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.
As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life. It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year. I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.
I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it. Well, I seem to be on my way.
Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations. Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer. However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!
Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author! I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same. Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about. It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing. Trust me – it freaking works.
How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?
I was working with one of my sponsors a few weeks ago, and she told me this phrase. I almost fell out of my chair. There are a few acronyms for “FEAR” such as: F*ck Everything And Run and Face Everything And Recover. But… False Evidence Appearing Real is the one that works best for me. I have a lot of fear in everything I do. Or should I say, everything I don’t do. Fear holds me back in many decisions. Is that why I am so damn indecisive?
There have been times I felt the fear and did it anyway. Like, the first time I rode a motorcycle, or a roller coaster, or stood up for myself in junior high school when I got in a fist fight. There was definitely a lot of fear in those instances, but I did it anyway. Ok, maybe getting in a fist fight is not the best example… The point is, I felt the fear and pushed through it.
A lot of us as children were afraid of the dark. I remember when I was a little girl, I was afraid of my closet. I swore to everything that there was a monster waiting to eat me. The false evidence was the creeks from behind the closet door. The fear appeared real because I believed it. I would jump up and turn the light on, go look inside the closet and hey… no monster! Imagine that. The false evidence had appeared very real.
I am going through a major life change in the next six weeks. I decided I need to leave my boyfriend. We met in recovery a couple of months after I got sober. He has done a lot for me and we have been through some great times. But I see the big picture and it is pretty blank. I won’t go into the sordid details (although it would make for some interesting reading). Let’s just leave it in the “we grew apart” ditch.
Fear is absolutely a healthy emotion in certain situations.
So I have to be out by December 1st! How will I do it? Who the hell knows… I have faith in God, in my program and in myself that I will pull through this.
Have you ever pushed through the fear? How did you overcome? Share your thoughts and stories below!
Bridges. We build them. We burn them. We travel across them to new destinations and we let them carry us home. We stand on them to stare at the awesomeness of water or to watch fireworks in the sky. If we are superstitious, we hold our breath as we cross.
I love bridges. I love to look at them, travel across them, stand on them and take pictures of them. I’m not sure if there is any significance of bridges in my personal life. I tend to look at things in-depth and over-analyze everything.
I had a rough morning, and for some reason, bridges popped in my head. My desktop is a picture of a glorious black train bridge (aren’t most train bridges black?) printed in black and white. Sometimes I honestly just sit and stare at my desktop for a good three minutes.
So after bridges popped in my head, I started thinking about why bridges popped in my head. I had just spent the morning on the front step with my coffee and cigarettes watching about forty starlings communicate in their “squeaky swing” chirps and sounds and I thought about how they were behaving as a group. I had some old crackers so I crunched ’em up and scattered them on the ground.
Granted, before my time with the starlings, I had just had an argument with someone who insisted on bashing me. This took me back to my computer to look up the starling animal totem, which is relevant to working in groups of people (starlings are rarely alone) and I started to wonder what the heck bridges and starlings had to do with one another (in my mind).
And then, it clicked. “By learning starling’s behavior, I can live peacefully with my friends and family” is what it says on the totem site. Clearly, if I keep insisting on being right and dwelling on the problem instead of working in the solution, I will burn bridges. But my pride gets in the way and I stray away from the group (or person) because I’d rather sit in my crap than find a solution. Thankfully I can see this relatively close to when the situation arises, instead of further down the line after the damage has been done.
The other interesting thing is that I just started reading “Drop the Rock” which is a phenomenal book about working Steps Six and Seven. For those unfamiliar with AA literature:
Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.
Step Seven:Humbly asked Him to remove out shortcomings.
Now, we all have character defects, and most (if not all) of us like to hold on to many of them. I hold on to them more often than I think I want to. Which is why, when I am ready to have my defects removed, they will be, and not before. I pray every day for my defects to be removed. God, however, cannot live my life for me and I have this stinking thing called “free will” floating inside of me constantly. It takes awareness to be entirely ready to have my character defects removed.
I am now aware of the significance of the murmuration of starlings this morning. I have to think before I speak. As far as bridges go, I don’t have many left to burn.
Do you like bridges?
Do you have any character defects you don’t dig much?
Yep! It is December. That time of year for Christmas Present shopping, holiday baking and beating our heads against the wall as we deal with traffic, crowds, whiny kids (most times not our own) and trying to figure out how to hold it together for the last four weeks of the year.
What is with the self-inflicted pain you ask…. All those “I am going to do so many new things in 2011!”
I’m gonna lose fifteentenfive some pounds!
I’m gonna get something published!
I’m going to spend more time with my family!
I’m going to quit smoking!
I’m going to throw out donate everything in my closet that I no longer wear.
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Yep. I get four cool days off (except I have to work job #2 Friday night – but that’s the fun job) and I get to see my family tomorrow.
I was just reading Billie Jo Woods’ What if? Wednesday post about the Mayflower. If you haven’t done so already, go check it out. She had mentioned how she misses home and that got me thinking.
What do I have to be thankful for?
What should I be giving more of?
What do I complain about (a lot) when I should feel privileged to even have that kind of problem?
The answers to these questions are in list form somewhere in my mind and that’s okay for now. I do have a Top Three Things to be Thankful for on Thanksgiving going though.
I happen to see a lot of self-absorbed behavior where I live. Now, I don’t know if it is because I grew up in the city which is not exactly a place of privilege and I now live on a street where everyone has their own driveway. Maybe my perception is self-absorption when the reality of the situation is these people up here (most of them don’t say hello when I walk by) just have a different way of doing things.
One thing I miss about the city:
Having neighbors to sit on the front step with and chat.
I do have one neighbor in the front building who is pretty chatty. We don’t have a step to sit on, but we do have many trees to stand under.
I am thankful for her.
Now, the giving part. My daughter is sixteen. Anyone who has a teenager knows how much fun it is having one in the house! Yes. The slammed doors, the rolled eyes, the loud music. Why, it is just a gosh darn hoot.
One thing I give my daughter a lot of (and I just recently noticed this) is lectures. Originally, I thought that I was “giving her tons of joy” because my mother and father never lectured me.
I say things to her like, “You should be thankful I talk to you like this. Mom-mom never talked to me and I wish she had.” My daughter is looking at me like, “You are crazy woman!”
I walk in the poor kids room, say “You got five minutes?” and before I know it her eyes glaze over and I am winded from talking for a straight thirty minutes. Gee, thanks mom!
So the giving part I will be doing this season is giving my daughter less grief and giving her more understanding. I’ll give her a little more space (not too much!) and hope that she will start looking at me like a human being again.
Happy Thanksgiving my fine friends. What are you thankful for? What will you be giving this season?
My co-worker’s father died last week. He was a total whipper snapper. I never saw the man until I went to his service this morning. However, I did talk on the phone with him a lot. His features were as I had imagined. There were lots of pictures of him and his family on boards and in frames placed on various mantles about the room at the parlor.
The funeral service was more a celebration of life. George, his son (my co-worker) had “Harry-isms” printed on the back of his mass card. I thought that was awesome.
Some of the quotes were:
Animals are people, too.
Ah, the hell with it.
Sure the coffee’s fresh, I made it yesterday.
There were a few others, but these were my favorites. Every time he called the office he always had a joke, or would pretend he could see me through the phone.
So when I went back outside the funeral parlor, imagine my surprise when I saw this place across the street.
I laughed out loud! Thankfully, none of Harry’s other family was outside when I laughed, but I did tell George and he thought it was hysterical. I mean, I really thought only in the movies would I ever see a Spy Shop (aptly named SPY SHOP) across the street from a funeral home. George no doubt got his sense of humor from his father. The both of them had seen the humor and irony in almost everything.
As for the spy shop… I told my boyfriend and my daughter we are totally going there this weekend. A real live spy shop! I wonder what kind of spies they sell? 😉
My ROW80 this week! I have one goal:
Write my ass off for Nano…
I am doing well so far! Happy writing. And try to find a spy shop near you! Could make for an interesting story. 😀
I joined Oprah’s Lifeclass a few weeks ago and I have to say… I love it. I am about ten classes in and am learning a lot about myself by answering thought-provoking questions that only I can see the answers to. There is also a Daily Life Question that we have the option of answering. It is linked to the users Twitter account.
As I read some of the answers (a lot of them anonymous) I shuddered at some of the things a lot of people have been through usually in great part by their parents. I saw remnants of abuse, both physical and sexual, mental anguish, alcoholism, abandonment… 😦
It just got me thinking.. like.. what the hell do I have to bitch about? Ok, yeah.. my childhood wasn’t the greatest.. I have always been socially awkward and put a lot of my worth on my physical beauty (but am too lazy to do any upkeep on it). I tend to talk way too much when I get nervous and yes.. I am an alcoholic.
BUT – I am sober! I AM beautiful! I grew up poor.. but I have character. I have small boobs.. but I have a great butt! I can be very indecisive, but when I know what I want.. no one is stopping me.
It is so important for me (and you!) to look at the silver lining in the dark, looming clouds that hover over our heads from time to time.
We have all been through our own share of hell. I remember years of self-pity, beating my head against the wall as I cursed and screamed “WHY ME?!”
Well, why not me? Bad things have happened to me because I have the ability to help others. If all I can do is take my experiences and share them with another, then whatever I have been through is not in vain.
I just read a tweet from a fellow tweeter. I got the impression she was down in the dumps… she said she felt, “out of sorts.” I have felt like that many times in my life (I’m sure most people have). I replied to her tweet and told her to make a gratitude list.
Then I thought, “Darlene! You’re a genius! You should make one.” So I am. Right here, right now.
I am grateful for:
the ability to use all five of my senses
the gift of writing
a sunny day
a Sunday morning
making some one smile
a brand new notebook
that I was born exactly when I was born
Tyler State Park
other people’s opinions
These are just some of the things I am grateful for. But, I want to hear from you. What are you grateful for? What makes you say thank you. What helps you through your day?
Today is a big day. My little girl, the last of my spawn, is 16 today. A bittersweet day indeed. There were no gifts of Barbies or stuffed animals. She got gift cards, a gym membership and a beautiful card from yours truly.
No cake. “Cake is fattening,” she said.
I rolled my eyes. But respected her wishes. Even though I wanted to say, “but I WANT BIRTHDAY CAKE!”
So her big day got me thinking about life goals. She wants to join the Army and I am all for it. I seriously hope she pursues her dreams and doesn’t let revenge or a boy stand in her way… this is exactly what happened to me at her age.
I gave birth to her brother at 16.
It is interesting to me that the years have flown by. It seems just a week or two ago I was talking to her about things un-boy related, un-fashion related and all little girl related.
Friday, Andy and I are taking her out to a restaurant of her choice for dinner. I took the day off to hang out with my little princess. In a bit we will be going to the mall so she can spend her gift cards.
My little girl is the polar opposite of me… I love it. No one wants to grow up to be like their mother… and it looks like she isn’t going to. *phew*