Thursday, May 16, 2013

This Isn't Me

Life has been doing what life does best. It has been changing. I really love that about life, don't you? It is like a choose your own adventure book that just goes on and on.

In the midst of all of these changes in my life, of course my writing is changing. How could it not? The New Face of Poverty has been a lovely home, and it worked really well for my writing and my life as it was, but it is no longer the right dwelling for me. All of the writing I did in this space will stay right here. It belongs here, and it is available for anyone who is in a place where they feel at home with it. I am not packing up a single thing for the journey.

This is not goodbye, it's an invitation to a housewarming party. Please update your bookmarks. You can visit me anytime at Manjari.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

She's On her Way (Hello)

Two nights from now I will watch my oldest daughter graduate from high school. They will hand her a piece of paper that will change everything and nothing, all in a matter of seconds. She will keep attending the community college she has been attending concurrently with high school for the past three years, pushing through prerequisites for a nursing program. She will keep picking up shifts at the same part time job. She will hang out in our same living room with the same boyfriend, and she will fall asleep each night in the same messy bedroom.

Everything will have changed, and we will both know it. It will keep changing beyond change, and one day she will do what she was always going to do. We knew it from the moment we first laid eyes on each other. And then we will say hello. Again, and again, and again.

It is always hello and never goodbye. It has been that way with us from the start.

Rooted Feet, Sitting Faith

What changed your life?
What brought you back down?
Were you pulled from sleep
by the impact of the landing?
Did your feet hit the ground
with such force that your teeth
rattled and your bones ached?
Was it just a moment, a split
second in time that woke you
from the fog and led you into
a clarity you named salvation?

Did it take months or years
or lifetimes? Do you look at
yourself now, here and whole
and holy, and wonder how
the fractals converged into
the reformation of your life?
The one right here on the
ground, not flitting through
the ethers of wishing and
wondering, but solidly sure
is the one you were given.

Tell me, are you here at all?
Are you feeling this moment,
with its beating heart rhythm
and breathing these breaths
that mean you are alive?

Are you alive?
You are.
You are.
You are.

Monday, May 13, 2013

No Losers In Love

Her love sets me on fire, and yet, the only parts of me that ever get burned are the ones I am ready to do away with and release. She is ever-encouraging and enthusiastic about my creative endeavors, and all the while busy with her own. It's a new thing for me, and it still takes me by surprise sometimes, although we have been together for sixteen months now. We are each the other's biggest cheerleader, delighting in each success, no matter how big or small. There is never even a hint of jealousy or competition. Just pure joy and support.

It is one thing to love your partner unconditionally, a blessing in and of itself, but when you add to that an additional layer of mutual interests and purpose... wow.

The fun just keeps ramping up. We come from very different backgrounds, with different sorts of families. We have very different writing styles and personal styles. My writing is oftentimes gritty and blunt, hers is more flowing and beautiful. I approach my closet as though every day is a costume party or a play, and as though I am deciding which part of myself to be. She approaches hers with an eye towards comfort and practicality. We are just different enough to keep things interesting,  and thank goodness. If I wanted a clone I would just take myself on dates and go home afterwards and masturbate.

My life is so much richer with her differences. I gain new perspectives and vantage points. We balance each other out in many ways. The differences highlight that we are whole and complete on our own, separate beings bound by choice. It is so much hotter to know that you are chosen for your completeness, rather than as a completion. The latter is a form of desperation. The former is an inspiration.

Somehow, in the midst of so many differences, the things that matter as core components of a healthy relationship match up seamlessly. We value our children and family life in very similar ways. We have dorky senses of humor. We both know that on some level we die away without adequate time alone. We both need to write as much as we need to breathe. When we daydream about what our lives will look like when we live together and age together, those dreams are so inseparably the same that sometimes when one is talking, the other will interrupt with, "Hey! That's exactly what I want!" Even the smaller, sillier details, like home decor align. A quick spin through an antique shop or flip through Pinterest, and we laugh with relief, because there won't be any big disagreements about paint colors or furniture. For two people who couldn't be more different in some ways, in many more, we are so much alike that it sometimes seems like a wide awake dream.

I get to be amazed time and time again by how this goes. And the way it goes is this: We both take responsibility for expressing our own needs and cultivating our own happiness. And in doing so, we find that we are no longer alone. We are met. Each finds the needs of the other to be reasonable, sane, and of high priority. No permission is needed, and yet it is offered freely. I always have full confidence that she has my back and is happy to see me do what I need to do for myself, and it is my pleasure and honor to provide the same for her. We have both had enough hard, and are committed to our relationship being a soft place to land.

The one thing we do bicker about on a regular basis is who got the best end of this deal. We settle that by taking turns on who gets to win. We both win. Every single time. No one should ever be the tapped out, always giving, never receiving, holding it all together, loser in love. It is circuitous, flowing without beginning or end. The giving and receiving are the same, and the differences rest easy with that knowledge.

My faith in her is unshakeable, my trust is vast, and my respect and admiration grow deeper and root firmly in who I know her to be. She calls out the best parts of me, and I am my highest self in her presence. Probably in part because she has never even once insinuated I was lacking or needed to change in any way. And that changes everything.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How To End

The parting gift was not
of softness and silk
there was no card attached
certainly not a love letter
except the one I penned
to myself in a journal
to be rediscovered
and set free in flames
a few years down the line

It was not a sweet sorrow
but a burning rage of
redemption song
confusion giving way
to clarity in the eye
of a storm that drowned
out the thrumming
electrical bite

When lightening strikes
it leaves a beautiful scar
on dead girl walking
on the splitting trees
a landscape on fire

When fire consumes
all of your pretty little
offerings mean a whole
lot of nothing, a wake
a flood, a drowning out
painfully clear is less
painful in the long run
than mildly debatable
what-ifs and maybes
and that is the gift

If you are going to kill
something, kill it dead
be swift and certain
in your swing of the ax
don't leave it thready
of pulse and shallow
of breath, clinging
to slender hopes
a clean kill is a kindness
a parting gift of peace

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Day One of Wherever

The whole day has been laid bare
in the moment of fresh air, sunshine
and the discovery of a second flat tire
in less than a week, on a most inconvenient day for flat tires

No matter, it is flat and unfeeling
and I am stuck in front of a list
of dozens of things that need
doing, with one more tacked on

The oblivious breeze keeps on
the birdsong doesn't cease
the sun cares nothing for my
puddle of useless black rubber
predicament and bad timing

My back keeps popping and cracking
reminding me that yoga doesn't
happen in my car, my mind revs up
because I need to sit down, not in
a car, in half-lotus probably
I should throw in a shower
and stop silently stewing

The day laid bare is just this:
to begin again, a revision
a series of adjustments
in a cycle of acceptance
and a healthy dose of getting
the fuck over it and doing
what needs to be done

When will I ever learn
all of the things I already
know by heart and breeze
and unforeseen flat tires?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Neurotica, A Nation's Guilty Pleasure

The body always asks for what it needs. When we ignore its cries, it gets louder and louder, until it eventually behaves in the same way as a baby left to cry it out. It shuts up. Not because the need miraculously ceased, but because it has given up.

Why, as a society, do we embrace ignoring our needs? We don't just embrace it, we elevate it as a measure of worth. If you pull all-nighters on a regular basis to squeeze in extra work, then hit your daily grind running on fumes, you get bragging rights for your work ethic and commitment to your future (that thing which is always somewhere other than where you are).
If you go on and on about how hungry you are because you are denying your body fuel, you have willpower. If you are holding yourself hostage in a shitty relationship,  you will get lots of kudos for all of the crap you put up with, your ability to stick it out for the long haul, especially if there are children involved.

The body may have stopped making a lot of noise about what you are doing to it, but it hasn't forgotten. You are angry and don't know why. You cry at the drop of a hat, or worse still, can't cry even when you feel like crying. Headaches are just a part of your day. Eventually you get sick, or crazy, or you simply drop dead prematurely.

No wonder the self-help industry is a multi-billion dollar racket. In one of my local used bookstores, this genre, which I not so lovingly refer to as neurotica, occupies more shelf space than any other. I wouldn't feel such irritation with it if I actually believed most of it did anything to actually move people towards helping themselves, but that seems to rarely be the case. How many people buy just one, read it, apply it, and then move on with their new and improved life? Maybe once in awhile. Usually what I have seen is quite the opposite. I see people read one, try some of the techniques for a few days or a few months, go back to what they were doing before, buy another, repeat the process, on and on until they have a nice little library that cost them a nice little chunk of change... and a life that looks exactly the same.

Would all of this be necessary if we stopped jacking each other off about how fantastic we are for abusing ourselves? What if we stopped praising people for these things and called it what it is? Alarming. Masochistic. Fucked up. It may sound harsh, but I think it is actually much more loving.

If you are tired, go to sleep. If your body is hungry, please feed it. If you need more hugs, or sex, or help around the house, or to be spoken to more respectfully, spend the time you are inclined to gripe to people other than your partner working with them to improve the situation. If it is beyond that and you know it, leave. Just stop. It isn't working, it never has, and it never will. Anyone who tells you otherwise has an investment in your suffering. Is that really where you want to go for advice?

You already know what you need. Get honest about that and you can burn the books.