of intentional emotive cues lends itself to deliberate discussion.
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So now what?

Like any high-school has-been, reminiscent historian,

I will mourn the end of a brilliant entertainment era, all channels now but a lusterless spectacle.

I will rewatch.

I will study.

I will write on what’s been rewatched and studied. [coming soon: Joan vs. Peggy: How Both Made Me A Better Woman, Sally: A Dissertation On My Favorite Draper]

I will continue to provoke the same strap-on-your-thinking-cap challenge that Mad Men bid me for seven, exceptional seasons.

I will never watch TV the same again.enhanced-buzz-wide-12407-1396476834-26

Write Everyday | February – April

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February 2 |

Few can rival Popi for the title as a romantic. He makes for my cheek upon every entrance. He compulsively agonizes over the condition of others, convicting all who witness. The man hasn’t made it through a prayer, message or small talk without biting his lips to dam up the tear train.

You will simply find few who sink loving venom with the same fury and duress as Bob Gomez.

So naturally, you would assume weddings are this man’s most comfortable crib.

But at this wedding reception, he sat at the table, in the corner, accepting the bread pudding, but dismissing dance invitations. A little subdued. A little less merry among the married.

Three years ago, Popi lost his bride.

53 years ago last Thursday, Popi made the same covenant as the couple this night.

So, perhaps I over-interpreted his solemnity. But his glazed-eyed response to the glitter of a newly initiated Mr. & Mrs. gave me pause.

Was that a twinge of envy?

Is this the tax to loving for a lifetime?

Is this the fateful test of “for better or for worst?” Popi loves fiercely. Binding him to a contract to do so only made letting go the woman borrowing his name a profane and laughably impossible task.

He never made vows that came attached with stipulations. Popi loves fiercely.

“Love does not put itself up as being important.”

But I’d like to believe my grandparents’ love story the exception written in the 1 Corinthians’ fine print.

#writeeveryday
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February 9 |

Mom and I did a drive-by of her childhood home in Austin. According to her, this was her favorite home, that had her fingers curb-clawed when her family packed up for Abilene.

Until we moved from my home of 18 years three years ago, her sentiments would have been of alien tongue and given little regard. But as she gave me a verbal virtual tour of the home, I grabbed her hand. Home is home for anyone who’s had one and then been made to leave it.

What a bizarre understanding, that “home” has no roots and is shiftable as a baseball plate.

Panic sends you sliding in,

Stretching a leg, a foot, even a toe, in hopes of an umpire’s declaration.

“Safe!”

However, once your team walks off the diamond, the permanence of the slab is merely a facade. And the security proclamation awaiting you at the mailbox threshold will one day be on guard for someone else.

Make your home base of beings, rather than stairs, square feet and bedroom counts.

w3

February 14 |

Mom and I did a drive-by of her childhood home in Austin. According to her, this was her favorite home, that had her fingers curb-clawed when her family packed up for Abilene.

Until we moved from my home of 18 years three years ago, her sentiments would have been of alien tongue and given little regard. But as she gave me a verbal virtual tour of the home, I grabbed her hand. Home is home for anyone who’s had one and then been made to leave it.

What a bizarre understanding, that “home” has no roots and is shiftable as a baseball plate.

Panic sends you sliding in,

Stretching a leg, a foot, even a toe, in hopes of an umpire’s declaration.

“Safe!”

However, once your team walks off the diamond, the permanence of the slab is merely a facade. And the security proclamation awaiting you at the mailbox threshold will one day be on guard for someone else.

Make your home base of beings, rather than stairs, square feet and bedroom counts.

w4

Februar 23 |

Last night, The Fashion Police threw darts at dresses, while I sat ready to Twitter blast acceptance speeches. For while I am not cinematically cultured enough to back or bash the noms and winning nods, words are my arena.

Where Kelly Osborne condemned that “gawd-awful, ruffled garb,” cliches condemned the winner to my personal no-speak list, with little hope of returning back into my good linguistic graces.

The past few years have exposed the underground Oscars, a reverence for the winner’s speech aspect of the Academy Awards. No longer does your winning performance qualify you for that golden and regal, stiff specimen of a miniature man. You are now on trial for your trophy acceptance.

Patricia Arquette ended her speech with a rouse for women’s wage equality. The message I applauded, its delivery I felt to be more an inarticulate and random protest. Yet, the audience, both real and virtual, gave a standing ovation or retweet.

Most notably, Meryl Streep gave a rah-rah that roused my jealous meter. All goals of writing became immediately geared towards Meryl gifting me this same display of approval.

A-listers rap through their list of suspected thanks with eloquence and speed that would have Lil’ Wayne applauding.

“To my agent, ___, who saw something and took a chance on me.”

“For my ___ (movie) crew, who became family.”

“My children __, __ and __.”

“And the love of my life, ___, whom is my life’s inspiration.”

*Voice raises in preparation for climactic closing clause*

“And lastly, for ___(social justice cause).”

We expect these acknowledgements and sermon and the following winner is covertly challenged to top the last.

But I resonate with the pressure. When giving the dinner time prayer, social anxiety swings in hard, so I, too, have ready-made requests and thanks to offer those finger-laced on each side.

“For all the blessings you continue to pour out.”

“May we be Your hands and feet to others.”

“For those sick and hurting.”

“May this food nourish our bodies.”

Then, when I’m feeling particularly eloquent, I’ll throw in a phrase crafted to prod “Mmm”s or “Yes, Lord”s. I’m guilty of aiming my message for audience affirmation.

I’m never clutching a trophy in one hand and the train of a designer gown in the other. But still, what an underrated gift, this one-on-one with Abba Father.

May I mute the crowd’s responses and remember the intimate place I am with the name I speak to.

And if Meryl throws up an “Amen” to my benediction, I’ll consider a bucket list item achieved and my God further acclaimed.

#writeeveryday

w5

I have a nasty habit of going numbly comfortable to chronic pangs.

For example, my car (pictured left) has been an Old Faithful caravan, neither a croak nor ever a complaint of it’s upkeep. Until recently(ish).

For months, I tolerated it’s deterioration, beginning with the disappearance of sound from the stereo and it’s final demise leaving my mother to taxi me to and fro for two weeks.

My dad (not pictured) has tolerated my waking him at 6 a.m., sleep still stitched to sockets, six times a week to jump said crippled vehicle.

The man (pictured center) bears a similar patience threshold, shown here to have inherited the same jumper-cable task. However, when in the course of courting, I thank God even his tolerance has its tipping point. As soon as complacent routine is detected, consider it busted.

But some regular habits are as such for a reason. Ours is Stone Werks Big Rock Grille.

We’ll cross our fingers for one of our regular waiters:

-Seth: who I swear is straight out of Mad Men, will recommend a French 75 and remembered our order on our second visit.

-Jacob: the computer science major, who first had to work for our trust, affection and tip when *plot twist* Seth had the night off.

We’ll vulture-circle any diners contemplating *our* booth. We prefer the bar, within view of the big screens should a game be on, but not as rivaling a distraction as we’ve made ouselves to the smartphone- stuck couple a booth over.

One mojitos for me.

One Dosarita for you.

I’ll order chicken breasts( two, yes two chicken breasts, please).

You’ll order a bacon cheeseburger (plain and dry, please) with a side of sweet potato fries.

Another mojito for you.

Another Dosarita for you.

But in this car seat safety of a dining throne, you’ll prompt me to impart parts of myself I haven’t shared with anyone, about my past, about our future.

Jacob (or Seth) will know this, too, and half his water runs as not to intrude.

We’ll be here for awhile.

But lately, long distance has left Stone Works dates set in silly putty. To better distribute blame, I’ve waded in wet cement and let it dry to stale telephone conversations and rescheduled visits.

And he’s called me out.

He’s awaken discontent and to be mindful of that which hasn’t been minded and mended.

So I snapped a picture of you fixing what was mine to fix as I sat in wonderment of you and my mechanical naivety. I sat in wonderment of how much I need you, automobiles aside.

I’ve neglected my routine checkups.

His inclusion in my future is set in Stone. Everything else; well-worth-it Werk.

w6

For years I identified myself

as a runner, rendering my nail-battered, bruised soles the most unlikely candidate for scrubs, manicuring and even the slightest Asian-painting attention. I have faithfully refuted pedicures as an impossible vanity routine reserved for women who felt security only in a Bubble Bath pigmented blanket upon their hoofs.

So I’ve been staring at my feet lately like an amputee donate recipient.

Meanwhile in judicial review, a jury has convicted my own character for letting pride in ritual (#blackforever) override enjoyment of impulsive color craving.

Give change a fighting chance.

Let character dictate identity, rather than the accessory, activity or dye adorning it.

#writeeveryday

w7

Post-sweat-glory-stretching, April Fools’ morning brought me a prank-free present.

A bronzed penny, heads up and begging to bless my day with good fortune.

I squealed.(#”I’mnotsuperstitious,butIama littlestitious.”)

A few feet away, another ‘braham beaming its face.

A few feet further, one more.

Most likely, the Lincoln threesome came tumbling out of sweaty pantaloon pockets.

But.

What if I dropped 100 pennies on their heads to make 100 people feel as if, for today, they have a fighting chance against failure?

#pimpinjoy

#findapennypickitup

#writeeveryday

w8

Sneezing is just the bee’s busted knees.

My brother and I disagree. He finds it an intoxicating, endorphic release.

What a humbling, involuntary reaction reminding us just how human we are, he argues.

I, however, find it an unnecessary design all for the sake of an insecurity exposé.

First, there’s the (quite literal) build-up.

Whisker bristles sense discomfort, sending the inner nosian cavity on red alert.

The culprit list, lengthy:

• A flower’s pollen

• A neighbor’s perfume

• Sun staring

• Some allergy

It cold be a bloody combination of all the above.

But it captures you.

*ACHOO*

And it changes you.

*ACHOO*

And then there’s the snotty aftermath.

Kleenex can’t begin to cover the evidence. You stand, body on “E”, muzzle bearing the Rudolph trademark.

But you won’t fight another wave of it despite your body contorting into a war-crying, booger cannon.

You accept being made an olfactory fool, because it gave purpose to weakness. It woke you up. It made you better.

All within earshot of your whiffer fireworks will offer blessings. They bless you because of Courtesy’s blood laws. They bless you because they are familiar, they are envious, of the vulnerable brilliance.

Loving you is much the same, the divine sneeze.

#writeeveryday

w9

If you are what you eat, I’m the cement sidewalks of cities served up around the world.

But I have a risen and redemptive Savior who delivers grace where I cannot.

#culdesaceasterbrunch

#cascaronesandmimosas

#writeeveryday

w10

Creation cast Light before Leaves solely on account of cacti, roses and Venus Fly Traps.

Otherwise, I’m sure the Lush would’ve locked in God’s favor for the Lead.

God of Saturation and Vegetation.

#basil

#okra

#stevia

#spinach

#mint

#thesecretgarden

#wick

#writeeveryday

w11

“Kennedy, we’re going to let you choose your nickname. Grape Nuts or Ned?”

“Oo! Grape Nuts!”

“Okay. Ned it is.”

And Ned it stayed. Any shapshot of our childhood featured the youngest member of our band of 8 victim to a bullying scenario much like the one above, uncalled for and oddly abusive.

But attitude ensued, and Kennedy remains sas personified. Every eyebrow lift, lip smirk, nose wringle is excercised to its full extent. This is, of course, the only excercise which she tolerated then. Hiking, skiing or any activity that asked for ligament movement or welcomed perspiration guaranteed Kennedy getting out, opting out or sitting out. Kennedy has the locks of a working Repunzel impersonator, thick and slick that she’d belt her most recent bully. She has never played the martyr card, instead wielding witty words her whip that bruise better than any strength of hand.

We older 7 take credit for this wisdom, for such shrewdness would never have stemmed from a girl named Grape Nuts.

______________________________

This is a snippet of a bigger project I’m working on. Prepare for further #gomezcousin gorgings.

I’m fascinated by you, Kennedy. You are wise beyond your years, today marking a mere 18 of them lived godly and fearlessly! Happy Birthday, Ned. You have never been unloved.

#writeeveryday

w12

I am the first to back a woman’s right to wear pants.

I rap the knuckles of the women-demeaning rap lyrics.

And I have urgent pleas with the Almighty to specifically identify we the females to the ends of Bible verses excluding.

I have been and can be guilty of being so Go Women Go!, chivalrous acts are shunned and a man’s defaulted lead prompts my immediate defense.

I take for granted a generation so receptive to change, a nation that even entertains the possibility of a female to lead it.

So I thank Mrs. Clinton for prompting serious respect. Because this election, I pledge to research and listen to points with neutrality. I will be vigilant in contrasting each candidate.

No one wishes a Woman of the (White) House more than myself.

But I urge women to do likewise, vote carefully, with values leading vote.

For if you cast your tally for Clinton solely based on your mutual childbearing capabilities, you are guilty of installing the very glass ceiling she seeks to break.

#writeeveryday

w13

My me-centric morning began as planned.

Coffee slurped.

Food forked.

Task-list ready for launch.

I spoiled mom with ten minutes of conversation before I bolted. I had things to do.

Teeth brushed, bed made and lastly blinds raised to reveal the Pride and Prejudice meadow fog.

And there was my dad, sleep-walking in slippers, dragging our neighbor’s bin out for trash pickup. Shortly after moving in, we learned of Ruth, our 90-something and single, next-door resident. Ever since, Dad has made an unspoken pledge to wheel out her green or yellow carton out and back every Monday and Wednesday.

Living at home post-diploma is difficult no matter how rad the parents (mine use hashtags and

party harder than myself). Mostly though, living with parents is a challenge because of what pressing repairs come up in your own character.

My dad wheeled Ruth’s recycling bin (that’s my belated hat-tip to Earth Day) to the curb, fed our dogs and headed back to bed for a “power nap” before his 12-hour work day of providing for our family in a profession defined by service.

Something magical comes of realizing Daddy isn’t the hero in only your story.

#writeeveryday

#lovedeveryday

#humbledeveryday

w14

A snippet of a piece given heavy thought and editing today, to be later published:

November 6 |

Salty pearls of sweat snuck over shoulders, across the naked small of my back and down the drain of the gym shower. For an hour, I escaped the present and made for Endorphin Central Station.

And suddenly.

*The Scream*

And not the sort I often hear in women’s locker rooms, the over-animated exclamations that women offer each other post-Zumba, a recap of events since last week’s PTA meeting.

*Panic resumed and my shower paused*

No, this scream was different.

This scream had a fear locomotive powering the vocal chords.

I jumped out to locate the source.

Three days ago, we lost contact with Landon.

Panic phone calls were sent.

No solaced ones were received in return.

He was not well.

One day turned into three.

One drop of worry water had rippled into a lake of concern.

*The Scream*

*Next set of lockers, no mom in sight*

Earlier that morning, I had taxied mom to the airport for a trip to New York with my grandfather and her two sisters. The trip was the best of timed and the worst of timed. All anticipating joy my mom fixed to this trip vanished when Landon did.

*She’s not here,

Landon is fine,

Landon is fine*

Ever since, I had been preparing for that call, that Scream, that image of my mother cowered on the tile into a muddled, snapped and tangled rubber band ball.

Ever since, I had mentally prepped each passing day’s date and the plot of skin where my brother’s memory would be inked.

*The Scream*

*Last set of lockers. Empty*

I slipped on wet concrete and hit my head. The locker room attendant stood feet away, feeling awkward, I’m sure, how to aid the lungs-heaving, towel-bare girl on her freshly mopped floor.

Landon was my set of spiked shackles, a worry gone unnoticed until I ventured from my spot.

I drunkenly recovered, headed back to the showers and slung the curtain shut. What was sweat became an indistinguishable mixture of sobs and soap, and I stood under the shower head soaked.

#writeeveryday

#lovemoreeveryday