Separate

A day can go by where
I separate the moments we spend
“together”, we’ll call it,
from myself.
My breath, I catch, and relieve
my consciousness from the attempt
of reaching ideal: our satifaction. Together,
we’re supposed to be, to fit the archetypal,
in all of its typicality:
fairies, their tales,
fancy a dance dismissing the admittance of the truth.
We’re a match on paperwork, yet there’s
so much of actual work encumbered.
Disparity of depth: my page is number 128 and yours is,
perhaps, 12. At least what you will admit to, and
that’s okay. I’m afraid, too.
The difference is readiness.

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Red Ink

This was written 8 years ago in a style I had never written in before or since.  It was influenced by a classmate at SLCC who had a R&B/rap style that transcended the typical dross of the that genre and managed to be meaningful and beautiful.  His style was absorbed into me for a time, providing a platform to express a lot of confusing memories that I tried to piece together to make sense of how I arrived in the state of severe depression and anxiety I was in at the time.  It capitalizes on what I think is universal to all of us: the desire to be understood and the need for empathy to help us through our hardest times, as well as looking forward to the desire to do the same for others once we’ve healed, as I have been.

___________________________________

October 2009

They say
the reason poets put pen to paper is to confuse all who peruse,
intimate friends and passers-by,
as they invent new ways to express their views
and not to compromise what’s really inside
because if its true meaning flies
that intensifies the rise of what they devise,
each layer glorifies
and its depth supplies ongoing surprise about what it implies
the longer one spies for a clue.
They say in order for writing to stay through the age
day after day
and be labeled great by academics with an education
it must meet those certain qualifications.
If you won’t allow pluralized interpretations
they’d advise you to put your pencil down and revise,
otherwise, kiss admiration goodbye.
I won’t lie, it’d be nice to create a creation that stirs a sensation
yet if I must make room for misinterpretation at this point in time
that only causes frustration
because my moment’s intention is for clear communication
for my peers to simply grasp and gather me
and would rather be understood than anything.
I don’t want to impress with deep dressings
that only end up messing with what I mean
I don’t want to keep people guessing
I don’t want to be criticized
to be canonized by intellectual eyes
anthologized for students to analyze, get wise
I don’t even want for anyone to answer me why
or pretend to have advice
just sit by my side while I confide and empathize
realize that I, like you, am human too.
I have no wit to feign
I have no fame to gain
I have nothing but the desire for you to know my pain
In all the days I’ve walked through pouring rain and couldn’t see the rainbow
pardon my clichés
I’m just trying to be plain
yet knowing these things are commonplace
doesn’t drain anything away.
It doesn’t quiet my quakes
or still my shakes
so call it trite
call it trivial
or unoriginal
but that won’t assuage the fact that some of the things I’ve been through are unbelievable:
When I was a short stack I suffered lack of paternal affection and overabundances of bruises black
He’d come, he’d go – never knew if he was coming back
Left without safety;  Mom was occupied, retrieving her poison
When I was eight I carried a death’s weight that could break a grown man’s back
soon after lived with a stranger, some father replacer
trading physical violence for verbal
When I was ten I pondered questions beyond my years about what God might be  or has been
and before then I learned the hard way that you can’t trust everyone, especially men
also stood by during yet another fight, alert so she wouldn’t overdose on some medicine
waiting, there by the stove,  as she said she didn’t care where I’d be sent
When I was a pre-teen I discovered that beauty is value and I wasn’t worth two cents
meanwhile worked to build my doorless fence of defense; no trespassing
When I was fourteen I decided in this place of so many wrongs and so few rights that “God is love” didn’t make any sense
When I was fifteen, I nearly executed my own end of life sentence
But here, too, almost two years after faith renounced, God’s love broke my resistance;
the only reason I’ve learned persistence
then wrestled blades out of maternal hands that no longer wanted existence.
When I was sixteen, still struggling, I finally picked up a pen and wrote with red ink
those little blue lines were the only ones there to hold up what I feel and think
At seventeen, I began to grow my own pair of wings, only to have them clipped by one who could only
see and speak the wrong in everything
When I was eighteen I resigned tattered hopes and dreams I once claimed
because my record was by failure after failure stained
by the years with colors flying I tried to ace every test, out run the best
only to come to the finish line and find its band already broken or not making it there in the first place
Now at twenty I’m just plain ill, relying on popping a pill to keep a smile on my face
a thread of sanity strung through my mind
but it’s a heap of frayed gray yarn in a bind
wish I knew why it won’t unwind
And that’s just the beginning of what I could find if I kept digging
but I won’t reveal all my history behind
I’ll spare all the lines I’ve never written
all the bait I’ve never bitten
all the hurts I’ve hidden
and probably always will
because I’m still unsure about if they’ll kill me on the way out
or do so when my confidant finds out
that the easiest way to stop my heated mouth and end my drought of tears
is to sow with hate what they reaped by making me believe they were safe with my fears.
Now damn, that’s hurt.
So, please, whatever you do don’t take my dirt as something to invert
back at me when I’ve been curt
and don’t give me an inert “get over it” nothing
and don’t be impertinent, hearing this only to evaluate its poetic value
or lack thereof, if you’re of that opinion.
Commenting on my style, my rhymes and rhythm
what I articulate
what my words connotate
when I alliterate
or rate what I’ve stated, whether it’s shallow or deep
to discard or keep
let me reiterate:
I don’t care if my creations aren’t cryptic
I don’t mind if my meanings aren’t mystic
or that my themes won’t one day be historic
because everyday people don’t relate with pedantic.
As long as somebody somehow could understand me right now
it might allow me to unload and plow on
seeing those things are past and gone.
And although you may not know every nuance of what I feel
having experienced different deaths
sorrow from different depths
wounds from different words
and trials of different breadths
still do all you can to pull those heartstrings together with me
match the throb within my breast
and pang with me
match the rise and fall of my chest
and shudder with me
match the water my eyes infest
and weep with me
forget it if you can’t match what I confess
just be with me
and I’ll be with you
when, not if, you need it.

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In Deep

Waters surround, swallow sound
refract the light and I
am light
Heavy here
weightless underneath the weight of seas
Lighthouses ashore, assured,
left unseen
There is an ocean to wade through
though, first, one needs to sense
up and left
downside and right
but the sun is set
while gravity can’t lend itself to
the one situation where it would be of use

That’s physics for you.

Covered in deep
Lost so long as to think those navy ripples
could be sky-clouds
Trying to figure out a shape or figure in them
to pass the time
perchance they’ll assemble themselves
into some sensible meaning
But they’re no product of conscious consequence
Just chance patterns subject to a need
for gleaning

It becomes tiring
fighting the cold and numb
I’d drowse, succumb
but lungs won’t allow it
considering a resumption of their employment
inevitably comes with sleep

That’s the pons, you see.

So, rather than rest and drown
I’ll retain my breath
Someone must love the suspense
Fits hand-in-glove with the tension of
static
Pulled, quartered, evenly, so, stilled
as the will commits to simple existence

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The Place to Rivisit

The Place to Revisit

The place to revisit is familiar
the place I must go into that
tunnel of abstractions, horrors, delighted depths —
a roadway directly toward the center of the earth, having watched the
humanity it houses on its rooftops.
I crawled out of that well – once.  It
took me two and a half decades (plus)
on the outside, above
outskirts
I found the rapture of a flower and taciturn
passings of the moment with
sunshine light emitted
and
received in all its eons of novelty.
This first –birth of sense, pleasing things pleasing thorough
through past my chest, infrared, in towards
my spine, a spot not altogether pinpointable –
where my fingertips send signals, my sight
reflects back to me with what I am seeing:
the bumble of that bee bumbling synchronized alongside
a breeze-blown petal, barely.

My tremors of attempts to read the scenery and civility around;
developing sea-legs—perceive, respond in appropriate
whats and whatnots.  I seem to be acclimating;
that well, still, asserting itself there behind me.
I double-take.
Every romance requires that glance back.
I, now not only myself without, but
within, and wells remain within.

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Amie

The cards you sent faithfully,
blue ink, sweet words; matched your eyes.
Certain songs take me back to that talk
that February night you consoled this distraught mind,
my torment you
eased for a moment.

A cavity creeps into my chest by
small triggers of memory.  In a hike
alone, your face flashes, those eyes
pang and pierce while I step over every stick and stone
that you cannot.
There is no reception for my idle thoughts
suspending themselves at the edge of my mouth, ones
I’d love for you to listen to,
to listen as you respond to,
but you cannot.

Archetypal wants and rue about
you, I know I’m not alone in – it all
points to premature departure.
It hurts how willful; I am not enraged or affronted, just
wishing you could have fully felt the cumulative affections
of each soul, every smile you provoked: not without meaning.
I would that words could soak and seep into your
cracks to fill them,
embraces could have pulled them together and tears to seal
them.

The dates on
your headstone:

October 20th, 1972
April 19th, 2014

41
Not even halfway done, I don’t think.
The mark you made here is
amplified in absence; that’s how we identify reality.
It still is.
You still are.
The lighthouse you shined to your sons in life,
may you also be through sorrow.

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Curious About the Place I’d Grown Up In

Curious: about the place I’d grown up in.

Hometown visit
tracing the route I’d take,
juvenile on bicycle or blade,
or foot with my childhood best
friend, sometimes alone, out to the swimming pool;
railroad tracks, Sugar Factory,
the park,
all blue
sky,
seas,
green aground,
chlorine,  adventure between
classes; the library,
new as it was to me then; infinite
then.
It used to be on a corner across the park on
72
but now, a neglect of nook within
that field we’d fly kites across.  Gone.

The change I
cannot justify.

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Slicing

A sense of guilt comes
with being unable to follow through with one emotional reflex
quip –roll back
born – beam
offense – steam
decease – grieve
but there knelt on the steps
I propose: it was the bleach
on my tear ducts
as I sliced those steps.
Those steps I sped down
countless times to race to the family room
(a nominal appellation for the place.  Like saying, “home”)
Those steps I skipped up
to see how much of a gazelle I could produce out of myself
I think I got to six, once
Six steps skipped, with carpet burns, too
from sledding down the blue-sea slope
that was now pared down to plain wood
sharp moguls.
I kept slicing at them, the bleach kept punching
at my throat
moreso than the recollection of the view further along
another case of bare stairs to the basement
where the sheet rock held storm
clouds, one-dimensional charcoal blotches
that, thankfully, never fully surrendered
alongside the two-by-four framing
only charred
above the mound of liquefied plastic that contained a
now-diffused substance,
I’m not sure which,
but which failed to combust the propane within the once-gray tank
Placed there for a failed purpose
And that image
juxtaposed with what could have been:
Could have been a “home” fire
Could have been I did not need to slice
since the flame would have cut the blots and steps right through
feign to consume whatever – all’s a lollipop, and what better flavor to boil than cherry-red,
fitting of a way for something to be rendered away:
the way it insisted on being: boiling
Not a stain or step left.
Yet the intent was not to save the toil of tidying up
just to all-else destruct with self-destruct.
A clutched crumpled reason was not enough.

Maybe relief should have met me, then.
But Plath did, instead,
and I said to myself
about the extinguishing, impotent:
“You do not do, you do not do,
Any more, black shoe.”

I was never scared of you.

All those spark-inexplicable attempts at explosions
and I am not reduced.  Still.
Plume-stained and burned in places,
not consumed.
Just need to slice away your DNA from the steps I walk.
Better, replace the slats, clean slate.
The light fixture, too, with the bullet hole you put it through, like your own chin and skull,
can be new overhead.
Let tints and ways incandesce over their cold fluorescence
Fade like a Doppler noise
an unaccompanied memory buffered by clocks and ticks and tocks
and talk of your insanity,
for which I need not feel guilty; the release for which I need not feel guilty.

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Sleeping Beside My Overly Affectionate Assassin Cat

Midnight, I fell asleep three hours ago.  She takes
advantage of my vulnerability and at
first my mind rejoins myself disoriented, the
grog releasing; its precedent is  my knowing that
it’s only her; false alarm, this is not quicksand
nipping good…night (? I don’t know what time it is to her) to my right cheek.
Eyes closed and about-face, another direction, reposition into a cozy
orientation.
She shows her affront, or persistence …  both by
stepping on my face with both
paws.
Again, the grog keeps me still and the familiar enables
me to fall asleep until slowly,
I can’t entirely breathe;
a fluff a white is clogging my nostrils. A chuckle, muffled, bemused at the
flashback of a paranoid paperback character –
Pertinence!
I barrel-roll to
the left to dislodge my feline assassin friend.
To cuddle with her is to stay up far too late yet to
neglect is to suffer threats to suffocate.  I
usually pick sleep,
so she attempts to take me out in the
fashion of Huple’s cat versus
Hungry Joe.
I’m darned if I do.
Darned if I don’t

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The Key to Winter

The key to winter is
finding meaning
in grays,
clouds — absence of sky
amongst the smog and bare
twigs;
life in the suspension thereof.
Warmth within, despite
the biting cold strolling along the sidewalks.

Embrace frost, see its
intricacies.  Neglect how it hurts
fingertip feelings.
Throw a wad of snow
white, soft and harmless
to mock-harm a friend –
hear how the cold slows the echoes
of laughter as the ball bursts
upon chest, on arm, leg.

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A Windy Night

A cowered form hugs its head
to protect from impending debris.
Pitch-black, none of it can be seen
only heard and felt as the broken air vibrates and whirrs past eardrums.
Knelt down next to flowers,
which were stirred with a knee,
but couldn’t know it
due to the aforementioned blackness.
And the flowers, with their heads bent down in synchrony, too,
As if their crowns, growing heavy as they do,
tested stems’ tensile strength
to the point of snapping.
So these brightless suns dangled and quick-whipped with the wind
as did the limbs of trees;
although to a lesser degree,  their sounds were all the more hectic,
nature’s undulated static;
their unseen leaves sung enough of a picture
for their hearer to be afraid,
again there, in the night,
with no white-scarred sky to emit
and no yellow moon to reflect any light whatsoever.
It was stupidly dark.
Made moreso (stupidly) by the nips and pelts of passersby,
even less aware of whom they were impacting
than the impactee, being formerly inanimate themselves.
And it was stupidly cold,
such that one could not know whether it was a bit of bark-mulch
that the gusts just threw
or if it was Jack Frost, and the unfriendly way he bites, that caused
more stinging on the right thigh.
It was probably both.

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Stick-Carrying

One of my friends told me recently that this blog has been too quiet for too long.  Frankly, I had forgotten about the thing.  The neglect has simply been that life got busy (as I’m sure everyone can relate), a lot has happened, and this platform was never intended to be another stress-inducing  obligation, only an outlet.  Since the last post on this blog, the majority of my writing has been in poetic form versus narrative, so here is one of those more recent works.

_______________________

Stick-Carrying

Broken sticks and twigs I carried
with sharply angled arms, soft-side up
to keep from getting tired and wincing
from the branch pinches and skin scratches felt without a thought
and not seen – they were buried underneath the pile

My pace quickened with my heartbeat,
quickened with weariness turned anxiousness to be rid of the sticks
my arm angle opened, acute to obtuse, releasing the load nearly prematurely
They clicked out together to the ground
joined their harvest peers
Not by any force of mutual attraction or recognition of likeness
just gravity
that pulled each to its own rest place
some atop, some rolled, length-long, to tilt toward the rocks
or bushes
or to the almost sky
I left my pile, about-faced, for another armload.
A  slight sting stung in the places streaked pink from concentrated pressure points
but no mind was paid
All in a day’s labor
and plenty of real-estate more for more that will, too, fade,
in time
After some steps looking to where I walked but not seeing the bleached bright trunks
or high branches that hung above
My train of purpose was interrupted
by a hand on my shoulder passing from across the way
with an axe in his, resting, cradled there
stained and chipped with the felling of trees and things

He slow-swung around, as if his hand anchored to my scapula
knelt down in a soft, fluid motion
dreamlike, surreal the way his weight did not yank back.  I was not jarred to stop
or disturbed
just paused and gentle-brought into his warmth that met me

And by that warmth I knew I was a wake

And he did kneel by me
and it was cold on the side where he wasn’t
I didn’t know it until then
so busy and working I was
and so long sunlight dimming
having acclimated, the way children do when too occupied with catch, tag, and war to go inside
never noticing it’s so cold as to cause that thawing itch and pain that arraigns feet and fingers
upon exchanging starlight for nightlight

He was at eye level now
and I listened while he spoke, engaged with the ground
low and smooth and easily, said to me
“Sit down and rest awhile.”
He stood, hand anchored light, guided me to a piece of wood fit for sitting
I said,
“I can still carry.  I’m not tired.”
“It’s alright,” he said, “sit down and rest awhile.”
So I obliged and let me be lifted a small inch or two
Once placed, I stayed with feet swaying in unison.

 

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Hebrews 12:1-2

Hebrews 12:1-2 on my mind today:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


And with it:

Untitled
January 27th, 2013

Verse 1    
Fill us as we stand
Grace upon grace, grace upon grace for feeble hands
Only strength upon strength from Your fullness can
Lift up our heads, set our faces
Straight ahead to higher places
Show us our races, let no roads lead astray
Oh, Lord, carry us to the promised land

Chorus
No other God before us
No weight or chain behind
Free we sing our chorus
Sin’s wages cast aside
We abide in the Spirit’s leading
To everlasting life

Verse 2
Heal us as we sing
With all our might, with all our mite we’re offering
Every burden at the feet of the King
Take what’s dark, make it light
Give us righteousness, replace our lies
Resurrect our lives, let no grave remain
We wait for wholeness heaven brings

Chorus
No other God before us
No weight or chain behind
Free we sing our chorus
Sin’s wages cast aside
We abide in the Spirit’s leading
To everlasting life

Verse 3  
Praise Him as we stand
For His grace upon grace, grace upon grace for feeble hands
Strength upon strength from His fullness has
Lifted our heads, set our faces
Ran our races, no other roads led astray
Our Lord carried us to the promised land

Bridge
We pour out our hopes, our dreams,
Our hearts and beings
Broken as they may be
And lay down everything that clings so closely
Trade it all for what is holy
In His death we have died
To be a sacrifice made alive
In His life raised alive

Verse 4
Praise Him we must sing
With all our might, with all our mite we’re offering
Our worship at the feet of the King
He took our darkness, made it light
Gave us righteousness, replaced our lies
Resurrected our lives, no grave remains
Freely gave all that heaven brings

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True Story: Princess

Rain was pouring down and I could barely see where I was running. 

Trees crashed behind me, I jumped over some rocks, and then cowered under a fallen trunk.  The ground shook as a dinosaur as big as the house roared and tore its way to me.  Flat on my back, I looked up into its big yellow eyes.  Its jaws opened, with sharp teeth and slobber everywhere, “Stockton to Malone.  The Mailman drives to the basket.  Oh!  Foul by Pippen!  It’s too late in the game to be making those mistakes.”

Concentrating, I tried to make my hand trace the lines in my head.  My eyes stayed closed as I pictured the abomiddable face in front of me.  I traced its jaw, gave it eyes and claws, erasing and re-drawing, making it perfect.  I waited for a minute on what to call it, and could barely keep the butterflies from flying out of me when I figured it out.  I spelled “D-y-n-o-m-i-t-e!” and underlined it.

“Dad!  Look at what I did!”

“That’s great.  Can I have your autograph?”

I didn’t find the connection between my drawing and a long-necked Africa animal, but I got the feeling he thought he was saying a joke.  I got the feeling like I should say something or ask him something, too.  But I didn’t since moving goes fast and words go slow; I was already walking back to the table almost happy Dad saw my drawing.  I only wished he knew it was T-rex.

When I sat down to do another one, Kelson and Bambi ran down the stairs shooting their nerf guns. I joined them.  It was a lot of excitement when we made war.  Soon they were getting hot and they took their shirts off.  I was hot too, so I hurried and took off my pink and purple polka dots to chase Kelson down.  Flying through the kitchen, my mom blocked in front of me and grabbed me.

“What do you think you’re doing?  Get your shirt on right now.”  She covered me again real fast like she didn’t want me to see something.  It was bad, whatever it was.

“How come they take off their shirts and I can’t?”

“Because you’re a girl and girls don’t run around without a shirt.  It’s nasty.”

“Who says?”

“You just don’t.  It’s nasty.”

I didn’t want my shirt on, it wasn’t fair.  I wanted to have fun the same as they did, but now I didn’t because what Mom said.

“Ha!  You got in trouble with a capidal T!” Kelson shot at me, laughing.

It made me too mad to even hit him.  He was free to fight wars, and nobody made so many rules for what he couldn’t do.  Whoever made rules for girls was ignerant because they didn’t know I could do everything boys could then beat them at it too.  Beat them hard.  I was stronger and faster.  I had guts.  Every time I won them I showed I was worth something, worth more, that I wasn’t weak and I had guts.  I took my pink and purple polka dots and mad guts to the living room.

“Come here, young lady.”  Dad held out his arm from his couch throne.  I hesitated.  Dad picked me up and laid me on his belly.   He wrapped his arms around me, holding me on his stomach.  “Are you my little princess?” he asked.  I felt like I liar to Dad when I nodded yes.  But I didn’t lie all the way.  A piece of me wanted it to fit since he said it so nice.

My head lay flat on Dad’s stomach, relaxing and letting it fit for a second.  I thought, I’m Dad’s little princess; over and over again when he breathed out: Dad’s little princess.  I felt warm and kind of safe.  “I’m going to have to get a shotgun when you get older.”  As he brushed his hand through my hair, I looked up.  He took his eyes away from the game, briefly.  “Yup, going to need a shotgun for my princess.”

The Jazz won like they always did, and it was time for bed.  Mom and Dad went upstairs.  Me and my brothers nested in the living room with our blankets, staying quiet to go asleep.  I rolled around a lot.  It was really hot, so I put my Mermaid blanket aside.  I sprawled out, starfish, exemening the lines on my blanket, bored and uncomfortable. Then I noticed something.  Mermaid’s a girl.  She’s not wearing a shirt.  Mermaid’s a princess and she’s not wearing a shirt.  I looked around. My brothers were sleeping.  Everything was quiet.  Mom’s esplanation didn’t make any sense anyway, so I didn’t put any stock in it.  I re-covered myself with Ariel and wrestled my shirt off.

I didn’t like the feel of my skin on the carpet, and feeling my own skin was weird.  I guess that’s how Mom meant by “nasty.”  But I wasn’t weak and I didn’t like pink. I was stronger and faster, could do anything boys did and then beat them at it.  I kept it off. 

Dad’s little princess.

Falling asleep, I tried to figure out what Dad thought his princess would do so wrong that he needed a gun.

True Story:  Breakfast

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True Story: Breakfast


Not much farther, and the floor hadn’t creaked yet. 

I made sure to put the soft part of my foot down first, and slow.  Like a cat.  If I went slow like a cat nobody would hear, and I’d have it all to myself.  My chest got tight and hot as I came closer, so I breathed less.  One more step and the handle was in reach.  In my head I told the floor, Please don’t creak.  Don’t you dare creak.

It creaked, and suddenly my brother was scampering into the kitchen.  He cut in front of me, opened the fridge and grabbed the milk.  The floor bugged me, and he bugged me too because I wanted to eat cereal by myself and have it first.  He’s older and always has things first, and even when he doesn’t he still gets credit like he did.

I followed him to the bowl cupboard, but he shut it.  So I opened it and grabbed one really fast so I could get a spoon before he shut the drawer, too.  I beat him to that one even though he’s fast.  He reminded Mom and Dad of a monkey.  All skinny and small and fast.  “Little Monkey,” they called him, but they didn’t get that he wasn’t smart.  He may of been my big brother, but I’m bigger and faster and smart.  Like a cat.

We ate breakfast at the table like we were supposed to.  The walls we made around ourselves with cereal boxes weren’t perfect because I could still hear him chewing, but at least he couldn’t look at me and I didn’t have to look at him.  He finished before I even got half way, but I was glad he was gone so I could be by myself, like how I wanted at first.  My cereal didn’t have a prize in it anywhere, so I bet Kelson already stole it.  The puzzles on the box were still blank, though, and I liked those.

After I was done I thought to put my bowl in the sink because Mom got mad when we didn’t, but instead left it on the table.  The trip was out of my way.  She always takes care of those things even when she gets mad, so it should be okay.  She’s nice, and Dad’s asleep.

When I walked in the living room my little brother was sitting with his face inches away from the TV.  Going past him and sitting on the couch, I tried to focus on the Ninja Turtles.  I tried a lot.

“Don’t sit that close.”  He ignored me.  “Don’t sit that close, Bambi.”

“You isn’t my boss.”

“Dad’s the boss, and he says.”

“You isn’t my boss.”

I glanced at Kelson for some back-up, but he was mesmertized by turtles. “You’re going to ruin your eyes.”

“Shut up, you isn’t my boss.”

He made me start to get loud.  “Aren’tAre not my boss.  Yer so stupid.  Get away from the TV, stupid!” I knocked him over and he scooted right back, so I punched him.  He cried, but I didn’t even punch him hard.  He’s always crying about everything, but it’s his own fault for not listening.  Stupid baby.

A door slammed open upstairs.  The three of us bolted like we were sling-shot, and my legs took a long time to get me to my spot.  I flung my blanket over me, went flat, and stayed still all in a second.  My heart burned with every step Dad took down the stairs.  A dull thump behind me.  Kelson got it.  A couple of stomps, a smack and a scream and Bambi’s blanket busted out crying.  I stayed still.  If I stay still and don’t breathe, I’m only a pile of Mermaid blanket.  A big hand came down on my back with a slapping sound, stung like fire, but I clenched my teeth hard and stayed still.

“You shut up, all of you,” he yelled. “I’m trying to sleep. I better not hear another peep er I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Dad stormed back upstairs, muttering, and slammed his door.  But it wasn’t new, I didn’t hurt, and I didn’t cry.  It was all I could do not to say “peep.”

There was a moment of stillness until the groundhogs started stirring again.  Kelson got out first, whispering at us all angry for fighting.  I got up and didn’t say anything more.  Bambi’s lucky Dad would come down if I made a peep.  If he would just listen like he’s supposed to that wouldn’t of happened this morning.  Whimpering over there like a poor baby.  I could give him something to cry about.  Stupid baby.

Posted in Literature, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Untitled

~October 2008.  Still pertinent.
Nichole Sanderson

Caught up in cacophonies of conflict and quarreling
Ensnared in strongholds of pretension, insubordination,
the vogues of my generation
and conjoined;
I can’t cut the link
between
who was and who should be,
yet I am frozen in fields of indifference
an atrocious reticence in me
where
it’s too destitute to find in this heart of mine
even a drop of new wine.
I’m just too weak to hold the ink of the way that You think,
and the paper of my past has been used,
bruised,
clouding novel messages I’ve so often refused
in Your word; that note
clearly spelling out the antidote to my disease of dispassion.
My soul hears it,
sees it,
and in an inactive movement of spiritual lethargy
rejects it.

Hence the evidence of this internal offense:
Whenever a scene

plays

out

then,
Suddenly I am pissed in the midst
of trial and tribulation
that in comparison
really are none
to Yours.

So I’m finding more and more that I
hate
this first-person singular pronoun: I.
Thinking You must be watching me wondering my way down
in awe of how I break holy law so readily,
easily,
unwittingly joining the enemy in coup d’etat
until your Holy Spirit is raw
with grief.
Apparent disbelief
on my part.
Hard-pressed to find a leaf;
all too brief to cover all of my names:

Instigator
Hater
Liar
Fornicator
Idolater
Murderer
Blasphemer
Thief

But, in spite of the identities I see in me I still
silently,
stubbornly
sing my symphony of blasé.
Bourgeoises
Commonplace
Salt with no taste
Failure staring me in the face
Feel like a waste
of time and space
I
can’t
run this race anymore.
I’m tired.
Tired of trotting the treadmill belt that has been my life;
always moving, never going.
Out of breath and frustrated because I thought I had burnt this bridge to binary self,
but in retrospect and introspect
I can’t seem to part with our self
I can’t do this myself
Oh God I need your help.

I am at despair of my duality
I am at dread of the impossibility
of veritability
charitability
amiability
civility
humility
the ability
to live in purity
and all else deemed lovely.

I fall at Your feet defeated
Death of my apathy completed,
And I am at end
I am at
I can’t
I can’t.

I can think of nothing more than I want to go home.
Home, where I will never have to drive another nail again
Where I will forget where I have been,
forget my sin.

Oh, glorious day that has yet come
I beg you, come.
Strip me of dawn
for with it what will become of me but to stand at the ready,
spear drawn
just as the soldier whose final thrust ensured You were indeed gone?

To think that Your affliction endured
was my infliction
It just doesn’t seem enough to say “sorry,”
but I am sorry.
Hear a desperate plea seeking the Judge’s mercy
and quickly
take my unlovely
my unholy
wholly from me.

Though I’ve confessed
there’s still this protest in my chest that contests the idea that any offense is as far from me
as east is west,
leaving storehouses of hope for change depleted
repeatedly
by each unsuspecting indulgence which drew from my flesh’s lips
Cohen’s cold, broken, perverse
“Hallelujah”
whose guilt never ends with the act
but remains intact
as mocking melodies of memories
like film,
reel in my mind
Like a film,
cover my eyes,
reminding me, blinding me
with each and every
ought
and ought not
to have thought,
said,
done.

Hear a request addressed to the Giver of Rest
and speedily
shake my shame
my chagrin
surely from me, too
So when the familiar voice of dissuasion attempts to deny the pardon ratified on this occasion,
in response I can choose to say
little devil, go away
God has my ear today.
He has taken me thus far,
to this glory somehow.
He will take me to the next some way,
and to yet another someday.

In the meantime I’ll keep writing my rhymes
to help break these confining patterns
of passive thought
and action
to fully revive my passion for You,
Yeshua
in whom is all my belief
and heart.
Hard-pressed to find relief apart from the assurance of Your names:

Elohim
Immanuel
El Shaddai
Adonai
Lord on High
Resurrection and the Life
Cornerstone
whose blood atoned
Enthroned Carpenter
Teacher
Master
Mediator
Anchor
Author
Finisher
Father
Servant

Savior

of the human race.
And when I come face to face
to the Word that could never be erased,
I realize that none of my labels are able
to exhaust the infinitely exponential equation that is Your grace
declared in the place of Romans eight
that despite my deprived state
I am set free, eternally;
because of the guarantee purchased on Calvary’s tree
it’s Christ who now lives in me,
and that
is the Something inside
that bids my will and my life –
go
to the gallows
with every sunrise,
and even if I fall a thousand times tomorrow
I
will
crawl again
stand again
walk again
run again
each step taken without shame,
without blame
’cause I’m redeemed

in Jesus’ name

Posted in Christian Walk, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Heart First

January 25, 2012
Nichole Sanderson

I’m pummeled by imposters
Lord, I know You’re not a scoffer
So why are my fears so close to convincing me
That You won’t really love
Unless I prove my offered place above is well-deserved
Mark my page for every time I’ve done, followed and served
Making sure I’m pure in every outward way
But You see through the parts I fail to play
And the roles that can’t bring relief anyway

It’s in my heart first
That You work to will and do
All the good and righteousness You knew from the start
It’s my heart
I have no fruitfulness apart from You
So I trust You’ll see me fully through
To be whatever You ask me to
And the end will be more beautiful
Than I could ever conjure

It’s my heart first
That You mold like clay
From glory to glory every day
And carry to completion
‘til the coming of your Son

When I’m undone, it’s my heart first
That You whisper to in quietness
To tell me of Your faithfulness
Although I don’t know Your plans
I’m in trustworthy hands

In my heart
There’s a calloused cover
With fractures I can’t number
But You tear my husk asunder
To reveal the flesh underneath
Lord, it bleeds
And so I plead
Please don’t send me out
Without binding up these wounds
Please relieve my doubts
restore and renew
Wrap me in Your cloud
Drive away my drought
Fill this thirsty ground
Because in my heart
There’s a calloused cover
With fractures I can’t number
But Your love tears my husk asunder
To reveal the flesh underneath
Lord, it bleeds
And so I plead
Please don’t send me out
Without calming me throughout
Reprieve me I’m unsound
Surround and soothe
See me through what You’ve allowed
Be the peace that I’m without
And come to me soon

You care so much You would,
Even before the hereafter,
That my hurts be cured, quiet, and whole
It’s this heart You’re after
It’s this heart You stole
When I seek Your face
All the rest will fall in place
And flow like a river
with Your arms around me
These worries wither

So let Your life in me reside
Let Your truth in me abide
In this brokenness dwell inside
In my heart first
Where You work to will and do
All the good and righteousness You knew from the start
In my heart
I have no fruitfulness apart from You
So I trust You’ll see me fully through
To be whatever You ask me to
And the end will be more beautiful
Than I could ever conjure
In the meantime
Take this calloused cover
With fractures I can’t number
Tear my husk asunder
To reveal the flesh underneath
Lord, it bleeds
And so I plead
Please don’t send me out
Without binding up these wounds
See me through what You’ve allowed
and come to me soon

Posted in Christian Walk, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Pause

October – December, 2011
Nichole Sanderson

I remember starlight October strolls through a season,
heard cello moans move heartthrob throws;
low, steady and slow low vibrato
impress lashing elations
walked under arced bows over avenues swaying formal full of meaning, feeling
opposed to the quipped air brusque as crackling leaves
dropped from home below unsorrowed boughs
when, I can’t know exactly when,
my within me’s lush and green end over end swooped
beneath,
fell away off its tending tree
even in ebb and flow, mostly flow of billowing autumn arms
though in musician movement
outside of me seen
my inner seat could not feel
its own beat beats
and I was transposed, that leaf underfeet

One feathered member tossed and thrown through November
rode some uninspired currents
projected atop them, deflected
landing concretely where they weren’t
reduced, supine, staring straight up at staccato sticks upholding vast, vapid skies
a sheet composed of veins uncovered
why, I don’t know rightly why
that leaf lies exposed and silence harrows oaks
overhung
bearing upon that petal-fading body
on the solid and cold, mostly cold side street ground
espied a catatonic scene
where the feel-flinging storm, storm that was everything, ceased
its uncried threnodies dried
all slow-motionless that once swung
to
and fro while I,
I watch.  That’s as far as I go.

I can’t remember what gave December branches
hope or reason to be strings again
a resigned peace leaves the pallid portion torn, unshivering
as its parents standing, rigid frigidity
amidst no kind breeze, no animating wind
no evidence of stirring among grey wintered rinds
they pause long enough to think gusts must, must have died
melodies and pigments ended
must only have been wishful figments
just then, I know right then,
there is in the stillness, distance – waiting
Listen.
A small grafted speck of emerald leafing
the whispered sonata sound
of breathing

Posted in Christian Walk, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mormons Are Christian. Aren’t They?

The question has sparked a lot of controversy lately.

It even made The Chronicle’s list of 2011’s top 10 religion and politics stories, citing Robert Jeffress’s public assertion that presidential candidate Mitt Romney wasn’t a real Christian.

The matter continues to provoke strong feelings on every side, especially here in Latter Day Saint capital Utah.  The LDS people I know are quite offended by the idea of not being considered Christian.   After all, Mormons do believe in Jesus Christ.  Fer cryin’ out
loud, just look at the church’s name:
“Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” “Jesus Christ” is even in large font, bolded, and centered on  church plaques!  People who insist on refusing their Christian title when they obviously believe in Jesus are tendentious bigots, many say.  The Chronicle echoes this attitude by calling the headline “The Persistence of Anti-Mormon Sentiment.”

I understand where this idea is coming from.  Mormonism is emerging in national news more and more with two LDS candidates running in for commander-in-chief in 2012, yet even with Mormonism’s climb into public awareness, “Mormon” is still a somewhat mysterious word to the unaffiliated masses.  It’s associated with things like polygamy, strange underwear, and an even stranger aversion to coffee beans.  The people themselves, though, have a reputation for kindness and charity, living exemplary moral lives – a trait Utah’s low crime rate can attest to.  To those with a surface-level vantage point it seems utterly exclusivist to maintain that Mormons are not Christian.

Unfortunately, most of the debate has been unruly name-calling.  Anti this, cult that – bigot here, heresy there.  Not only is this unbecoming, but it is entirely unproductive.  It prevents us from hearing any explanation as to why there is a dispute in the first place.  So, let’s put aside rhetorical ad hominem so we can take a look at the real issues.

As I said before, many are aware of Mormonism’s strict moral standards; its external behavior, if you will.  When it comes to internal doctrine, however, most don’t have a clear understanding of what Mormons believe versus mainstream Christianity.  That, dear friends, is what the fuss is all about.  Below I have tried to whittle it down to the main differences (there are many more) with as little cumbersomeness as possible.  (If you want further detail, I’d encourage you to do additional research. It’s a fascinating subject.)

Topic

Mormon View

Christian View

God

God is flesh and bone (D&C 130:22) God is spirit (Jo. 4:24)
God is our literal father, accomplished with our literal mother-God (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed., 516) God is our creator (Jo. 1:1-3)
There are multiple gods (polytheistic) (BoA 4:3) There is only one God (monotheistic) (Is. 43:10; 44:8; 45:6)
God used to be a man (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 345) God has always been God (Ps. 90:2; 93:2)
God would stop being God if we stopped supporting Him as such (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed. 751) God is God whether ya like it er not (Job 36:22-23; Is. 14:26-27)

Jesus Christ

Jesus is a literal spirit-brother of Lucifer/Satan, created (Gospel Through the Ages, 15) Jesus is the eternal and only begotten Son (Jo. 8:58; 3:16)

Man

Man has eternally existed as “intelligence” that organizes into spirit when a God-Father and God-Mother make spirit babies (Gospel Through the Ages, pp. 126-127) Man is created at a specific point in time, not eternal with God or pre-existing (Job 38:4)
After death, men can become gods and populate their own worlds, just like God did, if holy enough (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow,1) Believers will not become gods, but will be like Him (I Jo. 3:2) and continue to worship God forever (Rev. 22:3)

Sin, Salvation and Forgiveness

The fall of mankind through sin in Eden was a good thing, providing a way to populate the earth (Articles of Faith, p. 476) The fall was a very crappy thing, and is why we have sin, death, disease, and separation from God. (Ge. 3:16-24; Ro. 3:23; 5:12-15)
Salvation is first a universal resurrection for everyone (Mormon Doctrine, 1977 ed., 63) Salvation is the forgiveness of sin and rescuing from eternal punishment (Rom. 6:23)
Salvation is secondly a provision for forgiveness of sin, but forgiveness only applies after we are righteous by obedience (Articles of Faith, 79) Forgiveness cannot be earned by being righteous, but is a free gift from God through Christ’s suffering (Rom. 4:5)
There is sin that Christ’s blood cannot atone for (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, 92) There is nothing, absolutely nothing, one can do for which Christ’s blood is not enough (I Jo. 1:7-9)

The list could go on and on…and on, but I will stop at these core teachings. As you can see, the terminology is similar but when definitions of “God” and “Jesus Christ” are elaborated, huge, fundamental issues in which the beliefs are, in some instances, direct opposite each other become apparent.  (I daresay that, when it comes to the nature of God, Christianity has more in common with Islam than Mormonism.)  While each may behave according to a comparable moral code and have good things to say about Christ, Mormonism’s beliefs are not consistent with traditional Christianity.

I don’t think Mormons are Christian any more than I think Christians are Mormon.  Does distinguishing between these systems of thought automatically make me opposed to, against, or a hater of Mormons as the Chronicle would suggest?  No.  In fact, everyone in my family with a religious affiliation is Mormon. I love them dearly, even while I have reasons to disagree with them.  The disagreement is not nit-picking, bigotry, or trying to exclude anyone from some Christian club, rather an endeavor to make a clear-thinking distinction.

So, armed with the information on the table above, here are some important questions to ask:

First, What would a traditional Christian church have to change in order to be considered Mormon? Why would it have to change those things?

Second, If the LDS church denied a Christian church that called itself Mormon without making those changes, would it be fair to label the LDS church anti-Christian?   Or would the exclusion be acceptable as a nominal distinction based upon fundamental qualitative differences?

Third that I’d ask to my Mormon friends specifically, why does the LDS church, which claims to be a restoration of the one true church after a universal apostasy of which all Christian churches are a part, now desire closer identification with apostate Christianity?

I only have speculations, but I won’t go into them here.

What do you think?

Posted in Christianity, Current Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trading Meaningful Experience for Social Media Content

Kids say the darndest things. 

They’re more perceptive than they get credit for, and their unfamiliarity with (disregard for?) established norms frees them to make unfiltered remarks.  (This is part of why I don’t want children – they will tell me everything I don’t want to hear.  And that’s a lot of stuff.)  Author and speaker Jon Acuff received one of those observations while trying to capture a Kodak moment with his five year old:

I said, “McRae, stay for there for a second. I want to take a picture.” Without missing a beat, she said, “No.” I asked her why, and in the way that only kids can, she threw a grenade into the room:

“No. I don’t want you to tweet it.”

Ouch.  Someone had a habit.  (Read his post here)

I know we’ve all befriended individuals who seem to exist in status updates.  With each new, exciting, or utterly mundane occurrence it’s like their brain process defaults to “share on Facebook!” Or twitter.  Or YouTube.  Or whatever.   We’re annoyed and wonder WHY they feel the need to advertise every waking second with pictures and video clips.  They’re obviously inconsiderate of others’ time and think the universe revolves around them.  I know you’re nothing like that, but before getting too judgmental let’s take a look at how we “normal” folk use social media.

A while ago, I noticed that whenever someone said something really funny, I’d think, “Oh! Gotta quote that.”  If I was inconvenienced:  “Ah! Must compile into witty complaint status.”  Then something moving might happen and, “Oohneedtelltohumanity!”

Now, I’m not one of those “friends” who floods networking cites with anything and everything.  I only create a new status once in a day maximum (with rare exception), and will sometimes go a week or two without sharing a word.  Yet in a time of instant updates, I don’t think I’m alone in my mental inclination.  Being bombarded with information in the Information Age, we’ve stood up to bombard in return.  The difference between the people who barrage social media and those who are more moderate is that the latter control the impulse.

Although you may be able to keep the impulse at an acceptable level, don’t think that it’s not a problem.  Even if controlled, I think it’s still a dangerous pattern of thought for a few  reasons.  The first is that we’re distracted from real life.  This generation has gotten so wrapped up in megaphoning anything supposed to be meaningful that we don’t allow our hearts and minds to absorb what’s actually happening.  We trade the joy and satisfaction of the experience itself for displaying a photo or 140-character description of an “experience” we didn’t even give ourselves enough time to digest; we’re mere reporters of our lives, not active participants.

The second reason we should be careful of media-driven thinking is that it causes us to forget that people are people, not content.  When Acuff’s daughter told him she didn’t want him to take the picture, he understood that she was saying,

“Let me be your kid, not your content, daddy.”

“Treat me like your child, not your content, daddy.”

“Let me be 5 and silly, without turning that moment into a tweet.”

Get this: not everything that is wonderful or momentous has to be shared.  There is a lot I don’t disclose precisely because it’s special to me.  Focusing on publicizing has the potential to strip those things of significance.  If I have a great time doing something with someone, for example, I’d rather keep it between the immediately involved, not because I’m ashamed of their company or wasn’t quite thrilled, but because it was valuable enough to slow down and allow it to sink in.

Third, it’s really easy for it to promote self-focus.  I took the liberty to make a “word cloud” using this neat tool to see what’s typically on my mind, and here’s what I found:

That’s kind of embarrassing.  There’s no ambiguity as to what I’m focused on: “my” and “me,” mostly, and a bit of “you.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a narcissistic life is a meaningless life.  No wonder I feel like turd so often!  This needs a’changin’, y’all.

So, I’d like to practice and spread Acuff’s message, encouraging you to ask yourself why before blurting out some thought, feeling, or incident for the masses to consume.

Has it just become second nature?  The thing that made you so happy/upset/accomplished/etc. – were you actually able to be happy/upset/accomplished/etc. in the moment, or were you too busy thinking of how best to upload it?

Are you broadcasting merely to talk about your encounters with people without having privately expressed what they meant to you?

Is it yet another chance to spout on about your “my’s” and “me’s”?

Or after having processed your experiences are you now communicating purely because you want others to share, at least in part, the goodness you’ve treasured?  And maybe share someone else’s treasures, too?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing Conundrums Three and My Solutions Thereof

They say one characteristic of a successful blog is having a consistent topic.

Something unique where you can find a niche, hunker down in a dark room with a coffee pot, hype up on heart-palpitating doses of caffeine, and write, write, write!

Those who have been with me from the beginning have probably already noticed the  range of diversity already.  Lately I’ve been trying to think if I could settle into a certain subject matter in order to get a following.

Well, problem: I want to write about EVERYTHING. “BUSYmindmusings!” In any given day, I have at least five very different topics zipping through my head. As I type, I have counted 28 topics already picked out and organized in OneNote. They range from analytical to non sequitur, devotionals to (semi-)irreverent satire, poetry to prose memoir (yawn), essays to short-stories; I could write serious crap, funny crap, practical crap, philosophical crap, *horse cr – wait! I’m finding consistency throughout all of this: crap. I am a so full of crap!

My fellow writers will probably understand this.  The hardcore of us could go an entire day without speaking a word and we don’t always make the best conversationalists.  But there is a lot going on behind the blinds, and if you don’t get it all out somewhere you’ll DIE, or worse, LOSE INSPIRATION FOREVER.  There is no middle ground.

Problem two: Work. Need I explain? No. But I will. It gets in the way of everything. I can’t count how many times a day I think of something brilliant (brilliant I tell you!), don’t have time to write it down yet plow on trusting I’ll remember in a spare moment. Yeah, Nichole, that always works…[face->palm.] Am I saying I’m one of those young people who doesn’t want to suck it up and earn my living with hard work and dedication? Heck yes that’s what I’m saying. Do I have the guts to ever live out that bum philosophy? Heck no I don’t.

Virginia Woolf famously said in A Room of One’s Own: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”  Most of us don’t just have money, but most of us just have bills for those rooms of our own.  Work: can’t write with it.  Can’t live without it.  Yet you live to write; write to live.  Cursed necessity -_-The Scream by Edvard Munch...MUNCH!.

Problem three: This may not apply to you, but I have to finish my education. I don’t know what the f-bomb I’m doing anymore, so I don’t know why. Especially since afterwards I’ll be expected to get yet another job – no – I’ll be expected to have picked out a career [DUN DUN DUNNNN]. [High-pitched scaredy-lady screech] I’m not ready/mature/fancy enough for a career! There is too much FUN to be had! Besides, I’m dang good at being a student.

This isn’t just an issue for young adults like myself, either.  Many people are returning to the classroom in hopes of a earning more, or, as my friend’s son, have had an extended stay trying to “find” their selves.  I’m afraid I’ll become one of those…

So, what is there to do about these here conundrums?

Solution to problem one: If you’re like me, you write because you don’t have much other choice; it’s a part of who you are.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to simply do it.  Don’t start off with big worries about readers, topics, whether it’s genius or dribble.  Relax.  Write.   The rest can come with time if you end up deciding that writing for a specific audience is something you want.

As for this blog, while I absolutely love to entertain others, I started this thing for me and I’m going to try to keep it that way.  Not trying to become popular or “successful” here.  I’m just going to write, as I am wont to do, and hopefully whatever comes out on the other end will do good for my audience, too. At any given post be prepared to learn, think, chuckle, or whatever else. If one thing doesn’t catch your fancy, I hope you’ll stick around for something within the array of crap that will.

Solutions to problem two and three:  Something I’ve learned, albeit the hard way: I can’t do everything.  If I don’t have time between work and school-induced deadlines, I don’t add undue pressure by giving myself writing deadlines.  Stressed writing makes for…stressed writing, at least on this end.  Not to mention it sucks out all of the enjoyment.

I’m also learning to have paper available.  Ideally, a single place to jot things down ensures even the little things aren’t lost.  When I don’t have something like that with me, I’ll use a nifty note program on my phone.  Or my laptop on lunch break.  Then follow up on my notes in my relaxed spare time and build on them.

If that doesn’t cut it: stride into work after a dozen jello shots with shotgun; shoot out flammable gas line; bring place down in style. Squint eyes; blow smoke off  weapon; bend down; pick up ten gallon hat that flew off from fiery shock wave; dust off; mount *aforementioned horse; gallop away in slow motion. Repeat on campus.

Create pen name.

Avoid authorities indefinitely.

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