Friday, November 30, 2007

I'm sorry, what?

"Calls in Sudan for execution of Briton"

I am learning that there are many things in life that I will never understand, though I may try. Today's concern regards a certain teddy bear now carrying the [apparently blasphemous] name, Muhammad. I don't know if Ms. Gibbons had intentions steeped in spite, but it seems that naming a stuffed bear after a prophet pales in comparison to the 200,000+ living, breathing people that have been slaughtered...or the infinitely larger number of those displaced, homeless, and starving in the wretched conditions of refugee camps. But again, there are many things I don't understand, and I'm perfectly willing to stand corrected.

A teddy bear holds the name of a prophet and it makes headlines...blazing headlines. They want her stoned, rifled down by a firing squad, the people are moved to riots. The media whores have seduced their public with the hype of this event and the Sudanese have united...

If this much energy was spent in an attempt to squelch out all of the killing, all of the raping, all of the starving and homelessness created by the tragedy of this country, it would stop. It would have to. Instead, we foam at the mouth, we salivate at this news, we want to gather 'round the poor British teacher [who may or may not have known better]. The point is not that she is unworthy of concern. If I can cause you to think, rather, about the polar imbalance, then I will have said my piece. One woman stirs nations. One woman who very well may serve her 15 days in prison and be sent back home, she can cause this kind of international buzz but the hundreds of thousand dead cannot?

I am perplexed and a little bit disgusted.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spread some holiday love...
"In the end, it has to become just another day. But it is another day down, scratched out on the calendar. An emblem of progress and a reminder to count your blessings, not your difficulties. We are 24 hours closer to finishing this chapter of life and returning to those things that we know and love."

- Capt. Lee Kelley, excerpt from's The Sandbox, regarding Christmas in Iraq

* photo borrowed from

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On living

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
- Emily Dickenson

Is it then that I am clouding life with unnecessary distractions or that I'm just that startled by living? [a question evolving from the same source as the chicken/egg conundrum]. I don't feel startled, an emotion I equate with a distinct crispness, rather than the quake of a start, I feel more muddled and confused. What does it mean? Why is it all so fucking gray? Why can't a statement be held only accountable for the words that make it, or a fear remain simply such, over a manifested form of heightened insecurity? Instead I find a route around logic and mold it into something that I know is not truth. I sink with the absurdity I create. I'm so stupidly scared...of losing what?

[you can't spend your whole life worried.]

...control of the things that I never controlled. Yes, I want impossible guarantees and all answers to every question. I want something to be be able to rely on one thing. [I'd be appeased by one single constant.]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dear Self,

Today I took the time to write a letter. It will be sent to myself on my 26th birthday. I thought about copying and pasting the words here, awkwardly written in first person to me about me, but really to whom I will become. I reminded my future self of who I am in this moment today...struggling to keep it all together, whose family has unfurled, whose idea of Home is lost, lost, lost...wearing long, falsely-colored hair and bangs that I will probably look back on and question, "why?!" Intoxicated by new love and burned out on collegiate business studies, who has found a compulsive drive to write on anything about everything and wants nothing more than to find the niche of happiness that certainly must exist. I told my 26 year old self what I hope she has remedied. I told her about the dreams kept only in my head because, while I do tell almost anything, some prayers are too delicate, too sacred to expose. She will probably look back and laugh, being taken off guard by a composition she forgot she wrote on a bad day in her 23rd year. At least I hope, on some levels, that she does. I left her with the little-girls dreams, the "when I grow up" bulleted list, the idealistic goals that I hope she will have accomplished, while knowing that life rarely goes as planned.

Naturally this train of thought led me to reflect on the past year and all of the irony and craziness that carried me through these 11 months. Now, as 2007 dwindles to a wintry close, I am entertained by last year's hopes for this one. I am so very far from the person I was last December. I grew substantially this year, which, in general terms, is exactly what I predicted. On a micro level, though,'s really astonishing sometimes to look back at the outline you planned and then veered from, but I learned from the short-cuts and scenic routes, and even the idle hours spent waiting in traffic. I learned specifically what I would never again settle for, and what I could and couldn't live with, and that I can survive on my own, but I don't like it. I swore to learn 25 new things...I'm assessing this goal and will have an accurate report of progress by December 31st.

I said I was coming back to Nashville, and I packed my car and did it. I said that I wouldn't date for 365 days, but I did, and I even fell in love, an event I was sure would be impossible for a very long time. I said I would graduate in December, and as it approaches I've known since August that it wasn't possible, and frankly, I wonder if I will even pass all of my Fall classes this semester. I've had four jobs, two roommates, one new bedroom wall color, finished one book, completed two pieces of art, written one commercial composition, started a blog, and been introduced to the lifestyle of the Army. I've lost and made friends, I've seen beauty in pure form and ugliness too. I've done a lot of aching, but haven't found reason enough to throw in the towel. I've left and returned. I've stumbled a lot with intermittent glimpses of grace. Although marked by scars, I now know how to avoid tripping sometimes. I'm better because of the falls and stronger because I eventually shake them off.

No, no one promised me a rose garden. In fact, my Mother always made it a point to assure me that life isn't fair. Keeping all of that in mind and where I've been and where I hope I'm going, maybe sooner than later I'll at least have a bed of tulips or daisy's.


Monday, November 26, 2007

If there were such a place, I would get in my car and go [home].

Friday, November 23, 2007

One down, One to go.

It's 3am and I'm awaiting the last oven timer's digital beep. She has been an overworked laborer today. Following a 7 pound chicken, cornbread dressing, candied yams, and a pumpkin pie, her final task this early morning is to bake the two chocolate layers of birthday cake necessary for the quick approaching celebratory date of a certain staff sergeant.

It was 8 or 9am before I finalized the decision to go ahead with the production of a miniature Turkey Day spread. I settled on a menu: roasted chicken, steamed green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, candied yam patties, cornbread dressing [of course!], cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin pie. Then my soldier and I braved the crowds of Turkey Trotters, last minute grocery fiends [like yours truly], and the usual damnit-I'm-out-of-[essential ingredient]-shoppers. It was mayhem that no Army training or seasoned chef experience could have readied a person for, but we prevailed. He had an agenda to entertain, and I needed to find my culinary center so, for a bit, we parted ways to best utilize the day off.

There were pans, pots, and casserole dishes shuffled from dish washer to oven to stove-top to sink, and chopping, steaming and seasoning, and antiquated Christmas carols, and chocolate chip cookies from last night...

I find that I feel very calm in the systematic madness of a busy kitchen. There is a deadline and a number of dishes that must all be finished and hot at the same time, and a workspace only large enough for a quick pirouette [assuming you're the only one occupying the space]. It's a challenge, but manageable, and the fulfillment of success is unmatchable. I was happy as a peach churning out the holiday ensemble and filling the momentary lulls with blips of conversational well-wishes and cooking questions. I was at home in my cramped little galley with the notion of guests arriving at six. Finally, it announced itself in neon green numbers across the tiny screen of my microwave, and low and behold, the chicken was done and everything else standing by on "warm". If that achievement wasn't enough, paired with the greatest of companionship, my day was perfection!

...Ah, I love the holidays! [Even when the situation makes them very tempting to hate.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baby, baby, baby, come on home.

I greatly dislike the unknown. The confused gray place between here and there agitates my concrete desire for sturdiness, clarity, being able to say, "this is why..." Likewise, I loathe the feeling of coming undone. The threads slip further away from the nucleus and grabbing at their illusive strings renders palms nothing more than rope burned and empty. The combination is exhausting and Mom's pending arrival has lit both hissing fuses in unison.

Would I really rather her not come at all? And home...home? Where the hell is this "home" to which she beckons my return? She is not home. The vacation house where she fled is not home...will never be home...with the boat man whose truth she hasn't the decency to unveil. Home is nowhere she could wrap her hands or mind around. Home exists between the lines of tangible things...

Happy Holidays!

I'm told that I will, without a doubt, survive until January and I can't help feeling slightly melodramatic in the initial inquiry. The weight of them and the inevitable defeat of disappointing one with whatever decision answers the question of , "yes, but what do yooou want?" overwhelms my true capabilities of knowing what I want.

...Christmas on the moon and/or lots of white wine.

So it is that space travel is not in the realm of possible things before she shows up at 5 o'clock, and it will be a requirement of less than 24 hours spent with my great protagonist. One can do anything for a short time, or so they say. My understanding was wrong, she made alternate plans to those including Thanksgiving with her only child...the only child she includes in every complaint of marriage and money and hesitates not to burden with the guilt of debts and alliance. For Thanksgiving, she has "her plans" and for Christmas, a vacation to "alleviate the pressure of choice." How kind.

If I were brave enough to tell them how angry their whole approach at this lengthy end actually caused me to be, or how fearful I am that I will ruin my future with the example they have provided, it would probably be easy to cut away the fluff of compassion and cowardice. Maybe then I could be as brutally bitter as them, as raging and as hateful as their tactics. If I were to toughen up my soft spots, to poison my sweetness, to burn away the passion of my heart, maybe then I could say all the things that I stuff down inside of me and dismiss on account of unconditional something or other...

If one doesn't join them when it is realized that they cannot be beat, is it possible that she might come to embody all things on the other side of war? Might she become a pacifist instead of a warrior? Could it be that acting out the opposite is testament to the transparency of fear, and that fate might not have misery written in her stars? That failure could be an avoidable destiny?

I think I'd like to see Christmas in New York.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


My hands become possessed by the spirits of my mother's mother, her mother too, and the mothers that lived before those daughters. Haunted by their ancient ceremonies, I am compelled to perform them, drawing skill partially from heritage and partly from the guide of record. The formulas are immortal methods preserved in the black script of ritual books, and I summon them with the sole intent of paying homage to the traditions for which they were written. Their outlines are strict and require the vessel that I willingly provide. Alone, they are only a bleak memoriam of paper pages threatened by the tragedy of a dying art. To them, I offer holy reverence and all of what little I have.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

And the door is only three paces away.

We spend so much time mapping journeys that never quite play out as planned. We fill our heads with dreams and whisper personally crafted endings into our own ears so many times that pre-construction based on fiction becomes inevitable. While the battle between expectations and actuality most often ends somewhere other than the scripted mark, life still finds a way to be incredibly beautiful. Even in tragedy, at the pinnacles of joy, in the gray ash of a season's defeat, and in the prospects of what mystery lies just beyond a door, it comes together in a collage of discovery. In it we are made human.

I can't make them love again, I can't even make them like one another. Likewise, I cannot stop or even pause the throes of wars being waged [or distant training that is required to combat them]. I may or may not be able to muster an ounce of interest in tomorrow's morning classes, or to rely on sunshine, acceptable cell service, a place to park my car. While these things are so, I am many of my parents' good parts. I am lucky for each moment in peace with and proximity to my soldier. I am grateful for close friends who willingly listen to garrulous chatter. Occasionally, I even feel cozy in the midst of a gray afternoon or the quiet of disconnect. It happens for a reason, to get us to the next place. Maybe if I shift my focus and stop trying to manage something so large that it cannot possibly be steered, I'll remember the gorgeous intricacies that make this mine [even when it's hard].

Friday, November 9, 2007

seeking shelter

Outside the flimsy door, drowsy elevator covers pollute a make-shift lobby [an alternative to insulated soundproofing]. Having only been told her name, I am satisfied by her look when she finally opens the door of the tiny office to invite me in. She is petite and appears to be seasoned by age. Her teeth are notably white against the creaminess of her chocolate skin, and her quiet chuckle in response to my defensive sarcasm puts me strangely at ease.

I don't know this woman, but I've been here before - office littered with travel-sized alarm clocks and motivational posters. I've been seated across from this inquisitive character and watched many a second hand devour the sixty minute confessional. I've been pinned to the wall with query's of emotions and intentions. I've poked fun at the alleged plight that motivates my pursuit of today's appointment [it seems more sensible that way]. I'm accustomed to this intro, yet it is still, like all the others, ever so slightly awkward.

Entering, I shed my scarf and liberate the buttons of my bell-shaped coat. These winter articles come to rest beside me on the miniature couch strategically positioned for "clients". Becoming settled in my place, I clutch the warmth of my coffee mug and rest it steadily on a crossed knee, then she smiles and poses the question of my purpose. Because I have one hundred possible answers spinning about my head, I momentarily pause to grasp the most conclusive one.

Why am I here?

Why am I here...?

Oh, them, that's right.

I tell her about the divorce papers...then the appeals for alliance, swiftly followed by a lingering lack of motivation, bouts of anxiety, my recent tendencies of sabotage, guilt, the crawling muscles in my back, more guilt, the past...I just fling open Pandora's box and before I know it, I think that I might drown even her. Her brow crinkles resulting in a halt of the barrage. She wants to know why it's all my fault as I have blamed myself for the result of every said scenario...

Each statement has been backed with unfailing certainty, and now I am suddenly only capable of a defeated stutter and a paradoxical shrug.

[I don't need a reason.]


I wandered around my apartment this morning contemplating the situation plaguing last night's late hours. I poured myself a bowl of Cheerios, set my coffee to brew and relived each painfully ridiculous thought and action...

...then I baked cinnamon rolls [courtesy of Cooking Light]:


1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/2 cup warm 1% low-fat milk (100° to 110°)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Cooking spray

3/4 cup raisins
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm milk, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, salt, and egg; stir with a wooden spoon until combined (batter will not be completely smooth).

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 cups flour to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; turn to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

To prepare filling, combine raisins, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Roll dough into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle; brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Wrap roll in plastic wrap; chill for 20 minutes.

Unwrap roll, and cut into 20 (1/2-inch) slices. Arrange slices, cut sides up, 1 inch apart on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°) free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Don't be a fool, girl...

There is no need for further plucking petals or over-analyzing possible [negative] scenarios. I find myself at this Sunday's end satisfied, elated, blissful, and calm. My smile is unwavering. My heart, overjoyed. I am happy as a peach!

And now, to bed to dream of future [peachy] tomorrows.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Poster girl posin' in a fashion mag

I had been contemplating a change of hair for some time. The ends had begun to fray, and my once side-swept bangs hung lifelessly below my nose. A change was due. There were a couple of bad weeks [remember?] and Mom, knowing precisely what to do, offered to to pay for a hair-cut in an effort to turn the tides. A gifted trim can go one of two ways when sought out in moments of distress. It either lifts a girl to the pinnacle of confidence or sends her reeling into shameful tears. Keeping this in mind, I toiled cautiously with the idea of actually opting for change. It would be so much safer to stick with a once again well-groomed version of my trusty, long layers, a style I've relied on for 3 years now. I proceeded with hesitation, all but threatening the stylist's life if she botched the cut and contributed to the fortnight of woe. You see, if you aren't familiar with the front and center fringe, bangs are tricky. They are troublesome, if not impossible to conceal, and short, much too short to fix if the procedure goes awry.

I had been not so secretly lusting after the quirky, straight-across-the-brow-line look of the 60s' mod movement, but it seemed almost too risky once I planted myself in the stylist's hot-seat. She trimmed the ends [keeping the length intact], giving me time to ponder my options. She only ever-so-slightly coaxed me to gamble on something different, affirming that "bangs are so in," and promising that I could wear and love them harmoniously. I considered the parking fiascoes, the riotous feud brewing with [cell phone provider], the parental strains of divorce vs. The Holidays, and my stumbling adjustment to Army life...Oh!, and the setting provided for all this: five solid days of cold, gray rains.

I waged an internal battled with the possibility of failure matched against the notion of stale trends. "Could retro-inspired bangs, in some way, be liberating?," I wondered.

[Never doubt the sheer power of a new do]

As she blew out my auburn tresses I reasoned with the speed of hair growth [fast], estimated the true value of a hairstyle [it's just hair] , and talked myself into a state of boastful bravery. I took one triumphant breath and commanded the cut.

[then I quickly closed my eyes]

Immediately, I loved it! And in my fickle nature, I just as quickly loathed my decision! [OMG!] Then I adored it, and again regretted ever giving the OK.

[This is simply my nature]

It's taken me about 2 weeks [and many affirmations] to finally become accustomed to the strange reflection peering back from glassy surfaces. It's a novel style, probably not one with staying power, but for now I'm kind of loving it. And in the name of those needy confirmations, just yesterday, at a local coffeehouse, I received some mad props for my crazy bangs from a thirty-something gentleman.

I smiled.