Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skunk Thinking

“To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose one self.” - Soren Kierkegaard


When I first announced taking my writing seriously, I was told certain anonymity would be required for professionalism. On some things I might agree, on others I feel the human equivalent of a writer can’t be ignored and makes them more assessable - real. In all things we need a certain level of reality to slip in from time to time. This post is one example.

The bottom of the bed bounces up and down; a little earthquake announcing a restless pup is convinced I’m long past good morning, and in need of a nudge. With a playful smirk, peeking with one eye open, she knows, I know she’s up to mischief. Pretending to yawn, my arm stretches overhead pulling the blankets over my face. Did she take the bait? My giggles warm a breathy patch of sheet layered over nose and mouth.

Within moments I’m on a trampoline, jostled, “Oomph!” A four legged ball of fur launches toward me. Her cold nose snuffs the sheet above my eyes. Unable to suffuse my laughter any longer I burst from the covers and tackle her in a playful hug. She happily settles beside me with her head lain over my stomach. I let the quiet settle around us for a few moments. How she recognizes what I need dumfounds me, but she does. Pup and woman alike, we master stillness.

“January is almost here,” I whisper.

Pickles perks up her head, ready to listen, waiting, but my melancholy silences any more complaints.

You’re happier when you write,” his words echo from memory. Words are hard to come by right now, I argue silently. I can’t do this, just leave me be. The well wasn’t empty by a long shot; words hang in the balance, ready and willing to pour like a fount from me. My courage had temporarily plugged up the flow, like a stopper in a kitchen sink. Stupid skunk, over thinking every single nuance, worried to the point of defining me by…January…

An Anniversary creeps forward, closer and closer, day by day. My eyes squeeze shut tight as if that could slow time.

“You’ve been deaf for six years; it’s a date nothing more, nothing less…” With determination I throw back the covers and stomp around the bed. Pickles stands in the middle of the bed, head cocked, unsure what to do. I glance into those deep brown eyes and shrug my shoulders – lost myself.

“Where is the courage I possessed back then?” I ask burying my face into the scruff of fur at her neck. Haven’t I proven I’m more than this yet?” A tear cascades over sleep chaffed skin and I’m transported back to my former self, who wanted to give up because communication seemed near impossible. Fiercely wiping my pajama sleeve across my eyes, I scold, “Knock it off, coward. This is nothing, nothing compared to yesterday.” One sum – that’s the equivalent you’re allowed for your deafness, I vowed silently.

Whatever I fear will never be the sum of who I am as a person. Of course I’m afraid of succeeding or not, we all are in one form or another. You only fail or can rightfully be accused of cowardice if you DON’T try. I’m a writer and as long as the words flow, I’m going to continue to challenge my fears. This is small compared to what I’ve already accomplished. 2011 will be the writers year, my year.

My wish for you in the coming year: Conquer your fears – try, it’s all anyone can ask. You’ll find courage when you least expect it. It stares back at me, every day from a pair of deep brown eyes. See yourself through another’s eyes, you will be amazed.

Happy New Year!

Picture from here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Life and Times...of a Dog

"When the Man waked up he said,
'What is Wild Dog doing here?'
And the Woman said,
'His name is not Wild Dog any more,
but the First Friend,
because he will be our friend
for always and always and always.'"
- Rudyard Kipling


I feel fur brush against skin, a comingling of human and animal hair. The couch reverberates with warm breathy snores, disrupted by a gentle oomph and contented sigh accentuated by the occasional warm sleepy head nudge. Her presence is warming in more ways than the heavy weight she pushes against me trying to get as close as humanly possible.

I get nostalgic this time of year; it’s her birthday and the anniversary of my awakening. Sounds colossal describing our beginnings this way - the pure simplicity of need that attaches us in more ways than not. Need, is such a heavy handed word. We two souls, hers and mine, are to each other a kindred friendship made to last a lifetime.

On December 12th, 2006, Pickles entered my life for the first time and wove her spell.

What’s so special about her? Besides the fact she’s a Katrina survivor or quite literally my ears? She’s the embodiment of compassion and life. For those who don’t know our story - I’m deaf and she’s my working dog. Trust me, I didn’t realize the possibilities either until a thing called need, pointed me in her direction. Nor did I understand, sometimes gifts of spirit arrive in the most unexpected guise.

Where did we (dog and woman) begin? - In stillness. It’s no secret I loathed my decent into silence. Hatred appropiately defines my demeanor in those days. So much so, I locked myself away from the world at large. To me going deaf had been a death of sorts and I mourned the loss of my hearing, the life I knew…and then along came Pickles. She was the animal doppelganger to my personality. She’d lost everything in Katrina, her home, her forever family…yet…she stood before me grinning as only a dog can and defied the rules of my closed existence with a challenge in her eyes to be more than my deafness.

Who I am today, started with her: The writer who learned to hear with her eyes. The woman who she (Pickles) taught to dare the impossible, and best friend (to a creature thankfully not human). Never did I imagine the life lessons, such a loving, four legged creature would portray.

You can’t train a bond like ours. Training doesn’t teach a dog to sit beside your bed all night worried when you’re sick (I woke up one morning to a red eyed pup that hadn’t slept a wink, with her head nestled over the edge of the bed). Nor does training teach comfort, laughter, kindness, or any of the numerous daily life lessons that dog and woman alike share.

Like the holiday season itself, there is a hint of something more between us. So with great pleasure I wish you - Happy Birthday Pickles! I couldn’t ask for a more loyal friend and mischief maker.

To everyone else, I wish you all the beauty your hearts can hold, all the spirit and lessons of a dog named Pickles, and words a plenty from a writer who appreciates the small things. Happy Holidays! I’ll see you in the New Year.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm a Dreamer

"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one." - John Lennon


Thirty years ago today John Lennon was assassinated. I can't imagine not paying tribute in one form or another to the man, the icon that he was. If ever a man believed in dreams...

I'm a dreamer. I'm also a writer who knows when to give the proverbial nod to another, whose words encapsulate whatever I might have said. Please visit (click-->) Glass Cases for an enjoyable tribute we can all take something away from.

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
-Imagine by John Lennon

Picture from here

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It Came Without...

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" - Theodor Seuss Geisel


Sometimes our bodies boycott any notion of doing much else and wind down for a much needed rest; followed by coughs and sniffles which serve as warnings like a beacon signal in the night -an impending cold or virus is on the prowl. In any case a person isn’t much likely to do anything else but give up the ghost of wellness until the foreign entity has taken its due.

Nose sore, eyes bleary with nothing to do outside of sleep, I stare remorsefully out the window watching the rain batten against the roof and windows. The dour and bleak sky mirrors my own mood, a virtual pity party taking place on both sides of the window pane. At that very moment, it came…a slow thickening of condensation, a wind blown chill, and a bit of white. I blinked unsure, wondering if my eyes betrayed me - a hallucination brought on by phlegm clogged senses. How can this be? Not now...not when I’m bedded down sick?

Snow zigzagged down from a charcoal skyline. The wind howled and the flakes grew thick and fell more furious. Sour, lip curled up in a snarl, I pitied me more for being sick. Everything in view wore a cloak of iridescent frost and glimmered, taunting me, as I sat perched childlike in front of the window.

Snow doused memories tug at my heart: A child pouting on Christmas day, not for what wasn’t beneath the tree but for the missing flurries and cold weather she once knew. The young woman spellbound by a winter storm with childish glee. The grown woman who shrieks in laughter in flannel pajamas and slippers kicking up snow and chasing a dog in the indigo moonlight, to a shared kiss in the middle of a busy sidewalk with her face upturned and snowflakes catching in her eyelashes. Giggles rent the air as she breathlessly pursues her husband around their car, snowball in hand, slip-sliding around until she lands face first in a snow bank. So many more…they unfold, these gifts of spirit handed out like seasons of a life.

The snow melted that day. I however, found a sense of ambience despite my sick predicament. Yes, there will be days we scoff and renege on our good sense of compassion and kindness. Days lost to regrettable forlorn. May we have more days of child wonder and laughter than not.

In light of the spirit of the season, I want to take this moment to thank all my loyal friends and readers. You’ve stood by me steadfast and loving despite my continued lackadaisical approach to posting. My muse has definitely been on holiday - on and off the page. Hopefully she’ll return full vigor in the coming weeks. Enjoy the new layout in the meantime - tis’ a kindness for your eyes and mine.


Large picture from here