Following Dreams and Facing Reality

My life has been a series of revelations lately. I became homeless and had to get a job. This has made going to school and continuing to write very difficult. I found that I could do one or the other. Which came as a shock because I had this wonderful dream. I was going to be able to join society and have a job like everyone else. I would also be able to attend college and complete my courses before they were due. There would even be time to jot down my thoughts and ideas. Maybe even get a few words in on the project I’m working with a friend. None of this happened though.

 

The one thing that I didn’t count on was the time drain from working my job. For the last month all it seemed that I was doing was working and sleeping. I didn’t have time for anything else, not school, not writing, not even my friends. I was working overtime trying to afford a place to live and lost my most important dream. The thing I dream of being the most is a writer. I want to be acknowledged for my words. However, I need the job to be able to have a roof over my head. School has ended for me and my writing has been non existant. This doesn’t seem to be a fair compromise.

 

Now I’m caught between my dreams and my reality. I need the job to keep a roof over my head and food in my belly. I need my writing to find their way on paper. I really want my writing to be in print and found on Library shelves all over the country. I don’t care if I’m famous if I can find myself in the Library. I really want to follow my dreams but I have to face my reality. There has got to be a compromise somewhere. A place where I can live and write.

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Confessions of a Stoner

I just had a revelation while smoking outside this morning. The two guys I’ve had crushes on, Tennessee and Kit, I’ve liked for one real reason only. They reminded me of a past me I liked. Kit reminds me of High School where I could roam the halls in my iron armor and nothing could touch me. At the same time I could touch no one but that was the draw back. However, the time I liked is that when interacting with others I could give as good as I got. I miss being that strong. Tennessee reminds me of who I was in Middle School. I fought back then. Anyone tried to mess with me I fought back, if it was warranted. There are a few I let go because I wasn’t that petty. Now I am that petty but I can fight back now. The me then, both times, wouldn’t have let herself be the victim. It wouldn’t have mattered if anything actually happened to her. She just would’ve picked herself up, dusted herself off, and walked forward. I don’t know when I fell down and refused to get back up but I can’t do that anymore. I need to be like my younger self. I need to get back up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward.

A World of Chaos

The last month of my life has been one big up and down, one after another. It started with a documentary that I am participating in. I began the month preparing for this woman who was coming in all the way from New York to my tiny little corner of the desert to film my life. She wanted to film me interacting with people and doing normal things in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “No one lives in a vacuum,” she reasoned. While I agree with her I actually do live in one because I don’t go out and do anything. I like staying at home writing. So, I prepared for this woman to come and show her all the things I would do if only I were the type to leave the house.

Not two days before this woman is supposed to show up on my doorstep my roommate and I get a letter stating that we had to be out in three days. Apparently giving your roommate $800 for rent doesn’t necessarily mean that they will actually pay the rent. I now have to deal with the fact that I am packing for more than just a week up north. I have to also go through my stuff and downsize so that I can travel with everything I own because I have nowhere else to live. One might ask where my brothers were for this situation. My eldest brother was giving me the only option of going to the homeless shelter where I would not be allowed to take my medical cannabis despite the fact that I have a prescription for it because it is still a level one narcotic. My younger brother was trying to allow me to sleep on his couch but was having trouble convincing his wife. My roommate moved back in with his own parents leaving me with nowhere to go and a lady at my door with a camera ready to film my life.

I spent that weekend in the hotel with the lady and her assistant. I took them around to the places I used to haunt. I even showed off the few little gems that could be found in this corner of the desert. They know the place where I find the most peace. They’ve seen the view I love the most. They took me back to the place where my nightmares dwell. Overall it was a very emotional weekend. I didn’t allow myself to settle onto anyone moment and just kept moving forward through everything.

Monday comes around and I am heading on a plane to go and see my daughters. L had purchased tickets for me to come out and see our daughters at the beginning of summer and I couldn’t back out at the last minute just because my life had suddenly burst into chaos. The lady doing the documentary on the adoption of our daughters and the family that sprung out of that decision flew with me giving me support for that initial flight out to Pennsylvania. I traveled with my entire wardrobe, my books and furniture had been placed in storage by the roommate that had screwed me over. I honestly didn’t want to return to the town where I had nowhere to live. I still had to face L and tell her the truth about what was going on in my life.

The first thing L asks is, “What can I do to help? What is it that you need?” Honestly, that threw me back a little bit because all I got from anyone was, “What are you going to do now?” It was weird for me to be asked what they could do to help. I didn’t know what to tell her and had to think for a little bit on how she could help. Together we went over job options and living options that I had. In the end, no matter what I tried to do otherwise, it was decided that at the end of the trip I would return to my little desert town and start the job that I had waiting for me.

Knowing the next step of where I was going to live allowed me to enjoy my time with our daughters. I saw for myself the spoiled lives the twins now live with their little sister. They have wanted for nothing since L and N adopted them. As a family, we went out to a restaurant where L and N showed me northern Indian cuisine. I met aunts, uncles, cousins, and even L’s own mother. The twins were in high spirits talking with their cousins and hugging everyone. While N was at work everyone went to the zoo where we fed giraffes. I’ve walked the neighborhood with L at night where we shared hopes, fears, and writing ideas. I’ve seen the school where our twins attend classes. The youngest child constantly got my attention and daughters were tickled excessively. It was a very loving and relaxing time in my moment of chaos.

I leave Pennsylvania with a writing project that L and I will both be working on and a loan to help me find a place to live. There is a place for me to stay now. I also passed the interview for my prospective job and started training within the first week of returning home. My Month was utter chaos and I am still reeling from the effects. Everything is working out now but there was a moment when I wasn’t sure it would’ve. All because I got help from an unexpected source.

Goodbyes

I wish it would rain. Then maybe this sadness that fills me will finally find a release. Last week I failed to say goodbye. It wasn’t intentional. I wanted to say goodbye. I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and face the children that were leaving.

I spent three months of my life living with these children. Seeing them off to school. Cooking meals for them. Making sure that they took their baths and went to bed on time. These wonderful children became the center of my life for three short months.

Now these children are gone and I never said goodbye. I deal with the silence of their absence and wonder. Why couldn’t I be brave enough to say goodbye?

Perspective

“When you’re nothing a’tall you can’t be afraid of anything.”

– Samwell Tarly

Game of Thrones

Season 4 Episode 9 – 20:54

 

I have finally caved to an insistent friend who keeps swearing up and down that I would like Game of Thrones. I have started the series at the beginning of the week and am muddling through doing my best to watch this show from their perspective. The show has it’s good points and I do find it humorous on the overall. The interactions of each of the Five Kings fighting for a chair made of swords seems more about a popularity contest than a true fight for power. And unbeknownst to them the last of the Targaryens is winning that battle across the sea because she found someone to fight for. I even admire Tyrion who does his best for his family despite all of them being shits. And yet despite all of this intrigue I am captivated by the words of a fat bastard stationed at The Wall. “When you’re nothing a’tall you can’t be afraid of anything,” Samwell Tarly, GOT (2014).

 

This quote hit me hard because I thought it was a state of mind martial arts instructors try to drill into their students. A state of non being in which there is no fear only movement. Students would drill for hours so that everything became a fluid movement and they didn’t have to think about that at all. I realized that this wasn’t a state of non being because you are supposed to be present in the moment. You just can’t be thinking about your moves before you make them because then you’d lose the fight. So I was initially wrong about my assessment of non being and non thinking.

 

It took me a while to realize that the part I agreed with was being nothing at all. It was how I got through my childhood. You see I was raised in the projects of El Paso, Texas among a bunch of people who didn’t speak the same language as me most of the time. I stood out like a sore thumb with my blonde hair and white skin in my neighborhood. So naturally I was bullied for being different. Luckily my father taught me to read before I even started school so when the bullying started I found an escape in books. I read everything that I could get my hands on and I didn’t have to deal with anyone around me. Eventually I started to become whatever book I read giving me an inconsistent personality and making me even weirder to my peers feeding into the bullying in it’s own way. Hearing Sam say those words at that moment on the wall I realized that there was more than one way to be ‘nothing a’tall’. I became nothing in my books so that I wasn’t afraid of the people around me.

 

I have long since changed the habit of hiding in books by expressing myself in writing. It was in starting this blog at the suggestion of another friend of mine that I found a voice of my own so that I could be me. Samwell Tarly is right that there is no reason to be afraid if you are nothing but that isn’t living either. Watching Game of Thrones has been tedious for me but it has shown me that the world isn’t exactly how I’ve always viewed either.

 

“The Watchers On The Wall”, Game of Thrones, HBO, 06/08/2014; S4, Ep9, 20:54

A Cup of Ash

A Cup of Ash

Cigarette butts lay like fallen soldiers on the ashes of their brethren. The rose painted porcelain held them all in its cold embrace. A fancy thing that should be in a Lady’s parlour surrounded by other pieces just like it as tea and cakes are served. Instead it sits upon a Writer’s desk collecting the detritus of the author’s struggle to find the words to express the story they want to say. Each time the Writer fails to find the perfect phrase another soldier falls into the porcelain grave.

Growing Up (short story)

Of course, it would happen this way! Lydia dropped her book bag onto the floor as her arms went numb; it was all she could do not to sink to the floor herself. Sandra lay in bed staring at nothing, foam crusted at the corner of her mouth. There was a grey tinge to the skin that couldn’t be mistaken for anything but the color of death. Shakily she crossed the room to close the curtains effectively covering the room in darkness. It couldn’t hide the stench of burnt plastic or the acrid smell of decay. Lydia snatched up her bag and quickly left the room closing the door behind her.

In her own room she turned on the record player so Ozzy could fill the empty spaces. The image of Sandra’s corpse stayed with her clogging up her mind so she could think of nothing else. Desperately she reached for The Prince on the shelf above her desk. She took it over to her bed where she carefully lifted the cover. Nestled inside the cutout pages was a joint and a lighter. At this moment she was grateful for Leo’s insistence to preroll all of her weed ahead of time. Her hands were shaking so much she knew she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that process. She sparked the joint and breathed in deep pulling smoke all the way into the bottom of her lungs.

How could Sandra have done this to her? Sure their’s wasn’t a relationship based on love like most mothers and daughters. It was more of a mutual hatred. Lydia needed a roof over her head and someone to pay the bills. Sandra seemed to like to have someone around to yell at when the drugs finally left her system. Not that Lydia was home when Sandra became sober. It still rankled that Sandra would just overdose like, that leaving Lydia to deal with everything on her own. She should’ve just filled out the emancipation forms a long time ago and rid herself of the burden of having to care for her mother. Now she was stuck with a dead body and the possibility of ending up in the system. Which is what Lydia was trying to avoid by staying with Sandra.

The doorbell rang startling Lydia out of her daze. She quickly snuffed out the joint cursing the entire time. Positive that one of Sandra’s “friends” was at the door looking for a good time, she yanked the door open with a sneer. Unless the guy was into necrophilia, that was unlikely happen tonight. Still she had to deal with this problem before whoever it was decided to get belligerent. She didn’t need the neighbors calling the cops till she figured out what to do about Sandra. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?” she demanded.

“Just, you.” was the smirked response from a crowded shadow, where a lit cigarette took a drag, and a man slumped against the wall one ebony shoulder exposed from his bright purple top. A bulging backpack lay against his legs like a drunken toddler. “What’s wrong Baby Girl?” He asked tenderly reaching for her face.

Lydia forced on a watery smile, “What makes you think anything is wrong?” She turned her back on her friend and walked away from the door forcing back the frustration of the last few moments.

“Because I know you to damn well, Sweetheart.” Leo closed the door behind him and placed his backpack onto the oriental coffee table Sandra got at a garage sale. It settled there with a clink of glass as Leo turned his focus to his friend who seemed to be trying to hold herself together by wrapping her arms around her stomach. “That and you opened the door yelling at me. Now tell me what is wrong.”

Lydia leaned back against the wall still hugging herself.  She looked away from Leo not wanting to see his reaction as she said, “Sandra is dead. She overdosed in her bedroom.”

“Is that all?” Leo asked smirking. His friend should’ve been relieved to be rid of the burden that was her mother. Something wasn’t adding up. Lydia wanted to wipe the smug look off his dumb face.

“She’s still in her room,” Lydia confessed in a whisper, “I don’t know what to do.”  The enormity of the next few moments began to weigh on her and she sank to the ground rubbing her arms. Leo walked passed her and the family photos Sandra took when they were still happy. While they covered the walls they only showed Lydia when she was baby til she was five. When the pictures stopped is when Sandra lost the battle against the meth that took her.

Eventually, Leo made his way back into the living room where Lydia stayed huddled against the wall. He sank down next to her and placed a hand on her head. “Well, we are going to have to do something,” he began gently. “We can’t let her rot in there.”

“I know,” Lydia sniffed. She rubbed her nose against her arm, refusing to raise her head.

“We should call the cops,” Leo’s tone remained gentle as he began to stroke her hair.

“No!” Lydia jerked away horrified. “We can’t do that! They’ll find a way to blame me and put me in Juvie or worse foster care!”

“Foster Care isn’t that bad,” Leo tried to reason, getting an arm around her shoulders.

“Can you guarantee that?” Lydia demanded, pushing his arm off.

Leo wanted to say yes but he knew better. He knew that sometimes you ended up in a bad house where the ‘parents’ there were just gathering kids to collect paychecks from the government. In those home the kids were always neglected and left to their own devices. Leo found himself the butt of every joke other boys would play on him for being different. Sometimes he was even bullied by the adults themselves. Not everyone was like the Hendersons who Leo currently lived with. He couldn’t be sure that Lydia wouldn’t end up in a bad home.

Leo sighed, “Well, we can’t just sit here and mope.” He got up and held out his hand. “We have to do something about Sandra.”

“We aren’t calling the cops,” Lydia insisted as she used Leo to haul herself up.

“Let’s think about this rationally,” Leo huffed. “Your Mom has overdosed in her own bedroom. If you don’t do anything she will rot and the neighbors will call the cops.”

Lydia considered what Leo said. He had a point. It wouldn’t be long before the smell got too much and the neighbors noticed. Her and Sandra had lived in peace on their quiet street because the neighbors didn’t pay attention to what went on in the house. She had to do something and quickly if she wanted to live unnoticed like she had for the first sixteen years of her life. “What if Sandra just disappeared?” She wondered aloud.

“You can’t just make someone disappear,” Leo pointed out logically.

“Sure you can,” Lydia declared optimistically. “We just need to pick up a few things. Wanna do some shopping?” Leo shrugged. He didn’t know what Lydia had in mind but he knew better than to leave her by herself. Lydia went over to the decorative vase Sandra threw the car keys thinking that she was hiding them from her daughter. That didn’t stop Lydia from taking the car when Sandra was knocked out so that she could buy food to eat.

It was a quick trip to the office supply store to pick up goods. Leo quietly worked with her when they got home to prepare.  With a curse Lydia began to quickly seal up the windows closest to Sandra’s bathroom to keep the smell in the room. They left her there for a while as they gathered a few of her belongings and threw them into a duffle. Lydia placed the duffle into the trunk of the car so she could deal with it later.

Sitting in the living room, Leo opened his backpack and pulled out a couple bottles of liquor, a bag of weed, and a pink and blue silicone bong. “I’d figured you could use a little pick me up. I just didn’t know how much.”

“Oooh, you brought Willie Nelson” Lydia cooed. “You are the best Leo.” She went to the kitchen and brought back a couple of shot glasses and two cans of pop to use as chasers while Leo packed the bong. They took large rips off of the bong in between shots letting the last couple of hours disappear from their minds.

“What are you going to do next?” Leo asked from the floor. A few minutes ago he took a bong rip that didn’t settle well and caused him to cough himself off of the couch. Instead of getting back up he figured it would be best to slide on the floor for the time being. Lydia took advantage of the empty couch and had laid down herself.

She rolled over on her side to look at her friend. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Sandra is slowly becoming necrotic, leaving you without a parental figure.” he cleared his throat. “Eventually someone is going to notice.”

Lydia carefully considered what he said. He only stated what she had been thinking for the past hour but she still didn’t want to rush to a decision. “I guess I am going to have to file for emancipation,” she began slowly. “I can do it when I file a missing person’s report in 48 hours.” She sighed heavily and rolled onto her back to stare at the ceiling. She realized that it was time she started taking care of herself instead of taking the easy way out. “I guess we all have to grow up sometime.”

The compatriots pulled the emancipation papers out of Lydia’s room and spread them across the floor, weighing out the gravity of their forgery. Lydia had perfected Sandra’s signature in kindergarten, she had already been so tired of waiting for a lucid moment from her would be mother. The seals and stamps were a piece of gold tin carefully matched to the logos needed and glued and hit with a hairdryer.  The dates they left for last, and set the dates to Lydia’s last birthday.

Confused, Lydia asked why. That was like 8 months ago.

“The cops will find it in the room after a more thorough inspection. We did not file it. She did. It’ll solve what happens to you net.” She watched as he slipped into the room to leave the papers, and she called the police, to report her mother’s death. As she hung up, they walked out front to light a cigarette and wait for the inevitable flood of red and blue lights screaming into the neighborhood.