One For The Road

More than anything else, I love to make people smile. While I think that it can be a good thing, I also think that it makes me try a little too hard at times, that it makes me occasionally forget to take care of myself, because I’m trying so hard to take care of the people I love instead. 

This art journal that I made for my friend is one such labor of love. I put a lot of myself into it, and I poured in so much love and light. I want my friend to be able to open it at any page and feel like I’m right there smiling and supporting him on his journey. This art journal is his “one for the road”…

I find creative journals inspiring. I like to look at pictures of other people’s journals, whether they are art journals or bullet journals or poetry journals. The type of journal doesn’t matter to me. I find that they all make me feel sparks of inspiration, that they all make me want to create something of my own. 

I am not very good at sharing my creations, my poems or my artwork. Years ago, I was more open, and I got too much unwelcome attention, and it’s made me fear being open again. I love my privacy more than most people, I guess. I don’t chase after fame or attention, and I rarely post on social media. I’m a quiet soul, private and withdrawn, a bit hermit-like, if I’m honest. 

Also, it seems like so few people truly want to know someone else deeply. It has become a shallow culture, filled with too much surface level talk and too little depth and passion. I crave depth. I crave long and drawn conversations about life and pain and passion. I want to know what makes a person keep going when they’ve been down to rock bottom, and I want to know what sparks their soul into flames. 

Someday, maybe, I will be brave enough to be honest and open and vulnerable again. For now, here are several photos of the art journal I made for my friend’s birthday. A bit of magic in a muggle world. 💕

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Satchel Dump

• A satchel dump, a purse dump, a backpack or a duffel dump are all names for dumping it all out on the table. No filter. No sorting. Just a jumble of randomness that represents bits and pieces of who I am.

• I have a tendency to start things and not finish them, to have grand ideas and big dreams, but to not follow through. This year, I am changing that. I’m setting goals and meeting them. Okay, okay… if I’m honest, I’ve only just almost met my first big goal, but at least I’m trying and making progress, and I’m not giving up.

• My friend’s birthday is on the 11th, and I wanted to do something special for him, so I decided to give him the best thing I could think up: his very own homemade art journal. I bought one of the black Dylusion journals at the store and began painting and sketching and collaging in it. I’ve been working on it for three months now, and I think I will finish the last page in the journal later today. I am so, so proud of myself. I feel buoyant, like I finally have the strength and determination to the tackle the things in life that are most important to me. I know he will read the words and look at the collaging and feel so much love crash over him, because that art journal is nothing if not full of love. ❤️

My Small Life

One of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail. I’ve written about it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m obsessed with writing letters, with connecting with someone through the written word. I wrote a friend of mine the other day, and I quoted that movie. These lines in particular seem to describe me too:

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”

This is me too. I’m cloistered, withdrawn. I have difficulty connecting with people in person. I suppose that writing letters is a way for me to communicate that is not quite so scary as communicating in person, and there is always time to allow an idea to percolate before having to share it. Sometimes I wish I lived a grander life, an exciting life, but I don’t.

I shop at little farm stands. The librarians know me by name. I know the one lane bridges on tiny country roads. I walk alongside the corn fields and pick wildflowers. I like baking pies. I know all these things about myself, but sometimes I still wonder who I am. I feel like the me that’s deep inside is the me that matters, and I can’t quite get her to come out of hiding.

What’s left to give up?

I have spent too much time doing what’s good and necessary, too much time shaping myself into what other people want me to be and too little time being the strong and independent, zany and liberal woman that I am on the inside. Why do I try so hard to fit into a mold? Why do I fight against who I am? Why am I always so afraid of standing up for myself?

It’s this sick and twisted fact of my life that I try so hard to please everyone that I once said “yes” to a marriage proposal and spent 18 months engaged to someone I didn’t want to be engaged to simply because I didn’t want to turn him down when he asked me to marry him (after 6 weeks of dating) on Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, but what about my feelings? What about me? When do I stop putting other people first and put myself first?

I know I should be in therapy to deal with all of these issues. There’s not just the engagement. There’s also the next man who came along, to whom I got married when I was pregnant because, god forbid, my family would be upset that I was pregnant and not married. I mean, seriously, what is wrong with me?

I need to make myself a manifesto, a credo to live by. I need to make a promise to myself that I will stop living for everyone else and start living for me. Other people do it. Other people stand up for themselves. It may be scary, but it’s possible. I know it must be possible. Terribly scary and difficult, but possible. And really…is there any alternative? I’ve pushed myself to the limit. I’ve gotten married for my family. I’ve stayed married for my children. I’ve given up on my education for my husband. I’ve dropped all my dreams, my wishes and my hopes for the people in my life who say they support me but manage to cut me down any chance they get.

What’s left to give up? I’ve become a shadow of myself, a wraith, a soulless woman without any hope for the future. If I am to get my hope back, if I am to dream again, I must start by being true to myself. I must start by standing up for myself. I must start by taking one little step at a time, toward escaping, toward freedom, toward love.

further down

The day skitters past her, 
shadowy and elusive. 

She reaches for it, 
but it slips and wriggles
like salmon fighting upstream, 
always upstream of her, 
just out of reach. 

The shadows lengthen, 
the sky greying 
as the fireflies 
punch through the gloom 
with their tiny lanterns
winking and winking. 

His face lights up 
in the flash of a match 
behind cupped hands,
and the scent of smoke 
snakes across the shadows
that lie between them, 
secretive 

like the way he used to talk to her
back when they shared a bed, 
tangled up their limbs and lives. 

He was always a sharp breeze
away from closing off, 
always one whisper away 
from telling her he loved her, 
and she imagined some nights
after they'd finished having sex
that he'd grabbed her hair 
in his fists
and pulled her face to his
and kissed her open mouth roughly
instead of pushing her face
and open mouth down, 
always open mouthed
and sucking 
further down.

traffic light loving

The oddest thing happened tonight. 
I was sitting at a traffic light
windows rolled down
waiting for the green. 

I hear this guy in the next car over. 
This is what he's saying:

Hey!
Hi!
How you doing? 
What's going on? 

And I'm tuning him out. 
Not even turning his way. 
I figure he's on the phone with someone, 
but I didn't turn to look. 

Right about then
the light turns green
and I pull forward. 

As he's pulling forward, 
he yells, 
"I love you!"
and I finally turn to look at him
and I realize that, 
all this time, 
he's been talking to me. 

He yells,
"I fucking love you!" 
and drives off. 

I laughed the whole way home. 
It was hilarious. 
I've never seen that guy before.
I'll probably never see him again. 
Sure was funny, though. (: