*Thanks for reading. If you want to read another poem to put you in the mood for the Autumn weather, check out my poem, October.
*Thanks for reading. If you want to read another poem to put you in the mood for the Autumn weather, check out my poem, October.
What are the little mysteries you hold
Between soft velvet sheets
Tucked in tight
So the wind won’t take them away
Spreading them wide
A scattering of bells
Peeling deep in the night
Their bright song
Through the curtain of your dreams
Too many secrets
Let them out
Let them out
I want to follow you into the deep, deep woods
Where I imagine, all things mysterious wait
I think it would please me to hear you growl
As your breath heats the hollow of my throat
And my hands forget themselves
I have a need to roll in the newly fallen leaves
While their rustle is still a hush
That hasn’t learned to crackle yet
Press me into the earth and let them tangle
In my hair, an accidental crown
I wanna go to Disneyland. There I said it.
One of the worst things about being poor and disabled is that it is very difficult, if not impossible to do things on your own to improve your situation. I am largely dependent on both, learning to do without and the generosity of others, to make things better.
It is specifically the combo of being poor and disabled that throws me into moments of bad attitude, fear and self pity. If I were wealthy, I would have access to things like targeted exercise classes that would give me strength and flexibility or treatments that would make the disability less disabling. I would be able to get out to social distractions, art, music, etc, more frequently despite my limitations. If I were only poor, I’d still be deprived of a lot of things, but I could do more things to improve my financial situation. I could go on hikes, ride bicycles, exercise more, do things that don’t cost money that my body has great difficulty with now.
I am so lucky and grateful that I do have an abundance of friends that try to include me, help me financially and treat me to things. There are days when I wonder if it would be easier somehow if I were friendless and could be used to having absolutely nothing. It’s easier to be blind than aware in so many aspects of life. There are days when I wish I had never had a taste of what it was like to be able to get out and do things that cost money, to buy things, to be productive and useful. That sounds bleak, horrible and perhaps a bit nihilistic, but can you miss something you don’t know? I’m glad I have my friends and I’m glad to have experienced some of what life has to offer so I’ll take this option with lots of gratitude.
I have also realized that I am still having trouble psychologically wrapping my head around my dramatic change in circumstance. I’m still thinking of myself as a person who should be able to afford to collect things, make art, go places and can help other people out when they are struggling. However, I am no longer in that position of privilege and chances are, without an equally dramatic change in circumstance, something like a lottery win, inheritance, sudden success or having a partner willing and able to support me, I am permanently going to be the one with my hand out, but still doing whatever I can to be of value.
An aside, for those who are not familiar with my background, In 2011 after a series of unfortunate (but not on the Snicket level of interest) events, I lost my home of 11 years, was homeless for a year, had a lifetime of belongings and very personal items in storage taken from me, went on permanent disability and have been struggling just to get a stable foothold since.
I miss things a lot. I don’t go to concerts or plays or friend’s performances very often, only when I get free or discounted tickets. If I do pay for things like food or drinks or tickets it comes directly out of my grocery budget which is laughably small. I eat once a day and go hungry frequently. I’m planning to go to karaoke with friends tonight. If I get a drink, which I’d like to, I’ll have to really think about it. Hopefully, someone or two nice people will treat me. I’m already having anxiety about whether or not people may want to go for a bite after.
There are things most people take for granted, like grooming. I scan craigslist for free haircuts and color and am lucky if I get one a year. I haven’t had a cheap manicure or pedicure in a couple of years. Though people do find me attractive, it’s hard to feel pretty when your hair is three different shades (not by choice) and your cuticles are ragged.
Recently, some racist twit who couldn’t come up with an insult of substance, went after me for my “fake hair and clown makeup” thinking that would hurt my feelings. Also, clearly she has no idea of the skill clowns have when it comes to makeup application. I have nothing on clowns. RESPECT! The wigs I wear for fun, are mostly old or hand me downs and recently a friend gave me a bunch of makeup to play with and I have been having so much fun with it! I did not take it as an insult. I did take her as a fool.
These are things that make me happy. Things that make me feel human in a good way. Because of neuropathy I can’t groom my own hands and feet. Because of hormone and nutritional changes, I can’t grow my nails out anymore. When I was homeless, I splurged a staggering $20 a month to get nails done by a woman who needed the money. Some people criticized me both for spending the money and not looking homeless enough, but no matter how harsh things were, I’d look at my hands and feel better about myself. And I also knew I was helping someone else.
Sometimes I fantasize about underwear, plain cotton underwear. I actually do have a box of sexy undies in great condition because I’ve gone without a regular beau for so long. I can safely say, I haven’t bought regular underwear in at least five years. Most of my daily briefs have extra holes in them. So classy. Also, I am busty. Larger size bras that fit are hard to find and are rarely affordable.
A few months ago, my mighty breasts finally broke my last bra. I put out a plea and a friend came to the rescue. I managed to find two bras for less than $80 at Ross and Nordstrom. Neither of them fit exactly, in fact because they are a touch too small, they are both a little painful, but they are so much better than going without. I recently did some searching on eBay and Amazon to see what they would cost in my actual size and nope, way out of my price range, around $80 each. I’ll break one or both of these soon because they don’t quite fit and because I don’t have more bras to alternate them with.
I can remember when I used to be able invest in a good bra-drobe. I could wear a different bra nearly every day of the week and I had some nice dressy bras too. I caught myself daydreaming about foundations the other day; comfy panties that only had holes for my legs and waist danced like sugarplums in my head. I imagined what it would be like to have bras for all occasions: two to three daily bras, a couple of nice dressy bras, a comfy wireless bra, a sports bra and one or two of those Tata Towels that are all the rage! Hmm that’s like the bra lottery right there. I could spend up to $1,000 on my boobs with that list, but that could last me 8-10 years so, it’s not impractical, just unattainable.
Again, that’s just a daydream. For now, my boobs make do and I am super happy to have 2 bras that sort of fit.
Travel is also something that is completely out of the question for me. If a friend or relative became ill or died, I’d have to raise emergency funds to go. I have long dreamed about travelling to Scotland and have a list of other places I want to see including archeological sites and places that house art pieces I have studied. It’s tragic to have an Art History degree and yet, to have never been to the Guggenheim or The Louvre. It’s weird to have an Anthro degree and have never seen Stonehenge, The Pyramids or The Acropolis!
I can’t even scrape up enough to take a break and drive a few hours away, up the coast for a refreshing weekend, let alone drive or fly to Seattle, Los Angeles, or farther to visit friends. I’ve never been to New York or New Orleans. I think my family might have gone to The Grand Canyon when I was too young to remember. Foreign travel is certainly a pipe dream.
Which brings me to what sparked this diatribe in the first place; Disneyland. I often see friends of mine planning adventures. They will hit the road to see shows, go to museum exhibits in Los Angeles, etc. They make it clear they would love it if I would join. I will find myself shuffling numbers around to see if there is any way I can do it, but it never works. I was sure I could make it on one of several excursions various friends took to see the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at LACMA. I had to make do with an ebook and lots of pictures from friends. The latest of these fabulous ideas came from a friend mentioning Southwest’s $29 sale on tickets to L.A. and suggesting a bunch of us go to Disneyland. This would be so much fun, mostly because of the people going. Even if I skipped Disneyland, there are people in L.A. I would love to see!
Lord, knows I need and deserve a vacation. I haven’t had anything resembling a vacation in nearly a decade. Dreaming about getting away and frollicking with friends is one thing. Reality sets in pretty quickly. The sale ends tomorrow. Even if I could budget the $60+ for round trip, right now, I should not be spending any money. I am having to cover both full rent and storage costs now, which was unexpected. I need $60 to cover my cat’s prescription food by next week! Come November, the heat will be back on again to save money to move in December or January.
Say, the tickets were no problem. Say, regardless of funds, I resolved to do no splurges or souvenir shopping. It’s one day only so there’s no lodging fee. There is still the cost of Disneyland entry ($100) and food. Even at the thriftiest, I’m sure this would be a $250-$300 trip. I don’t have credit cards. I don’t have a partner who is going to say, “here is the money, sweetie.” Coming up with $300 to play, for me is like $3,000 to average working people. Even if someone were to gift me the money, I’d immediately come up with a list of more practical things I should be spending $300 on!
My friends will go. Hopefully, they will take lots of pictures so I can live vicariously. But it’s still a reminder that I can’t find a way on my own to live the kind of life I want to and hope I deserve. It’s bittersweet. I have this dichotomy of feeling deprived and extremely blessed all the time. I admit it, I want more blessings. I’d like to make my own blessings. I’d like to be a blessing to others more often.
I don’t want to be this poor. I don’t want to worry about housing. I want to go to museums and shows. I want to buy underwear when I need it and look pretty. I want to feel full and be able to buy the foods I need for health. I wish I could ride a bike. I wish I could change so many things.
I want to go to Disneyland with my friends.
And stuff like that; frivolous, extravagant (for me) spending.
I know that I am not alone. It’s expensive and disheartening to be poor and trapped in the poverty cycle. I know there are those struggling even harder than I am in this country with all it’s bounty. That breaks my heart.
I still want to go to Disneyland.
Here is another snippet from the larger piece I am working on which at the moment I am calling, The Misterious. At this point it is not necessary to read these in any sort of order, but if you go to the menu bar at the left and click on stories, you will find a tab that gives you all the posts related to this story. Sometimes deciding what to post is tricky because at some point, things I would rather leave out now will be plugged in later. For one, the place I am writing about, I think I intend to base on a real place, but I want to leave that out now. Just think of it as a journal of sorts written by a person in a place that may or may not exist as we would know it. Okay. I am explaining too much. Enjoy!
Despite being physically isolated, we do get physical things from the outside world and communication isn’t completely cut off. It’s just spotty. As I write this, I’m not sure that anyone out there will ever read it. Getting through to someone via the phone or internet is an unpredictable venture and once you do get signals you can’t count on them to go as far as you would like. You can get on the internet but you can’t see everything. Strangely enough, you can almost always get communication within the city itself, just try to reach anywhere outside and success is a toss up. There’s no explanation or even acknowledgement of this. When you try to talk to anyone from out there about the weird things going on in here or if you ask, what the heck is happening where they are, the connection drops or you get interference. I suppose it’s a bit like what people have dealt with for years in countries where the government controls everything. There’s no, “access denied message” or warning. What you are looking for is simply not there.
It would be nice to find out something tangible. Coming up on two years and I still don’t know who’s in charge out there, why we’re stuck here or whether that weirdness is really anything to be concerned about. After all, it hasn’t made me sick. I think I’m still sane. I haven’t seen zombies or anyone with an arm growing out of their forehead. Then again, I stay the hell away from that part of town! Why take chances?
Today, I talked to Quinn. Quinn was lucky enough to be visiting family down south when the barricades went up. I say, lucky, assuming that things aren’t as screwy out there as they are in here. But I don’t know because every time we try to talk about it; static. This time, he was trying to ask me questions and the line kept cutting in and out. When we discussed more benign topics, however, we heard each other perfectly.
Quinn has two cats, Beans and Lucy. For all practical purposes, they’re my cats now. Lucy, a small black ball of plushness is ancient. Lately, she seems to be failing and I don’t know whether it’s time to tell him or if I should just avoid giving him something to fret about that he can’t control. Quinn is not generally a worrier, but I am sure this situation tests that enviable trait. I am not even sure we have a veterinarian here anymore to take her to, but I am searching. The city is so empty now. I told Quinn I had loaded up some photos to my web page, but he said that parts of my posts were just blurred out. He didn’t see any photos. Owl can see them. I can see them. But outside, they are out of focus. Owl says he is working on a way to circumvent this. I’m not tech savvy enough to begin to think about how to do that. I probably shouldn’t mention this. Will they, whoever they are, be watching us now?
It’s strange. It’s frustrating. Still, I take what I can get. It’s good to talk to Quinn. It’s nice to hear his voice. There is comfort in the connection. Even if it is censored, it’s grounding. I suspect the news is edited, but it brings a sense of normalcy. Though I can’t find everything, I’m able to boot up my computer to search the web for information and giggles much the same as before. For now, some things remain hidden. I hope they won’t always be that way. While I generally enjoy a bit of mystery, being left entirely in the dark is wearing thin. I have no idea if my words will find their way out. I just write because it seems someone should be keeping a record of this. Even my trivial words feel weighty, like evidence of my existence. We are here, those of us left behind. We matter.
For now, we live indefinitely in a figurative bubble. Sometimes I like to pretend that I am actually alone, that there is no other human living within the miles of rectangles that dot the landscape. I think about what it must have been like when this place was untouched by humans, primordial and blanketed with trees. I wonder if the trees will someday find a way to reclaim the territory; libraries, houses, schools and supermarkets buried like ancient temples under the roots of the jungle. I tell myself that I am the last human on earth. Sometimes, I even think I would be fine if that were true. It’s a peaceful place to go in my head, but in reality, I’m glad for the connection, any connection. I am here. You still see me. I see you. We are separated but not alone.
I’ve been posting a lot of poems of late and people have been asking for story bits. This is one of my favorite little pieces of writing. I admit, I am ridiculously fond of it. I haven’t decided if it’s a “fragmeant” that I may develop further or if it’s complete as is. “The Moonlight” is only a working title. I’m not quite sure what to call it. Ideas?
A magical thing doesn’t lose its usefulness if it changes its state.
The moonbeams scattered everywhere, fractured light spilling all over the carpet!
“Oh no!” the Sunny Marmalade Cat cried out softly, “You’ve broken them! Every single one!” He tried to sweep them into a pile with his tail but they began to degrade into a shimmering powder, transforming into a dancing puddle of light. Bits of silver stuck to his fur like beads of mercury and scattered as he flicked his tail, vexed.
“Oh Dear!” the Asynchronous Clock ticked nervously.”Oh Dear. Oh Dear. Oh Dear. What shall we do now?” And though she tried to keep her hands from moving, they clicked into place, striking the hour and she began to chime!
This caused the Good Mourning Dove to coo and cluck and leave a little icing on the edge of the window sill.
Everyone froze, poised to flee at the sound of a breath or a step, but all remained still.
The Midnight Velvet Cat hissed for attention and once she had it she pushed at the remains of the moonlight with her paw. “We have to be moving, now! We mustn’t let ourselves be discovered. But we can’t leave this here. They will never understand.”
The Good Mourning Dove pecked at the silvery soot with his beak. It was very cold and left a slightly uncomfortable tingling sensation. He shuffled away mumbling, “Well isn’t it useless now? If they find it, they’ll have no idea what it is. In the daylight it will look less like diamonds and more like dust, won’t it?”
The Midnight Coal Cat fixed her great green eyes on the bird and shook her head gently. “No. That will not do and it wouldn’t be safe. They might not know what it is but they will know that it doesn’t belong here either.
A magical thing doesn’t lose its usefulness if it changes its state. We just don’t know what its new purpose will be! We brought it here and we must take it with us. We have to figure out a way to transport it.”
The dove pecked at the curtains thoughtfully, walked the length of the ledge and back, opened and closed his beak a few times. Suddenly he exclaimed, “I have an idea!” Then he hopped off the ledge and disappeared into the night. When he returned a few moments later, the Hopeful Little Dog, who had been diligently keeping watch appeared next to him.
“How can I help?” she panted eagerly. Then she noticed. “Is that? Oh no! How? Oh nevermind, what are we going too…O-oh, I’ve got it!”
And, in a blink she had gobbled up every last bit of moonlight, licking the floor and even the Sunny Marmalade Cat’s tail just to be certain of her thoroughness.
The Asynchronous Clock could not resist, “Good…. Dog!” she ticked happily.
“So it’s true,” the Sunny Marmalade Cat said wryly, “A dog really will eat anything without checking to see if it’s food first.”
The Midnight Coal Cat batted the orange cat’s pink nose with a cushiony paw. “It’s time for gratitude, not jokes.” she chided and rubbed against the Hopeful Little Dog in appreciation causing the her to wag her curly nub of a tail furiously. She wanted desperately to bark her excitement but she held it back. She was chilled and tingly inside, full of energy yet somewhere deep within was a new calm center. It was a little like the time she had chewed wild peppermint as a pup but without the strong flavor and much, much colder.
The little party made their way over the window sill and back outside, quickly navigating the garden path and the meadow. They made it into the woods without further incident. As they moved farther away from the treeline into the dense forest, it became much harder to see the path. They debated the lost time of waiting for daylight against the possibility of missing a marker, getting lost or hurt in the darkness.
The Hopeful Little dog paced back and forth, her blue eye glimmering faintly, her brown eye virtually invisible in the murkiness, just like the Midnight Velvet Cat. Suddenly, she stopped, looked straight ahead and opened her mouth. Light spilled out illuminating the path.
“Well that settles that.” said the Midnight Coal cat. “Purrfect!”
And they all started down the newly moonlit path, suddenly feeling much more optimistic.
But they were not alone and despite their combined, superior senses they did not seem to register it. Surely they would have perceived fear or predatory focus, but lacking that simply assumed they were hearing and smelling a mere resident of the forest busy with it’s nocturnal habits. Maybe, the magic was working and they did not sense me. All the same, I held back, keeping as much distance as I could without losing them. Walking so slowly and quietly tensed my legs and they started to ache.
If only I could be an owl, I thought. I could glide above them on wings of whisper quiet. I could rest up when I got ahead of them, up in high branches, seeing them perfectly with my spectacular night vision. And I could easily make out every word of their conversation. As long as it served me, I would so like to be an owl!
And I was.
(At this point it is not necessary to read these in any particular order)
I’ve been on a roll of late posting a lot of things that aren’t stories or even bits of stories. I have been writing fiction, I just haven’t been posting it. I suppose if I ever get in the habit of posting daily or a few times a week with regularity, more will get here.
This is the first thing I’ve posted from a longer work that has been percolating for awhile. I have decided that I need to do some research on things like climate change, natural disasters, geography, politics and economics, among other things before I flesh it out in any serious way, not because I am going to need them all that much in the story, but because I personally want the foundation to build it on. I guess it’s sort of SciFi, maybe more speculative fiction. I’m vacillating between it taken place somewhere that exists now vs somewhere completely imaginary. Oh, it’s a hot mess that wants to come out!
Anyway, the title for working purposes only, is, The Misterious, so that’s what it will be tagged as when I post other fragmeants of it! I’m not entirely happy with this bit, but it wanted out of my head desperately so, here ya go:
I try to time my late night ramblings so that I will have the lowest chance of running into another soul. If I head out too early in the morning I’ll likely catch maintenence, blowing off the sidewalks, cleaning the glass and storefront trims, watering plants or hosing off the benches. Sometimes during the day or early in the evening I’ll see a lone vehicle or run into an actual human being on the street or sweeping their porch. Too early in the late evening and you might run into a PigBot, have to explain yourself or worse. Too late in the late evening and you might run into a wild animal you can’t handle or the Red Eyes. Jimmy likes to call them the Cylons. That makes me laugh.
The perfect time for me is the middle of the night. Lights might still be on in some of the buildings. I make a game of guessing which yellow squares of light are actually occupied and which simply had lights on when the inhabitants left, with no reason to suspect they wouldn’t return. Building lights are mostly on automatic, but individual apartments and houses are more intriguing puzzles. For weeks, after it happened, my attention was fixed on a large television screen visible through an upper window in a building about a block from my place. It must have been set on a timer as it came on early every evening and shut off at one every morning. I walked past the apartment building it sat in nearly every day. It’s my habit to scan windows, doors and porches in particular. One day, I could see it was gone. Presumably, a neighbor finally decided they might as well have it.
There are small clues. Sometimes bulbs will burn out and you know there is no one living there because once they go dark, they stay that way. Keep watching and more lights in the same place will go out and stay out one by one. On the floor below the place with the TV is another apartment that caught my eye. It has four long curtains, knotted at the bottom which make striking silhouettes at night. I assumed it was unoccupied, especially after one evening seeing the window was dark. I assumed the light had gone out. But the next day I looked up to realize someone had merely closed all the drapes. A few days later, I noticed they were knotted up again. Hello neighbor! Were you hiding your new TV?
When I decide to stay somewhere else for a few days or head up to The Bunker, I always set lights and things that make sound on varying timers. Owl showed me how to rig up some techy things that sound like conversation, cooking sounds, a dog. So far, no one has broken into my place, only another neighbor would be a likely burglar anyway and they all know I’m here, but I have gone many places I did not belong. That concept is slippery for me though. I’m not sure it’s breaking and entering or stealing when the likelihood is, no one’s coming back.
In the middle of the night benches look inviting, yet eerie. I find myself wanting to sit on them, but at the last second, I balk, feeling like an intruder. A presence is there, the heavy presence of nothing. It’s become a ghost town, except that it isn’t. I think everyone has to leave for a place to become a ghost town; population zero, only ghosts. Our populace has been dramatically reduced, but people still occupy the buildings. They live, but they aren’t really living. How do you get up and go to work when you can’t leave the city or your job in the city no longer exists? Few of us know what to do with ourselves. We shuffle about this place that isn’t an actual ghost town. The city is a shell, populated by shadows of lives that once vibrantly filled it. We are the ghosts.
It should creep me out walking around my neighborhood in the wee hours thinking about this stuff. But the buildings in daylight are much more disturbing. They all look abandoned so of course, you can just feel someone watching. You squint at the squares of grey and you think you see a shadow staring back. The emptiness is pronounced. The loneliness is oppressive. At night, it’s peaceful, a perfect stillness. All I can hear are the sounds of water, wind and night birds. Sometimes I even hear the occasional car. It’s not that different from the way it was before. I’m lulled by the comfort of warmly lit apartments, the illusion of life. I can almost forget.