Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post-War Clarity & The Terms and Conditions of Playing Pretend.

It was a Friday night. The weather reports promised snow.

It was a snow-less, Friday night and I found myself kneeling in the aisles of various self-help sections. I handled almost every book that pertained to the problems at hand, and some that were blatantly off the subject. “How to Get Your Life Back!”, “I Love Me!” , “You Can Do it!: Eight Steps to Finding AND Loving Yourself!” All of the titles seemed to be screaming with their obligatory explanation marks and insistent, assuring positive declarations of self-worth and of a life worth living.

At 22 years old, it’s hard to look back and not learn something along the way.
At 22 years old, it’s easy to forget who I was, who I am and who I want to be.

To honor the changing of the seasons, hot to cold, light to dark, I am actively rediscovering the things that I once deemed important. This is the first of those things. As an uninsured, low income individual who considers herself to have a “screw loose” or to be, at times, a bit “off her rocker” writing has and will continue to act as a completely selfish, self-serving form of therapy for me. Even more than the words themselves, or the meanings behind them, it is the mere process of draining my perpetual inner floods that fulfills my interminable thirst for catharsis. I’ve neglected to put forth the effort in repairing the damage of aforementioned floods, nor have I mustered the energy to rebuild the poorly constructed system of levees that have forced these floods upon me.

At any rate, this will be a very slow, very mundane reinvention (of sorts.) I don’t plan on cutting off all of my hair and I don’t plan on selling my life here for one in India or what have you. To put it simply, my goal is to free myself from unnecessary and harmful thoughts, feelings and actions that have knowingly taken control of what should be the most exciting juncture in my life. Now, this is not to say that any of this reinvention bullshit is going to be easy. It feels impossible and might very well be. And I guarantee you that I’m going to kick and scream the entire way through. This abundance of defiance could easily be compared to how a child must feel when their mother yanks them from the playground with the piss poor, ambiguous explanation of “It’s time to go.”

The last time I wrote anything that wasn’t work related (yes, I am a published writer now. Hold your applause until the end, please.) snow covered the ground and I had killer, rockstar bangs (RIP, lovelies.)
Since then, my world has made an unfortunate habit of dipping in and out of its usual orbit, occasionally leaving me without gravity.

It only seems fitting to start where I left off, or somewhere close to it.

A heaping portion of my summers favorite moments were spent floating down river, hazy eyed and laughing. Smelling of campfire is an underrated pleasure, as is letting damp skin dry in the summer sun. Dirt beneath our feet, mid-day hangovers, unzipping the morning; we celebrated the season to its fullest and embraced our unbarred youth.

Other moments were more spontaneous. Laying on the beach at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon is a perfect example of our freelance, freedom. We attend matinee movies and eat brunch, too. We did as we pleased; putting all control in the hands of time.

A moment of weakness. A singular indiscretion. It took time but we started over and haven’t looked back; recovery is still in progress.

One year.

I remember our first kiss, awkward and unplanned. I remember the moment I realized that I loved him. I remember each surprise, each fight. I remember crying into his chest and when he promised to change my life.

One year. We traveled through the night only to find ourselves sleep deprived on the most beautiful beach cascading with the most breathtaking sunrise either of us had ever seen all while being viciously attacked by a plague of biting black flies. We slept in the rain, hiked through the forest, drank copious glasses of wine, indulged in plant-provided happiness, hunger and laughter all while weaving through the endless sea of tourists on our tandem bicycle. We marveled at waterfalls, cement statuettes, sweeping valleys and vineyards, old stories and new growth. But above all else, we celebrated all the hard work that brought us to this point; biting black flies, waterfalls and all.

It’s a difficult transition to make. The once lively and exciting relationship that I shared with the camera is becoming more and more distant. I’m getting older and things have become comfortable. The hurt that comes with receiving a rejection letter and the consuming disgust that comes from not feeling desirable is, for me, heartbreaking. Compare, contrast, destruct; a daily cycle that can only be described as debilitating. The battle forges on. 120, 124.5, 118, 121.5. For someone who has strategically avoided a mathematical life, numbers hold the reigns and call the shots; unwillingly, unstoppable. Food makes me cry, hunger makes me smile and the scale makes me want to disappear. For anyone that knows me or thinks that they might have a slight grasp on who I am, I’m not exactly someone who has their shit together. My ducks are not in a row.

Surprisingly enough, I'm not completely delusional. Despite wanting to be everyone and everything and desperately wanting to change myself every morning upon waking, I realize that I cannot be anything than what I am. I realize that I will never be the most beautiful. I will never be the sexiest or the prettiest. I will never be perfect. I will never be entirely imperfect, either. I know that, I do. And I know that wishing I was different, or better or whatever, will not change anything…ever. So, what’s the problem? What is my problem? I can’t even hear that he thinks Katy Perry is hot, or that model so and so is pretty, blah, blah (you get the picture. ) Usually this is the point where I would try to write some pseudo-eloquent, elusive description of how I feel, using poetry and prose to paint me as a character worth sympathizing. I’ll cut the shit. I am a jealous person. So jealous, in fact, that my mind, body and speech shut down and I am reduced to a vegetative state using only “yes”, “no” and “I don’t care” as my main vessels of communication. I don’t need people telling me that “it’s okay.” and I certainly don’t need people telling me that I’m beautiful. All I want is to have someone convince me that I am not crazy. I need to really, truly believe it before I can get better.

Finding out that you don’t have cancer feels, for the lack of better words, pretty fucking amazing. An exam lead to an ultrasound which lead to a biopsy which then lead to a surgery. We spent a month on edge, nurturing the possibility that something could be wrong with me. Thanks to an out pour of well wishes, I managed to survive one of the most difficult ordeals of my life. I firmly believe that if it weren’t for him, I would have lost my mind somewhere along the way.

I heard a radio show once where the topic was about those living their “Plan A” versus those living their Plan B, C or D. “There's the thing you plan to do, and then there's the thing you end up doing. Most of us start off our lives with some Plan A which we abandon...switching to a Plan B, which becomes our life. “ explained Ira. Never did I think I would be living my Plan A with someone equally committed to living his Plan A, resulting in two people unwilling to compromise to the constraints of mediocrity and unhappiness. This isn’t to say we sometimes bite the proverbial bullet and do things we aren’t 100% excited to do, nor does that mean we are 100% happy 100% of the time. But how lucky we are to be able to at least say we are living our Plan A. I won’t go back. Ever.

Written by Jerilyn Cook. Model: Jerilyn Jordan. Styled by Jerilyn Cook. Over the past 9 months, I have seen all of these bylines in print. Pictures and words; redefining myself with every page. It wasn’t easy, and each avenue of my passion continues to present it’s own list of seemingly impossible demands. I won’t go back. Ever.

The well-worn wood floors squeak and moan with each step, and the bedroom windows are shrouded with ivy. There’s a fireplace, a garden window and a just enough space to hide all the things I want to keep hidden. All but one wall is painted a soft shade of Grey and sometimes our front door opens without an invitation to do so. Motherless children, unrelated; Two cat’s curled in laps, claws and paws making the most delicate sound upon the previously described, worn wood floors; they continually drape us in a supreme sense of joy. The warmth provided by this house and the life inside of it, is not comparable to anything I have ever felt before (despite the actual furnace failing to produce our desired amount of heat.) This was the real start of all things real.

So, this is where I am now.

Snow has finally come, although has decided not to stay.

Comforted by revved engine purrs and the still of my new home, I realize that this is all I’ve ever wanted; Filled with the excitement that can only come from not knowing what’s going to happen next, we have a place to call our own complete with tidy stacks of books upon the shelve, music flowing room to room, the smell of homemade food floating about and the undeniable and constant sensation of finally feeling at home. All of my mistakes, struggles and hardships have somehow, someway miraculously provided me with love, happiness and a life that holds great promise.

I can’t be expected to recall, retell and rewrite the past ten months. I can only be reminded to look ahead.
This is all for the greater goal of living free from the restraints of self-loathing, jealousy and anxiety. I’ve always been this way. So to say that I want my life back doesn’t fully make sense. Instead, I am pleading with myself to do the impossible;

I will befriend mirrors and other equally daunting reflective surfaces. I will realize that he has chosen me above all else. I will run to, not from. I will not be my mother or my father. I will fail with humility and grace. I will care about the things worth caring about and will dismiss all else. I will learn to adopt healthy selfishness and become more appropriately selfless. I will only say sorry when I am really, truly sorry. I will open up the closed corridors, gates and thresholds of my heart, etc. I will fall together, not apart.

…and then New Order: Age of Consent began to play.

Here I am.

The world in full motion blur as I stand still.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I'm the hero of the story
Don't need to be saved
I'm the hero of the story
Don't need to be saved
I'm the hero of the story
Don't need to be saved

Expiration dates and escape routes.
Breathing into metaphorical brown paper bags.
Digging holes and falling in.
My good enough is never quite good enough for me.
Not being alone fills me with more panic than loneliness.

The first real snow where love played a part.
Glittering blankets and embankments of white.
This isn’t the first of winter, but it’s the one I’ll remember.
When it falls in heaping amounts as it did, clarity
and I become temporary bedfellows.
The temporary presence of clarity and the like
always precedes an onslaught of confusion and doubt.
That's where I am now.
This is where I've started
to dig myself out.

I waited on the porch and let him in.
“So, this is it?” he said in a sideways manner.
He traced the maps with his fingers and shot disconcerting glances at
the cluttered coffee table,the kitchen sink stock piled with dirty dishes
and the empty liquor bottles lining the counter.
With knowing nothing of my life, I could see him painting careless
images of how I must be living and how neglected I must be.
We drove to where chickens walk the streets,
sipping water from puddles, darting under stationary tires.
The restaurant was still.
We did our best to keep our mouths full as to avoid the small talk
We hoped to never encounter.
Wild World by Cat Stevens
A song that has always successfully provoked
feelings of nostalgia and lament from within me, came onto the overhead stereo.
The sound of our forks scraping the bottom of our plates, the ice rattling in our glasses;

“Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world

and I'll always remember you like a child, girl”

I looked to the window for comfort. I knew that if we were to make eye contact,
the things I was beginning to fear would internalize with a single, damp glaze.
“Beautiful song.” he said.
I agreed, quietly.

Handing me a wrinkled wad of money, walked me to the door and
with a biting tongue and coldness that burned,
he inadvertently showed me his feelings.
I cannot change his mind. I will not change my life.
But I can convince him that
I am safe,
I am happy
I am loved.
If he has even the slightest bit of faith and trust in me
then he will see that who I am is who I have built.

I'm not sure what the true definition of what a friend is,
but I most certainly know it has nothing
to do with ruining something great.
It's one thing to confront the situation.
It's the right thing.
It's another to confront the situation
in whispered tones and sneaky secrets.
I appreciate the willingness to help me realize what it is I deserve
but I can't justify the dishonest, malicious nature
of what is happening behind my back.
I never asked for help. I never asked to be saved.

I am not skilled in the art of feeling secure in myself.
However, I am fluent in the language of being inadequate.
Only recently have I come to see what a jealous,
easily overawed, sensitive person I am.
These unfortunate qualities that have made
themselves exponentially more apparent
over the past few months are tearing me apart,
threatening to dismantle the progress I've made.

His livelihood triggers nerves I never knew I had.
Looking for girls; girls that are easy to fix.
I don't fit into that category, or so I imagine.
There are things I can try to help control
the bitterness and the jealousy.
But these efforts barely numb the fact that I will
never love myself the way he does.
And although he assures me of this
overwhelming affluence
of love every moment of every day,
the world will always win.
The compliments make it worse, sometimes.
The countless guarantees make it hurt, sometimes.
Above all, I feel guilty for not believing him.
Loving me is most certainly an exasperating juncture...
or so I imagine.

Every morning, when my eyes peel themselves
awake and I am draped in his warmth,
I can’t believe how lucky I am to be in love.
It’s unfair of me to compare what I have to those around me.
If this were to end, I don’t know where I would begin.
I try and imagine other relationships I know and
how they could never satisfy me
after having been in a love like this.
Every morning, I’m scared to see where I am
when my eyes peel themselves awake
because there’s no reason as to why my wish
should constantly come true.

It's frightening how love can change.
She was in love with someone
and now she's in love, but alone.
How to you pick yourself up?
How do you find the will to
try it all over again?
Her tale of heartbreak and strife
inspired me to do whatever it takes,
to make our love work.
I'm not strong enough to start over.
I just want to be in love forever.

It’s the discouragement that comes from the success of others that
I use to justify why it is I don’t have a chance.
This attitude and personality flaw is completely destructive.
I am positive that it is this very attitude that will ruin the chances I do have.

I’m doing what I set out to do and
what I’ve said I would do since I held pen to paper.
But because I am writing and turning a
few mislaid words into sentences, into paragraphs,
I’m beginning to see how much further I have to go.
My imagery is repetitive.
My adjectives are elementary.
My sentences are too long.
I make everything sound epically important and special,
even though the mundane truth is just as much.
I'm searching between the lines to find
whether or not this is what I was want.

If only I could write myself as a beautiful hyperbole.

I'm coming back. Slowly, I'm coming back.
I promise.

photo by:

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now"

I will never be a woman.
I will never stand upright.
I will never see straight.

There’s a point in every vacation where you realize that you sort of wish you were back to your normal life where you have responsibility and schedules. The kind of vacation where clocks are unnecessary, calendars are irrelevant and naps are primary devices for passing the time. Since my life has become a vacation, I’m beginning to feel as though the world and I have become distant acquaintances. I hope to be reunited soon; eased gently and welcomed with fervor.

Six months. Six months is one half of twelve months which is one year. I have waited approximately seven years (2,555 days, 61,320 hours) to be the person I have evolved into over the past six months. The person I have become can only be attributed to the love I have found and the supplier of the aforesaid love. It’s apparent that this relationship has taken a different road at a different speed than most relationships I’ve been privy to witness. Six months and we can already see the future; we already consider ourselves partners in all that we do. We care for and about each other as if we were one in the same. Looking back, it seems as though this is all I’ve ever known; as if this is where all of my fortunes and misfortunes alike have lead me to. I’ve been planted here, with him. My roots, for the first time feel solid and nurtured. I’ve forgotten what it is to be alone and have only retained the joy that comes with waking up in love.

I wish that it didn’t come to mind as often as it does. And even if that wish could not be granted I would demand to not have these thoughts fill me with panic; doubting myself and what we’ve built. But I just can’t escape it. I’ve been told that first love is the sweetest. This I’ve learned to be true. To be someone’s second, third or fourth love…well, it doesn’t feel as poetic or as electric. It’s insecurity, yes. But more than that it is a constant, aching notion that you (I) will never be good enough. You (I) dwell on the beautiful qualities that you’re (I‘m) convinced managed to hold the others before you (me) in your lovers orbit and you (I) feel as though you (I) will never make them as happy as the formers. When smiles creep upon their faces without traces, you (I) assume that it’s because of a past life and a love that was shared there. Or when that one song finds it’s way and you know that the sadness or happiness is not caused by you (me) but instead, one who loved them (him) first. It is selfish, I know, to want to erase the world leaving only the two of us. It is selfish to want his past, present and future. I wish I was strong enough to be here now. Trying with all of my power, I am learning to let what we have take us to wherever we are meant to be. I can wish on stars, pennies and dead dandelions all I want. All I can really do is love and graciously accept the love I’ve been given.

It fell through the cracks.
It was fiction.
I am just a pretty girl who had her picture taken once.
Period, no ellipsis.

A byline. A tiny byline in smeared black newspaper print.
I couldn’t ask for more but I will work for it.

I can’t imagine a violin sounding anything but sad.

Dancing to songs that can only be appreciated when intoxicated, I had assumed that the climax of my night was the twenty minute search for a missing member of our three person party; darting through smoke and pulsating lights. Or perhaps it was that drunken confidence that convinced me that I was the only girl on the dance floor and everyone was there to stand in awe of my beauty and revolutionary dance moves (i.e.; simultaneously tossing my hair around, swaying my hips, catching myself from falling all while sipping my vodka cranberry.)As life was winding down, becoming one of those nights you look back on a week later and think, “I should have more nights like that.” Laughing, foggy eyed and minded, I was dropped off to a congregation of inebriated familiars gathered on the porch. From the moment I returned home, the night took a sharp turn. Shot for shot, missing undergarments, secret meetings in the shower, sneaking cigarettes, teasing our others…seemingly normal for a party of drunken friends. We ventured outside (me being the only one to go sans shoes.) to show the world (our neighbors) the flesh colored gifts attached to our chest. Our uproarious, mischievous behavior was that of thirteen year old girls; Yes it was shameful, but our careless actions embodied the free spirit of when we were children. With complete disregard for our usually sound judgment, we squealed with delight.

With one clumsy misstep backwards, a bottle shattered from under my foot. I saw blood. More blood than I knew I was capable of spilling from my body. My mind was much too clouded to fully understand that it was I who broke the bottle and the blood belonged to me. I don’t remember much, except for a hysterical car ride where, in between dramatic sobs, I verbally rejected the idea of going to a hospital. “I don’t have insurance, please take me home.” They drove anyway. A wheelchair, automatic doors, several nurses. Yes, I was a clearly intoxicated girl on a Saturday night who was frantically rushed to the emergency with a ‘cut” foot. This is a hard situation for nurses who see real trauma and real tragedy on a daily basis to take seriously. They brushed it off until they unwrapped the makeshift bandage (a roll of medical gauze and a men’s tank top.) blood poured from me, catching them off guard. According to my elephant, I was overly calm, underplaying the severity of my condition as I was rushed to where a doctor with a thick Indian accent would eventually prick my foot with more shots than I could count and would haphazardly sew the gaping laceration; my little, glass filled accident. When offered an I.V of pain medication that would prepare me for the shots and the needlework, I refused, restating my “I don’t have insurance” speech because I assumed that it would cost more if they would have given it to me. Another lapse of darkness. I held his arm and cried. It was the worst pain I had felt, or remember feeling. I cried for my father, who was nowhere to be found. “Mam, please calm down these are just shots.” the doctor kept saying. It took what seemed to be hours until I was able to lie still without being prodded with needles and thread. I slept. My love stayed by my side, holding my hand, stroking my hair. In one of my moments of alertness, I heard a doctor in the curtained room to my right discuss the patients miscarriage, the cause for her emergency visit. It felt nightmarish to hear those words in real life. One of, what I imagine to be, the greatest tragedies one can experience. Elephant, who was also listening, assured me that she wasn‘t far along. Kissing my hand, he assured me that it was okay. After another period of sleep, his parents came and I felt an immediate flood of love and warmth, the very kinds that only family can ensure.

At some point, the hospital said I could leave. It was somewhere around seven am. I hobbled into a wheel chair, nausea overcame me. It was then that my head tipped back, my skin turned a shade of green, my vitals dropped and I urinated all over myself. They pulled me from the chair, stripped me of my soiled clothes, hooked me up to wires and monitors. When I came to, I was overcome with bright lights. When I came to, they had shut the curtains, surrounding me with discontent. I couldn’t translated the whirs and beeps of the surrounding machines, but I hoped with all my might that my last moments alive would not be set to the soundtrack of such artificial, ugly noises. And I certainly hoped that I would not spend my last moments without hearing the familiar jingle jangle of my fathers keys, or without a kiss on the forehead from my Elephant. “This is the bed people die in.” the attending nurse said to me. So there was a moment where I thought I was both dying and with child. It wasn’t until typing this that I realize how very suiting that situation would be for a made for t.v movie. But I was neither dying (although I felt otherwise) or with child (for which I had no evidence to believe this to be true in the first place.)

He thought I was going to die and I was more in love than ever. After hours of being pumped with hydrating fluids and hours of waiting, I was able to leave. My father never came, despite having talked to him. When I did get to hear his voice, he judged me. Instead of being comforted by his fatherly concern or his eagerness to see me, I was in shock that the one person I was conditioned to believe would always be there for me, not only failed to be by my side but showed complete disinterest in my well being.

It felt great to be home. The one home that, for the past six months, has never faltered in his love for me. It feels great to know that I am taken care of.

I can’t promise to deny myself of cynicism.
But I can promise to give all that I can
And love the best I know how.
Because I know in my heart that good does exist.
And as long as I believe that to be true, I think I’ll be okay.

The candy colored flowers are falling,
defenselessly over the vase
I've been them.
But then I found the sun.

photo by :