Cornfields and Character

It is unprecedented to have a fast pitch softball team remain intact for six years. Unprecedented. But, for every summer weekend for these last six years we have met in remote places like Hamburg, Saugerties, Cheektowaga, Cicero and Horseheads which are tired, sleepy towns outside of ‘bigger’ cities like Buffalo, Syracuse or Albany. Sometimes we travel further. Cedar Point, OH. Ocean City, MD. But, for the most part, we are beckoned to a complex of softball fields past the local John Deere Tractor Supply or the Feed & Seed. If we’re lucky, adjacent to a nearby soft serve ice cream stand complete with a large but faded hand-painted cone on the exterior of the tiny building. But, there isn’t much else. Just cornfields. And yet, we all look forward to it because we know that we are privately witnessing something exceptional.

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De Facto

De facto – adverb, adjective. actually existing, especially when without lawful authority

I am this; the de facto expert that I never wanted to be.

Last week, three women sought my help. I’m not really sure why. I don’t know if they just recognize it in me. Or if the news of my writing and eventual documentary have begun to circulate. But, I do know that each and every one of them has that wide-eyed look that I have too often seen in the mirror. It is as if they have just witnessed the death of a loved one when what has actually died is their sense of safety in this world and their belief that ‘it’ would never happen to them.

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I have been watching a disrespectful debate largely in silence for long enough.

Scratch that. It’s not accurate to call it a debate. It’s more like shots fired over the bow in social media postings, passing comments, and blogs with the intention to diminish others who make a different but equally difficult choice.

The subject? The privilege of calling oneself an artist.

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The Last Train Out

I spent the weekend revisiting the City that I tried to make my 2nd Home. This time I visited it alone.

Yes, my flip flops were in the corner of his apartment on Dorchester in Brooklyn, and my satin robe with the pink trim was on the back of his door. There were tampons in the bathroom, nail polish on the dresser and art that I created adorned every room along with pictures of us together. And his key was on my keychain so that I was always welcome.

I visited often. But it never became the nest we both intended it would for me.

Moving about in this giant City was difficult for an empath. Too many people’s everything screamed like screeching brakes. It went right through me as if I were opaque and leaving metal shards. For five and one half years I tried hard to love it as much as he did; because he did. 

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Guerrilla Healing

Two weeks ago something terrible happened in my life. Two things in fact. On the same day. That’s all you really need to know.

What I want to write about is why those things happened and what I have since done about it.

For my entire life I have stashed my emotions into containers unfit to hold them for long periods of time and placed them in chambers on makeshift shelves with the lids askew. I did this, in part, because I thought they were bigger than me and would consume me if I gave them space. And, in part, because my unyielding life did not afford me the time and emotional energy to deal with them as they arrived. But in doing so I allowed them to ferment untended taking on shapes and meaning and power that they never should have had. Blue tinctures; wild, fiery tonics resembling Jack Daniels but with a bigger bite; black sludge in gallon containers set upon narrow oak planks too meager for their girth; clear liquid in vessels with hand etched notes reading “Flammable. Do Not Drink.” Some that smoldered. Poison.

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Taping the Box

I have done a lot of difficult things in my day. And I have survived plenty of unspeakable circumstances. So one would think that a simple task like taping a box would be easy.

Not so.

I packed the contents with absolute care. Folding some. Rolling others. Fitting them together so that no damage would be done ~ as if that were possible any longer. And I lined up the box tops so that there would be no gap, no empty, no space, no longing.

But before I could seal it I was compelled to open it again and take each item out ‘just to be sure’. I did this on and off throughout the morning hours between laundry and rocking and work meetings and crying and errands and calls to my healers and friends to help me find my center again.

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The Many Faces of Fierce

One of my dear friends recently told me to ‘find my fierce’. She laughs and claims that she can still see mine plainly (so I’m really not sure why she won’t just tell me where I left it) but apparently it’s up to me to find it…again.

I started with photographs. Photographs of people I love whom I consider to be fierce. Photographs of my family. Photographs of myself. All the while looking. And suddenly I began to see the many faces of fierce; as unique from one another as faces in a single family would be ~ and yet with a common thread that binds them.

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Too Ugly to Heal

After posting a series of stories about Domestic Violence survivors last year, I was approached by several people to compile them into a book. I was hesitant because my personal experience is that we, as survivors, don’t really matter. That we aren’t important enough to others to read it.

But, some of these people were friends who had never admitted to anyone that they, themselves, had been abused and my writing touched them. Others were doctors who felt it would be a tool to reach women who had no voice.

So, I began.

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Queen of Selfies

What must your life be?

It appears to those of us watching you pretend not to struggle that the only important thing for you is to manipulate lighting and angle to reduce the size of your hips.  Up.  And to the left.

You feign quirky and hallow your cheekbones with a tilt of your chin or some weird pursed lips.  There. Got it.

It took you 27 tries and you missed so much joy on the street that day – a first kiss, late morning light through the stained glass, the laugh of a newborn happening all around you at that very minute; but you will never even know this.  That moment is gone for good.  Several heartbeats less.

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Sweet Nothings

What am I supposed to do when Ed comes to dinner?

I showed him the door already, TWICE.  But he’s back again.

The first time we met I was barely 18. He must have noticed that I needed a companion. He approached me during a late night walk back to my dorm and, while I now know I should have been terrified, at the time he felt like family.  And in the years that followed for countless hours he would sit with me quietly at the Off Campus Deli (OCD) while I tore the edges off my turkey sub and contemplated life. He would walk with me in silence until 3am on Spring Street, and College Street, and through the Quad near Sigma Chi. All over campus; just so I wouldn’t be alone. I found that so very thoughtful at the time. 

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