Tuesday, April 8, 2014

try again.

I haven't written a proper poem in a very long time.  I feel that this one could become something acceptable, but I keep nitpicking at it and oscillating between being too subtle or too clear.  Critiquing encouraged.  It's meant to hold a lose-but-not-so-lose space where you can imagine your own story or maybe guess at the multiple back stories. Or it's just a bunch of words not put together quite elegantly enough!
try again

It's raining.

She's regretting missed chances the way only a Canadian can -
clutching a hot cup soon to have its rim rolled up,

and pining for lost loves the way only a twenty-something can -
watching grey drops roll down glass and writing bad poetry.

Except she is no longer Canadian nor twenty-something

She sips, remembering.

"Most of my poetry is bad",
they said,
to each other,
as if to explain away the kind of person that would do as curious a thing as write down feelings.

Instead they sat a little too close
and said all the things except the one Thing. 

She puts down the cup and dawdles pen on paper.

Someone once told her
"reading and writing so much is a waste of time. it's not natural."

Old-world echoes. 

The same voices that say girls should wear makeup, boys play with trucks and don't cry, and girls don't belong with girls.

Another sip of coffee.

she writes,

the rain washes away the sadness/it's only a crush after all/
and I find strength to break free of old ideas/and try again

No. Crumples it away. 

Bad poetry.

Nursing her coffee, she hears faints lyrics from the speakers in the corner

'Here's your medicine', [the Chinese doctor] said,
'If you not smile at [her], then someone else will.' *

She sips the last lukewarm drops.

loves me, loves me not?

Unfurls the petal - 

Reesayez, s'il vous plait.
lyrics from Ben Folds Five "Hold that thought"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Today my happiness was...

I started an exercise for myself a little while ago during a period when I was feeling very sad.  I realized that I often go through the days and they all blur together, leaving me without a real sense of what I experienced that day, what made me happy or joyful, if anything.  So I started going over each day and thinking about what really made me happy, however fleeting. Some days it's only little things in a sea of chaos, but reminding myself and putting it out there gives me a new outlook on the day. Often, it is at the forefront of my mind as I go through another long or tedious day.  I am actively looking for happiness, rather than waiting for it to find me.  Perhaps this is a kind of mindfulness.

This exercise is different from the "gratefulness" exercise I often see people do on Facebook.  This is a conscious effort to notice the things that make me feel genuinely happy, in whatever way I personally interpret that word.  As I explained to a friend, it really forces me to be present to my day and really process how I'm feeling. It surprises me how many days go by where I don't actually feel very happy at all, but then that forces me to find ways to bring joy to my day - put on Bach in the car, go for a rainy walk, make myself fancy hot chocolate... and some days when I initially can't think of anything "big" that made me happy, a deeper contemplation reveals little things like a little boy's smile, a brief interaction with a coworker, or the sound of wind or a bird or the smell of toasted spices... I guess what I'm saying is it forces me to live in the moment and FIND happiness, however brief.

Because things tend to vanish on Facebook walls as new information pushes away the old, I've collected the "happinesses" so far, for historical purposes. 

March 16:  Today my happiness was spiced hot chocolate after a 3 hour hike in -19 windchill weather, watching Hooded Mergansers and other strange water birds, and listening to beautiful music in German.

March 17: Today my happiness was a boy who doesn't usually want to play with anyone letting me tickle him for the first time and saying "no" when I asked if he wanted me to stop. And listening to Bach's Singet dem Herrn on repeat in the car on the way home.

March 18: Today my happiness was more Bach on the drive home, and a lovely tea with a lovely girl.

March 19: Today my happiness was a robin's song, soft rain, and a cheeky little boy who stole a Dorito right out of his teacher's hand when she wasn't looking.

March 20: Today my happiness was making a little boy laugh by pretending to be a monster who wanted to eat him, and coming home to find two Mourning Doves quietly sitting in the garden outside my apartment.

March 21: Today my happiness was the sound of a red-winged blackbird in the parking lot before work.

March 22: Today my happiness was spending some time playing with my favourite 9 year old twins, an intense voice lesson that helped me regain my focus, and watching a squirrel dig about a dozen holes in search of long-lost nuts.

March 23: Today my happiness is the intoxicating aroma of garam masala made from scratch, and a new appreciation for the spice trade.

March 24: Today my happiness was an incredibly moving performance of Bach's St John Passion by the YorkU Chamber & Concert Choirs. Thank you.

March 25: Today my happiness (to the point of tearing up) was when an almost completely nonverbal boy spontaneously told me "No! Buh-buh!" for more bubbles when I turned them off on our light & bubble machine.

March 26: Today my happiness was a snippet of conversation about happiness in an otherwise chaotic day, and a hug from a toddler who missed me.

March 27: Today my happiness was Bach and hot chocolate.

March 28: Today my happiness was a four hour philosophical conversation, and the smile of a little boy as he rode in a toy car.

March 29: Today my happiness was two little girls who lay quietly in bed while I sang them soft lullabies.

March 30: Today my happiness was quiet geese sitting on the grass at 7am, the return of the starlings, and other mysterious birds singing happily outside my window.

March 31: Today my happiness was sitting in my car for 15 minutes at lunch to squeeze in learning some new music, while the bright red cardinal in the tree just above me did the exact same thing.

April 1: Today my happiness was the smile and rare sustained eye contact of a little boy as I sang to him softly.

April 2: Today my happiness was the shrieks and laughs of two little boys as I chased them in a wagon down the hall. Who says autistic kids aren't social!

April 3: Today my happiness was a photo of wild turkeys sitting outside my friend's office window, and a clementine that reminded me of Portugal.

April 4: Today my happiness was jamming to all the best baroque composers on my five hour drive to Ottawa, with some African American spirituals mixed in.

April 5: Today my happiness was a surprise waterfall by the side of the highway and watching flocks of geese finally returning for the spring.