My Daughter’s Wedding Day and Forgive

My Daughter’s Wedding Day

I guess I should have known,

Being teens in the late 60s and all.

Change. Rebellion.  Moving forward. 

Leaving the cozy nest.  

Yet there’s irony in this story.

This isn’t what I wanted for her,

Getting married this young.

She hasn’t finished college yet. 

Only 20 years old.  I was 26,

Practically an old maid during the war days.

My daughter was supposed to be something,

Far before I was.  She had that chance.

Now, I’m afraid she’ll just be John’s wife.

But she looks happy. 

Maybe I should focus on her smile,

Eyes squinting because her smile is so big.

John is wide-eyed, sometimes so quiet,

But with a writer’s soul.  Smile wide.

Her dress is too short.  She wanted to change

Out of her fancy dress.  That’s fine.

But her dress shows too much leg.

Confetti flies . They look like kids in a candy store,

Trying to decide what sweetness to enjoy first.

I wonder if they know that marriage is more like

An ocean than a lake, some days calm and serene,

Other days rough, when the tide and the wind roll in.

They’re so young.  They’ve lived so little.  I hope

The rough tide doesn’t knock them over,

Crashing salt and sand into their child-like wide eyes.

But maybe it’ll be different. Maybe they’ll

Have a rolling river and not a rough ocean

On a stormy day, like Jack and I did.

How funny, my daughter married a John,

Her father was also John.  I wish he was here,

But I believe he was watching. Maybe she married young

As a way of bringing her dad back, at least a younger,

Blonder version of her dad.  Same creativity, same

Writer’s soul, only quieter.  Maybe his silence

Will be a springboard for her words. She

Likes to say them and to write them. Maybe

That’s why they work.  They both love words.

One loves to speak and write them, the other,

To write and to ponder them.  

I hope they have calm days lying in the sunny sand,

Long before the crashing waves hit.  

 

Forgive

Forgiving is not forgetting.  It’s simply moving on. 

It’s knowing that while you drive on a mountain,

It’s not always safe to turn around and go back.

You have to keep driving, until you get to the top,

Or at least to a roundabout, especially late at night

While it’s raining.  It’s been a rainy night for a while,

Now the sun is shining, the sky is clearing.

I can see my journey better now. I had

A destination in mind, so I drove too fast.

You weren’t a very good navigator,

But you haven’t driven down this road

Many times either.  I forgive you.

Next time, I should bring a map

And written directions, so even if I can’t see

Clearly, I’ll have back up directions.

The road to true love is sometimes the most

Winding, most rocky road it is.

I wish it had been simple.  I look at Mom and

Dad’s wedding photo from the early 70s and wonder,

It happened sooner for them, why later for me?

Sometimes, it doesn’t seen fair, but Mom has told

Me since I was five that life isn’t always fair.

I’ve had many great road trips in my life.

The one to love has just been especially rough. 

But maybe, when I get to the destination,

I’ll realize what the journey meant, how it helped me

Grow, how I had to drive the winding road to learn

Who I really am.  

 

 

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Two Poems

The Dream Journal

I bought you wanting inspiration, yearning for a place

To write my ideas that I thought would be my future novel. 

Once a dreamer, now a realist, wondering if your “dream” quotes

Have been lying to me this whole time. 

“Leap Fearlessly”: When I did last year, I fell on my face.

“Love with abandon.”  What if he doesn’t love you back?  Then what?

“Surrender your fear.”  Fear can be inhibiting.  But fear can also keep you in check.  For now, I am content to hide in my turtle shell of shyness until I am once again ready to poke my head out and take more risks.  

“What is calling you?”  What if I don’t want to answer?  And what if it’s more than one thing?  What if it will leave me broke?  Some calls should be screened. 

“Hold onto your hope.”  Yes, I believe in hope.  But when do you let go, when something isn’t meant to be?  Hope can be a dangerous thing.  But sometimes, even false hope is better than no hope at all. 

“Teach Kindness.”  I believe in kindness.  But what if the response to kindness is a slap?  There’s only so many times you can turn the other cheek without it spewing blood, or wrecking my jaw that took braces and thousands of dollars to fix so I would look “normal.”  Eventually, I have to hit back, instead of once again turning. 

“Feel the possibilities.”  What if I’m afraid that mine are becoming more limited?

Begin today.  “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  Maybe hope and dreams should begin again too.  The woman on the face of the journal looks so kind.  There’s something in her eyes, something gentle, something I wish I still had.  I wonder if I will get it back. 

 

The Not Feeling Loved Story of Tiger the White Cat

You left me.

You said you were just on vacation,

But in my world, your three days feels like three months.

I was alone, with nothing but a dirty bowl of water

And too much food, which I ate too quickly, which is why

I threw up on our carpet.  You whine about cleaning it up,

But it’s your own damn fault for leaving me alone with too much food

And not enough love.  

You hurt my feelings, so I threw up. 

I am the great Tiger, your cat white as a fluffy cloud.

I should be your number one priority. 

I am sad you declawed me, but I guess it was for your own good.

If I still had my claws, you would have experienced them

When you got home from your so-called vacation.

You came home smelling like a dirty dog, so I think you cheated on me,

At least in your heart.  

You’re lucky I couldn’t figure out how to escape out of the window.

If I could have figured it out, then I would have cheated on you.

Even though I am neutered, I can still mark on another human

And make her mine.  So don’t get on your high horse, lady.

I love you, but it’s partly just because you feed me. 

You’d better give me treats and some extra rubs

This week.  Otherwise, I will run out that front door,

As soon as you are not looking.  Or I’ll jump off the back patio.

I do have nine lives, after all.  And your fluffy TJ will be gone,

Or maybe he’ll just come back a dirty white mess.

Either way, you will suffer.  I am the king of the house,

And I will once again reign. 

 

Lonely and Alone

Lonely and Alone

When I am lonely, I

Dwell on the past,

Numb my mind with television,

Eat too many carbs.  I

Feel empty, like a cup unfilled,

Like a child not hugged, like a cat unfed. 

I stare at Facebook and Twitter,

Using words, not feeling heard.

More connected, maybe, but not happy.

When I am lonely, I regret.

I look at photos, wonder what could have been,

Wonder why it wasn’t. 

When I am lonely, tears sting,

And I stir late at night in my bed,

Wondering what my future holds. 

 

When I am alone, I create.

I put words to paper, share my ideas.

I will be read, heard one day, as I make words

into music.  When I am alone,

music fills my soul,  from itunes, and the

depths of my mind.

Wine might help me unwind, but it’s not

 my addition. 

When I am alone, I read.  I go to

New worlds in my mind, wonder

what world, what characters I might

once day create. 

 

When I am lonely, I am anxious.

When I am alone, I am a creator

Who lets her muse sing.  

 

Right and Wrong Uses for Facebook

   Today, Facebook turned ten years old.  Several of my friends posted their “facebook movies” today.  I watched mine, and while it was a little sappy, it was entertaining to see a snapshot of the past seven years of my life.  I joined Facebook in June 2006.  At the time, I was working as an academic coordinator at Duke TIP’s Texas A and M campus.  As someone who had left the “school scene” two years ago, I was unaware of what a strong hold Facebook had since taken on university campuses.  (My friend Angela was actually at Harvard in 2004, at the same time as Zuckerburg.  Yet at that time, I like most people was much more aware of Myspace).  Yet I heard my staff members talk about “tagging” pictures and status updates, so I finally decided to jump on the train.  At first, it was to surreptitiously spy on my staff, to be honest.  But then, as I gained more “friends” from high school and college, I got hooked.  Once I started getting iphones and androids with Facebook applications, my minor addiction got worse.  I turned into a bit of a facebook junkie. 

     Recently, my affection for Facebook has somewhat dwindled, along with the amount of time I spend on it.  Facebook, to me, is starting to feel like the handsome guy who you are really infatuated with at first, but then doesn’t turn out to be all he was cracked up to be.   I should preface this by saying that Facebook, like religion and politics, is not always the problem within itself; the problem is also how people react and respond to it.  In other words, I think I and other Americans sometimes misuse Facebook (and perhaps Twitter too, although I am really not into Twitter) and hide behind a computer screen to avoid expressing our true feelings.  Or, we have not yet learned some of the social etiquette that should come with social media.  

     Over the past two months, I have seen a number of Facebook status updates that have upset me.  My sister pointed out to me that some of these news items, I would have learned about from other mediums: Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death, the snow storm in Atlanta and its effect on schools, etc.  Yet sometimes, I think learning about personal news items on Facebook is due to people’s discourtesy.  I realize that I alone cannot be the one to “structure” social media or the way people choose to utilize it.  But I think a dialogue about how to use it and how not to use it is in order. 

     21 Really Annoying Facebook Friends We All Have: http://www.generalforum.com/general-discussion/21-really-annoying-facebook-friends-we-all-have-106532.html 

     Yes, I read this blog, and I thought it was pretty accurate.  Chances are, we’ve had these friends, and chances are, we’ve all fallen into some of these categories at some point.  (I know I have). This post is a related one to read for a laugh.  But, in all seriousness, I believe it is worth revisiting appropriate and inappropriate uses of Facebook.  Please chime and and comment if you agree or disagree. 

Inappropriate Uses of Facebook: 

1. Telling people about major life change events before they’ve had a chance to tell their family and their closest circle of friends: not appropriate.  It really is disappointing when you find out on Facebook that one of your best friends is engaged.  And yes, that did happen to me.  I know it’s exciting when this happens to you or to a friend/family member, but please refrain from posting the ring with the bling until the close friends know.  

2. Ranting and whining just for the sake of ranting and whining: not appropriate. Honestly, that just gets annoying.  I don’t have a problem with people posting links or articles about issues that affect the community, such as public transportation and money for schools.  You can whine about those things.  But if you’re bored on a Friday night because your posse is busy and  you don’t have a date, then get over yourself.  

3. Making insulting comments about someone’s political beliefs on Facebook when they are simply trying to post a respectful point of view: not appropriate.  If you wouldn’t say it in person, then don’t say it on Facebook.  I had a “friend” on Facebook cuss at me because I posted a link about how women still make 75 cents for every dollar, and some Congressmen voted against a bill that would help alleviate that problem.  Some friends posted comments that disagreed with mine, but were respectful.  Another posted that my perspective was “BS” (word spilled out) and that such things warranted people getting “fired” from his Facebook page.  Well, guess what, I beat him to it.  

4. Posting pictures from the wild party on Saturday night: not appropriate.  Okay, I might have been guilty of this a time or two back in circa 2008, when I was still a young’n going to “twenty something” parties myself.  But I have since refrained.  I think the etiquette on this one has gotten better with time.  And as a side note, I’ve heard of people not getting job offers for making this mistake, so don’t do it.  

5. Posting beach pictures or bathing suit pictures: not appropriate.  I know this one partly depends on comfort level, but overall, I think it’s tacky.  Please don’t post a picture of me in my bathing suit, especially since I am an academic and an educator.  It’s just weird.  

6. Posting passive aggressive comments, status updates, or status changes because you are mad at a friend, no longer interested in seeing/dating them, or don’t have the backbone to discuss your problems in person: not appropriate.  I think I’ll just say that and leave it there.  

   There are others that I find annoying or borderline inappropriate.  Some people go too far with posting religious or political views on Facebook, which is why I am leery of what I post on both of those issues.  But the six I posted above are the worst. 

And now, on a brighter note, for the appropriate and good uses of Facebook: 

1. Inviting people to events: It’s so much easier than Evite and so much less likely to end up in your spam box. 

2. Status updates about funny life events, personal quirks, unexpected day happenings, etc. : I love these, and if you post funny and/or interesting status updates with just a little bit of self-deprecating humor, keep it up.  My friend Simon from high school always posts status updates that make me laugh.  I wish everyone’s were more like his.  

3. Sharing funny memes, quotes, etc.: Good and appropriate 

4. Making people aware of important community and world events through links to BBC, NPR, Yahoo News, etc.: Good and appropriate, and keep this up!  It’s an easy way for me to get my news.  

5. Messaging people: good and easy on Facebook, and it saves the trouble of looking up email addresses.  The only annoying thing is when folks reply to 20 people when they should just reply to one.  (Yes, I know I am guilty as charged on this one too).  

6. Family and friend pictures: good and fun to look at, as long as you don’t overdo it.  If you overdo your kid or significant other pictures, I might hide you from my newsfeed. But if you post such pictures occasionally, I enjoy it.  

7. Information about cool new venues, restaurants, and places to go that are either opening or closing: good and appropriate.  I knew to eat at Five Star Day one more time because of Facebook. 

So, as my brother-in-law says, Facebook is a double edged sword.  But if we use it right, it can be a good way to stay connected.  I wish there was a way to either turn off my news feed or to filter it based on topic and not just person.  I don’t think there is, so I’m learning to “take what I need and leave the rest.”  And sometimes, the handsome guy isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, but he is still good, if you learn how to communicate with him the right way.  Maybe Facebook is the same way. 

Facebook, Happy 10th birthday.  I wonder if you’ll still be around in another decade, and if so, how much you will have changed.  

 

100 Percent Cultural Me Poem

Another early draft/poem in progress from poetry class. 🙂  Enjoy!  Another version might come later. 

6% Episcopalian who questions and who feels closer to God on the beach, in Piedmont Park, or on the beltline than in some church buildings

4% Feminist who wants equal rights

7% Western European American with fair skin and blue eyes

3% Eastern European American, curly dark hair with red and blond highlights

10% Writer with an artistic soul, notices everything, tries to find the beauty in it

5% outgoing personality who loves communication studies and communication-based theories

5% Southern roots, southern meals with the family, southern hospitality

5% Midwesterner by birth, Midwesterner by attitude, Midwesterner by accent or lack thereof 

10% Liberal who wants equal rights for all, who cares about multicultural education and literature, and who feels alone in the south

7% Academic Educator, Teacher Who Writes, Teacher who believes that the best teachers of writers write themselves, influenced by the Writing Project  

3% “student formally known as gifted” and Governor’s Honors Program “Commie”

5% Dancer with strained ankles

5% Distance walker and runner who loves to exercise outside

5% ADHD/spatially based learning disability (with a learning difference)/”a little awkward”

5% big sister to Patty and cousin to Cindy, Kris, and Kat

5% UGA Graduate Student who studies multicultural children’s literature, critical/new media, critical pedagogy, and graphic novels

5% daughter to John and Sarah

5% true friend to all who invest in me, who will be honest with me, who believe in me, and who will listen

 

“I Am”, an evolving poem

I Am Poem Draft One, Poetry Class 1/21/14 

I am from Flint, Michigan, the automobile town, grey and cold.

School was warmth, neighborhood friends at home were pain.

Family was steady; home smelled of books.  The shelves

in our house were candy stores to me. I learned, maybe

too much at times.  Even then, sometimes lonely and misunderstood.

Fantasy worlds, both in movies and books.  A Wrinkle in Time,

Neverending Story, The Last Unicorn.  I wanted to go to Narnia,

To enchanted forests, back in time to Rome and Greece.

Lucky for me, I could.  Even then, I cried too much.

I learned to dry the tears, “you’re too sensitive,” they’d say.

I cried, but then I got tough, strong.  I made good grades,

and I knew life would one day be better, mostly better. 

 

Atlanta, Georgia.  Braces. Jaw surgery.  Sweltering heat.

Middle school track star, high school drama and chorus nerd.

Mostly A student, had both preppy friends and misfit friends.

Learned to adapt, to connect. Like a pot of water that’s slow to

Heat, yet bubbly once you get it warm.  Summer writing camps

And life long friends.  Felt less misunderstood, more normal.

 

College at UGA: parties, started drinking, started praying. 

Best friends in the musty old dorm called Rutherford. 

Read many books and wrote many essays and poems.

At 21, taught high school students.  Had to grow up fast.

Too fast, perhaps.  Started master’s classes at 22.

What do you want to do with your life, they’d ask.

I want to write and travel.  That’s not the responsible

Choice, they’d say.  Had to grow up fast.  Too fast.

 

Early to mid twenties: South Atlanta: taught kids,

Drank to excess with young friends, traveled, dated,

Loved.  Love failed, but friendship remained. 

Graded paper after paper.  Grew tired, worked in

Texas in 2006, where I came to my own once again.

Then moved back to the north side, taught middle school.

Kids who would change me forever, mostly for the better.  

 

Early 30s: Needed a change, moved to Athens,

Started a Ph.D. program, friends and professors

Made me think, made me question everything.

Felt disconnected from some friends in Atlanta,

But tried to keep them in my life,

At times almost to a fault. 

Reading, thinking, theorizing, feeling, wanting connection.

Thinking, Writing, being truly challenged for the first time.  

Good restaurants, great friends, understanding bosses

For the first time, professors who want what’s best for me.

One is like my dad, one is like my mom.  The others

My aunts or big sisters.  Push me, but still love me.

I’m allowed to be great but not perfect.

I don’t have to be perfect.  I learn for the first time.

I’m still exceptional.  I will be my own me,

Not the shadow of my mom and dad, already published.

Pressure is dissipating.  I’m my own me, my own writer,

My own creative thinker, my own future professor.  

Wanting to marry another academic, another writer.

Not sure what that side of my future holds.

Curious, but no longer afraid.  I can stand alone

And not be lonely because people here care.  

 

Cousins love me, their house in Atlanta

Is home for me.  Love my parents,

But Texas is not home.  Atlanta and Athens

Are my two homes, and I love both for different reasons.

Atlanta my past, Athens the ticket to my future.  

I invite my friends and family to my home in Athens.

We drink wine, talk, play silly but fun card games

Until late at night.  One Atlanta friend who I could have

Loved not longer cares.  But I have to move forward.

Dating new boys, trying to find love, yet I already have

Love, just not the kind you find in storybooks.

I love Friere, children’s books, deep discussions with

People who actually seem to know where I am from

Mentally and emotionally, and I don’t have to be perfect.

I can just be me.  

Building a Garden

            Tonight, my family and I ate a salad from vegetables in my garden.

            Okay, I can’t lie: it’s not just my garden.  It’s the class’s garden, and we’re growing it in the back of our school.  On Wednesday afternoon cluster days, our job is to take care of it.  We’re growing tomatoes, lettuce, beans, and all kinds of spices.  We’re the Healthy Hearts cluster, and we had to come up with a project related to our cluster.   Mrs. Smith, my classmates, and I decided together that one of the best things we could do to encourage other people to eat healthy is to grow delicious vegetables to share.  My friends sometimes think healthy food is gross, but it’s actually pretty good if you grow it and prepare it right.  I used to only like candy and junk food.  Now, I enjoy eating salads.  I was hoping that if I brought home a salad to share with my family, they might like it and have it more at the house.  I want my parents to be healthy too because I want them to be around for a long time.  They seem to like the salad, so maybe that’s a step in the right direction.

            My favorite part of making the garden was planting the seeds.  There’s something magic about planting something in the soil for the first time.  It’s like starting a new life, at least as much as a fifth grader can.  When a seed is first planted, it’s the start of a new beginning.  For me, it was the beginning not only of a plant, but also on a journey toward being healthy and helping people around me to do the same.  My parents and teachers take care of me. I take care of the vegetables in the garden.  It’s my way of giving back, since I’m too young to get a job that makes money or to drive my little sisters around in a car.  My dad works two jobs so that he can make enough money to support our family.  My mom puts in long hours during the day, and then she has to come home and cook and clean for us.  Both of my parents look tired all of the time.  There are four of us kids, and our house isn’t really that big.  I wish I could help them more, but I’m only ten years old.  Now that I know how to make a garden, I’ve told them that I want to make my own here at the house.  Then, I can grow vegetables here at the house and help my mom make dinner every night.  I know it’s not much, but I am hoping that the good food and the help making it will make my mom look less tired.  I’m too young to be the man of the house, but I can still help my mom.

            I haven’t always liked school.  Right now, I can speak English much better than I can read and write it.  So reading and writing is sometimes hard for me.  But for some reason, working in the garden comes naturally to me, and on Wednesday afternoons, I always like school.   Now that I see how happy my Mom and my little sisters are when they eat my salad, I like my cluster class even more.