Monday, November 30, 2009

Beginning of the Ending

In honor of winning the NaNoWriMo Challenge of 50,000 words in one month, I have posted below what is the beginning of the last chapter of my novel as a scintillating little appetizer for the ending I have yet to write! This is the continuation of the first chapter posted to my blog...we leave Kate standing outside of the sliding glass doors to the terminal at an undisclosed airport as she wrestles with whether or not to call back the man who is walking away from her. She begins a journey that takes her back ten years to discover her own "road less travelled by." (Read prologue for that to make any sense to you---no I am not being cliche with my Frost!)

Chapter Last
Sometimes we have to tell the story. We have to weave together a narrative of events, significant and insignificant, that equate to the summation of your life thus far. Stories force us to reflect. Stories ask us to put aside our ego and say, “So what?” So what are we when we are evaluated against our choices? Who are we when the fork in the road is presented to us in retrospect?
With a rush I flung myself, backpack and all, across the span of our shadowed silhouettes and found that place in the hollow of his neck that every inch of me had been craving.
He braced himself for the impact and after a few struggled moments when we both were tottering dangerously over the concrete, he pulled me close and tucked his nose behind my right ear, buried in the sunned tresses tied in a bun at the base of my neck. He exhaled and the tension left his body.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A flute on a September Morning

A rare thing occurred that day…something I cannot explain. There have been times when I met someone or saw something that I questioned whether or not it was there. This mournful morning we all saw something that questioned our reality, our faith. We saw a nation on her knees. A spirit tried. A global community tested. I wonder looking back if what I saw, what I heard, other people experienced at the exact time in their own cities, on their own street. It was that morning that I found my humanity.
The September morning was as beautiful as one can hope for in Pittsburgh. No cloud in sight…no oppressive heat. The air was clear and cool as it wafted through the vent in the window near the shower. I stood watery-eyed, still dazed from the reading marathon the night before and watched as the cool, dry air from the other side of the wall mixed and swirled with the steam rising above my head. The heat of the water on my face and breath of fresh air boosted my energy and I clamored, a little late, from the shower. The morning show lit up my television, but I failed to pay attention to it in my grog. I reappeared from the bathroom in time to see something on the screen I could not wrap my mind around…a plane….a collision….a stunned anchor….a question: What’s going on?
Over and over it played, as if the television itself was trying to decide if this was real. The image of the plane gliding into the first tower reminded me of a corny B-movie when the animators would “fly” a plastic toy plane around in battle scenes-strings showing and all. But as hard as I tried, I could not make out the faintest sliver of strings, nor could I convince my mind that this was a miniature model on some sound stage in Hollywood.
The anchor returned and announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems that a plane has just crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York.” Instinctively I reached for my cell, called mom who reassured me that the attack must have been an accident—to go ahead and go to class. Heart and head pounding, I quickly dressed for class, layered in a black full length sweater jacket, my “I (heart) NYC” tee and cd player in hand.
The bus to downtown Pittsburgh was surprisingly empty. The normal hustle and bustle of business men and women, blue-collar workers, students, and visitors that board the 71C Shadyside Express was limited to an elderly woman laden with shopping bags and myself. The bus driver, listening to her radio, glances in the overhead mirror and announced to us “There was another plane.” Another plane? I stepped off the curb darting buses leaving the island-city known as “The Burg” and sprinted the two flights of stairs up to my Natural Science classroom. A T.V. monitor in the student lounge flashesdfootage of a smoldering skyscraper as a small black winged figure disappeared behind the billows of smoke shortly followed by another red and orange blast. The announcer, pale with wide-eyes, informed us that it seems an orchestrated attack has been launched involving hijacked commercial flights.
9:30 and class began with a noticeable amount of empty seats. The professor briefly praised us for honoring our commitment to academia and assured us that “it” was over then begins the lecture on super novas.
9:55-- a rustling sound outside the door and it swung open. Another professor walked deliberately to the startled man at the lectern. What feels like an hour later the visitor leaves and I heard “A third plane has just crashed into the Pentagon. Let’s finish this topic and dismiss for the day. I suggest that you return home as soon as possible.” We sat quietly, ram-rod straight in our chairs, and watched the clock as another twenty minutes slowly passed.
10:15-- a woman in her fifties, silvery-white shoulder length hair, and lose Bohemian clothing sprinted to the lecturer, a look of shock and dismay on his face. “His wife” one student leaned over and whispered. Turning to us, he pronounced, “Downtown is being evacuated. The FBI building is on lockdown. Go home now. If you live in the dorms, go to the street level floor and wait in the common room. If you live outside the city, good luck.” Good Luck? Good Luck!
The train of students filing down the emergency stair well moved like a herd of cattle trying to file through a single doorway. No one pushes, no one says a word. What will be waiting for us outside? Will we see smoldering and burning like on the television? Will parts of buildings be collapsing on top of us? Will there be people-white ghosts in ash and suits- struggling down the street in a cloud of debris? Where will I go? Home? Home is a thousand miles away…I want to go home…please, let me go home…
I am astonished to see above me the same sea of blue, the same clear early morning sky free from cloud and jet stream. The buildings hover over me tall and erect…still intact. The people rushing around me are injury-free, no blob of white and gray. The bus. I ran the three blocks to my bus stop praying I won’t have to wait long. Standing on top of the bench to see over the crowd of people waiting before me, I could barely make out the 71C glowing in yellow on a field of black just two blocks away. Thank God.
The doors fold opened with a smack, but there were no seats. “Everybody on. We’ve been told to evacuate the streets…we can’t go in ‘til everyone is out of the city” the driver relays to me as I catch her eye, half filled with fear, half with courage.
Was she thinking of her home? Was she thinking of when she would see her children again? Was she thinking of the refuge, the hope she provided the dozens of people now crowded in her bus who she was delivering from an island where only bridges can deliver you from isolation, desertion?
The doors slammed shut a few people behind me. Desperate, sweaty palms slapped on the glass… “There will be another one shortly” she shouted cheerily to the anxious faces in the street outside.
We inched along for a moment then came to a dead stop. Those of us standing bent our heads down to peer through the windows, craning our necks to get a view of the tops of the buildings, to the sky overhead. Next to me stood a family, a mother with an infant in her arms and a toddler by her side. The toddler began to cry reaching up to be in her mother’s arms. I noticed how impossible it would be for her to cradle both children, so I gently knelt down and introduced myself to the girl.
“My name’s Kate…are your feet tired?” She nodded warily. “Would you like me to hold you?” I ask more to the mother than child. Both nodded gratefully. I tok the girl in my arms…she weighed nothing compared to the bag of anthologies and textbooks I dropped to the floor of the bus. Her tiny fingers clutched at the rim of my sweater as she stared into my eyes. A man on the bench in front of me stood up and presented his seat to me. I gladly accepted. He understood that my burden was greater than his.
She sat on my lap twirling the tie of my jacket around her tiny fingers. Her braids sprouted all over her head like daisies in a flower bed with barrettes of pink, yellow, orange, and red clamping her fine hair at the ends and weighing them down. When she laughed they clinked together like plastic bells.
A scream in front of the bus caught our attention. The bus swayed to the curb side as people crammed to see out the window. There lying on the curb, was a woman in a skirt-suit, pumps, and hose. A gash traced her hairline above the right temple to just between her eyes. One eye was already blacked by the blood collecting in her eyebrow and lashes. In the rush of evacuees darting from bus to bus she had been shoved off the curb, head colliding with the pavement. The girl’s eyes grew from their regular almond shape to an O out of horror. I turned her to me and staredt telling her about my cat, Tigger, who used to climb up my legs to get on my shoulders. She smiled and even let a little laugh escape when I told her about the flying-kitty trick.
As people ran to the woman who half consciously lied in the street, a haunting melody teased my ear. A silvery-sweet line of a melody I could barely recall….Could this be real? How, in the middle of this chaos could someone be playing a flute?
The crowd in front of me shifted; people took their seats; all grew quiet.
Leaning against the red brick wall of the Rite Aid was a woman, dressed in gray, hair unkempt, clogs on her feet, eyes closed, playing a flute. The bus stopped its shuttering as all eyes and ears gazed upon the woman. The notes were so clear and true that they ceased the pounding of our hearts long enough for us to discern “America the Beautiful” streaming from the pipe. The phrases were built with subtle crescendos through pensive, soulful phrases that seemed to be emanating from the city itself.
Time froze; tragedy was overtaken with the common bond of humanity for a split second. My eyes stung, and before I realized it a tear struck the little girl on her head. She looked up at me, smiled, and said “Don’t be sad” as she wiped away the tear drop from her brow.
With a lurch, the bus started again, rolling with determination through the stop light and weaving through traffic on search of the bridge which would take us safely across the Allegheny. The flute kept playing but was soon interrupted with the wail of the ambulance sirens. Relief escaped our chests and we settled more into our seats, looking ahead for home, for safety.
I stepped off the bus in Shadyside, the girl waving at me through the window as the driver pulls away. Turning toward the street, which would take me to my apartment I marveled at how peaceful and uninterrupted the maple lined streets were…as if nothing ever happened.
Had I imagined the whole thing? Climbing the marble steps up to my third floor apartment, I caught bits of a news broadcast through the door on the second story. “A day of tragedy…” the sad voice utters. I flicked on my own television and aw the devastation. I called mom, who by now has convinced herself that Pittsburgh has been struck, and I was dead after she assured me it was safe to go to class. Grief, ultimate fear, pain, and relief filled her tear-choked voice.
Once I felt reassured that my own fears were assuaged and my mother was convinced I was alive, I scrolled through the list of missed calls on my cell. Where was Tyler? Surely, when events began to unfold he wondered where I was, was I safe.
I found him. He was sitting at his table, hunched over, the television on mute behind him as the station continuously looped a reel of footage from the streets as one by one, each plan found its target.
“Hm?” He didn’t turn. I walked to him, placed the palms of my hand on his shoulders and then sunk down onto his back, wrapping my arms around his chest, forcing him to stop the motion of his pencil.
In an attempt for him to tell me it was all a mistake, I whispered, “I can’t believe it. I…”
“I know,” cutting me off gently, “but we have to keep going.”
And that was it. I didn’t tell him about the little girl with the braids or the flute, or my fears that I would never leave that island. I didn’t tell him how much I suddenly missed home and felt the pang of loneliness. I didn’t tell him I had started to doubt what I was doing, what was it all for?
Curling up on his couch, I said nothing and waited while the sun began to set, the newsreel began to roll again, and addicted to the carnage and tragedy, I relieved the morning’s events over and over…alone.
I spent the next week in front of that television running through the gamut of emotions every human was feeling who witnessed the horror unfold that September morning. I thought of home….a thousand miles away from burning buildings, demolished blocks, evacuated cities….and yearned . Yearned for home…yearned to feel safe. The clamp around my heart tightened, my pulse raced, and grief seared a place in my soul never touched before. Such a deep sense of loss and mourning engulfed me; I knew I would be lost.
But, then it dawned on me. This was humanity. This was the phenomenon when a million souls felt the same overwhelming pain at the same time…this was the bond we all share, the depth we all belong to. This was what made us human. This was what makes us divine. And the one human I was most connected to in the world, was now farther away from me than he had been when I was a thousand miles away. A deep void settled in.
I succumbed to the gulf and let myself drift down into the indigo, floating through an endless swirling sky. I felt my neighbor. I felt the man below me whom I had never met. I felt my family on the other side of the nation. I felt my grandmother gone years before. I felt crowds on the other side of the world gathered in front of the American Embassies-communities of grief and mourning. I felt my pain and deep frustration. Reaching out to feel Tyler’s pain, to touch on that sense of connection I so desperately needed to establish, I felt nothing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Part II opening chapter

“The Gust that Extinguishes the Flame”
To say there are many types of love in one lifetime is like saying there are many stars in the sky. All stars burn. They burn with varying degrees of intensity and heat. One type of love is like an igniting a match. A spark ignites a burning, intense flame upon contact with the rough surface. The match-tip, primed and ready to ignite, makes contact on a coarse surface and “snap.” Fire.
This love burns with all of the intensity it can muster, quickly sucking in the surrounding oxygen, burning down through the quick and into the stem. Rapidly, it progresses until the heat becomes too unbearable for the fingers that desperately grasp it. Either the hand gives up, shaking out the flame or releasing it. Every now and then, beyond our control a sudden gust extinguishes the flame; sometimes even the brightest flames can be extinguished by the subtlest drafts. If our flame resists, we even allow it to reach the tip of our fingertips where it runs out of the timber it needs to burn, forever singing and damaging the nerve endings, so that next time we won’t feel the heat as intensely.
The other type of love burns more steadily, with less heat but with more constancy. Perhaps the violent explosion of a match ignited a set of coals set deep into white sand or a coniferous forest floor. Nonetheless, the coals are lit and begin to glow in soft amber, dull orange and traces of crimson. Flames might dance, teasingly, across the surface, like ice-skaters on a pond, never staying for too long. Sometimes you might observe the coals to be deeply black and cool, but you extend your hand to rest on top of them and the warmth enlivens even the numbest nerves in your fingers.
A solid gust of wind or breath can stir the fire sleeping sullenly within the coals themselves. Ironically, it is sometimes this same gust of wind that extinguished the match, which becomes the breath of life to light the coals. One flame vanishes as quickly as it appeared; another, softer, gentler source of warmth takes hold, waiting to be energized, to be fed and fueled.
A single lump of coal, course, gritty, and black, will burn steadily for as long as there is the slightest bit of fuel to sustain it. The match, however gloriously bright and passionate, is quick to devour its own fuel source and unreliable in the softest breezes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Sympathies to James Frey

WIth this whole "write a novel in a month" idea I so cleaverly dedicated myself to, I didn't stop to think, what do I really have to write about? I had collected snips and snapshots of moments from my life in quick and dirty memoir pieces. I had outlined a couple of novel ideas...but that was the problem. What do I have that is "novel?" What I mean is what do I have that is 1) fresh and 2) fiction? What I had were a few hurried moments of writing when I felt compelled to write, but these moments often produced the truth (not fiction). Okay, well how can I use my memories, my experiences, and my emotions to build a character that propels a reader-worthy story? I thought at first I'd be brilliant and try to interpose fiction and fact. I could "trick" the reader into believing it was all fiction when in fact 90% was fact and I was selfishly rewriting my own ending of choice. This wasn't fair, to me or a reader.

Mainly it wasn't fair to me. In trying to write the truth from a detached "this is my creation" point of view I became sulky. My writing was sulky. I can't write the truth and pretend it is anything other than what it is. This, unfortunately, does not a novel make. James Frey so publicly demonstrated this with the backlash from his "memoir" piece Oprah whipped him with on national T.V. I understand a little bit of his possible reasoning--who doesn't want to be the epic version of herself?

But, it did give me a place to outline of a story with the sketches of characters I had dreamt of on a night train from Barcelona to Paris with a good friend. Based on reality, based on my own experiences, but not me. This is much safer. This is fiction. I can write about her and not have to relive my own painful moments. I can give her choices I didn't have as my own little experiment in storytelling but remain true to the character and not bend her to reflect my own preferences.

So, Chapter 1 that is posted here is that little flash of an opening scene that Jenn Morgan and I giggled over excitedly on a night train over three years ago.

The "Prologue" piece was my attempt to salvage some of the pieces I have that are utterly and 100% me as well as the "Bedouin Nights" piece. Those will not make fiction, it would be unfair. So, I'm holding on to them, but those cute little suburban teenagers falling in love at a party will not make an appearance in this novel. Not in any recognizable form at least.

Happy writing!

Chapter 1- First Draft

Chapter 1

The jolt of the landing gear as it made contact with the pavement below alerted my senses once again. So gently lulled out of my Dramamine reverie, gripping the tips of the armrests, I gulped in my breath. Will he be there? Did he get the message? My God, Kate, this is a lunatic plan.
The slight pop when the seal of the cabin door is released sent me to my feet, grasping for the one bag I carried onto the flight, and I bolted up the aisle and down the plank way to the terminal. Shit. Damn baggage…which one did they say again? I forgot about the backpack I’d been lugging around Europe the last two weeks. I couldn’t just leave it. So I ran to the first attendant I saw, “Excuse me…Excuse me??!!” But she just turned, waved me aside and pointed me in the direction of the now mass of people that I had trampled during my hasty flight down the cramped aisle of the aircraft. I took a deep breath, sighed, and stepped in line to follow the entourage down to baggage claim.
Staring down the marquis announcing incoming flights with all the will power and consternation I could muster did not make the seconds and minutes on the rotary clock pass by any more quickly. Either he’ll be there or he won’t. One way or another, standing here another few moments—patiently—will not change what is waiting for you.
Nothing will change? Then, why the hell did I just spend a full credit card limit and half of another on booking a last minute transatlantic flight? Why did he leave the note? Why did I follow him? Why was I now struck with more fear than I had been in these last few, darkest months? Everything will change. What’s waiting for me right outside the terminal doors—or what is not—will change who I decide I will be. It will change what I see as the whole purpose to this disastrous and most lucky of all the perfectly planned moments in my life.
I must have been lost in my own rhetorical questioning when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a baggage attendant for the airline lift my dusty struggling backpack off of the carousel and place it in the “nobody claimed me” roped-off corner of the baggage claim office.
Oh-My-God, how long was I standing here? “Wait, wait it’s mine!” I pushed through the tiny group of Japanese tourists huddled around their multilingual guide and approached the stocky man holding my backpack filled with napkins from Angelina’s in Paris, a rock from the beach in Banyuls and the stuffed Penguin I brought back from the Barcelona aquarium for Bleu. Through the most innocent an gracious smile I could gather I chirped, “I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention, but I’m here, I’ll take it now.”
Lifting one eye brow the attendant held steadfast to his duty to protect the international unclaimed baggage of the world and requested to see my boarding pass and passport as proof that I was not some tourist bent on stealing some poor American girl’s baggage with full of prized possessions. We made our quick exchange: my boarding pass and passport for the backpack—“Crap!” My passport. In my rush to see which direction fate, Kharma, Jesus, Bacchus, Buddha, and Bono had chosen for me I had jumped onto the escalator without retrieving my passport from the dutiful attendant holding my baggage hostage, which was my ticket through customs.
I stopped. Let the escalator take me to the top and back down again, all while fighting the urge to be that girl who runs haphazardly down the wrong way on an escalator and let it instead carry me at its own pace. After recovering from my absent- minded blunder, I proceeded again to the escalator, even pausing to let the entire group of Japanese internationals, who had multiplied exponentially while I was losing my mind, all board the moving stairway together and ahead of me.
Just stop and slow down. I took a deep breath and held it, listening to my ears buzz as the oxygen was rapidly consumed through the blood stream. As I swayed slightly to the lull and hum of the fluorescent lights in the stairway to my future, things started to feel not so terrifying. I even started to relax my shoulders and allow the weight of my backpack to straighten out my spine. I was becoming so relaxed I could almost close my eyes. This is nice, really nice, maybe I’ll just stay on this escalator and ride it up and down a few times…what would it hurt…what else do I have to do….why are my lips tingling? What’s that popping sound??? Why is my chest burn—BREATHE, Kate! With a gasp of breath and lurching motion that sent my hands grasping for the rubber handrails I opened my eyes in time to step off on the customs level of the terminal
Okay, no more funny breathing techniques! Finding myself in the appropriate permanent citizen/ resident line, I waited as patiently as I could manage, until I heard the “Welcome home” and slap, slap of the arrival stamp on the blue pages of my passport.
Rounding the corner to the exit I felt the sudden urge to hold my breath again. You are going to have to talk yourself through this one Kate! Move one foot and then the other. I obeyed and the automatic doors opened, revealing a strip of sunlight and wafting in the fresh air I’d been craving for the past ten hours of my journey.
The automatic doors shut again, cutting off the fresh supply of oxygen to my hammering heart. You can do better than that, sweetheart, now do it again. This time I did not step forward, I did not walk, I leapt. On the other side of the door I froze. Should I look around, where do I go now? Fellow passengers passed by me to embrace loved ones coming to great them, climb in taxis, and stand in line for the shuttle.
My head swirled where I stood, and I experienced one of those moments where my mind’s eye rose out of my body to take a better look around. While it spun two feet above my head, adding to the growing disorientation and jet lag, I couldn’t help but doubt. The fears and explanations ran through my mind like a grocery list I had memorized on my way to the store: He didn’t get the message. He got it but is running late. He got it and is going to punish me for dragging him through all of this nonsense, making me sweat it out. He didn’t get it. His own flight was late. He got it and he changed his mind. “No,” the word escaped my lips like a breath that had been held in for too long.
That was it, that was Occam’s Razor-- the simplest explanation as to why my arms are not wrapped around him right now, running the tips of my fingers across the jagged hairline of his neck. My mind returned to its body and, lowering my head to shield my face from the warmth of the streaming light on the platform, I felt myself sag under this heavy realization. This was a consequence I had not allowed myself to contemplate on that motion-sickness-medication-haze-induced journey across the Atlantic. I wondered, had I made the right decision? Would I be able to love him and only him? Would the last few months and years dissipate like the fog of a cool November morning as the sun climbs its heights. Would I lose any semblance of the relationship I felt compelled to follow and pursue earlier this summer? Which one would I lose? It didn’t occur to me that I would lose both.
I shook my head in disbelief as the dark curtain of my hair momentarily lifted from my downcast eyes. Out of the corner of one eye I saw the tip of a shadow. An outline of black on cement that managed to cast a halo around the surrounding surface. The top of a head, then wide shoulders, a torso, and legs that stretched to meet a pair of leather hiking boots. This is cruel, Kate. What a terrible time to start daydreaming.
I wasn’t, though. This wasn’t my daydream; this platform was real. And I was being pulled back to reality by the recognition of a leap of faith and the consequence it incurred.
“Kate?” The hiking boots inquired, like an old man who by chance runs into the love of his life one day in the grocery store—sure of and yet afraid to acknowledge the well of emotions the long absence had failed to quell.
“Kate…I got your message. I’m here, Kate…Kate are you okay?” taking a step toward me, he watched as I pulled away, allowing my glance to travel from the laces of his boots to his torn jeans an fitted white t-shirt, finally up to the face I had willed to appear in the sky and sea I had fixed my eyes on from the airplane.
Suddenly hurt, and full of doubt, his face contorted and his eyes caught the same square inch of pavement mine had been trained on. “It’s okay, you made a mistake. I…get it…Kate…I….” He turned to walk back in the direction he came from leaving me behind, a gaping, pathetic girl of a woman standing alone on the concrete platform.
What am I doing? This wasn’t what I expected it to be. Why am I here? The outline of his silhouette stretched thinner and longer as the distance between him grew and I watched as he walked back out of my life.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prologue: The Road Not Taken- second draft

Prologue: “The Road Not Taken”
Robert Frost. 1875–

67. The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back. 15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20

Letting go of someone you lost without control or influence is like pulling off a Band-Aid. Year by year you tug at another corner, hoping to loosen up the adhesive goo, to wear it down until one day perhaps the Band-Aid will fall off of it’s own volition.
Year by year, I lift a corner here or there, thinking I might act like it’s gone, but that’s the point of flesh-color bandages: if you squint under the right light, you can’t make out where the Band-Aid ends and you begin.
Every once in a while I expose it to the air and sun and it stings, it burns, so I cover it back up. Now I take a deep breath, take a swig of my Chardonnay and rip off the Band-Aid one final time.
The anticipation makes me dizzy for underneath there’s a goodbye as permanent as the scar it leaves behind. It’s been so long now; I can barely remember the hurt that it’s hiding—the scar that runs vein deep.
In reality, we have to let stories and plots fray and unravel in order to maintain the greater tapestry. But somewhere, the soul needs choice. The soul needs a place to play out the moments that almost were or at least almost could be.
A writer possesses the power to rewrite history. With a stroke on the keyboard or a swipe of my pen I can reinterpret certain events to play out the choice I was never given. With a strike of the deletion key I can erase my mistakes, erase my humiliation and pain. The question is where do I want to rewrite it? Where do I want to stop reality to play out the way I wonder things could have been or to play out the gut-wrenching decision I didn’t have to make? Until I know what decision I would make, I will always doubt myself.
Robert Frost speaks of his two roads. Walking one afternoon, he came across two roads that were in essence equals, two paths, one “as just as fair/ And having perhaps the better claim/ Because it was grassy and wanted wear.” Many readers interpret the poem to be about Carpe Diem—seize the day…the “road less travelled”…taking the high road. But, I think that Frost’s roads were equal in their traffic, equal in their travelling, and arrived at virtually the same location. The choice became a matter of gut, of instinct, of initial preference.
How noble it is to think back on these two roads and determine that one was the more difficult, that we were in fact blazing a new path! As the drama of our lives unfold, perhaps we realize that there was very little drama indeed and that’s when we decide those two roads were in fact unequal paths to our future selves.
We make our decision to embark on one path, reminding ourselves that the other will always be available once we are past our youth, “Oh, I marked the first for another day!\Yet knowing how way leads on to way\ I doubted if I should ever come back.” Then again, when will we ever be back at that specific crossroad?
In our youth we make choices that set us on our own “road well traveled.” It’s only once we pass the point of no return that we begin to remember fondly the “road not taken.” Not until the moment passes us by, the moment of decision, of direction, of destiny that we fabricate that second, lesser road. What is it that we wish to redeem in ourselves? Is it a matter of pride that we deem, five, ten, twenty years later that we made a morally defendable choice in our youth?
Is it a defense mechanism? Perhaps if we think back to that point when we faced two indistinguishable paths when we understood very little about the consequences of life and situation, then we feel the urging sensation to deflect that moment of ignorance and now pretend that we knew all along how this well-traversed path would deliver us.
Is it a romantic ideal? Who doesn’t want to be the hero or heroine of his or her own story? By placing ourselves in a moment of crisis of conscience, then perhaps we empower ourselves to say, “I made the right choice. I chose the best path and I’m better for it.” When in fact, we secretly acknowledge that no path is truly better than another; it’s just different.
To rewrite history is to be powerful. To claim the choices and consequences as our own doing is to become 100% in control of our current situations.
What would happen, though, if, when we did think back and say with a sigh, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,\ I took the one less traveled by,\ And that has made all the difference.”
Did it? Did it really make all the difference or did the difference appear once we reached the end? Did the “difference” manifest out of repressed disappointments and fears, unresolved feelings and reoccurring dreams? Or was there ever really a difference worth mentioning.
The great losses and joys in my life led me to this crossroad—these two divergent paths. The highways, dark and tortuous as they may have been, brought me here and held the signs that I needed---but in the blur I couldn’t read them. So which path did I choose?
My roads appear behind me as indistinguishable from another as one highway is to the next. But, what if suddenly, one road became a greater struggle than the other? What if one path, “the road not taken,” became the object of closer examination? What then would I discover about myself when offered the choice I was never presented?
Now, “ages and ages hence,” “I will tell this with a sigh” mine was not the path “less travelled by.” It was simply a path no greater or lesser than another, just different.

Jump Start on November

I'm dedicated to writing a novel in the month of November....The idea is that you join a huge group of wanna-be-writers in dedicating yourself to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. Check out the website

I am doing this! I will write! Come what may! It will be crap and that's okay! So, to get a jump start on things here's a little somethin', somethin' I've been working on for a good two or three years: (p.s., I have no idea where this "novel" thing will take me, but for once in my life I'm jumping in with both feet and no plan!) I'm not ignoring the fact that this is a very risky endeavor....I acknowledge the great personal stakes involved, mostly directed towards my pride. But, if I don't do it now then will when I do it? If I can't "publish" pieces at a time, how will I ever publish in its entirety?

Bedouin Fires and Suburban Street Lamps”

I saw myself retreat whenever he asked, "What are you thinking?" because he truly wanted to know what was in my mind and heart. I saw his fingers grip a pencil or a brush as they danced in a well-choreographed ballet over pages and canvases, mirroring the same motion from more private moments.

Love is the recognition of ourselves in others. I saw myself in the tension of the fist of his left hand as it balled-up when he had something to say but held his tongue. The way he pressed his lips together tightly, forbidding himself to say what he really thought. I saw myself on a desert plain in a strange land, illuminated by dying embers in white sand and blazing stars.

I saw myself in his deep-set ember eyes peering out and taking in.

"It's like nothing you would have ever thought. It's not dead--it's more full of life than any place I've ever seen." Two friends sat outside of the party at the mayor's house whose daughter, in her WASP rebellion, had invited just a few too many inebriates to really establish a "chill" atmosphere. We were children together in our yearning for adventure. I sat, 15 and inspired, on the cement curb under the glow of a hissing street lamp. He filled my mind with images of camels and desert mounds. As he described the scene from his summer spent half way across the world, I could just make out the shadow puppets of camels and shepherds illuminated on a field of yellow suburban street light, dancing in the shadows of the temped September night.

"Did you know astronauts say they can see the Bedouin fires from space? Imagine being an insignificant Israeli shepherd who built a fire one cold night to protect his flock of sheep that reached out to the universe." These were the types of "imaginings" I became addicted to. Imagining we were the only two people in the world who recognized the beauty of an anthill. Imagining we were experiencing the same earth-shattering connection that no one other than we could understand.

"I can only imagine,” was all I could say. And I could, only imagine. I had seen stars in a black sky as a child, driving out to an obscure corner of the world only to peer through the eyes of a microscope the size of a quarter to catch a fleeting glimpse at the smudge in the sky that was Halley's comet. I had seen stars from an Arizona plateau--infinite and spiraling in multi- dimensional constellations. I had seen fire--but I had never seen anything as beautiful as what he described now.

"We hiked. We swam in the Dead Sea. We rode camels even. Being in Israel is being in another world where people know where they come from and where they are going."

"Yeah," chuckling at the irony of his sentiments. Flashes of footage on the Gaza strip and protests at the Wailing Wall sprinted across my mind's eye. More like being at one with perpetual turmoil and unrest over a bunch of sand. I was 15 and I knew everything.

"It's not like here where people drive by sunsets that are magnificent every day and don't give them a second glance. People are too blind, especially in Texas, to see what's around them." He always had a way of revealing to me what was right in front of my eyes. It was in this moment that I so desperately wanted, needed to see through his eyes.

How did I look to him? For the first time in my young life, I wished I were a Bedouin fire, noticeable for its untamed beauty in his vast world. To be something so miraculous, so vibrant to anyone would be...would be...Well, it just would be earth shattering. I was envious of a Bedouin shepherd I had never given a second thought toward halfway around the world, who evoked such curiosity and amazement in his mind.

That night I dreamt of sand and warmth. I dreamt of the smell of leather, salt, and water, and I felt the earthy warmth of a desert fire that reaches into the depth of a midnight sky.

"I could"

I could climb to a roof top and sing or scream or jump.

I could pull out my hair and bite my lip til it bleeds.

I could implode. I could. But, I don't.

I could cry...I could. I could hide.

I could smile. Smile and not show.

Show the breaking and bending as hot iron and steal

Pops and crackles and spits.

I could.

Belt. Belt it loud. Ridiculously loud until my ear drums ring.

Ringing, and Singing, and Crying, Jumping.


I don't.

I could let this knot in my throat dissolve.

I could let this searing cease.

I could scream it, or sing it, or write it, or sign it.

But I don't...and I won't.


You could. But you don't. And you won't.

I could...

Second Adolescence?

A second adolescence?
I’ve always been proud of the idea that I am a strong, confident woman. Always thought how lucky I am to know who I am and possess super self-confidence, blah, blah, blah...As a teenager, even, I don’t remember going through the extreme angst of peer acceptance/ rejection or crisis due to body image or others’ perceptions of me. I seemed to have glided through my teenage years quite comfortable with who I was, my friends, my situation.

So....why now, as a 26 year old successful happy woman, am I beginning to have thoughts about how fat I am, how I want to be perceived as hip and cool by the adults around me, and I am ridiculously hormonal....I mean, seriously, I’ve become nearly obsessive about nutritional labels and light beer, counting calories, and weighing in religiously every Monday night as I fluctuate between 164 and 162, longing for the day when the scale will say 150 again or even 155. I’m spending 8 hrs a week working my ass off at the gym, not because it’s the healthy thing to do, but because I’m going to Mexico in July and want to look like I did on my honeymoon in my cute little tropical bikini.

I swing from silly and happy to sullen and moody in the time it takes for a bag of popcorn to be ready. I tear up at the thought of a sad movie or song on the radio. I flat out ball my eyes out when I get frustrated.

Jealousy has entered my mind. Suspicion. so many of the teenage girls I see everyday. Dude...I expected it to get more difficult to feel good about myself as I got older, but I didn’t perceive this until I was in my late 30’s and 40’s, not at twenty freakin’ six!

I’m insatiable when it comes to fashion and labels. Dying for a designer handbag and new pair of Jimmy Choos. Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite. Shouldn’t I be feelinhg more secure about myself and my body, less concerned with what people think of me, and more confident in my relationships? Are my teenage students wearing off my me finally or have I entered into some kind of quarter life adolescence?


In response to a dear friend’s thoughts..."Ache"
I like to think, or try at least, that there is purpose for the ache. You know the whole...that which does not kill us, blah, blah....And, whereas right now in my life I have no reason to ache, throb, burn, etc...I have to admit that I do in certain (many) situations or moods (whenever a memory or emotion strikes). I could say that the ache is to serve as a contrast to the warm fuzzies and only heighten the love I am surrounded with. But, most of the time I think that's just bull shit. I am one, too, who fills my time with "activity" so that I can't have time to reflect. (Hello, I did my masters in less than 2 years!). I feel with ya there sista!

Nonetheless, I feel like sometimes the ache stems from this giant hole somewhere around my sternum that is so obvious to those around me. Like in cartoons when the coyote is hit with a canon ball and it leaves a hole the size of the ball that you can see through--that kind of obvious. Over the years the hole has become smaller...and smaller...and now is more of a phantom pain I think. My hole and I have become friends and when it does appear it's kind of like "Hi! Where have you been? I missed you...don't go away again." Sadistic? Yes. My ache and I have a long standing, tumultuous love affair.

"Our Deepest Fear"

In response to "Our Deepest Fear" from A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Our deepest fear…our deepest fear. When our deepest fears are realized, when we overcome other's attempts to "shrink" us—to make us feel less than we are—we have truly accomplished something great. Where does the courage lie to stand up and say, "I am brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? From what source does the courage flow? To be liberated, to be free of this fear is truly divine—but at what cost is self-actualization achieved? At the cost of a belief? Perhaps at the loss of something "more precious than gold." Sometimes I wonder: does the release of our fear outweigh the cost?
Isn't fear a natural force meant to protect and serve us? And, I am perplexed at the possibility that when we lose the fear that we are not powerful—when it suddenly goes out like a pulsating neon bar light, leaving us suddenly in the dark—does that invite the insecurity to creep in, which hisses in our ear, "you may be shining. You may be liberated. You may be fabulous…but you will never reach that potential—you will fall short." I may, in my greatest moments scream back at the voice "I am. I am. I am. I will!" Yet, the voice screams louder, too, until I am hoarse with exhaustion and dejected. Which is more loathsome: to possess the fear that we are powerful or the worry that we will not realize that power?
I am hopeful at the last thought—my liberation may release others from their own oppression—and that is the price worth paying. That is the source of the courage and will that courses through me even when my heart breaks, even when I may be left standing in the dark. I may not be empowered to run around switching off neon signs in everyone's metaphysical barroom—but perhaps through my experience, others can learn to cut off the source of energy to their own flashing signs and learn to illuminate the darkness from within.

Imposter Painter

My grandmother had beautiful hands. Her hands were unreasonably soft when considering the daily toil she spent cooking for her family, cleaning crappie, and tending her gardens of asparagus, red potatoes, okra, squash, and tomatoes. Her fingers were long and well-tapered with slim ovals at her nails that were always clean and simply filed just beyond the tip of her finger. Despite the fact that her knuckles were swollen and twisted with arthritis, her fingers were multi-talented. She hand quilted queen-size comforters for each of her four grandchildren each year, crocheted throws, and painted.

When my sister and I visited we knew to anticipate the dawn fishing trips to the crappie barge where we would spend the day surrounding a 4x4 hole in a tin can, staring at pee-yellow water and swatting flies. At the hottest part of the day we would reel in our lines and head in. On the porch of my grandparents' modest trailer the hot summer breeze smelled of honeysuckle and peach blossoms. There, we would paint. Well, my sister and grandmother would paint and I would dabble.

Sometimes, we'd gather around the kitchen table with leftover sourdough biscuits and chocolate chip cookies made with shortening and other samplings of Mema's cooking. She'd take out the tackle box where cracked and pinched tubes of acryllic paints were lined like the colors of the rainbow. Our inspiration usually stemmed from the back issues of Texas Highways magazines: fields of bluebonnets, a setting sun, windmills, hummingbirds, and lakes--her favorite Texas landscapes. I was always so envious of my sister as she went straight to the paints, mixing, blending, creating a perfect replica of whichever image was before her.

I don't remember ever finishing a painting with my grandmother; I started several, but I never knew where to go on the canvas and I obsessed about making it look perfect. I desperately wanted to see the depth and dimension that my sister obviously recognized in the glossy photograph. I strained my eyes to see the subtle hues and shades of colors, the play of light and shadow to create scenes.

I suppose this desperate attempt to be a painter manifested itself in my house. If I look through the door of my bedroom I see 6 different wall colors (not to mention the bathroom I cannot see which actually makes 7). I love color in my home. White walls are not comforting to me. They do not warm or cool me. Traditionally, whenever I have any span of time, I paint. I've just started a two week span where I will be alone in the house, staring at my motley walls, dying to do something daring like paint them all one consistent color. Instead, I went to Hobby Lobby, lost myself in the paint and art supply aisles, and returned home with a very simple acryllic paint set, brushes, and canvas.

I intend to paint....I haven't gotten beyond color...that maybe as far as I do get. But, I'm needing to pull something that is stewing, rending my heart in two, and put it outside myself. I've tried writing--words have served as a less ridiculous pallette for me in the past--but it's not working now. My heart hurts. It's imploding, caving in on itself, crushing me, and the only way I can think to still the rending is to mix color. I won't go so far as to try to actually represent something physical on the canvas even though certain moments and images are etched on the back of my eyelids each time I close them. They may appear...but again, not through anything recognizable.

So, here I imposter painter...feigning a talent that is not mine out of necessity to breathe a little easier.

Karmic Cleansing and the Art of Doing Nothing

Karmic cleansing and the art of doing nothing
I'm currently "reading" (listening to) Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir/ travel bio about a woman finding balance in her life after a nasty divorce. She is a yogi, so I am totally digging the hilarious moments of meditation where her own mind is arguing with itself about which meditative mantra is best. Anyway...I feel the need to do some balancing in my life. This past year, now that I can look back at it, has been such an insane journey and maze--my mind feels like an Escher painting whenever I begin to think about reading one of the professional books piled up on my desk or getting back to the many articles I've started.

While in Rome--the first stop on her journey, the author learns the "art of doing nothing" and eating whatever you want whenver you want for pure enjoyment. I am far from that level of internal balance. I can't just do nothing--flashback to the blog on aches for hypothesis as to why--I have to have some small goal to accomplish. So for the past 4 days I have waged karmic war on the front and backyard. I literally spent four hours on my knees with a pickaxe looking tool hacking away at weeds and grass that has illegally occupied the pond area. If anyone needs help builidng a water garden I am a pro! I succesfully revamped the backyard pond and added a very zen fountain to the front yard. As bits of dirt, grass clippings, and gnats circled my head and choked my lungs today while mowing, I heard that little voice in the back of my head saying "nice try, Audrey--you're still a nut."

Well, I do not accept defeat that easily, so now I will wage war on the inner sanctum--the house itself and the list of menial odd jobs I've made for myself. Nothing will be accomplished until my physical surroundings are in order. I'm secretly placing all of my bets on the hope that once the house is spotless, organized, and cleansed (karmicly) then I will magically be able to do nothing! Here's the sucky part: by the time I get through my list, it will be time to go back to work...

And so my friends, these are the days of our lives--a nasty little cycle of ignoring weeds for so long they take over the world and then spending your vacation ripping them from your beds..

P.S.--a note on weeding:

Weeding became like an olympic sport for me. To keep entertained, I made a little announcer voice that dictated my every technical move as I snapped the roots of crabgrass and raked through the clay. I even gave myself scores based on the size of the weed, depth of roots, and technicality of the removal. Then, I started to imagine that each weed was some point of stress or angst over the year. Many of my ex-students' faces appeared on more than one blade of grass. I pulled at the tendrils clinging to the earth to wrench the roots free, imagining I was freeing my mind of tendrils of memory and anxiety my subconscious likes to inflict on me nightly....but, sigh, I only seemed to anger the dream gods as each night since I've been forced to endure all too familiar themes---but that's for another rambling.

When to Fake it and When to Fendi

When to fake it and when to Fendi...
While in NYC this past weekend, I made two major purchases. :1) a black, leather-woven, Chanel bag and 2) a pair of patent-leather pink Fendi ballet flats. Which one is the fake and which one is the REAL label? Will the real designer please stand up?

And this got me thinking...why do I choose to fake it? I saw many friends this weekend, some whom it's been six months since I've seen, some it's been six years, and then there were some in between. And there were a few that I met for the first time. To which of these did I fake it? At which questions did I smile and nod and say, "great!" Was it to the "what have you been up to?" The "how's the family?" The "how are you?" Are there degrees of "faking it?"

Is it easier when we meet old acquaintances to wear the designer label we think everyone wants to see, even at the expense of something much more authentic? Perhaps there are degrees of authenticity. I find that my personal degrees tend to include many varieties of gray. For example, I have one response to the "how's work?" question which I shade with numerous grays and blacks. When I sigh and smile so nonchallantly with "You know, saving the world, one adolescent student at a time." I'm really saying "Sometimes I feel like nothing I do will make a difference and I'm feeling disparaged that I will never make more money than I do now and I just don't know if it's worth it anymore." Or, when my friends ask about my family, I might roll my eyes with exaggeration and commiserate on the fact that my niece is becoming a teenager when I'm really saying "I'm scared to death that I'll not be able to make it easier for her or help her through the muck and scum of finding yourself; that my life will always parallel the path that my family sets; that I'll continue to live in the same zip code I was born in; that I'll disappoint them; that I'm too stubborn to admit sometimes I felt disappointed."

Faking it is easier and less emotionally expensive. Many years ago, I faked my sense of safety and comfort for that of another. Not too many years ago, I faked happiness and wholeness once again, for the sake of my family. I seem to have very self-sacrificing reasons to fake it, but each time I do, I feel a little of my authenticity slip away. And then there's the greatest masque--when I fake it to myself. I have become so adept at it, that I am now very weary of whether or not I can see the difference.

When I'm in the City, like I was this past weekend, the weariness tends to creep in with its ugly head. I am plagued by the possibility that choices were made to buy the "imitation designer label" rather than pay the hefty price for the authentic crafted Italian leather. It looks like leather, it smells like leather, it even has a label inside that is spelled correctly, but after a day of carrying all of my stuff, the inside pocket is beginning to rip, the paint on the "leather" is fading off on my shirt, and the silver is tarnishing. I look around me and I'll catch a glimpse of myself around the corner, darting across the street, moving in and out of street fair stalls, or flashing through a store front window. Which one is the real me?

I'm not a determinist. I don't believe that things happen for a reason. I believe in human nature--fickle and imperfect as it may be--and choices. Above all--I believe in choice. I don't ask "what if..." I don't say "if only..." I do every once in a while catch glimpses of myself, frozen in a photograph, ghosting through a dream, or slipping into a shadow of a street light. Which one is the authentic me? And when I do, I want to yell out at the girl in recognition....but, what if she doesn't recognize me?

When I catch these glimpses, when I feel the urge to be authentic, I will often spare others the price and offer them a cheaper price instead. It's not that I have no patience to wait for the realness in my relationships to kick in. It's that I'm finding it more and more difficult to continue with the polite vagueness of old acquaintance. Make sense? I need to be me. If not now, then never.

Oh, and the real designer piece is of course, the pink Fendi flats, because my feet will always carry me where I need to go--they deserve only the best. My bags only carry the things I think I need to continue the mirage of what's really inside.

Vintage Blogging: I really don't know what to say...

I really don’t know what to say today...
My pen needs to scratch, fingers type, words flow....but I don't know how to put into words the revelation that was today. There are tiny moments, sparks of recognition and self-realization ignited by minute events. Today, I saw myself as if looking through multiple mirrors.

Growing up, my parents had a vanity, three sides covered in mirrors from counter to ceiling. I used to sit on the sink and glance out of the corner of my eyes in the mirrors on my right and left. In them I saw myself exponentially multiplied through the three way reflection of a single image. I was obsessed with Through the Looking Glass and so strained my eyes to try to catch glimpses of the worlds my other selves inhabited. There was the Jabberwocky slinking silently over my shoulder. Mythical creatures and settings wove a pattern of make-believe through the hall of mirrors. A couple of years ago when I visited Versailles and its famous Hall of Mirrors I had a similar reaction; gazing in those 18th century planes of misty glass, I widened my eyes to see myself in multiple dimensions and key moments that had led to that one second of recognition. Searching the face in my reflection, I began to see many facets and pieces of my heart echoed in my eyes including the girl sitting on her parents sink gazing into the mirror.

Today I had a similar experience gazing into the faces of my family. Instead of the fractured, reflected mirror images that seperated like window panes the seperate spheres of my Self, I encountered a whole, fully dimensional Self composed of tightly woven layers. I looked into my parents' faces, my parents whom I love and adore. I heard their panicked voices and foreshadowed grief. I became 13 again, longing to find a way to make everything alright. Running to their side, dropping everything I had been concentrating on nearly all summer, I racked my brain thinking of the right response, the right course of action. I needed to take care of all of them, but the utter realization hit me that I can't. I can't make it better. I can't save anyone.

My parents are incredibly strong, compassionate human beings. They value and believe in being the world's keepers, so much so that the burden of caring for aging relatives has not so lightly fallen on their shoulders. My dad's aunt, who is 96 years old, recently broke her hip and shoulder in a fall, and whose mind is clouded by dementia, has been a third child for my parents, who gladly except the duty of protecting and providing for her. Like they did with two other of her sisters (my dad's mom died of cancer before I was born--these women were his mothers through years of alchoholism and manic depression), my parents have been at her side for 24 hrs a day the last two weeks after her fall. My mother, especially, takes this duty to heart.

My mother, who is extremely sensitive to the pain and security of others, experienced the utter helplessness that only a mother can experience when a child is lost. She turned to me, her adult daughter, to tell her what to do, to tell her we were okay, to assure her that she did not cause a void in her child that periodically swells with despair, self-loathing, and resignation. Like any mother, she clawed tooth and nail to save her child and luckily today she succeeded. I stretched myself into those earlier years to fill the caretaker role.

My father, who is my Atticus, my greatest teacher, my gentle and old soul; a man, who although is weather beaten by his work inspires my own insatiable quest for knowledge by always finding time for his own quests; a man whose eyes speak the pain of unhappy parents, vietnam drafts, insecurity in relationships; whose words never criticize, harm or judge but always uplift, understand, and teach. My father, a man who is as solid and stoic as a mountain but gentle as a quiet stream easing through Aspens, broke today. I saw as his heart broke at the realization that he couldn't help his child, at the guilt and wondering of what he could have done better, and the loss of a part of himself. My father cried.

And yet, they continue to care and take care of everyone around them, feeling guilty for the few moments they asked me to take care of them. I know my compassion and nurturing character is a gift from my family. I would never trade it, but it also has become a heavy burden in my life. In my past, I see moments where I gave so much of myself that I could no longer sustain my Self. Moments where I imploded out of quiet desperation and became wildly insecure and full of need. And the irony is, I loved someone so incredibly much I would have given myself until I wasted away to nothing, thinking that was love. I discovered that when I became less than who I was the relationship died and that part of me died with it.

In my mourning and grief I vowed never to lose a part of myself again, which meant I would never care for anyone so much that I felt I had to take care of them or that I felt I needed them. I resented my relationships that needed me. I was going to be independent, sole, not alone, but dependent upon no one, nor would anyone be dependent upon me. I retreated into myself even though I entered into a deep, intense relationship, and the loneliness gnawed away at me. Despite the promises, the commitment, the compassion, I could not give a significant part of my soul to another person.

It took time, it took distance, travelling, and wandering until I learned that to be independent is not the same as not depending on someone. What I mean is my concept of independent up until that point was that I depended upon no one to be happy, to be whole, to be content, to be challenged. Now, I believe that I need another person who shares a part of me so that I can recognize myself in them. But, before that can occur, I must have a sense of wholeness on my own. I must recognize my passions, my beliefs, my past, and my present in the myriad of spheres that is Me. Therefore, a certain amount of dependence supplies the oxygen I need to breathe in relationships. Could I be happy and content on my own? Certainly. I believe that relationships between people, whether they be friends, lovers, family, teachers, students, relationships depend on the exchange of parts of ourselves so that we can grow together and seperately.

I've withheld parts of myself from people in my life. I've sent reflections of myself into the deepest parts of my heart and mind that I fight daily to maintain whole and in tact, because it's scary as hell to entrust another person with the most fragile pieces of glass.

If I could go back...and I don't say this often...but I will here and now...If I could just say one thing to that person who I let down when I needed too much and had nothing else to give: I'm sorry I couldn't preserve enough of myself so that we could continue to grow. I'm sorry that I became lost in the insecurity, fear, and devastation that I felt. I'm sorry I gave over to the maze of gazing in the past and succombed to the old monsters I still harbored. I'm sorry I could not be who I am now. But, I'm not sorry that I have lost that fear, unleashing probably a little too much honesty and impatience to move forward. I'm not sorry that I still long for pieces of that relationship. I'm not sorry that I've found my passions and share them openly and honestly. I'm ready now. I'm whole.

To my family: I love you deeply. I still fear disappointing you. I still want to fix everything. I need to be the superhero who glides in and saves the day. I need to be the model of strong character, good choices, and fulfillment. I will always be the actress; I'm betting on those skills to carry me when I don't feel strong, when I can't or don't want to fix everything, or when I make the wrong choice.

I try to surround myself with other souls who will be a mirror and reflect back parts of myself and the world I believe in and cherish. The old souls who are on similar journeys provide me with images that inspire and challenge me. And together, we'll stand in the mirror and gaze back at the dynamic people we are and continue to become.

Greetings from Friday Night

I decided very suddenly that I miss writing. Today in the middle of my conference period, I grabbed my notebook and felt the impulse to write as much as possible as quickly as possible. I had spent time scanning through my senior yearbook from high school (long story) and I all of a sudden had something to say. Then I realized, what happened to my blogging? I used to blog all of the time on myspace...but that was so now, in an effort to reconnect to the writer within in time for November's writing a novel challenge, I'm going to begin once again to maintain a blog.....I don't expect there will be a single reader, but there's some power in releasing your ideas and words into cyberspace that is so...intoxicating....

So I'll begin with a few archived blogs from the good ole' days! Enjoy and happy writing!