Collecting Dust (though maaaybe not forever…)

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Leftovers

For this week’s writing challenge, shake the dust off something — a clothing item, a post draft, a toy — you haven’t touched in ages, but can’t bring yourself to throw away.

 

Before I started traveling, I had to get rid of a lot of stuff. I mean, a looooot of stuff. I’m nothing close to a hoarder – I live out of a backpack, for crying out loud – but I had a plethora of clothes and cool trinkets back in the day. Right before I hit the road, I gave most of my things away to friends and the Salvation Army. There were a few items, however, I couldn’t bear to let go. I ended up leaving this bundle of stuff at my parents’ house in North Carolina.

Of all the things I left with my family, my horseback riding gear is the dearest to me. Somewhere, sadly stuffed in a closet, lie my boots, half-chaps, helmet, and gloves. I’ve had those riding boots forever – they’ve undergone many a cleaning with saddle soap and black shoe polish. This phase of my life, unfortunately, seems to have no room for my equestrian-related desires. Being able to ride consistently takes some commitment, and I don’t feel ready to stay in one place for a while. I haven’t had a consistent horse gig in at least six years; I have no idea when I’ll ride a horse again, and it would be pretty silly to lug all that stuff around. There’s just some part of me, though, that believes I’ll be able to pull out that gear one day and use it again. Maybe I think that keeping those things will aid me in manifesting a reality that includes horses. Whatever the reason, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to keep my horse gear around. As long as my parents don’t mind, that is.

Her Story (Part I)

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[Disclaimer: This post has material that may be sensitive for some individuals. Parental discretion advised for younger ages.]

 

She wakes up in a fog, lurching out of the iridescent colors of her dreams into the pre-dawn haze of reality.

Not. Again. Jesus.

The clock on her windowsill reads 4:18 am. With a sigh, she rolls to her side and reaches for the glass pipe on the floor beside her bed. Bowl already packed, lighter poised right beside. Just like usual. Funny how it always seems to happen around 4:20.

I didn’t ask for this.

She flicks the lighter and inhales, already dreading the next half-hour or so. As if overwhelming nausea wasn’t bad enough, the herb didn’t help much until the initial inevitable dry-heaving was over. Though she exhales the smoke slowly and carefully, nausea catches in her throat and she starts coughing violently, her insides rattling like skeleton bones in the wind.

Here we go.

By this point, she knows exactly when to start hustling to the bathroom to make it to the toilet. Tiptoeing out her bedroom door, she gazes wearily at the ever-messy kitchen area. The festering pile of dirty dishes certainly didn’t need the addition of her bile. Not that much of the dishevelment (such a big word for this time of morning) was hers – she was pretty good at cleaning up after herself. Even more so these days, now that she barely leaves the apartment.

Again. Not my choice.

After painfully ridding her body of some extra stomach fluid, she hobbled back to her room. The clocked blinked 4:45, reminding her of how absurdly early it was. With another sigh – what a negative use of breath – she slides back under the twisted sheets. Though her gut feels slightly less mutinous, she knows better than to just attempt to sleep again.

Thank goodness for Mary Jane.

With each toke, her mental and physical pain subside slightly. She doesn’t care what doctors would say – it was her body, and besides, she didn’t ask them. Not like it really mattered.

It.

The only name it would ever have. So far, she’s done her best to avoid (or flat out refuse) seeing it – the unknown growing inside her body – as actual life. She felt callous, murderous even, but she’d made her choice from the beginning. As a young, single college student with little support from home, the choice wasn’t insanely hard.

“I don’t want any grandchildren right now…”

Her mother’s voice rang through her head every time she looked at her not-yet-swollen stomach.

You couldn’t blame her for keeping it a secret.

Why did the word abortion bring such a harsh reaction within her own mind? She couldn’t dream of telling her friends the true reason for her “illness” – if she reacted so strongly to the word, what could be expected from those unattached to her situation? Disgust, judgment, ridicule, possibly even exclusion? Maybe that’s the consequence for keeping people at arms’ length; when you get to a point where you’re falling apart, their fingertips remain just too far away to reach. The father (of what? of a failed idea? a soon-to-be-extinct form?) was friendly enough, but the situation was more frightening to him than anything. She didn’t resent him for staying distant. If she were in his position, she would have bolted as soon as possible. But, as it were, she couldn’t.

The way she saw it, abortion was the path of least suffering – both for her and for the unborn. Why carry an unwanted life form for nine months, fighting hate and resentment while her body goes through unspeakable hormonal changes? She’s not delusional – it would be almost impossible to give the child loving energy while it grew inside her body. No part of her wanted it. If she had it, if she actually birthed the human life inside her, then what? Eighteen years of regret and loneliness? If it didn’t run away before then. What child would thrive in that environment? People say that abortion is selfish, that it’s the “easy way out”. Out of what? Of fighting pure misery while attempting to care for a helpless, innocent being?

No. She wouldn’t let that happen. No child deserved to be born into an environment like that. No child should have a mother that resented its existence. She wouldn’t let herself become another token welfare mother, nor the unborn a stereotypical fatherless child. It wasn’t right. But she couldn’t very well tell people that. They might pretend to understand, they might nod in agreement, but she didn’t trust that anyone would actually see her point of view. It was never that easy.

The clock caught her attention again. 5:32. Sunrise was on its way; she could just see the first glimmers of light beyond the trees outside her window. Wearily, she reaches for her herb jar. She feels heavy today, her mind is rushing too much. After packing the pipe again, she turns to face the window. Next time she wakes up, the sun will be shining – hopefully the warm rays will also brighten her train of thought. She could use a break from this night-tide consciousness.

 

Muck Stuck

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Many words of wisdom have reached my ears, and unfortunately many have become lost in the fog that is my memory. One phrase, however, has faithfully popped back in my mind during times of increased stress and trouble.

Claire, sometimes when you’re stuck in the muck, you just gotta sit in it.

I still remember my reaction when I heard those words.

What?!

That can’t be right.

That doesn’t make sense…does it? Just sitting there?

How will I get out?!

Wait….

And then, a sense of overwhelming peace and reassurance.

Wow, it’s so true. THANK YOU.

I didn’t know who I was thanking, and I still don’t. I do know, however, that meditating on this concept has brought me an exuberant (yes, exuberant) amount of confidence and inner peace.

Whether we want to believe it or not, we can’t possibly control every situation in our life. The amount of control we do have is based solely on our actions and reactions to what we experience. For instance, I may not be able to control the fact that our car is now completely useless. I can, however, control how I choose to see the situation.

Honestly, the situation has been pretty stressful to me. The whole reason we (my partner Raven and I) came back to Vermont was to pay off the car so we could travel without financial obligations. We’ve been having an unusually hard time finding means to make money, and not for lack of trying – I’ve diligently scoured craigslist, asked everyone I know (and don’t know) for any job opportunities they may know of, written a new resume, applied for jobs…you name it. Still, it didn’t matter. Weeks after weeks of searching to find pretty much nothing.

Then, three days ago, the entire car pretty much stopped working. The transmission went kaput, the alternator fell out, the belt wore down, the brakes were about to fail, and the supposedly “new” battery was about dead. The car went from working to useless in a matter of hours.

We were angry, we were scared, we were stressed, we were confused. There was plenty of yelling and crying to go around.

My first thought when encountering a breakdown (car, life, or otherwise) like this is almost always the same:

How can I get out of this situation?

I kind of see the situation as a puzzle to figure out, or a challenge to complete. Get things “back to normal”, and you’ll win.

Win what?

The answer was never clear.

Then, I realized that I was asking the wrong question entirely. The situation didn’t happen simply for me to try to escape it – like the good times, the bad times also exist for me to experience. Struggling in the muck will only further entrap me, bogging me down as I sink deeper into filth. But if I can just let it be and simply sit, focusing on my own inner peace instead of the outside stressors, it’ll be much easier to see the way out. Also, just throwing it out there – mud is not a bad or negative substance. It pulls the toxins out of our bodies, and even supports certain forms of life.

As Thich Naht Hahn said:

 

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Today’s meditation:

How has “the muck” enriched your life?

the unknown

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Do you still

notice the way it moves –

trembling, like a breath

yet to be released

whispering

ever-softly

sacred words, both terrifying

and tantalizing.

What power it has!

Many have become blind

after years of vigorous avoidance,

falling

instead for the comfort of

what is.

But I

hear the whispers shivering in my soul

come closer,

just one step….

and I know

by my racing heart

that I must accept whatever

challenge will slowly

unravel, a mystical yarn

made out of dancing stars,

shrouded in the billowing clouds

of obscurity.

I can’t move, I can’t wait.

I must move,

I must wait

as it unfolds

before me

 

Last Minute Genius

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Daily Post:

Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity.

 

My writing is not necessarily environment-restricted, but where I am definitely has an influence on the words that float out of my head. I find that I usually write best in a space that is not my own – for some reason, a measure of discomfort (or unfamiliarity maybe?) helps me get my flow going. Perhaps I tap into the hustle and bustle around me, using the humming energy to fuel my own imagination.

I can, however, also work in a still environment. There were times, back when I attended college like a good participant of this society, when I wrote pages upon pages sitting at the desk (only rarely with music) in my dorm room. That was usually a last resort, though – late nights fueled with artificial energy pumping through my veins, frantic fingers clanking out words that almost danced on the screen…what insanity, what accelerated focus! I admire myself in those days. Intense, manic almost, determined to be a last minute genius. Funnily, it kinda worked. I always received excellent feedback on my writing abilities. Maybe I just write better that way sometimes.

Every once in a while, though, there’s a specific place that I have to be in order to successfully write. I can’t really explain why – maybe once in a while my brain only unlocks with a certain key – but it’s always a place that’s readily available to me, such as a school library or certain study lounge. It’s only happened to me while, and only while in school. Now, my creativity and eloquence are more fluid, more available. Always a bit sporadic, though; my mind doesn’t play the consistent game very well. White noise does help; that, at least, I’ve gathered over the years. Too much of nothing sends my brain in circles.

In addition, I’ve managed to create this post over a few different locations – that might say something about my work space preferences. All in all, I have a hunch it doesn’t really matter. If something insides me truly needs to reach daylight, it’ll squeeze, squirm, and argue its way out of me like sweat on a hot summer day. Beads, lines even, that I can’t control, dampening my eyebrows and skin in protest of my body’s own suffering.

Basically, I love writing. And if I can – if I’m lucky enough to touch the goddess of inspiration – I’ll do my best to make it happen.

 

[cramped]

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you can’t see it, but it’s there. 

stirring through my brain, whirring like

insane little machine men

maniacally screwing and drilling their way 

through every pore 

of my poor, overworked psyche. 

 

Man, there’s just so much…so many tales that I want to 

draw through my fingertips like

the deadliest black widow weaves her impermanent throne. 

I want, I NEED to write, but that silly

thing

called the internet is so damn elusive, and 

for some crazed reason 

the thought of using and saving a Word

document steals the very inspiration from my synapses. 

Is this madness?

Are you madness?

These days, I just can’t tell.

 

oh, the words that flood the very crevices of my brain! Tales of 

robot chickens, inordinate bovine,

loss, gain, paranoia, strain

death and rebirth – yet again 

all in one, though there’s always that

lull of suspension

like the longest twilight

until once again,

I can

grasp the meaning of lungs and air

and just 

be…

but the maniacal mechanical 

men must do their work,

organizing and tidying the messes of 

past days and 

shed ways of being, ways of 

identifying with you, me, and all the other

lunatics that dare listen to something other than

I BEEZ IN THE TRAP

(which, unfortunately, makes more cents than sense).

Until then, I must stick to 

blips and beeps of meaning and seasons

that I used to know,

capturing the parts that make up the whole

so that I can present it all,

in a pretty little blogged package,

to those who care to read it. 

<3