Friday, December 7, 2012

Missing Chunks of my Heart


"It’s a fearful thing to love what death can touch." ~ Anonymous

I found myself stuck on a single word today, how – how do I write this letter, how can I possibly say goodbye, or find the strength to tender words which encompass all I’m feeling right now. Empty out my soul? Cut out my heart and present it with all the bloody good it does without you? You never taught me ‘how’ to do this part sweet friend. I’m on my own here.

The fact is; my therapist Charlie (remember meeting him – he loved you) asked me to write this letter six months ago, a month after I lost you. I couldn’t then, maybe not even now. In one week, you would have been eight years old. I still curse the fact you were so freaking young when you left me. Did you have any idea; you were the one who saved me? Not the other way around. This bottomless silence scared the hell out of me. I didn’t have the courage or will to live with the quiet dark of my deafness. Life had nothing worthy to bear that yoke; my shoulders weren’t strong enough to carry the weight the stillness held.

I’m almost ashamed to say, you were the last straw I grasped at attempting to hold on to something. Why? Oh dear sweet merciful friend, you were so much more than a grasped straw. You were the winged raven who flew to my side and wouldn’t let me give up. Do you remember the woodpecker? That was the first time you taught me to hear with my eyes as I watched you sit so still and tranquil, you stared unmoving up toward that magnificent red headed woodpecker' waiting, for me to see what I had been missing. There would be so many more examples over the next few years, so many…

No sweet friend, I’m still not writing. Losing you stole the very heart out of any words and life I had left. Time hasn’t made this any easier my muse. The pain’s so raw and I’m staring up into a listless gray sky missing you, remembering this was and will always be your month; the month you first came to my door, the month of your birthday, and of course Christmas. I still remember watching you lie beneath a sea of bright lights staring up through the branches of the tree. December will never be the same sweet sorrow of mine.

Bjarki, your lovable pup is still a bull in a China shop. He’s gotten so huge. He has another companion now, Yazhi. You would love Yazhi, she reminds me so much of you, mischievous as all get out. They’re doing their best to help me heal and I sometimes feel your gentle presence in the background watching over us all. I’m okay Pickles. You taught me how to do the hard stuff. Wait for me, I will find you again someday – I promise. Happy Birthday Pickles! I love you sweetheart…

"Brighter Side"
By OPM

Sometimes
I forget that you're not here
Can't believe it's been a year
Since you flew away
And I never got to say goodbye
Good times
Hangin' out til the break of dawn
Listening to Bob
And singin along
Every little thing it's gonna be
It's gonna be all right...

I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
And one day I'm gonna be there too
Where the sun is shining and the water's blue
I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
I know you're somewhere where you're finally free
You'll always be a part of me
Like the moon is to the sea

They say you don't know
A good thing till it's gone
But I got to say they're wrong
I knew you were a good friend
A good friend all along
I wish the world wouldn't be so cold
As to take such a beautiful soul
But despite it all I know we gotta carry on

I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
And one day I'm gonna be there too
Where the sun is shinin and the water's blue

I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
I know you're somewhere where you're finally free
And you'll always be a part of me
Like the moon is to the sea

I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side..
Always be a part of me...

If I could rewind time
Then I'd like to let you know
Just one thing before your time go
That every moment you were living was a blessing to me
And I saw inside of you things that others couldn't see
Now people put you down for the way that you lived
But those people never knew you the way that I did
Don't be ashamed of who you were of how you died
I know you just wanted to find the brighter side...

I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
And one day I'm gonna be there too
Where the sun is shining and the water's blue
I know that you're gonna fly
Somewhere brighter on the other side
I know you're somewhere where you're finally free
And you'll always be a part of me...

I know that you're gonna fly
I know that you're gonna fly

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Things


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Some things are hard to write about. After something
happens to you, you go to write it down, and either
you over dramatize it or underplay it, exaggerate the 
wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate
you never quite write it the way you want to.
~ Sylvia Plath

Come sit beside me and luxuriate in the silence and somber peace of the day, with a renewed appreciation for the overcast Golem sky brewing outside my window. The day suits my melancholy soul. It must seem strange, this need for the absence of sound. To my deaf ears busy movement, is like loud torrential waves crashing against me in vibrato burst. Silence is the calm in the storm from bounding four legged pups and an endless list of things unaccomplished. Moments like these erase the overwhelming sense of lost days and unfinished words.

Unfinished words?  Words, which lose strength and substance in any attempt to pen a single legible thought. They don’t even need to pertain to writing; the descriptive nuances of a day’s bygones seem to disappear like a spirit’s whispered warning in the wind. I wonder sometimes, if my muse abandoned me, fleeing behind this heavy-laden emotional year. Don’t worry your little head, that thought only lasted for a fleeting moment before I banished it to absurdity. Life is the teacher which tempers my days with lessons and experience. This year weighed me down with lessons I can’t even begin to comprehend or know what exactly I’m supposed to take away in experience. Death is a strange elixir that way…

Would you believe it’s possible to be given a gift in death? Neither would I until this year. The death of my muse is teaching me how to be deaf, seven long years after I first lost my hearing. I couldn’t face my predicament in the beginning without *Pickles guidance (my working dog for the deaf). My reliance on her never fully taught me to be alone, truly alone in the silence. Yet, six months later, she’s still teaching me, her presence close to my heart conquers the fear and tempers the anger. The anger which I hid so indelicately, the anger simmering always below the surface, demanding - why me.

Why not me? Who else could learn to hear with their eyes and see beauty and truth where so many can't?  I still refuse to believe everything happens for a reason. Human beings have always been resilient; we learn to live with whatever hand life dealt us. Some of us, like me, may take a few years to figure out how to play the game, but eventually we learn. We don’t have any other choice. So bravery, strength, and fear doesn't define us, only our humanity does. I’m still learning. I may lose myself in brooding defiance on occasion, but even then I'm still learning from my stubborn abstinence. And sometimes you have to take a break from life to finish your homework. 

*You can find a picture of Pickles on my sidebar.

Indigo


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mish Mash with a Touch of Mischief

"I see my path, but I don't know where it leads. Not knowing where I'm going is what inspires me to travel it." ~ Rosalia de Castro

Facebook-New-Crap-Profile-vectorash ASometime last year I decided I was done with Facebook, com-put, infinito...
Kinda felt like this logo would have been justified. Time marches on and as is my right, I changed my mind and decided to give Facebook another chance, reluctantly may I add. Probably why the logo on my sidebar looks like it was peeled off and put back haphazardly.

I know, I know another social media time suck added to my otherwise already full days. The thing is 140 words (Twitter) or a small update on Facebook, are still words. Words in any form will always be an outlet. Hence my Twitter and Facebook presence, words no matter how few are still words to fill my writers thirst. I'd love to catch up with you in one of those formats.

In other news -the pups are growing all too quickly. This past Tuesday they both went in to get fixed. The idea being, they would both go through the week separation from one another at the same time, while they healed. Plans have a way of backfiring on me (as in things never, ever go the way they're supposed to). Yazhi and Bjarki are tied at the hips, almost inseparable. You would think I'm worse torture to them right now than the surgery they just went through. So yeah, my plate these days is definitely overflowing.

To make up for my missing presence here, I've put together a little Bjarki satire. Enjoy!

020 A
Yazhi - I love you so much Bjarki!
Bjarki - I guess so, you're kind'a holding me hostage. Oh shucks,
I love you too!
025-1 A
Sigh...I hate this thing. So BORED...
027-1 A
No pictures Mooommmm...this is embarrasing, I look like a freaking Martian.
028 A
Fine! I'm not going to open my eyes, nope, I'm not.
030 A
Okkkayyy....How's this? Close enough.
Me- You look like you're trying to inhale the camera you nut.
031 A
How about this, all eyes, no nose, BIG eyes, we good yet?
Me - (Laughing) I kind of need a shot of your whole head big guy, 
then I promise we're done.
032 A
This is it, last picture, then I'm going to go hide until this stupid thing comes off!
Me - Perfect! Could of used a slightly bigger smile, but ya know, Martians are
awfully cranky creatures. ; ) 
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Saturday, September 1, 2012

These Hollow Words


“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” – Buddha quote

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Sensing the pups were a little ‘too’ quiet, I rounded the bottom of the stairs just in time to catch Yazhi with a pair of underpants on her head, turning the cats water dish into an instant waterfall down the stairs. She tosses the bowl, sending it splashing into a puddle at my feet. Not to be outdone – Bjarki races from the bedroom after her with a pillow from my bed trying to wallop Yazhi and ends up doing a half-ass pillow surf through the water, slipping, and sliding down the stairs plowing into me. Unfazed he continues to drag the now soaked pillow through the house after Yazhi, who can barely see through a leg of the underwear on her head – ricocheting off furniture and walls. I shake my head starring after them in stunned silence.

Crazy chaotic is the name of the game with two pups in residence, frantic, boundless energy that multiplies in on itself from early morning, into frenzy hyperactivity by evening. I ride the momentum through the day with enthusiasm. For today at least, the pendulum swings in my favor toward a liberated reprieve from my anarchic summer disdain. The kid in me gives chase after two unruly pups. Robust laughter amid puppy yips of excitement reverberates through the house.

In these moments, the guilt trip takes a back seat and I don’t think about moving forward too fast, getting over my loss at break neck speed. Maybe because on some level I realize my pain is always with me, not on the surface but ground into bone - hijacking my words. This is an uneasy truce to breathe life into each day, giving me a depth of balance.

*****

I found a burnished brown butterfly with white markings, half hidden in fallen leaves. The pups would have munched down on the colorful wings in a heartbeat. A gentle flutter let me know it was still alive and I gently sat the butterfly down on a low tree branch, not sure, how badly damaged the delicate insect had been or if it could fly. I can’t say why the fate of the butterfly tormented me so much – but it did.

A few days later, a butterfly with the same coloring floated around me, wing dancing on the air. Yazhi pranced and twisted in circles, trying to catch our new friend. I can’t say whether it was the same butterfly – my heart says yes. Little things, small degrees of life making the bigger things…bearable.

*****

Pickles was my muse (her picture is in the sidebar) and honestly, my words have felt hollow since she died. She’s still there between pulsing blood vessels, enmeshed in my chest, keeping my heart pumping. So are the words.

There is a misconception that writers are a lodestone of words. What people don't comprehend is the words are nothing without life. There isn’t a single day I’m not reminded of that lesson.
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Immortal Touchstones

“We’re all made of stories. When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on. Not forever, perhaps, but for a time. It’s a kind of immortality.” Charles de Lint

Bjarki hesitates seeing one of the cats in the yard and slides quietly down on his belly in the grass. A gentle tug on his leash earns me a ‘what for’ arch of his brow. I plop down beside him, turning my face up toward the sun already baking the top of my head. Bjarki leans into me, pushing a tendril of a blue cornflower weed against my arm. I’m momentarily assaulted by the memory of blood flecked arms and clothes behind closed eyes, casting an abstract testament of pain in blood on the wall behind me.

“Why did it have to be Leukemia?”

A wet muzzle draws me back to the present, gold-specked hazel eyes gaze up at me. With a smile, my pain melts into a pool of serenity and quiet reverence. This bull-in-a-china-shop pup  beside me is the best example of Pickles lessons in play. She imparted the patience and tenacity which I needed to guide Bjarki in her absence, she taught me how to experience his wonderment, and to appreciate the calm between those moments of curious abandonment.

The neighbor’s dog makes a noisy entrance, racing the length of fence between our yards. Bjarki watches silently, cocking his head back and forth. I feel the sigh ripple through his chest and down the length of his back, before he turns to glance at me questioning. The yearning to run and play with another dog rolls off him as he stares after the yellow lab in the next yard. He misses her too. 

“I’m not quite ready to cross that bridge yet, little buddy.” I whisper, kissing the top of his head.
Pickles had that same look for years. You had to wait until she retired before getting Bjarki. He’s not a working dog, what’s stopping you now? I’m not/won’t, I can’t replace her…(Later on I’ll credit Pickles for winning that argument playing out in my head. Her want and love, were the deciding factor for me.)

These days there is a rightness, a balance in the house, marked by the resounding stampede of paws running up and down the stairs. Bjarki has a new playmate – Yazhi, a Doberman/Coon
Mix rescue from South Carolina. She’s only a month younger than Bjarki, but it’s already obvious who’s going to be the giant of the two. I couldn’t have picked a more appropriate name for her; Yazhi means ‘little one’ in Navajo. She’s the calm to Bjarki’s storm.

Without further ado, meet the pups who will carry Pickles legacy forward:

011 A

 Bjarki is 5 1/2 months. He's part Doberman, Shepard, and Labrador. He's already tilting toward 50lbs on the scale. He's my gentle giant.

048 A

Yazhi is 4 1/2 months. She's a Doberman Pinscher and Coon Mix and far more mellower than Bjarki. 

Hopefully after the summer, sometime in Sept., I'll be able to get back to some kind of schedule here. The pups are only young once and I aim to enjoy every single moment. Thank you, for all the well wishes and support in the last 2 months. Pickles touched so many hearts and left this one missing her dearly.

“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” ~ Emily Dickinson
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Pickles, 2004 - May 30th, 2012


“There are four questions of value in life... What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.” – Don Juan de Marco


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A better title for this post might be – “Man Plans, God Laughs”. I’m a little bitter right now.

A deep chasm inside of me aches like nothing I ever felt before. Pickles taught me so much about life. I have no idea how to live inside my deafness without her.

The lines from Roberta Flack’s song “Killing Me Softly With His Words” -  Strumming my pain with his fingers, Singing my life with his words, Killing me softly with his song, Killing me softly with his song, Telling my whole life with his words; keep reverberating down to skin and bones. We had our own language, words that only we shared between animal and human, an understanding no-one else could ever apprehend; words that are killing me softly as I sit here mourning for my sweet friend.

Pickles died from an extremely aggressive form of Leukemia yesterday. There wasn’t a single clue to indicate she had cancer, until it was too late. Everything was fine at her last vet visit, then last Wednesday she had a seizure. By Memorial day she was at the Emergency Vets getting X-rays and Lab work done – sneezing blood all over. I was afraid of an upper respiratory infection, or even some form of dog Epilepsy. I would give anything…if only that had been true.

That night the vet thought she might have a week or two left – by morning it was downgraded to mere days, hours…Without any warning, I was losing my precious girl, my ears, my heart. I would never have imagined this ending for her in a million years. She had to be in such extreme pain and never once did she whimper or bark. Even up till the end she tried to protect me.

Then there’s Pickles puppy – Bjarki. Two months ago I picked out a puppy for Pickles. I wanted a puppy to grow up around her and form a bond with her before she went fully blind. The month before his arrival, I kept telling Pickles he was her puppy to help her accept him into the house. They adored each other. She became so protective of him. In turn, he taught her how to play like a normal dog. I remember laughing when he would pick up her leash and try to lead her, like a match made in heaven.

Bjarki stands for little bear in Icelandic - protector. He was supposed to be her protector, her helpmate, her friend…her puppy. I can’t describe how much it hurt to separate them when she became so sick. They would stare at each other across the gate yearning. At night she would sneak downstairs and sleep under the computer desk beside his crate. How am I supposed to raise this little guy without her? He was never supposed to be mine…oh, this hurts so deep.

She’s buried in the myrtle where she loved to wander. Bjarki is making a habit of going directly to her grave whenever we go outside, then he trails along the yard to her favorite places. As hard as it is, I can’t refuse. He’s trying desperately to hang onto her scent. Today he picked up a stuffed lamb that belonged to her and tried to carry it out the door with him, without a doubt to her gravesite.

Pickles taught me to be a writer; she showed me how to be still within the silence in order to really see the world more clearly. I can’t find my stillness amid this pain that shatters me to the core. She was my everything, I’m empty without her, the world is in sharp contrast made of sterile rationalizations that cut deep into a soul.

“I wish the world wouldn't be so cold, as to take such a beautiful soul.” OPM- Brighter Side

I'm lost without you sweet friend...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Soft Hue of Words

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I milk the warm day for all its worth, entranced by the room backlit in soft hues of sunlight. The gentle breeze breaks against the screen into tendrils of whispers against my skin. This baby blue sky is better suited for a newborn nursery than a New York March day. Nature’s kiss of spring? What of winter I wonder, he never had a chance to unfurl and stretch his muscles. His blanket covering of white was nothing but shredded effusions, thin transparent foam tapped off a brew that disappeared as quickly as it formed.

I’m not the only one confused…trees stand naked of foliage, withstanding the prodding strokes of airstream exuberance, refusing to bud in light of the impassioned warmth of the day. Mother Nature could use a few lessons in foreplay. Then again, she might have overplayed her hand wrestling with old man winter all last season.

My mind contains seasons of fodder; enough to tire of winter’s spent sorrow. He lost days, more like months to his adversary, while hard ground gave way to loam earth.

I wonder how many rows you can plow through a fertile mind, before enough wordage is planted and sown early by a torrent of doubt. Will we drown in word vomit - the overgrown algae choking off ponds of thought, reflections strangled by vines’ before they know the sun’s delirious rays? Spring may be clawing at the door, but there is still a winter storm brewing inside locked doors.

In this farmstead reality, words are hard jagged edges tearing skin, down to bone. I don’t have enough language, enough vocabulary to swab up the liquid life that drains from every pore. How is it something so painful and elusive can leave me breathless and wanting. Why not find an easier path to tread, one that soothes my empty psyche and wraps the soles of my feet with eloquence – gentle grass stained moccasins of verbiage. Some days I don’t think I have the tools to work the plantation of my mind or to climb these mountains of sentence structure, paragraphs and pages.

Boulders of doubt push me over the edge, but I can’t let go of the ledge, the valley doesn’t hold enough words to break my fall. I’m digging furrowed welts deep in the mountains face down to split nails and bloody fingers searching for gems of sanity to hang onto. I lose my grip (on sanity) and tumble head over heels down to a pussy willow tundra of open books.

My eyes flutter against the brilliant light as sunlight dances over nap swollen eyelids. The wind blows against the screen and chill air pinpricks my skin. I smile. Nothing but a dream about the soft hues of words floating around a writer’s mind on a faux spring day.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.” ~ Vita Sackville-West
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Obsession: The Dream Killer

“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Edgar Allan Poe

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I lost track of how long the stare contest had been going on. Liquid charcoal eyes stared unblinking into mine. Occasionally her eyebrow would arch knowingly. In jest, I threw up my hands. No hair off her brow, of course the blind dog won the stare contest, which started with me asking her what I should write. Shrugs; She’s my muse and no she doesn't play fair, but I get lost in those eyes where a world of wonder takes place – enough to clear my mind and shift gears.

Pickles cocks her head slightly still with that sarcastic eyebrow arch and grins like a lunatic.

“Knock it off you maniac, you still haven’t answered the question.” I scold playfully, while thumbing through a notebook of miscellaneous thought vomit I had written.

Words are like this secret elixir only I can partake of – my personal stash.

When was the last time writing felt like that? I wondered. Pickles continues to stare at me, waiting like a hungry vulture for me to answer my own dilemma. “Want to hear a story on how I lost my words? I ask. Those long toes of hers resemble monkey paws as they curl around my knee in answer. I pat the couch beside me and wait for her to get comfortable.

“Once upon a time (because all our earlier stories start that way), a woman had piles of words emulating every emotion she had ever experienced in handwritten journals, typed pages, and scraps of whatever was handy when the words overtook her. Words bandaged pain, soothed sorrow, and built bridges to hope and dreams. Then one day a horrible man shredded all her words and left her with a sea of mulched batting in its place.”

Pickles buries her nose beneath my elbow as I continue, “The woman swore off words and buried their likeness so deep within she forgot where she hid them. Years and years would go by while the words pushed and shoved against her breastbone, vying to escape. They wrapped around her heart becoming a fist full of memories squeezed dry. Until her psyche began to rot intellect like a rusted hinge exposed too long to the elements.” At this point in my storytelling, I glance at Pickles with her nose tucked between her paws as if to hide from a scary scene in a movie.

“The pile of words inside the woman grew and grew, threatening to engorge her lungs until she couldn’t breathe. Still she strangled the words and swallowed them deep to rot in her gut, until she became a numb caricature of a human being. Then one day, along came a pup, a pushy creature with a pickled attitude who demanded to be heard, just like the words she once knew.”

A wet nose nudges my elbow, encouraging me to go on. “Slowly but surely, the woman learned to purge the words which had been buried for so very long in the depths of her psyche and heart. For the first time in a long time, she could breathe. The woman realized she had never truly lost the words; they had been the driving force within her all along. Not unlike her dog, she wanted to be heard.”

I wink at Pickles and whisper, “The End.”

I remember fanatical sessions of writing for hours on end, to the point of a losing a year and a half in the creation of my books. Lately I’ve been wondering where that obsessive writer disappeared to. With no doubt, words still flow in their own stream of consciousness from my fingertips; although, nothing like those first few years of discovering my lost cache inside. Are my goals as a writer still something I am capable of accomplishing? More than ever…

I’ve learned something along the way though, obsession kills dreams. If you become so obsessed you forget to live or to enjoy the small moments in life, you’re strangling any hope of fulfilling those dreams. Everything in life needs time to develop to its full potential. In my case, my writing needed days to breathe, time to marinate into something credible. Besides, I still need those stare sessions with my perquisite pup (even though she cheats).

I’m not saying give up by any means, what I am saying (more so for me) is enjoy the journey. Don’t overwhelm yourself and lose touch with the enchanting beauty of why or when your dreams first began to hold sway over you.

“All we see or seem is, but a dream within a dream.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Writer's Liar

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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“When I write, I’m not deaf.”

Was I lying or is it my belief, my fiction, my little white lie, which makes this true in a sense? For odd reasons this presented a conundrum for me recently; on some level I felt like the liar (the writer) hiding behind her words. Writing doesn’t remove my disability; to a few readers, my words might be more descriptive in place of hearing. Others believe it’s not an absolute priority or needed to write. Both hold an element of truth. Each person has their own truth they take away from a single blanket statement, in this case my bold altruism of believing I’m not deaf (at least when I write).

Truth is such a relative controversy when it comes to writers; we ply our trade by being imaginative, conniving liars. You shouldn’t trust us writers, we can spin a tale like no other and not only will you believe us, you’ll be asking for more.

Am I deaf?

Proficient liars one and all, even the non-fiction sort. Confused? Whenever someone tells a story or recalls events no matter how true or fact based, they may be - they’re still telling ‘their’ version of the truth. So are we all liars – manipulative culprits you really shouldn’t trust or believe a single word uttered out of our mouths? What if I told you, underneath every lie, a thread of truth can be found. Aha, let’s close that vault full of philosophical arguments before we get off track.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

I’m not deaf when I write…change the order of words and the truth outs itself. Every single writer I know writes truth into their fiction; we create the characters and give them personalities based on our own observations, beliefs, and imaginations. We thread the story with emotional density and experiences from our lives. Life lessons are the creation behind the storyteller’s voice. Readers and listeners take those stories and interpret them into something they recognize, until they are no longer the writer’s truths, but their own.

For example, take the woman running the cash register, who yanked her hand away from mine instead of giving me my change, simply because I said I was deaf. In her reality, deafness is contagious. You can bet at some point she’s going to show up in a book somewhere. Better yet the neighbors who become watchdogs duplicating my actions, hairstyle, and clothing like automatons with no personality of their own (aliens maybe) – once again my truth, which becomes your fiction.

Each of us, caught in our worst lie will give away the truth in some form. Writers do it better, we’re sales clerks selling the biggest lie of all and asking you to extend believability to what you’re reading. Who knows…you might find me hidden somewhere in the story. I hope not, if I’m any good at all, you bought the lie hook, line, and sinker.

In the end…I’ll always be deaf. Writing gave me the tools to hear through noise, sound, and music descriptions. A match made in heaven wouldn’t you agree? On this playing field, I hear just fine. Sometimes our biggest lie, is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Picture from here.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

About a Dog

“I am chained to the earth to pay for the freedom of my eyes. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943

I found Pickles curled up in the empty alcove pouting, where the Christmas tree used to be. She wouldn’t even look at me, turning away shifting her head from one paw to the other. With my heart in my throat, I slid down the wall beside her and pulled her chin up on my outstretched legs. She muzzled my hand in apology, confused by her own behavior.

For Pickles, the Christmas tree’s beacon of bright colorful lights has disappeared, gone were those days of curling beneath branches mesmerized by the dazzling luminosity. Charcoal black eyes full of questions search my face for answers. She senses love, momentarily forgetting tree lights and the luxury they afforded her darkening world as I hug her close.

“We make a pair – a deaf woman and her blind dog. You’re so much more than a working dog, always have been.” I whisper reassuring. “We’ll get through this, together.” She perks up at the mention of work. She lives to work and it serves twofold as the reason for her distress lately. Little does she comprehend I could never repay all she’s done already. Gentle sweet Pickles hid the signs well. Yet, the signs were there weren’t they sweet friend - the slow darkening of your eyes with a hazy sheen dimming their brown luminosity, along with the deteriorating night vision.

Pickles told me without words she needed help the day she stood at the top of the stairs with her front paws on the top stair and her hind legs perched on the floor above waiting. Her confusion gave it away, as she cocked her head to listen, waiting for me to go first – to lead, instead of bounding down the stairs ahead of me like the puppy she was at heart. I knew something had changed as I swiped at tears. I knew things would never be the same again when I tapped the step I stood on, and watched her listen, tuning into each footfall to locate a stair, teaching herself how to handle stairs once again. I learned a heartrending beautiful lesson in humility that day from her.

As I sit beside her, I’m reminded of the first time she taught me to hear without my ears. The Spring day she pointed out a woodpecker in a tree, her eyes guiding mine to where the bird tapped away in a staccato like a pile driver and the utter delight she had shown - chest puffed up, prancing on her front paws when I smiled in wonder and hugged her close. In the following years, I would continue to hear through her, seeing life not as a deaf woman but whole, unhindered through her eyes - eyes, which slowly darken and blur with each passing day. We two complete each other. This animal taught me more thoroughly about life and resilience than any human being could ever have.

Time is a thief, stealing irreplaceable things from our lives. Yet, Pickles remains a testament to the things time can’t touch: hope, courage, love, and perseverance. Despite loss and occasionally wanting to give up, we still go on, we still learn from one another, and hold each other up in an indelicate balance of emotional turbulence to the light of day.

Drawing a deep breath, I gently push Pickles off my lap and go get her leash. I’ll let her nose sniff out where we go from here. This survivor of Katrina, heartworms, and me, has more courage than anyone I know - she’ll be fine, we both will, and someday our story might even make a remarkable book. After all, life is filled with colorful characters and plots overflowing to the brim with life experiences and endurance. This writer lives her story word for word each day with an amazing sidekick…

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Sound of Memory

“These images in vivid and violent tones have resulted from (the) crystallization of memories.” – Henri Matisse

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Pickles sits up, rapt, her concentration focused on the driveway with her ears up listening. After a few seconds, her back relaxes, she turns toward me her eyes asking if I knew what alarmed her – tires crunching on gravel from a car pulling in the driveway, the motor purring in reverse as it backs up to turn around, a quiet throttle when the car drives off. Satisfied she settles back down and closes her eyes. I thought nothing of the distraction and went back to reading over my revisions for my book.

As I read, something niggled away at my thoughts…gravel crunching, motor purring, the click-clack of pebbles knocking together, the muted roar of the wind through the trees. I couldn’t breathe, left speechless by an avalanche of sound. Not hearing sounds, memories of sounds, sounds I used to pick up. I skimmed back over the chapter I had just read - there were no sounds.

I had become so accustomed to filling in the blanks when it came to hearing, I automatically used visual metaphors in their place; body movements became emotional indicators, missing sounds were laced in physical backdrops. All of these things together had painted a panorama of all the senses but sound. With words, I had managed to bring my world, a world absent of sound, alive. Would anyone have noticed eventually? Maybe, maybe not... if you close your eyes and plug up your ears, on some level you still hear those everyday sounds - water dripping from the faucet, the dog panting, the cat’s vibrato throaty meow, or the creak of wood floors underneath. You know they’re there without me telling you. Just as Pickles’ reaction alerted me to a car turning around in the driveway.

We automatically equate certain sounds with items or places, when we're given a visual perspective our sensory memories kick in to fill in the blanks. There are five senses in which a writer can delve into – hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. Is it possible for sensory overload to the point of telling not showing when writing? Definitely. So in the end does sound matter? I think hearing is one of top five senses when it comes to describing something. Sound connects the writer and reader on a familiar stage. I remember sounds, voices, echoes carried between the space of two people. I intend to use all the tools at my fingertips to broaden my world and yours…with the sound of memory.

On a separate note: I wanted to share the song - Broaden a New Sound by Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory. A perfect fit for this post. The music is a blend of psychedelic and groovy, or so I read. Smashing Pumpkins comes to mind with that description, you’ll have to look up Nobody & Mystic Chords of Memory and let me know. I’ve included the lyrics for your enjoyment.

Broaden a New Sound

A walk sounded good,
maybe find an old bench made of wood.
There I could look around.
Bring up all the things that were bringing me down
and let go, so let go
Let go. Let go.
Broaden a new sound.
The wind, a bird and a broken branch
You'd like to hold it down
but it only knows ears
and it doesn't know hands

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Picture from here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Growth Is Optional

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“The lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master.” – Khalil Gibran

The rain pounds down on the house in torrents throwing speckled shadows across the walls from gray-lit windows. I can’t help but relax in a state of quiet enjoyment, while watching the pellet stove fire blaze crimson and burnt umber. Solitude is preferable these days after the mad rush of holiday glee and New Year symbolism thrust upon me. Not to mention the changes that wrought themselves into the mix of realism.

Changes you say, surely for the better right? Not if you’re a creature of habit, who likes her comfort zone a little too much.

If we want to get downright literal about what exactly a comfort zone is, the Collins World Dictionary gives this definition – n a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control. Now why in the world would someone, anyone want to give that up? The self-effacing answer - your comfort can become stagnant to the point of imprisonment, locked in a set of safe guards that block any chance of growth. When we get too comfortable, we stop challenging ourselves, don’t aspire for much, and our boundaries shrink considerably.

Turns out, our prison guard is none other than fear rapping against the bars whenever we consider trying something new or challenging. I’m sadly familiar with my prison guard – me. No one else can step over the boundaries I created for myself or sequester me away from knowledge, want, fortitude and growth. We’re supposed to build safeguards to protect ourselves, not to hinder us from enriching our lives.

The latest computer virus tested the boundaries of my comfort zone like you wouldn’t believe. Favorite programs were outdated and disabled. I had no choice, learn something new or stay locked into a system of fail going nowhere fast. Here’s the thing, as much as I don’t like change, I resent the ‘boxed in and giving up’ option even more. I learned a valuable lesson adapting to my deafness – I own my choices, they’re mine and mine alone to make.

Sometimes the simplest things wreak havoc with our comfort zones. There’s nothing wrong with simple days and moments of contentment, as long as you don’t use those very tools to keep you from moving forward and living in fear of what’s around the corner. Honestly, there are days I’m afraid to walk out the door, I’m afraid of newfangled programs on my laptop, or keeping up with technology, and silence, and love and loss, and yes, there are days words and my ability to wield them frighten me. Fear is an ingrained part of us all; don’t let it be your prison guard. Life is far too short to limit the breadth of your accomplishments.

Today…amid the comfort of a roaring fire, with a warm pup at my feet, I brandished words against my fears. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone in search of knowledge, life, mystery – the list is endless. Words still scare the hell out of me, but I’m determined to conquer each one in a tableau of prose. You are what you want to be, I’m a writer, I broke out of my comfort zone…did you?

*On a side note: I stopped using IE (Internet Explorer). Readers who are using IE are encountering problems leaving a comment on the embedded form. One option available is to download either Google Chrome or Firefox as a backup. If you do download one or the other and still want IE as your prominent browser, don’t click the default option when you download and IE should still remain the default. You will simply need to switch over to either Chrome or Firefox to browse Blogger. I hope this helps my IE readers.

I’m always open to receiving comments through email at ravensquietscreams@gmail.com . In addition, I can now reply to comments left in the comment section, thanks to a new option for Blogger users using the embedded comment form.

Image from here.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Like Water by Stone

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“The pages, in the wind, flew, were fluffed and ruffled like water by stones into a tune.”
– Lynn Emanuel

As years end approached, I found myself kicking furiously at the metaphorical hands clasped around my ankles tormenting me like a whirlwind hell-bent against a lone leaf left on a skeletal tree limb.

Falling was not an option; stumbling in giddy enthusiasm as I escorted the year out was definitely a possibility. Of course, the days dragged and lagged one into another and I held my breath hoping the other shoe forgot to drop. *Friends rallied around exclaiming 2012 would be my year. “My year?” I snarled at the black screen in front of me, after discovering my computer had given me a virtual middle finger salute in the form of a ‘malicious virus’.

A lone leaf wafts down…

The following days would split the current of my emotions as if gravel skipped ashore and tumbled into gemstones forged of quiet repose and forgotten moments. Days made of quiet self-satisfied smiles learning new recipes and enjoying the scent of decadent aromas wafting up from the stove. Moments spent beside a pup as she grumbled and snorted in her sleep farting, only to wake up to my groans of protest and laughter; coupled by breathless days of gentle snowfall powdering bare branches and the grass in a linen sheet of cotton tufts. Waves of euphoria rose and hurtled against the shore of uneasy resolve, like a turbulent sea flowing into a rambling brook parting over river stones of promise.

I was going to attempt to write about a year of my life (which I found impossible to condense). A year not so easily dismissed once memory serves to remind me of the tranquility submerged between the waves of who I am. Lynn Emanuel wrote, “My spelling faltered under the spell of myself.” – I know that feeling and as long as I live a life filled with an aria of words, each year will be my year.

A rumpled leaf waves playfully through the windowpane, dancing to the tune of the winds cadence before disappearing…

*You can find Lynn Emanuel’s poem Itemhere in all its exquisite, curious beauty.
** To those well-meaning friends, thank you for reminding me of what’s important, even if I need a push in the right direction from time to time.

Picture can be found here.
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