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Missing Me

Missing Me

As a 40-something year old 

special education teacher

with anxiety and depression, 

I really don’t have too many moments 

to miss things. 

Sometimes I miss Sunday nights 

of bad TV and bleached roots. 

I miss the nights I could stay awake 

past 9 o’clock. 

But what I really miss is the me I was 

before common core and crippling debt. 

I miss the Sarah Jessica Parker, 

Girls Just Want to Have Fun, 

9 year old dancer in me, 

the one who performed in front of strangers

in the neighbor’s front yard on hot summer afternoons. 

I miss the frolicking-through-carnivals me, 

the stuffed purple unicorns and corn dogs me, 

the me who belted out “The Right Stuff” 

at the top of the ferris wheel. 

Sometimes I miss being afraid of thunderstorms, 

Those questionable days watching out for the dark clouds 

rolling in while at the community pool, knowing exactly 

when it was time to run like hell for the arms 

of the college-age lifeguard. 

I was pretty smart for an 11 year old.

Yes I do miss the naive me, 

the one who fell hard for hugs from boys, 

not knowing they were simply looking 

to feel my early-developed rack against their bodies. 

I miss no-makeup-wearing me, 

the small sips from Dad’s beer bottle me, 

the me who sat at the coffee table

with tomato soup, grilled cheese, and Hollywood Squares.

I miss my mother teaching me how to apply 

three shades of eyeshadow, on her bare knee, 

the only light coming from the TV. 

I miss the me that cut her own hair 

and refused to wear a real bra, 

the jumping off the swings 

at absurd heights, daredevil in me, 

the skateboarding on tennis courts me, 

the me that curled up on couches 

with boys after school and listened 

to cassette recordings of dirty comics. 

I miss the me who kissed an older guy 

who dipped and pretended to like it, 

I miss the young, savage, wine-cooler drinking, 

menthol cigarette smoking, crossing a busy 

highway in the dark kind of me, 

the girl who wasn’t afraid of screwing up, 

if she ever really existed. 

I miss the daily poem writing, 

the 2 am epiphany kind of me, 

the student in me who still knew the world 

was hers for the taking, 

the young adult in me who was okay 

with minimum balances 

and boyish men who should have married their mothers. 

I miss the me who truly believed 

she could teach young minds to love

Shel Silverstein, 

collecting rocks and words, 

and putting words on rocks, 

writing stories about magic coins, 

and how to love. themselves. first. 

Despite the things I know I miss, 

I’ve realized I can’t really miss them at all, 

for the walls of my brain, adorned with 

Garbage Pail Kids, bubble gum cigarettes, 

New Kids on the Block posters, and peeled skin

from many sunburns – they may never crumble 

in the chaos of now. 

The me who could write a term paper in one day, 

the me who could go 40 years without breaking a bone, 

and the me who trusted this thing called love – she’s there, 

in the recesses of the mind, striving to live again 

like ghosts and ivy.  

Rainbow of Sins II

Rainbow of Sins II 

You’re the kind of blood poisoning 

women beg for – 

the sweet burn of you 

like fire red whiskey 

sliding down a desolate core. 

My armor is made of rain-soaked, 

tangerine rolls of linen paper. 

Yet underneath all the yards, 

you should see my cast-iron shell,

painted in an apricot coat of resilience. 

Near the light house, we could lie 

naked, wrapped in sheets, in the sand

since everyone around us 

would be too busy gazing at a golden torch 

that’s not meant for them.

Farther away, there are emerald blossoms 

that can turn into confetti 

with a single drop of my liberation. 

The rain always tastes better in Rome.

I’ve learned that indigo ink 

is permanent, only if it’s used 

more on an early, almost lover 

rather than a beloved mother. 

Violet violence is the good kind. 

that’s when I’m bedecked 

by that real kind of love 

that sticks like jelly

then hardens into amethyst.  

Happy World Poetry Day

Talk to me 

Conversations with contemplative pauses, 

glittering crags of phrases littered with shards 

of random swearing. 

I’ll notice how your mouth moves 

when you say things like, “impervious to pain”. 

I’ll take a mental photo of your fingers raked 

through your hair. 

Tell me to stop smoking when I drink, 

tell me to stop drinking while I pray, 

show me how to forgive every once in a while. 

I won’t mind being honest about what my nails 

were digging into each night, 

as long as you keep telling me stories only I’ll believe, 

and I promise to keep drawing on the mirror with lipstick, 

and finger writing my name down your spine. 

Perhaps the start of a poetic memoir, maybe just randomness

Still, every once in a while, a poem or two will come out of nowhere even when I’m drowning in fiction. I highly recommend Beth Kephart’s Tell the Truth. Make it Matter: a memoir writing workbook.

If this jewelry box could talk…

I’m older than anyone left living in the family, 

yet I’ve seen less of your world 

then these rings you never wear, 

and the broken chains you’ll never fix. 

I am stained with nail polish remover and hot tears. 

I thought you’d paint over me one day. 

Then you realized Mom would have killed you 

for altering my chipped, distressed bones. 

Locket-sized photos of people you barely knew, 

broken broaches and chokers, marbles, Italian lira, 

Mom’s chunky necklaces you can’t bring yourself 

to touch – nevermind wear. 

This is what you’ve held hostage inside of me 

all these years, and when you’re gone 

they’ll be no one left to take me to a new home. 

So before I find myself in a rummage sale 

tape a note to me that says, “I mattered once”. 

A note from the bedroom door…

I’m tired of watching you scroll on your phone 

until you fall asleep and the damn thing hits the floor, 

exhausted listening to you bawling 

until that one blocked sinus in your conscience clears. 

I’m open when I should be closed. 

I’m closed, and stay closed, when the breeze 

vies for a chance to cool the sweat on your neck. 

Stop hanging things on me as if you’ll never need me to close. 

I am worth more than the cheap, gray paint you dressed me in. 

I am the first thing that stands against the world for you, 

so use me like you use this pen – 

urgently, with a strong grip and without reason. 

Moving forward 

You forgot I was there, didn’t you? The key fob to what was your mother’s car. It’s funny what you forget once it falls to the bottom of the fifth purse you’ve used this month. Remember when the dog chewed on the corner of me? Mom never scolded the dog since the fob still worked – starting the engine, locking the doors, creating the illusion of safety with the panic button. That’s just the kind of person she was – forgiving, as long as she and everyone she loved appeared safe, alive, and free to move forward. 

Bring me back…

When you are a 40-something special education teacher with depression and anxiety, you don’t get too many quiet moments to simply reflect and process. Occasionally, a seemingly obscure moment – whether it’s listening to a new or old song, watching a scene from an impactful movie, revisiting an episode of a classic sitcom, or a having a brief encounter with a stranger – this moment will come out of no where and remind you of what you once had, what you have now, and what you can still lose. This is especially true in this digital age where we allow our whole lives to be accessible. I had one of these moments this morning, and it hit me with its best shot. 

I woke up a half an hour before my alarm to go to the bathroom, and I cannot think of many things that are more infuriating, besides getting whipped with a Twizzler. So I figured it was not worth going back to sleep only to be ripped from my ten minutes of additional slumber. As I often do, I got back into bed and screwed around on my phone, trying desperately not to fall into a teasing sleep. I’ll often watch true crime videos on YouTube (why I do this in the dark when my anxiety-laced brain is incapable of any rational thought, I do not know), but sometimes I’ll listen to music and/or watch music videos. Several days before I received a notification about a brand new New Kids on the Block song and video, so I decided to check it out. 

Let me just pause by saying, without an ounce of shame, that I still love those handsome sons of bitches from Beantown. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was all about that scene – posters, magazines, books, buttons, a hat with the top cut off, I had a lot of stuff – my collection was nothing compared to all the girls who owned the dolls, bedsheets, shower curtains, trading cards, and marbles. Mom never let me go that crazy because as the wise woman she was, she knew the phase would pass. And it did. It just sort of happened. They disappeared. I disappeared into the 90’s world of flannel shirts, Doc Martens, dyed fire engine red hair, and grunge. 

It took about fourteen years for me to discover that they were back together, touring regularly, making new music, and establishing a following of young and old, male as well as female. Years ago, I worked with someone who told me about seeing the New Kids in concert, and I assumed it was a random reunion show and didn’t think much of it. Well, I certainly made an ass out of, just me. It’s not like they have an enormous following now that most of the boys are in their 50’s. But what they do have is almost like a secret society – chalk full of thirty and forty-something year old women – mothers, daughters, grandmothers, teachers, doctors, lawyers – all looking to preserve and embrace the shadows of a simpler time. These guys have also aged beautifully and are damn fun to watch too. The raging hormone factor certainly hasn’t gone away. But now the boys don’t have to worry about being overpowered by clouds of Aqua Net and the clutches of Lee Press On Nails.  

Going back to my morning, I popped in my ear buds, listened to the new song a couple of times, and was overcome with a bizarre fusion of joy, laughter, and pain – the joy and laughter for the crazy nostalgia the song triggered, and the anguish and tears for a time long passed. A time before unrealistic expectations, breakdowns, divorce, losing a parent, losing jobs, and losing sight of what really matters – fun, pure joy, family, friends, and nurturing your inner child. A time when life actually made sense for the most part. I found myself staring at the wall next to my bed, trying to figure out why a New Kids On the Block song was making me ball at 5 o’clock in the morning on a Thursday. I planned to write this in an attempt to figure out why, and I don’t have an answer. At least not a solid one. 

Do I have to seriously reevaluate my “now” to not be so profoundly affected by my “then”? Does this mean I would give up anything I have now in order to get one more day – one more day of Teen Beat magazines, bike rides in the mud, and Garbage Pail Kids? 

Would I give it all up for one more night at the roller skating rink or the mall? One more day shopping for high top sneakers, Baby Sitters Club books, and Trapper Keepers? Is there really nothing I wouldn’t let go of now for one more visit to Orange Julius with my Mom, or one more frolic at the town carnival with my grandmother? She won me a lot of New Kids posters playing those games back in the day. 

Maybe I would give up all of my “now” or maybe I wouldn’t. But one thing is for sure, I am honored and blessed to have lived in that time, and I am proud and thankful to be a 42 year old Blockhead. In general, I am eternally grateful for the throwbacks and the nostalgia that’s keeping me lifted when it seems like the Earth is going up in flames. May the blend of ecstatic and hellacious tears continue to put out many fires. So keep bringing it on boys.