Untitled

When winter comes to our fair town,
will you be in this bed?
Or, will you sport a filthy crown
upon your flaxen head?

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A Promise to Mom: A Short Essay About Why I Blog

There are many reasons why a person might decide to begin a blog.  For some people, blogging is an avenue though which they can promote their business venture or their creative work.  In addition, blogging can be therapeutic for individuals who wish to impart advice gleaned from their personal experiences or for individuals who may be seeking advice in an anonymous, non-threatening environment.

I started Sundry Folly (in its current incarnation) in June 2014, after hosting its far inferior predecessor through Tumblr for just under a year.   Admittedly, I do blog for some of the reasons listed above, however the primary impetus for blogging really began with a promise that I made to my mother in March of last year.

A year ago today, my mother passed away from complications of breast cancer.  She was only 63 years old.  Mom was an intelligent, funny, and talented woman.  Yet, like many of us, she carried regrets and ‘what ifs’ around inside of her.  Mom’s regrets and disappointments are her own and it is not for me to discuss them here.  However, who hasn’t looked back on his or her life and wondered, “What would my life have been like if I had only tried that?  What have my fears cost me?”  Mom wanted her children to live in a way that would bring them the least amount of regret.  She didn’t want us to be passive about life.  In fact, during a rather emotionally charged mother-daughter phone conversation that I had with her in 2013, she told me exactly that.

I am not disappointed in you, but I want you to be less passive.

At the time, I didn’t want to hear her maternal counsel.  I was 31 years old–old enough to figure life out for myself, right?  Now, when I reflect back on that conversation, I realize just how much I had needed to hear her advice.  Throughout my life, I have had a strong tendency to not take a stand when being treated unfairly.  I have let toxic friendships and relationships continue way past their expiration dates because I was afraid of being alone. From a very early age, I allowed others to devalue me.  Naturally, it pained my mother to see me being treated like a doormat.

My family tells me that I had a tremendous amount of pluck and self-confidence in my early childhood, but that those traits vanished when I reached the first grade–this was the time when I started being bullied by my fellow classmates.  The bullying was usually not physical in nature, although I can remember a few times when classmates pushed me and threw things at me.  The bullies in question primarily used verbal insults to beat me down.  I remember being called ugly and stupid more times than I can count and those were just the PG rated insults.  This kind of verbal harassment continued for the next seven years.  If I told teachers or staff about the bullying, the persecutor would make life even worse for me because I had gotten him or her in trouble.  I didn’t have any coping strategies.  I was an outmuscled, wispy kid.  I was also a pacifist.  I didn’t want to fight back.  I merely wanted the other kids to start being nicer.

By the time high school rolled around, my classmates had matured (somewhat) and no longer garnered much joy from taunting me, but it didn’t matter, because my confidence had already been destroyed.  I walked around in a shell that echoed with all of the jabs and jeers which had passed through my ears during those seven soul stealing years, but now the put-downs were being doled out in my own voice.  I had managed to internalize everything that my tormentors had laid upon me.

In high school I joined choir and the theatre club, but never had what it took to land a leading role.  My shy nature and lack of confidence in auditions relegated me to being in the background.  I began my undergraduate career as a vocal performance major but switched majors after only a year and a half in the program because of severe performance anxiety.  In the aforementioned cases, it was usually not a lack of skill or talent that barred me from achievement, it was the fear of being judged.  In my head, more often than not, I was still telling myself you can’t instead of you can.

But, let’s get real and stop the pity party.  The misery that was middle school happened over 15 years ago and I can’t use it as an excuse for non-action anymore.  Even though it is not always easy, I am slowly learning how to not listen to the mocking pre-pubescent voices of yesteryear.  There is power in learning how to let go and in creating boundaries that other people cannot cross.  That is what my mother so desperately wanted and perhaps needed for me to understand.  For far too many years, I let myself be silenced, at first by other people and then–more dangerously–by myself.  During the time that mom was in hospice, I promised her that I would be happy and that I would stop being passive.  When one of her children was going through a rough patch, mom would sometimes say, “A mother can only ever be as happy as her unhappiest child.”  It was important for me to let mom know that she didn’t need to worry about me anymore.

And so, this blog is a way for me to partially fulfill my promise to her.  Through blogging, I can share my voice with others.  Is everything that I write a gem?  Of course not!  Are the photographs that I post Pulitzer Prize worthy?  No, they are not.  But their presence inside of me and on Sundry Folly are helping me slowly crack the shell which I have been hiding under for so long.

The accompanying picture is of some of the many candles that I have lit for my mother over the last year.  I hope that I can shine in ways that would make her proud. She is greatly missed.

Candles_1_jpeg_2_filtered

 

The Smoke

You survive in them, they survive in you.
Separate strands of the same garment
gather to inter Gallen’s obedient Lady.
Enshrouded in watermelon roses and salt,

we now know how petals fall apart.
Our empty ears seek blips in the silence
and a consolatory voice’s frequency.
Revealed in a nebula of smoke,

three appeals are stuck in dry throats,
struggling to be acknowledged and answered.
But the book of bounty hides within our folds,
every last sentence…every last word.

100 Word Story/III

It was a new day and Kevin had a new attitude to go with it.  He had finally had enough of Eddie’s bullying.  Eddie would receive a swift punch in the face come lunchtime.
However, when Kevin’s mother dropped him off at school, something felt very wrong.  A discernable pall hung over the grounds of Central Lamar Middle School.
As Kevin approached the front of the administration building, he saw Sandra standing by a tree, bawling her eyes out.

“Sandra?  What happened?”

Sandra peered up at Kevin with drowning cornflower eyes.  “Edward Mason is dead.  He shot himself last night.”

Three Grains of Paradise

Three grains of paradise
remain in an abandoned
vessel, longing to be
summoned home.  Golden
brown edges caress
colorless fragments as eyes
await the epilogue.

Three grains of paradise
up in the air;
Father, Mother, Brother

Violent squalls water cotton
carnations.  Her tongue shall
not taste Inari’s holy harvest
even though hunger has come
to call.

On an unrelenting winter’s day,
three grains of paradise
covered in clay…

Fading Away

The older generation is fading away.
I don’t like wearing black.
I don’t like baking casseroles.
I don’t like saying, “Goodbye.”

I don’t like wearing black.
Death knocks on mom’s door,
trying to sell his shoddy wares.
She pretends that she isn’t home.

Death knocks on mom’s door.
We can’t stem the tide of the inevitable.
Pills and prayers are insufficient weapons.
From outside, he watches us and howls.

beneath that faithless sky

On the night we squeezed hands to say goodbye
the heavens were bruised so deeply
that I thought they shouldn’t heal.
Such a sky I shall never witness again.
The violet whispered of our memories.
The cornflower blue whispered of our sadness.
The indigo whispered of our fears.
The tangerine whispered of our hopes.
The coral whispered of our regrets.
The copper whispered of our pain,
and in those fretful moments before you
flew away into the blinding blackness
the scarlet wept in ecstasy of our love.  
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope
do you now walk beneath that faithless sky? 
And is there anyone more sorrowful than I?

——————————-

At one time, I thought that I might want to submit this for publication somewhere, but then I realized that I wrote this only for my mother and for myself.  I share it with you now.

Lament

Candles have been lit on the altar.
I place a small hand on the psalter.
Brothers and sisters by my side,
Through your blue body we are tied.
 Momma, why did you go?

I can’t pray; I don’t know how.
I sure as hell won’t learn now.
For when I lifted up my eyes,
All I gazed upon were lies.
 Momma, can you hear us?

Go forth the mass has ended.
To your spirit we have tended.
We follow your casket out this door,
Your beloved face to see no more.
 Momma, what shall we do?