Haiku Heights – Confession

Cheese School 101

Image by niallkennedy via Flickr

Bright flecks from the past

Burst into every day life

Like a dream sequence

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Romance like a gift

A single red rose one time

Memories are free

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Parenthood is hard

I love all so intensely

Sometimes I feel…. used?

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Real life is so sad

My dog, my love, is older

I worry inside

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A different country

Tearing bread with joy, laughter

Cheese and an apple

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Cleaning From The Inside Out

(Meditation

Image by atsukosmith via Flickr

It started out as a summer closet-cleaning project, as it does every year.  What differentiates this year from the last seven is that I am actually doing it. I started cleaning out our closet several days ago and I haven’t stopped.  Among some if the items found are: bags, shoes, books, sweaters, children’s toys, my own stuffed animals. The closet is very crowded with boxes upon boxes of paper and old clothing and photographs, about fifty books, drivel in adolescence journals and every memento since I was a teenager.

I bought new bright aqua hangers at Target feeling confident and ambitious. Only minutes after my mug of espresso I was ready to start. I cleaned for hours as music blared from my computer:  The Beatles and Glee, America and Bruce Springsteen,  I revisited Natalie Merchant, The Beach Boys and songs from Grey’s Anatomy.  I sang as loud as possible, off-key.  I found cookbooks, a dozen notebooks, and old, scratched CD’s. I made a pile to give away perfectly fine clothing that fit my far younger self. Clothes, past their expiration date by twenty years, as I looked down at my larger body. I sighed as I stuffed them into black garbage bags shaking my guilty, downtrodden head. I tried to soothe myself by saying they will go to people who have nothing, but I don’t deep down, forgive my slovenly self.

I was enjoying putting some order into chaos carrying out box after box of stuff I hadn’t seen or used in years. It felt really good to finally attack at least ten to twenty years worth of stuff. That is, until I found “Baby.”Baby was my son’s love object when he was very little. I remember we flew to Oregon for a vacation with our six month year old son, the Buddha Child.  This was a boy who fell asleep in a second. One day, while we were in Oregon we put him in his car seat and he cried and wouldn’t be soothed. The child who fell asleep immediately in any car ride fussed and could not sleep and we had no idea why. As new parents do, we thought ear infection? He looked fine albeit cranky but he didn’t look sick.

All of a sudden as if  I had just discovered the new 500 million dollar invention, an idea popped into my head? Baby?  I made my husband pull off the side of the road and he searched for Baby; Baby was found in the trunk.  Baby was given to our son as we watched in wonder. He clutched Baby in one hand, my son’s thumb slid smoothly in his mouth and he fell asleep immediately. We hadn’t known Baby was that important until that moment. When Baby needed surgery, he was not allowed to be fixed by my mother-in-law, an expert seamstress. Only I was allowed to fix Baby; to me, it was a proud moment.

When I found Original Baby and Substitute Baby today scrunched in the back of my closet I gasped and exclaimed “Baby!!” Then I burst into tears. I thought I had worked through the anticipated separation from my first-born son going to college in three and a half weeks, apparently I wasn’t done. Holding Baby in my arms, clutched to my heart, I sobbed.

When you clean out old things, you find emotional reminders of the past. I found letters from my dad who died ten years ago, it makes you more aware of what you are missing; it brings up sadness, longing, for things that will never again be the same.

I’ve decided to put away all the not-so-gentle reminders of my children’s younger lives into boxes.  It’s time. My  father’s shirt and his letters will get another box and it will also live in the basement. I don’t want to bump into Baby or Dolly or the cards that they made for me and cry. As my son and daughter move on, so must I.

The sad part of seeing Baby was that I thought, I have only one more year with my daughter staying home. My life as being their mother will never be the same.  What on earth am I going to do now?  Sobbing answered that question quickly and then I normalized. I will always be their mother, I will always be my father’s little girl but relationships shift and change. It was time for all of us, including Baby and his friends, to move to a different place. When my son and daughter want to look for memories of their past they will know where to look and that’s how it should be. Life moves on and I with it. Starting from the inside, then moving out.

Under A Changing Sky

Dark Moon Tree on Night Sky / Magic Fantasy Space

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

Manically I go through box after dusty box in my closet as if flames are licking at my fingers.

What was once mere clutter in my over-stuffed hideaway, needs to be given or thrown away. Now.

I look at these now disposable items with weary and tired eyes of dull green.

I have been awake since early morning;

It looks like I am abandoning my life; life as I know it now.

I am just changing it to focus more on me.

Is it because I feel I am being abandoned that I take things and stuff them into one of seven white trash bags?

Is anger really depression turned inward?

Those sentimental snuggles of the past, the hot tickles of laughter against my warm neck;

I feel nothing now.

I am being left, we are all moving on

and I question for the first time, where all my love and devotion, went.

My daughter is a dark mystery, my son, a stranger, separating.

Tonight I feel used and sorry for myself to be surrounded by silent, awkward strangers.

Sometimes I want to shout “who ARE you?” but I stay silent, trying to accept and acknowledge

the vagrant mysteries of life.

I can’t do more than that.

I want to get ahead of the start of the race, I am in position before they stand up.

Sweat dribbles down my old, soft pink T shirt,

my hair is in an angry ponytail pulled tight, strands of gray and white wiry hair are like lit candles in silent darkness.

I feel unhappy, I say I want more fun.

There are only so many times you can say that

before it because a slow, steep burn of a salty secret.

I already have plans for new skills and new habits and a location change in the future.

I was young once too, I think

but we are all old now.

I have already packed a box of mementos from my children’s childhood,

taken from my inner sanctum of sweet sentimentality.

I will hand them over to my children like an Olympic medalist running with the torch.

Here I sit, surrounded by notes and pens and drawing pads and old

photographs and letters that I have saved; now dissolving and crackling with a light touch.

It is time to let all these things go. It is time to move ahead and change.

Maybe I will keep a few sentimental things in a box for myself,  just a few small morsels of sacred sweetness.

There is a new box  for my deceased father’s old things that I cannot part with; I will put it in the corner of our musty basement

so I don’t trip over his memories several times, every single day.

His absence, like a gaping raw wound that never completely closes.

The stuffed animals that used to give me comfort, even as an adult, are now gone,

I am giving them away to children

who deserve to smother them with sloppy kisses and love.

They mean nothing to me anymore, I look at them and I don’t feel pleasure

but at least I don’t feel pain.

I’m finding it hard now to feel anything.

I could eat silky milk chocolate or dark chocolate with currants  if i wanted to

but I don’t think it will make me feel any better.

This is pain I need to feel and get through.

I am giving away many books, enough to fill a small bookstore.

Starting fresh without all these things I do not really need.

I have my photographs, my slow -motion technicolor memory.

I don’t need much else anymore

but I hope that deep scarlet arm of regret does not clench me and wake me up with stabs of pain

when the morning sun tuns alive, with color, again.

Rx: Anxiety

Anxious

Image by Brian Auer via Flickr

Arthritic, gnarled witch fingers

crawl into my bloated stomach

weaving in and out, with fire lit thunder bolts

pounding their way through my blood engorged arteries.

I want to scream for it to stop and I do

but no words come out.

I hear the words perfectly pegged with accuracy but no one else can,

as they lean into me, their black eyes engorged, their breath hot on my face.

I am living in the deep, dark labyrinth where there is

no beginning and no end just twisted corners turned around.

The veins on my hands pop up aqua blue

against milky white skin that is painfully translucent.

Breathing in labored breaths,

I swing my torso around and tuck it into my body cave, fatty, yellow globules mixed together.

Tonight, there are no answers, just questions and mind numbing

sadness with extraordinary swells of sweating fear.

Haiku Heights: Death, Boredom, Parenting, Summer

Purple flowers

Image via Wikipedia

DEATH:

Somewhere deep inside

There is an angel spirit

That will see my dad

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BOREDOM:

Spring to a new life

Helping others to feel glad

Refresh your own soul

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PARENTING:

Mom’s are people too

They make mistakes and they bleed

More for their boy and girl

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SUMMER:

Through the setting sun

Escapes a burst of purple

Flowers are pure joy

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Haiku Heights

The Sweet Scent Of A Perfect Peach

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower). Taken at garden...

Image via Wikipedia

In my imagination I think we would be friends if only we lived closer together. I would give her, and only her, the true secret ingredient to my super moist banana chip/raisin bread. Her mouth would smile widely and crumbs would spill happily from her mouth as she ate it with delight; her big doe eyes would nod in agreement. I can’t compete with her cooking of course, she was born baking and cooking but there is no competition between friends. We laugh together at my lack of cooking skills and she constantly admonishes me and tells me she will force me to learn. Knowing her, I have a feeling, she will make me follow through.

On the side of her house I imagine her large garden where she picks her own deep, red  tomatoes from the vine and takes a big bite of one warmed by the sun. She has sunflowers, big tall, brown, vibrant orange and yellow, about fifty of them, near the rows of green peas and lettuce and carrots hiding in the moist soil. Next to them, sweet butter corn  grows tall and stretches to the sun like a morning yoga pose. Wildflowers grow nearby, purple, yellow, pink, white and the blue of a delicate robin’s egg. There are so many vibrant and intense colors in her garden, it’s like staring at a painting by Matisse.

I’ve never had the actual opportunity to meet an idol, someone I’ve cherished since I was a teenager, but I came close, by association, a few weeks ago. I spoke with her warm and friendly assistant and it was such a pleasure. Melissa, her assistant, told me something I will always remember. “She liked your writing and wants you in HER group.”  That lifted my spirits for days. While I could not go to the current workshop she was holding I hope one day to meet her and attend a different workshop.

I read her first book about one hundred times; a book that still sits on my living room shelf now,  forty years later. I share my house with my husband, a son who is soon off to college for the first time, a daughter who will now be a senior in high school and a nine-year old adopted shelter dog named Callie who is sleeping on top of my feet. That first book has been carted from my parents’ apartment to college to every city I have lived in.  We grew up together, she and I, for a forty-year time period, she just didn’t know me.

There’s no doubt in my mind, from her first magazine article in the New York Times that she would grow up to be an amazingly talented, gifted writer. True to herself and her family and friends. She grew as a writer and as a person, I wonder if people expected her to stay nineteen and if that was hard for her? We all change and grow, make mistakes, learn; stagnant is boring.

I think she would be warm and funny, intense about her work and friendly, she probably just baked apple muffins with a crumb topping and served it with sun tea. There’s a colorful tiled table that holds chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies that she whipped up in a spare hour;  sharp, white cheddar cheese and crispy pita chips would be nearby. Family and friends are always invited to her kitchen; there are always people and animals nearby.

I imagine sitting on a large white patio, rocking slowly on our rocking chairs and exchanging whispered secrets and watching the red sunset fall slowly into the water to form three lines of color, orange, dark green, ultimately black. I remember when my family and I used to go to Cape Cod, when our kids were much younger, at every sunset we would sit on the sand, other people around us, and we would wait for the sun to set. When it did, everyone clapped. That is my idea of heaven, living near the ocean, watching the sunset with strangers sharing stories, listening to Reggae music provided for free. Sitting still in front of nature as if we were in a theater waiting for the curtain to rise.

At night, in my imagination, we would creep down the stairs and meet in the kitchen unplanned. We would burst into giggles when we found out we were there for the very same thing.  I always snack after I am supposed to be asleep and I eyed a bowl of ripe peaches on a small, round table that she had recently repainted in pink-rose paint. That first bite of that juicy peach would make me happy, so happy I  can’t even describe it. This peach, this wonderful gift from nature was just perfect. It was ripe, juicy, sweet and had a silken texture. The juice rolled down my chin and I groaned with every bite of happiness. It was the sweet scent of a perfect peach with my new friend, laughing into the dark night.

Dedicated to Joyce Maynard and Melissa

My First Experience with Death

Heaven

Grief Lasts A Lifetime

When I was very young my best friend Claudine and I sat on the floor of my bedroom and played with my two turtles. Apparently I injured the turtle ACCIDENTALLY. I didn’t know it at the time because my father played doctor and I remember the turtle’s frail neck had been wrapped with white bandages. He smelled like the red, antiseptic medicine that my mom used on my skinned knees. I don’t remember being particularly upset over the sudden demise of the turtle but I do remember that my dad, who of course knew it was dead, pretended to nurse him back to health, for me.
That same loving man, my father, died ten years ago. He died New Year’s Eve 2001 an hour before my parents’ wedding anniversary on January 1st. I remember that horrible night in excruciating detail, I was sitting on my bed and the phone rang and it was my mother. “It’s over, it’s done” she said and I sobbed for what seemed forever and grieved for a very long time. I still miss my dad, I will always miss him. Sometimes I do get messages or signs from him and I believe in that. How do you recover from someone’s death? You don’t. Not ever. There will be a new world for you and it will be divided into before the death and after. You are now a member of a new club for adult children who have lost a parent and it’s not a club you ever wanted to join. You have no choice. Intense pain and grief get less frequent with time but there will always be moments, at least for me, when the pain feels fresh and raw. I was in Targets six weeks ago and I automatically turned into the Father’s Day card section. I remember I stood still and openly gasped. I had to hold on to my cart to steady myself. Only then did I stop and remember I had no one to send it to. I didn’t have a dad who was alive anymore in the physical world. Tears filled my eyes and I left the store quickly; my eyes were so blurry it was hard to see.

Powered by Plinky

*”Bye, Bye Borders, Borders, Bye Bye”

Borders store closing

Image by scazon via Flickr

Closing all Borders stores is an out-and-out major disappointment. It stinks, big time. What now? Adios Barnes and Noble too? I’m not saying that I don’t love Amazon.com because I do, I like it for its convenience and low prices. Sigh, but really, you can’t sit at Amazon and drink a cup of coffee. You can’t leisurely and lovingly stroll down the aisles to see what the new hardcover books look like or how the new in paperback books are all lined up in a perfect row begging for hands to fondle them. It’s just not right and it’s sad.

Now, there is no where to go and stroll through the aisles, looking at book jackets, stopping to read the titles, gently touching my fingertips to the outline of the illustration. Borders was a great place to meet, it was in the perfect place for so many people from nearby medical offices, stores, office buildings and deli’s to meet.  Closing Borders is closing a network of people who like to linger, socialize and have a damn cup of coffee even it tasted like dirty dishwater. It was a place to sit and not ever feel rushed. You could linger among magazines and mochachinos. You could also meet like-minded people, give unsolicited advice about books, make friends, start a book club, read books to their springy, enthusiastic children.

So now, what do we do? Read our lifeless Kindles (I don’t use the one I ordered years ago) by ourselves, never touching a piece of fine, heavy, cream-colored paper? Part of  closing this particular business is not like saying good-bye to a furniture store or a nail salon, it’s saying good-bye to a way of life. A nice, peaceful way of life where people could talk, they could exchange ideas and suggest books for each other or lend coupons. It was a social place as well as a store. My children may never sit in a bookstore and linger over a heavenly array of different books, with different colorful covers and  eat snacks. They won’t meet other people or share a cup of coffee or talk to other people their age. They will be hunched over their iPhones and all they need, it seems, is a credit card and a computer. It’s a sad statement for our society.

*Sung to the tune of  “Bye, Bye, Baby, Baby Goodbye…” By the Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons

Does Anyone Still Care Who Jennifer Aniston Is Dating? (Pop Cop)

The cast of Friends in the first season. Front...

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Come on people, do you really still care who Jennifer Aniston is dating this month? Wait, let me guess, is it a co-star from a recent movie? Every month it seems that there are articles on who Jen is dating and who she is not dating and whether she is still friendly with Friends co-star Courtney Cox.

FRIENDS WAS OVER IN 2004! I cared about the show, I will always like the show but the actors that played the characters? So over. If we are talking a Friends reunion, I admit, you have my undivided attention and interest. Janice’s presence is absolutely required along with another rendition of Phoebe’s Smelly Cat song. Until then, don’t bother me.

I admit I was surprised when Jen and Brad broke up but after that I kind of got over myself. I was heart-broken when Tom Cruise divorced Nicole Kidman again, not my life. I watched Friends over and over with my daughter. Every single episode again and again. My daughter would actually quote from the show, use references from the show but even she went on to Charmed, Lost and The Office.

She grew up, can’t we? I don’t need to look at magazine covers about whether Jennifer is adopting a baby or not. How about the media, the paparazzi leave her alone and let her figure out her own life?  How about not photographing her anymore; it’s just not cool. It’s also old. I’m not saying she’s old, but enough already.  Courtney Cox and David Arquette are now separated, gasp! Hang on to your BFF’s ladies, they will always be around for you, husbands, boyfriends…you never know, especially in Hollywood.

One more thing, I started a blog years ago called “Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry Need To Get Over Themselves” (Halle is not known for her solid relationships either) but I decided against it. Instead, I know, I wrote this.  How about we follow around really good philanthropists or people who have made a positive difference in the world. How about People, Us Weekly, Star and all the other magazines, show us that you won’t cover Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry for a whole year. Concentrate on real people, not actors or actresses or models or rockers. Show us only good examples.  Dare you.

I know, fat chance.

P.S. If Julia Roberts ever divorces Danny Moder I may just have to give up on the sanctity of marriage..not my own of course but everyone else’s. I admire them.

An Open Letter To Lindsay Lohan

My files (found the original; it's not much be...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Lindsay,

I am not a reporter or a tabloid hunter, I don’t have anything to do with Hollywood or acting, modeling or AA. The only thing I over indulge with are oatmeal raisin cookies, and the occasional (not THAT occasional) Almond Joy bar or half a piece of baklava. It won’t end me up in rehab or the Betty Ford Clinic but it does make my clothing too tight and uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be able to be a plus-sized model, I’d need to probably go up to a double plus.

That said, I can deal with emotional eating and extra pounds; I’m not twenty anymore so even though it doesn’t make me happy, I deal with it. I’m sure women in their 50’s can relate to me. I’m a parent of two teenagers, a boy 19 and a girl 17. I’m not a saint and either are they but we cope as best we can. My son has done things I don’t approve of, I’m sure my daughter will do the same. Thus ends the comparison. We’ve instilled good values in them, they are bound to make mistakes, but we will be here, always, to help them get it right with every ounce of our being and love.

You were a sweet, adorable kid. Don’t believe me? Watch The Parent Trap again. You got turned around. Turned around again and again and so fast that you seemed not to have a childhood or an adolescence or two strict parents on the same page. You have made mistakes, tried (feebly, in my own opinion) to correct them and failed, tried and failed again and again. Listen up, there’s hope, you are not Amy Winehouse. Yet.

I’m not being mean or cruel or trying to blame. I am begging you to wake up, leave your friends that party with you and move on, and most importantly, move AWAY.  Don’t care about Hollywood or movies for the time being or modeling. Just think about being clean, and whole, loved and TRUSTED. Turn your life around while you can. Don’t lose this chance. Please.

I’m not your mom, I’m not even a fan but I implore you to think about what you have been through and where you are going. You must know a lot of rich, DOWN TO EARTH celebrities that don’t live in Hollywood or NYC anymore. Reach out to them. Better yet, is there anyone that can help Lindsay, actors, philanthropists, solid, strict, good people-who don’t drink or use drugs and that have real values and appreciate life? Reach out to Lindsay, please. How about Rosie O’Donnell or Ellen Degeneres? The seem like sweethearts to me. If you know them CALL them or knowing them, RETURN their calls. I know, to my dismay, that Oprah is in a different place than she was once but I bet if you called her for help, she WOULD help you.

You are invited here, to our tiny house, but it would not be what you are used to. Maybe that’s a good thing. My husband may kill me but you can stay with us, upstairs right next to our bedroom in a tiny spare room. I wouldn’t rat you out to the press or to anyone. I would help you learn to trust again. There are people out there that you can rely on, you need to find them. Stick with them and they will stick with you.

Please don’t be the next Amy Winehouse, there is no need for that. You have a chance while so many terminally ill people DON’T. You have a choice. Now, get honest and get real, dye your hair, change your name and come over.

P.S. you would not be exempt from loading the dishes into the dishwasher or any other household family chore.

P.S.S.  My husband said it was fine.

From A Concerned Parent