Thursday, January 31, 2008

On porches. [newly edited]

In the south, a home’s porch is a respected, sacred thing often attached to tales of tall glasses of iced tea or eras before air conditioning, when there was still such a thing as community. My parents have mostly been the vessels of this verbal legacy, instilling the value of a deep, wrap-around front porch.

I moved out of their house when I was 18, when it was still theirs and not yet his. Then, it was sky blue with a meager aggregate stoop at the front door. It wasn’t until their marriage had truly come unglued, every stitch pulled from its seam, and nothing but a shaky fa├žade remaining, that my mother decided the house needed revamping. Blue was no longer sufficient and it needed a porch. Some people acquire a new pet, take up a hobby, or actually go through with the divorce. None of these options seemed quite as fitting to her as a complete overhaul of the worn vinyl siding and outer structure of my childhood home. She commissioned not one, but two levels of hopeful architecture. Much like the grandeur of a church lady’s hat or the carat weight of a woman’s rock, my mother must have believed that her stately double porches would somehow declare a picture of greatness.

I can remember going home in the last year of their matrimonial tolerance. I would usually arrive on a Friday evening and wake to the upstairs door as it wooshed open around eight or nine on Saturday morning. Before cracking open my eyes I could already imagine my mother in her gauzy pajamas rocking slowly in the wicker porch swing, and my father sitting stoically in the chair against the wall, now a golden yellow. They would both be sipping black coffee, probably not speaking, but somehow finding solace in the silence of the waking world. Once I joined them, one would inevitably suggest that I grab a cup of my own from downstairs. I would be assured that the pot was still warm and that my fancy creamer was somewhere, although I’d have to dig a little in the fridge to find it.

I could not have known that those would be the last meaningful memories of the three of us as a family, after all, their undulating threats of leaving and staying had been a part of my life for just as long as the two of them, together, had. I sometimes wonder how much success, if any, those sweeping porches gained in her mind and heart, or if instead they played a simple role in my mother’s big scheme of gilding the truth. No matter their purpose or how they did or didn’t serve it, the presence of porches wasn’t enough to perpetuate the game of husband and wife.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

and suddenly I'm not. so. young.

I haven't had one of those breath taking moments lately. The kind that leave a soul full with certainty and a mind bundled in an almost euphoric, drunken state of precise perfection. Where the right word fits or a phrase seems profound and one simply knows, without any inkling of doubt that it should be recorded and shared. These days my life's all abuzz with goals to achieve and the inherent need to distract myself from the things I cannot change. I can't slow down, lest I would surely crumble beneath the overwhelming weight of my future. I'm right on the cusp of something big. I can feel it in the way my heart quickens, in the outside-in pull from a force beyond tangibility. I can feel it in my bones, as they say.

[whoever they may be]

I still struggle to balance, though. There is so much hinging on Right Now. I've got to be studious, strong willed, independent, driven, persistent, prudent, focused, creative, me, me, me. I've got to be my own version of so many things with less room this time around for faltering. I know it won't be perfect. That's not how life is, but I wonder if I can pull it all off just as I dream it. Can I possibly achieve all of my goals? I have yet to lose hope.

I feel like I've lost my [writing] voice. I feel like I used to be more interesting, less introspective, or maybe just a better, more interesting version of balanced. I'm starting to wonder if I can really BE a writer.

You can do anything you want...

::sigh::

I want to know where this relationship is going - where will we be in 6 months? a year? Will it turn out like the others where the thread just started unraveling before anyone knew what had happened, or could this be the definitive - IT? I have expectations that far exceed the atmospheric boundaries of reality. It's a weakness of mine - wanting certainty over taking chances.

"Every relationship is a gamble at best." a counselor once told me.

There's nothing wrong, nothing at all. Everything is strangely wonderful, actually. He's incredible, and so I guess it still feels foreign sometimes to think that I might possibly deserve this treatment. I guess I fear that if it seems too good to be true, it just might be. Don't read that wrong, it isn't that we float through this movie-esque existence. We have minor hiccups along the way, but he listens to me, we work it out, and then it's over - just like that. I'm not accustomed to so much civility.

If he's reading, I'm sure he's perplexed by the place whence this mention has been spurred.

I'm getting ready to close the door on an era of my life. I'll pull it shut behind me and turn to face the grimace and possibility of the Real World. It's everything, the whole huge entirety of EVERYTHING awaiting my next journey that gets me panicked about all that is to come. I want it all figured out - the future of us, which grad school, what job, what avenue of career choice, where to live, what city, what state, buy or rent, insurance...tremendous freedom and terror all lumped together.

I didn't say that any of this fret was justifiable, but I think parts of it are [at least very normal]. I need to breathe, take in an hour at a time, or maybe day by day, depending on the fluctuation of stress levels.

At the very least, I'm hoarse and out of practice. Anything I do write seems rushed. I hate that, and I hate it for anyone who takes to time to visit.

I read a blog today that was beautiful, the words danced and unfolded across the screen of my computer. I almost stopped to grab a pen and paper to record the sublimity of her word choice. I didn't, though. Instead I took a jab at myself, deflated my self confidence a little, and wrote this vibrant conglomeration of pessimism.

My fingers wouldn't stop.

might the cycle ever be broken?

I'm fearful of where this is going:

The recent violence in Kenya seems awfully similar to Rwanda in April of '94 when America closed her eyes tightly shut. To note nothing more of Darfur but this, her gaze is directed elsewhere again. If it comes to a point where the fire might be snuffed out rather than fed, I wonder if we'll move or if we'll again sheild our eyes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Annual Occurrance

21 minutes and I'll have another year down, one more unit marked off in the pursuit of life's meaning, to making my mark, to living, growing, surviving, and learning.

[and I'm not who I thought I was...]

It is in these transitional periods that I am reminded of myself at this time year ago - different, sad, defeated, lost. It's refreshing to be where I am right now.

[...twenty-four hours ago...]

23 was less than a cake-walk. There was a lot of heartbreak, and not just the conventional type, and not just the kind that's inflicted strictly by others. I learned that I'm a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. There were innumerable moments that I wanted to give up, that I really felt I had nothing to offer, that I had no motivation to move forward. It makes my heart ache to remember me last January...

[Twenty-four voices...]

Now 24 looms on the 8 minute horizon. It's coming and I'm ready - for whatever lies ahead. This year I become eligible for FAFSA grants that only consider my [meager] income. I graduate from business school. I inch closer to what I want to do when I grow up. This first really healthy relationship will [hopefully] continue to flourish. I'm gradually accepting the divorce. I'm thinking about real estate, relocation, careers, graduate school...

[...with twenty-four hearts]

...and good ole' fashioned snail mail [which, I know has no real place in that initial train of though, but is so definitely worth mentioning]. It started with Saturday and the sweetest card from The Staff Sergeant's Mom, then today I heard back for the first time from one of my adopted solders! And a friend of mine told me that she had sent me a letter, too. How long has it been since I got ONE letter in the mail, much less THREE? It's maybe one of my most favorite [circumstantial] birthday presents.

[All of my symphonies...]

It's midnight now, so I guess I made it. My fellow Army girlfriend just wished me a happy birthday :) She's making sure I don't spend Tuesday moping around wishing I could spend it with my soldier.

[...in twenty-four parts]

I'm done now. My old age is taking it's toll. Midnight is all I can handle. I'm so sleepy.

Goodnight 23. Chapter finished. Door closed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

there is no love without compassion

Every now and then the world pauses, allowing a few sacred moments for me to reflect. Welcome to the first [in a long while] post that is not rushed by the bustle of my last-semester-almost-full-time-job-distracted-by-love life.

Still, not having had previous time to disperse these thoughts in increments, I fear that this will end up being a post full of color, but lacking cohesion.

[I'm sorry]

Again, on reading:

A few times I've mentioned this book that I am attempting to read, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. I am both intrigued and disgusted by the history I have avoided until now. Not only is my personal ignorance an intolerable realization, but also the testament that this book stands as. I feel so...let down by humanity.

Are we or are we not inherently good?

The Staff Sergeant will respond with an immediate and deliberate, "No." I dodge that answer in order to preserve my idealistic purpose, but I love that he challenges me to look at ideas from another side. Still, I can't help wanting to think that people are [usually] good by nature. All expectations aside, I have come to realize that not everyone aspires to make the world a better place.

[I should be hugging trees, right?]

I've only covered a small slice of the innumerable dilemmas now categorized as "genocide." One of the more inspiring/appalling situations to which I was enlightened was the Khmer Rouge regime that terrorized the Cambodian population throughout the mid-late 1970's. I just don't understand how this happens, how this is happening, elsewhere, right now, as I type, and we as Americans do little or nothing. A good portion of the populous doesn't even know what is happening in, say, Darfur. My mind lacks the ability to process so much apathy...

Backtracking to Cambodia: I was about half way through the chapter when, in one of those few seconds of free time, I happened across a blog post addressing the exact thing I was losing myself in every time I opened the book's pages. This Khmer Rouge phenomenon was severely disturbing to say the very least, so I dove into the depths of Micheal Yon's account, "No Darker Heart" with hopes of seeing yet another perspective. I devoured it, relished the words, fell in love with the articulation and lusted after his experience. I wanted to see the place where he stood, where the rain surfaced scraps of clothing, unearthed irrefutable truths. I wanted to be a voice like his, to be a bridge for those who don't know, to rid the world of naivety and preferrable darkness.

We can't close our eyes, lest the machine is perpetuated and grows more precise, more able, more hungry. If we don't talk about Darfur, the babies still starve, the innocent are still raped and tortured. The families are still displaced, still left with nothing but the memory of life before. We can't close our eyes, turn our gaze, cover our ears...we can't because it makes us an accomplice to unfathomable brutality and devastation. The sad reality is that most of us do, most generations have, and without knowledge, most will continue to.

On future plans:

My old roommate always acted as a great voice of reason. We think alike in many ways and work through our thoughts in similar methods. Coffee with her last night was extremely helpful in calming the currents of my over-active mind. I had constructed a shaky tower of what-if's on which to position my future direction. I really have no idea what I want to do with myself once I leave these hallowed halls of college, but I feel a pulling, a summoning that urges the core of myself toward some unknown place, some unclear purpose. Alas!, over hot tea, in a noisy, but familiar house of coffee, I was able to move from the maddening buzz of my inner thoughts to a place significantly less congested. I had a pseudo-epiphanic moment.

For once, I embraced patience.

[sweet relief.]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh the times, they are a' changin'

It seems that life happens at a rate too fast for recording these days. I know I'm slacking here, and in personal journaling, and worst of all, I am very aware of the toll it takes for me not to be writing every day. Words become more difficult to use, and cobwebs blanket my inner vocabulary pool. I stutter a lot in my head...SOOO, I'm going to put forth more effort here, both for the therapeutic benefit and for the mental exercise it provides. I have to. I really feel that it is vital for whatever the next chapter holds.

I've been juggling this last semester with much more agility than I have in the past few, and I'm being more prudent with my study habits as the burning desire to get into graduate school for journalism has been re-lit...and there might be some futuristic talk, albeit still quite ambiguous, of relationships/careers/higher education and location and where it all could lead. All that to say that this is my current inexcusable excuse for slacking in the blog commitment. I'm sorry. I will do better.

This is turning into a kludge of a post, but I'll at least leave you with a teaser or two of things on my mind [that will hopefully be soon revisited in the form of substance].

On current reading lust:
I have noticed [as has The Staff Sergeant] that my palette has lessened an appetite for the heroine novels to which I was once drawn. I'm not talking about damsels in distress or worse yet, to be confused with drug use. No, the average, garden variety Oprah books [circa, beginning of the book club]...White Oleander, The Lovely Bones, Feast of Love, East of Eden. You know, where the women show resounding resilience and overcome obstacles to find themselves empowered in their new sense of self. blah, blah, blah. Ok, I did just receive the newest Sebold novel, but even she likes the dark side. Wow, a tangent has ensued! The point, and there is one, is to note the drastic turn from "warm and fuzzy" to war and destruction. To give you an idea, a list of my last 10 literary purchases:

1. What is the What
2. The Sandbox
3. The Graves are Not Yet Full
4. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide
5. The Blog of War
6. War Reporting for Cowards
7. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
8. Journalista's
9. A Disorder Peculiar to the Country
10. Highways to a War

What to make of this?

Well, The Staff Sergeant has painted a picture including me in [insert war-torn country] running around in an over-sized Kevlar helmet as mortars go off around me, toting a notebook and/or satellite driven laptop. I, however, just want to get into Journalism School and to continue to feed the ravenous beast [guilty pleasure] of my own curiosity and impassioned heart. We'll see where it takes me :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

neither here nor there

It wasn't exactly a dramatic parting, instead, an abbreviated "good bye" in the unlit kitchen. A hapless white-knuckle hug that I knew couldn't keep him. I love you. Then the door, and his headlights, and the dark replacing the space where he had parked.

It's been too long since I've been here, but when you try to stockpile two month's time into a week it consumes you slightly. And now he's gone [again], but I'm learning how to fair the distance [with hopeful grace]. We celebrated Valentine's Day a month early, and my birthday a couple of weeks in advance, and really, two months is so short in comparison to many things.

It's funny how quickly you can remodel perspective...

This is just how they live, our soldiers, and us other halves of them. It's a different world and one I never imagined I would willingly be a part of [until I met him]. It's not that my heart doesn't ache knowing that he's away, but I'm different, we're different than we were in October. I understand his passion. I'm getting to a place where something of the whole makes sense.

My life goes on and his life goes on because they must and will regardless of time or place. Though there were/are/will be tears, my heart also feels peace in knowing that he'll come back and "us" will resume in only a matter of weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

all that was and all that was lacking

Have you ever noticed how silent true winter is? The temperatures loom low and flurries float on icy breezes...and there is nothing but the hollow moan of Winter in the trees, and all the world is strangely hushed. Perhaps it is that everyone, like me, is simply taken by the cold, waiting, still, shaken with the dead quiet of a dead season. I felt today, as though I could have raised my voice to the gray heavens and all four corners of the earth would have heard my words. Everything seemed that full [or empty] of peaceful discord.

And I was full and empty, appeased and disturbed, lonesome and surrounded all at the same time...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Finally

"So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending."

- J.R.R. Tolkien

A story as uncharacteristic as the phenomenon itself: Snow falls in Baghdad. Sometimes the good news does manage to fall through the cracks. And so I am once again, but only slightly, challenged to consider the possibility that humanity might not all be destined for disaster. I'm sure tomorrow will act as confirmation that it is, but today, this is good enough.

busy, busy

Again, only a minute...

Yesterday the sky dumped torrential rains on Nashville without relent. I should have stuck with the striped Wellington idea but went with notably absorbent New Balances instead. If I haven't clarified already, my most peeved occurrence in life is wet hems on jeans...they never dry and inevitably find a way to slither, clammy and cold, into your shoes. Strangely, against all meteorological odds, yesterday was wonderful.

I guess no matter how much I dread the blocks of class time spent trying to overcome the distraction of day dreams, to-do lists, etc., there is some solace found in the reliability of knowing that I won't care about the business-talk, the corporate explanations, the inner workings of Ford, Starbucks, Post-it, Amazon, Wal-Mart, to name only a few. In addition to this disappointing realization, I spent the afternoon chatting over subs with a friend from last semester, purchasing a highly overpriced flat-iron that I've convinced myself is vital for existence, marking off a few necessary errands, and finally, an evening with the Staff Sergeant.

Rain as it may, no weather could have dampened a night spent with him. Like a friend of mine recently told me, the time apart makes you appreciate the time together all the more, and our time is temporarily numbered as his short, long departure all too quickly approaches.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Institutionalized

"I've only got a minute," seems to start the majority of blogs these days. I'm sorry, it's just...well, it doesn't matter how busy I am, I only have a minute.

I'm getting ready to brave the rain and the early-morning, angry traffic for day number two of the last round of classes. [DING!] It's bizarre to think that this way of life will be over in four months. In four months I'll be finished. No more 8am classes that I cannot, for the life of me, make it to on time. No more last minute research papers on business culture and the hierarchy of corporations that I do not support or praise.

It's funny, that's all.

If I said that I wasn't looking forward to graduation day, I'd surely be lying. It's been a really long time coming. But every time I consider the day following graduation, I think of that scene with Morgan Freeman standing in the grocery store asking his manager if he can go to the restroom. The guy tells him several times that he doesn't have to ask, but prison has conditioned the ex-con. I'm afraid that I'll be the same, a student for all but four years of my entire life, suddenly set free. I'll be given my paper bag of belongings and a small envelope of cash, and maybe a bus ride into town, and the whole, uncharted world will just be sitting there, waiting, ready for me to seize. I worry that I won't know what to do without the regiment of coursework and strangely broken-up daily schedules. I lust after that freedom, yet it terrifies me, too. I think I begin to panic at the sheer size of "adulthood."

I have no idea what I want to do with a degree.

[the next chapter, I believe, will take us to grad school]

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

my life in bullet-form, but no particular order

I'm still here, I swear, and I've got so much to write about...

...this new read on genocide has gotten me thinking and learning so much about modern history and what people are capable of

...the staff sergeant is getting ready to leave again for about 2 months (i.e., I'll be soon slipping into the life of the dating-single world of military other halves...and we all know how gracefully I wear this persona [note sarcasm]). Reference October for further illustration.

...I'll be turning 24 in a few weeks [...and I'm not who I thought I was...]

...I'll be Valentines-ing it up in Atlanta with an old high school friend turned mil-wife (our men both have dates with the army).

...hopefully I'll be able to introduce a new roommate as the old one has moved...well, down the street

...classes start back (note tone of dread), buuuuuuuut it's the last semester [ever] of undergrad business studies (note tone of elation)

...I've also gotten this new book brimming with writing prompts, so I might start trying those out and posting them here.

And soon I'll give each of these things the time and honor and respect it deserves. Tonight is just not the time or place. I'll post something meaty soon.

[SOON.]

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.”

I could write about this day last year. I could tell you how different I am, how much I grew, about the hardships I conquered. But we all grow and we all overcome, and life continues to mold each one us into something different than we once were. It's no secret that 2007 had its less than ideal moments, and though I can only speak from my own experiences, I am certain that I am no isolated case.

Instead of reliving 2007, I'd rather write about the snow that christened January [2008], that spit and spun beneath the low-cast wintry clouds. It only fell and hovered momentarily in undulating waves whipped across the contrast of asphalt before melting. I'd rather note the morning, ablaze in golden sunlight that filtered in through bamboo blinds and fell like fresh sheets unfurled [on us].

I'd rather get lost in this irrepressible bliss.