I’m Gone Be Alwrite

writing scrabble

For a while, Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” has been playing in my head. The chorus is a mantra for me some weeks as I remind myself that I’m going to be alright. Today, I decided to do a play on his words and say that I will be all write. Because as long as I can write then I will be alright. This weekend has been jam packed with one of my favorite things, writing. I have picked up a couple of writing obligations which I am super excited about but I also had to finish a piece that was especially difficult and one that capitalized on the emotions that the earlier piece stoked.

Since 2012, writing has become therapeutic. It has been the number one way that I’ve expressed my emotions and the inner workings of my mind. One of the worst parts of having writer’s block is that it stifles my creativity and also my ability to purge the surplus of emotions that flood my system daily and weekly. I remember once having writer’s block so bad that I felt sick and wasn’t sure why until I realized that I wasn’t even reading. That’s when I knew that there was a serious problem. This week, I wanted to force myself to write as a way to combat being overly distressed.  I am trying to force myself to write through the roller coaster of my emotions as a way to prevent some sort of emotional short circuit and it may be helping but what I know is that writing is therapeutic for me. I hope to share a few new pieces of poetry with you over the next two weeks and possibly some new fiction.

Have any of you written as a salve for your emotions? Or as a way to purge?

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Insomniac – Maya Angelou

I never knew that this poem existed; yet another reason to love the poet that was Maya Angelou. Insomnia and I are lifelong friends, seriously. I can remember being five or six and wondering why I was awake. So I would read. Sleep does not now nor has it ever loved me. Thank goodness that I have things to do and watch when it robs me of its presence and I am forever grateful for those who understand.

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There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.

The Bomb- New Fiction

This is an extremely rough draft of what may be the opening scene from the piece that I want to work on for NaNoWriMo this year. It’s a story that has shifted in my head over the years but I hope to keep it in the forefront by working on it this year.

the bomb

“Maya, have you left the city yet?” the disembodied voice asked through the Bluetooth as I hopped into the driver’s seat of my Chevy Tahoe.  The dulcet tones of her voice were soothing but the sound reminded me of the nagging feeling that had been bothering me all day as if I’d forgotten something.

“I’m leaving right now, Mom” I said in response as I began to maneuver through the garage, making my way to the exit.

“You forgot, didn’t you?” she asked. I exhaled quietly because I was sure now that I had forgotten something and that it probably related to one or more of my three children.

My silence prompted my mother in law of 16 years to giggle. She now knew for sure that I’d forgotten but was waiting for me to admit it.

“Yes, Noni apparently I forgot” I said good naturedly. Since my return to work part time I’d been juggling my work and personal lives in light of my husband’s request for a divorce six months prior.

“Baby, you promised that Greggie could spend the weekend with the kids. I’ve already cleared everything with his foster mom and wanted to know what time you’d be getting home” she reminded me.

Until this last minute call from my mother in law Karen, affectionately called Noni by my children, I’d completely forgotten about my promise to allow the kid’s new friend Greggie to spend the weekend at our Millburn, NJ home. I’d also promised to bring home a myriad of foods for dinner tonight instead of cooking since I’d be in the city all day.

“Don’t worry, I already asked them what they wanted for dinner and I’ll order the food. That way it should give you time to get here. I’ll order for you too” she told me as I concentrated on making my way out of the city.

Even though it was before 2:00 pm on a Friday I hoped to make good time getting back to Jersey so that I could stop at our new favorite Millburn bakery Sugared to pick up some cupcakes and brownies for dessert since Noni would take care of ordering dinner.

I made good time on the 40, sometimes 50, minute drive and after a quick stop at the bakery where the owner, Jazz, threw in two Amaretto infused cupcakes for me when I told her about the sleepover I headed home.

I pulled into the long driveway behind the house noticing the kids playing on the other side of the yard before I pulled into the detached garage. I walked through the back door and encountered my in laws sitting next to each other at the kitchen island.

“Hey baby, how was your day?” My father in law asked with a smile as he leaned over to kiss me on the cheek.

“It was okay. I love only having to go into the city once or twice a week though; if I had to go any more I’d need a driver” I told him.

He chuckled and said, “The commute has been stoking your road rage, huh?”

I laughed in response and spoke to them for a while about the kids before I went upstairs into my bedroom and changed into a pink crew neck sweater, jeans and Uggs to combat the crisp October air. I knew that I lucked out with my in laws; I was fortunate that they’d loved me from the start and I returned the sentiment. They’d been a godsend during our whole marriage and since the separation I’d begun to rely on them even more.

The kids had come in and I could hear the older boys in the study as my six year old daughter and ten year old son bounded into the kitchen. They bombarded me with questions and jumped around in their excitement at having their friend staying with us for the weekend.

“Ma, is Greggie going to stay upstairs with Arnaud?” Alain, my second oldest child asked.

“I guess so, honey” I responded. As the oldest, Arnaud had the entire third floor which consisted of two rooms, a full bathroom and a living room type of space. It only made sense for the boys to stay up there since Greggie could stay in either Arnaud’s room on the sleeper sofa or in the other room which had a twin bed. The food had arrived while I was upstairs and my mother in law and I unpacked the bags while I answered their questions about what we were having for dinner and dessert.

Just as I finished speaking, the two boys pushed through the door. My son Arnaud was already speaking, excited to tell me something.

“Ma, Greggie said that his dad is in that picture with Uncle Mick in the study. You know, the one with his group?” he announced as he entered. I could see him in my peripheral vison as he made his way over to the table.

“What are you talking about, Arnaud?” I asked turning away from the table to address him. Their friend was a foster child and I knew that there was no way that two members of that group had a 13 year old son in the world.

In the middle of my next question I stopped breathing. I’m sure that the color drained from my face as I clutched my chest. I felt myself sliding down on the hardwood floor as I strangled on a scream.

That face. The face that I’d last seen in a coffin 14 years ago. In a moment of hysteria I thought I might have been hallucinating but when I reached out his face was warm but those chestnut brown eyes were a little too slanted. His honey colored complexion was the same though as was his rangy frame. The hair was different, showing traces of his mother’s African American ancestry.

Through my tears, I could see the worried looks on the faces of the children and my mother in law. I could hear my father in law’s whispered voice on the phone begging someone, probably my older brother to get to the house ASAP as I reached out and held onto Greggie. I now knew that he was the son of my childhood best friend Gregorio Rodriguez who’d been murdered so many years ago.

Nearly half an hour later, I sat alone on the burgundy leather couch of the sofa clutching the picture of Gregorio that normally sat high on a bookshelf while Noni fussed over me, placing a cable knit throw over my legs and pointing to the hot toddy on the table. She was about to say something when she noticed Greggy at the door.

I’d feared this moment forever, it seemed. I knew what he was going to ask me and it would rip the pain wide open to have to answer his questions but I owed it to him.

He sat on the floor in front of me silently for a moment. Then he exhaled and asked the question, “Do you know who killed my dad?”

I shook my head before saying the word out loud, “No” I told him.

Breathe…

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Courtesy of London Instagram

I still have to remind myself to breathe
To deeply exhale
To take the next breath

My heart is still a bit bruised
Still tender and raw
Bracing for the next blow

Tears frequently roll by unbidden
Like the words that I want to share
But those thoughts have to remain hidden

When I think of you
I am reminded of my humanity
Of my vulnerability

On those sleepless nights
Anxiety often creeps in
I wonder if I am doing it right

If I’m living enough
Not to live for you
But to fulfill every measure
Of life without you

Alone- Maya Angelou

I hope that I haven’t posted this before but it’s Maya Angelou and I can’t pass up a chance to revisit one of her pieces. The refrain of this poem has been in my head for a while so I decided to share it. Can I just say that I love this poem? It is a reminder to me in my antisocial moments that I need other people, that I need to get out and smell fresh air, smile at other people and interact. It repeats in my ear that I am not an introvert and that, in spite of my thinking otherwise, I am fed by engaging with others. It also reminds me of the movie Poetic Justice and Janet Jackson and who can’t use a reminder of Janet? I hope you enjoy it!

courtesy of lilliemcferrin.com

courtesy of lilliemcferrin.com

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Why I Read

Oak Bridge 265

I remember before I ever thought of doing it…some of my family used to call me Professor. It wasn’t solely because of my ability and willingness to veraciously devour books but that played a large part in it. Well that and my skills with helping people write papers. In so many ways, I am still grounded in those two things. How lucky am I that my job is to do something that combines my strengths and loves? That they are part of what I get paid to do? At any rate, today I was wondering where my love of writing comes from. I think that I shared here before that I wrote my first story at six; at my writing desk. I know that it stems, in part, from my maternal great grandmother’s storytelling which always kept me entertained and gave me a love for stories. However, I think that my love of writing is rooted firmly in my love of reading.

Although I love writing, my love of reading is all consuming. I can spend an entire day lying in bed with either physical books or my tablet. I inhale them in a way that has been a constant all my life. Even when I’m taking classes I still make time to read for my own pleasure. Reading is also one of the ways that I become inspired to write.  The stories that I read inspire my own creativity but they also replenish my love of reading. I am waiting now for the arrival of a Laura Lippman book and plan to visit my library to pick up a few books for this weekend. I am planning to start prepping for my story for NaNoWriMo this year later on this week and I hope that my reading sparks my ability to create something amazing.