Frozen breath

The cold is in my nose. I can no longer use it to breathe. I open my mouth and the cold pours in. It hits the back of my throat, it penetrates my trachea, and explodes into my brain.

I stop, frozen, mid-stride, mid-sidewalk. At first, people flow around me, only cursing the blockage. Soon, others stop, not frozen, just curious.  Am I a statue? Am I a joke? An odd ad for the shop I’m stuck in front of?  Screens come out of pockets, capturing my humiliation. I go viral.  “Don’t touch me, I’m probably contagious,” I do not say with frozen lips and tongue, because it would only add to the bad joke.

It all ends when a gust of small boys or a mischievous wind knocks into me from behind and I go down with a resounding clang onto the pavement. No longer meme-worthy, the screens dissipate.  The owner of the blocked shop brings out a portable heater. “What am I paying taxes for,” he grumbles while scraping at my edges.  I obligingly melt into the crowd, my inability to breathe the least of his problems.

Years that start on Mondays

On the last day of the year, I dreamed of heat. The melting asphalt was soft under my shoes, like walking on an air mattress or a balloon. Something poppable. The thought pricked my brain and I sank, slowly, inch by inch into the black sticky sludge.

Too slow. Fear turned to boredom while every inch took longer than the last.

Like the woolly mammoth in the museum, stuck halfway in the tar pit, eyes wide with panicked confusion, forever asking: How did this happen? and Why doesn’t it ever get significantly worse? I’m always just on the verge of disaster, but never fully committed to the ending.

The holiday lie

Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays,
‘Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays – you can’t beat home, sweet home

If this were true – no one would go anywhere.
We’d all just stay at home.
We wouldn’t drive for miles and miles away from home to go to someone else’s house. Even if that house used to be the place you called home, it isn’t anymore.

I’m never as comfortable anywhere as I am when I’m home. My home, with my smells and my temperature and my sheets and pillow and mattress.  My food in the fridge, my towels on the rack.

Home is where one chooses to be everyday – with the person or people one chooses to share their home with.

I never get to be ‘home for the holidays.’
If I stayed home, my family would disown me.

Standing in line

The pretty girls chatter, painted nails woven with the chain-link. The others hover, waiting for an opening either through death or disfigurement, the method matters not. Boys pose and pout and kick at the ground because, well, because.

You stand somewhere in-between, your head full of algebraic equations, energy and matter and the colors of rainbows. If you don’t hear our laughter does that mean it isn’t happening?

We’re jealous of the way you separate without conflict, the way you suffer neither the in nor the out, unaware of the fear we cling to with our decorated digits.

Quiet Reader

Who are you, waiting so patiently? Why do I struggle for you – to explain, to string perfect words together, to map vistas of emotions, of ideas, of feelings? What is this obsession with communication? I am, in the end, the only one who can truly understand these thoughts. I should keep them to myself. A treasure. A secret.

Why add my drop to this ocean of mediocrity? My own reactions to these words are the only ones that count. The only ones I trust. The only ones I believe.

Perhaps it is to prove I exist beyond my shell. I think, therefore I am only goes so far. I write, so that you’ll know I am. This is not about legacy. I don’t care what happens what after I’m dead. When I cease to exist, so will you.

No, I must imagine right now that you are there and that you will see this, that I am not alone on this screen. Because, the opposite is true too. When you cease to exist, so will I. You read, therefore I am.

daylight obscured

They speed through daylight obscured while sitting too close. The rings on their fingers don’t match despite earnest dreaming. With mist and shadow they build houses, make children with corresponding eye colors and weave monogrammed hand towels.  They breathe a whole life onto a hazy windshield.

An alarm chimes.

Blinking, they move apart, left and right, away from where they were, as the fog lifts all at once. They awake to pain, like a slap in the face, like a flashlight in the eye held by a cop asking, do you know how fast you were going?

 

You want a dog

You say, I want a dog.

I say, a dog won’t fit inside this house. The rooms are too small, our lives are too big, we are crammed inside, too tight. My shoulders brush the door jambs, your head bumps into the ceiling. We breathe each other’s air, too often, coughing, choking. It would be cruel to force a creature with four legs to share the space already filled by our four legs. I’m stepping on your toes trying to keep out of my own way.

This house is old, it is falling down, down around my ears, the dust is in my hair. The walls slump in defeat. The creaking stairs mutter, this is all going to shit. The floors sag under the weight of trapped emotions, under unvoiced complaints and suppressed rages. The cracks creep, widening every day, absorbing us, our souls coated by shifting sheetrock, pulverized plaster.

A dog would bound and leap and bounce and shake the very foundation. It would take over the one bit of remaining space, the nook under the desk, the place I save for when I need to get away. I would implode at the first bark.

Memory moves

A house burns. The woman stands on the lawn in a negligent nightgown, screaming for her lost loves. They flutter above the flames, soaring free, swirling with the smoke, unaware of her tears. As the sun rises, the bits and pieces of memory move west, away from the harsh new light. Beneath the welcoming fronds of a Californian palm tree, they find a new home inside the mind of a man in need of a past.

 

Boredom is waiting

Boredom is waiting.

Little boredoms: Waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for a frappuccino at Starbucks. Little boredoms don’t bother me – I have lots of patience. It comes from an inflated sense of superiority. I can’t expect too much of the people around me, so I just have to be kind and wait for them to do their jobs at their own speed.

Big boredoms: Waiting for my life to start.

Boredom is time, wasted.

The time wasted by little boredoms doesn’t bother me either. It isn’t my fault I have to stand in this line. Nobody can expect me do anything else at this moment, (I can’t expect myself to do anything else) so I am free to daydream. I can let my mind wander, flitting around the space, landing on heads, imaging good or evil thoughts, silly choices, bizarre desires, devastating decisions. The waiting will end, probably sooner than I’d like, and I’ll have to go back to doing something.

But time wasted waiting for my life to start is just a waste. There is no excuse. Whatever it is, the thing I’m meant to do that hasn’t started yet, the thing I am waiting for, all the time between now and when that starts is wasted.

It is now and it is always and everywhere. I’m forever searching for the signs that the something I’m meant to be/do has finally been found.

For this, I am not waiting patiently.

I’m mashing the buttons on the keyboard, I’m spamming the mouse button, trying to make the damn thing load faster. I’m spinning as fast as I can, trying to make a spark. I start new projects, read new books, think new thoughts, play, walk, move, look, listen. I never stop trying. I make my own luck. I am everywhere and every-when so as to be in the right place at the right time. I’m in it so I can win it. I shoot for the stars. I push and push and push and push myself to do, to be, to act, to Make. Something. Happen.

I’m exhausted.

Everything aches.

I can’t control the panic any longer and suddenly I can’t leave the house for the fear of doing it wrong.

STOP!

Take a deep breath, take a hundred. Open my eyes…I find myself not-waiting. I am sitting still. This is so odd.

I am here, now, thinking about here, now, not some yet to be moment that may never happen. I listen to a song I love while staring out the window at the birds perched in the vines that climb the wall across the alley. My brain slows down; this is what calm feels like. I sip my coffee and nestle deep into my comfy chair unaccompanied by the familiar, frantic worry of all the things I’m failing to do right now.

Boredom is time wasted waiting for something to start instead of living in the moment just begun.

Maybe my life began a long, long time ago but I was just too bored to notice.

Focus

How does one maintain focus on a single activity when there is so much to do and see?

What if some brilliant new thought is missed?

To maintain focus, one must give themselves over wholly to the item at the crosshairs. Commit completely to one idea, forsaking all others.

When distractions arise, one must say, “not now,” knowing that the new idea might be gone when the time of focus is ended.

That potential loss is terrifying.

It is also liberating.

Like the recovering alcoholic who says, “I’m only going to concentrate on not drinking for today, let the future worry about itself,” one can see the freedom in letting go of the buzz of swarming “Look at me’s!” and allowing oneself to relax into the quiet of the single thought.

Trust that if the new thought or urgent message is important enough, it will wait it’s turn.