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tonights“Tonight’s the night. It’s gonna be alright. ‘Cuz I love you, girl. Ain’t nobody gonna stop us now.” ~Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart had the number 1 song in America during the week I was born in late 1976. That was back when he was singing songs that were produced specifically for him, not singing the various “songbooks” and “classics” he’s become known for since the century changed. His voice had a bit of a rough timbre to it even then, but it wasn’t anywhere near where it’s ended up. There was something about it that was youthful and mature at the same time.

Of course I didn’t hear the song back then. As a babe in the cradle all I listened to were lullabies and gospel hymns. I don’t remember those either, but I like to think they weren’t nearly as cool as Rod in his high-watered pants, shaggy hair, and cocky bravado. Now, as I listen to it through my headphones, I wonder what I would have been like if I had heard it back then, if it would have changed me in some essential way for the future.

The song is a feisty one too, a representation of that 70s spirit of free love and the excitement that comes from an adventure, in whatever form it takes. I like to think it’s a representation of me too, of the idea that on any given night I can shed this skin and be the person I was meant to be, whatever form that might take. If not tonight, then some night soon. And it will indeed be alright.

Sam

t0x0_2670cb446cc88654a2215694b1db896cMy six-year-old does a mean job with the safety scissors, but I’ve seen her eyes light up when I bring the real ones out for whatever task I have set before me. Within the past year she has gotten so much better at following the lines, at cutting and pasting like a little champ, but I can tell she wants more. When her little face scrunches up in thought I can see the glimmer of what she will one day be, and I can’t help but smile.

But I’m not giving her the real scissors. Not yet.

When I was her age I remember barely coloring in the lines, and not because I couldn’t, but because I was a renegade even then. I didn’t want to be the kid who ate paste, but neither was I the one who would voluntarily clap erasers. But Madeline, she aims to please. I can see her being the line leader, the one who smiles at the door and says “welcome” to each and every 1st grader who enters. After all, she cuts neatly with those safety scissors. Sky’s the limit.

We have three pairs of safety scissors, and each of the handles is a different color. Madeline prefers the yellow handles, actually. I think there’s something about the brightness of the color that attracts her time and again, or maybe it’s the contrast they make against her skin. She’s all about contrasts, that one. Try to give her the red handled scissors and she’ll say “please” and point to their yellow neighbor instead. And I always give in.

Eventually I will give her the real scissors, but I hope that day is a long way off, because giving her the real scissors will mean that she’s ready to use them, that she doesn’t need me watching over her shoulder to make sure everything is okay. Don’t get me wrong. I will definitely still look over her shoulder, because I’m her father, but I won’t doubt her ability to use them efficiently, just as I don’t doubt her now with the safety scissors. As a father, though, I will never tire of hearing her ask me to pass her the safety scissors, that symbol of both youth and the exploration for more.

And I will always love watching her cut those straight lines.

Sam

Post Silence

I didn’t blog yesterday. It was the first day I hadn’t blogged since November 31, 2012. And it was a strange feeling to wake up this morning knowing that today would be a new beginning. I hadn’t even planned on finally skipping a day after over 780 in a row, but yesterday just kind of ran its course and it hadn’t even occurred to me that I hadn’t blogged until after I was under the covers. By then I realized that if I just ran out here to blog because of the streak it wouldn’t be authentic. The glory of the streak was that I didn’t think about it very often. Its organic nature sustained it… and eventually finished it off.

And I feel great. For a while I used to wonder how it would be once the streak was over, but now that it is I feel like I’m not tied down to ritual for ritual’s sake. I feel like a new beginning has started, like this post silence was just what I needed to reinvigorate my writing. I don’t even know if I’ll start another streak or if I’ll just blog whenever from now on, but whatever happens I know I’m excited to find out what it’s going to be.

Sam

Colorblind

black-coffee“I am colorblind. Coffee black, and egg white. Pull me out from inside. I am ready… I am fine.” ~Counting Crows

Deep inside of each of us is a colorblind child waiting to take control once again, but it is a child who will go begging. Something about this world inevitably changes us from the moment we can comprehend who we are and start to envision our place in it. We try to get back to the ideal but individual bias blinds us to our own prejudice. The best we can do is try to see through the haze.

I have been accused of being prejudiced before, both from those who look like me and from those who resemble others. And I must say that each and every time I’ve been taken aback, but maybe I should analyze it further. I do judge others, and I do it often. I’ve never equated it with prejudice before, but perhaps that’s what it’s been all along. Judging others for what they cannot help, or for what they think they cannot help, never does anyone a bit of good.

We like to lie to ourselves, don’t we? We say we don’t judge others, and then we look at their clothing and shake our heads. We say we treat everyone the same, but people who remind us of ourselves get preferential treatment. We often talk about those who are different from us, ostensibly as a way to pass the time, but it’s more than that. It’s a way to make ourselves feel better about the people we think we can’t help being.

So no, I’m not colorblind, and I don’t know if I even want to be. Because when you’re colorblind you can’t tell the difference between unique characteristics. I want to see those differences. I just don’t want to judge because of them, so I am working on recognizing when I’m being judgmental and working to change those attitudes. I don’t want to be someone who talks badly about others, who thinks badly about others, or who lies to myself about those feelings.

I guess you can call it turning over a new leaf. Or maybe just bringing things back full circle, to those cradle days when those things didn’t matter in the first place.

Sam

Dear Journal,

It’s been a while, I know. But please don’t judge me. I have good excuses, I swear. Okay, maybe they’re not good, but they’re excuses anyway. Now that I’m finally here, though, I’ll get down to it. I hardly ever read my previous journal entries unless someone discovers an entry and approves of it. That happened this week. It was an entry from over two years ago, one I had completely forgotten about, but one that surprisingly still had relevance.

This entry was about writing for 10 minutes straight without editing, something I never really did before that moment, but it was refreshing and I’ve done it many times since, just to feel a bit freer with my writing, to help create flow. And it’s relevant this week because I just started teaching a college Composition course which is all about drafting, revision, and more revision in the hopes of getting to a final, complete piece. While those two methods of writing seem to be at odds, I find a symmetry to them that’s divine.

Drafting and revising is important in its own way, of course, the process of working hard on a piece of writing until it is polished and shining like a pearl, but something can also be lost along the way — the sense of freshness and newness of the unadorned words straight from the original thought. Those original thoughts are precious, even if rough in their nature, so instead of destroying them in search of thoughts that are clearer and more polished, why not keep them safe in a personal journal?

That’s the glory of a journal after all, that it’s for those raw thoughts so imperfectly formed and yet so full of possibility. What’s lost in all those drafts and revisions is just that, the possibility of more, of thoughts disconnected and obscure that can lead to so much more. So this divine symmetry is what I feel I need here. I’ve taken so much time and care with choosing the right words to see and be seen, but I can’t forget the flow, the feeling in those original words that begins everything and that finds purchase in not knowing the path ahead.

Sam

Shades and Pastels

The unraveling of fabric
Inconsequential at best
Sliding across the cold floor
Wishing for a connection
An ephemeral consequence
Born of needle and thread
And a frantic desire to please

I stand in dark shadows
Facing the incoming dawn
With a transcendental gaze
Transfixed by the thought of you
This possibility born of chance
And a need for acceptance
Caught up in cotton and lace

These pins and needles catch
Rending the fabric in two
A dichotomy of experience
Dipped in shades and pastels
Astounding in its simplicity
Yet still complex to the eye
As they settle into assignation

And there on the cold, hard floor
I pick myself up from the dust
From the remnants of faded love
Leaving the dull fabric behind
Shedding it like a second skin
To settle and then disappear
On the whims of twilight

Stitched together with scars.

Sam

weekcalendar“If this week had a theme to it, what would yours be?”

In upstate New York on a Thursday night the protagonist slides into a hot bath instead of going to a poetry reading. He has gone back and forth all day debating the merits of each, but the bath has won out after going nonstop all day with various projects, teaching class, and shopping with his family. His glasses are on the small bench near the tub, but he cannot see them because of the steam and his near-blindness. It’s okay, though. For the next 30 minutes he won’t need them. All he needs is his warm thoughts and his aching bones crying out for relaxation.

If this week had a theme to it, it would be “protagonist faces a new world and adjusts accordingly.” Or maybe it’s not the world that’s new. Maybe it’s the protagonist after all.

Today was one of those “good” days. You know the kind, when things work out exactly the way they were planned, and you’re so surprised because that’s not the general case, especially around here where everyone scatters and everything goes awry. But today others could be counted on to play their roles as scripted, the general malaise of this time of year happily replaced by a light rain that hinted at fairy dust somewhere around. Oh how I love fairy dust.

So our protagonist unwinds after a long, glorious day with a bottle of wine (uncorked and at the ready), with his eyes closed, and with scented bubbles to help him relax. He smiles to himself, the private jokes all adding up to a blissful release, and he hopes this never changes. He could get used to it, which scares him more than he cares to admit. But he blocks it out for the moment, mesmerized by the shadows that cross his closed eyelids, thinking about tomorrow.

And the tomorrow after that.

Sam

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