invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

fall…winter…life November 25, 2008

Filed under: family,life,love,pain — clementine @ 1:03 am
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i have always loved fall. there is something about the crisp, colorful leaves that brings me much joy. i have fond memories of raking big piles of leaves as a child (or my father would rake them) and my sister and i would jump in them. there is a picture on my refrigerator and i’m guessing i was about seven, my father is standing there with a rake next to a pile of those crisp, colorful leaves and i’m just sitting in the middle of the pile. i was happy and innocent then. maybe that’s why i love fall so much.

it’s cold here and we’ve been building fires, they are very comforting. another reminder of the past i suppose. as i type i see our cat has left his blanket near the fire and is lying on the marble, as close as he can get to the fire. we, of course, keep a good eye on him…but he too, loves the comfort and warmth of a nice fire.

our first fire of the year…
first-fire-2008

and now winter is approaching…the holidays…and there is a feeling of emptiness inside. my heart is still breaking. at this moment, i’m thinking of my mother’s stuffing and her jingling sweaters. thursday i will make her corn casserole and think of her. but i will make it for my husband, who loves corn. soon we’ll put up the christmas tree. a tree which we will decorate with ornaments that all bring back so many beautiful memories of the past. i’ve been told i shouldn’t live in the past (and i don’t think i do) however, the past should live within us all, the good and bad. i don’t want to erase the past. i don’t want to forget those memories. i want to forever remember them. all of them. and so, as i hang the ornaments this year, i will remember the good times.

and i will smile while fighting back the inevitable tears.

 

easy does it December 26, 2006

Filed under: life,pain — clementine @ 8:15 pm
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this year as we shopped for the families in need, i hoped one of the little girls in the many families wished for an easy-bake oven. i never saw that wish. it wasn’t until the last day of shopping i saw an 8-year-old who had simple wishes…clothes, cd player, paints…that i decided to use some money left over and get her that easy-bake oven.

the easy-bake was one of the my favorite things as a child. i baked many cakes in that oven. two or so years later i moved on to bigger cakes and even won a few cake decorating contests in our local 4-h club. somewhere along the line i stopped cooking. maybe i just got lazy. maybe i caved into fast food and frozen 5 minute meals. maybe i stopped enjoying it. of course, it’s not the 1950s. women are working. dinner doesn’t have to be on the table at 5. those days are long gone. and that is just fine.

as we were shopping my swain watched my eyes light up every time we passed the easy-bake oven. christmas morning the last gift i unwrapped was just that. i thought he was being cute. thoughtful. sweet. all the things he his. later that evening my fears and anxieties overwhelmed me, as they often do. i crawled into bed, under the covers where it was safe and warm. he came back and he told me why he bought that easy-bake oven.

he wanted me to go back. go back to before age 15. and remember what it was like.

some kids had a rough childhood. some kids were poor. some kids never got that easy-bake oven they wished for. but i did. besides the depression i had a wonderful childhood. full of so many beautiful memories. life was easy. and it was mostly good. until i was raped when i was 15. everything changed. and i mean everything.

life was never the same.

today, the easy-bake requires no light bulb. and the cake seems very small. i hope the 8-year-old girl is enjoying it. i hope her life gets better. i hope my 15 never happens to her. but if it does, i hope she finds someone like my swain. and i hope he buys her an easy-bake oven.

 

9:02 on the clock November 30, 2006

Filed under: family,life,pain — clementine @ 8:08 pm
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i’m a firm believer in… all pain is equal. there are many days when the shit gets bad and i repeatedly say, it could be worse. it could be worse. the phrase life is short is frequently used but i wonder how many people actually hear it or believe it. the truth is, yes, life is short. too short for some. my nineteen year old cousin was killed in kuwait on february 6, 2003. he joined the national guard for one reason: tuition assistance. and now he’s dead. my father’s cousin died eleven years ago. while visiting the memorial site i realized, yes, life is short. seeing his marker surrounded by smaller markers, those of the children killed that same day.

those children didn’t get the chance to really live life. their time here was too short. for those of us here today, as long as we’re breathing, we should be living. doing something differently. opening our hearts. our minds. our souls. we can’t stop the violence. but we have a voice, we can use it. we can’t end poverty. but we can help a few in need. we can’t change the past. but we can learn to live in the present. we can’t stop the hatred. but we can love. today i was reminded of my father’s cousin and thought i’d share something i wrote a few months ago.

9:02 on the clock

a man calls a friend
he asks a favor
could you please pick up some paperwork
at the social security office?
he would drive himself
but he spends his days
in a wheelchair
to the friend, i am sure
it was a simple errand

i imagine
the friend
stood in line, making small talk
possibly with teresa
who was there
to pick up a social security card
for her 8 month-old-son, sean
or maybe
the friend
he no longer waited in line,
he was at the counter
chatting with richard
who had worked there for years
or maybe
the friend
he stood in line, talking to no one
alone with his thoughts
thinking of
the many things
he had to do that day
it was still early, after all

except
this was no ordinary day
it was
the 19th of april
the year, 1995
and the social security office
was in
the alfred p. murrah federal building
in oklahoma city

the clock read 9:02 a.m.
when a truck bomb
made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer
and fuel oil
exploded
outside the building
the explosion could be felt
30 miles away

168 were dead
19 of which
were children
one of which was
the friend
my father’s cousin
thomas was his name

he was a good friend
he was a good husband
he was a good father
he was a good man
he lived a good life

twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. so throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbor. catch the trade winds in your sails. explore. dream. discover. – mark twain

 

burning the t-shirt October 29, 2006

Filed under: pain — clementine @ 8:03 pm
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today i woke up feeling terrible. for several days headaches have been waking me from my sleep. and not just your average headache. head pounding. sensitive to light. i can’t focus. my only thought is, excedrin, make it stop, now. i thought maybe my sinus headaches were back but now i’m thinking it’s a side effect from lamictal. i’ve had them before but with acupuncture, they quickly disappeared. it looks like i’ll be returning for more acupuncture once i get paid.

the headaches coupled with it’s that time of the month…and a bunch of stress, i’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. the stress would be, me struggling…to let go of something that happened so very long ago. to this day it rears its ugly head and disrupts my life. it makes trusting someone extremely difficult and therefore causes problems in my relationship, my marriage.

i believe most mentally ill human beings are born that way. it’s genetic. that’s the case with me. because there is no other explanation for suicidal thoughts at 13. especially when life wasn’t so bad. my parents worked hard to make sure i had the best of everything. and yet, i didn’t want to live. life to me was hopeless. and that’s why at 13 i saw my first of many psychiatrists. and then just as life seemed painful enough a man entered my life. at a party. age fifteen. this is what i remember. a gravel driveway. my underwear ripped from me. hard thrusts. my head banging against a tire. a struggle. and then. a bathtub. i’m in it wearing only a t-shirt. and there was blood. on my ear. on my face. on my t-shirt. my friend since the age of four leaning over me telling me everything would be ok. except it wasn’t ok.

i was so far from ok that…that night and all memories of that night escaped me for years. it was as if it never happened. until one crisp fall day, four years later. it slowly creeped back. something triggered it, of course. i remembered the man and the night. i allowed the pain and the memories to overwhelm me to the point of escaping them. for years. drinking. alone. quit college. waiting tables. a brief stay in a mental hospital. never in a relationship. men used me and i was just fine with that or so i thought i was. i deserved it, it was how it was to be, i believed that more than anything.

there were periods of light. but mostly darkness. and then one day, i decided i was tired of spinning my wheels, lost. my dream to work in the film industry became a reality. and not by luck. i pursued that dream with all i had. some could say i’ve been successful. my list of credits is impressive. but all along, i was still lost. the work was yet another escape. for eighteen years i’ve been wearing the same t-shirt. it is old, worn and dirty. and yet, it has been comfortable, safe, all these years. until now. this year marked the year i let someone in. i opened my heart to a man and began to tear down the walls. the feelings of worthlessness. the fears. the anxieties. only, that t-shirt is still here. it’s not comfortable and i’ve replaced it with a nice warm sweater or a pair of pajamas but it’s still hanging there begging me to put it on, every once in a while. i want to burn that t-shirt. and i don’t know how. i need to burn it. i don’t know how. my only hope is that my strength will soon defeat this pain. i am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. i do not believe in turning back time, if only we could erase one moment. there are days i would like to, and this is one of those days. but…no, because we are who we are because of these pains. and i wouldn’t want to be anyone else but me.

i am reminded that i am so very lucky. my swain…my love is there, every step, every breathe, reminding me that i deserve this. i am worthy of this love and so much more. i believe it now, more than anything. but that damn t-shirt still taunts me.

 

i miss eddie August 24, 2006

Filed under: life — clementine @ 7:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

i did not enjoy living in los angeles, well, beverly hills. i have often thought if i lived in silverlake or santa monica or los feliz…maybe my experience would have been a better one. but probably not…there are approximately 7,876.8 people living per square mile in los angeles. and i don’t like crowds.

i’m a small town girl. i grew up in a town with one stoplight (there are 2 today, i believe.) we had a dairy queen and a stop-n-go convenience store. a bakery. a drugstore. to see a movie i had to drive 10 miles, but back then it felt like 30 or 40. most of my days were spent with friends at my house. swimming in our pool. playing soccer in the yard. skipping school. friday night football games. the town was 100% white until my freshman year in high school when a family adopted an african-american boy. it was a big deal. to this day, some 15 years later, the town is still white and it saddens me. the kids today, i am sure, are doing the same thing i did so many years ago. i want more for all of them. i want them to at least experience living in a city like los angeles or nashville or new york or austin…nothing wrong with raising a family and keeping life simple, just because it’s not for me doesn’t make my life better, but…

i read something a friend posted at her website, it’s the story of eddie.. a homeless man who lived on the rooftop of her office building. the homeless can tell a story with their eyes. i’ve had many conversations with the homeless and many times without a word spoken between the two of us. and usually, they touch me in a way i cannot describe except to say i’m a better person, more enlightened after meeting them. one example would be a man i met while working on a film in memphis. his name, too, was eddie. we were working 12-20 hour days, six days a week. it wasn’t easy but most crew members were making incredible money. we had a warm bed to sleep in. plenty of food and drink to eat. friends and family to call.

eddie slept on the loading deck of the building where we filmed for several days. no bed, only blankets. and no food or drink of his own. no family. but he had friends. so many friends. i put him in the movie and he worked several days- you can actually see him in the film, several times, one scene singing along with the lead actor. i would wake him every morning and he was so excited to start the day. (those moments are moments i will never forget, the look on his face…me, sleepy and wishing i was in bed and he, alive and awake!) i would walk to catering with him and he would eat…and eat. and eat. usually pancakes…. i would always go to catering after lunch and fill several boxes with food for him to share with his friends later that evening. meanwhile he would stand and wait patiently for his turn to walk in front of the camera while the other extras sat and complained…are we finished yet? how much longer until we wrap? what’s taking so long? i need makeup, time for a touch-up! we are running out of bottled water and the coffee isn’t good.

but never a word from eddie. my sweet eddie with a full beard and warm eyes..eyes that said so much. those eyes that would light up when i woke him. he could have slept. he could have walked to the store with enough money to get that bottle in the brown paper bag. he could have avoided the lights and the people and avoided the reality that he didn’t have what we had. but i choose to believe he knew…he knew he had so much more.

as i was typing this, a friend called, she still lives in that small town where i grew up. i was listening to paul simon’s graceland when she called. i remember the day i took her and her son to graceland. and beale street. standing on a rooftop overlooking the mississippi river. and walking the streets populated with so many faces, some haunted, but all with a story to tell. there are no homeless men or woman in my old hometown. most of the kids there will never see memphis. or los angeles. they will never know what it’s like to look into someone’s eyes and see something so very real. and beautiful.