Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Empty Nest: raw poem (you can never and completely understand)

In hotel room bed ten feet from me
but well out of reach
the boy sleeps
fitfully
heady with things I know so
well
things I can never
know
pain i have lived
and can't see,
pain
i can
never save him from.

The boy
rolls away
away
his vibrating phone
shaking with the texts
that are ever-present these days

away from where
I sit
sentient
and toward the window
where sunlight filters in.

He yanks at the sheets,
heady with nerves and
sleepy excitement,
with exhaustion and
fear
and the unknown.

I sit in a chair
quiet,
unmoving,
a cup of
lukewarm coffee gripped in my aging hand.

If I don't move maybe I can fool the clock
stop time
hold on just a little more.

After a half-managed breath,
I pick up the laptop
and type
wise to the truth that
I cannot win
I am nothing more than a deer stuck
in
headlights.

I take a sip and type
(what I do, what I do. . . )
trying not to notice my shorts-clad legs jutting from the cold metal,
exposed thighs
bearing skin that betrays me more and more these days.
Time marches
Waits for no one.

The boy sleeps,
but soon he will wake
and I
will
type and type
and
(somehow)
drive away.





Empty Nest: raw poem (you can never and completely understand)

In hotel room bed ten feet from me
but well out of reach
the boy sleeps
fitfully
heady with things I know so
well
things I can never
know
pain i have lived
and can't see,
pain
i can
never save him from.

The boy
rolls away
away from
his vibrating phone
shaking with texts
away from where I sit
sentient
toward the sunlit window

(the nonstop buzz of the phone
never ceases these days
a good and bad
thing).

He yanks at the sheets,
heady with nerves and
excitement,
with exhaustion and
fear
and the unknown.

I sit in a chair
quiet,
unmoving,
a cup of
lukewarm coffee gripped in my aging hand.

If I don't move maybe I can fool the clock
stop time
hold on just a little more.

After a half-managed breath,
I pick up the laptop
because,
no,
I cannot win
am powerless
am
merely a pathetic deer stuck in
headlights.

I take a sip and type
(what I do, what I do. . . )
trying not to notice my shorts-clad legs jutting from the cold metal,
exposed thighs
bearing skin that betrays me more and more these days.
Time marches
Waits for no one.

The boy sleeps,
but soon he will wake
and I
will
(somehow)
drive away.





Saturday, February 20, 2016

The ennui of mediocrity...

me n' my pink hat after a workout recently

I've had some virus for days. It's had me mostly in bed, which depresses me.

I had already been a slacking version of my newish-old former self -- the self of my mid-life crisis who swam no matter what, did the laps whether sleet or rain or flu tried to interfere. Sure, maybe like a crazy person, but like a doer, a shaker, a person who could not endure the ennui of sitting around.

God, I miss her.

She, of course, was in her 40s. This new me? Bah. What a motherfucker.

I'm feeling in quiet crisis mode. Like I can't get myself to move as fast as the commands in my head are telling me to. To rally to get more done in a day than I am doing. Each day I get up; then it's bed time again.

It's not even Facebook/social media that's to blame, to tell you the truth. I don't know what it is. Caring for a mother-in-law in palliative care, maybe, or having a constant stream of visitors, or owning a dog, or getting stuck in the minutiae of copyedits when what i want to do is write a bold new story. . .or maybe this new digestive condition (see, above, "What a motherfucker") that has made me give up my only goddamned vice: a daily cup of coffee.

All I know is, lately, there aren't enough hours in a day and I can't figure out how to stop wasting them.

And it's making me miss the wild and dramatic energy of my midlife crisis I had a few years ago. Sure I was a mess, somewhat miserable, but, MAN, I got things done. I had things to say. I was funny and fascinating (even a little to me). I got a book deal, then a second. I became an open water swimmer, swam a 5K then a 10K.

I WAS DOING THINGS.

And yeah, maybe I'm still doing things, but it all feels slower and more like been there-done that mediocrity.

Well, except for the book I have coming out which I'm sort of hoping is the best thing I've written so far, and, yeah, I'm excited for it, but I don't want to JUST be waiting for that. And, besides, even if it is. Then what?

What if everything scintillating becomes mediocrity once it's achieved?

I've got nothing.

- gae


Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Not Quite Annual: Revisit, Renew and Resolve 2015 into 2016 Version

It's been a mostly good year.
This guy is my constant. 


Though I'm a creature of habit, I'm also a fan of "blank slates."

I'm particularly a fan of resolutions made upon a blank slate: A New Year filled with hope and possibility. I try to shed judgment. I try not to be a cynic and believe. . .

I like to believe I keep most my resolutions. Going back to past posts can be a fun *coughs* way to check in and see. So, that's what I've done here, and except for the wholly misguided "do Burpees daily," most years I like to think I've done a good job.

So, let's find out. I think I'll revisit a few posts past and rate myself on a scale of 1- 10:

REVISIT:

In 2010 into 2011 I renewed three long-standing resolutions I have made well in the past:

(i) take the stairs whenever possible (unless it's more than five flights or I am carrying heavy things):
   
10! No seriously, you guys!! I get a 10 on this one.


late November in the open water. And I was in yesterday,
December 5th. Not bad. 
(ii) swim whenever possible:

hmmm. Define "possible."

Okay, fine, I'm giving myself a 9 on this one. A 9. That's not too bad.

(iii) be a good confidante/friend. Don't gossip or tell secrets others share.

Crap. In all honesty, I have to go down a point. I can make excuses . . . whatever. . . but this is the reason I renew this every year. I give myself a solid 8. I've done better. Going back to being a 10 on this next year.

In 2012 into 2013, I renewed a few things too. Let's (not) see how I did.

(i) Less facebook. Shut up. *weeps* Does not rate self. Moves forward (see new fucking resolution below).

Yes, see. that is me yoga'ing in my "piano room."
No, there is no photo of me facebooking. 
(ii) More yoga, less almost going to yoga:

Well, I've been doing yoga from home (I've had two consecutive studios close since that post and decided for now to just take charge on my own. Have a few yoga videos I love on Gaia TV. I'm giving myself a solid 8 on this one too.

(iii) Less talk, more action, and

(iv) More reading, less TV.

If I'm being kind to myself, I'll give myself a 7 - 9 on these. I plan to renew and do better on both in the new year.

* a quick word on this: it's hard to take action, it really is. Some people are better at it than you are (I am). Reach out to those who are and "use" them. Let them guide you. There are organizations that will tell you exactly how. If you are as disturbed about the gun violence in our world as I am, three organizations that will walk (and text!) you through it are Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America (you do NOT have to be a Mom to join and they have Dad chapters too!), Everytown for Gun Safety, and Women Against Gun Violence. They are all doing the good, hard work for all of us! But they need your support, monetarily and otherwise. Make phone calls, show up at walks, share information. *

2014 into 2015, skirting about more of the same:

(i) Burpees: SHUT UP! But more yoga: not bad;

(ii) Write more in different genres (a/k/a stretch my writing chops?):

Well, first of all, THE MEMORY OF THINGS which (finally) sold midyear and is due out Fall 2016 from the awesome St. Martin's Press (I am crazy excited about this!!!) is told from two perspectives, and one of those is in free verse. Why yes, I have no business writing half a book in free verse, but I have anyway, and after 4,000 revisions, and with the help of my incredible editor, I think it's really good. Like, really, really good.

I've also been trying to write some (so far crappy) short stories (hey, they are hard!!) and even sketched out half a crappy (shut up) picture book the other day about an infamous dive. Not a seedy bar, yo. Off a diving board into the water.

And, yeah, I even revisited my tween/teen/20-something roots and wrote an angsty poem which I bravely (stupidly?) shared here. And the new manuscript I'm working on is definitely pushing me outside my comfort zone in various ways, so, yeah, I'm giving myself a solid 73/4.

(iii) Try something brave and brand new: Well, crap. I meant to. I wanted to. I have three more weeks. *adds it to this year's list*

Okay, so, here we go:

RENEW:

1. Yep, swimming and yoga. Here's the thing: I never ever regret doing either after I have finished. There is your test right there.

2. As always, be a better friend and a confidante.

3. Take the stairs.

RESOLVE. . . and RE-RESOLVE:

4. Don't be lazy about the little things. a/k/a bend down and pick it up. (This is actually a renew that, for whatever reason I never mentioned before... I'll tell you story behind it in a little "*" below . . .

5. Do something Brave and New. Stay tuned, motherfuckers. *smiles sweetly* (I have no clue what it is. . . )

6. Here we go (and this New York Times article is really my impetus to do better): Less facebooking/social media and, yes, this includes taking out my phone. I'll still be there on all those places (!) just with more purpose and control. There are tools to help, if you don't know them, like Freedom or Anti-social. I'm committed to keep trying and to keep renewing along the path as I fall off the wagon.


So that's what I've got solidified for now. I need to think on some of the emotional stuff -- the relinquishing and letting go.

There's big work to be done there: 2016 is an exciting and tumultuous year for me. A new book coming out. . . and, an empty nest. Can't even think about that second one... I've got some time to shore myself up on these things, and, when all else fails, I can swim.

Got any resolutions to renew or share? Love to hear them.

Hope your 2015 has been productive and good. Here's to a new year coming soon!

- gae

**Oh, crap. Edited because I forgot to tell you the don't be lazy story. Basically, there's a woman about my age at my gym where i swim in the winter months. She has MS and is relegated to a walker and very slow movement. In the time it takes me to get out of my street clothes, into my bathing suit, showered and into the pool, she has made it across the locker room and gotten herself situated to get undressed for the same routine. It takes her three times the effort it takes me to get ready; three times the effort to swim. Her name is Debra. She's an inspiration to me... always remind myself that it's so easy for me to do the little things: to pick up a piece of paper from the floor, to go back and turn off a dripping faucet more tightly. One day it might not be. At any rate, she -- that woman -- inspires me. <3 p="">





Friday, November 13, 2015

Sometimes you write a poem


I still dream about you.

As if it were yesterday,
as if
time hasn’t
ravaged
and
mellowed
me.

                                    As if
I haven’t swum a thousand miles

the salt water
detoxing your touch 
from
       my skin.

I still dream about you
            as if I need you,

as if you matter one iota,

as if my words don’t fill pages, 
as if my photo won’t live on between 
closed covers
stacked neatly and
forgotten.

            As if the heart-pounding hadn’t shifted
years ago to
mere flutters,
then a
                                         flick of 
                                                  hand.


I still dream about you.

In it
            we smile uncomfortably across a table
in a diner I’ve never been.

            Longing pulls at
my layers
            as if it can possibly                unfold
                                          who I was
                             back
                                          then.
                       
            As if it would make a difference.

I still dream about you.

                        In the dream, a waitress in a peach dress pours coffee.
            The others at our table chat,
stab at their salads,
sink teeth into 
white-bread sandwiches.
            Our eyes
                fight to
                        dart away.

I still dream about you,
            with all the rage and fury for what you took,
            with all the affection and
                        gratitude for what
                                                you gave.

I still dream about you,
like a puzzle, like a condundrum,
like a zen koan not meant to be solved,
            but that eats at me anyway.

I still dream about you,

awaken confused and drenched,

                   like a corpse descending the depths,

                                   resurfacing,
                                       like a fish 
                               glinting
                                    through
               murky water.
                       

Like a marathoner,
            who never learned how to run,
            but has covered the miles anyway,
gaining distance, 
            yet always looking back,

wondering if you will 
ever 
               go away.

- gae 11/15

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Hate and Things I Cannot Bear Nor Fathom. . .

I have no words for what has happened this week in Charleston, South Carolina, nor for what has happened before Charleston in Ferguson, in Florida, in Aurora, in Newtown, in Laramie, Wyoming, in NYC. . . everywhere, and seemingly will continue to happen because those of us with love in our hearts are so helpless and hapless or, worse, lethargic, in the face of those who are filled with hate, come from a place of ignorance or are, quite simply, inhumane.

I have no words today and so simply share the words of others who have found some profound ones, together with a strong wish and heartfelt plea that:


  • *you keep speaking up and out against intolerance, violence and hate, 
  • *you rally when possible, 
  • *if you are young, especially, you use your smarts, abilities and your words wisely and eloquently to sway others around you who may come from a place of fear or ignorance, and
  • *MOST IMPORTANTLY, you VOTE. Vote for candidates who are first and foremost for tolerance, equality, and peace, who are for protecting lives not just IN the womb, but once they are born into the world and living and breathing among us.  

If you watch or listen to one thing this week on the Charleston tragedy watch this:

JON STEWART on THE DAILY SHOW ON THE CHARLESTON SHOOTING.

And if you're still feeling hopeless after that clip watch the rest of his interview with Malala Yousafzai and consider donating to the Malala Fund.

If you read something, this is a good, important thing to read, with the below lead-in by the beautiful author, Kate Messner:

"What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it's not is "unspeakable." We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly." 
This piece is worth reading & thinking about. The man arrested for the horrific church shooting in Charleston may be referred to as a "lone shooter," but a community raised him. We are all responsible for the words we speak, the things we share on our social media pages, and the things we allow others to say, unchecked and unchallenged. I cannot believe we live in a world where this is still happening. We have to do better.  SPEAKING THE UNSPEAKABLE. . . 

If you are a writer and want to do something small to honor librarian Cynthia Hurd:

Donations in her memory can be made to the Charleston Public Library c/o Andria Amaral; Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston SC 29401. 

Mother Emanuel Church also accepts donations: http://www.emanuelamechurch.org/



We must find a way to do better,


gae