Season Seven, Episode Three: Fractals

I give so much of me up
To those who don’t deserve it
(So much kindness to ones
Who end up selfish and shitty)
Knowing that they won’t change.
Yet I continue breaking off little bits of myself,
Handing off the smallest slivers,
Trying to fix their problems,
Agonizing over things I cannot control,
Hoping that one day
Someone will appreciate me

Instead of using me up.

–08/14/2018

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Season Seven, Episode Two: Benediction

sundays

–growing up, sundays were for family
that’s what dad always said–

mom woke us up early
took us to church, where we sat on the kneelers and listened to father mcgonegal,
his big booming voice talking about god and jesus and how we should be better human beings 
i used to sit on the padded kneelers and draw on the back of the sunday bulletin with a pen my mom had buried at the bottom of her purse
careful not to press too hard on the paper because i was afraid if i accidentally wrote on the wooden bench of the pew
god would somehow know and be disappointed in me.
(i was too young to be pissing off omnipotent deities)
not really paying attention to the broadway musical of the liturgy of the eucharist going on behind me
this is the blood of the new and everlasting covenant, do this in memory of me

–years later i would sneak away during mass to the cvs across the street, losing myself among the lip glosses and single slabs of eyeshadows that i’d sometimes fantasize about slipping in my pocket 
because dad would forget to give me my allowance and i was afraid to remind him
always making my way back to church just in time for communion–

sundays were for family

back at home
mom would make bacon and eggs and pancakes
grits for dad, he loved to put half a block of cheddar cheese in them
dad’s breakfast was first, especially if he had drank his first breakfast before we came back from mass
if mom didn’t take care of dad first, there would be screaming and yelling 
and sometimes dad’s fist would find mom’s cheekbone
then she would cry,
saltwater mixed with bacon grease, 
a brunch version of christ’s baptism

sundays were for family

if my friends called, i would have to quickly talk and then hang up the phone 
because the lord’s day wasn’t for the things i could do on saturday
and lashawn you are always on that phone a bit too much, always running your mouth about some nonsense 
why don’t you come over here so i can show you what tonight’s pick three is gonna be
i dreamed about your great uncle again, that means death, 769 is gonna come out or maybe his birthday, 214
where the fuck is your mother, i bet she’s sitting in the kitchen reading some damn book again 
when i was your age i had to sit and read the bible on sunday afternoon or else i’d get the switch 
i would sit there and half listen, watching him spend my allowance on state licensed and operated number running
i wasn’t quite sure gambling was part of the lord’s day

sundays were for family 

hop the top for twenty, horn high aces for five 
doesn’t anyone here spend time with their family, it’s sunday
hands throwing twenties into the center of the table,
dice hitting the back wall and landing on 7
that final stanza of the biblical sabbath,
off-broadway but juliet still always dies
cleaning up the cheques just to set them up again
father mcgonegal sermonizes no more,
his pastorage taken because he got high on pig tranquilizers and asked a park ranger for a quickie 
go in peace to love and serve the lord

sundays 

–07/29/2018

Season Six, Episode Three: A Shout Into The Void

Zach—

Hey kid.  Shit, I can’t believe it’s been one year already—seems like it was just yesterday that Courtney messaged me on Facebook to tell me that you had died.  It seems like just yesterday that I screamed in the darkness of my bedroom when I read that message, not caring if my neighbor heard me, my mind not even comprehending that you were dead.

Dead.  You weren’t supposed to die, Z.  We all prayed and begged the heavens that you would wake up, that we would get to see that goofy grin and hear you say “yooooo what’s good, why y’all look so sad…I’m okay”.  That we would get to show you the pictures we took at the benefit held in your honor, tell you how worried we had been and how relieved we were that you made it, even if your brain and body needed some work.  But you didn’t wake up.  You died in some hospital bed in Metro because your body had just been through too much.  You weren’t supposed to die, Z.  You just weren’t.

I remember calling Reggie and Rico, texting Mike…not really being able to see my phone screen because I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating.  I’m not a crier and yet I cried more tears that day than I think I have in my entire lifetime—so many tears that I had to throw my contacts away that night because they were so full of salt.  Lydia came and sat with me on my porch while I cried and insisted that you weren’t supposed to die because you were Zach.  You were so young and bubbly and kind and so full of life and you honestly were the last person I ever would have expected to say goodbye to in a funeral home.  Even though I don’t want to, I can still see you in that casket, bow ties at your feet (because there really was no better way to pay tribute), hat on your head…I remember staring at your face, covered in that makeup that fails so badly at making a cadaver look lifelike, trying to find something that was you…I was in shock and denial and told myself there was no way that was you lying there.  I remember looking at your hands and for some reason that triggered the switch inside me that said yes, this is Zach.  I remember rushing past everyone to go outside and compose myself because I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone in that funeral home, but I cried anyway when I was back in that room, tears running down my face as I stood next to Maria and watched the video of you through your entire life.  I remember thinking how unfair it was to have to say goodbye to you, how unfair that we were all so broken, how unfair that you were gone.

It’s still unfair.  I lost my best friend.  Your friends miss you, and your family aches for you.  Your kids are doing well, your mother posts pics of them often on Facebook.  I bought them presents for their birthday and so many of us bought them things for their first Christmas without you.  I guess it’s a blessing and a curse that they were too young to understand what was going on, and too young to have really made tangible memories with you…it makes the loss easier and harder at the same time.  They really are the cutest kids—your daughter is a beautiful little girl and your son has your personality from what I saw at the dinner after the funeral and from what your mom shares on social media.  I try to check in on your mom every now and then, I know it’s what you would have done if roles were reversed in this situation.  She’s such a strong woman and I see that you got a lot of who you were from her.  You would be proud of her strength.

It’s been a hard year for me, and you dying was the first in the series of deaths I had to face—but you know that, because if there is some sort of an afterlife you are there with my dad and grandpa.  I hope that you are keeping my dad company because I know he misses me and you two would get along so well.  It was very hard to lose my dad and to not have you here to comfort me and to keep my mind busy, but you would have been happy to see that I kept it together and pushed through.  I never realized how hard it would be to not have you here—other friends have stepped up, but it doesn’t fill the void completely.

I miss you.  So much.  It’s insane how often I forget you are gone and I find myself wanting to text you about the stupidest, most random things.  I wish I could call you and sit on my floor and just talk to you—you had a way of being deep and inspiring one minute, and then silly and ridiculous the next.  I miss you coming over and hanging out on my porch with me and just bullshitting while you sit on the steps and smoke your Black and Mild.  I miss how you used to hide behind things and then jump out and scare me, and how hard you would laugh because you thought it was hilarious.  I miss walking out of the craps pit with you, arm in arm, laughing and carrying on like we did when we still worked together, making fun of you on break when you still had that old ass phone that you had before your iPhone, and hanging out with you when we would all go to the club.  I find myself scrolling through our old texts, looking at photos, laughing at goofy videos I have of you, and just reminiscing with everyone.  Your death has left such a hole in our circle of friends—Craig and Daesha moved to Las Vegas, I barely speak to a few in the group, and we aren’t as close as we all used to be.  I haven’t stepped foot in a nightclub since you died, and I haven’t gone Downtown to party since last June.  It just doesn’t feel right.

I wish I could tell you that your family got justice in your death, but they really didn’t.  The two men who killed you were sentenced to eight years in prison, and that doesn’t seem like nearly enough.  Your life was worth so much more.  You were truly a one-of-a-kind person who made an impression on everyone you met, and you were destined for great things that never came into fruition because you accidentally bumped into someone in a club.  Yet again, I’ll say that wasn’t fair.  So many things about your death were not fair.

I think about you all the time, I’m sure all your friends do.  It stormed last night and I got this impulse to run in my backyard and play in the rain, and I decided that if there is some sort of a heaven I hope that you get to look down at us and see moments like that and smile.  I hope you check in on all of us, that you have peace where you are, and that you are as happy as you can be without being on earth with us.  I hope that you are wearing those skinny corduroy pants that you loved (cuffed at the ankles, of course), some Converses, that Army jacket you sweet-talked that lady at Chelsea’s into selling you, and your NY Jets cap, because no one could wear any of that like you.  We all teased you, but you wore your unique style so well.  You were a special individual that we were all so lucky to know, kid.  I hope you knew that.  I hope you knew that you made a difference in the world, and it’s hard for someone to do that–you managed to make such a positive impact on so many people in your short lifetime, and it breaks my heart that we will never get to see what you could have done had you lived.

I don’t think we truly knew how blessed we were to know you until you were gone.

I’m gonna wrap this up the best I can, I could probably go on, but I don’t have an eternity like you do!  Keep watching over us, and we will keep trying to make your memory live on.

I love you, Boo Bear.  Always will.

Shawnster

 

 

Season Six, Episode One: Daddy’s Girl

“you’re so strong”, they say

as if I had a choice

as if there was any alternative.

you taught me to be strong,

and you were the strongest man I know.

you were my first best friend,

my truest friend

you got me when no one else did

a perk I guess of sharing some of the same DNA

you taught me how to properly dunk mini donuts into a glass of milk

tried to teach me to play the keyboard, 

but I was too impatient to learn.

you taught me to be gracious

told me that I was capable of the world and so much more

I learned to appreciate sports from you

learned to carry an intelligent conversation

how to make people laugh.

I inherited your stubbornness

the tendency to work too much.

I’m certain that my love of true crime came from you 

and I will miss watching our “murder mysteries” together 

because of you I’ve never felt short,

even though I’m the tiniest person in the family

confident in every step I take, head up because your daughter would never, could never, won’t ever walk with her head bowed down

you passed on your fierce pride,

along with your quick and ferocious temper

I think of you constantly, 

pushing my sadness aside because it does not bode well to dwell on tragedy

I hope to make you proud one day, if the human soul exists

if your human soul is somewhere out there

I hope that wherever you are, you smile and say 

“you see that strong and accomplished woman? that’s my baby girl, my Caker Boo.”
I love you, Dad.

                    –“Sunday, November 13, 2016 @ 7:28 pm”







George Chillious, 04/26/1944-11/13/2016

Season Five, Episode Four:  Un Peu de Prose Contre

I’m that unconventional kind of pretty, I suppose
If one were to try to define one’s features and retain modesty.
Sometimes I think I’m cute, other times I hate my reflection
I constantly feel too big for such a small person
A walking contradiction
Unsteady yet confident,
The girl who doubts herself in a room full of women
Who feels most like herself in jeans and a tee shirt,
At her best with just lip balm, mascara, and a smile.
I stumble over nothing when I walk,
Clumsy but certain.
Athletic grace has not once entertained me
Just look at my ankles as proof.
I stay up all night and wake up early,
Partly because life is so damn short
But mostly because I’m afraid to miss all the things the Muses have to offer.
I wear my hair up almost at all times
Because life has to be lived and I don’t need hair in my eyes.
I say things over and over in my head,
Because I worry that I’ll trip them up once I say them aloud
And I usually do,
Words have a way of getting stuck in my teeth like caramel popcorn.
I suck at guys, and am perpetually single.
The real world Liz Lemon.
I chew on the edges of my nails when I’m worried,
I make jokes to cover up my nervousness and thin skin
Because I’m a tough girl on the outside,
Who will never let them see how deep they cut her
And who keeps her insecurities inside.
She is braver than she realizes
And stronger than she believes.
Lazy but a dreamer
I’m a mom and a person,
A badass and a debutante,
Indie but mainstream,
Naive but jaded.
I might stumble but I’m never completely down
My glass is eternally half full.

–“autobiographie”, 07/01/2016

Season Four, Episode Nine: Popping My Hipster Concert Cherry (A Review of Sorts)

So last Tuesday night I went to the Matt and Kim concert at the House of Blues with one of my friends.  Prior to stepping foot in the venue, I had heard of them a few times and listened to some of their music for literally the very first time on their Pandora station while I got ready for the show.  I decided to go in with an open mind, because I love music and will give anything a listen at least once.

So.  Many.  Hipsters.

I can feel their sardonic judgement.

I can feel their sardonic judgement.

Hipsters in denim.  Hipsters in scarves.  Hipsters wearing fedoras.  Hipsters in plaid.  Buddy Holly glasses.  PBR.  SO.  MUCH.  PBR.  Cardigans.  Chuck Taylors.  Irony everywhere.

AND BEARDS.  HIPSTER BEARDS ABOUNDED.

A hipster beard AND Pabst Blue Ribbon.  It's too much for one image. LOOK AWAY.

A hipster beard AND Pabst Blue Ribbon. It’s too much for one image.
LOOK AWAY.

I enjoy hipsters, for the most part.  I like that they ride bikes and urban beekeep and garden and the uncanny ability they have to go reside in a shitty neighborhood and BAM, almost instant gentrification.  I admire their dedication to microbrews and tattoos and the obscure.  Without them, I would not have Portlandia.  And I love Portlandia.

Without Portlandia, I would have never discovered the fabulous feminist bookstore ladies.

Without Portlandia, I would have never discovered the fabulous feminist bookstore ladies.

But anyway.  There were hipsters, and the sheer number of them in one small venue was mildly overwhelming.  So I went to message my best friend on Facebook Messenger (he is in the Caribbean and cannot use his phone because international rates and stuff), and I HAD NO CONNECTION.  I cursed the House of Blues gods for blocking my 4G and proceeded to take notes in my Notes app of the funny stuff I thought of while the show went on.  After the show (which I really enjoyed), I read over my notes and realized they might make a witty blog post.

So here y’all go.  Matt and Kim, AS IT HAPPENED (four days later):

I hate tall people.

(I am 5’1″ and all short people will understand the hatred that is getting stuck behind anyone who is more than three inches taller than you at a standing room only concert.)

No matter how much you stand on your tiptoes, you can never really quite completely see.

No matter how much you stand on your tiptoes, you can never really quite completely see.

Either my whiteness is coming out and I have no rhythm, or either all the white people around me have no rhythm.

I’m going with all the white people around me because I feel like I can dance.

Sometimes.

Someone control the bros.  They’re getting out of control.

(Shortly after this, a drunken bro was escorted out of the venue for turning up too hard.)

I am the calmest person at this concert.

I don’t know how to dance to hipster music.

Like, is bouncing my leg and nodding my head appropriate?

I feel like it is.

That’s what I’m going with.

Oh hey…they’re covering “Ignition (Remix)”.  I love that song.

That man across the room is wearing the shortest, tightest jorts I have ever seen on a man.

You cannot deny his obvious dedication to a strict squat and lunge exercise routine.

You cannot deny his obvious dedication to a strict squat and lunge exercise routine.

They are seriously like Daisy Dukes.  He’s wearing denim hot pants.

I will not jump, Matt and Kim.  I’m in a room of uncoordinated young white professionals.

I am uncoordinated and the people around me are most likely uncoordinated and full of overpriced Downtown Cleveland beer, so...I'm just going to bob my head to the beat and look interested, okay?

I am uncoordinated and the people around me are most likely uncoordinated and full of overpriced Downtown Cleveland beer, so…I’m just going to bob my head to the beat and look interested, okay?  But you totally do your thing and stand on your drum.  You got this for the both of us.

I have upgraded my dance moves to wiggling my body and shaking my head back and forth.

Seems legit.

This band is pretty great.  I would be friends with these guys.

You guys can be my quirky musician friends who are the constant life of the party and get too loud when they drink.

You guys can be my quirky musician friends who are the constant life of the party and get too loud when they drink.

Oh…they busted out the fucking smoke machines.  You know shit is serious when they bust out the smoke machines.

Because nothing says shit is getting all kinds of real quite like the crazy smoke from a smoke machine.

Because nothing says shit is getting all kinds of real quite like the crazy smoke from a smoke machine.

Is this hip hop?

Oh shit…I can dance to hip hop.  And dance briefly to the blip of music I shall.

The guy in front of me smells like Beefaroni and stale PBR.

Perhaps he had stored some Beefaroni in there for later.  He might really love Chef Boyardee.

I could only get a shot of the back of his head, but I think that’s all I really needed for you to get the idea.  Perhaps he had stored some Beefaroni in his beard for later. He might really love Chef Boyardee.  I don’t know.  Also, I would totally be friends with the unimpressed concert bouncer security guy.  (And look, Jorts Guy makes a repeat surprise cameo!)

No Kim…I cannot FaceTime someone because I went over my data this month and AT&T charges $10 an extra GB.

Blue eyeshadow just is not flattering on ANYONE.  I don’t care who you are.

Wait wait wait wait…she’s gonna dance on their hands?

Holy shit…she’s dancing on their hands.

Okay…I am downloading their albums from iTunes when I get home.

(Here is an actual music video of Matt and Kim performing “Hey Now”.)

Season Four, Episode Four: Wintered Out

I am so over this winter.

Like, completely.  And I’m sure that everyone in the northern United States can agree.

February, I hate you. Although I hated January almost just as much.

February, I hate you.
Although I hated January almost just as much.

I spent about 75% of my vacation last week in my house because the wind chill was below zero.  The actual temperature hovered around zero and dipped into the negatives this past weekend.  My off days this week are beginning to look the same.  I had been doing pretty well before this cold snap, going to the gym and watching what I was eating (we are having a weight loss thing at work) and I had dropped about two pounds before last week.  Ever since last Sunday, all I have done is eat and sit on my butt and watch Netflix.  I’m sure I could work out at home and eat right but ughhhhh I don’t wanna.  I’m miserable and I have cabin fever and I just want to sit and eat paczki wrapped in blankets while binge watching BBC dramas (The Fall was amazing, and I binged all four episodes of the first season of A Young Doctor’s Notebook tonight).  I’m pretty sure that is what one does when they are sick and tired of being stuck in the house.  This arctic snap of hellishness is making me feel like a depressed sleepy bear.

Sometimes I don't even realize how many hours I've wasted watching snarky British shows on Netflix.  Hours I cannot get back.

Sometimes I don’t even realize how many hours I’ve wasted watching snarky British shows on Netflix. Hours I cannot get back.

My son is beyond bored.  He wants to go outside and play on the snow days he keeps getting, but you can’t really play outside when the wind chill makes it feel like it is -15.  You have to bundle up just to take out the trash.  I let the mail sit in the mailbox for like three days before I left the warm confines of my living room.  My Ikea couch and my legs have become one.  My son has exhausted his usual queue of cartoons and Minecraft YouTube mod videos.  If it is hard on a 29 year old grown woman, I can’t imagine how unbearable it must be for a ten year old boy.  He is frustrated.  The coldest day this month so far was his birthday, and since we don’t drive, we had to stay inside rather than go to the science museum like we planned.  It’s not worth potentially getting frostbite while getting from Point A to Point B on public transportation when it is 0 degrees with a -17 wind chill.  I’m sure people in NYC and Boston can certainly relate.  Sometimes I wish I lived in a city where it wasn’t odd to not own a car (but I suppose that will be another post for another time), because then I think others would understand the winter struggle a little more.

My son's sad snowy self-portrait that he drew while we were waiting an hour for our fifty minute late bus on Saturday.  It was 12 degrees with a -8 wind chill.  When I got home my lips were still tinged blue.

My son’s sad snowy self-portrait that he drew while we were waiting an hour for our fifty minute late bus on Saturday. It was 12 degrees with a -8 wind chill. When I got home my lips were still tinged blue.  It’s hard for me to empathize with people’s “ohmigod I was so cold sitting in my car waiting for it to warm up” struggles.

I know March is coming and that spring is allegedly just around the bend, but let’s be brutally honest here:  I live in Northeast Ohio.  Lake Erie is like 94% frozen over.  I can expect to wear a winter coat until probably mid-April.  I just want it to warm up and be sunny and green and pretty.

So I can start bitching about pollen and my allergies.

Seriously?