Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Aah, I can be such an ass. I was just whining about having a shitty day, for no reason, and I checked my work e mail. My coworker, and friend, had surgery today. A tumor was wrapped around her spine, and the surgeons didn't know if she would be able to walk again afterwards. I went to visit her, and she is moving her legs, grateful to walk. Grateful to have the use of her legs. Now, my problems are selfish and needless. She's wonderful, and I've been silly.


I'm like 98% non smoker. But that other 2 percent . . . oh that 2 percent is saved for special occasions, such as drunken stupidity or, like today, when I am in such a shitty mood that I'm not suitable to be around others. No reason, really, except that I'm in a bad mood. Hellacious mood, actually. I sat in class, thoroughly annoyed by the comments people made because I'm thinking to myself, do you not pay ANY attention when the teacher speaks? Good God, she said that same thing last week, and this week it's like some people just had an epiphany. Ugh. So after I left, I drove my new car (cussing like hell at the idiots in traffic) to the nearest gas station, bought a ham sandwich and a pack of smokes. They'll last me about six months, probably. I ate my sandwich in the parking lot, and - shit - I can't work the fucking lighter in my car. Automatically I'm pissed at the salesman who didn't show me how to work the damn thing. Oh well. I whip open my car door and march straight back into the store, plop down a lighter, make some lame joke, plunk down my dollar-seven and walk away.

The smoke stinks, but the taste is satisfying. It's a cold February day, but all four of my windows are down, lest my car reek of smoke when I'm out of this shitty mood. But I like to watch the white-blue smoke of my Camel Lights curl out of my mouth and snake into the sky. It suits my mood. Goddammit. I am angry today. Back into traffic I go, searching in vain for a good song on the radio. I can't take this shit. It's all so sappy. I want something that ROCKS! Stirs my blood, gets my fists pounding on the steering wheel, shakes me out of my mind, rattles my teeth. Nothing. GODDAMMIT! I whip my car into the parking lot at work, all the while thinking to myself, laughing darkly to myself that this is going to be one hell of a night. I can't fucking wait.

Do you know when a person smiles, but their lips curve up and their eyes remain dead? Unmoved, unemotional. That's how I'm smiling today, and that may come as a shock to some of the people in my outer world. Some people say I have a brilliant smile - to some, that's the defining part of my face. Blah blah blah. I'm angry, so my smiles don't count. But, why am I so angry? I try to decipher it myself, but somehow the meaning escapes me, like a fart in a skillet. Haha. That's disgusting. Maybe it's because I have to have an extremely uncomfortable conversation with one of my best friends, to tell him why I have been avoiding him for two months. Other than some face value things (Angela knows this), there has to be some other reason why I can't bring myself to talk to him. I mean, I tell him everything, and have for years. We dated, then we didn't date, then we dated again. Our friendship never suffered, but instead grew stronger because of it. We know each other better now. But now the stakes are higher, and I'm not sure that I can do what he wants me to do. Hell, I'm not sure if he wants it anymore.

I'm annoyed because I don't have any answers. I'm 27 years old, with a full time job, my own place, and working on a master's degree. But I have no answers, and I wish someone would tell me what to do, when to do it. Then I could stop thinking, stop second guessing myself and just live. Fuck. My smoke is done, and now I'm dizzy and wishing I had a toothbrush. I stomp it out the rest of the way, still frustrated, still annoyed. Still wondering who's going to tell me what to do.

Monday, February 23, 2009



There was a time when I never thought I would ever finish school. I floundered from job to job, never really knowing what I wanted to do. I never realized that I had put up such tall, well-built fences around myself. I kept myself hidden from the outside, and mostly hidden from myself. There was a time when I hid the deepest parts, even from other parts of me. In one paper for this semester, I wrote about the friction between myself and myself. I think there’s more to add to that statement, for everyone who has ever examined herself closely, painfully aware of what may possibly be lurking in the shadows. Everyone tucks memories, experiences, thoughts away for later examination, or possibly forever. Sometimes these experiences are never heard from again, but simply tucked into the wrinkles of our brains for building our character. Whether they are used consciously in the future or not, they form the foundation of who we are. The subconscious is a mysterious thing, and I don’t pretend to know much about it. But I have learned a little about myself through these experiences of writing and searching through those dusty files.

In a poem I wrote for a class two semesters ago, I examined what it was like to perform CPR on a four-year-old boy. It was heart-wrenching at the time, and I wrote down the raw feelings from that day on a piece of scratch paper, put it in my pocket and worked the painful feelings and perspectives into a poem. I turned it in for a grade and put it aside, kept it in a file from that class only to stumble across it about a week ago. That poem knocked the wind out of me, even after a year of distance. I’ve posted it below.

Sunday Morning
An Epitaph

All over this frozen city, people
are lying in bed sipping
steaming coffee, clipping coupons,
or making love
to ward off the February chill.

Here I stand alone, drowning.
There is no Sunday romance for me
as I batter this little boy’s chest.
Reasoning, bargaining.

I sliced this baby’s jammies
off with my own cold
sterile steel in slow motion
as the world fast-forwards.

That’s my job.

“Start CPR!”
“Push Epi!”
“Do it again, harder!”
“Make the beat count!”

Fiery tears threaten, recede
as I stare blankly at beeping screen.
Four years old, no life left.
Lying on a slab, blue
jammies flayed open.

“Stop CPR.”
Breath heaving from the effort, I glance down-
look at his face. Warm mahogany
irises watch, done.
And I touch a gloved hand to soft brown hair.

Baby, keep fighting. I’m fighting with you.
Monitors slow to a final halt,
Cold, silent.

I shut it down, roar inside.
The clock stopped softly, 10 a.m.
I ran - knelt, rocked
alone in a sterile bathroom-
Screamed, shattered mirrors.
Because the funeral march breaks

Inside my head for the little
boy in sliced blue pajamas.

While all over this frozen city, people
are lying in bed sipping
steaming coffee, clipping coupons,
or making love
to ward off the February chill.

I never noticed the depth of feelings when I read it the first few times to myself, and then to a class of my peers. I was terrified to read it aloud, afraid that my readers wouldn’t understand why I wrote it the way I did, or that the material was so extreme that people couldn’t identify with it. My class was so diverse that I thought surely I would offend someone, or that they would find me crazy. I don’t know what I was afraid of, but I was afraid, and when I read it aloud the class was silent. Then I looked around to my classmates’ faces and realized one woman was crying, and several others were tearing up as well. The men were moved, and everyone took something from my written experience. The point is, that was the first time I had ever opened myself up by reading aloud to an audience. I was unsure of what I was looking for, but I began to find out that I was seeking the ability to open up a part of my life and air out those dark spaces, and reopen the memories that had been locked away in the dark.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


It's Sunday.  A gloomy, cold, snowy, overcast Sunday, and I got ditched for lunch by a friend who is teaching me a lesson in communication.  More specifically, my disturbing lack thereof.  There are of course reasons why I haven't communicated as much as I should lately, but some things are best kept unsaid in forums such as this.  Regardless, my Granite City date fell through, so I went to Panera Bread for their free wi-fi, and of course, their tomato bisque soup.  Delicious.  

I'm sitting along, reveling in the luxury of having to speak to no one, except through my fingertips and this computer.  So every time I look up, I glance around at the people who surround me, and I can't help but to catch some of the most unhappy people I have seen in quite some time.  Frankly, it's bringing me down, but it also serves another purpose. I learn every day what I want from life. 

For instance, this day after Valentine's Day, I'm looking around at couples who should in theory be happy.  But the table directly in front of me is a pair of miserable people who seem to have lost the reason why they fell in love.  They are bickering constantly, snapping and sniping at one another and not communicating at all.  Of course, their tones are appropriately hushed, but I am close enough to hear everything and I have the advantage of conversing silently with myself instead of someone else.  My ears are wide open.  Then, to make matters worse, in the middle of a heated discussion, Man picks up his ringing cell phone and engages in a 5-7 minute conversation to someone other than his wife.  She keeps looking at me, and I look back at her as impassively as possible, like I'm really focused on my homework, Facebook, or whatever it is that I happen to be working on at the time.  I'm very sad for them.  I can't see his face, but she wears a bitter expression around the tight lines of her mouth, and her eyes look sad.  Overcast and sad.  

The table adjacent to me is even worse.  They have apparently been together so long that they have run out of things to talk about.  I haven't seen them smile once.  In fact, he's even been reading the paper while she stares the opposite direction.  Ugh, it reminds me of my parents.  

There was never any yelling in my household, with the exception of myself and my sister.  But what else do teen girls do to each other besides torment and occasionally exchange gossip?  For the most part we stayed in our own separate rooms, entertaining ourselves and hiding from the icy silence in the downstairs half of the house.

We had a beautiful house in the country, situated on 30 acres of land complete with a wandering creek and our own private woods.  It was beautiful, but still somehow completely untouchable.  Just two nights ago I had a dream that I went back to that house and begged my family to be the way we once were.  When I woke up, dry tear streaks stained my face.  I cried in real life because of a bad dream.  But we want what we want, and who are we to tell our hearts that they are wrong?  There is a rift there, and of course I want it fixed.  But the conscious part of me knows and accepts that it won't happen.  

But now that I am looking around Panera Bread on a dreary Sunday afternoon, the sadness strikes me again.  But it also gives me focus on the things I want, and how I intend to live. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nerves squared

Boy am I a spitfire, huh?  Can I get a round of applause for that?  Thanks.  Now onto new business and back to nerves.  I had a point that circles back to the heart of some discussions we've had in class, or at some point in our studious lives anyway. 

Nerves.  Effing nerves.  The way I see it, you have two choices when facing these necessary evils: you can either run from them, let your blood settle and wonder about the "what ifs", or you can plunge through a nerve-packed situation and come out on the other side a winner.  And by winner I mean, you have survived an experience and now you have greater knowledge about what lies on the other side of the fence.  Fences can either be jumped or you can be cattle, standing on the inside of them, passively wondering what the grass over there tastes like.  Is it sweeter?  Only one way to find out.  

So many times I have been told that I am brave, crazy, or ballsy even.  And I like it!  But that's just real life.  What about writing and sharing our experiences with the public?  It seems to me that the true bravery that I see when I look at classmates or patients in the ER happens when they decide to be crazy like me and jump the fence.  Now I'm not implying that it's correct in every situation: for instance, if you have the inclination to drive your car onto the interstate ramp and go straight when the road turns, don't do that.  The exhilaration of flying lasts a millisecond before these consecutive thoughts cross your mind: Oh shit and Splat!  

See what I mean?  Don't jump that particular fence, my friend.  Instead, try this.

Jump over or push through the fences in writing, and within communities.  Try not to just stick with your own community, either.  That was one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn because my community is comfortable.  But it's also missing a lot of things that I need, and so I had to hold my breath and Red Rover into another community - and another, then another.  And I'm no worse for the wear.   Communities are interesting things.  They are fluid and free-moving, like gelatin, but they are also incredibly contained with a lot of finite boundaries.  With little or no warning, though, you can be standing inside a new one or outside an old one.  Or, if you're really open to what happens in different places at different times, you can be inside and outside many at the same time.  

I feel that duality in everyday life, and once I opened my eyes long enough to look at it, I really liked it.  We can be inside our daily lives (naturally in "our own" communities), jostling and elbowing mindlessly, but once we step into another one, it gives us perspective on the original one.  Like right now for instance, I am working on the Rehab unit at Parkview Hospital even though my "home" is the ER.  I work up here a couple evenings a week because it gives me distance and perspective, and keeps me from getting burnt out on the jostle and stress of ER.  This also helps me to appreciate and understand my job better when I am back at "home".  It's just like we talked about in class about introspective writing and writing with perspective, a removal of oneself from the middle of the chaos, taking apart and reshaping our experiences.  In a sense, we are pushing fences simply by being in another community, whether we actively participate or not.  Warning: participation is encouraged for utmost success in expanding one's horizons.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I think people take for granted that we, as a people, are some nervous bastards. Nervous about life, school, paying the bills, taking a vacation, traffic, taking a vacation in traffic, perhaps. Regardless, nerves in general seem to make us who we are.

I, for example, am nervous about who I am going to become in the future (Aah, that shiny, bright, somehow unobtainable dream world where I plan to be when monkeys fly and everything's perfect). Neither of my parents went to college, and only one of the two have any modicum of creativity, but she doesn't use it because I think she is afraid of putting it out there to be judged, which in her mind equals a failure of some sort. So when my sister and I graduated with out Bachelor's degrees, it was a big deal.

Big deal in my parents' eyes equaled BIG FUTURE. To me, a Bachelor's equaled, big freakin' deal.

That's only a stepping stone at this day in age, right? Don't we need graduate school in order to climb the ladder higher, and to obtain a more competitive job with more prestige and more zeros at the end of our salary? Regardless of the fact that I spend most of my days daydreaming about being a famous writer, I do spend a portion of that other fifty percent of my day dreaming about how to become a thriving member of society. I have this obnoxious duality of personality that leads me to understand that "writing the great American novel" or "becoming a high school English teacher" aren't my only options. Hmm, who knew? Apparently I did.

But then what? See, those nerves are getting on your nerves now, aren't they? This is only a sliver of the ADD-type spew that flies around in my head, sending neurotransmitters firing and flying. The electricity of my brain is probably somewhat amazing. But I don't know. I'm a graduate student in an English program.

I have made the decision to move at the end of the summer to my dream place: Charlotte, North Carolina. Why would I, at the beginning of graduate school, in the prime of my education, decide to up and leave it all? The simple (and yet startingly complex) answer is this: I am nervous as hell. Are you ready for an insight into my life? If not, TURN BACK NOW. If you're brave, hold on and prepare to be amazed (especially if you're a man. Ladies, I think you'll be able to follow me on this.)

I am a gypsy. I like to live in places other than Fort Wayne, and I have lived in Charlotte and Austin, and I loved them both. But without a degree, and a general career/life direction, it's very hard to flourish and live in the life that I want - i.e., have a job I don't despise and have money that I can invest and do fun things. I don't ask for much. Fort Wayne doesn't seem to be a very hospitable environment for the person with an English degree, and frankly, the weather sucks. Currently it's 50 degrees in Charlotte, 72 in Austin, and 8 in Fort Wayne. Do you see what I'm getting at? Other than those reasons, I am 27 years old with a job that pays the bills, and a dog sharing my house. Sure it's peaceful, but not fulfilling. Do I date here in Fort Wayne?

Hell no. You may ask yourself, Why? I'll tell you.

I want someone who lives in a place where I want to spend my time. I don't want to date a native Fort Waynean because men overall like to live here, and die here. Eff that. I want to live in a big city, near water and mountains, that offers a lifestyle and not just obese children who live with obese parents. I'm sorry, but really, have you looked around? I'm sure there are things to do other than eat, but I'm not that creative - I like to be able to walk outside my door and be bombarded with fun things to do. BOMBARDED, I SAY! More on this next week . . . I know there's plenty to rant about, and I'm sure that I'll piss someone off with what I've said, so I'll try to at least acknowledge it next week. ; )

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Focus? Can I take a pill for that?

This week I have had a very hard time focusing on academia.  I wish that I could lie and say that it is just a transient thing, a passing feeling but it's not.  I have a problem balancing life, outside goals, work, and school.  

I can admit it.  Fine. But isn't there a pill for that? 

It's not that I have a disorder, or even that I'm lazy.  My problem is that I have so many dynamic ideas, and I want to get them all out at once, and at different, conflicting times as well.  This does not work very well for me.  For example, this weekend I should have been diligently completing homework assignments, posting them by Sunday, and then working on the 'extras' in life.  But of course, I didn't do that.  I spent a lazy Saturday on the couch, went to dinner with my sister, and then drove around to half a dozen different car lots trying to find a new ride.  Calvin the Cavalier is wearing out after eight years together, and Foster needs to have more room to flop his furry butt.  I need more space to put my garbage, and when I move, I need a larger vehicle so that I can pack more necessities inside.

See?  Now you’re much more interested in what type of car I need, and you too have veered off of my main point. Sucker.  Don’t worry, you’re in good company.  The car was not the only distraction.  You see, my sister and I are thinking of starting our own business.  We’re both extreme smartasses with both literary and business backgrounds.  My friends and I are quite heavy-handed with puns and when most people have trouble writing succinctly, I have trouble expanding my thoughts past a haiku.  My feeling is this: I give you the framework of my thought.  You are picking up what I am putting down (as the kids say), and I don’t feel the need to feed your individual mind any further.  I don’t need to explain to you exactly what I mean because once I pass the baton to you, you take it where you want to go.  I give you the gift of the framework, but you make of it what you will.  And vice versa.  Anyway, I promise I can be succinct, but you wouldn’t know it here from the excessive rambling.  But hey, I have a word count to reach!  Damn.


Anyway, my sister and I are thinking of starting our own business, but you already got that, and aren’t you kind for following these detours from the form.  We are going to write our own greeting cards.  Yeah, yeah that’s been done, I know.  But none that serve the perverted minds of twisted youth (of all ages, I suspect).  I have hunted so many times for the card that says exactly what I want to convey to someone else.  I have then tried to settle for the clean version.  And then I end up getting one with a funny picture on the front and nothing printed on the inside. 

I’ll fill it in with what I really mean. Damn. Fine.  Hallmark is a feel-good piece of shit anyway.  I want the grit, the dirt, the bawdy humor of everyday speech.  And so does my sister.  And so do all of my friends.  And probably my family, too, but they won’t admit it.  They’re all goody-two-shoes anyway.  But back to my point. 

 I spent most of the day Sunday working on short stories that I intend to have published.  They’re all works about my dog, Foster, written expressly for young children. They are all a bit formulaic, but when it comes to children’s stories I think they have to be to a certain extent.  So I went to Borders and bought a wonderfully confusing, 1100-plus page book called “Writer’s Market 2o09”.  You see, I want to find a publisher, start sending off manuscripts in the hopes that someday I’ll stumble into a bookstore and see the cartoon version of Foster and myself staring back at me.    My dears, that’s what dreams are made of.

But back to my point.  Again.

 This week I have had a very hard time focusing on academia.  I wish that I could lie and say that it is just a transient thing, a passing feeling but it's not.  I have a problem balancing life, outside goals, work, and school.  

 I can admit it.  Fine. But isn't there a pill for that?