I'm afraid of being to afraid to think. And for good reason. I've read too much George Orwell to not be afraid of a fear of thought. Lucky for me, I don't think I'm afraid of thinking- I think I don't want to think simply because thinking is harder than not thinking. I just chose the easier path. The more I think about that choice, the more I feel as though George Orwell may be disappointed. Maybe it's not fearing thought, but not thinking at all is just the problem. But it's too hard to feel disappointed, and it's even harder to feel I've disappointed another, so I just won't think about that.
If I wanted to, I would.
But if I didn't want to, would that be just as bad?
A Monster’s Mind: I Keep Thinking of Ways to Kill Children
I keep thinking of ways to kill children. It didn't really start until I had my own.
Suddenly, there I was, thinking, Look at this--small enough for him to put it into his little innocent mouth while no one's looking. He could choke! And, My God, turn the pot handle in toward the hot stove. Little hands could reach up and pull the boiling grease all over her. And, Should I put up some type of fence barrier thing on the railing of the balcony? They'll climb it. Of course they will, and one will push the other, and one would start to fall, and he would grab at her on the way down, and they both would fall to their little senseless deaths.
Once you have children, you begin to realize the worst possible thing that could befall a parent in this life. You're keen to inspect the floors. You smell for trouble. Your imagination begins to construct entire scripts in which the young, feckless, and clueless come up against the laws of physics, which are unyielding, and these children will get severely injured or die.
It's terrible, this monster I've become. Every object is scrutinized for the perfect tracheal diameter. Every sharp object is seen as something a child could run with. Little bodies don't like extra holes, unless it's a tube put in for ear infections. And it is exhausting to consider all of the things that could put out an eye. I don't know them all, but I think of new ones every day.
I sand without eye protection, but the little shitling better not even be in the same room.
Just how well do we trust that old dog of ours? Is cat scratch fever really a thing? Let them play outside--really? Are you out of your fucking mind! Is that just some rash or the harbinger of Neisseria meningitis? Another cold--that's two this year--leukemia? diabetes? How do I know this liquid Tylenol hasn't been...yea, that's right...tampered with?
When I'm stopped in traffic under an overpass, I back up a couple of inches so the falling girder will crush me instead of the kids in the back. What's in that aromatherapy machine I smell in Grandma's machine? Eucalyptus? Peppermint? Wintergreen? That stuff can kill them, for God's sake!
Are those vitamins really necessary? What about hypervitaminoses? Did you even think about that?
Yep, just when I think I know all the weird ways to kill a child, a new one stuns me back into the sobriety of mortality. How do I think of these things? Was I a child-killer in a previous life? Or has evolution given my children this survival advantage?
My kids are grown. They survived. And if I so much as catch any of 'em with a cigarette, I'll kill 'em.
Toxic, yes. Stupid, no.
The Certainty of Chaos
I twist my fractal mind,
attempting to align with something I recognize,
but only fragments of me are revealed;
Some genius, a little beauty, and piles of hate—
I’m a scattered jigsaw left feeling unsatisfied and missing pieces.
I rotate again,
assuming that if I continue turning, I’ll somehow find the answers,
but all I find are more shards of glass and strewn pieces.
There are no real messages hidden here, are there?
Just more of myself.
I cannot be my own answer, can I?
The shapes of me continue to corkscrew.
I’m a crystallographic enigma caught in an egocentric trance.
Mesmerized by all my colors, I begin to lose time.
I become lost, inspired, and curious, yet constantly pessimistic about my existence.
Is that even possible?
Another turn and I feel I am meeting a stranger,
yet every part of me has lived here all along.
I think. If only I had met myself earlier, where would I be?
but then I must be reminded, I am here now.
I squint inquisitively wondering—
What's the meaning? What's my purpose?
Maybe with each adjustment, I change for the better,
and sometimes for the worse,
but change happens regardless.
If that’s true, then aligning to perfection will never work, can never be achieved,
and the answer lies within chaos itself.
…It’s the only certainty.
Perhaps I can come away with a deeper appreciation,
of who I am, who I was, and whom I have yet to become,
and maybe love is the same way.
Perhaps that’s why they say you should love yourself first.
So, I twist my mind once more
and greet me for the first time in a while.
Hello stranger, it’s time we met.
hold on to hope, everybody
she was the girl who told everybody
to hold on to hope
while she hid in her bedroom
at night and cut herself
She’d pass the razor blade
by the side
of her ankles
and then crouch so as to lick
swirl it around her mouth
until it lost its salty, iron taste
and then swallow
She always wore pants
never a skirt
and she was the girl who
told everybody to hold on to hope
until the last moment
She would climb on the roof
and smoke menthol cigarettes while
watching the stars in the sky
and slowly, slowly drift into touching
I don’t even know her name
but I would like to
to be my muse
What if I never leave?
I’m reading a book about a woman who travels. She’s the opposite of me. She has lived in seemingly a thousand different places and seen parts of the globe that I’ve never even imagined visiting.
She frames it as a wild journey, running from place to place to place to place for decades. A desperate fleeing of her circumstances, the endless search for self.
I am jealous. I burn with envy that she is witty and articulate and has a passport and friends whom she can visit, dipping in and out of their lives on a whim.
But she only sees what she doesn’t have: a partner or a husband, her name on a mortgage. She frames herself as immature, an object of pity. How odd she is to be couch surfing at her age, when everyone else has settled down, moved into the trappings of adulthood, has stopped the childish wandering.
And I am stuck. Sitting at my dining room table to devour her book while slumped on a half-broken hand-me-down chair. A chair that was purchased to fulfill someone else’s taste. A chair I cannot afford to replace, and so I have to ignore how ugly it is, how useless.
I’m stuck in the city of my childhood.
I have never had the opportunity to leave, except for a brief stint teaching English overseas.
It was always intended to be temporary, a fling of adventure between graduating from university and getting married. A five-month ordeal of undiagnosed depression and anxiety and drinking too much alcohol. A torturous winter of sleeping for fourteen hours a day and not speaking to anyone for days, feeling out of place because I am at least three years older than everyone else in the program, and in your early twenties that makes a big difference. A blur of homesickness and temporary insanity and getting punched in the face one night when a man tries to mug my friend. I recognize that his pistol is fake, so I try to push him into traffic and he hits me, landing a solid hook to my right cheek and leaving a dent that you can still see today when I scrunch my cheeks up to smile.
But I have never had the option to live anywhere but here. Locked into staying in my hometown at eighteen, forbidden from applying to colleges outside of my city due to financial constraints and the iron will of my widowed mother who raised four teenagers by herself.
And now that I’m forty-three and middle aged I wonder if maybe I should have just run away from home after high school? Run off to New York City where things actually happen to people? Where life gets lived?
But I couldn’t. I didn’t.
By the time I was eighteen I had a boyfriend I loved, and I knew even then that he was a kind man and would be a good husband and father. And so I stayed, locked into my small little life, dreaming of moving away to anywhere else, jealous of everyone I knew who got to “go away to college” and live their own lives. I thought I would get a chance later.
And now it’s too late. I have children and pets, my name on a mortgage, elderly mothers (my own and my husband’s) who rely on us for companionship and help and stability. I can’t just pull up stakes and abandon everyone. But neither can I capriciously take a job across state lines and move my entire family on a whim. I am stuck.
And so I read this lady’s book, fear and jealousy and heartbreak churning in my gut. Glad for her when she finally settles down, finds a house of her own in a city that she loves, feels her roots growing and the calm of middle age settling in… she gets her happy ending.
What if I am well and truly stuck here? What if the furthest I ever travel for the rest of my life is Dallas? What happens to me if I die in this city, never having truly lived a life of my choosing? What, if anything, changes for me?
I don’t want to contemplate that question, because it hurts to think about, but the answer surprises me… nothing. Nothing will change.
I will still love my children and cook dinner and read library books and knit. But most of all I will still write. I’ll still burn inside each day until I get the words out.
Maybe traveling the world isn’t a prerequisite for being a good writer.
Maybe I’m not missing anything at all.
Maybe I should bloom where I’ve been planted, instead of feeling rootbound and resentful.
Maybe I’m just fine. Maybe…
If you ask everyone on their deathbeds about their regrets, you will hear the predictable whining:
I wish I hadn't worked so much and spent time with my family.
I wish I hadn't put my education ahead of my life experiences.
I wish I had put all my loved ones ahead of money, ambition, etc.
I wish I had listened to my loved ones.
The truth is, the ones who die with family and loved ones around their deathbeds are the ones who don't regret anything, for they obviously didn't put work, education, ambition, etc., ahead of their loved ones. And they listened when loved ones advised them on mid-course corrections.
Their loved ones had been with them the whole time...
...all the way to the very end. That's a life without regrets.
Do you want to count your money on your deathbed? Your sexual conquests? Your Rolexes? All those whom you bested? No, the only thing you want to count are the ones who wanted to be with you at the very end.
We should teach our children to live lives that make life worth living. That means incorporating the human factor into every relationship, every decision, and every journey. It means goodness doesn't have to profit us tangibly because goodness is its own reward.
Dying peacefully, alone, is not peaceful dying. Dying mattering to the ones you love is a great way to go. We should teach our children that the end justifies the means.
Don’t be afraid to help
To you who put yourselves through the horror of reading any of my posts, first of all, I'm sorry. More importantly, if you see an error--grammatical, syntax, spelling, or otherwise--please make a note of it in the comments. Don't worry about typos. I'm talking about mistakes that are likely to be repeated, like when I say lay when it should be lie.
Since I was a wee puke, I've always been intrigued and motivated by my mistakes, but if no one ever points it out, I'll likely never learn. So please, have at it.
Proofreading is a mad skill, but that's not really what's needed here, unless it's something we're considering submitting for publishing. For instance, we all know the difference between there and their, but when you're in the thick of the fight, writing feverishly trying to fill water cups from a fire hydrant, sometimes the fingers just go their own way. How many times have you reread and thought, "Whaaaaat??" Just the other day I found Your instead of You're. Whaaaaat??
Most of the stuff we submit daily probably doesn't require proofreading--we get the point, and we all make mistakes. Irregardless, however--that's something that needs to be dealt with before it spreads. Why isn't irregardless being automatically underlined in red as a misspelled word? Is that a thing now? Dammit!
I'm just saying, you have my permission to point things out. I want to improve as a writer, and I know I don't know all the rules yet, so feel free to educate me when the opportunity arises.
If you leave a comment asking for the same treatment, who knows? Maybe we'll get good at this stuff.
like ants crawling up to a dead thing
the days follow
towards a dead
and after enough of
finally realize you
are that dead thing
And that's supposed to
be alright. After
all, no one is
excused from this
All we can
do is make the journey
when the alarm wakes you
6:30 in the morning,
announcing that there's
yet another day
in which you'll have to attend
your duties of
slaving away for others to
when you're slipping
into the other
half of your life
not bringing along any
despite trying again and
in which you'll be assaulted
"Hey, so when are you
going to get married?"
"Have you even
someone to marry?"
"Why don't you
get another job? Aren't you a bit
too old for this one?"
"How much do
they pay you?"
"Are you ready for your
Oh, and then there's
the wedding of
this other cousin. Wow, lots
of weddings lately. What
old friends become
and you just regret
that family can't
quite follow the same pattern
They say that if you're
the smartest person
in the room
you're in the wrong room
But what do they
have to say
when you're the most
unfulfilled person in
They'd probably ask
how the fuck
you got like that
You probably don't
You just watch
the ants follow
on the trail to the dead thing
and the closer they
the more you
to hurry the fuck up,
You just wanna give 'em
Bring the dead thing
Throw it on
top of them
AUDIO READING HERE: