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.


Dear Journal: This Divine Symmetry

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.


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.


300 Writing Prompts: #108

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.


The Professor

professorbackground2The phone rang last Tuesday at 3:30 in the afternoon, and I had absolutely no clue who would have been calling at that time. Usually the only calls we get around then are from the doctor’s office, the dentist’s office, bill collectors… you know the type. So when I answered the phone and the person on the other end asked for me by my given name I assumed it must have been one of the aforementioned group of 3:30-type callers. But it wasn’t.

The lady on the other end of the line identified herself as the assistant dean of whatever, and my brain suddenly started moving a mile a minute, racing desperately to catch up to the conversation that seemed to have gone on without me. There was something about being an adjunct professor, and was I still interested, and could I work days, and when could I come in for a meeting. It was a lot to process in such a short period of time (she had been on the phone for a grand total of two minutes by that point), but my brain just did make it in time for me to say

“Yes” (to if I was still interested)

“Yes” (to if I could work days)

and “Tomorrow” (to when I could come in for a meeting)

Now, I had been to about a million of these type of meetings, where they say they’re interested but then something falls through. It’s a meet-and-greet where everyone’s glad-handing and back-patting, but what really comes from those? But I was wrong yet again. This wasn’t one of those meetings at all. This was a meeting of the minds, a place where two needs met and made a dynamic plan together. Indeed, before I left the room on Wednesday I was officially an adjunct professor at Mohawk Valley Community College.


So I start this new semester barely a week after that meeting — tomorrow is when it begins for me. It’s been a whirlwind, filling out all this paperwork, playing catch up to all the other adjuncts who have been motoring along all summer towards this purpose. But I’m good with all of that. The adrenaline and the excitement of SOMETHING NEW is driving this bus now, and it isn’t letting go of me anytime soon. Once I’m in front of that class tomorrow — teaching — I know that’s where I belong. It’s my calling, and I can’t wait to get it started.

Now, am I going to have them call me Professor? Still thinking about that one.


I’m Okay… For Now

OK-notWhy is it that no matter how many positive things happen I take them with a grain of salt? I can never let myself be truly happy because either I feel like I don’t deserve it, or I feel like there’s a boogeyman waiting on the other side to do his best to snatch it all away from me. It’s not like I haven’t worked hard on corralling those feelings of inadequacy, on taming the wild beasts that tend to gather wantonly in the corners of my scattered mind.

And for stretches of time I can live that feeling, that adrenaline carrying me pretty far, but as always happens I come crashing back to the feelings of hopelessness I started out with in the first place. Why? So I’m okay… for now, but what does that mean for a little ways in the future, when this euphoria has worn off?

I told someone today that I’m always optimistic, and on the outside I am. I rarely show these signs of breaking down, this shadow of myself that haunts my dreams and my alone times. I always seem to be optimistic because I can project the feeling that nothing bothers me, when in reality every single thing bothers me, every little thing worries me, and I’m always on pins and needles. Do you know how much work it takes to pull off this disaffected lunatic veneer? A lot. Why do I even do it? Well, I do it because the alternative is worse.

The alternative is me staring at walls more often than not, or looking completely lost. But even more than that, the alternative is having to explain why I’m not smiling, accepting looks of pity from others, and a plethora of people “praying” for me. I don’t want any of that. I don’t know what I want, but I know that’s not it. I know I want to be more honest with my expressions and demeanor, but I can’t put it all out there.

That’s the real issue, isn’t it? How much can I just be myself in a world where absolutely no one is themselves all of the time? What mix of emotions can I show without being seen as dark, depressed, or simply out of it? Maybe in the end none of it matters, what other people think. Perhaps letting more people in on what I’m really thinking and feeling will be a step in the positive direction for me, so I’m not just being okay for now, so I’m not just putting on the face so much that I do it out of habit, so maybe I can finally be unabashedly optimistic without a caveat.

Or maybe I’m just built to be a pessimist, to think that the world will cave in any time something good happens. I used to tell people that if I set myself up for something bad to happen then if positive things happened they would be a pleasant surprise, but if the worst occurred I wouldn’t be floored. Back then it seemed like a realistic way to look at things, but along the way it became an excuse, a chance for me to stop being okay, even when good things happened. And I’d like to be okay with good things happening. I’d like to at some point feel like I deserve it, that it’s not going to fall apart the second I let it flow warm through my soul.

So I’m okay… for now, and I hope that will be good enough until I find a way to change my expectations.