Flash Fiction – The Leaf

Carmine Carmichael smoked his last cigarette twenty minutes ago.  The sun rose above the row homes on Sutter Street as he sat down on the marble steps at the corner.  He hadn’t slept in three days, hadn’t eaten in two days and hallucinations had begun.  His four-week-old blue jeans felt crunchy as he ran his hands up his shins, to his knees and then his thighs.

A dead leaf blew down the sidewalk, past his battered sneakers and he thought of how peaceful the dead leaf must have felt. It was, after all, devoid of all feeling.  The leaf had lived its life on a tree somewhere as people passed it by without a thought.

Carmine knew exactly how that little leaf felt. Another leaf blew past and Carmine reached his filthy hand down and scooped it up with care. The weak stem felt dry in his fingers as he twirled it around, looking at the rips in the body of the little leaf.

“I’ll bet you were once so beautiful, little leaf, just like me.  I was a strong man once, little leaf.”

The little leaf stood lifeless in his fingers and Carmine felt his eyes well up as he clutched the leaf to his chest. Little leaf pieces fell to the ground as Carmine sobbed.

Footsteps echoed in the distance and Carmine put his filthy hands back on his thighs and watched the leaf blow away in a dozen pieces.  Carmine watched as shiny, pristine shoes stepped on and over the leaf.

Carmine knew just how that little leaf felt.

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P – People – They Teach Me A Lot

Wawa Area
Wawa Area (Photo credit: Loimere)

As much as I hated my life until about six years ago, I always loved people.  My first job was at a 7-11 working the 6 am – 3 pm shift and after my shyness and terror wore off, I realized… I love this.  The interaction with the customers was my favorite part of the day.  Even now, working at an accounting firm, as crazy as tax season is, I love when clients come in the office.  There is just something great about being around people.  I always joke that being in nature would be heaven for me, and that really isn’t a joke… really.  I love being around the trees, water and animals.  But people…

While the things I learn from people vary, what is interesting is I learn a lot of behaviors and mannerisms I wish not to have or use. I worked at a Wawa (part-time) as a second job about two years ago.  I loved being on register because of the customers (even the grumpy ones!) and I smiled at everyone that came through my line.  Sometimes there were rude people, and that was okay.  Sometimes there were bratty kids – and bratty adults – who handed me their money in a little rolled up ball (please, if you do this… it is rude.. stop!) But still, I smiled… I loved the people.

One night, a pretty woman a little younger than me came through my line. When I saw her I thought of myself immediately.  Here was this attractive woman, dressed a little provocatively and she was drunk off her ass.  Now, maybe when I was new in sobriety, this would have been a trigger for me, but at this point, it was a sort of epiphany.  I felt sad and embarrassed for her as I rang her up and asked her if she was okay.  She laughed and said something snarky and of course, I just smiled.

After I said a small prayer for her that night before bed, I thanked God for my second chance at life.  I also thanked him for sending that woman through my line as a stark reminder of “what it was like” for me and then remembered “what it is like now.”

It is different and I love it.  I love waking up feeling the same way I went to bed.  I love being able to talk about things without screaming at someone and then drowning my sorrows in booze and drugs.

The people, places and things in my life today are amazing.  Thank you God.. and thank you to everyone else and my program for getting me on with getting on.

How do you handle the interesting people who enter your life on a daily basis?

We Are Not Perfect

Perfection (Sandra Bernhard song)
Perfection (Sandra Bernhard song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More so in the last ten years than any other year there seems to be this strive for perfection.  People want the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect mate, the perfect nose, boobs, butt… I could go on forever.  And don’t sit there like you don’t know what I’m talking about, because you see it, too.

Wake up people!  There is no such thing as perfection… none.  So strive away and kill yourself if you must trying to make it, do it, write it, sing it, draw it or look perfect. 

IT. WILL. NEVER. HAPPEN.

But what we can do is strive for perfection.  We can always do better, be better, act better, write better, think better, talk better, love better, work better….. we can always be better.

As an alcoholic (which translates to a sick mo-fo) one defect that plagues me to this day is the defect of “having to be perfect.”   So in a sense, this blog post is written to me along with the rest of my awesome readers because I have been feeling insecure for the past week or so.

Insecurity is my warped devil.  It tells me I will fail at everything.  It tells me I am never good enough or anything else enough.  I have to smash that devil with the hammer of hope.  I have to tell myself that, “yes, I do have flaws, but my flaws are what make me the beautiful human being I am.”

Some days I believe it, others not so much.  This is where my program of recovery comes in to play.

When I compare myself to others, I fall short every damn time.  “She’s this, she’s that. He has this, he has that. Theirs is better.  When am I going to get my just desserts?!”

When I compare myself to myself, I excel every time.  This time last year I was living somewhere else, in a different (loveless) relationship and depressed.  I was overweight (one of my ‘I never’s’) and feeling like total crap.

I made a conscious effort after a mild epiphany to “Strive For Perfection.” And must keep in my mind I will never attain it, but striving for it will and has helped me continue my progress.  Some days I have a mild setback, other days I kick butt!  In the words of Dori in “Finding Nemo” – JUST KEEP SWIMMING.

We are as perfect as our imperfections…

Do you strive for perfection?  Are you a perfectionist?  How do you deal with the demand for perfection in today’s society?

Friday Fun – Where I’m From

4517 Mercer StreetGood morning!  Thursday I was reading Jenny Hansen’s blog and came upon this fantastic post! You can find her “where I’m from” post by clicking on her grand name right up there. Go ahead!  Click it!  The original idea and post comes from here, found on the amazing blog of Sharla Lovelace.

I am from AM/FM radios, from Sunkist orange soda and chalking in the street with slate.

I am from the city of neighborhoods, banging on heater pipes, close-knit neighbors and the smell of chemical plants mixed with fresh-cut grass.

I am from the dandelions treated as high-class flowers, penny candy stores, cassette tapes and playing “suicide” wall ball.

I am from Gram’s house for every family holiday and big noses along with long legs, from Patti and Jim and Arvilla and Barbara.

I am from the grips of procrastination and alcoholism.  I am from huge hearts and a great love of nature and living while letting live.

From “it gets better” and “you’re worth it.”

I am from being baptized Catholic while never living in the Catholic traditions. I am from going to a Lutheran church with my Gram almost every Sunday and thinking how ginormous the minister looked.

I’m from Philadelphia, Somers Point, New Jersey, Italy and Russia.  I am from spaghetti and meatballs, potato salad and kick ass hams.

From the romantic trysts of Jim & Patti on the sun-baked streets of Bridesburg, the coal miner’s daughter who told me grand stories of upstate Pennsylvania and a grandfather who lost two of his fingers in a coal mine at the CCC camps back in the 1920’s.

I am from these two beautiful people. That’s where I’m from.  Where are you from?

All About Perspective

What do you see?

Perspective.  We all have our own.  Some perspectives we learn over time while others we form on the drop of a dime.  I have said, in earlier posts, that I find people fascinating.  Their tastes, their mannerisms, and their idiosyncrasies.  But what I am really into is their perspective.

For example:  the glass to the left of this post.  Half full?  Half empty?  Too much?  Not enough?  Do you even care?

I was at a meeting last night and at the end, we all went outside.  A lot of us stand around and chitter chatter sometimes; getting to know each other and all that. I was talking to my old sponsor, and I spotted this huge bug on the wall to the right of me.  It was huge and beautiful, from my perspective.

I started to ease my hand under the bug (my mother had shown me how to do this just this past weekend) and my old sponsor started to become uncomfortable.

“Please, Darlene.  Don’t do that!” she begged me.

“Why?  It’s a harmless bug.  Look how cool he is,” I defended as I edged my hand under the left rear leg.

“Cool?  It’s ugly and it will hurt you,” she said.  I could hear her perspective from the fear in her voice.

I really wanted to hold this bug and get a better look at it.  From my perspective it was just a bug; a misunderstood bug judged solely on appearance.  My perspective saw beauty and uniqueness.

I decided to spare everyone (at this point more people were watching) the horror of me (gasp!) actually picking up a giant bug to revel in the beauty I saw in God’s little creature.  My old sponsor relaxed and so did a few other people after I moved my hand away from the bug.  I felt a little sad because I didn’t get to pick the bug up.

However, I am happy that I got to see it and that I didn’t cause mass hysteria! 😉

Life is all about perspective.

Have your perspectives ever changed?  How do you feel about bugs?

ROW80 – Getting Down and Dirty

So, I have been going to A LOT of meetings.  I even started going to Al-Anon, because hey, I am from a long line of alcoholics, so it makes sense.  And, as I go to these meetings (six a week) and I meet new people and hear new stories, I am finding out many things about myself.

Honestly, I can’t change me or my circumstances without rigorous honesty and self-awareness.  If I keep living in an imaginary bubble and pretend my life is just the way I like it, my life is going to stay exactly the way I don’t like it.

That is lame.

I went to the library Saturday and took out two books: “Make Your Creative Dreams Real” and “Become a Personal Trainer For Dummies.”

I know I am a good writer, and I love to write.  My dream has always been to be a best-selling author touching people’s lives, all the while living in an amazing house up the mountains somewhere.  However, what I am realizing is this:

I really love people.  I love talking to people, I love making someone’s day and, most of all, I love helping people.  People fascinate me.  Their mannerisms, their behavior, the things they say and especially the way they project the way they think.

And for some reason, whenever I journal or reflect on what I REALLY want to do with my life, it always comes back to helping people.  Specifically, it always comes back to becoming a personal trainer or an addiction counselor.

So that is where I am at.

My goals:

  • Write synopsis and query letter for “Bound and Broken.”
  • Come up with some flash fiction stories (I had NO idea what to write for this past Friday – sorry everyone).
  • Continue with meetings.
  • Do a mind map of goals, tools and resources to get on the right path.

That’s it for me!  😀  Where is everyone with their progress?  Do you ever find new goals as you tackle current ones?

Have a great week…