You may have to do it alone…

Sometimes many people may fail you. You get to the end and realize that all those people who say they miss you don’t seem to make much of an effort to call or come around. You feel that you never have enough of something for them.

People who want to be around you make an effort to do so.

You don’t have to give them directions to your house 27 times.

You don’t have to keep making appointments and vague plans that never come to fruition.

You don’t have to worry about getting the runaround.

You Cannot Expect People To Behave Honorably.   A few people will, and they will surprise and delight you.  The mistake good people make is going out into the world expecting that of people, and then getting let down and jaded again and again when it fails to materialize.

You have to set your expectations high, and your rules for letting other people get close to you even higher.

You may end up doing it alone.  Taking the cat to the vet alone.  Waiting for the cable guy alone.  You may not have that person that you trust to watch the house and not go through your underwear drawer.  You may not.

It may be tough. It may be hard.

But you can do it. And it will be okay.

 

 

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Eroded Parts

Some things in you don’t go all at once.  They disappear little by little, bit by bit.

Trust is something that is all but gone.

When I find a nugget of it, I protect it so fiercely.

What I do feel toward others is mostly just a CIA-level paranoia. And I have to not feel that in order to let my brain relax.  The trouble is that I can’t forget things.

Gifted, they said when I was a kid.  And I got stuck in a special class.

At my job it’s useful and at times a mildly amusing curiosity.  It has helped me pass tests.  It has helped me remember a vague reference I heard on a documentary five years ago and look it up in order to add scholarly bulk to papers nearly unheard of in undergraduate work.

But I can’t forget. Not even when I drink myself into oblivion. Nothing wipes away the erosion.

I had a dream last night where animals begged me for names and then proceeded to rather obviously lie to me.  So yes, I see it everywhere, even in a dream about a raccoon and some large rodent walking into a library.  My mind’s natural assumption is that they would lie, omit and tell incomplete tales.

I hug my relatives that have lied and manipulated and left things out, but I feel nothing toward them.  Like hugging one of those cardboard cutouts of a movie character or a sports star.

I think we teach people a lot of ways to effectively deal with things, but not about being stuck around liars.   Often in the workplace, you will (by those above you in management) be made to feel that the right thing to do is to diplomatically overlook obvious lies in order to further the job goals.

We want people to keep the peace, keep the boat from rocking.   If they don’t, who will sign off on that time report and who will come over for Thanksgiving?

Otherwise, we freeze it out and freeze them out. Create our spaces and walls of ice.  Hide money and resources from them.  Keep our free time to ourselves rather than get mixed up with them.

The problem is that when people lie, it is because they feel no obligation to be truthful to us.  And that hurts. It is a very deep cut that goes to the soul of our worth in that person’s eyes.  Your heart says, “The truth is, I wasn’t worth the truth.”

And it is harder and harder to lay down that inner part of you that is looking for a place to hide from it all.  That part can be ignited so easily.  A wrong look.  A sideways glance. A mistake.  You see nothing but gradients and shadows.  You become pleasantly surprised when the truth is there and someone doesn’t find some way to screw you over.   You weren’t expecting it.

There aren’t a lot of effective ways to just function. To let your brain rest. To let go.  We need to find better ways to call out those who harm. I know some ways that do work with some types, but for our own mental sanctity, we need to work on more.

Because … we ARE worth more. We DO deserve the truth.  We DO deserve honesty.   People who see otherwise are the problem, and they need to be made to understand that in a way that doesn’t make us, the truth -seekers and truth-knowers, into the ones who are told we are judgemental.  People who see otherwise are projecting their own lack of worth onto us.  And we don’t  need to allow that to happen or impede us.  We need better tools to address it.  To live with it without it taking over our minds, invading dreams about woodland creatures in libraries.  Mostly, we need more truth– but that isn’t going to happen.  To take from my evangelical upbringing, you are not able to “convict the spirit” if it is unwilling.

We have to find ways of letting the reality of that be and defending ourselves effectively and finding ways to call people out when we can.  Truth is a disinfectant.  We need to use it more often.

Solace, resolution.  They are beautiful ideas in stories, but may never happen in life.  Some will never change or be rehabilitated.

We have to find better ways to live with both outcomes.

Save all the receipts

When I was small, I would watch you say something,

And then change the story and say something else again.

I heard you try to make me doubt the things I knew to be true.

Things I saw, things I heard, things I read, they were are all up for grabs.

Anything to fit the idea that served you best.

And I learned, bit by bit, not to trust anything.

And you kept me around people who each had the same plan.

I watched them be cruel and desperate.

Unconditional love was something I would never see or understand.

Every pattern created would break

Every tale would turn upside down

Every time was a time for doubt

Everyone could be an enemy

And you would act like it was all natural, normal

And I was wrong for not wanting the same things as you.

And I was wrong for not wanting the same people as you wanted for me.

People like you.

People who make the truth out of the wind instead of the facts and reality.

 

And I couldn’t dive into love with my whole heart

Always holding something back

Always unsure of myself

Always checking the story again

Always listening to the tone in the voice for a fraction of a change

Debating what that might mean

I see me at 13, 14, vomiting before a date

With a harmless young man

I see me at 15, telling the truth about you

No one believing me

I see your angry hating eyes

Looking back at me, knowing that I would be my own person someday

Hating that you couldn’t control all of me forever

Hating that you couldn’t make me be like you

Not understanding why I might want something more

 

I see you and all the stories that I heard

I see you and what I overheard about you

I see you what you won’t ever know about me

 

And now I still double check every word.

I still verify everything I hear.

I still hold part of myself back.

I still can’t dive headfirst into love.

I still check everything again and again.

I doubt the very ground I stand on, knowing one day it may too collapse.

I doubt the stars in the sky because they fall.

I doubt the moon and the sun, snow and the rain.

I save every email and haunt just the right places in case someone tries to contradict themselves.

I mount up proof and evidence just to feel safe.

Just to know for once, it’s not happening again.

Any bump in the road is a sign that the bridge is out ahead,

And that I am an idiot for trusting anything.

And I sit and pray that I’m not an idiot for trusting.

And I carve out my insides and grieve.

I don’t know how to dive into love.

I don’t know how to trust myself enough to trust someone else.

 

My heart is littered with the thousand times

That I didn’t realize what I was trying to heal

When I trusted wrong because I didn’t know any better

Or when I heard one wrong thing, and ran like a frightened witness

Or when I dated the ones that you liked that were always so fucked up because you don’t know how to like anyone worth a damn

Running and pushing away, like the mafia was after me

Knowing how to sneak out of the party quietly

I see my 20’s, my 30’s…a series of self-destruction

Wasted time wasted heart

Dating men that I couldn’t truly love

Keeping myself safe, never playing the fool

 

Where does it end?

When do I get enough security?

When I do save myself?

Where is the ladder?

 

 

It’s deceptively fall
Fooling us all again
We hear the birds
Believe the warmth
Till the chill slowly creeps in
Feel the air lying to you
Feel the breeze wickedly singing

Carry your jacket
Your blood leaves your fingers
Slides back closer to your heart
Summer was a myth
Summer is a myth
Heat and warm and red skin fades
Memories of spring can kill

Put an ice pick through you
Coldness all around
Crunches of leaves on the ground
Rabbits go and hide
Warm blooded things look for shelter
What do the cold-blooded do?

Your heart will break
Slowly over time
A small crack here
Another crack there
And you begin to freeze inside

Small cuts can kill
The words can kill
Small incisions past the skin
Scalpels into your organs

Breath escapes
The hole in your lungs
You don’t even notice

Time marches on
Time marches frigid

Smiles are warm but shatter
Like frozen plastic

Nothing is real

Nothing is

Nothing

Twinkle, Twinkle

When you speak my name I feel myself glow

Then I feel that I’m the only star in your sky

But other times, I know it just isn’t so

 

Hedge a bet, kiss a charm and mark a card

Hoping every day that I won’t lose

One day oh-so-easy, the next one rises hard

 

Am I just fast asleep dreaming?

Is this even real that someone could feel the way you feel to me?

Am I kidding myself?

Buoying up on a fiction in my head?

Waiting for the next word to arrive?

Mouthing poems into the air

To arrive flat and pointless on your doorstep

But your words make me feel weightless

Your words make me feel weightless

I don’t know where I fit in your mind

And then once again, I’m sitting in the sky.

 

 

 

A REAL Southerner Speaks Up…

My family had slaves.  There is no point in me lying about that.  Some of my family members owned other human beings.  Some were too poor to do so.  But some were dabbling on the fringes of wealth and they had enough to have some slaves.

During the Civil War, my male relatives did fight.  Including a 13-year-old boy.  And a 63-year-old man.  They both died in the same battle.  This was toward the end of the war when young boys and old men were threatened if they did not fight.  I found this record in the Georgia archives, almost by accident.  I worked at the University of Georgia Main Library while a student there.   I looked up my last name on a whim, expecting to find nothing.

The family members that were too poor were probably aspirational and wanted slaves because that was how you obtained social capital in the South.  That was how you ensured your sons and daughters could marry better.  That is how you got a say in the community and how you moved forward.  None of that makes it right.

A free labor class meant that wages were unnaturally depressed for the free poor of any color.  An element of the antebellum era that no one seems to want to address when they wax romantic over large gowns and supposedly dashing young men is that the poor were kept poor by the economic downward pressure on wages, and the wealthy had little to do with them and kept mostly to themselves.

I don’t understand why people justify the war.  I don’t know why people justify the South as it was.

I’ve had the same argument approximately 10 bajillion times.  I want to say what I want to say and for it to be final.  For once.

If you are saying, “The war was over state’s rights” – let me direct you to the various state documents specifying slavery as a cause for the existence of the war.  Let me also clue you in to the speech Alexander Stephens made in Savannah.  This is called the “Cornerstone Speech” and was given in 1861.  Wikipedia that shit.  Go ahead.

Usually what comes next is, “Well, they lived in a different time.” Well, no.  Some individuals from before and during the time of the Revolutionary War questioned and even bristled at the notions of the institution of slavery in the South.  This was a subject that was discussed then and on into the 1800’s.

After this, there is, “Slavery has been a part of history forever.”  Exactly how does that make my ancestor’s use of it valid or moral?  It doesn’t.

After this, it is, “Look at how Irish people got treated up north.”  Yes, that was awful.  I agree. But that doesn’t make what my ancestors did magically okay.

After that, I hear, “Well, Lincoln didn’t want to free the slaves and they didn’t want them up north either.”  SO?   That still doesn’t make slavery okay.  That does not erase what my ancestors participated in.

Then it’s, “The Africans sold them to us.”  That doesn’t mean that white people had a right to create demand or to take a boat across a dangerous ocean and fill it with people.

Why is it always the same?  Why these same arguments again and again and again?  Why do they need to be made, voiced, brought up, even when the issue is only tangentially related?

“That statue really could–”

“Lincoln!!”

“But I mean, I’m saying that maybe we should consider-”

“Irish people!”

“Yes, that’s true, but I’m just saying that in order to move forward and be economically viable–”

“African slave traders!”

Why?  What does this argument do for people?  Why do this dance every single damn time?

I, for one, have no problem with saying that some of my ancestors were assholes.  Assholes aspiring toward wealth and status through human ownership even as the rest of the world was moving forward toward a greater conscience in terms of their fellow man.  I don’t know why the rest of the south has a problem with saying that.  I don’t.  The people who lived in 1865 would be strangers to me.  They would have no connection with me.  They wouldn’t understand half the words I use.  The uneducated ones wouldn’t be able to function in our society now.  We live in a society that presupposes that you can read and write, and use electronic objects.  What has a dead relative that I have never met done for me?  What did he or she ever do that affected me?

Does anyone look at their family now and think they are all perfect?  Do you go around defending the shitty actions of the ones that aren’t?  I don’t.  I realized a long time ago that it was an abuse of my mind and a waste of my time to do so.   Jumping through the hoops was causing too much emotional and psychological turmoil.  I was having to gaslight myself in order to make that happen.  Shitty people are just shitty people and it is okay to say so.

I’m not the greatly ballyhooed internet Social Justice Warrior. Even though I grew up with not much, I do understand the reality of white privilege. I don’t deny its existence, and I have seen what it can do.

I just want everyone to stop explaining the South.  To stop defending the antebellum South.  Especially those who 1- don’t live here or who 2- never had family here during that era.

The South was always a mixed area.  Native Americans, Hispanics from locations south, French, English, Scots, Irish, Jewish, free blacks and slaves intermingled, and, of course, had sex and had children.  The Jewish part of the Southern heritage clashes loudly with the current Midwest Aryan wannabes, but it is a fact.  Judah Benjamin was a high-ranking confederate.  Jewish people have been here since before the Revolutionary war.  In my own town, Asian people have been a part of the tapestry since the railroad was built in the early 1800’s.

The Confederates also ran after the war, if they had money.  No one talks about that part.  After the war, the wealthy individuals that could flee, did.  They ran to Havana, Brazil, and some made their way to Europe.

The fact is, the wealthy planter class always had far more in common with other wealthy people than they ever did the poor whites around them.  That was true both before and after the war.

I’m a human being, with a real Southern story.  I’m not a kid from Ohio who came down here.  In fact, I wish you all would keep your asses at home.  If we want to take down a damn monument that you never gave a shit about before three days ago, let us take it down.

History doesn’t disappear when you move an object from one spot to another.

And while we are at it, on the topic of Free Speech:

You can say whatever you want on a street corner.  I’ve seen itinerant preachers do it.  Go ahead.  But you need to keep in mind that you don’t speak for everyone.  And for God sakes, keep your ass away from me.  Because I am a real person from the South.  My family did own slaves.  And I want nothing to do with any of your shit.  We seemed to be getting along just fine without you.

The measure of true bravery and character is if you can say what it is you wish to say without a group of people standing behind you.

Frustration and waiting

I stopped myself from voluntarily going to the office today.  To make sure that everything was okay. To make sure other people did their job.

I slept a lot all weekend.  I tend to escape, to run and hide into the sacred space of sleep.

Hiding from work, the news, life.

I’ve run before.  Run away from home. And now I live here, wondering if I’ll make it out alive.

And now I live here, wondering if I’ll make it out alive. Wondering if fate will allow it.

I live here, in the heat and greenhouse feel of the rain sweeping down to the river and the subtropical air full of pollen and weight.  I wonder if I should go somewhere cooler, warmer.  I wonder how I will if I do, the costs mounting up in my all-too-logical-head, mentally converging to add estimates.

I think of the times when moving was dangling by a thread before…  men who asked me to move for my own good, me recoiling at their lack of courage.

I think of the luxury some have, roaming from place to place, funded by wealthier backgrounds, until they determine where they really want to settle down.

I think of the yard work today, how the air felt like a sauna and left me breathless from potting plants and taming those outlandish rose vines.

They don’t bloom.  They grow endlessly.

I think of the dream I had last night about snakes in my yard, the enormous- and real- black widow in the flower pot today.  Biggest one I have seen.

I look for that magic job that doesn’t exist that will pay me enough so that I can justify leaving or save up to do so.  I think about the mortgage, the cats, the yard. The fucking impossible yard.  I see myself running against the wall.

I think about doing less.  The feeling I do too much.

I remember that we were once migratory creatures, too.

I think of things to do.  I don’t do them. Holding myself back.  For what? For what?  I ask myself again and again.  What would it hurt to try…?

I look at a bill, mysteriously increased by 10 dollars… they changed my plan without telling me.  Knowing it will require a 2-hour conversation to fix, a conversation that must be during business hours between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday when I am working.  We value our customers, they say.

I hang here in limbo. Waiting for something crucial to happen.  Something definite.  Something absolute.

I hide my doubts.  I feel my way through it.  Stare at this diploma, sitting on my mantel.  I think about becoming a teacher just so I can have summers off. I have no illusions about impressing wisdom upon young minds.

I think about becoming a teacher just so I can have summers off. I have no illusions about impressing wisdom upon young minds.

I think about how tired I still feel.  3 days of almost nothing but rest and I still feel exhausted.  Beat up.  Worn out. Physically drained from a desk job where I have allowed myself to become too reliable, too much of a fixture.

I visit job websites and company websites and look again.

I think of things I could do on the side and still don’t do them.  I don’t know where I’d find the effort.  I’m running out of effort to give.  But I keep showing up and doing what is bid of me and more because I can’t stand the half-measures others throw out there and shrug.

I think about starting all over again.  What would it do for my retirement?  I’m not 22 anymore. Think about my vacation time that I take in droplets, unable to trust others to do the job?

Think about my vacation time that I take in droplets, unable to trust others to do the job.

I give up, buy a plant, a mascara, a nail polish, a t-shirt. A toy for the cats.  Just to get out of the house and pretend involvement in the world around me.   A play that I act out for five or ten bucks.  I feel no pull toward the club, the bar, the other bar, the cool new restaurant.  I go to places the old folks go, past their prime and coolness, refusing to wait in line for a table, forever for a beer.

I hate the patterns I see. The same kinds of people, different skin, hair.  Like a movie trope repeated over and over.  I wonder if any of them are any more complex.

I look at the news and fill with rage, despair, or just disappointment that things are going about as I expected.

I might comment on an article.  I might not.  I might get trolled by someone even more bored than I am.  I might not.  If I cared, it might matter what they said.  The names, the implied superiority, and assumed yelling.

I read some article on organizing my house, avoiding these foods, bad signs you should look for in your job/relationship/friendships/family.  Skim them as if they held meaning or advice for real humans here on Earth.

I wait on the fall.  The crisp air of change.  Hoping it will bring with it something new.  Hoping for a shift.  Hoping the shift will find me, when it happens.