Poems Poetry

Linguistic Acrobatics

Love is an ugly word.

One that makes the mouth contort and twist round itself.

First the tongue must backbend before springing off the roof of the mouth to hover in midair.

Next, bared teeth bite the lip; scraping skin before the sweet release.

And the word floats like a promise of peace in the wake of violence.

Current Events History Poetry

This is Not a Food Blog

Before you go any further, don’t expect a recipe at the end of this story

The doorbell rang during dinner. Unexpected package, I thought to myself while answering the door thinking FedEx was delivering late.

It was a package, but it wasn’t from FedEx or any other carrier for that matter.

It was a neighbor gift.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO” I cried, falling to my knees as I glared around for the offending neighbor. They didn’t even bother to wait, just a doorbell ditch drop off. Probably thought it’d be cute.

The gift is really nothing much. Just a nice, thoughtful baggy of candies and other treats for the festive holiday season. But, it’s the baggage that comes with the baggie. Because now, I must reciprocate.

So. At 9PM at night, having never made it before, I decide I’m going to make caramel. I take a shot of rum for luck, and get to work.

Luckily, I had the requisite materials. I stirred and stirred the milk and cream until it hit “scalding”. Which, if you don’t know, is like 180 Degrees and ten hours of stirring.

Then, I poured an entire bottle of Karo syrup in with 4 cups of sugar. For health, you know, and waited until it began boiling.

By now I’m on my third drink and it’s 11PM. I’d been working for close to twelve hours.

Well. Two anyway.

Two fucking hours? I whisper to myself. I had no fucking clue caramel took so long.

Once the sugar is boiling I had to spoon in the milk mixture. I thought this was the end of it. 1/3 cup in three minute intervals was nearly the death of me. I’d frantically stir as the bubbles would rise up, threatening to overtake the lip of the pot. Alexa refused to keep time.

Where’s an ox and lamb when I need one?

Once I’d added the milk I had to wait for the “soft ball” stage. My sugar was already boiling merrily in the pot, I thought for sure we were ready.

Or maybe I was drunk. We’ll never know.

It’s 11:30. I put the candy thermometer in the pot. I’m 40 degrees away from freedom.

Except….that 40 degrees takes 40 years.

I waited. And stirred. And waited some more. And stirred some more.

FINALLY, at 12:35 AM, 3 1/2 hours after I’d started, the caramel was ready to be poured. Yet, that was not the end. I spent another two hours wrapping the damn things.

But now, I too will have a neighbor gift. Handmade caramels. Delicious and made correctly first try. At 39 I’ve officially arrived at adulthood. I can, not only do hard things, I can do them while drinking rum. The true test of a competent pirate.

Now, the only thing left to do is carry loose peppermints in my purse instead of gum.

Actual image of the actual caramels. Internet the recipe bishes.

Current Events Poetry

Time Management

Or: A Free Write on the Privileges of Time Management

If his eyes were lasers he’d have just burned a hole in my chest. Hell hath no fury like a teenage boy scorned.

My son is mad at me. Like, stomp on the stairs kind of mad at me. Like, only respond to me with laser eyes kind of mad at me. If you’ve ever had children, let alone a teenage one, you will not be surprised to learn he’s mad because I specifically asked him to do his one chore that he had to do today. He had all day to do it, he even had the day off of school. Still, somehow, it’s very obviously my fault.

And now his eyes are burning imaginary holes through my chest. Or maybe exploding my head.

Well. There goes ten of my minutes for the year.

Jonathan Larson taught me that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. That’s never seemed like a high number to me. I mean, maybe it is, but so far today I’ve used up 480 minutes working, 45 minutes commuting, 10 minutes getting dagger eyes from (one) of my children, 45 minutes working out and 2 minutes writing what you’ve just read.

Add another 30 minutes to cook and that totals 612 minutes. I think. I’m a historian not a mathematician.

If we consider another 420 hours of sleep, then you’re at 1,032.

Ugh. My point…my point…excuse me while I search around for my point.

Really, my point is that time is fleeting. It’s a construct, sure, but it’s also dripping through my fingers, like a mountain stream. Sometimes the stream trickles, and sometimes there’s a deluge. Yet, it’s always flowing. The waters are constantly changing and remaking the landscape around it.

And, honestly, this stresses me out, because of those 525,600 minutes that I have, there are so many things I need/want to do!

I have to work. I want to spend time with kids. I have to commute. I want to work out. I have to eat. I want to write.

And this is where a conversation about privilege comes in. Sure. You could say “well, just get a different job,” or, “find something that’s closer to you.” Or, if you’re that particular brand of person, you could tell me that I should “parent better” so that I don’t lose 10 precious minutes to dagger eyes. Except…life doesn’t work that way, does it?

I would love to have more time with my kids, but that means I’d need to work part time- or not at all. I would love to have time to work on my writing – but it means that I have to extract that time from something else. Either, my work, my kids, or my health. I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

Yet…some people can.

So, this is all to say, if a loved one tells you that they feel overwhelmed, you should listen to them. Time works differently for each individual, and there are a lot of things that factor into the amount of time a person has.

For example. My son works 6 hours a week and goes to school. He feels overwhelmed by the fact that I asked him to do his one chore on the sixth day of his break.

*Breathes in through her nose and exhales in a long sigh*

Look. Blogs, social media, even friendships, they can be rough. Often it feels like other people are succeeding at things you want to succeed at too, whether that means kids, fitness, or achieving goals. Every person has to make individual choices that keep them fed, healthy, and happy. Those choices sometimes actually dictate the amount of time someone is able to spend pursuing a dream.

Following your dreams is a privilege. Being able to do the footwork is a privilege. Have the time and energy to work out, or eat well…it’s a privilege. As you go out there and try to topple some of those goals…don’t let people tell you it’s easy, because it’s not.

And if your kid gives you dagger eyes…well…take ten of your minutes and write a blog about it for posterity. I’m sure he’ll thank me later.


The Desire of Happiness

A free-write on feelings

At times it is difficult to wake up and find joy.

Because, you see, happiness is a commodity. One that is to be bought and sold. “If I just get x then I will be happy.” We say to ourselves. It makes happiness a never ending and unattainable dream, leaving us constantly wanting more and wondering when it will be our turn to achieve the kind of success that comes with happiness.

Desire is therefore intermixed with happiness. What we desire are the things that will make us happy. Sometimes it’s tangible: A better job, a house, a paycheck. Sometimes it’s a bit more ethereal: an opportunity, a feeling, the thought of being loved, a spark of creativity.

Desire is what makes happiness into a commodity. We desire something, and we must “hustle” to get the thing. In a gig economy, that’s how it works.

The problem, of course, is that happiness is a state of mind. It’s a feeling. It’s also fleeting.

Happiness can be something as simple as the first sip of coffee, or a beautiful sunrise on a crisp morning. Happiness is taking a risk, or watching your children take their first step. Happiness is popcorn and movies, or a warm blanket. Happiness is the smell of grass, or that laugh that bursts, unexpectedly, from your chest like birds taking flight from the trees. Happiness is looking inward and finding joy within yourself, rather than attempting to purchase it.

Of course, in a society where everything can be bought; including fame and fortune, it’s difficult to separate happiness from desire. Especially now, when so many of us feel as though the world is tumbling down to the ground.

And I don’t have an answer, except to say that happiness is a million little things that you feel over the course of a regular day. It is intermingled with sadness and fear and frustration and anger — all the trappings of a human life. It doesn’t have to be something you accrue, it just has to be something you notice.


The Fickleness of Failure

Saturday Free-Write

Failure is such a fickle emotion

It’s a sneaky one too

It creeps within you at the most inopportune times.

Like a virus, invading your cells, and replicating itself in your thoughts

It can be triggered by a sunset

Or a crack in your voice while you speak

In a yoga class

Or right before you sleep.

The worst part is it’s ever changing.

Sometimes your past replays in your mind

Tumbling in a haze of emotions and clips of your life.

Sometimes failure grips you even when you’re happy.

It’s the feeling that asks you, did you do enough?

Are you enough?

I don’t have a simple cure.

Failure is fickle, after all.

One step forward, two steps back – as they say.

Even though I don’t know who “they” are.

What you do have, though, is a choice.

The feeling of failure, that may be endemic.

But…your choices define who you are…

Choose to keep going.

Because eventually, the failure will either seem small and inconsequential.

Or, you’ll have climbed the peak.